大津秋祭 (Otsu Festival)
I'm a little ashamed to show my written voice around here after being absent for so long. I guess the wretched contrast between my prolific summer writing and now hints to how busy a genuine full-time job can be. I'm sure it could be easier, but I'm enjoying interacting with the students so much. At least two days I week I stay at school until around six––and it doesn't bother me the slightest. It had many of my coworkers confounded at first, because I think the majority of ALTs are not here to teach, to be frank. At the same time I know many great ALTs who care a great deal. But my education, the majority of which came from the spectacular Paideia School of 1509 S. Ponce de Leon in Atlanta, Ga (I am accepting advertising donations), honestly spoiled me in a good way. I see teaching as a responsibility and a duty that if one is going to perform she/he must be prepared to give oneself entirely to her/his pupils. The aims of education extend to construtively developing personality, building trust and mutual respect between the seito and sensei (student and instructor). Katie and I were talking about how we envisioned the ideal classroom consisting of no more than 5-10 students; but the world is regrettably overpopulated and we have to streamline education nowadays in a way that loses much of the value. I'm trying my best to connect with students as much as I can. It's difficult though. At my base, Kusatsu High School, I have 240 students roughly, that I see once a week. At my alternate I have 280 that I only see once every three weeks. But I'm tutoring individuals when I can and I find that giving myself gets much more in return. I do wish I had more time to write though! Baudelaire said something along the lines of "A man can live without food and water for two days, but without poetry, never!" I have been trying to read, mostly e.e. cummings and Joseph Campell lately. As a former UGA professor told me when I lamented about a lack of reading time, and this is a rough, rough paraphrase, "College is an Eden, you fool, the rest of the world does not read books!"
Anyway, so a few weeks ago I participated in pulling a Hikiyama (曳山, or moveble shrine) around Otsu City as a part of their autumn festival. There was a team that invited many ALTs to join in, which is a pretty big deal because the event is usually closed to the Japanese. The tanuki is a raccoon-like animal that lives in the mountains. It's also the mascot, if you will, of Shiga-ken where I am living. I still have yet to see one, however, which seriously depresses me because I want to be closer to nature, and it would be awesome to have a strange pet. I'm going camping soon, maybe, so hopefully I can catch one.
As a side note, Katie took all of the pictures and has always leased the rights. I just pulled like a dumb mule and was perfectly unburdened and contented doing so.
The event was fun, I met a friend, Yoneda-san (米田−さん）. He also lives in Kusatsu, and he completed two consecutive triathalons in Hawaii ten years ago. We may go cycling around the lake sometime in the future, but I'm a bit intimidated by his record.
So that's all for the moment, but I will add more soon.
This is Yoneda-san and I in front of the Hikiyama.