Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall is Here... A Scary Trail, A CultureFestival, and More Randomness

It's gotten a lot cooler lately. Usually I would hate that, but after a super hot summer without air conditioning, I'm appreciating the cool down. During the summer it would often be about 90 degrees (32 C) by 6:30 when I got up for school. Ick. Lately it's in the low to mid 70s (22-24 C) when I wake up. When it was hot I didn't want to get up for school because I didn't feel very rested. I couldn't sleep in on the weekends either because it was just too hot to sleep. Now I don't want to get up because it is a nice temperature for sleeping. :)

Right now (a little after 8 pm) it's about 70 degrees (21 C) outside. It reached about 77 (25 C) today. It was nice and sunny, too. If the weather stays like this for the rest of the time I'm in Japan, I'll be very happy. Unfortunately it's going to get cold. I asked a couple teachers yesterday what the weather is like here in Toi in the winter. They said it rarely goes below freezing and that snow is uncommon. That doesn't sound too bad... except... they all mentioned the wind. They said the wind here in the winter is terrible. Ugh. I'll just stay under my kotatsu all winter.

But for now, I will enjoy the nice weather while it lasts! :)

On Friday after school I went to check out a trail that starts here in Toi. This is not the one that I tried finding that one day where the senile lady was convinced I was lost. This is one that I noticed on my way to the ferry dock a couple weeks ago.

On my way to the trail I took a picture as the ferry arrived in Toi. It wasn't very dark yet, but this picture turned out a bit dark. I like how the sky looks.

I soon arrived at the start of the trail. There's a sign and even a few parking spaces. The first bit of the trail is paved, but very very steep. This picture is very blurry, but you can kind of see the trail.This is after the really steep part.

There were quite a few spiders. They were large, but they weren't the really huge ones. They were these black and yellow ones that have been hanging around lately. I don't like them, but they weren't going to make me turn around.

I got a nice view of Toi.

Soon after this last picture was taken, the trail got a lot wilder and there were low branches hanging in the way. I knew I wouldn't be able to walk the whole 2 km trail because it was almost sunset, but I stopped and turned around sooner than expected. I saw some large animal run down the hill. I have no idea what it was because I only saw it at a distance and couldn't see clearly through the trees. I've heard that there are wild boars on the Izu Peninsula and that they're not nice. There aren't many wild animals around here besides birds so I don't know what it could have been besides a boar. Well I guess it could have been  a stray dog, but I haven't seen any of those around here either.

So, I turned around and headed to 7-11. I went past a shrine and took this picture.

Then I passed by something that looked like it was a food stand at some point.

The next day was Saturday but I had to go to the culture festival at school. I wasn't really wanting to go to school very much that day. I knew that the various classes were going to perform the songs they have been practicing for the past few weeks and that the students that did the English speech contest would give their speeches. I had seen them practice many of these things so I didn't think that the actual day would have so much more.

A lot of the performances were groups that are practiced outside of the school, so I learned about many of the students talents that I did not know about. The first thing was a taiko group. I have heard them practicing from my apartment almost every evening for the past couple of weeks. I had no idea that it was my students!

Soon the choir performed. One of the songs was a cappella.  One student was off to the side and I thought he was going to sing a solo. This particular student is very energetic and kinda ADD. He really likes to sing. Sometimes he'll be singing when the teacher is trying to get the class quiet. Often he is singing very over dramatically to be funny, but he has a good voice. He's not a great student, but he does make a good effort in English class and he always makes me laugh. So, I was expecting him to sing. Instead he started beat boxing. It totally fit his personality and was very entertaining.

Later this same student performed a dance with a few other students. He was the lead dancer. The song started and he moonwalked across the stage and then they did Thriller! They did a really good job. One of the teachers video taped everything and I'm going to try and get a copy.

The high school band came and performed. I didn't recognize a couple of the songs, but I know that the conductor said he is a big fan of Dragonball so I think one of the songs was from that anime. They also played an Arashi medley and the theme song of One Piece (a popular anime).

After a break for lunch, we went back into the gym for the afternoon performances. For the next performance the only part of the program I could read was "band." So I thought it would be the students who can play musical instruments... like flutes and stuff like that. However, it was a rock band. Four of the 3rd year girls have a band. It was so cute! They were really good too. The lead singer was the 3rd year girl who did the English speech contest. I had no idea she played the guitar and had a band. So much fun!

Next was the PTA band, which was also a rock band. One of the teachers played the electric guitar and the other members were parents. During the 3rd song, one of the teachers ran up onto the stage dressed in a leather jacket and started singing. I (and everyone else) was cracking up. Later that night at the teachers' party he asked if I liked the band. I said I did and he said he thought it was noisy and that he's not usually like that. He likes enka music. This is enka music:

I know nothing about that guy. It was the first video that came up when I typed "enka" in YouTube, lol. I see shows like this on TV sometimes. It's like the Lawrence Welk show of Japan, haha. 

Then the different classes each sang a song. They did well, but it got a little boring because I've heard them practice these songs for several weeks. It wasn't any more entertaining watching them sing up on a stage rather than the classrooms. 

But overall, the day really flew by! I thought that watching the performances from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon would seem long, but it didn't. It was a fun, relaxing day and I got paid for it! :)

That night I went out to eat with about six or seven of the other teachers at a yakiniku restaurant. There were grills on the table and we grilled small pieces of meat. I didn't know what the first thing was. I thought it was just beef. I ate once piece. Then the teacher across from me said, "It's this" and pointed at her tongue. Ewwwwwww. No wonder it was so chewy. It tasted ok though. Then she put another piece on my plate. Great... :P
Afterward, I spent the night at another teachers apartment. None of those teachers live in Toi and it was too late for me to take the bus back. I had to wake up at 4:30 the next morning though because she had to be at school early in the morning for a club activity. But I enjoyed the ride through the pretty mountains at sunrise.

Now... here's some randomness...

I tried an apple Oreo bar. I've tried several flavors of these bars, but none of them has been as good as the first one I had, which was green tea flavor. I still haven't tried the regular kind though.

I buy Kraft macaroni and cheese at Sun to Moon in Mishima. I love that they even have the white cheddar flavor... even if it is almost 300 yen a box... haha. The zucchini was also almost 300 yen for just one. I'm not sure how much the vegetables or orange juice cost, but this meal was much more expensive than it would be in the US. Sooooo good though!

This was at the bakery in Kanazawa. I forgot to upload this to that post because this photo was on my phone. They were really cute but I didn't buy one because there were many other things I wanted instead of melon bread.

The tea lady at the junior high school gave me some peppers that she grew. I'm not a huge fan of green peppers, but they tasted pretty good when I put them in curry. :)

I hung a bunch of paper cranes from the light in my bedroom.

I made a lemon plushie. I have no idea why this is sideways. It wasn't sideways, but it turned that way when I uploaded it. I can't figure out a way to rotate it. It's annoying me, but I also don't feel like messing with it. So, just tilt your head sideways to see the cuteness. :)


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