Last week was my school's annual three-day culture/sports festival. The theme was Cultural Fusion to show that the cultures of the previous girls' school students and the new Ritsumeikan students are blending together. (Their first suggestion was "Cultural Assimilation," but I vetoed that because it sounded like the girls were being assimilated by
Wednesday and Thursday were the "cultural" days of the festival, during which the students put on performances and clubs showed off their products. For example, a couple classes performed Cinderella, like this version in which all the supporting characters were wearing traditional Japanese clothes. My senior class did a retrospective of their three years--this is the one where I was recruited to play myself (except even more melodramatic). They had one scene where three girls had a conversation in front of a "mirror," with three other girls acting as their reflections as they fixed their hair and did such things as accidentally drop something. That got cries of amazement from the audience. Friday was the sports competition portion of the festival.
This week we were back to classes as usual...though getting the students back on task after all the festival excitement was a bit of a challenge. It will be interrupted yet again next week, as the second-year students are going on a class trip to Hokkaido. Friday afternoon I gave an after-school lesson to the group of students who will be going on a two week homestay in Australia over winter break. That was rather interesting, because about a third of them are freshmen, so I've never taught them before.
They also handed out the information about this year's faculty year-end party. The plan is for it to be held at a fancy hotel, and the meal is a Western food buffet. The price is about $80, about a quarter of which is for all-you-can-drink privileges. I looked at the sample list of items on the brochure for the buffet...out of about a dozen items, the only vegetarian offerings were a tomato/mozzarella dish, garlic bread, and an apple dessert. At least it's a buffet, so I can theoretically take as much as I want of the things I can eat. Tomato + mozzarella + bread is practically pizza, right? ...$60 pizza, to be sure.
The weather has turned cooler now that fall is here. The one thing I enjoy about the Japanese obsession with the seasons is that the food available during the fall is absolutely delicious. Sweet potatoes and pumpkins in particular abound.
...And speaking of pumpkins, I saw something interesting on the news the other day. Universal Studios Japan has recently opened a new Wizard of Oz attraction. As background, I must mention that there is a traditional summer beach game here called "split the watermelon." It's similar to the tradition of breaking a piñata in that participants are blindfolded, given a stick, and sent out to whack something. The main difference is that they whack a watermelon that is lying on the ground. (It doesn't even move! Where's the challenge in that?!) What I saw on the news was that USJ was having a special "split the pumpkin" event at the Wizard of Oz attraction in honor of Halloween. They gave out wicked witch costumes and brooms to children and had them whack on a giant pumpkin. It was certainly amusing.
Warcraft Update: Several weeks ago, my guild managed to reach the final boss of Molten Core, Ragnaros. We didn't take him down that time, but we got him to about 14% life. Today we ventured into another instance, the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. It's a 40-person instance, but we only had 24 people show up. Still, we managed to fight our way to the first boss.