Sports Day went well. Despite threatening clouds in the morning the weather was good and even provided a cooling breeze near the end. We survived the teacher's relay, though there was some humiliation since we were told to stay out the outside but the person handing me the baton was on the inside, which meant I had to dart across tracks full of kids running seriously to pass it on. The bizarre game of rock-paper-scissors on each other's shoulders became even more bizarre when the boys on top removed their shirts - it seems the previous version was only a placeholder, as they proceed to wrestle each other viciously to knock each other off. Some of the boys made a point of pulling their shorts very far down so their boxers showed, and if their opponent used that as an attack method they could be seen entirely. I suppose it's a matter of pride to have colorfully patterned unique underwear when your outside clothes are identical.
There were a great many minor injuries - scrapes, bruises, a twisted ankle and a banged elbow - but nothing serious, thank God. I know we all held our breath when the boys did their pyramids. Compared to all the practices I watched, the third-years crowning triumph (a move they've named after the local mountain) went disastrously - all four groups tumbled, some from the very top with their comrades grabbing at limbs and clothing to slow their fall. The loudest boys chanted for a redo - the same ones who seem to have learned no English from the previous ALT except "I can't take you anywhere!" which they say to me all the time - now they used their volume and stubbornness for a good cause. They reformed each circle with renewed shouting, despite their bruises and white shirts covered in each other's footprints. I'll admit to having tears in my eyes when each pyramid rose again, and the top boys stood and made victory signs with both hands.
All day various vitamin waters and energy drinks were left on our desks. Energy drinks here are interesting - they come in very small dark brown glass bottles, and on recycling day I'll invariably pass enormous bins full of them. They look like they'll contain some sort of mysterious sludge, thick and gray and of unidentifiable flavor and unknown ingredients, but with miraculous properties. Instead they're rather good, a light clear carbonated with lemonish, and they don't give you that "I'm about to have a heart attack" feel of the American equivalent. I had one before the race, and now I have a desk drawer full of them and various other treats.
Once we were finished, a full half of the staff went to a celebratory party. It was twice as big as the 2nd-year-teachers-only ones I've done before, and it was nice to be in that environment with teachers I hadn't talked to before. I spoke to the school librarian about our favorite books (it seems like the only Western books that they know over here are Harry Potter and Dan Brown) and she invited me to visit anytime. There were invariable "what do you cook" questions - most people my age live with their parents and benefit from a mother cooking for them. And they asked what I did over the summer - I'd ask the same but I know they all worked. I said I'd gone to a Kinki Kids concert, and a male teacher asked which one I liked more. I knew where this was heading because I'd seen the kanji nameplate on his desk.
Me: I really like Tsuyoshi.
Him: My name is also Tsuyoshi!
Me: Really? It's a good name!
He was very happy.
And eventually all the male teachers decided to recreate the boys gymnastics of earlier. It didn't have quite the same effect since they are probably three times the weight and age of their students, and inebriated to boot, but it was still fairly entertaining.
I've had this ache in my ear or jaw maybe since yesterday morning that got steadily worse until last night when I woke up every two hours with tears leaking from my eyes from the pain. It has subsided a bit now but tomorrow I'll go to the drug store and try to decipher the "painkiller" kanji. I hope it doesn't get unbearable again because I'm not sure if the local clinic has English-speaking staff.