Will's Tour Diary - updated daily!

Will's tour diary
- What? Why? When? Where? - Shows - Seminars

Tuesday 26th September

My adoptive father, Mizunuma Sensei, woke me at 5.30 and blurry eyed I packed the last few items into the Genkimobile - a Volkswagen campervan . I ran a final check on the VW, hugged Mrs Mizunuma goodbye, shook hands with 11 year old  Seiha-kun and set off at 6.30, only 30 minutes late.

My experience with the Genkimobile had been limited to the driveway of the Mizunuma residence. On the open road of south-western Ehime I realised I speed was not its forte, and gear changing varied according to the vehicle's temperament.

My tardiness turned into full-blown very-lateness when I took a dodgy back road to Tamagawa-cho and found myself winding through a mountainous course whose planners had obviously not had a VW campervan in mind.

I arrived a mere 2 hours late, to the scowling faces of the Abes (Richard's adoptive parents). Richard wasn't scowling - after keeping him waiting for a month because of my delayed departure from China, I think he was glad I had made it at all. We loaded up the Genkimobile with a entire department store's worth of Richard's electronic equipment, and 10 boxes of Genki English CDs, and after a full vehicular inspection by Mr Abe (verdict: get new tyres) we were off.

Passing through Saijo we spotted a primary school just off the highway, looked at each other and decided to drop in unannounced. Fortunately Richard's fame had preceded him - the Principal recognised him from his appearances in various newspapers and TV. We were warmly received and set a preliminary range of dates. We were also tipped off that the Principal of the next school was keen on English at primary school.

At that school we said to the Principal "We hear you are interested in English at primary school"
"No - not really" she replied.
"Errr........" we fumbled.
Luckily the Principal was having us on - she spoke fluent English and was very much into kokusai-rikai - International Understanding.

On a whim we already had two tentative bookings!

We entered Kagawa at ten to five. We had one contact - Maggie Glover- a JET whom I had met at the Ehime-ken Nametoko Gorge camp a year ago. I rang and left a message on her machine, then Richard and I hit the Saionji Education Office. We met a less than animated gentleman who led us into a closet-like room where he proceeded to be not very helpful. His sole counsel was to go directly to the schools - advice which did not exactly fall into the category of "manna from heaven". Whilst outside in the carpark, Maggie called, and offered us dinner, accommodation and participation in an English class in return for being witty and charming for a few hours. It was an offer impossible to decline.

We met Maggie and an urbane Japanese gentleman called Jinno-san in the carpark of the Zentsuji Grand Hotel and went back to Jinno-san's place in his rather flash sedan (compared to the Genkimobile, most cars seem flash). We spent the evening being fed by Jinno's wife Kikumi, whose schoolgirlish jokes and facial gymnastics had us in fits. After dinner we joined the weekly English Conversation class where the 40-something group of women delighted in learning that arriving 2 hours late for a party was considered normal in Australia, as was blowing one's nose in public (both of which are, in Japan, not only undoable, but unimaginable). "0nara wa?" one woman asked, so to Maggie's obvious horror I taught them the expression "pass wind" (but advised against its use except where talking about, and not to, someone). After an evening of similar cultural exchange we bid everyone goodnight and Kikumi beamed at told us that should we pass this way again we were more than welcome to stay in her "small, dirty guestroom"

Back at Maggie's apartment we met her neighbour Lee, a Scottish 1st year ALT who specialising in the culture of "defeated nations" (as he put it), had studied both German and Japanese at university. Lee lent us some futons for the night so it seemed the least we could do was break out a bottle of our cached scotch and reminisce about British television until the wee hours.


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Opinions expressed in this diary are personal views of Will Jasprizza. They do  not necessarily represent those of Genki English, especially where he is slagging people off or making jokes which sounded better at the time!!! Please be understanding!


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