Up at 5.30. We had to be at Sakuchuo Primary for 9.30. Christine and Sylvia asked to come along for the ride. We took the Joshin Etsu Expressway into Nagano, gorgeous autumnal foliage surrounding us the whole way.
At the school we left the women with the Principal - Christine speaks Japanese but was out of practice, and Sylvia had been studying it for 6 weeks, so it was a good chance to give their language skills a run. We were sure the Principal was happy with the arrangement - he had received 4 visitors for the price of 2.
Meanwhile Richard and I did the sound check. While we did the show the women went off to explore the area.
Awesome shows. The kids were simply fantastic. They belted out the songs and threw themselves into the actions and after 3 performances we were on a complete high. I had to smile - a month before we had dropped in on the school on a whim simply because we had spotted it as we drove past - today we had hundreds of kids jumping with joy to the Genki English songs.
We lunched with the teachers, an amiable bunch who made sure we had seconds, and who wrapped up the remaining rice into onigiri balls for us to take home. Afterwards as we sat in the Principals office waiting for Christine and Sylvia to return. We fell fast asleep.
We awoke when tens of students began pouring into the room and a mass autograph signing spree was instigated. We signed books, bags, loose pieces of paper - even the kids uniform helmets. Helmets? Yes - in lieu of the usually bright yellow caps which millions of primary school students across Japan wear ,the kids of Sakuchuo wore sturdy hardhat type constructions. Either Saku Town is a place where lots of heavy objects fall from the sky or the PTA is simply very protective. The students were a joy to spend time with, witty and friendly to a fault, and we gladly spent the best part of an hour writing our names and sharing jokes with them. We were absolutely exhausted and absolutely content.
A clearly delighted Principal saw us off and kids waved to us as we drove away. We took the Usui Pass back into Gunma, marvelling at the views, and at the sight of another VW van, hurtling past us on the highway.
Sylvia and Christine had spend several hours exploring shops in Saku and buying Japanese groceries. They whipped up a homecooking feast and made sure we felt very mothered. They said "I hope we aren't acting too motherlike?" and we told them "No, no - mother away".
After dinner we met Anitra's neighbour Michelle and doled out our advice on getting a Japanese boyfriend - "You have to just go up to them and kiss them!" Anitra's Japanese friend Emiko also made an appearance. Michelle, unsure about our advice, ran it past Emiko, who said "Sure - guys would like that" We rest our case.
To finish off a perfect day Richard and I let Anitra give us each a massage.
Copyright (C) 1999/2021 by Richard Graham www.GenkiEnglish.com