Thursday, November 03, 2005

PTA Trip

Today is another National holiday, 'Bunka no hi' (Culture Day).

Last year I got 'cultured' by going shopping but this year I decided to join the school's PTA annual trip. When we received the forms on our desks I asked the teacher sitting next to me what it was for. He told me that every year the PTA organises a trip somewhere and mostly students' parents go.

I think they were a bit surprised when I signed up and handed over my 5,000 yen. I also think they were a little worried about how I would understand what was going on and if there were going to be any other people going who could speak English.

I saw it as a chance to get involved since I've been here for a year and know nothing about the PTA. Also it would be great practise for my Japanese and get to meet some of my students' parents. So on a public holiday, I hauled my ass to school at 8.30am and got on a tour bus headed to Awaji Island.

Most PTA members are the mothers. The head of the PTA is the father of one of our 3rd year students. He used to be a science teacher but is now an accountant. He was very nice and could speak some English too. Out of the teachers, Principal, Vice-Principal, Kendo-sensei and about 5 other male teachers came along. Thankfully Kendo-sensei was there. I sat next to him on the bus and he helped translate a lot of things to me. He also told me that most of the teachers were 'recommended' to attend the trip by Kocho-sensei.

First we went over Awaji Bridge, the one I can see from my apartment, and the sight was beautiful. We stopped off at 'Awaji Oasis,' a place which showcases Awaji-made goods and souvenirs. Awaji is famous for onions, so I bought a small onion pie. It tasted like a sweet curry puff. Kocho-sensei had made an announcement on the bus that it was okay to drink all thorughout this trip, so it wasn't surprising that he bought a few bottles of Awaji beer and fish sausage to chow down on in the bus.

We went to the Great Hanshin Earthquake Faultline Memorial/Educational Centre which shows the extent of the damage of the 1995 earthquake and how the land shifted. Every year our school's first year Environmental class goes there on an excursion. It was quite interesting and even had a room which you could sit in and when activated, could experience how the earthquake felt.

Then it was off to the Awaji Westin Hotel for a buffet lunch - the real highlight, in my opinion. It was a really nice hotel and many weddings were going on. The buffet was delicious with so many different types of food. The desserts weren't that great but the food, oh the food was so good. I was sitting on the principal, vice principal and teachers' table and I guess being the only female, they were surprised at how much I was eating and how many times I got up to do another round.

"It's delicious isn't it? You must be hungry." "Do you cook at home?" "You sure can eat a lot, can't you?" "Chris-san, let's get some more soup!"

To which I smiled and nodded with my mouth stuffed with tasty beef stew and mushroom risotto, cheese on crackers with smoked salmon and ham, creamy pumpkin soup, tender chicken pieces, sweet & sour fish and a whole lot more.

Flower chairs in the foyer

The Westin was also where the English soccer team stayed during the Japan/Korea World Cup. Their training grounds were the nearby soccer pitches which we played on last year for the Awaji Tournament (though I've haven't played any soccer this year because I don't think soccer is really my thing, well...basically, I suck big time). And they LOVE Beckham over here so here I am pointing out Beckham's signature (there is actually a little arrow sticker pointing to it on the glass) on the huge ass English soccer kit amongst other memorabilia.

With our bellies full and content, our last stop was this herb/flower perfumery craft place where we smelt a range of incense and perfumes, made herb soap...

and got to cut fresh cosmos flowers in a beautiful field!

I think Kocho-sensei was a tad tipsy because he was a little red and when we were outside and I was taking photos, he found this huge ass praying mantis, picked it up and stuck it in my face, "Look at this! Chris-san! Look at this!" eeeks!

We got dropped off at school and I walked home with Kendo-sensei and the Head of the PTA-san. Head of the PTA-san invited us to drop by his house to see his dog. It was an Irish Wolfhound aka freakin' huge! It was the biggest dog I've ever seen. It was like a miniture pony. It was bigger than me!

I really enjoyed and got a lot more out of this year's Culture Day.


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