Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Midterms and Matsuris

I realized the other day that I have neglected my blog again. Sumimasen! (すみません〕 I've been so busy with school, Japanese class, and traveling, I forgot to write it down :)

This week is midterms - from Tues through Fri the students only have 3 class periods and 1 or 2 tests each day. I am in charge of writing the midterm for my 1st graders. Fun fun fun. But this also means that I have a lot more time during the day to plan lessons (or update my blog!).

Let's see, this past weekend, my friend Scot visited from Sasayama (in the north countryside) and we went to Osaka for a Beer Festival under the Sky Building. The festival had beers from all over the world - really! We had beer from Palestine, the Netherlands, Greece, everywhere! Of course Guiness and Heiniken were there, but I skipped those for the more exotic ones. I think the entire gaijin (foreigner) population showed up - approximately half the people I saw were English-speakers. :) How do you get a large group of foreigners in one place? Offer them beer, of course!

After the beer, a group of us went to Nishinomiya for dinner. We went to this fantastic Italian restaurant that had *real* Italian food - not Japanese-Italian (they like to put squid and squid ink in their pasta, weird). It was wonderful and only about $25/person for appetizer, entre, desert, and 2 glasses of wine!
The weekend before, Erin (another ALT that lives in my building) and I went to Miki for their matsuri (festival). Miki is a very small town northwest of Kobe. We ran into a group of ALTs from Awaji Island, so we hung out with them for the day. During the festival, all the men in the town carry these huge wooden floats, called danjiri, through the streets starting at about 8:30AM. (To help them gain strength, they take beer breaks about every 30-60 minutes.) There were about 50 men per float and 8 danjiri! We got there around 1PM, and everywhere we went people were shocked to see "so many gaijin!" (there were 6 of us). But everyone was very nice and wanted to talk to us or offered us beer. Around 4PM, the men carried the danjiri towards the town's shrine. The shrine is located at the top of a very steep hill - you have to walk up a long flight of stairs to get there. And those drunk men carried the danjiri up the stairs and paraded them in front of the shrine! It was amazing! I wish I had pictures, but my camera ran out of juice and the batteries I thought were charged, weren't. Pooh.

Here's a picture I found online that is similar to what I saw:

It was pretty crazy! The town I was in was much smaller than this picture - all the residental streets that they carried the danjiri through are only one lane. There was only one two-lane road that went through the town to the next town. Again, I wish I had pictures!

Well, I should probably get back to work. Midterms and all. I'll try not to wait so long between postings next time!

Japanese phrase of the day:

Tomodachi to matsuri e ikimashita. 友達と まつりヘ 行きました。I went to the festival with my friend.