Today paints a picture in my mind of the horrible events that happened 10 years ago in my home country. It also paints a picture of the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe that struck Japan only 6 months ago. I can remember exactly where I was & what I was doing, on both accounts. I will never forget. However, we wipe our tears and must continue to move forward, cherishing the lives that we have, and living them to the fullest.
Today my base JHS had their annual Taiikusai, or Sports Day. This is kind of a big deal in Japanese culture, and school life itself. The students seem to spend 1-2 months preparing for this day. The students make their own elaborate team banners, the brass band plays processional music, and everyone is required to participate in all kinds of athletic events.
I'm very happy I got to be a part of this celebration, as it was a great way to interact with my students without the pressure of academics. I also participated in the adult event, which involved people pairing up for a 3-legged race and competing on teams -- I was on the teacher team of course, and we won the event! I had fun, and got to speak with some teachers that are usually too shy to talk to me in the staff room.
After the event was over, the entire school staff got together for an enkai, or drinking party. These types of parties are prominent all throughout Japan in most industries and professions. Unlike in Western Society, it is acceptable for even teachers to enjoy a night of drinking and socializing. The party was held in the main part of my city, but it was very well organized and and even had shuttle vans to take us to and from the venue. Japan has zero tolerance for driving under the influence, so necessary precautions are usually made to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment for the evening.
Tonight's enkai was held in a private room of an izakaya. Speeches were given, glasses were filled, and the entire mood of the party was very social and relaxed. I also gave a short speech in the middle of the party, basically thanking everyone and giving my (positive) impressions of sports day and the school in general. My Japanese is still very limited, so I spoke in simple English and had my younger JTE translate for me. At the end they presented me with PINK flowers~ how did they know I love pink? ;)
I end tonight's blog with a blissful feeling of acceptance, at least temporarily. Yes, there are times when living here is frustrating and difficult, but then... there are days like this that make it all worth it.