Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, October 27, 2006

The 2006 School Trip, Day One

Here it is, my sixth school trip to Hiroshima/Kyoto, and it is already getting off to a phenomenally crappy start. This year I was told, "Staff will assemble at 7:00." Naturally, I followed the usual procedure and showed up at the teachers' entrance at Ye Olde AcademyTM promptly at 7:00 to find no one there. That was odd. Five minutes later one other teacher showed up, and he was equally confused. We got on the cell phone, and it turned out that everyone else had shown up ten minutes early and had gone ahead to the station instead of waiting for those of us that were on time. (The grade chief said something like, "Well, we just figured we might as well go...ha ha...") We were told that we could be picked up and driven to the station at 7:40...much too embarrassingly late for my I decided to make use of these things I have called “legs”. Lugging my pack from the school to the station, I definitely got my exercise for the day...and we're just starting out.

It's a gray, dreary-looking day, but the charter train they put us on to get to Tokyo is really bright and colorful (unlike my mood). I've never seen this machine before. They must only break it out for special occasions. Funny...I wonder why they never used it any of the other times I've been on these trips... It's expected to rain in Kashima. I don't know the forecast for Hiroshima. I hope it doesn't rain there, too. As it is, it's actually rather warm and humid. It's bound to be a lot warmer down south. I'm sure I'll be about ready to evaporate before the day's done. Either that or I'll be in desperate need of burning my coat so that it doesn't wind up being classified as a WOD (Weapon of Olfactory Destruction).

8:15 a.m. and the kids are LOUD. You'd think they'd all be half asleep, but NOOOOO... Actually, this year's 9th graders are better behaved and easier to work with than usual, but for some reason they're being a helluva lot noisier. We're not even as far as Narita yet, and my head already hurts...

The trip on the bullet train is pretty much as usual. Once again we don't get a perfect view of Mt. Fuji (obscured, as usual, by haze). Once again lunch is pork and fried eggs (i.e. most of it is in violation of doctor's orders). However, the students, at least those in my home room, seem friendlier than usual. I get chatted up a lot more than I usually do on these trips. Even more surprising is their enthusiasm for chatting with me in English. That quickly saps up my cranky mood.

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(I'm sorry to say my bag got hauled off to the hotel...with my camera in it. We'll have to settle for DoCoMo cell phone pics today. Sorry!)

Ah...Miyajima. It looks just like it did the other five times I’ve been here. But then again, I guess maybe it doesn't. This is the first time I've ever been here when Itsukushima Shrine wasn't under repair due to typhoon-related damage. The shrine is in good shape. In fact, they've actually added a new section for an upcoming special event. It's also the first time I've been here when the tide is in, meaning that famous, big torii gate is actually standing in water for a change. That coupled with the now-beautiful weather makes for some really beautiful scenery.

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We get another new experience, too. They actually give us free time so we can run around in that wonderful collection of old-style shops. (We were never given enough time for that before.) I finally get to buy some of those famous "momiji" (lit. “Autumn leaf”) cakes that are a local specialty, but since they'll expire before I'm due to arrive home I guess I'll have to eat them myself.

Oh, darn.

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One of the other local specialties is wooden paddles emblazoned with messages, wishes, or pictures. On one street corner is a stall containing what is said to be the biggest one in existence: more than seven meters (23.1 ft.) in length.

We take a charter boat to our hotel, which is typical school trip fare (i.e. comfortable budget…just nice enough to be considered comfortable but still affordable). Dinner is breaded pork cutlets among other things. Thank Heaven for the other things, otherwise I’d have no dinner at all!

(Note: I've always used "BloggerBot" and my "Moody's Picture Page" blog for hosting my photos, but I've just been informed BloggerBot is going to be terminated before the year's out. I just remembered that I opened a Webshots! account years ago but never used it. It's still active, so I'll give it a shot. Sorry about the thumbnail link thing, but it seems to be the most convenient way to go.)


  • would love to see pics of autumn leaves.. and I am sure u have them..

    By Blogger Robin, at 11:55 PM  

  • Hi, Robin!

    Unfortunately, this year we went too early for there to be much in the way of Autumn leaves. A pity. Last year and two years ago there were lots, and they were gorgeous...but we went in mid November.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:48 AM  

  • You know...I've been to your blog since Friday, but this post didn't appear until today...and there I was thinking you were taking ages to post.

    The little phone pics are fine. I especially like the little pagoda thingy in the water.

    By Anonymous Olivia at Work, at 10:24 PM  

  • Olivia, I cheated. The dates of the posts are those of the trip, not the dates that I actually posted them. (Yes, there was a bit of a delay...allowing for work, getting things ready, etc..)

    The "pagoda thingy" in the water is called a torii (which literally means "bird roost"). It's a traditional sign of a Shinto shrine and represents the portal you pass through to go from the material world into the spiritual one.

    I'll try posting lots of pics in my Webshots albums now that I know how easy and convenient it is compared to Bloggerbot...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:38 PM  

  • What a timely teacher! All students were waiting for you there……
    Where is your time concept?

    By Anonymous L.C_D, at 11:26 AM  

  • Your cell phone camera works well. Nice pics. The thumbs are fine. Maybe better as it encourages one to click and see the full sized picture.

    I think I've seen that train a few times while going under the bridge at the station. Nice paint job. At first I thought the local graffiti artists were really getting it together.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 5:41 PM  

  • put 7.00am in Malaysian itinerary and everyone will only appear at 7.30am and THAT's still considered early.

    By Blogger YD, at 11:02 PM  

  • The unofficial rule in Japan seems to be to show up five minutes early. I generally try (but quite often don't succeed) to do the same.

    For most of the group to show up ten minutes early and just decide to go ahead and leave without waiting for the others is not only unusual but pretty damned callous. This was my sixth school trip, and nothing like that had ever happened before. The fact that the principal, deputy trustee, office chief, and school nurse were also "all there ten minutes early and decided to leave anyway instead of waiting" also makes it more than a bit suspicious.

    Just in case any members of the faculty are lurking here, I won't point any fingers. Let's just say there are a few character issues within our faculty.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:05 AM  

  • I love the pics. The only thing about using webshots is the annoying ads on the page, kinda slows down the process of viewing the pictures. Have you tried using flickr?

    By Blogger Alfanan, at 10:48 PM  

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