I thought it would never come, but spring is finally here! It started with the graduation of my ninth graders in March, along with the announcement of which teachers were moving to new schools for the next school year, as well as the realization that my favorite color might no longer be blue. Then came the wonderfully beautiful but fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms that throws the country into sakura overdrive — everything is suddenly COVered in the pink petals, from food and drinks to clothing and tableware. People crowd under the blossoms and have parties, drink alcohol, and just have fun.
The new school year started in April, a few weeks before sakura overdrive, and with it a new set of responsibilities. MEXT, the government body in charge of education in Japan, decided recently to overhaul the English program ahead of the 2020 Olympics. The parts of the overhaul that affect me are 1) new textbooks for third and fourth grade (which did not have textbooks before) and 2) more classes a week for third through sixth. All of this is supposed to START in 2020, but my school has decided to start early. I now see third and fourth grade once a week, where before it was once a month, and fifth and sixth grade twice a week, where before it was once a week. Add on top of that four kindergartens once a month and first and second grade once a month, and that leaves just a small amount of room for middle school (seventh through ninth). *Sigh* It’s definitely a work in progress, but I am MUCH busier than I was last year.
All that busyness means that I have been escaping outside whenever possible! I’m still enjoying my photography and went on a much needed vacation to Gunma over Golden Week to visit another ALT. It felt great to go out and explore a whole new area, see new temples and shrines, and eat different food. This friend and I are also going to Thailand in August, so look forward to some fun stories from that trip!
On an unrelated note, I’ve started taking taiko lessons with one of my JTEs. She came up to me, slightly drunk, at an enkai (drinking party with co-workers) and asked if I had any interest in taiko. Apparently she’s always wanted to learn, but feels awkward about going by herself. I said I did in fact have an interest, and she proceeded to jump up and start flailing her arms around as if pounding on a drum, saying that we were going to get six-pack abs from doing taiko! Definitely a favorite memory, and the taiko itself has been lots of fun so far!
Last but not least, I experienced my second earthquake on the JET Program on Sunday. I was at a friend’s house that morning and was playing a game on my phone, when suddenly the game closed, the warning message came up, and both our phones started shrieking simultaneously, with hers also yelling “earthquake” in English. It lasted probably 10-15 seconds and was stronger than the first one I felt. Still, though, it wasn’t bad. Phew!
Until next time!