School Sports Day began this morning in the truest of Japanese fashions.
If I told you that everyone was in neat, orderly lines all dressed in colorful matching jumpsuits, listening to the principle speak you may think, “Okay the jumpsuit thing is kind of weird but that sounds about right.” Well that’s what I thought too until suddenly this strange musical “warm-up” song came on the loud speaker. The lines immediately spread out and in unison the entire school, including all of the teachers, began to stretch. I was so caught off guard that I did the only think I found natural, I immediately started snapping pictures and laughing to myself about how people back home would react when they saw this. Looking back on it now the morning was a good foreshadowing of the rest of the day. A pretty normal, colorful event that was suddenly interrupted and caught us all off guard.
The morning did prove to be a real blast though. My homeroom class had put together a softball team and we took part in school wide competition. My friend Miki took this sweet picture of me at right as I drove one to left field. It was fun to have a team to cheer for again. Unfortunately before long we lost to the third year class, yet the teachers had also formed a team. As they were lacking bodies young enough to fill all the positions they asked me to play for them too. I got to man first base and it was a real laugh as we took on the students.
While the guys played softball out on the fields, the girls made volleyball teams that were competing in the gym. It was funny to see a court so full (I think they had about a dozen girls on the court at one time!), yet a couple of them were pretty good and as I watched, one girl whipped out a wicked serve. Jump with spin and everything, I think it caught the other team off guard too!
The games eventually came to an end and we all broke for lunch. We were excited for the afternoon relays including a 3-Man-4-Leg race and one that involved spinning a whole line of people in a circle as fast as you could. Three of my friends, including Rie (she's the center one in the photo below) were practicing all morning for the three person race.
Sadly, and also very suddenly, the principle came over the loudspeaker and told everyone that there would be no afternoon events. I didn’t understand everything but as he kept talking the kids started buzzing. Finally someone explained to me that just this morning three of the second year students (all in different classes than me; and no this isn't a picture of them on the right. I just realized it's a somewhat misleading choice :\) had come to the Sports Day but became violently ill and were taken away. It turns out they each have H1N1 Swine Flu. So in order to end everything quickly we all had to report to our homerooms before leaving. It was only 2 or so in the afternoon but a day of fun and sports had suddenly taken a very sobering mood. Lately we’ve all been using hand sanitizer when we walk through the doors and the number of masks are on the rise, but it’s still scary when it finally hits.
For my mom (because I know she’s freaking out right now), don’t worry. I’ve felt healthy and I will be sure to wash my hands and take care of myself this weekend. Which speaking of this weekend, I have another Rotary Orientation is Utsunomiya (Capital of Tochigi, one hour away) on Sunday. I think my host mom is bringing me there tomorrow afternoon and Max and Ayano and I are going to hang out for the afternoon. I am excited to see them again and to be able to speak with the Rotarians this weekend. So until Sunday: take care, I’ll being doing just the same!
PS these are some more random, and now photo-shopped, photos of these two hawks that sit on the bridge I cross every day. Back and forth I’ve passed them I don’t know how many times now. They’ve been impossible to get pictures of but I finally did today (sorry the one is cut off in flight). Enjoy: