- no line of parents in their behemoth SUVs dropping off and picking up students. There is the odd car that drives up and drops a kid off, but almost all kids walk or ride bikes to school. No school buses either. And I see kids all along my route, so it seems some kids have a bit of a walk or bike ride to get there.
- students wear matching uniforms. The guys have blue pants, blue sports coat jackets, white shirts, and ties. The girls wear skirts (supposedly knee length, but most wear them quite a bit above that) and have jackets. They also have knee height socks which I was told they use glue to hold up (no elastic in the socks?). The girls look like they would be rather chilly, especially in the mornings when temps here are around freezing (they aren't wearing nylons or tights). There doesn't seem to be too much room for variation in the uniforms.
(note - I borrowed the picture of the girls from the web site http://www.jinjapan.org/kidsweb/cool/97-4-6/fashion.html. I couldn't bring myself around to taking up close pictures of the students here - I felt like I'd be looked at as a stalker...)
Interesting, I don't recall having seen any police officers in the week plus that I have been here. Japan has a very low crime rate, so I imagine that police are not really needed. So maybe I could have stalked them...
Went to an ofuro (Japanese public bath) with some of the other students last weekend. This was slightly different than the one I went to in Nagano two years ago - that one was actually an onsen. The difference is that an onsen uses hot water directly from a hot spring, where an ofuro uses tap water. This bath had indoor cold and hot pools, an outdoor hot pool, and a dry sauna. The hot pools had little sections where you could sit and have jacuzzi bubbles jetted at you. They varied in seating arrangements (from lying down to sitting upright) to pressure of jets and bubbles (one was super powerful - almost washed you away).
There was one seat with no bubbles and a sign above it which said denki onsen (electric hot bath). I had been warned about this, so knew that this bath has a light electric charge in it. I tried it just to see what it is like, but I am not sure I will do it again. Bit of a weird feeling, overall. Makes your skin tingle, and some of your muscles contract on their own. And I am not sure what it was doing to my private parts was all that healthy...
I am not too modest - walking around naked in a large room full of men doesn't bother me. But it was kind of weird to see this fully clothed lady (someone who worked at the bath) walk through the area. No one seemed to notice her, nor did she seem to notice anyone of the naked men.
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