Slice of Life: Exams, Valentine’s Day, & Spring

It sure feels like spring has arrived! But I was warned by one of my students that I shouldn’t be too excited just yet, because as soon as I let my guard down about the snow & cold, it will suddenly return as a shock. It was a week ago that she was telling me this, and 2 days later, sure enough – it snowed! But it has been (mostly) beautiful since then! I even got a little sunburn on Sunday at the sake festival in town. Cherry Blossoms will be here before we know it!

This is a busy and nervous time of year for families in Japan with school-age kids – 1 week ago students here spent all day taking entrance examinations for high schools and today they get their results. It has been a very nervous week for most of them! Each student has an assigned number and the students who passed the top level will find their numbers posted today. If their number isn’t there, they must take another exam and will most likely have to pay more for their high school education.

Last week Thursday was White Day: in Japan, on Feb. 14, girls five chocolates to friends and boys. A month later on March 14, the boys have their opportunity to reciprocate, traditionally with marshmallows?! which are not as popular, so white chocolates are generally given instead. I received these pink flowers and a super cute little bear cake- all chocolate!

cute bear cake, Cute Japan bear cake, cute chocolate cake, white day flowers

Last Friday the new teachers arrived in town and on Saturday evening, we had our goodbye/welcome dinner party with our friend & colleague, Kuniko, our franchise owner, the new teachers, and some of our adult students. We had a few Japanese dishes that we’ve never had before (I’m sure we’ll be trying new dishes until the day we leave Japan!) and then most of us went to karaoke for a couple hours afterwards! Way more fun than the party when we first arrived! 🙂 Both of us female teachers got a beautiful flower bouquet as well from our school owner. Here’s my bouquet, making use of some empty bottles for a vases:

Bouquet of Flowers Japan, thank you flowers Takayama Bouquet of Flowers Japan, thank you flowers Takayama

And our after dinner picture – not the best picture, but I am still happy for the older woman who took the photo with my phone – low light and blur is better than nothing!

Dinner with friends in Takayama, welcome goodbye dinner