Friday, February 20, 2009

Japan Day 6 [transcribed from journal]

Have you ever had every girl in an all-girls high school giggle at you at once?  In Japan?  Wearing identical sailor-suit uniforms?  Well, I've been there, and it's a hoot.

Breakfasted at the hotel before taxiing back to Kwassui HIgh School.  As local students trickled past me at the main gate, I got lots of shocked looks, a few embarrassed murmurs of "Ohaiyo Gozaimas" [good morning], and a smattering of truly bold "hello"'s and "good morning"'s.

Kwassui High is the only protestant high school in Nagasaki, and our first stop was a short, whole-school chapel service.  The Wilcox contingent sat in two rows of pews near the back, and stood when the headmaster introduced us.  Hundreds of bobs of black hair swiveled as one, to become hundreds of faces -- giiggling faces.

We enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Kwassui High from 8 'til 4, during which time the students shadowed through a more-or-less normal schoolday, with us trailing silently.

There were a few occasions to do some free-form language exchange, when we got right in there.  Students were very bubbly, and were especially taken with my height.

Choice English phrases thrown my way throughout the day included "you are cool" and "you are so very handsome."  Presumably my beiung twice their age made me a safe target for their admiration.  Still, Lauren now stands ready with a sharp pin to deflate my ego if necessary.

Courses included English, math, singing, social studies, and even some origami-folding with the junior high-schoolers (just for fun).  School lunch was piping hot udon noodle bowl (no fish cake for me).

Class ended around 3:15, and all our students were with their homestays by 4.  Took a taxi back to the hotel, where we're now (5:15pm) enjoying the longest stretch of true downtime we've had on this trip by far.

[9pm]

Lovely footnote to the evening!  Lauren and I stepped across the street to the Eight Flags Tea House.
Turned out to be a gorgeous British-style tea room capable of seating six or so (we were the only patrons).  Owner eventually told us that everything in the shop was from England (large wooden model ship, wallpaper, light fixtures, etc. etc.).  We ordered our favorite teas and split a chocolate waffle.  Pricey, but totally worth it.  As we told the proprietor, the tea shop proved to be the single most delightful experience we've had in Japan thus far.  What a happy accident!

After tea, we met up with Rushton, Sergio, and his wife Itsuko, also an English teacher at Kwassui college.  Rushton wanted to take them out for dinner, and their location of choice was a restaurant in nearby Chinatown.  So, more tasty Chinese food and two additional voices joining the lively dinner conversation.

Musings on the reasons for and reaction to the bomb as we walked back to the hotel, and then a nice, early bedtime with the option to actually sleep in (a bit) for the first time in the entire trip.