It's mid-way through September and the beginning of the busiest season at school. The first big event is English Camp for the 1A students, then theres Bunkasai this weekend, Taikusai next week, open house and preparing for speech contests!
To kick off the business, I was in charge of running a two day "English Camp" for the 1A class. This is an annual event that gets the 1st year students exposed to as much English as possible, since they'll be going to Torrance next year. One of my main jobs at Ichikashi is to plan and run this event...and although it took a lot of hard work and planning, it was so worth it!
I'm lucky to have amazing coworkers to team up with...Tama being an excellent "Tama-taxi driver" making sure we always get where we need to go, Mami being an awesome homeroom teacher to these 1A kids and making sure they know where they need to be and when, and Alison adjusting so effortlessly to our job as Ichikashi ALT!
Four native English teachers from the prefecture come and help us with this camp and I am truly grateful for their efforts and kindness to our students. At the end of day two, every student gave a show-and-tell speech and it was really cute seeing their personalities come out when they talked about something important to them. The best part of the whole camp was just seeing the joy on the students faces as they spoke English and had fun with eachother.
After a busy two days, I decided to keep the ball rolling and jam pack my weekend as well!
I spent Saturday in Ginza roaming the streets and looking for some things to buy. I had my eye set on this Faure Le Page bag that my brother told me about (they only have stores in Paris and Tokyo!) but when I went to the store in Ginza I saw the price tag and said: NO WAY, JOSE (one tote bag cost ￥170,00...aka $1700!!!!!!) But, I still could enjoybeauty that is Ginza on a weekend...truly one of the best places to spend your day off!
What makes Ginza so magical on the weekends is that on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, they close off the main street to cars and create what they call in Japanese "pedestrian heaven" - which it truly is! Not to mention the streets are all extremely clean, the stores are incredible and it makes for a prime people watching spot. YES, GINZA, YES.
Saturday was a good day....and I headed home that only to wake up at 6am to take a train back into Tokyo for the Tokyo Tower climb I heard about! I found out about this "Tokyo Tower Climb" via a website I sometimes check out (SAVVYTOKYO) and I immediately jumped on the chance to be involved. TELL is an organization that provides suicide prevention resources here in Tokyo and they were running this event to help raise awareness on suicide prevention day (sept 10th). I convinced Steph to sign up with me and we met up at Tokyo tower bright and early Sunday morning!
There was a fun vibe around the starting line...with a bunch of people ready to be active for an awesome cause. They told us there were 600 steps to climb and most people can walk up it in 18 minutes while the record is 2 minutes 3 seconds!!
We climbed the inclosed steps that lead to the main observatory and WOW....such a rad view. Despite the fact that my legs felt like a thousand ton bricks after 30 seconds, the view really captivated me and reminded me of how rad of an experience this was!!
Made it to the tip in 7 min 23 seconds! Not bad. Let's just say it was shorter than I expected and harder than I expected HAHA! I was super thankful it ended by 8:30 actually because that meant I could make it to church in time! Thank you Lord.
It felt amazing to do something active, in a city I love, for a cause that really hits my heart so raw and real. Suicide is the leanding cause of death in men age 20-44, and witnessing just a glimpse of the cultural pressure and emotional strain on Japanese people has left me hurting for the people around me who feel any bit of shame, guilt, hopelessnes, isolation...and I was reminded the great mission I have to pray for this nation and the people who call it home. Truly... the most powerful, most helpful, and most impactful thing I can do is pray.
After climbing Tokyo tower, I made it to church in time! Praise the Lord. I met up with my good friend Miri and we enjoyed an awesome service at Hope church :) Then, after we headed over to Lalaport Tokyo bay to meet up with Miri's mom whos in town from Osaka, as well as our good friend Naomi and her family! I met all these lovely ladies when I was a tutor in Torrance!
Naomi has two little boys, Rieiji and Kaiji...and Miri and I enjoyed being aunties for the day. We cruised around the mall, Miri bough Reiji a bday gift at the disney store which he was stoked about, and we even got a picture with Chiba-kun (the prefectural mascot!)
Reiji, Miri, me, Naomi, baby Kaiji, and Miri's mom Masako! So thankful to have spent the day with these lovely ladies!!
phew...busy season is well under way and I am enjoying every moment of it!