So this is day 5 of Jiro’s 43-day trip to the States and my solo stay with his mother. I am not sure how it will all end up but so far so good. I have a meal preparation plan that should keep us both well nourished and keep her out of the kitchen. Now that our kitchen is done in the kura, I can prepare meals here and then take them over at mealtimes. Last night we had stewed eggplant, rice and broiled fish. I’ve already prepared hijiki for her lunch tomorrow and there are some leftovers that she can grab, too. Tomorrow I am teaching at a school that is next to one of my favorite tofu shops, Torakichi とら吉 Besides regular tofu, they have tofu made from green soybeans, soymilk pudding and fresh soymilk ice cream. I can’t wait!
We were pretty busy up until the day Jiro left. The house is pretty much done and so is his studio. He finished nine pieces before he left. They are similar to the BOND series he did several years ago, but they are larger. He took a few snapshots before he left, but will get better photos when he is in Portland. His show at the Japanese Garden opens on November 15th.
We also got in a nice day hike to Mt. Motogoe on the outskirts of town. It is 580 m high. and the views are incredible. The trail is really eroded and the walk out nearly killed my knees, but the view was worth it. The view is ranked at as the 4th best (?!?) in Japan. Kunikida Doppo （国木田独歩）a naturalist writer of the Meiji Period spent one year (1893) in Saiki teaching and he wrote an essay about climbing Mt. Motogoe. He wrote that the beautiful view moved him to tears. I found a copy of his original manuscript online, courtesy of Waseda University Library. If interested, there is an English translation of five of his short stories, one of which is set in Saiki.
Things at work continue to be a little chaotic. A new ALT was hired, a young man from Kenya who just graduated from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), and I have been helping him learn about the job. I realized how crazy the job is when I started explaining to him what I do everyday. He is a nice guy and wants to do a good job, but the circumstances are tough. The BOE is still looking for two more people and I suggested that they should advertise in English because they are looking for English teachers. That meant I had to translate their job announcement..In addition to the obvious requirements, they also ask that all applicants be born outside of Japan… I asked why and they said that they don’t want Japanese people applying. I said that if a person has native English speaking ability (a requirement), why does it matter where they were born? They discussed it amongst themselves for awhile and said I could leave it out of the English job posting.
The house is really comfortable and now that I have privacy again I am more relaxed. It is also nice to have our own refrigerator….the little things all make a big difference.