Wednesday, 9 December 2009

PostHeaderIcon A gaijin and his skirt

Haud yer wheesht ya wee bawbags. A kilt ISNAE a sukaato... awright?

Look at me in my kilt everyone. I thought it was about time I wore my national dress since I stole... inherited... it from my dad in the summer. I had been teaching my junior high school students about Scottish customs, traditions and the like for the month of November. Surprisingly... haggis was particularly well received even when I explained what it involved. It seems that in a country where every part of an animal is eaten (I've often had chicken livers/ cartilage/heart as well as cow intestines/stomach) there was no problem with the concept. Indeed, some of the students even gave it an OIIISHHIIISOOOO rather than recoiling in horror. Indeed, they all remembered it when I told them the sgian dubh (small knife in the sock) was used for ceremonially slicing it up.

My plan was to conclude the Scottish lessons with the wearing of my kilt on St Andrew's Day. Instead... the students had an English test that week that nobody thought to tell me about. Nevertheless, I proudly walked to school on Monday morning in preparation for my fantastic internationalising. This began with me running late for school because it took me ages to put it on and I was scared I would ruin it by driving there. Therefore, I embarked on the ten minute walk to school. I was of course expecting a few extra stares than usual but as I passed the convenient store/train station car park I caused an accident. As I was crossing the road I noticed a woman was staring at me from inside her car. In doing so she slowly crashed into the car in front of her and narrowly avoided another man who was walking between the two cars. I completely ignored the drama because I was late for school and because I found it exceptionally amusing walking away to a chorus of GOOOMMEEEN NAAASAAAIIIiiiiii....

Internationalising the world with my sexy legs.

When I arrived at school I first saw the P.E coach who merely chuckled through the haze of his early morning smoke. He said I looked like Burevuhaato as I hastily made my way through the staff room gasps to get to my first class. As I walked up the hall towards the classroom I could see the row nearest the door and their reaction was priceless. Two of the girls screamed and one boy just looked at me in shock before shaking his head. The latter amused me because usually they like to show off to each other but that was a deeply personal moment for him alone. He did not look impressed throughout the class. Anyway, my half of the lesson went much better than expected for every grade. I explained all the usual stuff about the history, traditions... when it was worn... what each part meant. I tried to make a few Japanese connections by explaining the similarity to "family/clans", how a kilt was similar to a kimono, how traditionally men got a kilt at their coming of age (still a very important day in Japan) and even how there is a sakura tartan (cherry blossom tartan for the Japanese tourists). The girls in the class were embarrassed as usual and refused to go near me whilst the boys were obsessed about what was under my kilt. They taught me a few useful words.

I brought my hip flask full of lovely Islay single malt to explain what a sporran was for. I took a cheeky swig after my last class. What a rebel.

After I had left the shocked and smitten school in my wake... I headed to a local temple on the way home in an attempt to take some artistic photographs. I was hoping to achieve a blending of Scottish and Japanese history in a unique snapshot of mutual cultural appreciation. Instead, I panicked and trampled all over Japan with my massive boots. Indeed, not only did I take an awful picture with no flash... but I got covered in spider web and nearly fell backwards into a ditch. Also... I got another shout from some construction workers who were digging up the road at the bottom of the temple steps. I had previously passed them on the way there with a cheery wave and a konnichiwa and was greeted with facial reactions that words can't describe. Also, there was an old woman who didn't move from the moment I went up the temple and returned down the stairs. I don't think her brain could process what was going on.

Just awful

As I was about to leave the temple I noticed a pilgrim was walking towards me from the other entrance. It must have been my new found confidence in knowing that I looked completely ridiculous but I approached him because I wanted a photograph. Even as I was walking towards him I was preparing my Japanese explanation about cultures but before I could say a word he ran off. He actually ran behind a temple to get away from me. I tried shouting on him but he just waved his arms in a gesture that suggested "getawaygetawaygetaway". Congratulations pilgrim... you have set back my desire to reach out to Japanese people for another 3 months. On the way down the stairs I jumped over a concrete fence and probably flashed my arse.

Just buying some Muse tickets in rural Japan... as you do.

The rest of the day had similar reactions from all age groups. Some elementary school children ran towards me before changing their minds at the last minute and ran away screaming. Thus concluded my day of internationalising the rural folk of Kochi prefecture. I wonder if I'm possibly the first person in Kochi to wear a kilt? I'd like that. I like to think everyone who saw me on Monday ended up talking about me at their dinner table that evening. I'll leave you with some advise that I told my students today about how to pronounce kilt. I said it's called a kilt because if you say sukaato... I WILL KILL YOU! I'm a great ambassador for my country.


nevaH said...

Jeez. You'd think a culture with a traditional garb that's "basically a dress" would be a little more open to a traditional garb that's "basically a skirt".

Anonymous said...

anymer ae you wee japmen call it a skirt n we'll chib ae lot ye

R said...

As a Scottish student with tenuous ambitions to do pretty much the precise thing that you have, this blog is absolutely invaluable, thanks so much. These pictures are really something else.

Anonymous said...

nice skirt! i heard when scotish man get married they have to wear those skirt.
Im from indonesia and falling love with almost japanese manga.
love to read your story about japan.
by the way I heard also there are economy problem occur in japan recently.

Ahoy hoy said...

My blog is "invaluable"... I'm liking that comment a lot. I should stick in the banner at the top.

Yes... Scottish people wear a kilt at weddings. We look great.

Thanks for the comments chaps.

Kat said...

Random browsing lead me here (ok, so I was reading up on English teachers in Japan). Love this entry, and was laughing throughout the entire thing. It reminded me of the stories my cousin used to tell when he lived in Scotland, wore kilts for dance festivals. Of course, he was around six years old back then, but he remembers them vividly.

And that accident is like a page of a manga, it really cracked me up.

Ahoy hoy said...

I'm glad you liked it. I'm trying to figure out when I'll wear it again. I'd feel bad if I got someone killed. It's not their fault they can't ignore my sexy calfs.

Anonymous said...

Haggis sounds kind of awful. I mean, who cares that it's the heart and lungs or how it's cooked; I would never imagine a pudding of meat and oatmeal together would taste good...

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.