Autumn has arrived in full swing – the cool air is filled with the smell of burning rice being harvested, the leaves are turning to gorgeous shades of red and yellow, and my apartment is already freezing. According to the thermometer on the way to work it’s still only about 15 degrees but feels a lot colder, so I’m not particularly thrilled about the next 4 – 5 months of living in sub-zero temperatures. I received a disturbing piece of advice from another ALT who said that if your toothpaste freezes, put it in the fridge because it’ll be warmer in there. HELP.
I’ve been meaning to post for a while but suddenly things have really been picking up in Fukaura! I take back mostly everything I said in my Boredom post. I seem to have completely swapped places with the JTE at my Wednesday school, as last week he was the one sitting at the back of the classroom while I tried to liven up a class of eleven extremely well-behaved teenagers. I’ve decided that when I don’t have anything to do I’ll make some kind of inspirational English posters for each school. I have a bad habit of doing nothing but staring into space when I’m bored, so rather than that I will make myself do something productive!
I thought I was going to have a quiet weekend last week, and spent my Saturday shopping in Hirosaki for a warm winter coat but with little success. When I was driving home, I stopped at a traffic light and got the fright of my life as a policeman and a small child tapped on my window. I rolled it down wondering what I’d done and they cheerily handed me a plastic wallet with a packet of tissues in it and a leaflet telling me to make sure I always wear a seat belt. Then a hoard of elementary school children skipped past my car screaming “Hello!” at me from the passenger window. Then the lights turned green and my life returned to normal.
Anyway at the last minute I decided to go to another ALT’s place in Aomori City. I wasn’t sure at first because I didn’t really know her, another friend invited me and it seemed like I’d be intruding on a very small get together… but I went anyway because I promised myself I’d say yes to *nearly* everything when I’m in Japan, and so far I haven’t had a bad experience doing so! (My next free weekend isn’t until 22nd November, which is good but my inner hermit will probably appreciate a quiet day if I haven’t already made plans by then.) I enjoyed a night of good conversation, eating, making brownies in a mug and freaking out at the haunted cupboard in her flat. The next day we made pancakes for breakfast and went to a craft fair in Itayanagi. It was along a very pretty stream where a 2km stretch of stalls were selling gorgeous hand-made Japanese carpentry, jewellery, art and pottery. I nearly put my foot in it though – one of the organisers started talking to me and we walked to the next stall together, which was selling these ceramic cups with handles that looked rather on the phallic side… I was about to laugh in surprise but then she told me they were her work and asked me if I liked them. I said they were very beautifully painted.
In other news I have taken over as column editor of Photo Corner in Good Morning Aomori, which is a blog put together by JETs all over Aomori. A lot of interesting stuff goes into it and not everything is Aomori/Japan-related, so if you like you can read it here. You’ll be able to see my first contribution in the next issue which comes out on the 15th, as well as a nano horror story that I wrote!
On Monday we have another national holiday so I’m leaving the prefecture for the first time to go to Sendai for the weekend, which is the biggest city in Tohoku (northern region of Japan). I’m meeting another ALT from London who lives in Akita, the prefecture south-west of Aomori. She also lives in the countryside, so we decided to make an escape to the city and enjoy blending into the crowd for a while. Apparently Sendai’s speciality is beef tongue so I may or may not be trying that.
Here’s another sunset shot, from Senjojiki as promised!