This Month in 給食: June Edition

Well folks, it’s June 30 and you know what that means…an entire month of school lunch has come to an end! June’s lunches had a lot of seafood centered dishes which tend to be the type of lunches that I am unable to eat either because the sea flavor is too strong or the texture is something that I cannot stomach. However, this month also had tonkatsu that is a favorite of mine and something I like to treat myself to every once in awhile. I was a little disappointed in the actually tonkatsu that appeared in the lunch though because they totally beat the meat so thing that it was a little hard to get the full flavor of the meat.

Anyway, onto the pictures!

So, what do you think? Which lunch looks appealing to you?

Soda & A Boy Band

Hows about a fun post?

Jun and I went to the store the other day to get things to make gyoza when I spotted these gems. You guessed it, more unique Kit Kat flavors!

Cherry flavor

Cherry flavor


This Kit Kat flavor is nothing new as I have posted previous cherry/sakura flavored Kit Kat pictures before. What makes this one special is that it is actually a Kit Kat promoting a new boy band called “through the break” where a small profit of each Kit Kat is given to support the band. You can find their webpage here. They are not exactly pretty or cool looking individuals, but their songs don’t sound that bad.

Ramune Soda flavor

Ramune Soda flavor


This is a flavor I am not keen on trying at all. I do enjoy ramune, especially in the summer, but I think making it into a Kit Kat flavor was a bad idea. Does a Sprite flavored Kit Kat or a Pepsi flavored Kit Kat sound good to you? I didn’t think so.

No Laughing Matter: Sexual Harassment

So, I am sure that you all reading my blog have figured out from my status updates via Twitter that things have been very stressful for me recently. To put things bluntly, I was sexually harassed and borderline assaulted by the very students I teach and I made it public to the junior high school last Monday that I refused to teach their second year students – first and third year students have shown no such behavior. Now, before everyone freaks out, although those close to me already know the details, let me just break down exactly what happened.

1. I have been asked, almost on a daily basis, what my bra size is, when I first had sex, if I will have sex with them, if it would be ok for them to touch my breasts, and other totally inappropriate questions by students. Note, this essentially started the first week I started working at junior high school.

2. When I have attempted to avoid such things as those listed above by wear more layers or clothing that does not show my figure, there are students (and one who is very vocal) who shout across the hallway or room that I am getting fat.

3. Two boys touch themselves (and I do mean in that area but not with their hands in their pants) when they find me eating alone in the lunch room and ask me to watch them. Note, this happened once and came close to happening another time. Since it first happened (at the beginning of this semester) I make sure that I am never alone in any room in the school.

4. When I wear collared or button up shirts, male students complain that they cannot see my chest well enough and ask me (usually with motions) to unbutton my shirt so they can see. This was usually followed by students asking if once I unbutton my shirt if they could touch my breasts.

5. Two girl students ran up to me and grabbed my breast. They then squealed and said, “So soft!” When I got angry at them and told them that their behavior was sexual harassment, they laughed and thought it was cute that I knew the word for sexual harassment in Japanese (セクハラ:sekuhara). Note, this only happened once and it was my breaking point and is what made me finally break my silence.

6. Students have pulled on my clothing to try to catch a glance at what is under my shirt. When students succeed, they announce to the entire room what color my bra is. Thankfully, I have yet to have students try to either see under my bra. Note, this has happened at least twice in the past month. Note, also my breaking point.

One may ask that since most of the above had been happening since I started teaching at this particular junior high school, why had I not said something sooner? The first forms of sexual harassment were mostly verbal and I assumed that if I ignored their inappropriate questions and told the students to knock it off, they would stop. My first term went OK and I just had to deal with verbal forms of harassment, but I figured it would stop after their spring vacation as I would no longer be a new ALT but a familiar face in the classroom.

However, things only became worse with the beginning of the new school year.

Starting the beginning of this semester things just kept getting worse and worse as students became more and more interested in asking such questions. Even if I told students to knock it off because it was rude and made me feel very uncomfortable, they would laugh and not take it seriously. Things finally escalated to touching and borderline sexual assault and I totally broke down one day. I left work 2 hours early without even asking and rode my bike back to my apartment where I curled up in a blanket and cried until Jun came back from school. I think all the pent up frustration from dealing with verbal harassment for so long just exploded with students breaking the barrier and touching me in inappropriate ways.

I then spent the entire weekend living in fear of the coming Monday and having to go back to the school. Jun, who had seen me come home in tears more than once from dealing with this type of behavior for so long, told me that I should write a letter to my school explaining exactly what had been happening. Seeing as I broke into tears just thinking about it all, he thought a letter would be best as I could express myself without talking and there could be no way that they would not understand it because he would write the Japanese for me. We spent a few minutes of me explaining things in English as he translated into Japanese.

I had told my boss at the Kawagoe Institute of Education several weeks previously that I was being verbally sexually harassed by students and his response was, “Boys are very interested in those things at that age. I know it is summer soon, but please wear high collared shirts or button up shirts and then there will be no problem.” Well, I think it is clear that his solution was pretty much crap. I cried after that meeting too because he was making it out to be no big deal and was in fact putting the blame on me for “inappropriate dress.” I have been told more than once by the school’s principle that I am the most well-dressed ALT she has seen in a long time and I always look really professional. I think if there had been a problem she would have informed me. When I sent my boss a copy of the letter I gave to my school, he went into shock. This was probably because he had been playing down the actual situation.

So, where does that leave me now? Still breaking down into tears whenever a teacher asks me about how I am feeling in terms of the experience. I almost left school after third period the other day when the head second year teacher told me that “starting next week you will return to second year classes.” I told her that I was not ready for that mentally and emotionally as I was no where near forgiving the students for putting me through near hell and totally disrespecting me as a human being. I think I made my point clear enough through tearful Japanese. I am having a hard time trusting any junior high school students at the moment and have a hard enough time standing in front of students who I have not little or no problems with.

Thankfully, the school’s principle is very understanding and my favorite teacher (3rd year English teacher, Ms. Misawa) are 100% behind me and think it is ridiculous to ask me to return to second year classes this term. The Institute of Education has sent people to observe the second year students because their overall behavior has been dismal this year – something breaks every other day, they get into huge fights, bullying, harassing teachers, destroy school property…Some students even set off a smoke bomb-firecracker outside the teacher’s room a few weeks ago. All in all, this is making for a very stressful work environment for everyone at the school. In some ways, I am glad that it is not just me having all the problems. The students are just totally out of control. There are weekly meetings with second year parents to discuss what has been going on with the students and a 2 hour long discussion about how to go about fixing things. Parents are in for a big surprise this week when they hear their students have been sexually harassing a teacher.

This is why I am making a formal request to switch junior high schools before the beginning of the next term.

Although, despite the damage done to me emotionally and mentally from the sexual harassment, I make such a request a little reluctantly. I am very attached to the current 3rd year students and really wanted to see them graduate. Every school event I have participated in since arriving at this junior high school, students from the 3rd year class have almost made it their goal to include me. For their school’s sports festival they asked me to dance Soran Bushi with them and even went and bought a happi for me to wear. They are respectful towards me and several students spend their break time asking me questions about American culture and English. I will be really sad to say good bye to them and I am not sure if I would be able to tell them that I won’t be coming back. I am sure they will understand my reasons for leaving though.

Recently, I have been wondering if this is really the right job for me. These recent developments have really crushed my spirits and challenged me to think about what I am doing. After my initial announcement to the school about sexual harassment, I spent the day mostly in tears at my desk. The next day I went to my elementary school and I remember why I am doing the job that I am. I love to teach. There is nothing I would rather do than expand young minds and encourage curiosity. Right now, the timing for this particular school is not in my favor and I need to find roots in a better environment. Maybe I can just teach elementary school. I would really like that.

More Kit Kats

Strawberry Cheesecake flavored

Strawberry Cheesecake flavored

I found this at a rest area on the way to Costco the other day. It has just been a pattern I have noticed with Kit Kats in Japan, but whenever white chocolate is used, the Kit Kat is overly sweet but usually something that I like. I did not buy this Kit Kat because, once again, the box had far too many Kit Kats in it. I would like to try this one sometime because I usually like cheesecake flavored things.

Other Kit Kat posts are here and here.

Happy Father’s Day ・ 父の日

♡♡♡(0^□^0)♡♡♡

♡♡♡(0^□^0)♡♡♡

So, I might technically be a day (or two) early, but this way there is no way that I can be considered late. So, before going into a mini Father’s Day in Japan post, I just want to say Happy Father’s Day! to my dad and perhaps any other dads that might be reading this blog.

Now, onto some details. Father’s Day in Japan falls on the same day as it does in America. However, the tradition of celebrating Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) is still new. Both holidays came from the United States, and came to be celebrated in the years following the end of World War II. However, compared with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is not celebrated with quite as much enthusiasm. According to one survey about 70% of households celebrated Mother’s Day by giving presents or going out for a special meal, while only about 50% of that 70% did something similar for Father’s Day. Florists in Japan are trying to get people to give roses to their fathers in June, just like they give carnations to their mothers in May, but the practice doesn’t seem to be as popular. This is probably because most Japanese fathers would rather sit down to a nice cool glass of beer instead of a tall vase of flowers. Department stores say that the most popular gifts given on Father’s Day are polo and other casual shirts, followed by belts, wallets, and other leather accessories, with neckties coming in third. Not all presents are store-bought, of course. Many children say thanks to their dad in more personal ways – by writing him a letter, drawing him a picture, or cooking him a meal. I think we can all agree here that this does not stay far from what we do in America. I still remember going shopping with my mom when I was little and picking out neckties with matching work shirts. Here are the top gifts for Father’s Day 2009 in Japan according to one website:
⑥Beer glasses and sake cups
⑤Japanese-style sandals
④Traditional Japanese Sweets
③Meats
②Personalized beers and liquors
①Kids original ideas


Here is a TV spot from Fuji TV about shopping for Father’s Day in Japan to find that special and unique gift for daddy.
The first is a fruit vinegar drink (Citrus and Ginger Vinegar), strategically positioned in the men’s clothing section of a store to remind us that fat father’s need to slim down to wear polo shirts. The man actually says it is to “support the father to make a nice body in the coming year.” Nothing says Father’s Day like telling dad they need to lose weight! The second item shown is a stylish man purse for new fathers! It’s got a baby bottle holder and a pocket at the bottom for diaper storage. It is hoped that older parents will give this as a gift to their sons who have just become fathers. The final gift listed is, of course, sake/alcohol and snacks for the father who can’t go out drinking as much these days because of the bad economy.

What is a little different in Japan is that some elementary and middle schools mark Father’s Day by holding special classes on a Sunday in June. For dads who spend all their weekdays working (read every adult Japanese male), this is a rare chance to see firsthand how their kids are doing in class.

Hydrangeas

This past weekend for our anniversary Jun and I went to a small amusement park in Tokyo called Toshimaen. Our only reason for picking that particular amusement park was that we had some free tickets that were going to expire soon. Good thing that we had free tickets because it would have been a little disappointing to have spent $30 on a poor man’s Disney Land. We still had a lot of fun riding the few rides that we did, but we ended up spending the most time at the petting zoo where we held thee-day-old chicks until they fell asleep in our hands.

The real attraction (sorry, no pun intended) was that there happened to be a Hydrangea Festival where there were “150 different types of hydrangeas and 10,000 blossoms.” The Japanese word for hydrangea is あじさい(紫陽花) and the meaning roughly translates to “gathering blue/purple flowers.” Hydrangeas are a floral symbol of the Japanese rainy season which is roughly from May – June. In the rainy season, snails are often found among hydrangeas with raindrops, so the Japanese think the sight is pretty and refreshing. Hydrangeas appeared in poems of the Nara period (710 – 794), but they were not so popular until the Edo period (1603-1867), because the changeable flower color was thought to be immoral for the samurai culture. Samurai were trained to remain loyal to the shogun (governor of Japan in the Edo Period), but because they associated the changing flower color of Hydrangeas with a change of loyalty, they did not like these flowers. Now they have large festivals dedicated to the flower. Interesting culture.

Here my Hydrangea pictures from that day.

There’s a New Kit Kat in Town

Southern island mango flavored (a speciality of Okinawa apparently)

Southern island mango flavored (a speciality of Okinawa apparently)

Jun explained to me that the kanji 南国 implies the islands that are along the equator or close to it. I found this Kit Kat at a Toys R Us and I was actually a little excited to see a new flavor. I did not end up buying it as the thought of mango and chocolate seems like a terrible idea, so we will never know if this exotic Kit Kat was worth anything. Alas.

My previous Kit Kat related post can be found here.

Dayan the Cat

Well, due to some oversleeping the trip to the amusement park has been pushed back to tomorrow. Was to be expected though since Jun worked from 5 pm to 1:30/2am at his part time job. I don’t have anything to really write about, but I thought just a general picture post might be nice. The following pictures are the postcards I bought from the Dayan museum. The first 8 are from the “Dayan Baby!” set and the last 8 are from the “Very Berry!” set.

Night Patrol Teacher cont.

【夜回り先生】・【The Night Patrol Teacher】

【夜回り先生】・【The Night Patrol Teacher】

It’s been a while since I updated my translation of “The Night Patrol Teacher” and I can only really blame myself for having a lack of motivation for translating. Anyway, before I get into my most recent translations, I would like to share an article I found online from the Japan Times that provides more information about Osamu Mizutani and just how much of an impact he is having. The article translates his title as “the night guard teacher” instead of “the night patrol teacher” that I came up with. Guard may be a better word than patrol, but he uses the Japanese word for patrol a lot in his book, so I will stick with that word for now.

YOKOHAMA’S ‘NIGHT GUARD’
Solo savior on the streets
By TETSUSHI KAJIMOTO

For the past 14 years, former high-school teacher Osamu Mizutani has had no rest as he has devoted himself to helping troubled youths put their lives back in order.

Widely known as yomawari sensei (the night guard-teacher) for his nightly patrols to encourage kids hanging around the streets to return to regular life, 49-year-old Mizutani regularly has to deal with motorcycle gangs and gangsters as he strives to turn youngsters away from lives of crime.

Once he was even forced by an underworld boss to crush the tip of his own finger in order to help a Taiwanese youth sever ties with a crime syndicate.

Now, with more teens becoming hikikomori recluses, suffering from abuse at home or giving up on their future in a society they perceive of as fraught with socio-economic change, Mizutani has been busier than ever. Two years ago his book “Yomawari Sensei” touched a raw nerve when it was published. About 350,000 copies have been sold to date in Japan, with another 51,000 sold in translation in South Korea since 2004 and publication eyed soon in Taiwan.

“Teenagers, mainly those in junior-high and high schools, read my book, and the reason is simply because of my message that tells them ‘it’s all right’,” Mizutani told The Japan Times. “That is because I tell them that whatever wrong they did in the past, or they are doing at present — the future will come, so let’s build tomorrow.

“How many parents or teachers tell their children ‘it’s all right’? Instead they tell them they are failures, tell them off and just keep prodding them. That’s why so many kids come to me for rescue.”

Mizutani quit his job as a social science teacher in September 2004 after falling out with the local education authorities over his principles of education, and he sensed that he would be relegated to a non-teaching post. Since then he has been delivering lectures nationwide, patroling the streets at night and exchanging phone calls and e-mails with thousands of young people from all over the country.

“Last night, I went to bed at 4 a.m. after exchanging e-mails with children as usual, and then I had a good night’s sleep of about four hours — which was an hour longer than usual.”

Last year, Mizutani gave a total of 423 lectures — a punishing schedule that allowed him to return to his Yokohama home about only three days a month. Over the last 22 months he has received more than 183,000 e-mails from about 100,000 children or parents seeking his advice. Of those, he estimates that around 10 percent were split evenly between youths taking drugs (and the parents of such children) and parents whose children had been sent to reformatories, while 90 percent were from young people with suicidal tendencies who had taken overdoses or cut their wrists.

“Those children say things like ‘Mr. Mizutani, help me. I cannot help but cut my wrist,’ and ‘Why shouldn’t I be dead? I want to die!’ In fact, I was dealing with such cries for help until just before I left home for this interview today.”

Clearly, demands for his assistance are unending — during the two-hour-long interview Mizutani was frequently answering calls. One was from an 18-year-old girl on medication for a dependence on stimulants. She started taking them after her foster parents forced her into prostitution when she graduated from junior high school in Fukuoka. The foster parents were arrested last year.

Mizutani said he first dealt with juvenile delinquency and drugs when he began teaching at a night school in Yokohama in 1992. Many of the students there were sniffing glue and roaming the streets after school. Later, about four years ago, he began to tackle the problem of teen suicide after receiving an e-mail from a first-year high-school student. According to Mizutani, she had been cutting her wrists for three years and “was so sick of life that she wanted to die.”

Now he figures that “more than a million” youngsters in Japan are cutting their wrists, taking overdoses and harming themselves in other attempted suicides or “cries for help” every year — adding that schools generally deny knowing of any such cases.

Mizutani explains that many children hurt themselves as a cry for help. They feel their parents and teachers don’t recognize their independent existence, instead ordering them around, expecting high levels of achievement and pressuring them to behave in certain ways.

As another symptom of social malaise and family dysfunction, the number of hikikomori among teenagers and youths in their 20s is put by some experts at more than a million, he notes. He warns that as more and more children live in a “virtual reality” mediated by cell phones and the Internet, they lack the ability to build a rapport with people around them.

“Some people accuse me of ‘self-advertisement’ because of what I do, but my aim is to shed light on these social issues so that they can be properly addressed.”

But as much as he tries, Mizutani hasn’t got a magic wand.

On Jan. 3, one of the youths he had been counseling died from a drug overdose. To his knowledge, 31 others he has helped have also died.

On the positive side, Mizutani believes that about 70 percent of the young people who turn to him for help manage to pull themselves together after several e-mail exchanges.

“I always tell troubled kids to do something for others. They are suspicious of people, but they can be cured by kind words from others. To receive those words, they must do something themselves.”

He makes it clear to them that he sympathizes with their predicaments — without asking them about every detail — and tells them that he can help them to think about what to do tomorrow.

“It’s the responsibility of adults to talk about tomorrow, but few of them do that nowadays — many children are losing sight of their tomorrow.”

Although the economy is said to be picking up — especially the big-business sector — the number of households on welfare is also rising. In 2000, Japan is now ranked fifth among the members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of the number of individuals with equivalized disposable income less than 50 percent of the median income of the entire population. And both domestic violence and the number of workers entitled to compensation for work-related mental disorders are also on the increase.

“How many adults appear to be living a happy life? Seeing worn-out and distressed adults all around, children are prone to live only for the pleasure of the moment because they feel that becoming an adult will suck.”

In society in general, Mizutani feels that people are becoming less at ease with themselves, especially with the trend toward merit-based pay that is polarizing individuals into successes and failures.

With life for many getting tougher, Mizutani believes that more fathers, who fear being laid off, are venting their frustrations on their wives and children, turning to drink, or both. Similarly, mothers busy working part-time to make ends meet are also venting their stress on their children or turning their backs on their families and resorting to online dating.

“Children have nowhere to go but home or school, and they are hardly ever encouraged with praise by teachers. How many kids could be saved if such beautiful words as ‘thank you’ were exchanged at home and school?”

In his lectures Mizutani urges parents and teachers to create a kind-hearted and considerate society in which children can grow up with smiles on their faces.

And that could not happen quickly enough for Mizutani, who, for the last several years, has been suffering from lymphoma in the thymus gland.

“My body will be done for soon because the cancer has spread quite badly, and I may or may not live out the year. I will have a good rest if I die,” he said.

But if Mizutani were not out there, then to whom could those troubled young people turn? “All I can do is sow as many seeds as possible for adults and children to nurture and realize that it’s great to be alive and caring for each other,” Mizutani said.

Until then, nothing, not even his own death, scares him more than the thought of those he helps calling him a liar and never trusting him again.

You can see the original article online complete with pictures if you are interested.

Because the article was written in 2006 and nothing has been published since then, I became concerned that he had indeed died of cancer. He was diagnosed with in 1999 with thymic lymphoma and that he was most likely facing his final three years. His so called demise is long past due by this point, but according to sources he is still roaming the streets, night and day, refusing any sort of treatment. However, no one is 100% sure as to what he is doing specifically. The talk on the Net has it that he has been on lecture tours across the nation. He is said to have visited even Seoul, South Korea. And guess how Yomawari Sensei spends his sleepless night in every city he visits. Most recently he closed down his websites (he had two of them). So as of now only a limited number of people can directly reach him. Perhaps this is all in preparation for when his time actually comes. There is also a manga series and a drama, but they seem hard to come by on the internet.

The one of the issues raised in the article, hikkikomori, is actually a serious problem in Japanese society and the school system. I would place it right up their with bullying because many children who chose this way of life do so because they have been bullied in school – one of my favorite students has fallen into the category and there is currently a meeting being help with their mother, homeroom teacher, and school principle in the office at the moment. To be perfectly honest, the junior high school I work at has been having a lot of problems with its students this year. To be more specific, they have been having a lot of problems with the second year students. I am not sure if I will dedicate a post to this topic or not. The school is already losing face over the students’ behavior and the teachers are aging ten years by the day in appearance because of the stress. I really hope that the problem(s) are able to be resolved soon because it is making for one very tense working environment. I imagine things will only get worse though with summer vacation only a month away.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. How about some more of 夜周り先生? In the chapters I have translated he gives us more insight into his past and we see a little more of the darker side of his personality as a child.

ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ
Chapter 10: Sisters
In the summer of 2002 I received a very distressing e-mail from a high school freshman girl. “Since three years ago I have been cutting my wrists. I hate everything and I want to die.” is what was written. I quickly responded to her e-mail and got her home address. That same weekend I was on a plane flying to her home town.

Almost all children who cut their wrists do not really doing it to commit suicide. They cut themselves, watch their own blood flow, feel the pain from the blade, in order to understand and feel that they are alive. They do not do it because they want to die.

That’s why I believed that she still had the desire to live.

The girl who appeared before me at our designated meeting spot was breathtakingly beautiful. However, covering both her arms from he wrists to a little above her elbow were bandages. It was hard to look at her with her arms completely wrapped in white.

I listened to her situation as we ate.

Starting from when she was an elementary school student she had been bullied by her older sister of two years. being punched and kicked were the most common forms of bullying, but her sister would also cut her clothing with scissors or hide them. These things happened everyday without rest. Just listening made me feel sick from the sinister bullying she endured from her own family.

“What about your parents?”

“’You just have to put up with it,’ is what they tell me and they don’t really try to understand.”

She said those words in a heart-rending voice.

“It would be better if I were not here. I really do want to die.”

I then thought to myself. There is nothing to scold her about and there was no immediate solution to her problem. If nothing else, talking to her parents and sister was the most important thing to do. No matter what the case, that is always the first step. If things are properly looked at, it is not the trail of a bad child, but of a conference with an adult with reasons.

After persuading her she took me to her home.

With perplexed looks on their faces, I explained to her parents of their daughter’s suffering. I then suggested many possible ways to help fix the problem. The whole time her parents looked uncomfortable and never spoke a single word in response to what I was saying. It appeared as though they already knew of their daughter’s wrist cutting. Then why had they not talked with her about it? Why had they not tried to help her?

As I calmly talked the inside of my heart began to burn furiously.

After I had finished, the father called another girl to join us.

“This is the older sister.”

After just one look at the older sister I could understand this family’s difficult existence.

“The older sister suffers with this face while the younger was blessed with charm and good looks. Isn’t it unfair? This is why we always told the younger girl that she must endure.”

On her face was a giant purple birthmark that covered nearly all of her face.

One can only imagine the suffering that the older sister also endured. Still, the two sisters shared in a bullying that came from no reason at all. Their parents had pushed such pain onto them and I began to wonder for what purpose this family existed. I decided to tell the four of them exactly how I felt about their situation. Despite the younger sister’s constant sacrifices and enduring her sister’s abuse, the problem was not solved. Their family’s difficulty (the older daughter’s birthmark) was not something that could be healed so they had to find a way to live or find someone to consult with them about how to. One does not live because they have a face. You cannot live with your face alone.

Then the older sister spoke.

“I’m sorry. Until now I have only taken advantage of my sister. I envied her…I bullied her…I couldn’t express myself. The truth is I just wanted to feel I was alive.”

From my perspective, neither of these girls was bad. They were helpless against the anxiety that wrapped around them and they just wanted someone to understand their pain because their parents were not doing that for them.

Even now the sisters continue to fight on a much smaller scale, but they are learning to live together. They told me thing with very bright voices over the phone.

Chapter 11: Jealousy
I have bullied someone before.

When my mother could afford it, we began living together.

My mother worked as a teacher at a special needs school and because there were sometimes no facilities available to take care of the handicapped children at night, my child adoring mother would take care of them at our home. They seemed to be much more lovable than me. They ate more delicious food, had cleaner clothing, and at night I would have to sleep on the same futon as them.

To me it was neglect and things were only made worse by my having to change their diapers. I was finally able to live with my mother, but it felt like my only mother was giving the happiness I starved for to children who were not her own. I could not forgive these conditions, so I always took advantage of the time my mother was away to pinch and kick the children who were stealing my happiness. They were much younger than me so my bullying was simply praying on the weak. Even I knew how terrible my actions were. That is why I cried every night on the days I bullied as I curled up in a ball on my mother’s futon. I would bury my face in my chest and promise myself over and over again that “I will become a good child.”

However, even though I wanted to stop I could not bring myself to do so. I was suffering. Everyone who bullies, cuts their wrists, or shuts themselves off from the rest of the world is. Until they find someone who can fill them with the love they are seeking they cannot stop those actions. Alone they are powerless.

Everyday I relive the regret and self-hatred I felt. I don’t want to make those same mistakes again and I don’t want others to either.

Chapter 12: Disgrace
When I was in junior high school I hated every single teacher and educator. I was so absorbed in campus activism that educators, police, bureaucracy, and all those related to those categories were the enemy.

One day during class my teacher hit a student, who was making a lot of noise, over the head. I immediately voiced my objection.

“Sensei, that’s violence. Please apologize. I am totally against such actions.”

The teacher then took me out into the hallway and said, “Mizutani, you will run to where I am standing” as he rose a fist into the air. His plan was to make myself run into his fist. Teachers from other classrooms saw this going on and laughed.

“Mizutani, you will run into my fist. This is not a form of physical punishment. You are doing it yourself,” the teacher spat out.

In that instant I clenched my teeth and began to run as a bitter hatred grew inside me. Tears of mortification and frustration streaming down my face, I ran into his fist with all the power I could muster. I did this over and over again and even after the teacher said, “That’s enough,” I did not stop. If I withdrew I felt like I would be admitting defeat. As all the teachers, assuming things were ending there, returned to their classrooms I gathered all my power to speak.

“Don’t you dare run away from me.”

Starting the next day I was not allowed to enter a classroom except on test days. All other days I studied in the library. So as not to worry my mother and so she would not find out about this situation, I kept to the same schedule. I left for school at the same time and returned at the same time I always had. Starting from this moment on schools and teachers became my enemy.

After this incident I never in my wildest dreams thought I would became a teacher.
ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ

I am working on translating more right now, but I will be out all day tomorrow to an amusement park in Tokyo with Jun for our
“anniversary” (well, we still celebrate each month. Maybe I will have a post about this amusement park at a later date?

Mom in Japan: Kawaguchiko

Wow, I was on a roll there for awhile and I lost it. Almost a week with no update. Shame on me! Since I still have one more day to talk about from out trip around Mt. Fuji, might as well finish off with that. I have been working on my translation of “The Night Patrol Teacher,” but that is going slower than I would like. Maybe in another day or two I will have another installment ready. Anyway, onto the trip!

After getting as much sleep as we could, I was enjoying the feeling of a real bed and would be sad to return to my futon, we checked out of the hotel and got some breakfast. Thankfully, everything we were planning on seeing our last day around Mt. Fuji was within close proximity of each other, so we did not have to spend too much time in the car. Our first stop of the day was the Kawaguchiko Konohana Art Museum which displays the artwork and stories of Dayan the Cat written and illustrated by Akiko Ikeda.

Welcome to the Konohana At Museum

Welcome to the Konohana At Museum

I had never heard of this story or character before, but once we arrived at the museum I felt like I had at least seen a picture of the cat before. Dayan may be one of the most famous cats in Japan (behind Hello Kitty and Marie of course). The story of Dayan is that he was just your usual house cat who, on the night of the Eurocka Festival, happened to wandered off into magic snow which took him to a land where animals walk on two legs: Wachifield. Dayan then began to live alone in a cabin in the forests on the outskirts of the town where he made many friends. Some of his more well known friends are Marcy the rabbit, Иbah the alligator, Jitan the cat, and Willy the mouse. Wachifield and was actually something that she imagined when she was a child. When she began putting her imagination onto paper in the forms of words and drawings, Wachifield and its character grew and grew.

Dayan on a cake with merengue owls

Dayan on a cake with merengue owls

Dayan’s first picture book was published in 1988 and was titled “Dayan’s Yummy Dream” which has grown to 39 different titles to date. I think Akiko Ikeda could be considered Japan’s version of Beatrice Potter – their art styles are a little similar if you ask me. The author says that she writes each of her books with the universal message that shows all living creatures living together in harmony with nature, appreciating nature’s blessings, value life, and are experiencing the wondrous inspirational forces around them. I was unable to take any pictures inside the museum, but I did manage to take a few of the outside and of the adorable picture cards I bought in the gift shop.

each of these has 8 postcards inside

each of these has 8 postcards inside

Unfortunately, the gift shop did not have any of the stories in English (although the Japanese is really simple that I could have read it), but I did discover that Dark Horse has begun translating the books. You can order some of the books from their website.

monkey!

monkey!

After I finished freaking out over how cute everything was and wondering if I should really just shove out all the cash needed to buy all the Dayan books (mom bought a cute bag with Dayan on it and something about being sick from eating too many strawberries), we went across the street to the Kawaguchiko Monkey Performance Theater which was specifically built for the purpose of the “Suou Monkey Show” that is a traditional stage performance with over (nearly?) 1000 years of history. I didn’t know Japan liked monkeys so much. Anyway, the show was really cute and my personal favorite performance from the monkeys was when one of them pretended to be a dying cockroach and he skidded his way around the stage on his back. After the show you could go shake hands with the monkeys, so of course we did that.

some of the buildings at Kawaguchiko Music Forest

some of the buildings at Kawaguchiko Music Forest

After lunch we went to the Kawaguchiko Music Forest which is essentially a giant music box museum with music boxes from all over the world and live performances by Prague Symphony Orchestra from the Czech Republic daily. The museum was established in 1999 and is built in the style of the residences of medieval European nobility – yeah, it is kind of trippy to see European architecture with Mt. Fuji in the background. To be more specific, the architecture is more Swiss based than general European. There is also a rose garden with 550 varieties of roses that all happened to be in bloom when we were there.

inside the room that is a giant music box

inside the room that is a giant music box

There was also an exhibit of old music boxes from all over the world on display including one that was a miniature (well, it was still HUGE!) Palace of Versailles where inside the castle there was a ball and outside the figures walked around the gardens. I kind of wish I had a giant music box like that in my home. We also got to see the Prague Symphony Orchestra perform in a room that had on display pipe organ based music boxes. One of these was supposed to have been on the Titanic, but the creator did not have time to finish it and get it installed on the boat before it had to leave port. His music box finished but unable to get it on the Titanic, he boarded the ship and was never able to hear his completed music box.


There is also a room that is really a music box with dolls scattered all over the walls (see also the above picture).


Outside there is a fountain that has a musical water show every 30 minutes.

a music box in the shape of a bird. it was so cute.

a music box in the shape of a bird. it was so cute.

We also had lunch at the restaurant inside the museum because a “free” dessert and drink was included in our ticket price (aka Jun’s mom paid extra when we entered). I had a strawberry éclair with some tea, Jun had a chocolate cake with coffee, and mom had the special of rose bud tea and a rose bud chiffon cake with rose jelly. The tea even came with rose sugar which I also put in my tea for a little extra flavor.

my delicious dessert

my delicious dessert

After eating our delicious desserts we took a walk around the rose garden which was in full bloom. I went a little picture crazy because I love taking pictures of flowers. When we had completed our walk through the rose garden we decided that it was time to call it a day and head back to Saitama.

my favorite rose picture

my favorite rose picture

A this is the end of our trip.

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