Any add a couple things from my last email that I forgot.  One was
that my landlord showed me his place...and the most interesting room was
what I call the "Shrine room"...since it was just that.  For those who
don't know Buddhist keep shrines to dead relatives and in this room the
ashes of his relatives date back to his great great grandmother and were in
a case next to a statue of Buddha.  The second thing was that last Saturday
I went to Nakanojo's festival.  That was a great experience.  This festival
has a history of 400yrs and the main attraction is the dueling
"wagons"...about 7 in all that go head to head "battling" by drums and loud
cries.  Of course I didn't have my video camera  Any way.
        This past weekend was another fun time.  The best students of the
school district here are chosen to participate in the annual exchange with
the students of a town in the Chiba Prefecture.  The location alternates
and this year we were off to Chiba.  At 5:30am we left and it took 6hrs to
get there.  The city is located on the beach so that was cool.  Some
interesting experiences there were bringing in the fish net...quite a
process since the rope is so long...I had blisters (white American boy's
hands aren't used to that kind of work)and we only caught 4 little fish
>from this huge net...caught a bottle and can though. We had a cookout on
the beach...for the first time I had octopus but it didn't look like
one..which I had seen on a stick last wasn't too bad...I had
another piece...and then we watched fireworks that night.  Once again I
"connected" with the students with that silly hand whistle (see they were
different kids so I thought "hey why not try?"), and this time the kids
were so amused by it they took my picture.  On the bus on the way to the
fireworks my superintendent asked me to do the scale for all the people of
both boards of education who were on this special bus.  After the
accomplishment I got a round of applause...I love this place..haha.
        A couple of observations.  The rice here is extremely sticky.  I
found that the hard way.  On friday night at dinner (this was my first time
eating with these strangers) some rice fell from my chopsticks and landed
on the floor.  Not wanting the evidence of my lack of chopstick expertise
to be seen I used my barefoot (you can't wear shoes while eating) to kick
the evidence away.  Well it didn't go to far...just onto my toes.
Frantically I kept kicking...trying every which way to get free of the would not let go.  Not wanting to cause to much attention to be
drawn towards me I just sat there with rice drying in between my
toes...that stuff can really harden let me reassure you.  Luckily I made it
through and took a bath (that is a whole different story for another day)
and was able to chisel the white cement from my sore feet.
        Another thing was the snacks we got on the bus.  One bag in
particular comes to mind.  It was a perfectly great variety of nuts and
crackers until I saw a little dried fish in it...well actually there was
more than one...what's up with that?
        I think this week should be a little slower.  I have a few days off
since I "worked" two weekends in a row so I think I will work on my
Japanese and travel to see some friends.  Plus my car insurance will be all
set and I can actually drive with this maniacs...they have a history of bad
driving I'm told.  Well I have driven in Missouri...and I should be
just fine. Not only that but today I have a mandatory driving lesson with
my direct supervisor because "driving in Japan isn't like America".  I
tried to tell them that I drove in Great Britain for a month...where they
drive on the other side of the car and road but I don't think they got
that...oh well.