Yesterday marked our first foray out of the Board of Education Office and into a bona fide Japanese High School with bona fide young manga minds. This high school was Odori, one of the newest and most American high schools in Sapporo. The students who were there were there of their own volition, it being the holidays, so it was down to the resident ALT`s to make abandoning a lifestyle of karaoke and loitering in subway stations worth their while. We were paraded in front of the gym to introduce ourselves and say one thing about ourselves+ ie. `I am Clare. I like music`. Grand. My angle: Lady Gaga. I have made the (wise?) decision that Lady Gaga is going to be my mascot in Japan. Whether adopting as my mascot a leotard wearing, declaratively bi-sexual purported transexual in one of the most conservative societies left on earth is a smart move, time will tell. `I am Scarlett. I love Lady Gaga`. Laughter, a few dirty looks. But it made me popular with two small Japanese types who looked straight out of Sailor Moon - they declared me cute (risible, as am approx one metre taller and 30kg heavier than both), took my picture and stroked my hair. Giggling all along. Feel like rare breed of dog.
Anyway, my first Japanese High School experience proved to be positively multi-cultural. I partook in a Russian tea-ceremony and learned about Arabic Fashion (read: different coloured scarves). The small Japanese girl who was fluent in Russian and comprehensible in English was a source of amazement. As was the Russian tradition of licking a jammy spoon before drinking tea (this is not the interestingly dirty metaphor it appears, simply a fact: you lick a jammy spoon). As was watching Arabic being written on the board. It looks like music, like water. Any written langauge that can make squeaky white chalk dance is ok with me. I heart language. Bad Romance.
Part of the cultural fesitivities also involved Scottish dancing, which in turn required partnering a Japanese boy whose head was on level with my (sweaty) breasts. As luck (terrible fate?) would have it, he was one of only four students from the high school at which I will be a fixture as of Tuesday present at the Odori cultural day. His name was Yudai, and he works at the school paper: `I will interview you. You will be front page`. He was sweet and spoke excellent English and refrained from rolling his eyes as I proved myself utterly unable to keep time with the simplest Scottish jig. Let me tell you, being twirled around a gym by a slight boy who could fit neatly under your armpit is guaranteed to bring home all insecurities about lack of balance/coordination/tiny dainty ankles. Lucky, then, that he shamelessly worshipped me. He promised to find me on Tuesday and look after me. When I expressed concern that he would not be able to find me he refrained from saying `Don`t be ridiculous, you are eight feet tall and wider than doorways` but said `Is ok. Your hair is so vivid (actually, `bibid`, but the point was conveyed). If Yudai is a true representation of Kaisei High School students then this year should be a dream.
Anyway, must go now. There is Facebooking to be done. New photos will be posted today. I also must muster my creative skills and create some sort of poster replete with sheep and kiwifruit and All Blacks and photos of family and friends in order to convey to these students some aspects of my life. Because sheep were so integral to my happiness in NZ. To those friends who will be thus represented alongside flightless birds - apologies. The key dilemma is whether to include the beautiful explicit photo of Lady Gaga`s ass therein. This vision does afterall occupy far more of my thought processes than pavlova. To be honest or to be culturally correct? Stand by.