Thousands of Miles from Home


Correct Orientation

I’m in a perpetual haze of pain following the first day of Kendo practice as a second year student at Tamano High School. As of today I have spent a little under a week with my new host family in Hachihama, which is proving to be a slightly different style of life than the previous two host families. The events of the past week have been fast and furious, but I’ll see what I can recall over the dull throbbing muscle aches. First of all, being a second year student comes with a healthy dose of seniority at Tamano High School. My new classroom, situated on the second floor of the main building, allows for a keen vantage point where I can get a better view of the first-year students and their respective first-year activities (giggling, mulling around in little groups, wrestling, etc).

My classroom also comes equipped with two new homeroom teachers. Yamasaki-sensei would make for the perfect Prohibition Era gangster with his slim facial features and pinstriped suit. Put a Tommy gun in his hands and you’ve got yourself a first rate Mugsy. Nomura-sensei, his apparent partner in crime, is new to Tamano High School. On the first day of class he was asked to tell a little about himself. He prefaced his personal introduction by stating his love for alcohol, and drew a likeness of his favorite shot glass on the board. He continued with an anecdote about drinking and driving, and then went on to describe his various trips outside of Japan, his family, where he currently lives, etc. A stark contrast from personal introductions in America, where even the mention of alcohol might put a damper on your teaching career. However, I found the speech rather informative (and probably more truthful). Two fine Senseis.

The rest of the day was business as usual. I have new teachers for Japanese Society, Chinese, and English, but I’m still waiting to see how the rest of the week will unfold. Judo class remains the same, but I have a different partner who weighs a good deal more than stick-like Fuminori who I was often paired with last year.

After school I found my way to the Kendo Jo for the first practice of the year. Sadly, the previous Kendo teacher, Sakaguchi-sensei (who had the best English of anyone I have met in Japan) retired last year. The new teacher, Ishii-sensei (I would soon come to discover) is a viable replacement. Although he speaks no English at all and appears to be between 55 and 60 years old, he is the craziest man I have ever seen with a bamboo sword in his hands. His high-pitched squeals of "Kote!" and "Men!" were enough to deeply frighten me, and he ended up pushing me all over the Kendo floor (giving me a workout I could feel for a few days).

Aside from school, the other activities for the week included a trip to Okayama where I happened to meet Saeki-san at a Shamisen concert. We then went to lunch with her sister and brother-in-law after viewing some lovely Ikebana on the 6th floor of the Tenmaya department store.

For the most part, I had forgotten how much time school seems to take out of my day. While I miss the solid month of waking up at the crack of noon, it is nice to see my friends again.

So far, I have discovered the bike ride to school lasts about 35 minutes (25 if I’m in a hurry) but isn’t very daunting. I will devote a later entry to the actual process of arriving at school due from Hachihama to its lengthy yet beautiful nature.

Until then, if you feel the need to reach me in Japan, direct your comments, concerns, and fan/hate mail to:

Raoul Duke
613-1 Hachi
Hachihama, Tamano 7060223

I am also able to receive mail at my previous three addresses.


  • "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

    By mom, at 9:33 AM  

  • Thank you for the Ikebana. I knew there was something missing over at Proffitt's. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

    By mom, at 9:41 AM  

  • or how about this classic:
    Panic. It crept up my spine like first rising vibes of an acid frenzy. There I was. Alone in Las Vegas, completely twisted on drugs, no cash, no story for the magazine, and on top of everything else, a gigantic god damned hotel bill to deal with. How would Horatio Alger handle this situation?

    By mom, at 2:03 PM  

  • Hi, you make going to school sound fun...I always wanted to learn kendo...good writing and what about this 'mum's comments?!?!?

    By B., at 12:32 AM  

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