Naked Man Festival
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I went out to the Hadaka Matsuri, also known as the Naked Man Festival last night with Nick-sensei and Tatsuki and Satoshi. Over 500 years old, this festival takes place during the coldest time of the year.

Teams parading around the shrine grounds.

Teams parading around the shrine grounds.

Men wear just a loin cloth and thin cloth foot covers. It is a competitive festival, the aim being to grab a sacred stick thrown into the crowd of participants at 10pm. Some decoys are also thrown, so there are multiple scuffles happening for about 10 minutes until the winner turns in the real stick.

Usually teams of friends or co-workers join after getting really drunk. The teams parade around the shrine grounds three times, each time running through a waist high fountain of freezing water. Then hundreds of participants crowd the front of the shrine jostling for position until the lights cut out and the sticks are thrown in the dark.

Fireworks over the river. It is fun to see fireworks in the winter.

Fireworks over the river. It is fun to see fireworks in the winter.

I have joined twice in the past, but this year I took the boys out to see it for the first time. We got there just in time for the fireworks show (a rare thing in winter), ate some good festival food and were in time to mill around the front of the shrine while the teams were parading through. That is where most of my pictures were taken.

Nick and I got interviewed by RSK tv, but I have no idea if anything aired or not. We found our favorite Turkish kabob stand and ran into a few NEO students.

We left before nine, but watched the dropping of the stick live on YouTube, which was a new experience.

Ambulances for the people who get injured. Sometimes people die in this festival.

Ambulances for the people who get injured. Sometimes people die in this festival.

Dave-sensei getting interviewed by RSK.

Dave-sensei getting interviewed by RSK.

Nick-sensei getting interviewed by RSK.

We ran into some NEO students. Their family lives nearby.

We ran into some NEO students. Their family lives nearby.

We watched the final part of the festival live on YouTube. It was much warmer at home!

We watched the final part of the festival live on YouTube. It was much warmer at home!

David FulvioComment
Be my Valentine??

超繁忙期に入りブログの更新をするのが後手になっていました。

この水曜日は2/14でしたがバレンタインの日に沢山の方から美味しいものを頂き幸せな週でした。北米では日本のバレンタインと習慣が違い、男女どちらからでもプレゼントを贈りあう習慣。長く英会話をされている方はそのことをご存じの方も多いです。

私は花より団子タイプなので胃袋を喜ばせる方が嬉しいのですが、贈る側(男性)としては「何はともあれまずは花!」で、真っ赤な薔薇を贈ります。

私の通っていた高校では、ささやかなバレンタインサービスがありました。学校で事前に赤い花を1輪予約購入しておきます。渡したい相手に指定のメッセージカードを書き、その相手の受けている授業中に生徒会の人がお花とカードを届けに来てくれるサービスです。授業を受けているクラスメートたちの前で花を受け取るので派手なことが好きな人には向いています。1日の終わりには複数本の花を抱えている人もいました。

が、滞在1年目の私にはいきなり授業中にクラスメートでない別の生徒が現れ、しかも特定の人にだけ花が贈られるシステムに仰天。だいたいこの人は授業中なのに何で授業を受けずに花なんか届けに来ているんだろうと思っていました。

とうとう3年目には仰天していた事実も忘れ、私も仲良しさんへ贈り、自分ももらっていました。残念なのはお互い女子ということでしょうか(笑)ちゃんとsteadyな相手がいる人たちはそれぞれに贈りあっていました。

全米なら他の学校でも似たようなシステムで行っているところが多くあると思います。このサービス自体は私の学校ではfundraisingだったので主催側も利用する側もwin-winですね。

ちなみに画像のこれくらいの花束、バレンタイン当日に贈ろうとすると$100くらい(1万円超えます!)。男性でなくてよかった。。。

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AyumiComment
Europe

As many of you know, I went to Europe with my family over the holiday vacation this year. My wife and I went to Rome, Italy, and met up with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend. We spent about five days in Rome and then my wife and I went to Seville, Spain (three days), Lisbon, Portugal (four days), and Frankfurt, Germany (one night). We had a great time!

Rome was interesting because it is filled with history. We saw the Vatican, which is the headquarters of the Catholic Church. It is filled with art from various periods of European history, and has some really interesting paintings and sculptures. We also saw ancient Roman ruins, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

In Spain and Portugal we mostly relaxed and walked around – we didn’t make any plans or reservations except for one restaurant in Seville. It was great! We woke up whenever we felt like it, took naps, and ate when we were hungry. We saw a few sights, but spent most of our time relaxing.

Unfortunately, our flight back to Japan was delayed and we had to spend a night in Germany. Germany was nice and the food was good, but it was very cold and got dark at about 4:30.

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We had a great trip! Our favorite country was Portugal. The people were very friendly, everything was very cheap, and the English level was extremely high. I recommend it!

Hal KenetyComment
Radio MOMO 「Let's Enjoy English!」第38 - Setsubun・節分
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Dave-sensei will be on Radio MOMO (79.0FM) with D.J. Chiaki Kamibeppu on Thursday January 31st at about 5:40 pm. They will talk in English and Japanese about Setsubun and Groundhog Day.

1月31日(木)5時40分ごろにDave先生がRadio MOMOに出演します(DJは上別府千晶さん)。英語と日本語の両方で節分とグラウンドホッグデーについて話します。

http://www.fm790.co.jp/

David FulvioComment
New Year's Party
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On Saturday night we had NEO’s New Year’s party (新年会). Twenty NEO students got together with the staff (plus Tatsuki & Satoshi), so we had quite a large group.

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We got together at Maihara izakaya by the Daianji intersection downtown. It was my first time there and they served some interesting dishes, like fried asparagus that looked like fried shrimp.

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Our original plan was to stay at the restaurant for 2 hours, but we were all chatting so nicely that we were there for almost 3 hours! After we finished eating, we all gathered outside for a group photo.

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Some people went home or someplace else, but about 8 of us moved on to another place, a small bar called Tiki Bar Headhunter. This bar is run by my friend “Guchi” and has a Polynesian theme. Guchi also makes delicious fruity cocktails.

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By chance, there was a Jive Dance event going on that night. A group of people who enjoy 1940s - 1960s music, dancing and clothing gather there each month. One of the ladies grabbed me and asked me to dance. I’m not a great dancer, but I did take a dancing class way back in university, so I pulled out some of my old Jitterbug moves and had a great time dancing.

We all had a very nice evening and night. Thanks for coming out, everybody!

David FulvioComment