Rice Fever, Rice Fever … We Know How to Do It

I’ve got hay fever or cedar fever or rice husk fever, or whatever kind of allergies people in Japan get in the fall, so I’m sneezing often and powerfully. The Friday five year-olds laugh uncontrollably every time I let loose a storm of sneezes, and sassy Miho with the dimpled smirk and side pony is, naturally, the ring leader. 

The two year-olds still love to ask if class is over when it’s just begun and have recently discovered that if they press the tip of my nose with their finger, I say “beep.” As soon as Mia catches sight of me, she will inform me that this clothing item is pink and this is pink and this is also pink. Kazuya has noticed that my plum-colored knee socks match my plum-colored nailpolish and Masa has become addicted to happily sniffing my hands like a dog. 

The Saturday five year-olds giggled throughout the Thanksgiving lesson, demanding that I imitate a turkey again and again. Hunched over our hand-print crafts, inspired by the pumpkin and apple pie flash cards, we discussed other kinds of pie. The idea of chicken pie was appalling to the children but strawberry pie and chocolate pie received thumbs ups. Other kinds of pie: cheese pie, melon pie, cream pie, Ribu pie, unko pie. The last suggestion came from Yuu, the only boy in the class. What would a day of English class be if he didn’t refer to poo at least once? 

The first class of Saturday 8 year-olds think the word “silly” sounds like “oshiri” – backside. Whatever gets them to remember. 

The weather has turned uncomfortably cold so I’ve taken to wearing a black and burgundy velveteen scarf in the classrooms. It has been shyly fondled by no less than 10 young students this week. 

One of my eleven year-olds – a feisty gal named Naoko – leapt up during class to draw a diagram. I let this happen because the class was just review and she and the others had done quite well in the unit. I also let this happen because I was bored. Naoko’s red marker flew across the whiteboard as she explained her illustration; the characters in the textbook, she said, were involved in a sordid tryst full of lies and intrigue (represented by angry scribbled lines). Brenda (represented by “B”) “rub” Dylan (represented by “D”) and Dylan “rub” Kelly (“K”) but Kelly “rub” Steve (“S”). She informed me that the Japanese word for love triangle is “sankakukanke.” “Young Naoko dear*,” I told her. “You watch too many dramas.” 

A higher level adult student described her relationship’s breakup to me using the words “I quit.” 

A low-level student arrived 5 minutes late because she overslept. Her cheeks were stamped with perfectly round, unblended circles of tangerine-colored blush. She looked like an anime character, and I was sure she’d used one of the many brands of puff blush available; nothing else would have made that perfect circle. 

Nakata-san suggested we take another field trip yesterday to a nearby temple, so I could see the stamps they give out but he conceded that we didn’t have enough time. I hope I hid my relief well. 

I have new shoes; they are a cross between oxfords, pumps and Mary Janes. They’re my first pair of beautiful new shoes in over a year; I’m like a satisfied child. I stare at them during class about as often as I glance at my watch. 


I’ve learned that I can crave things I’ve never had; I’m especially susceptible to food suggesionts lately. I’ve looked for the Danielle Ruschena-recommended Choco Ice in 4 different supermarkets (to no avail) and became obsessed with Coco Ichibanya’s fried oyster curry and my local ramen shop’s yuzu-flavored ramen before I even tried them. Luckily, the latter two dishes did not disappoint. I have no doubt that, when I finally hunt it down, the Choco Ice will make me happy as well. 

The 3-kyuu is in exactly 2 weeks and I have been studying hardcore all month. The messages in the hiragana and kanji soup are becoming clearer, which is fortunate since I have to head to the phone company today and sort out my bills. I moved to Akacho before I began studying so much and apparently botched my tenkyotodoke (mail forwarding form). Thus, I haven’t received any forwarded mail since my move and I’ve certainly received no tacos in its place. If I miss my mail, I don’t pay my bills and I could lose my house … or in my case, my phone service. I discovered that it had been cut off yesterday so now that it’s Sunday, off to the phone company I go. This is actually a good thing; I can practice the conditional and many な, た, て, plain and います verb forms with the salespeople. I’ve never been so excited to fork over money in my entire life. 

Tomorrow Bob, Sean and I will head to the wilderness to walk through abandoned train tracks and admire the fall maple leaves. The Japanese call cherry blossom gazing お花見 – flower viewing – but they call maple leaf gazing 紅葉狩り; red leaf hunting, or cutting. Nakata-san says no one really cuts the branches down but everyone sure does enjoy getting a load of those lovely vermillion trees.

0 Replies to “Rice Fever, Rice Fever … We Know How to Do It”

  1. Your posts almost make me want to teach English! I taught basic French to under four’s for a while and I relate to the little obsessions you have to deal with – I found they helped for planning lessons (until of course, you turn up to the lesson loaded fairy princess stuff only to find that that’s all “Just silly!”and the horsies are now the ONLY thing to talk about.)

    A query about a thanksgiving lesson – just fodder for lesson plans or is it considered an important part of learning English – like learning about Christmas or Chanukah? Is this why the Japanese ask me what I’m doing for Thanksgiving and cannot understand that I (and the rest of the non-american world lol) don’t celebrate it?

    I get my Chocolate Ice at the Frante store (which is our closest) but admit I have never seen it at Pare Marche (2nd closest) or Aeon (too damn far though the weather is going to force me into the car for shopping soon anyway…)

  2. i loved the references to unko, oshiri and the state! 😉 i’m sad that my japanese vocab hasn’t progressed much further than a child’s though…

    babaghanoush, indeed!

  3. I can’t believe no one’s commented on my beautiful new shoes.

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