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


Shonin Primary. Whilst setting up in the gym I observed a troubling conversation. Several students stood nearby, watching me. One boy began chatting to me. A nearby girl called out "He's not Japanese!"
"What?" I exclaimed.
"He's not Japanese - he's a haafu (half)"
"He's Japanese - and don't say otherwise" I told her.
"His father is Japanese but his mother isn't" she continued
"He's as Japanese as you are" I said "And stop picking on him"

I was annoyed - telling a Japanese person (especially a kid) that they aren't Japanese is one of the harshest calls you can make in Japanese society. And it hadn't been in jest - the girl was being vindictive. I had a bad feeling......

The 1st and 2nd year students were chaotic. No self discipline - large sections gabbed the whole time - and there were no attempts by the teachers to do anything about it. This did nothing to improve my mood. We valiantly pushed on for the sake of those kids who were trying, but I have never been so glad to finish a show.

Hana's boss from the Board of Education dropped by and we had a far-too short chat. Mr Tsuji obviously wanted to talk about how to implement English teaching at primary school but he had a meeting to attend and we had a show.

The 3rd and 4th years weren't too bad. Relief. The calm before the storm.

The 5th and 6th years were shockers. In most of our shows the kids are very keen. Occasionally they are shy. These kids were the first ones who actively didn't want to be there. From the start there were calls of "tsumaranai" (boring) and one kid repeatedly intoned "dekinai" (can't do it). It was the audience from hell.

It got worse. During the "What's your name?" song I became victim to the deadly kancho.
A kancho occurs when a kid jabs you in the backside. The hands are pressed together in the shape of a pistol - the index fingers forming the barrel. This weapon is then rammed with impressive force squarely between the buttock cheeks of unwary adults (usually ALTs). Kancho literally translates as 'enema'. Half the kids sang the song and practiced shaking hands. The other half kancho-ed me. I resisted the impulse to yell at them and walked with my hands strategically held behind me.

By the end of the show the boys' desire to practice amateur proctology had not abated - as we shook hands with the students leaving the gym I was again attacked.

We met the principal and as diplomatically as possible told him that the students at our shows were usually much better behaved. We lunched in the principal's office - who knows what would have happened if we had been placed with the kids.

Our afternoon slot was at Midori Gaoka. We were slated for just one show -the 6th years. We arrived and were ushered into a meeting room where we were told that the year 6 kids were going to make a presentation about Beppu. Sure that we had misheard we asked for clarification.
School: "The 6th years are going to make a presentation about local history etc"
Me: "But we arranged to do a show"
School: "Oh - but we thought that it would be a good chance for the students to meet with foreign guests"

I wondered if there had been some miscommunication and spoke to Hana - she had indeed told them the details of the show. I decided to find out where wires had become crossed.

Me: "You knew we were doing a show right?"
School: "Yes"
Me: "You read the details as written on our website?"
School: "Yes"
Me: "So why have you arranged for the 6th years to give a presentation"
School: "We don't get many foreign visitors and we thought it would be a good chance for the 6th years to interact with you"

I was not impressed. I felt as if we had been ambushed. And told them.

"Look - we are not ALTs. We are Genki English - we are not getting paid to do this. If we were paid ALTs then sure, we'd do any activity you had planned, but we're not. We sent you information and planned a show and have put a lot of effort into it. We don't appreciate having a new plan thrust upon us without any consultation"

I think the annoyance in my tone was obvious - Richard leant over to me and said "Go easy"

The teachers listened, shuffled off to discuss it, came back and told us that we could do the show as planned.


We even had the 4th and 5th years join in, which proved to be a blessing because year 6's shyness lead to their singing being almost inaudible. Even the teachers enjoyed themselves.

Then I had a mad rush to the bank to pay for my ticket to Australia.

Given that Beppu is famous as an onsen town it seemed fitting that we wind down in the soothing waters of a natural spring. We visted an onsen where the specialty was a hot sand bath but it had just closed! Fortunately onsens are ubiquitous in Beppu and just a short walk from Hannah's place we found a tiny onsen. Tiny was the operative word - only two guys could fit in the pool at a time.

The working day was not over. Seminar time at the International Centre. The teachers were not only well behaved but enthusiastic, and the 2 hours was over before we knew it. Lots of questions afterwards. It was nice to finish the day on a high point.


email: will@genkienglish.net

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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  making jokes which sounded better at the time!!! Please be understanding!


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