Its sports day season again. As most of my regular classes have been canceled so the students can practice, I have had plenty of time to watch the preparations for sports day. Although I teach at 7 very different schools, I started to notice a huge similarity. They all seemed to do the same warm up. I asked around, and this is a national thing. The warm up routine doesn’t stop at elementary school PE class, this is a life-long skill. Many companies do this warm up every morning to keep community bonding, and get ready for the day. I even saw the guides for Mt. Fuji doing the warm up before beginning the climb. In case you don’t attent elementary school, aren’t a Fuji guide, or work for the right company, you can still get in on the daily warm up magic. The taiso (warm up) is broadcast every morning on the radio and television. I recently found out that everyday during summer break, students were required to meet and do the taiso together at 6am. Here’s the magic, learn it, try it, live it, love it.
Bread? Really? Well its not just any bread its anpan, bread filled with sweet bean paste. Add a little something extra and you’ve got Anpanman, one of the most famous characters in Japan. He was initially baked by Uncle Jam and given that little something extra by a shooting star that was passing by at the time of his baking. Anpanman spends his time helping those in need by feeding them his own head. Yes, his OWN head. When he needs a new head he returns to Uncle Jam who bakes him a new own. His old head flys away and a new one is put on. Each new head renews his energy. His weaknesses are water or anything makes his head dirty. His friends and fighting partners are various Japanese breads, white bread man, roll bread man, melon bread man, and curry bread man. Together they fights germs and hunger in their land.
I promise I’m not making this up, or this isn’t some strange character I found buried in obscurity. The Anpanman cartoon has been in production for 23 years, that’s almost as old as me. There have been 1,065 episodes aired, and 22 full length feature films. Anpan’s face can be found on just about anything, toys, clothes, walkers, food, trains, you can even eat anpan w/ Anpanman’s face on it.
So what’s all the fuss about? Take a look for yourself. Here’s the birth video of Anpanman. Keep in mind the target audience is under the age of 5.
I had the wonderful opportunity to spend 3 weeks back home in the states. What did I do with all that time? Besides eating a whole lot of food, and watch a whole lot of guilty pleasure TV (I had a lot of midafternoon downtime), I frolicked in the mountains, saw fantastic people, and got reacquainted with the other side of the Pacific. I know I’m a little biased, but no matter where I travel, I still think Colorado is one of the most beautiful places. So sit back and enjoy a few of my adventures back in America.
Shortly after hearing all about Hurricane Irene in the US, I found out I didn’t have the miss out on the fun, there was a huge typhoon coming straight for me. The 12th typhon of the season, typhoon Talas was ready to take Japan for a ride. Although the storm was a direct hit on the west, the entire country felt Talas’s wrath. Flooding and landslides were reported all the way up to Hokkaido. But I don’t live in Hokkaido, I live on Shikoku island, and that just happened to be the first place Talas hit. The worst of the storm was at 3am on Friday night/ Saturday morning, so I was safe inside my apartment when things got dicey. To be honest, I didn’t exactly trust my apartment in extreme conditions. I can hear just about everything my neighbors, say/do, and the exterior walls aren’t much thicker. But my apartment stayed standing. Kanonji is rather protected as it is surrounded by mountains, and I’m fairly far away from any body of water. The typhoon wasn’t all that bad, afternoon classes were canceled on Friday, and I had an excuse to watch movies in my apartment all weekend. Not too bad a deal if you ask me.