William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

68. Temple Run + thoughts on the earthquake

On Saturday we went on a temple run. Thanks to F. and K., I got off my kiester and charted our course through the first five temples.

It was a hot day, and there was a lot of riding – the route up to Temple 4 was mostly uphill, but it wasn’t as bad or as time-consuming as I thought it might be. And coming down was fun – I basically drove in the traffic lane, as my speed was comparable to that of a motorized vehicle. Whee! And then we got to the bottom and I realized we’d driven just a little bit too far, missing Temple 5, but it was pretty close to the bottom and easy enough to get back up to.

We rode back to S.G. through Itano, Kamita, and Aizumi. In Aizumi, K. collided with a concrete pillar (the kind meant to keep cars off the generous sidewalks) and tumbled head over heels. It was a scary-looking wipeout – F. and I heard the bang and shout and looked back – it was as if time stood still as she rolled over the front of her bike and into a railing. She was in a lot of pain, especially where her abdomen struck her handlebars as she went over, but not seriously hurt. We took a rest there, and she puffed on a cigarette and was loquacious again in no time.

It was a fun but exhausting day – I got mild sunburns on my forearms, and I felt headachey most of the evening (it was probably dehydration) and couldn’t really get anything done – such as study for language classes at TOPIA. My studying consisted of hastily memorizing how to count minutes after getting out of the shower this morning.

J. taught this morning. It was just A. and I, and the Chinese girls were nowhere to be found! It was almost like getting a private lesson, except that it jumped around quite a bit and I got lost a lot. J. made a jocular reference to my mind being on another planet.

When we came out, it was raining. I was tempted to leave my bike in the city and take the train home, but I thought the hassle of having to come into town again just for my bike wasn’t worth staying dry – plus I wouldn’t really be staying dry, because I’d still have to walk from Yoshinari Station back down to S.G.

So I braved the rain; it was annoying, but it wasn’t a downpour, so I got wet but not soaked – an important distinction. I also took time-outs underneath shop awnings, and I stopped for a bit in a convenience store.

On the last stretch before S.G. where I drive along the south side of the Tokushima Expressway, I suddenly heard a “Mr. Matheson!” I screeched to a halt. One of my students and his little sister were playing on a slide in a little playground that had been set up underneath the elevated expressway. Their Australian mother was sitting on a bench reading a book.

Only in Japan! I said hello and feigned wanting to get home and dry – the truth was really more that I was way too close to S.G. for comfort and didn’t want to get caught talking to them. Maybe some other time it’ll be different.

Speaking of my job, I’m almost halfway through my contract! It seems like I’ve been here for years. Nevertheless, the Japanese instructors at TOPIA would say that this feeling isn’t reflected in my continuing reliance on script tables. For example, is a particular character a hiragana shi (し – one of my favourite characters) or katakana re? (レ) And I’m still not conversant with katakana, mostly due to stress, fatigue, laziness and apathy: I still derive n (ン) / so (ソ) and shi (シ) / tsu (ツ) contextually. On the bright side, S. is starting to help us with Japanese, which will fill in the void left by L. They do a good job at TOPIA too, but S. and L. know how to make it fun and meaningful.

D. says I’ll know in October whether this will be a 12 or 15 month jaunt. And the halfway point for 15 months isn’t much further off – I’ll hit it in the middle of August! I think that the fact that I’m maintaining a countdown at all, much less dual ones, is a sign that it will probably be 12 after all. =) I may not be the only one on countdown!

There’s been an earthquake in Iwate (NE Japan, which I hasten to add is very far from here) – I only heard about it this morning after language class. This was a serious quake, but the toll of the dead and missing has so far been comparatively low – so much that people are named individually. It’s tragic, but it’s not a Sichuan.

That said, the numbers may be at least somewhat reflective of Japan’s status as an alpha country with experience concerning earthquakes. Public buildings and infrastructure are built with quakes in mind. (The safety-mindedness can cause its own tragedies: some workers applying landslide-netting were killed by a landslide.) And the institutional, community, and government response after the quake has been prompt, organized, and pervasive – and I hope Canadians and others are taking notes. Watching the news, I couldn’t believe how efficient and rapid the efforts have been. They have the will – everyone has the will, but here they also have the planning and the resources and the ability to appropriately deploy their resources. It’s a textbook case in effective disaster response. Would that the Japanese were in charge of emergency measures concerning Hurricane Katrina – or even Juan.

See also: Earthquake Sets Japan Back To 2147
Tags: earthquakes, japan, japanese, jobs, languages, news, teaching, temples, travel

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