Friday, March 25, 2005


My recent absence from the blogosphere is in no way related to the recent earthquake in Kyushu. Just in case you were wondering.

Today is my last day at the Nita Board of Education. Ordinarily I'd be at Nita Junior High School on a Friday, but yesterday was the last day of school, so the next two weeks are Spring Break. Not that I get time off; I have to use personal days to get out of work, so instead I'm just reporting for duty at the BoE. Which means I have lots of time to blog in the gaps from the last two weeks. I think the thing I'll miss most about this place is having a computer at my desk. It's slow as an ojiisan in a Carry Truck, but it works and it's online. The people, yeah, they're all nice, I'm sure, but I hardly know them. Yokota BoE has always been my "real" BoE, which is to say that they're my contracting organization, so I know the people there better. Next week when the towns merge, I'm not sure if anyone from the Nita BoE will move to the Okuizumo BoE, or if it'll be staffed entirely by Yokota BoE people. For that matter, I don't know who will be rotated out of the Yokota BoE at the end of the month.

I had thought it was just teachers, but it turns out many professions shuffle their employees about their prefecture, moving every three to six years. Yushi is a police officer in Nita, and he sometimes attends my English conversation class. Last time I saw him, he said he was packing his belongings, because he suspected he would be transfered elsewhere at the end of the month (the, I guess, fiscal year begins in April, and this is when these moves take place). He didn't know for sure, and certainly didn't know where he might be transfered. So not only is it stressful to move—and more so for those with families, who must decide whether they will all move, or if just the one who is transfered will move—but they are given very little notice. Maybe two or three weeks. Tane-sensei told me on Tuesday who would be leaving Nita JHS (but made sure I understood it was "top secret" until the 24th when the students would be told). Ikeda-sensei held out until... well, I never did find out from her, but from Kimachi-sensei, one of my Nita Japanese Teachers of English, whose wife works at Yokota JHS. And I found out from him yesterday, at the same time as the students.

So of my five JTEs, Itohara-sensei at Nita JHS will be moving to Daito JHS. This is not such a bad move for his family, because Daito is immediately north of Nita, and his family lives in Fuse, the village in Nita which is closest to Daito. He'll have a slightly longer commute, but that's about it. My two favorite JTEs arrived just last April, so I knew they weren't going anywhere, but I'm a little sad to see Itohara go. I like all my JTEs, and I don't know how well I'll like the woman who will take his place. Kimachi says she's from Hiroshima, but that's all anyone knows about her. Maybe we'll get along swimmingly. Kimachi was not so optimistic. "I will be the only male English teacher!" he lamented.

Oh, someone just turned on the TV here, and the local station is broadcasting some program about the history of Nita, it appears. Mostly a narrated slideshow. A bit of nostalgia before Nita and Yokota are absorbed into each other.

I feel fortunate to be here now, being able to know each town individually, and witnessing their merger. Not that life will change dramatically after March 31st, but... well, I don't know how it will be different. I guess we'll all find out.

This slideshow is part of a larger ceremony taking place a couple of blocks from here, and televised live. There are lots of old men in the audience. Oh, and the head BoE guy at Nita, he's on stage now. I hardly wondered where he was going when he left here an hour ago.

All this is mildly interesting for me, and about a tenth as interesting for you, so I'll stop the play-by-play.

Yesterday was the farewell ceremony for the teachers who are leaving. Six each at Nita JHS and Yokota JHS. Since this is a Nita week, I attended the Nita JHS ceremony. So Itohara is leaving, and so is Kasuga-sensei, the art teacher. She speaks some English, and last year she used to come to my apartment with Tane every week for some English/Japanese lessonness—I think we spent 90% of the time on English, but I did learn some things about Japan. She lives in Izumo and drives over an hour to get to Nita every day; she'll be transfering to Hiikawa, a small town immediately east of Izumo, so her commute will be shorter (and less treacherous, avoiding Rt. 26 during the winter). The other four teachers I hardly knew. At Yokota, the only teacher I really knew was the music teacher (and I didn't even know his name), so I'm not too sad about their leaving. It'll be interesting to see who comes in to replace them.

Last night both schools had farewell enkais. The folks at Yokota asked me a week ago if I could attend, so I accepted their invitation. The folks at Nita asked me one day before if I could attend. Nope, sorry, Yokota booked me first. But it was good to participate in some sort of farewell event for each school. Kyoto-sensei at Nita joked yesterday, shortly before I left for Yokota, that I should be split down the middle and half of me taken to each enkai. "Ow ow ow!" I exclaimed.

Got a women's luncheon to attend with the Nita ladies now, so I'll write more when I return.

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