Ekiden

Similar to Sports Day in that there’s plenty of running (a whole day’s worth, in fact) sandwiched by speeches galor, Ekiden is the island-wide marathon competition held annually.  Students have to do circuits of 1km 3 or 4 times depending on their gender, and pass off between schools as a relay.  The first half of the day is devoted to the boys, and the second to the girls. 

I was very proud of one of my schools, as they took first in the girls competition!  The number one boys was one of Nathan’s schools–those boys were so fast!  They even lapped Naka and Hatsuyama near the end (but they totally ganbatte’d, I was very impressed and proud of them).  That’s a lesson from Japanese Culture: keep going until you finish, even if it’s obvious that you’re going to come out last.  Finishing is more important than doing the best of everyone.

I also really liked Ekiden because I finished the day at 2pm, two-and-a-half hours earlier than usual.  Meant more time to veg in front of my TV after getting mildly dehydrated.  Getting into the middle of October and it can still get quite warm during the day, especially in the second/third-floor classrooms. 

We had Ekiden on October 2–so about two weeks ago.  One of the last times it’ll go like this, as it’s confirmed that two years from now there will only be four middle schools on Iki, instead of the current eight or nine.  Geez, that means that Muchuu will be more like 500 students… maybe even more.  Craaaazy.

In any case, enjoy the pictures.  There’s one of me and another ALT, Christine, in there as well, if you miss my b-e-a-utiful shining face. 

Listening to the obligatory speeches.  Could not get everyone in the frame--small town, but many students.

Listening to the obligatory speeches. Could not get everyone in the frame--small town, but many students.

One of Nathans ridiculously fast boys already in first place.

One of Nathans ridiculously fast boys already in first place.

Two of my boys, ready to rumble.

Two of my boys, ready to rumble.

YAY! Practicing their English by spelling out Fight.

YAY! Practicing their English by spelling out Fight.

Huzzah for relays!

Huzzah for relays!

So, as a final note, during this extravaganza I kept getting two very different responses to my personage in broken English.  The first, when they saw my camera, was “Oh, Camera Man!” because apparently, despite the ten other people with SLRs wandering around, I’m totally pro.  (Even versus the actual professional photographer with his shiny L-series lenses.)  The other, by some of Nathan’s non-participating boys, was to try and hit on me.

Slightly awkward, but you know it’s going to happen.  I’m not that much older than them, and I’m foreign.  And besides, they like to look cool to their friends.

So it went like this, “Do you love Nathan?” 

Me, deadpan: “No.  He’s ok, but no.”

Then, lots of giggles and nudges and, “Do you love me.”

Me, deadpan, taking a few pictures of the running: “No.”

Whooping this time, and more nudges.  “You prettiest in world.”

I raise an eyebrow.  “The prettiest in the world.”   Hey, any time to fix their English is a good time.  Even if they’re trying to seduce me.  Then a pause, “I think Angelina Jolie is prettier.”

Much headshaking.  “Oh no.  You.” 

I eventually said “Thank-you” and waved them away.

So that was the fun story for the day.  I also thought it was a little strange that my students were completely SHOCKED when I bit straight into my apple without cutting it into pieces first.  So I ate my lunch with relish that day, just to see ’em smile.

Ok, and here’s me and Christine, I guess.  Still looking healthy?  I’m gaining weight because of all the cookies I’m making.

As taken by Guy who was about 15 feet away.  Its an ok picture.  I guess.

As taken by Guy who was about 15 feet away. Its an ok picture. I guess.

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