Today was field trip day at Sakai Junior High School. I joined ichi-nen-sei (sixth grade) on a trip to...
...my own town.
Sakai Junior High is located in the aptly-named town of Sakai. I live next door in Maruoka. So today I drove the 15-minute commute to school, only to turn around and take a chartered bus back to Maruoka. But field trippin' was fun!
Our first stop was Maruoka Castle, which I'd already visited, but not with 35 sixth graders. This time proved to be a slightly more exhausting experience, so much so that I was tempted to sneak away, walk the three blocks to my apartment, and take a quick power nap. Instead, I stole swigs of the Diet Coke I had cleverly disguised as tea in my Nalgene bottle.
Our next stop was a soba noodle-making workshop. I put my cooking skills (or lack thereof) to the test as I rolled out buckwheat flour dough and cut noodles. Soba is one of Fukui's claims to fame, prompting some people to link it to the residents' long lifespans (people in Fukui have the second-longest life expectancy in Japan). The workshop folks cooked up our creation and we had oishii soba for lunch. I had two bowls, just to make sure I live to see 2080.
We finished the day at the Echizen Bamboo Doll Museum, which houses, well, dolls made of bamboo. But we got to try our hands at carving our own works of art. I am proud to report that I successfully whittled a block of bamboo in to a fully functional toy helicopter. Mad skills.
Hanging out with my students away from school was a blast, but perhaps the best part of the day was the end. The sixth grade teachers, exhausted from six hours of castle-hopping with 12 year olds, decided to blow off some steam at a happy hour (which, because Japanese teachers work so darn late, didn't start until 7 p.m.). They kindly invited me, but the poor English teacher sitting next to me got stuck with Translation Duty. They'd talk for 15 minutes or so, laugh hysterically, and then my translator/colleague would give me the Cliffs Notes version of the conversation. And by Cliffs Notes, I mean 3-5 words.
Frustrating, but funny. This teacher knows I've had my fair share of Spanish-English Translation Duty, so we were able to commiserate: translation is a royal pain in the 尻. So I guess I better quit blogging and start studying some Japanese. The next happy hour is right around the corner...