Reflections on how I am a supremely lucky bastard

No, not just because I get paid the kind of salary (with benefits!) that most other recent college graduates can only dream about, with the only nominal requirement being that I can speak my native language in a reasonably coherent manner. But because -- on Wednesdays each week, at least -- I get to do it at a great school.

Daiyonchuugakko in Takekoba, Karatsu, is almost everything that the aforementioned 700-strong Ichuu is not. Yonchuu is up in the hills outside the sprawl of central Karatsu, and it is my idea of paradise. For starters, it is tiny - between the three grades, there are perhaps seventy students total, with no more than twenty in each class. (The middle school actual shares half its grounds with the elementary school. I am a strong believer in the adorability of little Japanese kids. Even with them, though, there are still empty floors of the school complex.)

When at Ichuu I am at sea in a flood of faces, but at Yonchuu I know everyone's name -- despite the fact that I have only been there four or five times in all. The JTEs there (there are two, one is an assistant, so there are always three of us in each class, a great ratio) speak great English, and are good teachers to boot; classes are fun, the atmosphere is great, the kids are supremely genki and sometimes even voluntarily raise their hands to answer questions! (Well, the regular awarding of stickers probably helps with that.) Not suprisingly, they also speak the best English, on average, of any of my three schools. (I spend Thursdays and Fridays at Onizukachuugakko, which is about in between at something like 300 students.) The only downside: I only spend a half-day each week there. They don't, of course, really need me any more than that -- I have a feeling most of the boring grammar points stuff happens while I am away at other schools, and the ALT's day is game time, but hey, I'm not complaining, nor am I going to pretend I'm qualified to do much more than that, really -- but I would gladly go every day if I could. It is my half-day of academic Eden.

The depopulation of Japan never felt so great!

Addendum - In a previous post I noted the difficulty of finding baking soda at my nearby grocery store for some cookie making. Today I was reminded of an important life lesson: before you start to make snide generalizations about the percieved shortcomings of life in Japan, consider long and hard whether the problem might be more directly related to the fact that you're a dumb, functionally illiterate gaijin. In other news, I found baking soda at the grocery store today.

Addendum the second - Finding fennel, on the other hand, appears to be pretty well out at the moment. Anyone know of any good leads?