Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Letter from Japan – Part 3

The final instalment. Miraculously, I was not put off sushi after this experience. In fact, a few days after returning home I found myself craving the salty goodness of fresh, raw fish. There’s something pure about it, something that is lost as soon as you cook it. Eating raw food is a grounding experience, every mouthful reminding us of where it came from. Perhaps it also reminds us that it simply a matter of luck that we ended up higher up in the food chain, and should be thankful that we are the ones doing the eating.

September 24, 2004

Only four days left here in Ise before heading back to Nagoya on Wednesday for the flight home. Can't believe how much the trip has flown. . . am looking forward to coming home and having a rest before going back to school though :-)

For those who have made enquiries, I still haven't tried out the squirt-up-ya-clack (clearly I'm referring to the toilet), but have it on good authority that it is a rather painful experience. Was taken out for dinner and to a pub on Wednesday night by the two Assistant Language Teachers, Jess (Australian) and Caesar (English). Becky, a Canadian ALT from another school told an hilarious story about how she decided to give it a go, but found it so uncomfortable that she actually cried out involuntarily in pain. She said it was a very long 10 seconds, especially considering that Japanese walls are paper thin, and she was convinced that her host family would think she was some kind of pervert.

The ALTs seem to have a lot of fun over here. They are paid more than first year teachers in Australia (not difficult) but they don't need a teaching qualification. They get set up in an apartment, are given a bike, and basically just have to run a lesson or two a day, do a bit of conversation practice and mark a few essays. Not a bad life. Of course, they seem to spend more time partying with each other than working. Caesar (very funny guy) tells me that he plans to stay for three years, because he has, quote, 'absolutely no prospects at home'. Three years is the maximum you can stay, but most can only handle it for one or two years. The rigidity of the culture apparently gets to you after a while, especially because teachers are supposed to set an example, so have to be really careful about following the 'rules' (see previous e-mail for more details). Jess has been told off by her supervisor a couple of times (he is an uber-anal freak who has no friends and is clearly in need of a shag).

I am still a bit battered. I have a huge bruise on my arm (to match all of the other bruises caused by the poisonous mosquitoes), which I acquired in Nara, whilst climbing through a Buddha's nostril. There was a breathtakingly gorgeous temple with a GIANT Buddha statue, and near the statue was a wooden pole with a hole in it, claiming, 'Hole same size as Buddha nostril. Please climb'.

Of course, we had to do it. I was actually very scared at first. It was a small opening, about 1 metre long and you had to kind of go through with your arms above your head. It took me a few goes to work up the courage. After watching a fat American go through first, I was able to do it. I must have got the bruise as I scrambled out the other side (after staying put for about five minutes for many photos and videoing. These kids always take the opportunity to catch embarrassing moments on camera).

Yesterday was a public holiday, but we all had to come into school for a PR exercise which involved our students making sushi with the students from one of the local junior high schools. The students worked in groups of five to make the 'sushi' (a loose term), which was then judged by a group of highly regarded food connoisseurs (myself included). My concerns began when I was told that the sushi would be judged on taste, looks and 'creativity'. Personally, I prefer my sushi to be less creative, more palatable. A number of the pieces (I was supposed to eat 8 in total - a hard task even when they taste good) were okay, but a couple of kids had creatively combined ingredients such as 'wieners' (frankfurt-esque things which are made out of fish paste with a tempting, spam-like texture) and chocolate sauce. I think the Principal got that one. I managed to avoid the totally disgusting ones. Justin however, who had a rather large night the night before (he was taken out by some of the male teachers to dinner and a bar) was having a lot of difficulty keeping some of them down, and spent a suspicious amount of time in the toilet. Poor 'Big J' (as the students now call him; my nickname alternates between 'Calvin' and 'Skanky Ho'...don't ask) will never be able to look at sushi the same way again.

Must dash - class now. See you all soon xx

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