Kyoto-sensei let me leave school early today.
I had two classes this morning, and then nothing after lunch, so I just sat in front of my laptop thinking about what I should write, listening to some music, and trying to keep my hands warm. Eventually Kyoto-sensei came around to tell me that, for some reason, everyone was gone, and there was nothing left to do. That's never been reason enough for me to not be at school before, so I was a bit surprised when he said, "Go home."
"Ima? (Now?)" I asked.
"As you like it."
I looked at the clock. It was 4:24pm. "Woo-hoo," I said in mock celebration. "Five minutes early!" Kyoto-sensei laughed.
I'll take the time here to mention that Kyoto-sensei and Kocho-sensei are not names of people, but rather titles; they refer to the vice principal and the principal, respectively. So there's Kyoto-sensei and Kocho-sensei each at Nita JHS and Yokota JHS. I rarely fraternize with the upper-ups at Yokota JHS—the atmosphere there is different—so most of the time when I refer to one or the other, I'm talking about the guys at Nita. I don't know their real names, and even if I did I'd never use them. I can look them up if I need to.
Yesterday I went to Minari Kindergarten. Sayuri, the woman who introduced me to the revolving sushi restaurant in Mitoya, is the teacher of the older students (kindergarten is two years here), so it's really helpful that she speaks English as well as she does. She made a game up for the kids to play that taught them a few colors and animals, as well as "stand up," "sit down," and "stop."
Now, the si sound is not native to Japanese; it can be represented with a bodgered pair of katakana, but this is a recent development and is not often used. The shi sound, however, is as old as the language itself (I presume), and is often used in place of si. For most of the game, I was the only one saying, "Sit down," but when the kids tried it, I couldn't help laughing. "Okay, I'm going to be a really big pain about this: the phrase is sit down. Ssssiiiit down."
I ate lunch there, too, with some of the older kids. It's so funny: they teach me Japanese. I think hone (ho-nay) is the word for bone (we ate fish that day). I tried to teach them Rock Paper Scissors. Not the game, cos everyone in Japan over the age of three knows Janken, but the words we use in English. These kids were convinced that the American version of Janken involves thumbs-up signs and guns. "American Janken, Janken pon!" they say in unison, and at "pon" they produce whatever sign they're going to use. "Nani? (What?)" I said, scratching my head. But I couldn't convince them otherwise.