Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Let’s Culture to the JETs

When I began this blog I committed myself to providing information of the useful kind pertaining to the life of JET Programme participants in Aomori. Just as I covered in painful detail the Tokyo JET Orientation, and in less painful detail (because I was getting lazy) the Aomori JET Orientation, I will now share in extraneous (but abridged) detail some of the happenings at the Aomori JET Culture Day. First, you should know that cross-dressing is an integral part of Japanese educational culture

. . . and special pains were taken to incorporate it. As the nice lady in the middle said: “This yukata is young girl style.” Toby went to the same boarding school in the Philippines as I did, called Faith Academy. Cross dressing happens a lot in the Philippines, so I guess Toby had something to go on. These poor ladies were given the task of teaching Aomori and Japanese history to our largely non-Japanese speaking audience—in one hour. I imagine that to those who don’t understand Japanese the lecture sounded something like this: Blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah . . . high school students use this way. Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah do you understand the way?” “The way” was the system of memorizing historical events using haiku incorporating the heavily stylized pronunciations of the dates. Here are the actual points of Aomori history covered in the syllabus:
1. 1875—Apples came to Aomori.
2. 1902—A big accident was happened in the snowy Hakkoda.
3. 1988—The Sei-Kan tunnel was completed.
4. 1993—The Shirakami Mountain range was recognized as the World Heritage site.
As Joelle from Oma said, these points would probably form a pretty good foundation for Aomori’s very own creation myth. I may not have learned much Aomori history, but overall I consider the session to have been a bonanza of a learning experience. Other elective sessions I participated in were

. . . sushi making

. . . and Jomon necklace making. Jomon was the period in Japanese history when the Aomori region was actually significant. Our necklaces were imitation bear claws carved from talc. As Elly said, “talc is the wussiest stone ever,” and shaping “claws” out of blocks only required two grades of sandpaper—something I doubt our Jomon predecessors had.

I strongly suspect that the whole talc sculpting ploy was really a cover up for select JETs preparing shipments of pure cocaine.

Behold, my talc bear claw! Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the Jomon pottery making session. Over all, two thumbs up for Culture Day! It was a great opportunity for a JET reunion, it only cost 2,000 yen, I got 12,000 yen extra pay for it, I got to eat my sushi and keep my talc necklace, the folks organizing it did a really great job, and the Japanese volunteers were extremely generous in every sense.