This is Life

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I am the Jenga King

I don't know what I should address first - the Jenga issue or the real meat and potatoes of this post. I suppose, in order to keep the subject matter light, at least for a little while, let's talk about Jenga. Since I returned to Japan after Christmas it seems like everywhere I go someone starts up a good ol round o Jenga. Previously, I have never heralded this game as anything more than ordinary, but the truth is, this game could change the world. I mean, its just plain fun. The way I see it, if you had good old George W. in a room with the insane Iranian, the more insane Kim Jong Il, and heck, why not invite Chavez for good measure, you might have a pretty intense situation. You have two options to break the tension. One would be to get Russell Peters to come in and do a short routine. If, per chance, Russell isn't available, then you bring out the Jenga. These boys would be having some good times in no time and before you know it ... world peace. Anyway, just a thought. I have been enjoying it and have crowned myself Jenga King. My buddy Andy was the self-proclaimed Kashiwazaki (my town) Jenga King, but then he had one too many drinks and promptly lost the game pathetically early. I, on the other hand, have gone on not losing. Generally speaking, the object of Jenga is to not lose. So, that's what I have done ... not lose ... consistently. One such non-loss convinced me that I am the Jenga King. The tower was over double original height, wobbling like a new born wildebeest (nice metaphor, huh?), yet somehow I managed to pull out (pun fully intended) the miraculous non-loss. It almost feels as good as being the 2002 World Champion Adidas Internet Soccer Game guy. Actually, that was pretty cool.

On a more serious note, in the past 4 weeks I have probably experienced some of the worst times of my life. I have never felt so down and so helpless. The reason for this is that I have had to decide whether or not to leave Japan and return to Canada in the summer. Initially, I tried to have my contracting organization decide for me. I told them that I needed to go back to Canada for all of August to have knee surgery. I was thinking that they would find this unreasonable, but they said it would be no problem. Then I went to family and friends for advice, which I received, but I still had no answer. Ultimately, this was a decision I was going to have to make on my own. In the end, I decided that I will be returning to Canada in the summer.

You may not understand why this decision was so hard so I will try and explain it. First of all, the job is very cushy. I get paid for 35 hours per week of work, maybe a third of which is actually in class teaching. I live alone in a big house in the richest town in Japan and I don't have to pay rent. I have lots of holiday time I can use for traveling. My job is usually quite fun and seeing the kids with smiling faces is very rewarding. I am enjoying learning the language. I enjoy living here and the people I have met here. I have relationships that I do not want to see end. On the down side, my job is not challenging and often boring because of all the down time. Also, another year here would not really help me prepare for my future. Ultimately, I chose to leave because I know that if God wants me here in the future then He will make it happen. Somehow I see myself connected to Japan for the rest of my life so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Anyway, I am not one to get stressed out, but I was literally nauseous and could not eat. I had been given four extensions from when I was originally supposed to decide what I would do. Finally, I had to put this situation in God's hands, something I thought I had already done. To be honest, I don't really want to leave. I could probably live in Japan the rest of my life if I had to (don't get me wrong, I like Canada better), but I need to find a career.
So, if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know. For the praying folk out there reading this, I could really use your prayers. God bless.

Now, back to the purpose of this blog ... travel. As I said in the last entry, I would be visiting some cool, old-fashioned Japanese farmhouses. First, we went to a town called Takayama, which literally means High Mountain. This town was full of really interesting sights, including a very well preserved old town. The houses and buildings in this area look the same as they did before electricity was commonplace and it is a very charming area. Takayama is also famous for its unique culture, which developed due to its isolation and climate. The region is well known for immense amounts of snow and the traditional architecture reflects that. In Takayama there is a fantastic open air museum that recreates a village as it would have existed in the not too distant past. All of the buildings are originals that have been transported from other areas within the region. It was really interesting to see all the different styles of farmhouses and how the people adapted to these harsh conditions.

All around the town I kept noticing these strange red dolls. They looked liked little devils to me, but who knew, they were really supposed to be monkeys. I was way off. In fact, it seemed to me that these were a provincial mascot. One of the interesting characteristics about Japan is every region has something uniquely marketable. Due to the Japanese custom of always bringing souvenirs back to your coworkers, friends and family there are countless souvenir shops around the country. So, with every region having something unique to market they are pretty much guaranteed to sell, no matter how ugly or bizarre the trinket is. Ah, Japan.

Anyway, this post is long enough. To summarize, I will say that Takayama and Shirakawa of Gifu prefecture are two of the most charming and interesting places I have been to in Japan. If you get a chance, I highly recommend it. Check out the pictures.

Next up ... Tokyo DisneySea and Yokohama.


At 11:16 PM, Blogger Dan said...

I told you this before Deano, but I thought I'd leave a comment so that you know that I do read your blogs...often...from time to time...on occasion...just the first and last paragraphs.

Seriously, I admire your faith. You will be rewarded.

At 2:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey buddy, definitely a tough decision, I do trust that you are doing what's not only best for you emotionally, but spiritually as well. I think as you get back home and immersed here, you'll find it encouraging to be surrounded by your brothers and sisters...if you know what I mean. I'll be praying that God would give you a peace and an excitement about the decisions that you make.

June Duk

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

i guess this means i won't be coming to sleep on your couch for several months ... ah well, when you get home we'll have a huge u2 tribute night with guitar mauling and horrible croaking sounds - what could be better than that? seriously i will continue to pray for you, that the grace of God will grab and hold you. keep on.


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