The Parents Visit and other February adventures

February has come and gone really fast and still finished fun, but I had to say bye to my parents who must return to Toronto.

It started off really fun! Tori and I hiked Mt. Hikodake and thought we would be rewarded with views… instead we were just kinda sore the next day haha. The ladies that I played volleyball with asked me to join them for their new year’s drinking party on that same day – February 1st. I even convinced Tori to come along with us and we enjoyed “nomitai” or all you can drink. We found our new favourite drink that day. Lychee chuhai! It was super yummy.

“The top” of Mt. Hikodake
Volleyball ladies

On February 8, Tori and I drove to Youra Peninsula to see the Kawazu Zakura blossoms. They are a type of cherry blossom that blooms earlier than the infamous cherry blossoms that are more well known. These ones are also more of a hot pink, whereas the ones we’re more familiar with tend to be a pale pink. You can find them in Tsukumi, and also in Kawazu which is a city closer to Tokyo.

Tuesday February 11 was the Emperor’s Birthday so we had the day off from school. It was a good day to do some house cleaning and just relax.

My Neighbour, the cat
Cat Party

Mom and dad arrived in Fukuoka on Friday, February 21st so Tori and I drove to Fukuoka to meet up with them. We spent 3 nights there, looking around and playing “tourist”. During this time the Corona virus (COVID 19) threat was growing and it was pretty clear that the crowds that usually appeared in Fukuoka were smaller. I had visited Fukuoka at the end of November with Nikola and I had seen many tourists. This time, I didn’t pick out as many tourists from the crowds.

Some photos of our airbnb:

We walked a lot around Fukuoka, enjoying all the sight and foods that were different from Tsukumi.

When we returned to Tsukumi I showed my parents the Kawazu Zakura blossoms. They weren’t as bright pink anymore as they were nearing the end of their bloom, but they were impressive, nonetheless. Mom and dad drew comparisons of the landscape with areas in the Philippines they had grown up around. While I was at work during the day, they would walk around Tsukumi and sometimes talk to people. At one point, I had an older lady and two other ladies knock on my door. They were from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the older lady wanted to thank my parents for talking to her. Usually in the grocery stores, no one talks to me but there seems to be something about my parents that makes older people want to talk to them. Regardless if we understand Japanese or not, they’d go off about how the fish we were standing beside was really cheap and if you bought it fresh you could just slice it and eat it as sashimi. 

On Thursday, February 27 with the growing concerns over COVID 19, the Prime Minister of Japan announced that schools across Japan should close until the end of spring break. Spring break was supposed to be from March 27 – April 7. This would mean that schools would be closed for a month. This was really unfortunate for the students that would be graduating from elementary, junior high and high schools. The schools and their respective schoolboards acted accordingly. As of my writing this, there are no known cases of the virus in Oita. But students were forced to stay at home and teachers (including ALTs) were to come to work. The graduation would still be held on March 6.

I would only be able to attend one of the graduations out of the two schools that I work at. So, the students from the smaller school that I wouldn’t be attending left me some presents. At first my teacher asked me to come with him to clean the English room and I was so excited to finally do something that wasn’t just sitting around. When I got there, he told me to sit down in front of the TV and read the blackboard. On the blackboard he had written, “The 3rd grade students are sad that they won’t be able to see you because their last class was cancelled. So, they left you with 3 presents.”

The first present was a video of some students saying thank you for the past few months.

The second present was a video of the entire class singing and then saying thank you.

The third present was a bunch of hand-written notes that each and every student had written for me.

I was so sad because I wouldn’t be able to see them and thank them in person. So, I wrote out 30 letters in response to them. There are still some really kind students out there in the world!

I bawled.

Around the end of the month, a rumour had occurred that toilet paper was manufactured in China and there would be a shortage. Many people panic bought all the toilet paper and paper towel in stores. I had 5 rolls left and was a bit annoyed because when I actually needed toilet paper, I might not be able to purchase it… Over the weekend I drove my parents to Oita Station to show them around and every grocery store we stopped by had empty shelves. Eventually, while I was at work on Monday, my parents had gone grocery shopping and purchased a bag for me.

This wasn’t a funny joke.

So now, Tori and I sit here in Tsukumi a little bit anxious, waiting for things to cool down. We know that the virus itself probably wouldn’t kill us, but we don’t want to be carriers and potentially harm someone else who’s vulnerable. I am worried about the governmental controls that could cancel flights and close off borders, making it difficult to go home if necessary. It may sound a little selfish, but I was really looking forward to Spring Break. I also don’t like sitting at work and reading all day. I love reading, but it does get a little bit dull after a while. Oh well, we’ll just have to wait it out and see what happens.

Here are the books I read this month:

  • Lord of The Rings : Fellowship of The Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill – Abbi Waxman
  • The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
  • Inverted World – Christopher Priest

Here are the books I’ll be reading in the next while:

  • Know My Name – Chanel Miller
  • Mythos – Stephen Fry
  • Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
  • Circe – Madeline Miller
  • Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. – Brene Brown
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin

I’m always open to new book recommendations!! Please let me know if you’ve read something really interesting lately. 🙂

Until next post,


Update: I was writing this at school. Here’s my after-school update. After dropping my mom and dad off to Oita station so that they could take the bus to Fukuoka, I went to school. Today (March 3) I helped set up chairs and clean them down for graduation. I also helped make tissue paper flowers for decorating the graduating classes’ classrooms. Today was also the day the first case of Corona virus was found in Oita City. It was a woman in her 30s. Prior to this there weren’t any known cases in our prefecture.

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