Monday, October 08, 2007

Coming in for a landing where there is little understanding

Even after a year in this place, I have barely scratched the surface of comprehending things that happen around me. Like a child, I have come to make sense of strange practices only through the sense of repetitive familiarity, rather than actually understanding. For example, during morning meeting when the teachers all begin to clap, I turn and clap. I usually don't know why, but I do it anyway. A year ago, i'd just don my "what the fuck" face and ask another sensei what was happening. Then decide if I should clap.

Now, I don't care, i just clap. And that is that.

That's not to say that I am a complete moron. I mean, I have been studying the language, and asking about a quatrillion questions since I've stepped into this country. However, the knowledge I have gathered up until this point is making me wonder if I will ever really understand things.

For instance, i know what Karuta is. I know that when I pronounce it, I must put the stress on the first syllable so the students won't laugh at me. I know that it is a game played with one hundred cards, and each has the ending of a famous haiku written on it. I understand why the kids huddle around the scattered cards and grab it like lightning after the announcer reads something to them. Yes, I've been taught that they must match the beginning of the poem to the ending on the card, and gather the most cards in order to win. This is something I learned last year in the gym when all the 1st year students had a Karuta tournament.

However, this is something that you can learn from a book. Or from a blog:) How many years would it take it me actually sit amongst the children and be able to play with them? Who the hell knows? Alot.

This weighs on my mind. I am beginning to wonder if these strange and interesting things I experience everyday are actually bettering me in any way. Hmmph. Perhaps too serious to discuss here, so I will digress in an attempt to entertain you.

Here are a couple of things I have photographed that have left me amused and confused. Let me ask you, What does it all mean?

Desk Artwork in the Team teaching room

Sign by the ATM at the Shimashin in Shimada, Japan

Store sign in Shizuoka City, Japan

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