Sunday, March 8, 2009

Graduations, group tooth-brushing and ferrets on leashes

View of Kagoshima City from the Shiroyama (white mountain) lookout point.
Schools in Japan are on a year-round schedule, March marking graduation time. I was pretty curious to see what a high school graduation ceremony would be like and kept describing to my teachers the chaos of graduations at home (chickens under gowns, blow-up dolls, moonings, drunk boyfriends staggering onto the stage, hang gliders, the usual).

Let's just say that the only thing that Japanese and American high school graduation ceremonies have in common is that for the most part they are incredibly boring. This graduation was really long with many speeches given by various public servants and noted officials and very little emphasis on any individual student. There were no student speeches or recognitions - one student from each homeroom class accepted a diploma on behalf of their entire class and there were absolutely no rebellious antics (not surprising at all). Yet at the end, when all of the students were singing the long and dull school anthem, about half of them burst into tears and sobbed through the entire thing. The other half seemed nonplussed or super bored and filed out of the gym like they would have for any other assembly.
Formal, formal, formal ceremony. I was pretty disappointed... there should at least have been celebratory whoops of glee that high school was over...peeling out the parking lot, ripping off shirts, throwing books in the hall, pumping up the base... (my student's don't drive, would be severely reprimanded for removing an article of their uniform, and you can't just throw your books way, you have to sort them into one of the six appropriate recycling receptacles).
My favorite graduating students.
Cleaning up the gym after the ceremony.
I recently found out that there is a "jazz bar" in Kagoshima City. The music was the usual cheesy jazz standard stuff, with of course the ever popular "Girl from Ipanema" (I hear some horrible cover of this song at least once a week piped into a public space/store around town. Japanese people love this song!), but I ate it all up because it has been so long since I have been in the vicinity of live music.

Photo (left to right): My friend Mayumi, the piano player, me, my friend Virginia, Mayumi's friend, a local professor, and a really really drunk guy (trying to keep himself from peeing?).

This drunk guy wandered in with his friends and at first I thought he was lost on his way to a snack bar (a bar where you pay ladies to sit and have conversations with you), but it turned out that he was a big jazz enthusiast. He could barely keep his eyes open but he could yell "Yeeeeaaaaah!" in a really deep voice at inopportune moments and got up several times to dance traditional Japanese dances to the music with his eyes closed. Fantastic!
My favorite local grocery store where I can find all kinds of cheap local produce and fresh herbs. And a woman wearing a turban.
A woman walking her goat. She carried a little whisk and dustbin with her so she could sweep up after its poop, which seemed like way too much effort, I mean those goats basically poop every time they take a step!
Ferret and fat long-haired dachshund interaction in the park, Sunday afternoon.
Brushing my teeth after lunch with fellow English teachers.


Darcy said...

Great post Kelly! I really liked the species interaction shot, and was glad to find out about goat pets since just today we told dylan he should have brought home a goat from Pescadero where he went yesterday.

Dale Megan said...

YES! Kelly! I just got back from Pescadero with Dylan where we played with the idea of stealing one of the 200 baby goats we saw. Too bad they grow up to be so ugly. Keeep writing! I'm reading!