This month’s post is a little more cheerful – i have managed to resolve some issues at school, mainly by changing my attitude and forcing the teachers to think ahead, rather than asking for them to come to me – that’s so not going to happen! So i’m feeling comfortable at school, but this week they have exams, so i will be sitting at my desk in the staff room for 8 hours, for 4 days. ouch.

I had dinner with 2 teachers that i get along with well last week, and I got a little more insight into Japanese schools – new teachers rotate schools every 6 years, and experienced teachers every 8 years. Unless something is very wrong (apparently last year there was a teacher at my school who was a little bit messed up in the head and had some illegal thoughts about some kids, or so i have come to understand). The kids are put into classes so that there’s a leader in each class, someone who plays the piano and general ability. The principal and vice-principal rotate every 2 years. And apparently the friendly atmosphere, despite everyone being insanely busy, is not common to most schools. So i’ve come to appreciate my school more.

Besides that, living in Japan is getting a bit tougher as the winter is finally arriving. It’s really cold in the mornings and it can warm up a lot on a sunny day but i’ve pulled my scarf and gloves out already. Despite that the maple trees are pretty – the weekend before my birthday i went to Nara (known for its 15m buddha statue) and Koyasan (a scared buddhist village) for a weekend, and the foliage was really pretty – it gave me a real winter feeling. Plus it was just generally pretty – see photos i’ve put up.

My birthday celebration was pretty tame, just dinner and some drinks. It’s hard to do a big thing here anyway because when most Japanese people go out drinking they go to Izakayas which are japanese-style ‘bars’ that usually serve alcohol and food, and tend to be hidden a little. So unless you know where to go and can read a japanese menu without pictures its a little difficult. I must find out where to go for those though.

I’m starting to feel a lot more at home here in Nagoya. I still can’t read most signs, but i know where to go for the doctor or the optician, I know where you can go see a bird migration site, i know where to go for big garden centres and where you can find a good arts and crafts shop. That’s pretty good, i thnk! So who knows, maybe i will even consider staying here for another year after all…

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