Monday, July 13, 2009

Island school, shrines, lambchops, and some good country livin'

At all Japanese elementary schools that I have been to tooth-brushing at lunch time is a big deal. The teachers check the kids mouths to make sure they haven't missed a spot and each kid has their own tooth-brushing kit. With all of this attention on the teeth you might think that Japanese kids have excellent teeth, but its exactly the opposite. I have never seen more people with rotting teeth in their mouth (aside from India) in my life. Japanese dentistry seems to be inefficient and unused, so I had my teeth cleaned in Thailand. Shady? Not at all actually. More on rotting Japanese teeth later.

One of my favorite island kids who is too young to go to the only island school but at every lesson she watches from the window or peeks in the door.Miniature island cars coming to get me from the boat.


Arriving at the island.Akusekijima island with a hat on. On July 22 at around 11am there will be one of the longest total eclipses right over the southern islands of Japan. From Akusekijima the eclipse will last around six minutes! Currently, around 70 people live on the island, but for the eclipse about 400 will storm the island. While I was teaching a French camera crew came to interview the islanders about how they plan to handle the influx of people. Answer: everyone is sleeping in the school field and gym.
The twelve hour boat trips get a little long after the sixth hour. The sea was really rough this trip and I projectile vomitted off the deck of the boat a few times and the wind was so strong that my puke flew straight out in front of me (thank god the wind wasn't going in the other direction).
My first balcony-garden tomatoes! Thanks to Justin's master carpentry skills (building me planter boxes out of bamboo), I have basil, lemon thyme, dill, cilantro, chocolate mint, zinnias, and bell peppers. The balcony is a harsh climate though - super hot and windy so my crop isn't as glorious as I had hoped for.
A recent visit to Kirishima Shrine. This shrine has something to do with marking the spot where the creator goddess gave birth to Japan so the emperor visits every year.
Washing hands and mouth before entering.


Takachiho Farm. We stumbled across this "farm," me in high hopes of a massive petting zoo, to find that it is a place mostly where people eat animal products and laze around in clover fields while Johnny Cash is being piped in on speakers set in trees. Which was also really great. Also kind of surreal, to close my eyes in a field and let Johnny Cash convince me that I am definitely not in Japan anymore. Open them, and ah! Surrounded by Japanese people picnicking and eating in psuedo "Bavarian" eateries!

After hanging out with some lambs I was really pleased to see that we could eat them! Lamb in Kagoshima is hard to come by (everyone I've talked to complains that lamb has too strong a smell), so we feasted.
I love being able to grill meats at my table! So interactive! Fresh!


Feeding farm animals of all kinds. These animal feed vendors could only exist in Japan, or Switzerland maybe.

Countryside house.

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