Friday, 27 April 2012

Enkai and Eikiwa

Osaka tomorrow!

Three days in a row, a sports day. Tonosho then Shodoshima then Tonosho.

One of the above, not to be mentioned for privacy reasons, invited me to an Enkai (a drinking and eating party) after the sports festivities. Before we get to that, the sports festivals themselves, wow. So Japanese people are efficient at working together and these festivities seem to highlight and exude this fact. Most of the games/contests involved team work. No wait I think they all did. Tug of war: the students had tournaments then the winners played the teachers (me included) and we won, in both schools the teachers triumphed. My hands and arms ache a fair bit now (along with the legs, back and every other old man part); mass skipping, a whole class skipping with one rope. That was fun and impressive to watch, less fun when I had a go with all the teachers and it was me that the rope snagged on. I think it snagged on someone else the second time, but our score, either way, was zero. The highest the students managed was somewhere in gojuu, fifty... or was it sixty? no it was sixty. Anyway, there was also the three man four legs race (三人四脚) or in Romanji San'nin'yonkyaku, which I got to take part in and I didn't do badly! Me, fuke sensei and hamamoto sensei had a go. I feel sorry for Fuke sensei as she was in the middle and not remotely in control of her feet. (like three legged race, but three people not two). There was also giant balls, loads of tiny balls being thrown up into the air, toddlers, toddler's bikes, ridden by teenagers, bread dangling from ropes, an ordinary relay, an eccentric and very much for fun relay, lots of speeches, a lot of bowing, a priceless expression by the head of the winning team when he almost dropped the trophy he was awarded, it was a mix of horror and shame, he looked like he might have felt a little sick. Poor dab. There were hellos all day from students, thank yous for my help doing any menial task and goodbyes as I drove away in the evenings doing my best not to run over any stray students. The Enkai was so new and so different. Drinks, lots and lots of refills, and food, enough to feed and army and have doggybags left over to have for lunch the next day. There was outrageous sceaming and strange hand gestures in the middle of comedic sketches which I found funny but only for their outrageousness, what the teachers were saying was completely lost on me. I learnt how to type Kawa which means river and Shita which means Down. Kawashita Riverdown. I showed off my Kana skills and taught someone how to say my middle names while also begging everyone to constantly tell me their names. We moved to another place where there was a constant stream of snacks and alcohol with no money being transferred, I asked one of the english teachers (who by this point was very red eyes, which I kept gleefully pointing out to him) how it worked and he said he wasn't too sure but he thought the bill came to the school afterwards. I better pay when I'm next there! It was nice having alone time with a few teachers to get them to talk, their confidence with english is very low in a group but individually they are willing to try.

Speaking of English, I had my first Eikiwa too on Sunday (an english class for adults) and it was in a really really beautiful temple. Very traditional Japanese style, low doors, incense, statues, ornate gardens insight, tapestries, floor seatings with cushions, everything ridiculously beautiful. I was given a sweet snack too. I showed them photos from home and Swansea and a ridiculously extensive collection of photos of my paintings then two parts of Under My Umbrella. Oh dear, they loved it. What have I done?

The teachers at the Enkai ensured I had my glass full at all times and I explained to the aforementioned English teacher the meaning of Tea Total and it's etymology to the best of my knowledge, he was drunk and nodded along. There was much nodding, gesturing, miming and smiling along and clapping, not to mention copious bows. I also sung Barbie Girl. Oh dear, yes I did, didn't I? With the english teacher though. He got the Ken part. I volunteered my voice-acting skills to go as Barbie. Oh cringe, it was fun. Osaka, bed time.

Oh and I just realised I missed out the Folk dance = priceless fun, I laughed at myself so much. I've done several of them about four times now. Three days in a row and the other week as well. One of them's kind of catchy and the little grubby hands I have to hold to do these dances. The shy ones, the loud ones, the sticky ones. Ahh it's fun. The warm up exercise was great too, really cute child like music telling us to bend, stretch, spin and touch our toes (well I think that's what it was saying, it was all in a camp, childlike voice in Japanese) I just did my best to copy and not look like a bumbling buffoon. Did the same and probably failed just as much when the school song came on and the National Anthem too! Wait, in fact, I'm constantly trying to copy and look natural and failing miserably. It's brilliant.

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