in the midst of a typhoon Nabi, i'm learning that staying in my apartment for a while can be a good time to do things i've put off for weeks now..such as decorating my living room and going through my "scary room" of stuff from packages and tokyo orientation giveaways.
"Nabi" means butterfly in Korean. i don't know why a typhoon would get such a pretty name but it did. It was a level 5 two days ago and now as it's hitting Okinawa it's reduced to 3. The winds are strong and the power went out briefly three times so far. I don't know if we're getting the worst of it now, or the worst is yet to come. If the wind doesn't drop below 25 knots per hour by morning, school might be canceled and i'll have one more day of doing stuff at home; although at this point i'm running out of things to do. i suppose i can always read and write these blogs. :)
it happens like this. After 4th hour, which could be at 12:25pm if it's a "B" schedule day or almost at 1pm if it's an A schedule, all homerooms get lunch. students each lunch in their homerooms; there are students assigned to getting lunches from the cart and bringing them into the classroom and then those same students set up trays and serve their peers lunch. Lunch for teachers works the same way; we get the same food as students and someone needs to set it up for everyone. It usually involves a couple of office ladies and a couple of female teachers doing it. On friday, I helped out, because only one woman was setting it up. There are usually three dishes at lunch and dessert. Everythign has to be served out of large pots and square dishes. So on friday we got rice and thin grilled beef, as well as a vegetable soup, a salad, a fruit medley, and a quarter of an orange. I helped pour soup for everyone and put the beef pieces on top of rice bowls. THen when i was setting out the trays in front of chairs, a teacher pulled me aside and told me that i set up the trays wrong.. she wasn't mean about, she was being helpful. She explained that rice is always put on the left of the tray and in front. soup, if there is one, is always on the right and in front; placement of everything else doesn't really matter, but chopsticks have to be in the front and easily accessed by the right hand. The reasoning is that Japanese eat with a bowl of rice in their left hand and then pick at everything else on the tray. This is not only for school lunches. As she was explaining this, i thought of all the meals i've had on Okinawa so far and realized that everytime i got a "set" meal, rice has always been on the left and soup has always been on the right. It is customary to be served everything at once in Japan. There are usually several dishes to be picked at and sampled. At my favorite izakaya (a small restaurant) a set consists of the main dish, a miso soup, a rice and five other little dishes ranging from salad, to broccoli, to seaweed to melon pieces. those five dishes vary from time to time; so onetime we got a potato salad and another time, there was an okra salad.
Once lunch is eaten, everyone picks up after themselves and clears their trays of dishes. Students do the same. In their classrooms they have their toothbrushes and five minutes is allowed on the schedule for everyone in the school to brush their teeth. Then students proceed to cleaning of various areas of the school for about 25 minutes, then they have 20 minutes or so to finish up and to do whatever else and at 1:50pm the 5th period starts. It's a very communal system and reinforces the idea that school is like a second home and teachers are like surrogate parents. It also forces students to take ownership of their environment and to take care of the "house" they learn in. Or at least that's the idea.
Over the last two days i've also been learning about bit torrent system of downloading things; so that's also been fascinating and taking up some time during this bad weather period. Although it was clear enough yesterday night for me to drive to Nago and go to an Eisa festival there, which was wonderful. I absolutely love Eisa drumming. i can't explain this draw to it that i've developed by it's beautiful, and unique only to Okinawa and so forceful in its spirit and enthusiasm.
If you're ever in Washington DC area in April, find out when the Cherry Blossom festival takes place and where; an Okinawan Eisa dancing group is sent every year. It must be a fantastic show to see; 'cause it's gotta be the best group from the islands and that would be tough to decide; the groups i saw last night were fantastic.
i'm debating whether i should go to sleep at a timely fashion, since tomorrow i might have to go to school, or to stay up for a while, since i might not. :)) difficult decisions.