Wednesday, November 4, 2009

9 months left...

Hard to believe a month has already passed since I turned in my decision to NOT re-contract. I know that I did a lot in October, but I still feel like there's so much to be done, and so little time!

Anyway, here's my updated (from my October 2nd post) to-do/to-see list:

- 十和田駒フェスタ (Towada Koma Festa) - Towada Horse Festa: It was awesome!! Check out my photo album from the day at

- 奥入瀬渓流紅葉 (Oirase Keiryuu Kouyou) - Oirase Gorge Autumn Foliage: There was still a lot of green when I went, but it was gorgeous nonetheless. Plus it was a totally relaxing/refreshing day for me when I needed it most.

- 十和田湖冬物語 (Towadako Fuyu Monogatari) - Lake Towada Winter Story: I'm going to have to wait until February for this one...

-十和田市郷土館 (Towada Kyoudokan) - Towada Culture Museum: I actually went a 2nd time on the same day that I went to the Koma Festa. This time I went with a friend who could explain things to me so it was much more interesting!

-十和田市立新渡戸記念館 (Towada Nitobe Kinenkan) - Towada Nitobe Memorial Museum: Also visited this museum on the same day as the Koma Festa and Kyoudokan!

-十和田市称徳館 (Towada Shoutokukan) - Towada Horse Culture Museum: Just gotta pick a day...

-七戸NonoUe人形の館(Shichinohe NonoUe Ningyou no Kan) - Shichinohe NonoUe Doll Museum: Again, just gotta pick a day...

- Osaka: I recently decided that I'm going to go during the long weekend in January (9th-11th); it may end up being another 一人旅 ("hitori tabi" aka solo trip) but I want to try to get all my traveling done by early May at the latest so I can spend my final 3 months (May-July) preparing (mentally/emotionally as well as logistically) for moving back to Canada.

- Okinawa: Plans are still up in the air, but I'm hopeful that Tomabechi-sensei and I can a spring date set pretty soon...

- Kariya City (Aichi Prefecture): Unfortunately I don't think I'll have time for this one. Guess I'll save it for the March 2011 trip (back) to Japan...

- Hiroshima: Plans are still up in the air, but I'm hoping I'll be able to go with Jen & Syv, etc. in March. If not, I'm going to go during Golden Week (again)!

- Graduation monkeys for the sannensei: I currently have 1/2 a monkey completed. @_@ February is gonna be brutal!

- Graduation video: I've gotten most of the videos I need transferred from DV tapes to my external hard drive, and have pulled lots of photos of the students from the shared drive, but have yet to start putting it together @_@ I really hope I can pull this off!

- Farewell speeches/messages: Haven't started yet, although occasionally fragments (phrases or even sentences) of messages pop into my head (usually not at a time when it's convenient for me to write them down, however...)

- Write a year's worth of JHS English newsletters: No longer necessary. With the increasing shift of ALT visits from JHS to ES, we've decided to end the JHS newsletters with the next edition (December 2009) so we can focus more on the ES newsletter

Nihonbuyo Performance #2

So I didn't really tell people about my performance this time, which was kind of ironic since: 1) it was free (last time tickets were 2000 yen a piece), and 2) I actually had a much bigger part in this performance than the last one.

For the October performance, I was only in one piece, Oedo Nihonbashi. This time I was in the Opening Ceremony, Oedo Nihonbashi, and both the children's and men's Tachimawari. @_@ Actually, it was probably because I was dancing in all those other pieces that I didn't want to tell anyone about the performance. I didn't have any confidence in my part for any of the pieces other than Oedo Nihonbashi.

As I mentioned before, due to my schedule, I was only able to make three practices for the Opening Ceremony and I was feeling really frustrated with my own lack of grace compared to everyone else. Then, to make matters even worse, the sensei organizing our part for the Opening Ceremony (not Rika-sensei) changed our last pose during the dress rehearsal--the day before the performance!! And it wasn't just a minor change--I had to do something completely different from what I had been doing before!

I had already been worried about my exit off the stage--we were supposed to dance off "freely and naturally"--but I had practiced a bit with Rika-sensei, so I thought it would be OK. (I really wish people would understand that there's no such thing as dancing "naturally" when you're a beginner with absolutely no natural "dance sense.") But with the change in the final pose, I was completely lost! Originally I ended standing up, and I left at the same time as the girl standing opposite me, but with the change I ended in a "sitting" (well, kneeling, really) position and my back was to the girl I was supposed to leave at the same time with, so I couldn't look at her for my cue!

And, as I expected, I messed up the final pose. I was supposed to end off kneeling with my right knee on the ground and my left knee elevated (think of a guy going down on one knee to propose and you can get the general idea of how my legs were positioned for the pose), but because of the way I naturally pivoted from the previous position, I ended up going down onto my left knee. ^^;; I doubt that anyone in the audience noticed, but I recognized my mistake right away, so it was pretty frustrating...

But in spite of my complaints, it really wasn't all that bad, and I did manage to enjoy myself.

It's probably just the recent "girly" phase I've been in, but it was kind of fun getting my hair done and changing into different kimonos--like playing dress up as a kid (which I never actually liked, but anyway...). I wore one kimono for the Opening Ceremony, another for Oedo Nihonbashi, and then a hakama for the Tachimawari.

(Opening Ceremony kimono)

(Oedo Nihonbashi kimono)

(Tachimawari hakama)

(More photos at

Oedo Nihonbashi and the children's Tachimwari also went quite well. Plus I was pleased to have been able to prevent a big mistake in the men's Tachimawari by pointing out that the rope Hanada-sensei was supposed to throw to me at the end was on the wrong side of the stage (my side instead of his side) in time for someone to bring it over to the other side.

But then Hanada-sensei had difficulty throwing the rope--it didn't actually reach me--so I wasn't able to catch it (which was really my only part in the men's Tachimawari). ^^;; But it was more funny than embarrassing, so that miss--unlike the Opening Ceremony one--didn't bother me at all. (Besides, I figured it had to be Murphy's Law since I never missed the rope once during practice, of course I would miss it during the real performance. =P)

Another nice thing about the day was that I was able to see a friend (whom I thought wouldn't be able to see the performance due to work) backstage just by chance. ^__^ Said friend also sent me a highly complimentary email after the performance, which was really nice to get, particularly since it was about the Opening Ceremony dance which I felt bad about having messed up in...

But yeah, I was definitely glad to be finished with the performance! And I sincerely hope that's the last one I'll "have to" do before I leave. It's fun enough learning/practicing, but I'm really not the type of person to enjoy doing public performances.

Oh, and another good thing about the day was that--in a rare move for me--I decided to go out for dinner with Erik, Bryan, and Kristina afterward. We went to Hatsuhana where I was able to have "old-style" omurice. (You can see food pictures from an earlier dinner there in mid-October--including the omurice!--at And I LOVE omurice! ^__^

Apart from the food, it was good to be able to hang out with everyone again. With my crazy October schedule, I haven't been able to hang out much with other ALTs lately. (Because I was so busy most days, when I had free days I mostly just wanted to stay home and relax/decompress.)

But yeah, with the performance(s) done, I'm hoping to have a much more relaxed November. It may sound odd, but it makes me happy to see lots of white (i.e. empty) spaces on my calendar!