Yes, contrary to popular belief, I am still among the living. In short: September killed me. I was busy every weekend, barely home some weeks, and I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with my blog. But I’m back now and will keep on with the blogging thing!
So much has happened that I really can’t do a massive summary of it all, but things are going well and I’ll do a sort of recap to get the blogging thing back to a good start.
First of all, September was 運動会 (sports festival) season. 運動会 is a really big deal in Japan. You know field day in American elementary school? That day at the end of the school year when there are races and silly events and it’s mostly just a relaxing day outside? 運動会 is a little like that, only on steroids. Rather than on a school day, it’s a Saturday or Sunday, and they prepare for it for weeks. Seriously, several periods a day were devoted to practicing. In the 37 degree heat (that’s about 99F). It was insane. The school is divided into teams (my base school had five, my tiny inaka school had two) and they compete against each other. The families come, it lasts all day, there’s a short opening and closing ceremony, and in the end the winning team gets a trophy. 運動会 is crazy. And I had three of them because I work at three elementary schools and everyone wanted me to come. Then I got sick, for the second time since coming to Japan at the end of July, so it ended up being kind of rough going for a while.
I also, during Silver Week (a week with two national holidays in), went to visit my friend Serena on the island she lives on. It’s a tiny inaka island in the inland sea, and it’s kind of hard to get to. I had to take a train to Imabari (45 minutes or so by express train) and then a ferry to her island (an hour and five minutes). But it was awesome. We watched Takarazuka DVDs and, because it was raining, stuck close to her house the next day. Our main expedition out was to the Shinto shrine up the hill.
It was completely deserted (understandable, considering it’s a small island and it was raining), so we took a bunch of silly pictures. Like the one above. We went up a small hill and there was a small kitsune (fox god) shrine. I thought the kitsune and I were getting on great, but then it started raining harder, so maybe I pissed them off. I thought we were bros.
There may or may not also be pictures (as in, they can be found on Facebook) of me hiding behind sake barrels and looming behind a guardian lion statue. Good times were had by all.
I’m sorry, this is a very scattered blog entry, but I’m mostly just trying to get back on track with this thing and let my readers (few and far between though they may be) that I do still love you. So, in closing because I do have to get up early and bike to work tomorrow, I’m going to explain the first picture I posted. As the caption says, it’s me and Alicia (she’s from Trinidad and awesome) watching fighting mikoshi. For a quick explanation of a mikoshi, I direct your attention to Wikipedia. At one of Matsuyama’s autumn festivals (the one on October 7th this year), mikoshi teams, typically composed of men who look like gangsters and convicts, carry their mikoshi around the city chanting. Three went by my apartment that day, which I know about because I had the day off. But there’s another aspect to this lovely tradition: early in the morning and again at night, teams fight. As in, they bash into each other. Complete with a lot of manly shouting and taunting of the other team. Oh yes.
It looks something like that. Alicia and I went to watch the evening one, because neither of us wanted to go see it at six AM, and it was so great.
So, in conclusion: come to Japan and you, too, might get to watch big floats smash into each other!