I've been a bit of a sourpuss in my last two entries so I thought I'd write about the interactions with Japanese people that actually brighten my day rather than make me feel really awkward.
I feel like the most charming things happen outside of the classroom--one is the elementary school kids that Jonathan and I pass each morning on our walk to the train station. Since the school year started in March and a new crop of students started heading to the school near our jutaku, we've encountered a more emboldened gaggle of kiddies than in the past. It began with one boy shouting "HARRO" and "GOOD-O MORNING" to us; then some of his friends joined in, including one little girl who is so cute I want to eat her. Then they started reporting the weather to us--I guess they only got as far in their monthly ALT visits as a few adjectives, so instead of "Today is sunny," they tell us, "Kyou wa sunny desu!" Yesterday we corrected them that it wasn't actually sunny, it was cloudy ("kumori") and they were shocked to find we speak Japanese ("Nihongo de shaberu?!?") Then this morning we saw two of the boys waiting for us and clearly planning something. When we passed one of them asked us, "Tomodachi ni narimasen ka?" which means, "We're becoming friends, right?" So we told them of course, and they were very pleased. I'm looking forward to what they'll ask us on Monday; their ridiculous cuteness gives me a little boost at the beginning of a long day.
I think I've mentioned cleaning groups before, which is something I also look forward to. Every day at Japanese schools there is a 10 minute cleaning period during which, theoretically, students and teachers clean designated areas together. What usually happens is the teachers clean and the students run around shrieking and enjoying their brief period of freedom. But since I'm a lazy American, I don't clean either, so I spend the time chatting with my cleaning group, invariably an ever-expanding clique of girls (once they realize I don't make them do anything, they invite their friends.) Yesterday they came tearing up the stairs screaming "ALANNA, WE HAVE MANY QUESTIONS!!!" Basically anything I tell them about myself is greeted with an "IIIIII NAAAAA!" as though I promised them a limitless supply of cake and cute shoes (based on the consumption habits of the young Japanese woman, these seem to be the most treasured products.) I've had a few different groups at this point, and so far they've been: 1, The Naughty Group, who always wanted to talk about sex; 2, The Gamblers, who taught me a million different Japanese card games, and 3, The Girly Girls, who like to discuss Gossip Girl and what my (entirely imaginary) wedding will be like. It's a small part of the day but I'm able to get to know some of the students beyond, "Harro I am fine sankyuuu" and blank stares in response to questions about their English reading assignments.