This summer, Haru will be attending summer camp for a week at the American School in Japan (ASIJ). This is another effort to get her confident in speaking English. She has a decent sized vocabulary. Probably not as big as most native English speakers her age, but definitely more than a majority of Japanese kids. However, her main issue is that she has hard time forming complete sentences. I think this is mainly due the lack of confidence. I am not expecting her to come away from this summer camp being able to speak fluent English, but I do hope it instills some confidence in her to be able to at least try to speak some more English at home with me.
Over the weekend, we visited the ASIJ Roppongi campus which was VERY nice. It was a lot bigger than I imagined it to be. There were several classrooms, and each of the classrooms were quite big, and very equipped with books, pens, makers, paint,construction paper, glitter, origami, toys, etc. Everything that a kid Haru’s age loves to play with. And unlike the current kindergarten she is attending now, the classrooms are oriented in a way that encourages kids to play in groups, which I remember how kindergarten was for me. The reason for the visit was to attend and orientation meeting and to get an idea of what this school was all about. It also gave Haru a chance to meet and play with the other kids and the instructors who will be a part of the summer camp.
When we entered the class, we were immediately greeted by an English speaking instructor. She asked Haru what her name is, and Haru immediately became flushed in embarrassment and shyness, but she was able squeak out her name Haruka Victoria, which I was surprised because she usually refers to herself as just Haru-chan. The instructor wrote Victoria on her name tag and called her Victoria for the rest of the day, which Haru didn’t seem to have any objections to. She was then immediately whisked off to the other side of the room where a couple instructors sat with her and spoke to her in English while drawing pictures. As expected, Haru didn’t do much talking, but I could hear her quietly and saying yes and no, as the instructors asked her some questions. When one of the instructors asked her what color marker she wanted to use, Haru was able answer “yellow” in English, so it does seem that she is absorbing some of the things I had taught her.
As the other parents and their kids started to arrive, Haru continued to sit at the table with the instructors and draw pictures while holding a conversation in English. As my wife and I looked around the room a bit more, I noticed a very peculiar looking yet familiar looking man walk in with his family. He was peculiar looking, because his clothes were a bit, well…let’s say a bit bright (to use a polite term), almost as if he had mistakenly worn his baggy pajama pants with relatively normal looking top and jacket. He was also wearing really odd looking mirrored sun glasses (we were indoors by the way), and a VERY big and expensive looking wrist watch. His family looked very average in contrast to him which made him stand out even more.
I couldn’t help but to stare at pajama man, but not because his clothes looked so mismatched, but because he looked so oddly familiar. I kept thinking, I know I don’t know this person and never met him, but I know I have seen him before. He wasn’t too tall, and looked a bit straggly but looked to have money at the same time. At a glance, he sort of reminded me of Dudley Moore from the movie Arthur. At that moment, he looked straight at me and our eyes met, so I was about to turn away because I didn’t want him to think I was staring at him (even though I blatantly was). But I figured that if turned away, it would make things even more awkward, so I kind of gave him what probably looked like a very odd and insincere smile, partially because it really was an odd and insincere smile, which only served to make thing even more awkward. Pajama man returned an even more awkward and goofier smile at which point I finally realized who he was from his somewhat goofy looking over bite, and half shaved and pointy eyebrows.
Trying not to be super obvious, I turned to my wife and asked, doesn’t that guy look like Tsunku （つんく ）? She nonchalantly took a glance at him and responded and answered yes he does. A few minutes and a few more glances later, she came back to me and whispered, OMG..that’s him! Of course, I am not particularly a huge Tsunku fan ( lead vocal of the Japanese pop group SharamQ, and producer of Morning Musume, a famous and popular girl group -from the late 90’s to 2000’s), but I do have a few of his song on my iphone, and of course its always a rush to see a famous celebrity in person. I was a bit tempted to walk over and strike up a conversation with him, but figured that he gets that a lot. And since he was with his family, he probably didn’t want to bothered with the celebrity treatment. So for most of the day, I tried stayed out of
pajama man’s Tsunku’s way, while trying to inconspicuously attract his attention at the same time…didn’t work.
We attended the orientation meeting which lasted about an hour or so. Before the orientation started. A little boy walked into the auditorium crying. At that point my wife made a pretty genius move and quietly murmured , someone’s cute little boy is crying, just loud enough for his father, which so happened to be Tsunku, who was sitting a couple of row in front of us, to hear. He stood up, glanced back at us and said…Oh, that’s my son…thanks! And flashed his big goofy smile at us and walked out to tend to his son.
Overall, Haru seemed to have had a good time at playing with the other kids, and the instructors were very nice. Hopefully things goes as well this summer. And Tsunku, if you are reading this, I fully pardon you for your big puffy pajama pants…am I not merciful?