Sunday, September 5, 2010


Japan is interesting. I don't know if it's just small towns like this one, if larger cities are included, or if it's just this town in particular; but damn, do people love events! I've been living in Japan for about a month now, and already, I've attended two town-wide events with hundreds of attendees! The first was the Kappa Festival, which I mentioned in a blog entry last month. Today's even was the Field Day.

Yeah, Field Day. Remember Field Day? Way back in elementary school, when the school district would all come together to old a massive athletics event with relay races and whatnot? Well, this one is TOWN WIDE, with participants not limited to just students! In fact, some events are designed specifically for adults, and many events (all, maybe?) are separated by age group. At one point, I saw 6 groups of a dozen senior citizens all throwing colored rubber balls into a reed basket 15 feet in the air. Not an easy task. And seeing this made me realize something: how physical activity is such an important aspect of Japanese culture. It's not just "important;" rather, it's "normal." It's just a regular, everyday thing. There are many farmers in town; they're always outside working, laboring, on their land. In offices, there are morning exercises; people warm up in sync to elevator music. It's amazing, really.

Anyway, it was neat to see the whole town participating in competitive activities. Everyone was split up into neighborhoods. When I first arrived, the Field Day event was already half-way through (I overslept; oops). And of course, I ran into my students on the way there (I walked) and was greeted by more upon my arrival. I didn't know where to go at first, so I hung out at the judges tent, where I saw two guys from the Board of Education (my superiors). [Side note: one of the guys is known simply as "Kachou," which basically means "section chief."] I grabbed a grape Fanta (remember, it's called "juice" here) and a "caramel milk crepe" and ate it at the judges tent. After a while, I met a friend of my JET predecessor who is learning English. She talked to me about some sort of "English club" that was established in a neighboring city by my pred; I'll attend this week's meeting. :-) After that brief conversation, she had to leave, and I went off to join my neighborhood. Again, I ran into some students; but they actually live in my neighborhood! It was fun cheering with them (or for them, in some cases) and cheering with their families. The Field Day ended with a big relay race.

Everyone was leaving, so I decided to grab some food before the stands were closed; I managed to get a box of tako yaki (octopus balls) and some okonomiyaki wrapped around some chop sticks. Okonomiyaki is like...well, like a crepe, but with a bunch of things thrown into it while it's cooked; kind of like an omelette would be made. Anyway, I just hung out at home afterward, watching some Breaking Bad (good series, by the way; I recommend it). As I went outside to the vending machine to grab some oolong tea, some elementary (or nursery?) school students said hello to me. Then the kuchou (president of the neighborhood...or something) showed up and told me that our neighborhood won! Yay!

So yeah, this weekend was both eventful (literally) and uneventful (figuratively) at the same time. Saturday was especially boring. Such that I learned the phrase to exclaim my boredom and text it to two friends. Unfortunately, both people I texted were busy. :-( Oh well, I spent the time watching Breaking Bad (actually started it yesterday) and cooking some awesome udon. I made the soup myself this time, too! Just some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and seasoned salt that I brought from the U.S. Seasoned salt makes everything taste better. Even victory.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention! I finally got my iPhone! Yay! I was thinking about making a "Cell phones in Japan Part 3," but I'm not really sure it's necessary. There isn't much more I can say about Japanese cell phones. Except that the majority of them use infrared to transmit the owner's account info (name, number, e-mail, picture) to someone else. It's so much more convenient than having to type it in! Unfortunately, iPhones don't have infrared; I'd have to buy a special dongle for that. But they do have bluetooth! And WiFi! Which means that I can download an app called "Bump" that'll let me "bump" my phone with another iPhone user (who also has the app) and exchange info that way. Yay apps.

Oh, another cool thing about Japanese phones is that they have a QR Code reader that can read these black and white square codes. These codes usually have websites, but I found an app that allows one to create a QR Code that contains phone info. Here is an example of a QR Code that happens to contain a link for this blog:

Cool, huh? So yeah, cell phones read those. I got an app to read them, as well. Lastly, I'll say that I finally worked out a little (weight lifting, calisthenics) in a loooooooooong time. It must have been all that exercise I saw today. And this epic video.

Phrase of the day: 退屈だな。 「たいくつだな。」 "Taikutsu da na." "I'm bored."

A gift for those of you who got to the end of this post:

Harold's Japan Picture Gallery

1 comment:

  1. OMG watching that video makes me wish I was doing more parkour.That was sooo awesome when he jumped off of the building!

    So that is how you say 'I am bored' rather than 'tsumaranai' which is it is boring XD