To start with a cliché, has it really been just one week?Thanks to the amazing people I have met, there have been so many wonderful experiences and these unique insights into life in Japan are exactly why I wanted to spend so long volunteering in this fascinating country. The landmarks of Hanna Road are slowly becoming more familiar, although I would be lost without Shinri-san, Yani and Natalia to guide me. The blazing sunshine makes the water we supply even more essential and it is particularly rewarding to see a dusty corner return to life, such as the site of the recent car accident. Hopefully we won’t see any more of those!
As we go around the city it is impossible to ignore the preparations for the festival and the sense of excitement is infectious. Right now, I cannot imagine the one million visitors we will be welcoming and I know being involved will be both a privilege and a real highlight of my time here.
We have also been watching the teams practice, setting a very high standard for us to imitate as part of the international group joining the main parade on Sunday. What an honour! This also means we will soon be joined by another Workcamp, which will include two friends from the orientation weekend which seems so distant now. It was sad to bid farewell to the other group, although they truly inspired me with their enthusiasm and dedication to mastering the Japanese language. My own attempts to improve have begun with three lesson at Topia. These classes have definitely stretched me, but my desire to communicate to the wonderful people around me is providing good motivation.
To me, this is also about learning more than just the language. There is an entire culture to fathom out and I am extremely grateful to my patient guides. Food is an endless voyage of discovery, not just because of all the new things I am trying, but I have quickly realised that our regular breakfast stop is the social hub of our little corner of Tokushima and I love meeting familiar faces there most mornings.
My taste buds have been left in no doubt about the quality of Japanese produce as our talented cooks create masterpieces that are breathtaking in both presentation and simplicity. I think I will be on a constant mission in the UK to try and recreate my favourites. Cooking itself is also great fun for me, whether it is watching experts at work, or frantically learning etiquette from the locals around me. I just hope I don’t offend any of them with my frequent errors!
So, it is soon to be all hands to the deck for the festival ... and we can’t wait for the fun and games to begin.
Follow the rest of the adventures of Keira, our MTV volunteer in Japan, through her blog: