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Adventures in Shiiba - November 1994
Erik Kassebaum

Oh No! Not Another Undokai

On October 9, I went to yet another undokai. This time it was just for Shiiba Village. As I had just gotten over a cold I was not ready to do a lot of running. My goal for this event was to walk around, talk to people, and eat some good food. I managed to do a pretty good job up until 2 pm. At 2 pm a friend from my office came to me and said "Erik, I need you to run anchor for the B.O.E. relay team - onegai shimasu." Well to make a long story short I ran anchor for my office's team in a very strange relay race. My team used a broom and a bag of garbage as a baton. Another team used a chainsaw, and still another used a large box. Comedy race? Yes!!!

Well, as per tradition I was the last person to cross the finish line. Though I am tall, I am not fast. After the race many of my Junior High School students said to me in English "Erik you run slowly." Their parents were more polite and continued to tell me in Japanese that I was very fast. It's been more than a week and my students are still trying to find new ways to joke in English about how slowly I run. The undokai was a lot of fun and I am glad that I went. I am even glad that my students are telling a few jokes about me in English.


When English teachers who are new to Miyazaki-ken ask me about life in inaka I sometimes joke with them and tell them that it is like living in a fishbowl and that privacy can only be found in a dictionary, or a different prefecture. I try to keep current with respect to issues relating to Japanese who are about my age and the notion of privacy is a common theme. I come from a place where privacy is regarded as being very important. Sometimes, when people move to villages where relationships with neighbors are closer, problems can develop. This is due to the fact that both have different ideas as to what privacy is. Interestingly enough, many people who move from villages to big cities find that they miss the feeling of being connected to one"s community. As an outside observer, it looks like the Japanese concept of privacy is changing.

Driving With Your Lights On

Driving with your headlights on during the day is not a sign of insanity. In Canada and Sweden all cars must have their lights on when driven. Currently, Australia is studying whether to adopt a "lights on" policy with respect to all motor vehicles. In America, motorcycles are required to drive with their lights on and there are many roadways where cars must drive with their headlights on. Police and driver's license agencies throughout America and Europe acknowledge that it is safer to drive with your headlights on. It is especially important to have your lights on when driving on narrow twisty roads, during bad weather, before the sun rises, and after the sun sets.

Procrastination -- Hobby or Disease?

Sorry!!! Ran out of time, I'll try get to this topic next month. I hope you understand.