today i had my 2nd English conversation class for adults. as i was driving from their beautiful house in the hills of Ogimi, i was thinking of what this blog entry would be about and decided that i will share with your the things i've learned this past week. a week off school doesn't mean a week off learning. :)
i really enjoyed the lesson tonight. i only teach for an hour and today we did an activity i made up for learning how to ask for a product at a fruit market and to say the price. the students were buying and selling fruit (in form of lamenated cards) and seemed to enjoy the activity. after, the conversation steered towards the fake US dollars we were using for the game. a set with paper money and coins can be purchased at any 100Yen store. Mine even has a set with a cash register, and another one with a safe. most of my students are over 40 and one of them told me that until 1972 American dollars were used on Okinawa. that shouldn't have surprised me, of course, but it was weird realizing that the Okinawas in front of me, people i am getting to know well, lived when their islands were under US mandate. I asked about the switch from right to left side drive. It took place on July 30, 1977 at 6:30am. At that moment everyone had to switch sides. K-san tells me that a lot of people were scared of driving for a while. Her husband, T-san, told me that he has driven in all possible combinations:right side wheel on left and right side of the road, and left side wheel on both sides as well. weird, huh?
he said that one of the hardest thing still is looking over the correct shoulder when backing up.
this week school was on fall vacation and i was only at school on thursday and friday. monday was a national holiday and i drove to Gushikawa Jusco to shop at one of my favorite stores, Nitori. They have everything one needs for a home and it's not too expensive. I also bought a couch that evening, which was unexpected, and learned that purchases over 1 man (10,000Yen) are delivered for free. Yey!
Tuesday, went to finally receive my drivers license. The video they promised turned out to be a brief lecture delivered by two important looking gentlemen. One of them walked up to the stage with such non-chalance, that i thought for a moment that he was someone who showed late and was walking through to get a seat, until of course he walked all the way to the podium and started talking. am glad i brought a book and sat in the back. i don't like my photo on the license.
that day i had a leisurely drive back up north by way of cape Zanpa in Yomitan village. the pics are already up from that afternoon. i learned that the natural beauty of Okinawa will always be a source of pleasure to me. I feel happiest on this island when am simply enjoying its uniqueness, simplicity, and the tranquility of its waters.
This week has been very inward for me. I went from very low lows to pleasant but not extreme highs. My lowest point was triggered by a movie i highly recommend called "A man who cried" with Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp. a movie i didn't know existed until i saw it at the rental store. But even my lowest times this week were not for nothing. They brought understanding with them and i feel better for having been made immobile by grief; i am stronger for it, i know myself better. i learned that it's necessary to allow such moments into one's life because they're the ones that trigger the thought process necessary to glimpse into the workings of the soul, the psyche, the inner self.
i have also been reading a bit this week. am almost finished with Kundera's Unbereable Lightness of Being, which i have been leisurely reading while enjoying isolated beaches on Kouri island. Kundera's definitions which underline the boundaries and structure of his book are wonderful. "Flirting," he writes, "is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee," and "vertigo is something other than the fear of falling...it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves." in short, it's been very thoughtprovoking to me, and am glad it was chosen as the next bookclub book because i'll deffinately need to discuss with someone when finished.
I have also somehow stumbled on a series of articles about Israel's place in world politics and Israel's relationship with Palestinians. It's been a very eye openning experience for me. I don't immediately agree with everything i've been reading, but it's been good for me to see Israel not as a victim state, but a strong country who has been overstepping its boundaries and borders and allowed to do so because of unquestionable but befuddling support of the United States. Am reading an article called "The Israel Lobby" by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt Now, i am not taking everything they write about at face value, but it has certainly put me on a path of unveiling things about Israel's history that i have considered impossible, or at least, against my belief of what Israel's stance in the world is. Unveiling "Israel kitsch" as Kundera might say.
and finally, a bit about Japan. Started reading, A Traveller's History of Japan by Richard Tames. Not very far in it but thought i'd share with you interesting statistics that backed up ideas about Japan i started developing myself.
Surveys reveal that 90 percent [of Japanese] consider themselves middle-class, 87 percent say they like to look like everyone else and 84 percent confess themselves unable to turn down requests from other people.
And here's a little present for our very own Okinawan bunny, Kelly, whose birthday it is tomorrow.
I hope you're seeing this on your birthday, dear. Lots of love and hope you can always get the cheese you want when you want it.