Rokkasho

[Taylor]

Today I made my first visit to Rokkasho High School and it was wonderful.

Although Rokkasho is technically a village it is also the hub of several nuclear powerplants and fushion-based research projects.  Consequently it is flushed with cash despite its quiet, bucolic location.  The facilities attract engineers from around the world including a handful of folks from Spain and France.  They usually enroll their kids in the private international school, but I did meet an American student today on an exchange program.

The classes were amazing — very well-behaved but also willing to have a little fun.  One class in particular was quite memorable.  My co-teacher warned me ahead of time that they were the “loud” class.  This turned out to be an oversimplification.  When I walked in the room, yes, they were very loud.  However, every time I spoke they were attentative, respectful, and silent.  Then I would ask them a question or invite them to respond or participate and it was like an explosion of English.

For example:

Me, “I like basketball.  Do you like basketball?”

A female student in the corner, “OH YEAH!  I LIKE basketbaaaall!!!!!!!!!”

Genki desu.

After my lessons I caught the only bus that goes through Rokkasho in the afternoon.  In the morning I received a ride from a teacher who took the Shimokita Expressway; a nice highway that eats a few minutes off the commute and offers a grand view of the surrounding landscape as well as a fleeting glimpse of Mutsu Bay.  Our bus, on the other hand, weaved through the serpentine country roads that lead into the woods.  Red and yellow tinged leaves of decidious trees were interspersed between the hiba cypress evergreens.  As we came around one corner, we witnessed a man harvesting rice on his farm.  The mixture of the golden hue of the rice with the green grass, colored leaves, white tractor, and blue sky was a brilliant display of color on par with some experiences I have had viewing the aurora borealis in Alaska.  As I looked away from the window I thought to myself how fortunate the people of Aomori-ken are to see such spectacles so regularly.  Then, as I looked forward again, I saw that the people on the bus, including the driver, were looking at the same farm with the same sense of wonder.

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