Judo Chop!

Here I am sitting in the teachers room at Highashiyoka Junior High School. The window is open, the heater is buzzing, Takushima sensei is dabbing strokes of kanji on the chalkboard and the room is generally alive and stirring. I've got five classes today, one of which I missed this morning because my teacher forgot me. This is normal and usually I just follow behind and he smiles and chuckles at his forgetfulness. This morning I took advantage of his forgetfulness and relaxed at my desk and tried to finish up book 2 of the correspondence course. I almost quit the course because I find it fairly boring but realizing that I'm actually learning something I decided to go against my desire and do it. It's tedious, has lots of vocabulary I instantly forget and may not be the most practical of ways to learn a language. But then, what is?

I think of my students who have similar materials to try and supplement their English learning experience and how I, like them, must find it to be a complete waste of my time, sometimes. At least I'm learning complicated grammar structures that allow me to respect the fact that there are countless ways to say something to someone with respect to their status. It's interesting to me that ten years ago when I was a middle school student I wanted nothing more than to be anywhere but at school. Now I find myself here, day in and day out, voluntarily, possibly even for another 18 months. This idea is daunting to me because even though I love my job (except that it's 9 hours a day) I'm not particularly fond of my town. Don't get me wrong Saga is an interesting place but location is important for me as a person and quite frankly I feel a little disconnected from the world. I haven't read a real newspaper once since I've been here and it's difficult for me to understand what importance Saga has in this world. I check into the New York Times online and can see that the U.S. is generously giving a couple million to Fatah to try to ensure that democracy runs like a finely tuned mint, hoping Hamas doesn't get more votes than it should. Canada took a turn for the conservative side with a newly elected dude from Toronto, and we all know that people are shitting their pants about the leftist swing in Latin America. But who is talking about Saga? What does Japan matter to the world?

Part of the reason why I came to Japan is I wanted to experience life in another rich and prosperous country that's culturally different from the USA. Japan seemed like a perfect candidate. It's definitely comfortable here and I haven't seen anything like the poverty and discrimination I can see everyday in California. What I do see is a part of the country that in it's own right seems comfortable to be itself. My students know they live in the countryside but what are they gonna do about it? Well, the elementary school boys try to stick their fingers up my ass and the junior high boys try to slap my nuts (usually happens more than once a day). Then there's a little girl named Nana. She's a fourth grader who always tags along with a friend who has about six inches of height on her. Usually Nana's on her back but sometimes she dismounts to go for a quick karate chop to the family jewels. What a brave little girl. For some reason this is the type of shit that's keeping me here in Japan. Forget about the cold nights, the insulation and all the other shit people mindlessly ramble on about. I'm here for the one girl who tries to judo chop me in the nuts. Maybe in between my cat like reflexes in self defense I can even manage to teach her some English. Maybe, just maybe.