Monday, July 31, 2006

On the road again...

Leaving the apartment yesterday my heart imploded as me and my supervisor pulled off slowly down the driveway. I had my 32 kg’s of baggage and a small army of extra things that are going to be left or passed on to other people. Many of my adult education class students showed up to see me off, including little Haruka. Seeing them all waving goodbye with my clean and empty apartment behind them, with Aine, my neighbor of two years up on her balcony and taking it all in I suddenly realized I would probably never ever be there again.

It hit home then, that this chapter of my life is drawing to a close, that the long protracted goodbyes of the past couple of weeks had been leading up to this moment, me departure from Kashima.

The feeling was very similar to when I left my apartment in Wellington over two years ago. The way as the motion of the vehicle starts, when the liquid in your inner ear picks up the change in momentum, it’s like a detonating switch that triggers this small implosion in side. Implosion is a good term for the feeling I believe.

I sat with Kazeyama, my supervisor, who I’ve only really gotten to know recently in relative silence for at least a good half hour as I collected my thoughts and let the experience sink in a bit. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, it was more a quiet respectful ‘I know you’re there, but that must have been a bit hard so have some quiet time to digest it’ silence. Once we got into Saga city we started to chat about things, the conversation picked up by my pointing out Saga University hospital where I had my wisdom teeth removed. We chatted about stuff and it was only when we arrived at the apartment I realized that I hadn’t said a word of English over the entire car ride. Guess you can teach an old dog new clichés.

I don’t think new clichés are possible are they?

ANYWAY…if you could imagine the following sentence in your best possible Keith ‘Oh my god I’m old and drunk’ Richards voice…

I am now, my dear, a man of fuckin’ leisure…

Now I’ve set up base camp in Yamato-Niiji, just a few minutes bike ride away from a mega-mall the size of downtown Kashima. Last night I went out, took in some local bands at a gig in the city, had dinner, did a bit of karaoke.

Today I woke up, rode to the mall, ate some food and then really just played games on Sarah’s ps2 and watched movies up until now. Everyone else is at work.

The Japanese term for being unemployed is “mushyoku”

Last night someone asked if I was a teacher and I quite cheerily informed them of my new status.

Let the holidays begin, discard the serious pants of work and don the antic-pants! Antic-pants I say! And be quick about it

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A fixing...

This morning I 'fixed' the hole in my wall.

I placed the missing piece of wallpaper over the hole.

I then thumb-tacked a 100 yen photo frame over the offending wall mark.

I retrieved my long absent T.V. and video set from Mr. Gatewood the second to aid in the 'not a shifty bastard who you should charge repairs to' look.

This is a female Kabuto Mushi, Kabuto Mushi being the Japanese beetles with the large array of spikey horns. We found her on her back, outside the apartment yesterday. She was unable to roll over onto her legs and was stuck in the hot sun. Picked her up, documented her, and then placed her into a damp tree hollow on a neighbours property. I didn't think it was possible for a hefty bug to look cute, but she managed it in the bottom close up with her big eyes and fuzzy antennae.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just click play alright?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's all over...

It’s all over.

I just finished my final class as a teacher in Japan. All that’s left now is the drinking and the speeches. I took a final look over the rows of kids and paused for a second to fix the image in my mind, although I’m sure its ingrained there, just with different faces. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, some sadness, some excitement, some sense of relief that the process I’ve been planning (badly) for over the past few weeks is finally beginning.

At a leaving party last week I got given this drawing by Haruka, who I’ve been teaching since she was about five at eikaiwa classes. She’s now Seven and is one of the newest 1st grade students at one of the Elementary schools I teach at.

I think she got the beard done quite well, although it also looks suspiciously like Ryan McArthur for some reason too.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, July 14, 2006

I want to be a Whale Shark when I grow up


It has been sometime since the last entry in these journals of adventure.

The pace of events has picked up dramatically here of late. I have ventured far down into southern Kyushu in search of illusive mysteries, sand baths, shochu and giant sharks. I found them and was sated.

I compiled together a 25 minute long photo slideshow that was presented at the grand and luxurious leaving ceremony in the Capital city last weekend. It worked flawlessly, which is to say that opposed to last year’s slideshow failure it was flawless, flawless also in the technical facilities of the hotel. It seemed to be well received. When the final credit rolled up the screen I was inebriated, due to a tall English man constantly pouring me beer which in turn was well received, enough to allow a Mortal Kombat style ‘flawless victory’ chant to run through my head.

I was able to take part in the second annual Tafuse regatta. This involved purchasing a pirates costume of sorts, and inflatable raft, some beer, and paddling down the main river in Saga with an armada of assorted miscreants, much to the bewilderment, amusement or delight of some of the natives. I’ve never had so many spiders crawling on me as when we were swept into reeds time and time again by the current. The water pistol came in handy for dealing with the eight legged Klingons. Much pirate talk was used ruthlessly.

Drove through the misty hills of Saga that evening. The deep ravines and river beds spewing clouds of gas into the suspiciously empty looking countryside. I admit to specifically directing us towards the slightly longer route through the hills because I thought they would be suitably moody with the near full moon and current atmospheric conditions. Rewards followed with vast, ominous, visual backdrops that would make Holmes himself pull his cap down over his eyes, raise the collars on his jacket and take larger pulls on his tobacco.

Met a variety of Japanese people at another party on Karatsu beach. The swimming was naked. I was the only male. Phosphorescent plankton, mating on the high tide and by the light of the moon surrounded us, it was like swimming in a sea of neon green electric sparks.

Managed to get a base tan the next day on the same beach. Last weekend was so good in fact it’s kept me buoyant all the way through this final full working week of working weeks. I now sit here, with all but one final class to complete at this, the largest of my schools. Monday coming is a bank holiday, and the students finish on Thursday.

Many things have been organized. Items have been boxed, two years of bills and paperwork has been sorted. Air craft ticketing has been purchased, flight paths planned, dates confirmed, as have concert tickets and credit cards have been renewed and are being couriered across the oceans in case of emergency excess in baggage weight. In fourteen days I will no longer be a resident of Kashima. Incidentally, Google earth has recently added high resolution satellite photo’s of the city to its virtual globe service. I present to you a link to my house as viewed from space.Mine is the large rectangular apartment block with the single white car in the center of the frame. Zoom out and you can get an idea of the place that has been home for the past two years.

It’s been an emotional process, the endless saying goodbye’s and final classes are leaving me a bit drained. Of course, we are now entering into high summer as well, which compounds the sense of weariness. It’s topped thirty degrees before eight thirty a.m., which turns the morning bike ride to school into a struggle into the baking breeze of what seems to be the world’s largest, moistest, hair dryer. As was pointed out to me yesterday it’s a bad time to be leaving, to have so many things to organize and to do, so many people to see. Manners in interpersonal relationships have to be a bit stricter as fraying nerves can send tempers soaring at the drop of a hat. This is accomplished, inversely so, by drinking.

Finally, here is the footage I shot at Kagoshima aquarium recently, cut together, with the group of ‘special education’ adults who were trying to talk to me and Kamil in especially bad English (and completely ignored, I mean, you know? We were on holiday, we’re not English practice robots) edited out of the soundtrack. This clip is the prized center piece of my fish video collection.

I want to be a Whale Shark when I grow up.