Home > Japan, School, Trips > Where-in Dash plays volleyball and scares people. Also, he dances

Where-in Dash plays volleyball and scares people. Also, he dances

It has been a busy few days! That seems to be becoming a recurring theme here in Japan. Where to begin? Well, where I left off would be a natural place to start. I left off saying that I was going to a volleyball tournament on Saturday. And go I did!

The invitation I received was from one of my teachers at 如水小学校(Jyosui). He said something like:

“Da-shi-ru san, this Saturday in the morning there is a volleyball game. Do you want to come play?” I naturally responded with a emphatic: “Un! Zehi!” meaning “Uhuh! definitely!” “Good” he said. I will pick you up at eight on Saturday.”

At 7:55 AM I find myself standing outside my apartment in shorts and a t-shirt, and, in typical Japanese fashion, my colleague showed up exactly as the imaginary church inside my head dinged its eighth bell. (The point here being that he was right on time.) Off we went to the volleyball tournament. Actually, we first went to meet the other teachers, and we carpooled from there. The reason we met up was that the tournament was in fact, in Oita-city, approximately an hour and a half away by car. I had imagined some local tournament, but apparently it was the Oita prefecture Education Department’s 16th Annual Mini-volleyball tournament. There were 28 teams, each with eight or more players. Needless to say I was the only foreigner there. Stares? Abound! Mouths? Agape! Stumbles? Aplenty! The Opening Ceremonies started promptly at 10. Ever the land of ceremony, even a friendly tournament has to have an opening and closing ceremony. There was team bowing, team sitting, and team stretching. After the opening ceremonies as we awaited our first match, I was encouraged jokingly by my team mates to jump as high as I could when blocking (the net was only 2.25 meters tall) and yell loudly every time I did. This was to ensure a swift victory, as horrified Japanese teachers from all over the prefecture would be petrified by my sight, sound, and smell. Ultimately, these tactics were not necessary as we won our two games anyway, and were declared victors of our group. Because it was a friendly tournament, there was no final round. I was very much looking forward to playing against all the teams, and was really getting into the volleyball thing, but even the two games were a lot of fun.

As a reward, the entire school staff is having an enkai, or party, to celebrate our impressive friendly victories. After the tournament, three of the male teachers and I went to an Onsen, or hot spring. I had deftly managed to avoid this particular Japanese treat for nearly five months my previous time in Japan. On Saturday, however, there was no choice to be had. Nudity was to be experienced. Stares? Abound! Mouths? Agape! Stumbles? Aplenty! Actually, it wasn’t anything like that, but I enjoy the repetition. It wasn’t awkward or anything, but the water was extremely hot (it’s not called a hot spring for nothing I guess) and along with the extremely hot and muggy weather outside, it was not the most comfortable experience in the world. To add to this, I did not bring a change of clothes, so from the Onsen I had to get back into my sweaty clothes, entirely negating the cleansing process. No doubt I will be attending an onsen again, and that time I will get the entire process right, and it will be enjoyable because it will be in the winter, when the heat of the water is actually appreciated, not regretted.

That was my Saturday. On Sunday, I got a call from Natalie saying: “Do you want to go to Oita? There’s a huge festival there. We can meet up with some of the other JETs in the area. So off we trekked to Oita city. Actually, we stopped at a town called Hiji to meet our two friends Nathan and Meghan, who have managed to find themselves a gorgeous apartment overlooking the water, which is pretty much equidistant between their two respective working places. They can see Beppu and Oita from their house in the distance. We also met Dave there, another JET from the town of Yamakuni, a bit up north. We would all be spending the night at the apartment, and were then informed that there were neither sheets, nor pillows, nor breakfast for our comfort and enjoyment. It being Japan, the floors are quite comfortable (we sleep on them in one way or the other anyway) so this was not such a problem.

From Hiji, we went on to the town where the festival was. As you may have heard me mention before, it has been Obon season in Japan, a series of festivals welcoming back the Japanese ancestors. This festival/dance was the final festival of Obon season, where they say goodbye to the ancestors who will not return for another year. As we were enjoying the “dancing”, a group of people came up to us and asked us if we wanted to join them in the dance. Unbelievably uncharacteristically, I immediately agreed. No, I had not been drinking. It’s a once in a life time kind of experience, so I was very excited to go. They took us out into the open space, and told us to just follow their lead. After about thirty minutes, I got the hang of it. 45 minutes in, they changed the dance, and sped things up. I am quite sure I was looking like quite an idiot out there, but I think I made myself proud in the end. Of course I wasn’t able to get any pictures myself, but maybe Nathan and the others were able to capture some of us on camera. The whole dance probably lasted about an hour or maybe a little longer, and I do believe I have now said goodbye to my entire line of ancestors, along with a few ancestors of other families I have never met before. After the dancing there were fireworks, which I got on tape.

Monday and Tuesday all the Oita Prefecture JETs had our prefectural orientation, but that is another story for another day. I wonder if there will be a weekend in Japan were I will have absolutely nothing to share with you all? That’ll be the day. I’m sure you’ll be thanking me for giving your eyes a rest from these blocks of text. This is important stuff I’m doing though! It has to be shared with the world.


  1. Joel
    August 28, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Hey, just found this blog via your facebook page. Looks pretty cool. I’ll have to drop by more to see your take on the wonders of Nakatsu and Oita.

  2. Tim
    August 31, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Ha, now they need to bring you to play batminton (sp)

  3. Winnie
    September 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I want to go the hot springs >_< technecilly you could never be naked due to a sweater and leggings u always wear j/k … or am i… Come back and dance for us 🙂

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