As I write in my 5th week of life in Japan I feel I should touch wood…because despite the odds I appear to have an immune system that could ward off a zombie virus or the like.
Let me explain: it rains in Japan, all the time. Add to this the fact that I have a 5-10 minute bicycle ride to and from school every day. The temperature hasn’t hit 20 degrees since I arrived and those few ‘warm’ days we have had seem to occur when I am not at school (of which I am not complaining about). Japanese schools are simple affairs and as such no heater or cooling devices are present in any of the classrooms (bless the heating in the teachers’ room!). The kids are perpetually ill and contrary to popular belief they do not always (if ever) wear a mask when they are sick. So they caringly spread their germs with the general school population on a daily basis. How I have not fallen victim to these unseen infections is beyond me…but I will take it while I can!
The catalyst for this introduction is the fact that my day started with an epic ride through cyclonic weather conditions to get to school. I arrived in the teachers’ room looking like a drowned rat and cursing mother nature under my breath, feeling this was going to be a bad day. But I had forgot my latest epiphany (that Japanese people love to talk about the weather and food) so I was treated like a hero by the teachers…apparently cycling in torrential rain gets you brownie points in this country!
I feel the warm welcome at school this morning coincides with my new knowledge on how to connect with Japanese people: talk about the weather and food. They love to talk about these rather mundane, but safe topics…since they are are a population hell bent on accommodating others and never rocking the boat. Needless to say I have brushed up on my food and weather vocab since realising this key fact. This discovery has led me to become somewhat of a comic genius in the Teachers’ Room. The teachers love my running food/weather commentary with my new vocab acquisition and while I haven’t worked out if they are laughing with me or at me I don’t really mind! They are talking to me and that’s what counts.
Later the same day after the ‘drowned rat’ incident I was preparing to leave for my ride home when Kocho Sensei (our principal) approached me. He made a comment about it still raining outside to which I retorted in Japanese ‘It is always raining in Japan’. Little did I know that the entire teaching population had been listening into our little exchange and at my comment they all cracked up laughing! Who knew my cynicism would translate into comedy in Japanese?!