So on Friday, I was making all these plans. KANAZAWA! Not so far away (45 minutes by train), inexpensive (about 845Y to get there) and with excellent gardens and a castle and even a daily market to go to! I could go in the morning to get there for the market and be back by around sixish, which would mean I could easily get to the charity quiz that the Toyama JETs chapter had organized at a local restaurant in Takaoka. (Clarification for the confused: the JETs, and foreigners abroad, are generally welcoming of all ALTs and presumably all foreigners, regardless of actual JET status. I am graciously accepted within the fold.)

It was going to be totally awesome.

And then I remembered: it wasn’t mandatory or anything, but I’d been issued an invitation to attend the sports day for one of my elementary schools. I hadn’t told them I’d go, but I really wanted to make a good impression by showing up for at least part of it.

So I put off Kanazawa for next weekend, and hope the weather is good.

Going to the sports day was a good decision. For one thing, when my fellow teachers saw me they, they were very excited, and pressed a packed of sweets and a tea-box on me. (Like a juice-box, but..tea. They also have coffee-boxes here.) They showed me to a seat underneath the Special Awning for Special People or Maybe Just Teachers. I felt absolutely like an honored guest.

But beyond that, the events were worth seeing because they were absolutely adorable. They had a tug-of-war, with the larger kids at the end and the tiny little six year olds in the middle, about 40 kids on each team. And they’d heave and they’d strain and they’d go absolutely nowhere and then somebody would blow a whistle, and music would start, and they’d troop in an orderly circle to switch sides before trying again. And then the girls got their turn, and kids marched around two by two and waving flags.

Next came the “Olympics” for the first and second graders – a series of activities that each kid had to do, with hurdles and running and jump-rope-with-a-hula-hoop and walking on a balance beam.

News Flash: Not even cute pictures of your cat are more awesome than watching tiny, exuberant asian girls of about six hopping fiercely in huge, burlap rice-sacks.

Then there were less interesting courses for the older kids – because face it, they were just less cute. I left when they stopped for lunch. I met a very nice Pakistani family, with beautiful children who all had the most gorgeous curly hair. I said I couldn’t tutor their children, mostly because I didn’t want to but also because I’m not allowed to charge money to tutor kids who I’m already teaching at the school. (The theory is that because I’m already being paid to teach them, I shouldn’t be paid twice to teach them some more.) I said I’d ask around the JETs, but I haven’t gotten any responses yet. I guess if I haven’t heard anything by Saturday, I’ll give the family a call and say that I couldn’t find anybody. (Sadly, they’re not really convenient for most of the teachers, because they’re not near any public transit. Maybe somebody will want the money though, and will have a car.)

I did end up going to the quiz night, which was lots of fun, and the Brazilian restaurant who generously hosted us had really good food. (Inexpensive, too – I’ll have to go back.) I took the tram there, so that I could have a drink – the tram is much more expensive and time consuming (350Y instead of 190Y, and about 30 minutes rather than, oh, seven) but the rules about alcohol here are much stricter than in the states – you simply cannot drink and drive in Japan. At all. Even just one. Even just a sip. Even one hour later. It doesn’t matter. If you’ve had anything at all, you cannot drive. So I got to have a drink, but it meant I had to leave a little early, because the last tram is at 10:20pm and Takaoka is about… 10km home.

Okay, if I’d been stupid and gotten drunk or missed the tram or something, the various JET people are nice, and I’m sure somebody would have let me pull up a piece of floor. But… there might not have been a couch, if their places are anything like mine. I mean, I would absolutely let somebody crash at my place, but I’d have nothing at all for them to sleep on. (I’d feel bad about it, but that wouldn’t extend to offering them my bed in my place.)

On Sunday, I went grocery shopping, and cleaned, and did a bunch of laundry, and some cooking, and relaxed. I “vacuumed” with my dustbuster and smacked around my futon with my shower rod, and read a bunch of scanlations of a super cheesy kids manga called Detective Conan, which is crazy-ridiculous-awesome-insane. I finished the unknitting my sock needed, and watched a silly martial-arts movie starring both Jacki Chan and Jet Li, which was mostly disappointing except for the amazing mullet the young white hero gets. (He gets transported back into ancient China, and for approximately five minutes everybody speaks Chinese and he has no idea what’s going on, and then he meets Jacki Chan and suddenly everybody is speaking English. And he can’t get home over the course of several months (long enough to learn kung fu) so his perfectly normal hair “grows out” – except that they show this passage of time by simply attaching a fake ponytail to the back of his neck, and leaving all the hair on top of his head exactly the same, so even though he’s a modern, 00s kid who’s accidentally in Ancient China, he looks like some sort of 80s teen movie refugee.) It was fun though, and I don’t feel like I need my two hours back or anything. Well, only a little bit.

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