Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Umbrella Incident

My host mum popped into school to see me on Monday afternoon. Although I don't actually live with her, she acts as a sort of guide to life in Japan, and it was really cool to see her again. Plus she brought her granddaughter along, who is probably one of the cutest children I have ever seen in my life! Have a look at the photo below if you don't believe me - she's the kind of kid who makes you want to have kids of your own.

Anyway, Igarashi-san has invited me round for New Year's Eve, which I'm really looking forward too. It should be really interesting to spend New Year with a Japanese family. New Year is the equivalent of Christmas over here - it's when all the families get together and eat traditional food, then after the clock strikes midnight they all troop off to the local shrine and ring the bell, which brings luck for the next year. Should be fun! And a little more spiritual than the English tradition of going to the pub and drinking until you fall off your chair.

But the visit was tainted by disaster. When Igarashi-san went to leave she realised that her granddaughter's umbrella was missing. It had been taken by one of the students! Soon, the vice captain of the school police arrived and offered his apologies to Igarashi-san. The incident was deemed to have brought "shame on the school" and had "dishonoured an important guest".

So the vice captain and me drove around the town in the rain for the next hour, trying to find a child-sized yellow umbrella with "Kuma no Pooh-san" on it (Mr Pooh the Bear, or Winnie the Pooh to you and me). Kinoshita-sensei was looking out for students carrying yellow umbrellas, and I was checking all the local convenience stores and bus stops, in case anyone had left it there. Unfortunately, it was to no avail.

Then today, a grave appeal was made to the students to return the umbrella during the school's closing ceremony. I could only make out part of what was being said, but the awkward silence of the students said it all. One of the teachers was even crying because she was so shocked that a student had stolen a six-year-old's umbrella.

The massive wheels of Japanese school justice are in motion.

So if any of you have seen a yellow umbrella with Pooh-san on it, let me know. I shall keep you updated on the situation, as and when it changes.

Your faithful correspondent, Lewis Packwood.


Blogger Lewis said...

Thank fully, this story has a happy ending. The umbrella was anonymously returned on Christmas Eve, which along with restoring the tattered reputation of the school, made one little girl very happy.

9:31 am  

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