Easing into the Waters

Except two from my NaNoWriMo novel.  Copyright 2011 Bahia Simons-Lane

This is a continuation of the first excerpt, which you can read here.

Numata Tengu - Copyright 2007 Bahia Simons-Lane

I woke up much later to a darkened apartment, still feeling alone and hungry.  I went to the convenience store behind my apartment and got something to eat.  This small act made me feel a little better, but I couldn’t shake my feeling of loneliness.  Not one to set around contemplating my misery, I decided to wander around and start learning about the town.  As I walked down the unfamiliar streets, I encountered the festival that Kyoko had mentioned the day before.  Festival stalls lined the streets with catch the fish games and traditional summer festival foods.  I took a few pictures of girls dressed in matching festival garb, blue and white headbands tied around their hair.  I later learned that Numata’s festival celebrated the Tengu, a demon-god with a red face and long nose.  Only women could carry the giant Tengu masks through the streets in order to receive prosperous love lives and fertility.  It was whispered that to help carry the heavy Tengu secretly men were at the center to help lift the mask, but I never found out whether this was true or not.

As I paused from taking pictures a brunette New Zealander dressed in festival garb suddenly came up to me.  She was tall and beautiful, with a sharpish nose often found in the British, New Zealanders, and Australians.  This was my first taste of how conspicuous foreigners were in Numata, as she picked me right out of the crowd.  Her name was Danielle and she was working an an eikaiwa (English conversation school) in the center of town.  As she was introducing herself, a British man with curly hair and a ruddy complexion joined us.  He also worked with her at the eikawa.  Though Danielle had already been living in the area for at least a year prior, Matt was new and had just arrived like me.  They had been convinced to join in the festivities and help carry the omikoshi, the very heavy portable shrine that is transported around the city during the summer festivals, apparently with lots of breaks for sake – hence Matt’s ruddy cheeks.  They are also apparently very heavy, and Matt was experiencing quite a load, of course meaning that more sake was needed.

They darted off to join their places with the rest of the team, but not without first giving me their numbers and email addresses.  So far, the whole outing had assuaged many of my concerns that seemed so overwhelming the night before and I was grateful that I hadn’t just stayed at home moping.  On my way back to my apartment, I saw across the street a pale, tall redhead.  He greeted me and it turned out he was the one from the neighboring town that was going to take me to festival the night before.  He had stopped by my apartment, but in my exhausted slumber I didn’t even wake to hear the door.  He, too, was friendly and gave me a way to contact him.  Being back at my apartment that night no longer seemed like a bad thing; the first hiccup in my life in Japan overcome, I felt I could breathe easier.


2 Responses to “Easing into the Waters”
  1. Stephen N. says:

    Hello! My name is Stephen and I am a new ALT and I just found out that I am placed in Numata-shil! I googled the school’s name and your blog popped up! I think I will be teaching at the same school that you taught at!!!! (^_^)

    • bahia says:

      Hi Stephen! You are so lucky! Numajo is a great placement, at least when I was there in 2005-2007. The teachers are really enthusiastic about English teaching and you will have a lot of opportunities to create your own lesson plans. I don’t know if my old lesson plans are still there, but I created a bunch of them. For your Oral Communication class you are not tied to strictly using the book, which makes it extra fun. I’d be happy to to answer any questions that you have. I don’t know your predecessor, but I knew the girl before him. I’ll send you an email – let me know if I can help in any way!

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