On Thursdays and Fridays Mr. K drove several hours to Tsuru Literary University to teach English classes. One day he invited us along to join him and meet the students. Along the way we stopped at Lake Kawaguchi, one of the five famous lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji. It has a beautiful view of Fuji and its reflection on clear days. But alas, this wasn’t to be a clear day. Mr. K sketched an outline in the sky, and I was really impressed with what I imagined. The picture H showed me from a clear day made it look much smaller. I decided to stick with my image of a hulking triangle in the sky. Mr. K pulled out a bag of donuts for lunch. They tasted homemade – light and simple with just the right touch of sweetness. He cut up some apple and persimmons, and we shared tea while gazing at the lake and changing colors.
At the university there were two back to back 90 minute classes. H and I each talked for half of that without any preparation. I was excited to speak to university students! They were quiet, but looked much more engaged than I was used to when teaching high school students in Japan. I started off with my name, then asked if they knew anyone else named Holmes. “Sherlock Holmes?” “Yes! And you know what? He is my great, great grandfather. I drew a basic family tree of how far up the family line that would be and wrote his name. There was both a mixture of shock and mirth in the room. After milking it for a few more sentences, I explained that he is actually a fictional character and bowed in mock apology for my joke. Then I talked about Minnesota and what it’s famous for, using things from my self introduction on JET. I told them about my comparisons between Japan and the US. About Thanksgiving, a simplified history of it, what we eat, how many calories that amounts to, and about Black Friday, which they equated to New Years Day shopping in Japan. When asked if there were any questions, someone in both classes asked what I thought about Donald Trump being elected president. I tried to give some sense of the reasons why people voted for him, while also explaining that a lot of people were surprised about it and disapprove of the choice. H spoke about Australia and Sydney where she grew up. She didn’t have much praise to give her hometown, but that didn’t stop me from visiting a few months later.
After the classes, we finished the day with a nice big teishoku (set meal) dinner. Eggplant and pork stirfry, large portion of rice, miso soup, tofu, salad, and pickles. It felt so good to be stuffed. At that point we were getting sleepy and tired. Back to the car for a 2 hour return to Minami-Alps. I got to practice my anti-complaint habit while my stomach whined the whole way back. Mr. K is a break-happy man. Despite all the curvy roads and over mountain passes, I did make it back in one piece. It felt so good to get home and lie down.