Schifoarn ! – Skiing infrastructure at perfection – week 23

February 5, 2015

Last week was filled with events whereas this week was and still is filled with sickness!

With Leonard at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, both at home today and Linus at home tomorrow, my activities have been quite reduced. Both boys caught a virus at school that first makes you vomit and then leaves you with fever and sleepiness for about two days. Despite the fact that I had of course other plans, I enjoyed the time at home with Leonard and I am looking forward to my day with Linus tomorrow. I have never spent so much time with just one of them. It is interesting to see them react differently to the fact of being alone at home and of being sick – but in Linus’ defense I have to say that he suffered more as he did not stop vomitting the whole afternoon. Leonard just slept a few hours on Tuesday morning and was pretty much over it in the afternoon.

Australia, Korea, USA, China, Japan, Belgium, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, ...
Australia, Korea, USA, China, Japan, Belgium (Germany), Mexico, Thailand, Canada, …

But back to last week. Last Friday the International School of the Sacred Heart celebrated the One World Day. All children were asked to come in either their national costume or dressed in their national colours. So we borrowed a Dirndl from German friends and had the boys wear their Belgian football shirts – which by the way share the German colours. Yes, of course, I know it would have been much nicer to have them wear the German one with the four stars, but we don’t have them (a little hint for those who are looking for a present….). We had a great day at school which started with the parade of the primary school and kindergarten kids in the morning. After lunch the children had put together an impressive show in the gym with musical and sportive presentations from around the world. Not only my personal favourite: the high school girls from the Fidji Islands. 

When I asked the boys which show act they preferred they both smiled at me and said:

The dancing girls with the fur around their wrists!

The kindergarten and primary school choir was made up by children from 44 nations and over 70 children participated in the final parade greeting the audience in their native language. Lilo was the only German so she went on the stage all alone to say “Guten Tag”.  It was a very important day for us parents and for all those children who live in this incredible diversity and are taught mutual respect on a daily basis. The school is doing a wonderful job in raising the children’s awareness for their different cultures and religions. The killing of the Japanese hostage last weekend immediately affected the school community and made this One World Day even more important.

On Sunday we went skiing! What a great experience! We should have checked the weather forecast though because we ended up in a snow storm – but hey, you can’t have it all.
Together with our Danish friends Ditte and Jesper and their two children we took the Shinkansen to go about 200 km North West (in 77 minutes) to Gala Yuzawa. The train station is the valley station of the ski resort. This means you exit the train and you stand in front of the counters to buy the lift tickets. A few steps further you fill out the rental forms for the equipment you need. Should you be in doubt about your Japanese shoe size – no problem. There is a shelf with ski boots in all sizes to try on and find your size. Then you queue to get your equipment (it took us about 5 minutes). While queuing someone checks your form to make sure you filled everything in correctly. It took about 12-15 minutes from handing in our equipment rental form to receiving our ski gears and making the payment. Then you go to the dressing rooms to change. Large lockers help you safely store your belongings. Then you just take the escalator one floor up to get on to the gondola to the ski resort. I have never seen anything more convenient.

A very quick lunch before the skiing lesson
A very quick lunch before the skiing lesson

DSC_0213The large restaurant was a bit crowded at lunch time, but food was freshly prepared per order and not overly expensive. Having the kids in the skiing lesson gave us the time for a decent lunch and some ski runs. Apart from the fact that we could not see the sun (we had left Tokyo with clear blue sky!), that it was constantly snowing and that the wind was freezing cold, we had a good time. I could not even get myself to take my gloves off to take a picture of us adults skiing. It was just too cold. But the kids had an excellent 2h skiing lesson (in English) and were super happy. We will definitely be back there soon!

This week’s fun facts for you:

  • It does not snow very often in Tokyo and it seems that the thought of snow by itself causes chaos. If the weather forecasts announces snow for the Tokyo region, we receive an email from the school that school might be closed the next day and that decisions will be made at 6 am the next day to let us know. Of course we do receive an email at 6 am and so far school did not need to be closed. So this morning (before I learned that Linus threw up in school) I walked out of the house in the cold rain and was startled when a delivery van pulled out next to me with a rattling sound – snow chains! Not one of the snowflakes from the early morning had managed to survive. Better safe than sorry is the motto!
  • umbrella lockerYou will find some more interesting fun facts about Japan here. Missing on this list – and I have not seen them in any other country so far – are the umbrella lockers. You find them in front of every public building and they are really very convenient!
  • Counting in Japanese can drive you mad: I really like the Japanese language and I love its efficiency. But they are not very efficient when it comes to counting. There are numerical numbers (ichi, ni, san, yon) which have some exceptions when it comes to counting in the hundreds and thousands. The counting set is different: 3 breads are not bread san, no, they are bread mit-tsu. The first ten days of the months as well as the 14th, the 20th and the 24th day of the month have special date counters. Long objects and flat objects are counted differently: three baguettes are baguette-o 3-bon, but three plates are osara-o 3-jai.  Twice is 2-kai, but the second floor is 2-kai as well which can be a little bit misleading…. But in Kanji those two “kai” have different signs my teacher told me today. Well, it is a cold comfort as Kanji is still so far away….

That’s it for this week. Let’s hope there is no more snow coming on the weekend so we can all relax and have a good time!

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