Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yesterday was the thrilling Spectacular Spectacular at Ono High School that is otherwise known as the Chorus Competiton. Instead of spending the last 2 weeks of school involved in lessons (which would make sense surely, instead of trying to cram last term into 8 weeks and having extra make-up lessons on the weekends?) the kids have been alternatively trying to decifer an insane schedule that involves swapping 3rd and 4th period with 6th and 7th and then starting at roughly 9.38 and also trying to have choir rehearsals.

A little background: Each of the 1st and 2nd year homeroom classes are a choir group. They sing two songs; one which is compulsory, the other they can choose themselves (but after attending this Spectacular Spectacular for the 3rd year, I can now attest to the fact that rarely are the songs much different from year to year. I find myself very familiar with certain Japanese songs with no other explanation that I've heard it at the previous year's competition, as I most certainly do not listen to Japanese radio). This means that with 16 different homeroom classes you have the privilege of hearing one song repeated 16 times. 16 freaking times. It gets a little repetitive.

This year's event, thankfully, was on schedule and kept relatively short. In my first year, I seem to remember it going until about 2.30 in the afternoon, so thank goodness for small mercies and all that. I also wasn't a judge this year, so I was free to zone in and out as the occasional badly-pitched harmony demanded.

For some reason, the school invites two local choirs to perform as well. The second group were of a higher standard of the first, but to be fair, not only were they about a third of the age, they also had pretty blue velvet skirts, so they must have been professionals (in their own minds). The first group, bless them, were known as Silver Harmony. I would assume it's a reference to the fact that they are all relatively elderly and naturally, have silver hair. Except not a single one of them had anything resembling a hair colour of this nature (and let's not say anything about the harmony. That would be spiteful). Judging by the indulgent over-use of ancient vibrato that this choir employed, they must have all been well over 75 years old. And every single one of them had hair in various shades of black and dark brown which clearly was not their natural hair colour (and yes, pot kettle black, I know) and after sitting in a cold gym for several hours, this small moment of irony provided an undeserved amount of mirth. Something was necessary to stop being vicious and comparing them to cats that were slowly being stretched thinner and thinner.

However, it was not all about lovingly chosen velvet skirts and dead cat comparisions. Some of the class's choirs were very good, some were not so spot on with quite hitting the right pitch and some of them made up for their lack of skill with sheer enthusiasm and synchronated head bobbing and swaying. The latter choirs also had extremely vibrant choir conductors who looked like they would have sang for the whole 40 students they were in charge of, if only they didn't have to be out the front with the controlling and the hand waving and the conducting.

My favourite would have to have been the girl who was playing the accompanying piano for her class who was so involved in the moment and loving what she was doing so much, that not only was she playing with dramatic hand flourishes and body movements (like I always imagined Real Piano Players did), but she was singing along as hard as she could as well. I don't think her class was one of the top five, and I think the class that won the competition had 2 boys in charge for the conducting and piano accompaniment (boys that are totally fine with having amazing music skills that aren't guitar or drum based are destined to be wonderful adults one day), but I don't think it was possible for anyone else to have enjoyed those 5 minutes more than the girl and her piano. I hope I wasn't the only one who noticed and was able to share the delight that was radiating from this precious kid.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Snow fun

For the first time this season, when I looked out the window, and it was snowing, for the very first time, I was all 'seriously Japan, again? Are we not done with the snow in Ono which used to be so unusual and wonderful in it's unexpectedness?'. It's been snowing a couple of times a week at least in Ono since January, and it finally looks like it's going to get warmer and we have glorious days of sunshine, and I have hope for actually getting some clothes dry and then, on the week where I have to spend literally hours in the gym for graduation, the time when I actually want it to be warmer (because I'm happy with the snow, really, it's so pretty and it means there's more snowboarding to be had), the sun has a tantrum and takes its ball and goes home again for several days, leaving the neighborhood bully, the cold wind and his friends, gloom and overcast to push everyone else around and make sure that we all know that winter is still clinging and that putting the thermals away just now would be somewhat silly.

I'm off to the Ono onsen tomorrow night with a few of the girls from Miki and Ono There's nothing like getting nude with a bunch of girls and hanging out in a great big bath outdoors. I will miss onsens when I leave Japan. I just don't think Swanbourne, Perth's only nudist beach, and the closest thing to an onsen, is going to be quite the replacement I'll be looking for.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blank squares

Slowly, gently, the new year is beginning. I like the new year. I like new beginnings, and fresh starts that hold the potential of great things to come. I like having a new calender with days and weeks and months crossing over the pages; squares to be filled with things to do, or squares to be left blank for lazy afternoons with cups of tea and magazines and a patch of sunshine to be curled up in.

The new year started well. After a brief trip back to Perth for a dear friend's wedding and a Christmas that was spent in fits of drunken hilarity with all my favourite cousins, I flew back earlier to Japan to spend a week up in the snow in Niseko and Sapporo, Hokkaido. Hokkaido ended up being focused more on drunken hilarity and less on the snowboarding, but it's gone down as one of my favourite holidays that I've had in the time that I've been in Japan (despite Niseko being essentially nothing but Australians anyway). Between snowboarding and drinking there was card games and hot tubs and cubs and New Year's and snow ball fights and atrocious movies and (ill-advised) towers of beer and a 22 hour ferry ride.

And now the last stretch of Japan starts. It's a mixture of feelings - I'm beginning to be excited about what comes next and moving towards it, I'm terrified to leave what has been the most stable, yet exciting part of my adult life, and I'm melancholic about leaving this place I've called home for almost three years and the people I've met, and the crazy lifestyle I've been lucky enough flit my way through.

The squares in my calender are filling up at an insane pace, and the afternoons spent in the sunshine are going to be rare indulgences. I'm excited though. I see big things for this year, bigger than they've ever been before and it's so good to be starting the new year feeling like this.

Friday, December 07, 2007

97 leavers.

Ah, the ten year school reunion. I think that I'm quite glad that I'm living in Japan, and that I don't have to make the choice between going and pretending I'm fabulous or not going and making sure that people know that I'm being fabulous else where.

So, my unavoidable absence therefore by proxy means that I am Elsewhere Being Fabulous, thus I do not have to defend my position of how much I am winning at life. Marvellous. Break out the Veuve, it's a definite step up from the days of Passion Pop, and as a graduate from such a prestigious school, one does not pay 5 dollars for a certified #1 hangover anymore.

Trying to write a blurb about what I've been doing for the past ten years was much more difficult than I anticipated. Problem number one being that I couldn't crap on and on as is my wont to do, and that my definitions of winning at life are likely to be different to most of the girls I went to school with (and that's ok, really).

Provided below, for your reading pleasure and amusement is the paragraph of trite that quite nicely sums up the past decade.

The last ten years have flown by. I've done the usual go to Uni, get said degree (Bachelor of Science, Environmental Science, Murdoch Uni.), get perfect job at the Agriculture Department, ditch perfect job and go travelling. I've worked a myriad of jobs, but find myself constantly coming back to hospitality. One of the few permanents in my life is that I have a regular hairdresser. I've learnt how to drink Scotch on the rocks and enjoy it. I've been living in Japan for the past 2 1/2 years, teaching English at a public high school, just outside of Kobe. I have no idea what comes next, but if the last ten years are anything to go by, it's going to be nothing like I imagine.

Interesting things, these reunions. Especially when they've got a facebook group attached. Maybe I'll make it to the 20-yr one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Card Society.

In the day and age of the uber-fast instant messaging, right here rightnow communications world, I still find something like these cards infinitely appealing. I love the idea of receiving handmade cards that are all wrapped in a pretty parcel for me to then send on to somewhere else in the world. I may then actually be enticed to tear myself away from email and my bad habit of using Bridget Jones-esque sentences and start writing real letters.

And on that note (bang bang), while I'm being old-fashioned and cantankerous, I've recently redeveloped my hatred of the word 'ya', as in 'how are ya?'. It doesn't imply casualness, or a greater sense of Australian identity and it annoys me intensely that it's apparently too hard to write one extra letter. So, be warned, in future, should you ever refer to me as 'ya', you'll get some snarky reply that will be written in god-awful internet code that will be completely indecipherable.

Or maybe, I'll have a change of heart and send you a gently guiding message of perfect grammar and spelling on real paper with a stamp.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Where Amy gives up the right to climb on her political high horse.

On rushes winter. Fall is briskly swept away by the bone-chilling winds, along with the floating leaves that are every possible shade from primary yellow to a red that's so deep you'd swear it was purple. Mornings become a multi-staged battle between the snooze button, the desire to stay swaddled three layers deep in feather doonas and the necessity of time enough to have both a shower and make coffee (one of these occasionally gets skipped. it's a bad day for all concerned when both of these are beaten by snoozing and coccooning). Blankets are frequently retrieved in the middle of the night after waking up freezing and tensed into a small tight ball. The fickle seasonal love affair with the kotatsu is reignited. It is soon to be usurped by the hotter love that burns for the kerosene heater and its stupifying aromatics of burnt fossil fuels.

With kotatsu heaters and blankets and hibernation comes the immediate, rightnow need to be away from your own company and cosiness. And because I am generally an unorganised creature when left to my own devices, I do things like leave myself all of 10 minutes to get to the Australian consulate in Osaka to hand in my postal vote*, which means that generally I am forgetting things whilst pulling on more layers and a scarf and shoes and throwing myself out the door to get to the train.

And so convinced that I become that I've left my kotatsu heater on, and that it's more important for me to vote in this first federal election that I actually understand (for Lord knows, I can't berate my father for his political views if I can't even manage to vote), that somehow Nick ends up being lucky enough (lucky lucky Nick) to recieve a text message asking him to break into my house and prevent the impending house annihilation.

Yet the kotatsu's not on. And I miss getting to Osaka in time to vote.

My paper house didn't burn down. The party that I would have voted for won the election with the biggest swing of voters ever seen in Australia's political history. And the 2 1/2 hours that I spent on the train to get to a friend's birthday party went through the mountains with all their patchwork of fall leaves and late afternoon sunshine and long shadows.

*because apparently applying for a postal vote isn't enough. How ridiculous is it that you then have to physically hand in said postal vote to the Australian Consulate instead of just posting it yourself?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No Surprises

Turns out I'm not so good at this blogging stuff, hey?

I was never any good at keeping a journal, there were always massive gaps, and besides, living in a boarding house led to unreasonable levels of paranoia about secrets being leaked of who hated who or who kissed which boys at the Guilford Social. I've always been atrocious at doing things on time - assignments, articles, bills, hair appointments, rubbish collections, JPLT applications (the most recent example, and now, crying shame, I don't get to sit the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam), which more often than not leads to outrageous lies and bare-faced bluffing. Fortunately I don't get called out all that often, which, not only does it make me smug, but because I am one of those people who responds to guilt (yes, congratulations Mum), I then feel badly about taking advantage of the situation. Until the next time.

This is my final year in Japan. At the latest, I will be leaving this fine country on August 31st, 2008. I am aware, now, more than ever, of the things that I do that I will unlikely have the chance to repeat again. So once more, I will attempt to capture these experiences in words, and in words that will again trigger the nuances of this crazy Japanese life once I have left. These are the things that I fear I will forget and become lost, even though it is these small insignificances that seem to merely fill in the gaps between the crazy and the serene.

This means, dear reader, that I will be spewing forth blog posts about next to nothing, interspersed with a "I went here and it was marvellous, look at my photos". Which, granted, will be more entertaining than nothing at all. Welcome to yet further impossible juxtapositions, as I try to write more frequently without turning it into another late assignment.

Ono Matsuri 19 August 2007.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Paranoia or Reason #795 Why I Hate Japanese Summers.

For as long as I can remember I have been petrified (absolutely shit scared) of spiders. Nothing is as scary as these; not so much the small ones like redbacks that you can easily crush, but the great big hairy monstrosities that haunt the doorways of your house and the upper corners of rooms near the ceilings are the ones which truly haunt my paranoid scanning of rooms before I walk into them.

I have no logic for this irrational fear that makes me jumpy as hell for days after an arachnoid sighting. It may stem from the time when I was 7? 8? that Mum was driving me to vacation swimming and I flipped down the sun visor only to have a huntsman drop into my lap which then resulted in me screaming and then catapulting myself into the very furtherest corner of the station wagon while she slammed on the brakes on a loose gravel road. There was an awful lot of coaxing needed to get me back into my seat - and that spider was never found. It might have been the huntsman that I unexpectedly brushed out of my hair after coming out of the chook yard after feeling like there was something crawling on my head which resulted in a complete freak out. It might have been the huntsman in the boarding house dorms that didn't bother anyone else in the room and because of the high ceiling was left to its own devices as opposed to being promptly turned into a crunchy pile of exoskeleton. Maybe it was the huntsman which Dad proclaimed was almost dead because it had been in the same room for 4 days, which managed to come back to life the night I stayed in the farm house and moved through 3 rooms, the kitchen, the back porch to my room to where I woke up at 5 am with my very finely tuned spidey sense to look up to see it very much alive about a metre above my head on the wall.

Have I mentioned that huntsmans are very good at just suddenly dropping off walls? And scuttling their long, hairy legs towards the closest tall thing, which is either me, or a cupboard in which you'll never find them again, no matter how meticulously, anal-retentively you tear everything apart in the attempt to find the suddenly invisible spider so that you don't spend the next six months arming yourself with a shoe before opening said spider-home/cupboard?

So now, are you convinced of the levels of my fear of spiders? And just how truly fucking creepy they are?

One of the less pleasant things about Japanese summers and their soul destroying capability is the blanket of humidity, and the days of never ending rain. Add to this, the ugliest insect you've ever seen comes out looking for the perfect place to bask in this revolting weather, and more than likely will pick an old, wooden house. Exactly. Like. My. House.

This is a lesson in how to turn things up a notch. Talk up the urban myths, create the fear of the unknown. I have happily been lulled into an false sense of security that the insects in Japan don't want to invade my house and categorically scare the shit out of me. Sure, I've had to deal with wee bugs living in my tatami mats that have required a pesticide in a very cool injecting-type spray to be liberally punctured into the mats and the monumental sized cicadas that make the most phenomenal noise. But I'd never come across the great fabled myth of the mukade. Horror stories of waking up with a 30 centimetre monster centipede crawling over your bare stomach, far too close to parts that really hurt when they're bitten, are all too common, and are passed around like the creepiest badge of honour you could imagine. A friend of mine had a few that would climb up her drain pipe into her shower on the second floor while she was showering, and while I sympathised, I thought it may have been something that was reserved for the deepest, darkest inaka. Ah, foolishness.

While it wasn't as horrifying as any of the above, I don't think my Japan will ever be the same.

I woke up to go for a walk one morning and was confronted with a mukade inside my back door. Instant panic that resulted in my favourite red shoes being turned into a weapon of destruction and nervous squealing and pounding the horrid thing into mush. I was then informed later at school that squashing them leads to other mukade to come looking because of the smell, and that mukade are always in pairs, meaning that there was another one still in my house, waiting, waiting, biding it's time to launch it's revenge for the death of its mate. It's as though everyone was beside themselves to give me every bit of information they possibly could, just so they could watch me squirm.

I never did find the second one. I cleaned and I cleaned, and I spent a good part of a week in a heightened paranoia that there was something crawling on me which resulted in several embarrassing freak outs.

Touch wood, I'm yet to see a spider here that bothers me enough to be all creeped out. If that happens, I'm moving out.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

One a penny, Two a penny.

It's almost 1 am, I desperately want to go to bed, but my house smells amazing, because I've just pulled these out of the oven.

I must admit I feel a little smug that they've actually turned out (and yes, they're not food stylist quality), but I've not actually tasted them yet, and I'm planning on taking them to hanami tomorrow - this may be the undoing of my self-imposed Martha Stewart reputation.

I've never actually had an Easter without hot cross buns. Last year, when Mum and my sister, Chloe, came to visit me, they very very carefully and very secretly carried over some hot cross buns from Lawley's bakery in Highgate, which I promptly stashed in my freezer so that they'd perhaps last a little longer. I've tried making hot cross buns at home before, but they've always turned out rock hard, but this year, they're light and fluffy and with a little more practise, I think I've finally found a recipe that works.

Hot cross buns, chu hai and sakura. Sounds like the beginning of a great weekend.

Gratuitous sakura shot

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 19, 2007


This post is actually several months late, and to the person who sent me this parcel of goodness, I apologise profusely. But better late than never, I always say, and although some of you may indeed think that this could be my very own personal motto, the day I am actually on time with something, you'll all be late anyway.

One of the things that I enjoy most about travelling and living somewhere else is the different styles of food that you can experience. Experiences that are unique to the place that you are visiting, and experiences that are intrinsically the same in all cultures - after all, everyone has to eat.

I will try to remember this the next time someone offers me chicken sashimi, natto or sea urchin. Especially the sea urchin.

Coming from Australia, where they have a myriad of flavours and foods all mixed, all separate, all catering to every whim or craving that you might have, to Japan, where multiculturalism and it's subsequent variety of available cuisines are yet to be fully embraced and I am faced with the dilemma of wanting to eat the best Japanese food I will ever have, while balancing the need for foods that I had taken for granted like Lebanese and good Italian.

Food, for me, in Japan, is all about polar opposites. Raw fish, sashimi, is the best I have ever eaten, and having sashimi and rice in the Tsukiji fish market at 8am was a cool experience. Being served kaiseki ryori with the PTA in an old restaurant in Kyoto was special because of the ceremony and importance behind it. Being expected to eat the boiled and simmered fish head while watching other teachers suck out the opalescent eyeballs can be described as nothing else than an experience. Same goes for fish ovaries.
Food in Japan is revered and this is reflected not only in the 4 hours of nightly cooking shows that highlight some special oishii dish that is accompanied by looks of shock and amazement for the very thing that the c-grade celebrities have just popped into their mouths, but also by the way that every time I mention that I'm going somewhere in Japan, I'm told that the area is famous for special soba, or special udon, or special fish, or special water. Sure, some of these things may be special, but there are people who will travel extensively just to eat udon noodles that to me, taste no different to the udon noodles that I used to buy from Daily in Highgate. Japanese people are obsessed with food.

But, like I mentioned before, the influence of multiculturalism on the variety of foods available has had very little impact upon Japan. Finding good Indian is no longer a matter of a ten minute drive to Maya Masala. Instead it's a mission into Osaka. However, it certainly makes you appreciate it that bit more when you've had to change trains twice and walk through the crazy streets of Amemura and hope like hell that you can find the restaurant that you went to 4 months previously on a whim. The things you miss can mostly be found at international stores, albeit at inflated prices, or for the Americans among us, Costco.

The offshoot of having hours upon hours to kill at school, once I've studied of course, is that you generally end up spending a fair amount of time reading the longest book ever written, The Internet. Online, I managed to find this cool little swap thing that involves you sending a package of food stuffs from your country to someone else in another country. I think my family are sick of the weird yet wonderful types of pocky and crazy kit kats that I send them, and some of the Japanese snack foods are so odd that they deserve to be shared with as many people as possible. So this way, not only do I get to buy some of the craziest stuff I've ever seen, I also get sent a package of slightly less crazy, but equally exciting foods from another country. And postal costs aren't nearly as much as a flight!

This is a photo of the package I received in December. It was so cool to open something that a complete stranger had obviously thought carefully about, and had even cared enough to make home-made Christmas biscuits. I got different teas, some fantastic dark chocolate, Christmas biscuits, some chocolate scented bath bombs, some butterfingers and a few other things as well. It's surprising how small the world is sometimes, as my swap person had friends who lived in Perth, and she was from San Francisco. A pleasure to give, and certainly a pleasure to receive.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Just when I thought Japan couldn't surprise me anymore, that I was completely blase when it came to 'what the fuck' moments, that I was, essentially, too cool for school, along comes Sunday night, smacks me around the head, and leaves me completely gobsmacked. Well, not literally. Thank God.

Robyn and I were walking back from Onomachi station, completely minding our own business, when we noticed this guy who had pulled up on a dark section of the road and appeared to be looking for something on the edge of the rice fields. This is no big deal, people stop for a pee all the time, and being in the country, it certainly wouldn't have been unusual. Kinda gross, but not unusual. However, when walking up to said man, he turns around, and he has pants pulled down at the front and his cock in his hand, and he's certainly not peeing. He just walked to the side of the pavement, so we had to walk past him, holding onto his fella the whole time and leering.
Gross gross creepy pervert.

So mostly I'm just really mad that someone decided that it was ok to do that to me, purely for their own perverted kicks. I feel like I've had a horrible part of Japan exposed that previously I had kind of known about but had chosen to ignore. You hear stories about people and the dirty men that have ogled them in the street, who've felt a hand exactly where it shouldn't be on a peak hour trains, or been warned not to dry your underwear outside because it goes missing, but walking home in the country, you do not expect to be the person who has the story to tell about the man waiting for you to walk past so that he can openly masturbate in front of you.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Where the wild things are

When you're the world's biggest scaredy cat, and you're watching Twin Peaks in a storm, and the episode finishes in a timely David Lynch cliff hanger, do not expect to get much sleep. In fact, expect to spend most of the night listening for things that aren't there, making sure the doors are locked, that the blankets are pulled up tight under your chin so that nothing can get you, and then wondering why a cupboard door, which would have no reason to be opening, would be capable of pushing itself open and shut a fraction every time the wind tries to blow itself inside out. Expect to reason with yourself, many many times, that it's just your overactive imagination in ADD hyperdrive, and that really, monsters do not exist.
Despite what David Lynch may be trying to tell you.

Friday, March 02, 2007


So this is graduation the second time around. The same pomp and ceremony, the same 4 hours spent cleaning the school the day before, the same suits from last year that haven't been busted out since the last time, the same twee-ness of the corsages for the graduate's homeroom teachers. And then, like I do for special occasions, I put my cynicism away, and watch these people stand for the last time and walk away from what has probably been the most influential period of their lives.

Sometimes I think teaching is kind of addictive. The beginning part is fucking hard, you're completely winging it, ballsing stuff up, but always, the saving grace is the students. It starts getting easier, you gain a tentative grasp on what's needed, confidence grows exponentially, but is just as easily shredded into itty bitty pieces. The students, the few who actually listen, the majority that don't, are what keep drawing me back into that classroom, to teach the same lesson for the sixth time, for that one moment where something is suddenly clarified or you manage to elicit a genuine laugh from a student you've been working on for weeks and weeks.

Say what you like about JET and our lack of qualifications, and the pay that we get for doing not much, but at the end of the day, on days like graduation, you realise that you've had a chance to have an influence on the next generation, that this is your chance to stop complaining about our parent's generation and their fuck-ups, our generation and our fuck-ups, and that this is a chance to actually make some kind of difference. Maybe I notice it more in Japan because there are such apparent societal disparities that I could not stand were I to live here indefinitely, because I'm still not cynical enough to be totally indifferent, because I'm not happy with the answer of "It is the Japanese way". But now, with the opportunity of teaching given to me and these kids who are so open to learning, it's been special to have been of some significance in their lives.

Having just come through a completely hellish time with my school, arguments and tears and more arguments and cultural clashes and really, that's a whole new story, there have been days when I've woken up and wanted nothing more than to not to go to school, having had to convince myself just to go through the next logical step of going downstairs and then having a shower and then having breakfast until eventually I'm walking through the school gates, one of the few things that made me keep going is that I'm vain enough to think that by not being in class would disappoint at least one kid. In not being there, I would be depriving them of an opportunity of viewing an opinion that different to the populist bullshit that seems to drive the education curriculum here.

Graduation is special. The bonds that form at school you think will last forever. For the first time in your life you're being told that the future is up to you, that you're finally being trusted with making big decisions, and from a teacher's perspective, that you've been prepared as much as possible for whatever may come your way. You leave school no longer as one of many, but as your own individual person, full of ideas and ideals. And for whatever crazy notion made me decide to move to Japan (hey, that sounds fun and I can put off real-life for a bit longer!), at no point did I consider that I would be in this privileged position where students were actually coming to me to thank me for teaching them.

This is where I wish I had the Japanese to convey just how much of an influence they've had on my experience of Japan. And sure, call me a JET poster child, or whatever throw-away insult you may care to find, but if only this could be genuinely conveyed to more people, and their schools and powers that be, before spirits are irrevocably broken.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Infectious Part 3.

Today's absentee count of the first years was over 80 students today. The second years are beginning to drop as well, with almost 30 students absent with influenza. The only reason the third years aren't getting sick is because they're too busy studying 20 hours a day in solitary confinement in their bedrooms.

In the effort to prevent an influenza epidemic, although I suspect it's already too late, all classes tomorrow have been cancelled. There was a big meeting after lunch about it, and I've found it hard to express surprise at the decision without being amused. The students still at school are completely thrilled at the bonus day, and I'm content with a student-free day myself.

To then be told that in order to prevent further sickness myself, I should gargle with either tap water or green tea every time I leave the staff room, because the virus lives in the throat, makes me wonder a) if we'll actually get to graduation next week, and b) who the amazing people are that do such a wonderful spin job on the at-home remedies in Japan.