Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ready, steady, go

Today a very special guest appeared at Calum's school. The children all gathered and waited excitedly in the Large Hall. Lots of mums (and a few dads) were there too. The children practised a song as a present for the special guest. He was a bit late so they practised it again - and again. And then he arrived - Atsunori Inaba. Now, for those of you who know nothing about baseball, the name will be completely meaningless. But he is one of the star players of the Sapporo pro team, Fighters. And he has just embarked on a tour of all of the primary schools in Hokkaido (1300 of them) over the next five years. Today was the very first and it so happened that Calum's school had the honour. No one we spoke to seemed to know why. As he entered the hall, the children (and teachers!) bounced up and down doing what they call the 'Inaba jump'. During this tour Inaba will present batons to each school to be used at their school sports day. He has inscribed a message on the batons - roughly translated 'Run your best!' Today he spoke to the children and encouraged them not just to do their best in sports, but in study - and in doing what their mums tell them! It was great to watch the event and the cultural interplay that happens as a school welcomes a superstar into their midst. Lots of bowing and impeccably executed speeches, particularly by children. It was good that we could both be there and again just be visible in the school on a day when many others had gathered. We have discovered that people are getting to know us and know why we're here, even if they are not people we have ever spoken to. The word gets round.

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