Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ninjas on a train

The train to work and back
A Ninja followed me home as I tumbled down the hill that leads to my school from Oga station. She was dressed in black from the tips of her toes to her glove covered fingers. She sported a mask and a hat was wrapped completely around her head. This particular ninja also happened to be about 60 or 70 years old from what I could tell. You see the ladies of my town fear the sun like I fear my little brother-in-law washing my dishes. They are never without a hat or a parasol and many wear gloves in 35 degree heat. The ninja and I jumped on the 4:34 train and as always the seat to my right and left were left empty. I am one of only two foreign girls in my town and the locals still treat me with a little trepidation or at least caution. I think it is less about being nervous around me and more about not wanting to bother me but if I say `konnichiwa` 1st they cannot reply fast enough. I have however stopped a two year old from crying in the post office, his little eyes staring at me until I left the building and I have a slightly sickening feeling that the woman who bumped her little red Nissan into the car in front of her did so because she was straining to see what this foreign girl had bought at the local supermarket. I hope I am wrong.

My station during spring.
 Ah but I digress, the trains, oh the wonderfully fast, clean trains. I have fallen head over heels for these beautiful beasts that take me to and from school each day. They are on time to the minute and you do not even have to hide your money in your shoe or eat an orange in order to look poor (feel free to ask Roland about this theory which I think he has revised since landing in Japan and paying more for an orange than a pair of cute shoes). Everyday I look at the mountains and the rice fields and the homes dotted in amongst them. Two little girls no more that eight years old ate their lunch next to me the other day and I felt distinctly jealous that I could never see my country in the same way unless I robbed a bank and then took the blue train home. I did not however take my new love to Yufuin the next day as I was lucky enough to grab a lift with the coordinator of the camp and the only other foreign girl in my town.

My station during the winter
 What a chaotic couple of days. The theme of the camp was a murder mystery set in Las Vegas and while the instructors played out the murder, we the group leaders helped the kids to solve the crime. There was a veritable love octagon and secret romance was the order of the day. A poor rich man was strangled with a pearl necklace and then it was up to me and my new 11 little friends to solve the crime. As well as playing Watson and Holmes we also had a treasure to hunt, an obstacle course to get stuck in, a quiz to master, a play to direct, an artwork to create and a tricky dance to learn off by heart. By the end of the camp I had run a marathon and shaken my booty to poker face by lady Gaga a million times.

We are all super red after getting our groove on
I am told that I will be the leader of group C4 who I immediately christen as group dynamite, the joke is lost on the Japanese kids but the sentiment is not and we end up being by far the most explosive group in the bunch. I have two very clever boys and nine very flirty girls. This fact becoming plain as day while engaged in our 1st activity of the camp. During the treasure hunt our objective is to take photos of clues that we figure out. We were miles ahead when one of said clues led us into the TV room where two of the male instructors were taking a bit of a load off and resting on some chairs. The necessity of taking a photo of the remote control flew out of the window as my ladies swarmed around the poor instructors. They were now employing their best English of the day to say `Good morning Casino owner Greg and floor manages Pat, how are you guys doing?` It took a few shouts of `less flirting more hunting clues` to tear the ladies from their pray.

The next clue also gave me some cause for concern, we needed to take a picture of a camera but what group would allow you a chance at getting further ahead. My fears were proven unfounded as four of my ladies tackled the poor boy holding the camera for group C3. I still have the picture of the half pinned, half strangled boy and it still makes me giggle when I look at it. If I taught those 11 kids any English at all during that first activity it would be `if old Freda can run up these stairs so can you`. Needless to say team dynamite won the treasure hunt in the style of true pirates.

We were spectacular at sports and our play, called `the big samurai mafia fight` was performed in front of the entire assembly to much laughter. We might not have been as skilled at art but what we lacked in talent we made up for by using half of Japans reserves of glitter glue on our project. Even Elton John would have blushed at the sight of it. Then came the dancing. Everybody learned a choreographed dance to the tune of poker face and that evening we all shook what our mamma's gave us in unison. It was pretty amazing actually and I think I missed a few steppes every time I would stare at the precision of everyone around me stepping in time.

The next day I was elevated to revered status when I showed my ladies a picture of my blue eyed, blond haired man. One of my flirtiest girls, who appropriately enough dreams of becoming a flight attendant in the future, told me that she would study even more English so she can marry such a handsome man one day. I am still not sure how I feel about this but hey at least she will be fluent one day. At the end of the camp I received a monstrous cheer and a card filled with thank you notes, I was very touched and will miss my mischievous little flirts and the sweet, shy boys who put up with them.

The murder mystery crew
 All that crazy exercise did however claim its pound of flesh and on my return home I caught a nasty little Japanese bug. I am not all that sick but it did force me to wear a surgical mask to school so as to not infect the entire office. So when the 4 o`clock bell rings today there will be two ninjas boarding the train and making their way home.


  1. That is well epic! It is great to find that there is absolutely no trouble for you to jump right into a new land and make it big! ;)

    ...clearly you will have to introduce me to these flirty girls of yours ;D

  2. Mah mah mah mah

    Glad you had a great time! Next year you will have to join us on the instructor side of things.