So there has been a bit of a dry spell between my posts but I will do my best to catch you up. School has been going well and I just had my Halloween lessons where I dressed up in my kids uniforms for school. All the kids loved my “costume” and we did some coloring sheets and a maze. The past moth or so I have been back to Tochigi where my host family that I stayed with in high school lives. Although it is not my own home it feels like it because just knowing where the silverware is feels a little more like home. It takes about 3 hours by train and 3 train changes to get there but it is worth it even though it is only an overnight stay. The first night I visited we had to get up at 4 in the morning to drive to my host sister Natsuki’s college because they were having a college festival there and my host parents wanted to go to all of the activities. That also was about a 3 hour ride in the car but I just slept most of the way. My younger host sister Sena was busy studying and could not come with on the trip.
At the festival we walked around the campus and watched the vocal and dance group perform. As I was watching the vocal group I was remembering elementary school choir and how the teacher was always encouraging us to use some hand gestures when we sang. For many Americans I think that using hand gestures when we speak comes very natural, but for the students in this college vocal group, it appeared to not come so easy. After that I began noticing that many Japanese do not gesture when they speak and it must seem like I am wildly flailing my arms in the air and making all these faces.
Other than that we saw some other musical groups perform for example there was a rap group and a reggae group that performed. Then we ate at some Yakisoba we bought from one of the various food stalls. We watched a closing performance of all of the clubs including the magic club which made me giggle a little and that wrapped up 12 hours. I was going to take the train back home from Hachioji but my hose parents insisted they drive me home because it was so late.
The next day I had anther early start at 5 because I went to Tokyo Disney Sea with my Takasaki host family. The drive was about 3 hours and my little sister Arisa and I just slept most of the way. I had been to Tokyo Disney Land before but Land is targeted more for little kids whereas Sea seemed to have rides that are more suited for adults. My favorite ride was the tower of terror. Overall it was really nice to spend the day with my host family.
The next day we had an office day so that means we go to the office (city hall) and talk about whatever needs to be discussed and then we go home. Since I am coming back to America I needed to go get a re-entry permit. My visa is only good for entering the country once and I used that the minute I entered the country in July. If I were to leave the country and try to come back to japan without the re-entry permit, I would not be allowed back in. So I had to go do that and I found that bureaucracy is the same in every country. The waiting room was hot, unidentifiable stains covered the carpet and there were children running all over. Take a number take a number, the man at the desk repeated. After a hot an uncomfortable 30 minutes my number was finally called and I got my stamp and was on my way.
Besides that school has been going well, although sometimes it is hard to teach with other homeroom teachers who have a stroke if I even mention doing an activity that is not in the textbook. But I am slowly getting them to think about other ideas than the textbook.
So I have joined this gym called Joy Fit and for the first few weeks no one said anything about my tattoos but then all of a sudden they are trying to tell me that I cannot use the shower facilities because some people (old ladies no doubt) are complaining that I have tattoos and they don’t like it. So I talked with them and said that I am an equal customer and should be allowed to use the facilities or only pay half of what I am paying if I can only use half the facilities. The gym people decided that if I put tape over my tattoos that I can continue to use the showers. I get why the old women don’t like tattoos because of what they used to and still represent in Japan but I am not Japanese and it’s not like I am harassing them in the shower. I agreed to their conditions and have had no problem since, so I guess it is purely the aesthetic aspect of the tattoo that they don’t like.