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Yushinkan update

Posted by Shaun

 This post is adapted from an email to my mom because I don't want to take the time to type the same thing more than once and apparently I update my relatives more than I update my blog.

I'm gradually learning how to do more things at Yushinkan. The other day one of the people working with me took the time to teach me out to use one of the hand-held touch screen computer things that all wait-staff in Japan uses to take orders (it then sends the data electronically to another device in the kitchen where the order info prints out). She came with me whenever I went to take an order and explained that I was a student and learning about the place and asked people if it was okay if it took a while for me to take down their order. Everyone was pretty chill with it, and they were really impressed with my Japanese. So it was a bit of a let down today when I was working with a different person and there was nothing to do (very few customers) and no duties being passed my way. In the entire 5 hours of work, I think I wiped down the tables in the dining area, did some dishes, cut grapes off their stems for a fruit plate, and at the very end I got to bring some food to customers and decorate some dessert parfaits. But it was a pretty dull day today, with an extra side dish of "no one will let me do anything because I'm awkward and foreign."
Tomorrow I have the day off because the company that brought Matt and I to Minakami is finally deciding to show us around town. I heard we are going to get to do the soba-making activity at Hourakukan and who knows what else. The next day my host family is taking me to Nikko, where there's a huge awesome waterfall I've really wanted to see, as well as other important stuff like Tokugawa Ieyasu's tomb and the hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil monkey statues. I asked if it was close, and apparently it's not really any closer than it is from Tokyo (about three hours), and our resident director said we might go there as a program in April, but whatever, I'm not gonna turn down a family trip.
The second to last thing on my Minakami schedule is some kind of interaction at the high school that I know nothing about. It's on the 6th, literally two days before I'm set to leave. Evidently the presentation about tourism for the mayor was a lie. Good thing I wasn't too excited about it, though it would have looked good on a resume.
It's been an interesting experience. A lot of people (especially my host mom) have expressed that rather than tourism they wish we would come teach English like in Shimane, so I'll be passing that information along. I'm not sure how to feel about it though. I wouldn't have particularly minded trying an English-teaching practicum if I didn't feel like competition for them was so steep, and it would be a cool opportunity for kids to have the opportunity to listen to and talk with a native English speaker in their English classes, but I don't really appreciate the pigeonhole that all foreigners are good for is English teaching...

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