Autumn has well and truly arrived here in Japan. I wake up in the mornings with a cold nose, the morning air is crisp and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of golden and red. My students have been telling me lots about the turning of the leaves so I thought it fitting to take a trip to Kyoto to see the Autumn leaves in all their splendour. This trip to Kyoto will be the first time that I have travelled alone in Japan. I am looking forward to it; I have a list full of temples, shrines, galleries and arty cafesthat I plan on visiting. I can wander, amble and root where I want and as I wish, it will be liberating!
My students have been helping me to plan my trip. They took their school trip to Kyoto and have been giving me lots of recommendations. Some useful:
"Dear Isabel. When you go to the Kyoto, please be careful. In front of the Kyoto station, there is sometimes a man who is disguised as a woman. Sometimes he appears there. Please be careful."
Some not so useful:
"Dear Isabel, please go to Kiyomizudera. There you can have pictures with womans. I love womans. I love you."
"Dear Isabel. Let's go the Kyoto hot spring together. It will make our skin smooth to the touch"
Some brimming with enthusiasm:
"Isabel, LET'S GO TO THE KYOTO! You can enjoy the Kyoto!"
This evening, I went to my welcome party. It was the best meal I have ever had in my life at a traditional Japanese restaurant in the town across from Marugame. The evening consisted of dish after dish of perfectly crafted delights. Every dish was a work of art, truly. The colours were incredible and never again will I call Japanese food bland. Every flavour was so perfect. My favourite things were the mushroom and chestnut soup and the seabass and sumomo (Japanese plum) dish. Some were so beautiful that I had to be reminded to eat them; first by a gentle nudge from Ohmiya-sensei, which ended up as hearty whacks on the back as he became more intoxicated.
My teachers made some speeches, as is always the way at Japanese parties and said some lovely things about me. There is one class I visit every couple of weeks and I have always wondered what the tally chart on the right hand side of the black board is for. Naoi sensei told me that this is a tally chart that the boy students in 3-6 keep to count down how many days it is until my next visit. It nearly made me cry... again! Ono, Fijii and Manami, my favourite students are in 3-6 so it's always my favourite class to visit. When I go there, it feels like I am visiting friends more than students. My teachers also bought me some beautiful flowers, I love my teachers at Maruko so much.
Here is a picture of me and my happy family. Ohmiya-sensei is the little man to my right.