William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

55. Friday Field Trip

I was a bit slow getting ready for work and the trip Friday morning, and I left the apartment in my t-shirt and shorts with my lunch, water, sunscreen, and only seconds to spare. But as I was closing the door I noticed someone had pasted a certificate to it:

Congratulations!
To William
For being a human encyclopedia
Signed S---- G----- Teacher
Date May 15, 2008

All our doors had certificates pasted to them. Hmm…

Anyway, I raced to work and made it in time. I’m never late, but I’m rarely early, either – it’s not very Japanese of me, is it?

Today we were going on an excursion to the airport park in Takamatsu, Sanuki Airport Park. Lest this sound really lame, the park was actually a pretty good place to go in the end, as you may see. (In fact, we only explored a small part of it – we didn’t go grass-skiing, for instance.)

The school hired three motorcoaches to take us, and it would be a 90-minute trip each way. We were assigned busses by class, and we teachers sat in the aisles in pull-down jumper seats. We drove up to Itano and got onto the expressway, taking a pit stop at a service centre a little while after crossing the border into Kagawa Prefecture (the prefectures were separated by a 2km tunnel under a mountain). It seemed silly to me that we were stopping so soon after getting underway, but D. reminded me that the children had smaller bladders than we did. (As you know, in Canada the strongest bladder determines the pit stops.)

Takamatsu took quite a while to drive though, as the lights were long, and the road we needed, 193, was between two access points for the expressway, so we spent a long time driving underneath it and sitting in traffic before we even started south towards the airport itself. I guess Takamatsu city is somewhat larger than Tokushima city, and apparently its metropolitan area is Shikoku’s largest.

At length, we got to the park, which lay south of the runway of TAK. Over the course of our time there we lined up and counted ourselves upteen times and took a few thousand group pictures – here we are by the busses, here we are by the main building, here we are having lunch, here we are in front of the airplane-themed playsets, etc.. We also had a few minutes to have some great fun, to wit:

- Inside the exhibit building there was a great music room which had all kinds of percussion instruments – chimes, xylophones, hand bells, keyboards – you name it. There were easy-to-read songbooks, too, so you could just stand or sit and create music – I spent more than half an hour attempting Frère Jacques on everything. Later I lost myself playing simple little tunes from their songbook on a keyboard with headphones, and before I knew it two of my kids were coming in to tell me it was lunchtime.

- For lunch, we spread ourselves out on the lawn – the kids had brought little plastic folding sheets just for the purpose. In fact, they also had special non-rigid Seiko backpacks that I’d never seen before, either. (Speaking of buying or not buying things you only need once in a blue moon, I finally have a pair of the special white non-marking gym shoes – F. found a pair of abandoned ones, and they fit me.)

J.-kun invited me to sit with his friends, and so while they ate, I had a bit of sushi and a sandwich, both purchased from a convenience store. The kids had bentos prepared by their mothers, but they also had a tremendous stash of snacks and candy, and they were eager to share. Already satisfied with my lunch, I allowed J. and R. to stuff me with their surplus items, and I became glad that we’d be running around a bit more that afternoon.

- Most of the classes went up to the airplane-themed playsets after lunch. These were elaborate, creative, and beautifully-designed installations, and worthy of many photos (as always, these are forthcoming). We had all kinds of fun up there.

- About twenty minutes before departure time, I asked my cooperating teacher M-sensei if I could take a run over to the real plane on the other side of the park because I hadn’t seen it yet. She was OK with that, and contented to simply remind me of our departure time. So off I ran.

- Before I got to the plane, I decided to go through the dragon-tube that surrounded and even penetrated the main building. And, boy! That was fun. Rushed, because the clock was ticking, but fun – although sometimes the fun obstacles made me groan because of the time they took to clear.

- The plane was a propeller plane – a YS-11, one of the few commercial aircraft ever made in Japan, which is not known for its aircraft manufacturing. I couldn’t actually touch it as I had hoped, as it was inside an enclosure, but it was nonetheless fun to photograph. And then I ran back to where the busses were waiting and waited for my class to return. The teacher who booked the busses even told me to go and find my class and tell them to hurry up!

- On the trip back, my kids were playing some kind of pretending game (it’s precious that they’re still into those; it seems to be time when they peak and peter out on both sides of the world), and I heard some of them saying “Suupaa Saiyajin.” “Are you playing Dragonball?” I asked. “Yes.” Heh-heh. I used to watch DragonBall Z back in 2000.

And we finally returned to S.G. around 3:30. There was one last bout of lining up and counting, and we had our usual afternoon meeting.

In the course of making photocopies for next week’s classes, I noticed that a Congratulations! certificate template had been left on top of one of the photocopiers. It just so happened that the person I suspected of making them was at the other photo copier.

I assumed a casual voice. “Did you leave this on the photocopier?” I asked her.
“Oh, yes! Sorry, I forgot about that.”
“Hah! You made the certificates!”
She slapped her forehead and shook her head.

It’s now gotten to the point where everyone has found out, one way or the other (D. saw her making them), but I guess it’s still not up to me to name her here. At any rate, K. thought the world of it – she imagined her having a very rough day on Thursday and deciding that everyone needed a pick-me-up. It was very sweet of her, and I have my certificate posted above my door.

Have a good rest-of-the weekend, everyone!
Tags: field trips, japan, parks, school, takamatsu, travel
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