Monday, March 10, 2008
The mountain also hosts a number of national and international events throughout the year, and we took in an aerial competition this weekend. Check out the crazy announcer in the cowboy hat on the left in the second picture.
Finally, on the academic side, we've been watching Dead Poets' Society in English class and relating it to Lord of the Flies. It's a great way to end our time in Japan before spring break, and it gives me a chance to post a picture of a real teacher.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
To complete the day, we visited a few different shrines and temples that evening. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The area is a natural habitat for the monkeys and there aren't any fences to keep them contained. A lot of tourists visit them though, so it is obvious that the monkeys have become desensitized to humans. They were completely oblivious to all the people. Greg was able to get right next to them at the onsen to take a picture. The monkeys were feeling quite photogenic, and I was able to get a couple of pictures of them cleaning each other and hanging out on a fence. I even got one of the babies to come out of the water for a picture! Nick, one of the AGE students, spent his time quietly observing one of the monkeys alone. After a few minutes, he realized that it was digging into the snow for seeds that had fallen from the trees. Nick quickly decided to climb into the snow and join the monkey in its search. When Nick found seeds, he would put them into his hand and gently open his palm towards the monkey. As the monkey reached for the seed, a moment of two conflicting worlds in beautiful harmony prevailed. Not one to miss out on the experience, I quickly climbed into the snow bank with Nick and started digging. After I collected a number of seeds, I found a new friend to share them.
After visiting the monkeys, the day trip was complete with a stop to the most popular onsen in Japan. Despite its popularity, I was able to have it all to myself during the lull of a Thursday afternoon. One look let's you know why it is Japan's favorite.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
As if the characters aren't hard enough, it turns out that proper Japanese calligraphy has to be completed in a certain order with just the right pressure and timing. More pressure results in wider marks, while slower movements (which sometimes involves blotting) result in a thicker layer of ink. One example is in the word "dream." "Dream" is two characters. The one on the left is my pathetic attempt and the one on the right was made by our calligraphy teacher. As you might have noticed, parts of her strokes barely appear. That's not sloppiness; it's perfection. The characters are supposed to be written that way. What seemed difficult at first now seems impossible! Still, we continued to ask her to write a few of our favorite words for us to try to duplicate. Here is "nature." The one on the left is hers, the one on the right is mine.
Finally, I realized the one word I really wanted to learn how to write: spirit. The one on top is hers, the one on the bottom is mine. In Japanese, you pronounce it "tama-she."
Monday, February 25, 2008
We next went to a science class. The students were doing a fun lab that involved using very cold salt water to make fresh water freeze. Joey worked hard to ensure that his group did the best.If you look closely at the picture, you'll notice that the boy in red is actually wearing a Boston Red Sox shirt! I was so excited that I started rattling off all the Japanese players who have played for the Sox: "Dice-K Matsuzaka? Hideki Okajima? Tomokazi Oh-ka!" The boy just blankly stared at me with a tinge of horror on his face and then ran away. I guess that while most students wear clothing with English writing, they rarely know what it means. Oh well. Before class ended, Tom challenged one of the students to an arm wrestling match. Tom claims that he let him win. We still sent him to the back of the class for letting things deteriorate so much.
The last class we attended was physical education. We started the class with a powerpoint presentation about ourselves.
And then we taught them a few different games we play in the United States. Here's one of the Japanese students playing Duck-Duck-Goose.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Yes, that's mutton, entrails, beef, horse tongue, and pig tongue. One of the students went for the beef, while the other one went for the mutton and horse tongue. However, he only got the horse tongue under the stipulation that we all tried it. They brought the raw meat out for us to cook at our table. Here's a picture of a cooked piece of horse tongue with all the raw pieces waiting to be cooked.
And here I am about to try my first piece of horse tongue!
I had two pieces. The first was to try it. The second was to go the whole hog.