Parent Observations and Roasting Yams with Neighbours

It’s almost the end of my fourth month working as an English teacher. In the beginning of May, I started three weeks of “Parent Observations” (P.O.s), where parents observe lessons delivered to their children by yours truly. It’s an opportunity for parents to see how their investments have been utilized, and I can’t help but feel nervous to demonstrate my still-very-new skills of teaching to several pairs of watchful eyes.

Now in my third and final week of P.O.s, I can hardly hold my excitement for this coming Friday. Most of my lessons have gone fairly well, and to my great relief, have seen the look of many happy faces at the end of class. That being said, I’m looking forward to return to normal classes free of the extra self-awareness that comes with being observed.

While throwing myself into the long hours of preparation for this past month, I realized I had forgotten where I was: Japan. 10 months ago I first arrived in Japan, and 4 months later I successfully received a work visa. My residency card made my status of living and working in Japan feel even more, well, official. I’ve done my best to keep a record of some the wonderful experiences I’ve had in my short time here. One of the reasons I created Lost in Kyushu was so that I had something to look back on, 10, 20, and even 50 years from now. As I looked back through my past posts, I noticed a post that was left unpublished, deep in my drafts folder.

In late 2018, I was invited to a yam roasting by my friend from the gym, Mac-san. Along with him, his wife, a neighbour, and Michi-san (also from the gym), we stood around the fire to roast yams that we hoed the previous months beforehand).

Using brambles cleared from the yard, we all took turns stoking the fire. I stood a little closer to the flames – it was cold outside! Eventually, the fire gave out a deep, smouldering heat. We took yams wrapped in wet newspaper and tinfoil and placed them within the embers.

About an hour later: A syrupy, golden mess of beautiful, delicious yams. 🤤

At this moment, I’m looking out my extra bedroom window. There’s the neighbour’s modern style house with large lot across the way. A garden spans half of the lot, and there’s an eruption of pink and white flowers that seem to be spreading throughout the neighbourhood. June is coming, and the weather is quite the opposite from that day roasting potatoes by the fire. With the temperature already said to peak 30 degrees by next week, I’m hearing many groans from locals about the impending heat wave of summer. Regardless, I’m feeling excited for the summer and to be able to explore more of the unknown parts of Kyushu. With all the stress of Parent Observations coming to a close, I’m looking forward to filling my time with more fun, sometimes weird and very exciting moments.

So that all said, more coming soon.