Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pasuri, Seiji, Rozumari, an Taimu

On Friday my last-ever lesson with Room 5 of grade 7 came to a fine, if a bit sad, conclusion. This year's Room 5 was pretty much just the way Room 5s have been every year for the past five years: smart & spunky. I've often wondered if there's something about that particular classroom that tends to make them that way. At any rate, they've always been fun to work with, and it's always regrettable to say goodbye.

Fourth period was next, and I had it off. That gave me extra time to have my lunch and catch up on a few things, so I dropped off my classroom supplies in the junior high staffroom and made my way through the maze of Ye Olde Academy to the English Department office. When I arrived in the central building known as the Library Hall, however, I noticed a wonderful, musical sound filling the air from the direction of the main lobby. Then I remembered. The 10th grade music elective classes were always held during the third and fourth periods every Friday. This being the last Friday of the year, it was time for their final exam, a concert in the lobby.

I headed in that direction at once and joined the pathetically small audience. Unfortunately, I had already missed half of the show, but there was still plenty to see. There were a couple of solos, a (disastrous) ensemble, and then the full chorus (half the music elective students) gathered for its performance.

elective concert1

The 10th grade music elective chorus has a habit of sounding really bad, but this year I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps I shouldn't have been; for the most part, these are students that sang the "Hallelujah Chorus" at their junior high graduation ceremony last year. (I even helped train them for that myself.) They pulled it off pretty well. The first song they sang was "Scarborough Fair", first in Japanese and then in English. The English pronunciation was laughable to say the least, but the singing was beautiful. Their second number, a Japanese tune I didn't know, was an off-key disaster, but they closed the set with another Japanese song that sounded great. To top it off, during the last chorus some of the boys came up to the vocal music director, Ms. M, put their arms around her, and sang swinging back and forth. It was hilarious, but it had a very serious intent. Ms. M is leaving after this month.

elective concert2

After that, the other half of the music elective students formed a recorder ensemble. Under Mr. Ogawa's baton, they played a couple of movements from Vivaldi's "Spring" and did a very good job. Many of them were members of our orchestra, but even then this year's 10th graders have more than the usual level of musical talent on average. It was an enjoyable show.

The concert wound up going overtime, meaning lunch wound up being a few minutes late instead of early, but oh well. The kids did a good job. Now...I wonder what next year's bunch is going to sound like.....


The construction on my house is progressing. We already have lots more space than we used to, but we can't use it yet. It all still looks like a slapped-together storage shed and has yet to be fleshed out. Worse than that is the fact that, since they're going to connect the new section with the old living room and refloor the whole lot as one, we had to move all our furniture out of the living room. Now we're eating our meals sitting on folding chairs in an empty if we'd just moved in. This will probably continue for a few more days. After we get the living room back we'll lose either the toilet or the kitchen followed by the other. It's a headache, but I'm looking forward to its completion...even though the new roof leaked today! (But it's good we found that out before the roof gets finished.)


  • Good luck with the expansion. Those are always tough periods. We had our bathroom redone and that was a tough time cuz that was our only place to go to the bathroom and shower.

    We all survived and now we have a much nicer bathroom.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 3:00 AM  

  • Oh, we're all looking forward to having an almost totally rebuilt house. Our living room will be more than twice as big as it was before, and they've already installed a great, big double-thick, double-paned picture window facing our garden! The only problem (other than the inconvenience) is my wife's uncle keeps trying to talk us into letting him do things to other parts of the house..and sometimes he succeeds in persuading us. Things could get even messier.

    But at least Dad-in-law has been very reasonable with the money issue this time. No unpleasant surprises like last year so far.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:43 PM  

  • ahhh... THAT feeling of part with a bunch you have been with. Sniff sniff. I personally dislike parting, though there are promises that we will meet again somewhere, sometime in future, there are always so much uncertainty and many of us ended up haven't seen one another for many years...

    Renovation is always a hassle. Our Malaysia house's kitchen was done once, ended up with 2 weeks without mummy's cooking, it's good that at that time everyone finally realized that home cooking is the best!


    By Blogger YD, at 2:49 AM  

  • Hmm, as for the "parting is such sweet sorrow" or some such nonsense, I'd have to say I've swung from one end of the spectrum to the other.

    When I was younger, I missed people (and places) and spent alot of energy keeping connections alive.

    Now, meh, not so much. I'm happy to travel, see new things, meet new people, but don't have hardly any attatchment-I don't bother worrying about it either. Like Zen Master says, "Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired, have fun when you are having fun, don' worry-be happy".

    or maybe I'm just grumpy in my old age.

    By Blogger ladybug, at 5:42 AM  

  • Isn't Ms M the one who won't help you out with the English exams?

    My gosh, the girls wear white socks to their knees like we used to in England, for generations until the late 80s.

    Is this a new retro fashion in Japan or did they always do it?

    By Blogger Olivia, at 6:17 AM  

  • YD
    Parting is something we have to deal with regularly. I'm not just talking about the students, either. We're always having teachers coming in and out, though the turnover isn't as high as it is in the public schools (which have mandatory rotations after a certain number of years).

    Well, one of the basic rules of Buddhism is that one should avoid forming attachments as they lead to suffering. As for me, I say enjoy the attachment while it's there, keep it if youre able, let it go if you're not.

    I have a ball keeping my attachments alive.

    No, actually, the teacher that ducked out of helping me with the tests is Ms. Y. Sorry about all the confusion with these abbreviations. I'd just use the names if I didn't think there was any chance of my getting in trouble for it...but evidence (i.e. my netcounter) indicates someone from my school other than me has been visiting my blog once or twice a week. It's probably a senior high student, but I just don't know, so I'll stick to the abbreviations.

    The knee-high white socks are part of the uniform. Back in the late '90s the "loose socks" fashion came in, and most of the girls wore heavy socks bunched down around their ankles like '80s leg-warmers. (I thought they looked ridiculous, and apparently so did most of the girls, so they dumped that style as soon as they could get away with it.) Now iro sokusu (lit. "color socks"), i.e. navy blue socks, are the fashion du jour, but they haven't really caught on here.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:59 AM  

  • Yes, I remember at my school the bunched socks came in during the late 80s-early 90s. Many girls got into trouble with the headmistress for it, so whenever she appeared on the horizon everyone would pull up their socks PDQ. Having her bony finger waggled in your face was the last thing you wanted.

    We had to have white shirts, ironed, our skirts on straight, and do our ties properly too. Gosh, those memories...

    By Blogger Olivia, at 12:57 AM  

  • Oh, really?!??

    But, m'lady, everyone knows that schools in England are cesspools of leaking hell, filled with uncouth demon spawn that binge drink, do drugs, carry concealed weapons, ignore their teachers if not assault them, do naughty things in the classrooms, and constantly attack each other.

    At least that's the way the news media makes it sound.

    No, wait a minute...maybe that's what they're saying about Japanese schools...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:26 PM  

  • Partings are always hard for me even though I'd psych myself ahead but somehow that lump in the throat and the tears would come.

    That picture window sounds awesome.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 5:32 PM  

  • Uh, not 20 years ago - and I went to a PRIVATE school, so ner(!). Not for me the heaving masses of penny stinkers, oh no!

    We were required to use fountain pens (which for me as a leftie was pure torture), and when we acquired a new English teacher who had come from a public school, we were frosty towards her for weeks. She liked me, however, and I gave her a box of embroidered hankies at the end of the school year...

    By Blogger Olivia, at 6:50 AM  

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