One month down, eleven to go…

Well, as of yesterday, I’ve officially been in Japan for one whole calendar month – pretty crazy, eh? I must say, it’s gone much more quickly than I expected. I’m sure things will really start flying once I actually start doing some teaching.

I’ve spent the last couple of days visiting some of my other junior highs – I’ll be teaching at four total. It’s interesting how each one seems to have a very distinct personality, both in terms of the students and the teachers. I’m curious as to how classes actually go, particularly at the schools that I visit once a week or less. It’s like making a guest appearance…

Yesterday, Rosalind and I attended a Japanese cooking class at the Kamo youth center. It was pretty intense. We made a three-course meal: okra vinaigrette (okra, seaweed, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and shred ginger), bibin sohmen (Korean-style thin wheat noodles with chicken, cucumber, tomato, and hard-boiled egg), and goya chample (tofu, pork, green onion, egg, dried bonito, and a bitter melon called goya that’s native to Okinawa). Needless to say, it was pretty exotic. But surprisingly good. I need to work on eating more though – I can never finish my portions here, and that’s not really a good thing. People tend to thing you’re unhappy if you don’t eat well.

Speaking of which, the Kamo youth center (or “Kinsho Home”) is a pretty interesting place. They offer a variety of classes like flower arrangement (European and Japanese style), social dance, dessert-cooking, general cooking, tea ceremony, kimono and yukata dressing, aerobics, calligraphy, gospel choir, Japanese traditional dance, kendo, and tai chi. They also host some clubs. Membership is about $10 per year, with some fees for classes, so a great deal in all. I think I want to try a few other things…

I’d like to close with a couple of random pictures of Kamo:

A view of Kamo from atop one of its hills

The Kamo River

In not-so-Japan-related news, I’m really starting to dive into my applications for the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. There’s a ton of coordination to do (for example, the Rhodes requires eight letters of recommendation and the Marshall requires four), so it pays to do everything a bit on the early side. It’s hard to be last minute when you have to deal with mailing things from across the Pacific Ocean. :) I also need to finish the precis for the article I’m co-authoring with Professor Pekkanen. And study for the GRE. And decide when I’m actually going to take it. And whether I’m going to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (I’m leaning toward no at the moment). Hrm, it seems that things never slow down, even when one is out of the country. But I guess that’s part of the fun of it all. ;)