More Birthdays.

Sometime next month, it'll be the birthday of my lady friend. I'm not so crass as to tell you what age she'll be but it's not too far from mine. Here's where I go to the masses to offer me advice. I rarely have a significant other over Christmas, Valentine's or their birthday so I'm uncertain what to get her or where to take her. Any suggestions?
(The above may be moot, she is angry at me because I've forgotten the specific date of her birthday. I narrowed it down to June and she told me when we first met. Can I get some slack here, folks?)

Meanwhile, here are some more birthday logos presented by today's Grade Sixers.

January inevitably includes New Year's decorations and often the envelope of money that they get from their parents/grandparents. Some of these kids rake in 200-500 bucks!

No matter what day in February their birthday is, they inevitably draw a picture of beans and an Oni for Setsubun (Feb. 3rd). One gal thought outside of the box and made hers about Valentine's Day.

I had NO kids born in March yet I almost always get some drawings of the dolls from the Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival). The lad above is lamenting the beginning of School via tears but managed some time to revel in the cherry blossoms. The other kid is obviously a One Piece fan.

Almost all May drawings are similar to the above no matter when in May their birthday is. It's Children's Day and they are flying their 鯉幟 (Koinobori or Carp Streamers).

June begats the Rainy Season and with that comes snails in the garden.

July inevitably has the Tanabata fest but these two lads also depict the capture of the cicada.

This is probably my favourite and not just because it features a ghost (from Obon). Also we get some strawberry-flavoured kakigori and some fireworks to glory at. Sunflowers are also in full bloom in August so these two gals win the originality awards for leaping outside of the textbook for their inspirations!

September has Respect for the Aged Day but also the Harvest Moon. The Rabbit Making Mochi is the Japanese pareidolic image equivalent to the Man in the Moon.

Somehow I missed any October or November images. I know I had a couple of Halloween pumpkins and some Shichi-Go-San shrine visitations. December took a cue from my crudely drawn picture of a Christmas tree and the kids usually made an Xmas themed-logo.

I regret that my afternoon class is always really sleepy and so I didn't get any good images at all. I did particularly like this one though:

Happy Birthday throughout the year !


Discus: Discuss.

I have lots to catch up on but I'll just start with today and eventually work backwards. I went to Rifu today with my potential paramour in order to watch her son toss a metal Frisbee in a Sports competition today. Alas, Shun placed 6th but his colleague went on to win the Discus and Javelin. Yay!

While we were waiting for the rest of his meet to complete, we had a lovely(ish) lunch and then went for a hike through a forest.

The park is called Kenmin no Mori (Prefecture forest) and it was pretty cool. The toughest part was manipulating the trail without running shoes.

No, not a zombie, but it was a rather steep incline.

There was a mini-museum at the Ranger's station and within were some cool statues made of twigs, sheaves, pine cones and acorns.

Best of all though was an encounter with Totoro!

We went to a nice bakery afterwards (Birthday 022-395-8660) and I bought a Light Sabre Sausage Roll in honour of the 30th Anniversary of Return of the Jedi!

Speaking of Totoro, my contribution to Towel Day on Saturday was this:


Undokai Time.

I'm in full swing at my schools though my actually teaching time has been minimal over the last two weeks due to their Undokai (Sports Fests.) As with every other Japanese event, they are heaped in ritual and ceremony. Due to the ages of my kiddies, I can't (and won't) show any pictures of them close up but I do have some intriguing long-shots.

This is a Shima-Hebi (striped snake), a meter-long non-venomous reptile that took refuge in the shoe box of one of the Grade 2 kids during the festival rehearsal (probably just to get away from the noise.) One of the teachers picked it up with a pair of long tongs and tossed it behind the school. I was rather pleased for, apart from some roadkill, this is the first serpent that I've seen in Japan.

Here is the flag-raising ceremony accompanied by the Japanese National Anthem.

I took several other videos of the ceremonial proceedings but they're a bit too revealing of the children.

Instead, here are some prints of the kids' birthday logos that they'd designed.

Happy Birthdays!


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