The baptism of fire that started last week didn't let up this week. Oh no: I visited not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX different kids' centres. That would be a lot even if my Japanese wasn't QUITE so, erm ahem (!) and it wasn't 32 degrees c and 90% humidity every day. Since both of these things are now facts of my life, a lie in on Saturday morning was perhaps the most wonderful experience of my life so far...
BUT I'm making it sound like the volume of stuff somehow made it all less fun - not the case at all. I had a blast! In this order:
Monday: Kamiochiai Jidookan (the return)
Sadly, the candy floss machines had been returned to their owners by monday morning, but I couldn't really complain since I realised another childhood dream instead. I felt like I was on a kids tv show as I filled the ball pool
I was having a relatively good Japanese day (i.e. I wasn't completely struck dumb) and even managed a few only slightly stilted 'so what are you doing here then?' sorts of conversations. The kids enjoyed attempting to teach me the fiendishly fiddly dance they'd learned for the festival the week before, and my new japanese word of the day was 'jump'. The storytelling was more low key here than the previous week - they told me how to say the Japanese text in perfect chorus; I told them the English. I probably got the best deal, to be honest.
Tuesday: Appi Daiba (AM), Tagara Daini (PM)
A day with more travelling than face time with kids, but no less rewarding for that.It was a long but beautiful journey to Odaiba, out to the East, next to the sea. I have now been on the Tokyo Monorail
Appi Daiba was a tiny nursery right in the middle of Odaiba's main shopping centre! My caterpillar was more energetic than monday's, but less Japanese! None of the one year olds watching seemed to mind, though. They were much more interested in the songs I sang them. Without ukulele accompaniment this time, but who knows what the future will hold?
From Odaiba, Nerima-Ku is just about as far away as you can get in Tokyo. But that's where the super organisedTagara Daini after school club was, so that's where we went. School was long over by the time I arrived, and everyone was there dying to meet 'foreign long-nose girl'. Again I got a free Japanese lesson off some of the kids, who were actually better teachers than some of the adults I've had before! here is one of them in a pile of tyres
Outside later, I rode a unicycle and hung myself upside down on some monkey bars. All in a days work.
Wednesday: Shouka Nursery and Momozono Gakudo
Another day, another Tokyo suburb - Tsunashima was first on the list, for a meeting at and tour of Shouka Nursery School, the biggest nursery in Tokyo with 300 kids from the ages of 0 to 7 years old. It was impressive. I surprised myself by talking for about a solid minute or two in relatively sensible Japanese at a staff meeting, and despite the heat things were going ok...I felt this pleased with myself
...and things carried on going ok into the afternoon when I found myself at ANOTHER after school club in Momozono, near Nakano. Again, no dramatised re-enactment but a quiz on 'what do you know about England (in Japanese)?' It could have worked better to be honest, if anyone had asked me to prepare some questions and answers beforehand. As it was, though, the kids who DID ask me questions asked some great ones. The best were:
What is your star sign (cue frantic dictionary shuffling and open mouthed surprise - I didn't even know they HAD star signs in Japan)?
What pronoun do English people use to talk about themselves other than 'I' (this from a 7 year old)?
On the way home that night, I was beginning to flag and everything started to look a bit neon -
but I was just about ok.
Thursday and Friday: Kita Shinjuku Jidookan
Thursday got off to a shaky start when I went into the office by mistake and then had to rush back past where I live in the other direction to get to Kita Shinjuku Jidookan, my last location of the week, on time. It was 9.30am. It was already 30 degrees. I was knackered. But not for long - the welcome I got when I arrived was so warm that I forgot everything....
Including the little Japanese I now know. Oh dear.
Not that that stopped me - here's me in action telling a story:
And singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (before being taught it again in Japanese)
I'm only slightly alarmed about that facial expression...
That wasn't all. Just becuase I was tired didn't mean I couldn't play a legendary game of Twister
start decorating the place for the festival happening the following week
and get taught how to do tea ceremony
who were WAY better at it than I was
And also, my fifth rendition (entirely in English, with actions) of Caterpillar.
All in a day's work / play/! I slept ominously well on Friday night.