We leave our nice hotel today and our first stop is a visit to Fukui University. We meet with the President of the college then are taken to a conference type of room. There we meet the dean, several department chairs and a few senior students. We are treated like important visiting dignitaries. The media is there and they do a few interviews with us during the break. We are surprised to discover that the university staff is as interested in asking us questions as we are them. We are so excited that we take too long to answer their questions because all of us want to give our separate take in answering the questions. We discover that this is a reoccurring problem with us and Americans in general and it is difficult for us to tone it down.
We leave the university to go to meet the Mayor of Sakai City. The ride is about forty minutes away so we have box lunches (Japanese style, of course) on the bus. We receive two boxesone full of sandwiches and one that is Japanese box lunch. Check it out:
We arrive to meet the mayor and are taken to line up outside some double doors. At the stated time for our meeting, the double doors are opened and there are city officials standing on both sides of the door clapping and Japanese music is playing. We are led to our seats. Our interpreter happens to be standing by me when this happens and she says, Wow! Real red carpet treatment! It is somewhat overwhelming to be treated so well and tears well up. JFMF had told us in advance of coming that we would be treated as the most revered of teachers. Japanese pay their teachers $4,000 more than any other public office, and teachers live very comfortably as a result, and are among the most respected. Here are some shots from the mayoral visit:
We are now taken to our hotel, where we will be the next five nights. We are staying in traditional Japanese rooms which means there are tatami mats on the floor, a futon will be put on the mats each night for sleeping, an alcove for beauty on one side of the room, rice paper walls / petitions and no shoesonly slippers may be worn in this area. In fact, there is a small entry way where you take off your shoes, then step up barefoot to put on slippers. Special slippers are for the bathroom and stay in that area. My bed is made up for me every evening between 6pm and 8pm. While I do have a private western bathroom, one of the attractions to this traditional hotel is that it offers a public bath. There is a definite protocol in how to do that, so I will discuss it once I experience it. Here is my roomI have to admit, the straw mats make it smell a little like a stable.
Well it has been a day or two since we have had a welcome reception so tonight Sakai is putting one on for us. It was done at the hotel and was quite elegant with lots more of that food I have difficulty recognizing. Now that we are out of Tokyo, there are not so many western foods available it seems. I forgot to take pictures most of the time tonight, which is too bad because our host families were there. Most do not speak English and yes, we sat between them. Oh my. What fun to communicate and find things to talk about when you speak a different language. As I mentioned, it was quite an elegant affair. All men were in suits.exceptthe man whom I will be staying with. He was very embarrassed and did make a point to tell me that his house is all casual. I believe he and his wife who is a nurse, is going to teach me to make soba noodles and clay pots. He is also very accomplished at origami and created a humming bird for me and a dragon flyboth life size, and made from our agendas.
The entertainment was done by children from one of the junior highs and it was EXCELLENT. Here is a picture
So sorry I didnt take more pictures of this night. The food was elegant, the people were elegant and the entertainment was great. And because the Japanese are very orderly and punctual, when it is time to end, they tell you good night and turn out the lights and you are expected to go. J I am tired and it is time to crawl into my bed…..on the floor!
Posted from Japan:
posted Monday October 2007