Popped into my old school today (after an income tax form), and met some of my old students. I first taught them when they were noisy little junior high 3rd years and now they are senior high 3rd years talking excitedly about the study abroad program they will have at their university. Time’s arrow, eh? Actually they haven’t changed a bit. Scallywags. Many thanks to Matsui-sensei for taking the following picture. Left to right: Yurika, Tamami, ワタシ, Tomoko.
I’ll be leaving Kyojo in the Spring and starting a new job, fulltime at Heian High School. It’s good to start something new after three years at Kyoto Girls’… but at the same time I’m going to miss a lot of the students. This week I’ve been saying goodbye to my first year students. I really liked these students and really enjoyed teaching them. I taught a lot of them before, when they were 2nd Grade Junior High and I was just starting at the school… so in a sense we’ve grown up together (ha ha). Here they are in the order I taught them this week. You can click on the pictures for a closer look. First 1:11:
That’s it. My last class of the year is over and for the next couple of weeks at least I am more or less free. I still have the Saturday morning job at the clinic of course, but that’s far too much fun to be actually considered work. Anyway, now that my teaching year is up, I have plenty of time to look back and reflect on how things went. Not a bad year really. Not bad at all. I was blessed with lots of nice students to teach and I actually enjoyed myself a lot in my classes this year. I think I have a lot to be grateful for. Speaking of which… this is written on the signboard at the front of my school this month:
And this was written at the back entrance:
Together they form a waka style poem by the founder of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect, Shinran. The title is 恩徳讃 (ondokusan) or “Thanks and Praise”.
nyourai daihi no ondokuha
mi wo ko ni shite mo hou zubeshi
shishu chishiki no ondoku mo
hone wo kudakite mo
Many of the words and phrases in this poem aren’t even in my dictionary so I asked Koike sensei to help me.
如来 (Nyorai) is the name of the Amida Buddha or Buddha of Infinite Light, and 大悲 (daihi) is the boundless compassion he feels for all sentient beings. 報ずべし (houzubeshi) means we are duty bound to repay this kindness with gratitude. Now the two lines 身を粉にしても and 骨を砕きても are a poetic rearrangement of the common idiom: 粉骨砕身 (funkotsusaishin) literally one’s flesh and bones are smashed to powder... but which actually means to make one’s best exertions. Finally, 師主知識 (shishu chishiki) refers to the knowledge of a teacher or Buddhist master for which we must 謝する (shasuru) or express our gratitude. However, Koike was at pains to point out that it is not the teacher but the knowledge that is important, and that in this respect anyone who leads us onto the right path in life can be considered a Buddhist master. Here’s my rough attempt at a translation:
We should give our all to repay
The Buddha’s boundless compassion.
We should do our best to give thanks
For the teachings that save us.
Shinran wrote this in his later years when he was looking back on his life and reflecting on all that he had to be grateful for. Now, at the end of the year it is timely for us to reflect on the same. What are you grateful for this year? And who was your best teacher?
Ah, it’s time to say goodbye to two more writing classes. It’s weird to think I won’t be seeing their faces in the classroom again… Here’s dear old 3:1- you can click on the picture for a closer look, or as we say in nihongonese:下の写真をクリックしたらもっと大きく見えるよ :
Good luck to you 3:1 ladies! May you all be happy and well, and each discover what fulfills you! I know some of you could do GREAT THINGS if you just believed in yourselves!
Now here are the ladies of lovely 3:2:
I think of the many pictures taken during today’s prolonged photo session that one is the best, (despite my mad professor hair). Actually 3:2 are a funny class, and I mean that in a good way… When I said I wanted to take a picture with them, there was sudden flurry of “Me, too!”, “Yeah, I want to take a picture as well!”, “I was just thinking I really wanted to take a picture!”, “I wanna take a picture too!” kind of OUTBURST and suddenly we were all fighting for camera space… Here are three of the photo-munchkins in action: Shiori, Risa and Misa. Shiori & Misa – you still owe me homework!
Another year goes around and it’s time to say goodbye to two more writing classes. Nice classes these. I taught some of them when they were first years too… And I shall miss them. Good luck ladies in your bright and shiny futures!
Here’s 3:3. (下の写真をクリックしたらもっと大きく見えるよ！）
And here’s 3:4.
Hmm… the pictures are a bit fuzzy. Maybe I should have used the flash after all…
Saturday October 4th: Went to see Randy Weston and Alex Blake at Kamigamo. That was an amazing night. Those two guys are no spring chickens but they play with all the mercurial energy of youth. Alex Blake plays his bass like a crazy man, and both of them are just pulling, no yanking music up from the depths of their souls. At the end of the night Randy Weston thanked us all for a deeply spiritual evening – and truly I felt blessed. So much so, I bought the CD.
Sunday 5th: Braved the rains and went to the Vegetarian festival at Okazaki park and ate a lot of food. Despite the incessant inclemency there was quite a big turn out and the lady who runs Sunny Place told me later she sold all her foodage. Here are a couple of pictures of things that look (and taste) like hotdogs and burgers but aren’t, and me enjoying an organic beer.
Wednesday 8th: Went to “Gnome” Irish pub on Kawaramachi. It’s a good place, good music, lovely food but no customers. I think it may need the Deep Kyoto treatment. Later on I went to “Alphabet A” on Pontocho with Massun, and Yoshida-kun turned up later too. That’s a good bar too. I really really ought to give it a review sometime…
Other than that a fairly normal week, worked a bit, wrote a couple of tests, and was told by some first years that I have a very small bum. Please don’t look at my bum, I said and moved swiftly away before any other ideas entered their heads. Went to “Field” Irish pub on Saturday to hear some Irish music, as they have a session there most weekends, but they weren’t much cop unfortunately. In fact the guy playing the tin whistle who seemed to be the leader, was practically tone deaf. So ended up in Joao instead. No problems with that though it’s a great place and we had a great chat with Taisho. Sunday I checked out the Parisian art exhibition at the Kyoto City Art Museum in Higashiyama. It was interesting but too packed with people to be enjoyable to be honest… Then last night I went to Uji. They have lit up the streets and the bridge there with lanterns decorated with scenes form the The Tale of Genji. All very pretty. It finishes on the 19th so go now if you can or check out the pics below (because who needs words when you can look at pictures?).
Today, I went to Otsu to record some narration for a KCTP promotional video (I’m as smooth as an NHK newscaster apparently) for which I received a handsome fee. I wonder how one gets into narration work… And that pretty much brings us up to speed. Here’s a couple of pictures of a friendly cat I met in Uji last night: