Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Great Kitaura Hike of 2007-Day Two

In our last episode:

It only took a few rounds of knocking on doors and scolding to get the kids to quiet down. I mean they were really quiet! Amazingly quiet! I was thankful, because it meant I might actually be able to get a much-needed good night's sleep during a school outing! What a concept!

And, as it turned out, what a total fiction! At approximately 3:00 a.m. I woke up suddenly to what sounded like a wolf on LSD howling at a (no doubt technicolor) moon. This was followed by a raucous chorus of adolescent male shouting and a lot of sickening thumps. The boys from Room One, who were in the room across the hall, had apparently lost their patience and/or fear of teacher retaliation, and they had launched themselves into full spastic mode.

The (not really very) funny thing about it was I was sharing a room with the homeroom teacher of Room One, and he just snored right through the whole room-mangling session, pagan ceremony, sacrifice of random underwear, or whatever was going on in that room. As for me, I felt too sore, burned out, and apathetic to move, so I just stayed put. Eventually (at about 4:30) the homeroom teacher of Room One finally woke up and went to admonish the boys, but unfortunately he's a notorious pussycat of a homeroom teacher, and the boys more or less ignored him. By the time they finally quieted down (at around 5:00) we could hear the whole mass of kids getting up and mobilizing themselves on their own, a full hour ahead of schedule, because they wanted to watch the sunrise over the far hills of Kashima on the other side of the lake.

At least that meant we didn't have to try to get them up. As it was, I had enough trouble getting myself up!

At 6:30 the kids gathered on the assembly ground for the "radio workout" session. Yes, every morning NHK radio (the state-sponsored station) plays a tune that's background music for an exercise session. Well, we couldn't use a radio, so the P.E. teachers in our grade staff brought a CD player and a dubbed CD copy of the "radio workout" tune.

The Hike18

Unfortunately, it turned out to be either a comedy of errors or some bizarre curse brought on by the Room One boys' pagan ritual (or sacrifice of underwear...whatever it was they were doing!). First the P.E. teachers put brand-new batteries in the CD player only to find out that the battery power didn't work for some reason. Someone ran inside and asked the camp staff for an extension cord, but about a quarter of the way through the routine the CD started skipping and repeating...which made for some very confused exercises before the teachers gave up, shut the poor machine off, and led the routine the traditional way, but calling it out.

The Hike19

After that I was asked to lead the kids in an a capella practice singing our school's song (because the accompanying tape was useless). First I tried to get the kids worked up and get a little spirit going, but there wasn't a whole lot there. This year's 7th graders as a whole are not a very responsive lot, but I did manage to get them to sing the school song with some small measure of energy.

After that my head began to ache, and I desperately wanted to go back to bed.

We had breakfast, which wasn't bad, but I had little appetite. After that the grade chief gave his morning inspirational anecdote/lecture, and I started feeling dizzy. Then it was time to pack up, clean the rooms, and move out, and I felt languid. I went to inspect the Room Three boys' room, got kow-towed again (this time they all yelled, "Sorry, [moody]-sama! Sorry, [moody]-sama," though I'm not sure what they were being sorry about!), and my headache got a lot worse. As we gathered up to move out, a couple of the teachers tried to talk to me, but I couldn't focus on what they were saying. We relocated to the cookout hall, where the students were to learn how to make udon noodles, and I felt a little nauseous and twice as heavy as usual. I noticed that all the other teachers had come equipped with aprons, towels, and gear to make noodles themselves, but somehow I either hadn't been informed or, more likely, had slept through the obscenely dull yammering session meeting in which they'd discussed it, and I felt really irritated. I tried to listen to the cooking instructor's lecture, but my mind started losing all cohesion, and I soon felt as though I was suffering from a terrible hangover.

I couldn't take it anymore. I ducked outside for some fresh air. Next thing I knew, the nurse had me lie down in the school van, where I managed a two-hour nap before I just got too restless (and tired of teachers opening the doors and rustling through bags), got up, and went back in again. I was just in time to get a bowl of udon, which hit the spot, and then I went to work helping clean up the horrible mess.

(Did you know that udon starch makes a very good glue? That would be nice if I were actually using it as glue instead of trying to scrape it off the side of a one-meter-wide pot!)

We finally got the mess tackled about an hour behind schedule, so the students' "impressions about the experience" speech session was mercifully cut in half. Then we went outside with our luggage, and each of the five rooms posed for the obligatory photos.

(Sorry...I had to remove the picture of my class I'd posted here out of reasons of PRIVACY. I hope the spies are satisfied.)

The bus ride back was quick, but with my headache returning, it wasn't quick enough. Back at Ye Olde Academy, the other teachers discussed having dinner and/or drinks afterward, but I just wasn't in the mood or the condition, so I took my leave...only to be called by my wife on my cell phone and asked to go haul some furniture.

Maybe someday I'll actually get some rest. Oh, well. Chalk up another adventure in the ongoing saga of my days at Ye Olde Academy!


  • kids, meetings, and headaches... the trio

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 12:43 AM  

  • Trust you are back to your energetic, if moody, self. Too much wind, sun, and exertion perhaps? (not to mention too many kids).

    That looks like a nice facility. Glad you didn't have to hike back!

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 8:04 AM  

  • Your headache and fatigue might be the result of dehydration. But this is the second time you have had a visit from the school nurse.

    You should see a specialist for this sort of thing.

    I myself feel feint if I am working at a low position and stand up too quickly. I know I have a problem with my blood pressure, but then again my meds might be affecting me also. Not something to fool around with and end up with a heart attack or stroke.

    Be well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:07 AM  

  • Working too much on your home landscaping + without enough sleep + unhappy mood + taking in a such long way hike (once for a while)====> faint.

    Take Pa’ve’s opinion, see a specialist for checking in details, OK?

    Take Care {Moody} – sama. :)

    By Anonymous Spirit, at 8:48 PM  

  • i thought for a minute you might be catching the flu... walking that long of a distance w/ that wind and such... maybe you caught a bug. glad to know you're feeling better and that there was a bus to take you guys back.

    sounds like the kids weren't affected by the walk whatsoever... at least not the room of boys up all night.

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 12:52 AM  

  • Swinebread
    I prefer to think of them as the "unholy trinity".

    I continue to function. Actually, I am feeling better, thanks.

    It is a nice place, though the facilities are barebones simple and the cafeteria notorious for, well, cafeteria food. I've been there many times for many different reasons, but it had been a while (and I'd never hiked there before).

    Dehydration? there's an interesting thought. I suppose anything's possible, though I find it hard to believe since I was drinking both bottled water and isotonic sports drink through the entire hike. The inside of my coat was sweat-soaked when we arrived at the camp.

    I think Spirit's comment summed it up best: too much going on at the same time, too much stress, and not enough sleep.

    I think you nailed it right on the head. We'll see how I feel over the next week (the end of this insane run of work...before the next one starts), and if I'm still feeling wiped out I'll look into it.


    Um Naief
    I was beginning to wonder if it was a bug, too, but I felt a lot better once I was able to get a good night's sleep and just chill out for a little while.

    Many if not most of the kids at my school have a habit of staying up really late at night doing e-mail or online chat with their friends. Then they sleep in the afternoon after school (if not during their more expendable classes) and spend all weekend snoozing. It's ridiculous, and it's hardly surprising that sleep disorders are becoming an increasingly chronic problem.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:07 PM  

  • Thanks for your stories, honest and informative. Hope you feel better now. It's rotten to have responsibilities when all you want to do is to be pampered by your loving family!
    That starch you talk about - well, tapioca, or cassava, the common vegetable in Fiji,,, can be boiled down to real starch. I once used it to make up a paint for screen printing. Energy I guess but not really nutritious.
    I am cross and crankly after downloading a CA Security suite (cost $90) and it still reckons I need to renew my subscription! My first ever credit card should have kicked in in minutes! At said something about a key!

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 10:21 AM  

  • sounds like a sun stroke..hope your feeling better..

    By Blogger memo, at 12:20 AM  

  • Ok that's enough, bubba. I know what you do on your free time and what you're keeping from your wife. Just come on over to my site and you'll see. Trust me on this one...

    By Blogger Eitan Ha'ahzari, at 2:08 AM  

  • Wendy
    Well, the worst is over for now, since the worst of that PTA stuff is done, too. Thanks. I definitely think I need a vacation.

    Sun stroke...that's something I hadn't considered. I was wearing a hat to combat that, but it's not like I hike 15km under the sun very often.

    I was wondering who you were! What's with all these blog friends of mine changing their handles all of a sudden? Should I start calling myself "muraki-no gin-yu-shijin"? ;-)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:09 PM  

  • Do you ever get whole weeekends in Japan???

    By Blogger Olivia, at 10:11 PM  

  • Hey Steve, easy on the 'ol "trekkin" gig, eh? No chance for watering down, and easy noggin pain! Shooo!

    By Anonymous paulo, at 3:51 AM  

  • Olivia
    What exactly is a "whole weekend"? I can't seem to remember.

    You still seem to have me confused with someone else. The nearest person named Steve lives a good ten kilometers away.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:30 PM  

  • Oh you poor thing!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 6:59 AM  

  • Sure thing, Steve! Mr. Adamson and all that... *wink* *wink*

    By Anonymous Paulo, at 9:07 AM  

  • Well Kevin,

    After our telephone conversation I found your site. Mine is
    Exercise and kids: not a good mix!


    By Blogger Australian David, at 9:23 PM  

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