Today was the last day of classes before the summer break, and my last day of teaching in Japan. At the end of the day I had to give a speech to the whole school in Japanese! I was pretty nervous about it as I somehow managed to avoid learning any Japanese during my three years here. My wonderful supervisor Kaori was kind enough to translate into Japanese a speech I wrote and even helped me with pronunciation. I think I did a pretty good job, but it's hard for me to say for sure. After the speech I was presented with a great big beautiful bouquet of flowers, which made me feel a little "natsukashi" for when I first learned of this custom upon my initial arrival here three years ago. The principal also gave me that cute mini kokeshi doll too.
Bye bye vinegar bottles! I'll miss you.
Long ago when I was a junior high school student I had a strange English teacher named Ms. Pennels. When she wasn't screaming at us for no reason, she was making the class memorize and recite over and over a poem called "The Vinegar Man". While I was busy every day reading about the depressing life of the Vinegar Man, my brother was usually playing with Lego or doing other fun stuff with his cool hip teacher Mr. Ward. A few years after I graduated I heard through the grapevine that Ms. Pennels had to leave her job and get professional help. I can't help but wonder if she's now living in a tumble-down shed by the Haunted House surrounded by greasy old records of paid and due.
Anyway, you're probably wondering about the photo. Well that's my vinegar bottle collection, which sadly I must part with today. For those of you not in the know, Canadians (and this Canadian in particular) love to put white vinegar on french fries. I have no idea where this custom comes from, but it doesn't seem to be practiced anywhere else, except maybe in Britain to some extent. In Japan it's really hard to find ordinary white vinegar. Those red capped bottles in the photo are Japanese vinegar, which is made from rice and isn't very good. The rest was either shipped from North America (thanks to my loving parents and Jenny) or purchased at Aomori's only source for vinegar ELM shopping mall in Goshogawara. Not pictured are two large plastic vinegar jugs which I unfortunately threw out before I got the idea to start collecting my empties.
Click 'Read More' to experience "The Vinegar Man" for yourself, or click here for the MP3!:
As you see, I finally got the site back up. It's missing all the posts and comments between the time it went down and the previous time I made a database backup. I'm going to see what I can do about restoring those posts from the bits and pieces stored in RSS readers. Stay tuned.
Last week it was once again time for Sports Day at high schools across Japan. For me, the most interesting part of Sports Day has always been the unique T-shirt designs that the students come up with for their teams. I don't know if its because of ignorance or what, but teachers never seem to be bothered by what the students put on their shirts, no matter how inappropriate it might seem to be. I thought the marijuana shirts from previous years were something else, but the students at one of my schools really topped themselves this time...
How much change can a guy accumulate over 3 years in Japan?
Click "Read More" for the answer.
On Saturday I went finger to finger with Japan's second highest ranked professional arm wrestler. Click "read more" bellow to find out who won!
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