A few weeks ago I was disappointed to see that our local supermarket was out of bananas and then surprised to see that they continued to be sold out almost every time I stopped in to check. Finally last week the mystery of scarce bananas was revealed to me by some friends who pay closer attention to the local news than I do. Apparently all over Japan, supermarkets are selling out of bananas because of a new diet craze… the morning banana diet. In mid-September, NHK (the Japanese equivalent of PBS) aired a program touting the benefits of this diet. I’ve asked several people about the banana diet and almost everyone I’ve asked has said that either they or someone in their family is on this diet now… At 100 yen ($1…now 99 cents) a banana, I’m not about to start.
The yen keeps gaining against the dollar…one silver lining to my job. If I think in dollars, my salary has increased by about $15 a day without receiving a raise. The cost of living here is pretty high, but we’re not paying rent and we are living pretty frugally. Gasoline and utility bills eat up a lot of our income.
The house is pretty much done…..Pictures. I wish I could figure out how to make these display horizontally on the page. We used salvaged siding for the exterior of the addition. The floors are bamboo. The toilet is a composting one from envirolet and I sure hope it works as well as it is supposed to. Although we don’t have much furniture now, it is comfy and is beginning to feel like home.
We did some major pruning of the citrus trees and cleared out space for a garden. The tiller is broken and because it is the rice harvesting season now, we can’t get anyone to repair it for us yet.
I am not sure how I feel about my job these days… The physical challenge is considerable – teaching 6 periods, eating lunch with kids, playing at recess (yesterday I even played jump rope) with no break is exhausting. The pay is not very good, I have only a few vacation days, the intellectual challenge is minimal……But I can ride my bike to the office every day, never
take work home, don’t feel any stress from work, working with really great kids invigorates me, and I know that I am doing a good job. The better jobs are a 45-minute drive from here…I am planning to check out the possibilities, but because of the stress of living and caring for my mother-in-law, the local job may be the healthiest option.
Because I teach in every elementary school in Saiki (the city is quite large-903.44 km2) , everywhere I go I run into kids who know my name and usually run over to talk to me. I always have to ask what school they are from and feel slightly bad that I can’t remember their names or even worse, I can’t remember them when I see them a few weeks later at their school… just too many kids. Tonight we went to rent DVDs and a 5th grade girl ran over to me and was so excited to see that I was checking out Heroes (I am about to watch the last episode of the first season) and pulled her mother over to talk to me. I told Jiro I feel like I need to smile all the time…low level celebrity I’m not sure if this is a perk of the job or not.
Jiro leaves in two weeks for a six week visit to the States. He hasn’t been back since he left last December. He’s the featured artist at the Portland Japanese Garden in November and will teach a class in Chicago. He’s also got to deal with house repairs and bamboo pruning. I really wish I could go with him. His mom really can’t stay on her own…I will be working on patience…I hope the time passes quickly. ….I’ll post more pictures of the house later.