In the Ghetto
Two of the schools where I work are really nice; one was built just 7 years ago. A teacher described it to me as a “hotel” on our way there the first time. I thought it was just Engrish at work again, but it kind of does look like a hotel. Looks aside, the students are all pretty good. There are some rough and rowdy kids, but on the whole they’re not bad.
And one of my schools is in the ghetto.
Well, it’s not actually in the ghetto. It’s close though. In my town there’s an old and new part. The new part is really, really nice. There’s a science city with research and development companies and important national resources. Everything’s fast and shiny and modern. The old part is, well, old. But the real division is behind the train tracks in the old section, where things turn really run-down. Yes, this Japanese ghetto, if you can imagine such a thing, is literally on “the wrong side of the tracks.” (Amusingly, my first apartment was directly behind those tracks.) It looks it, too– old and crumbling, doors that don’t open, doors that won’t stay shut, and broken windows that have been covered up with tape and cardboard. Old. That’s the key word; everything’s just old.
The students, well… the ninensei are all adorable. They don’t act up in class, they don’t hesitate to ask any questions (no matter how embarrassing), and they are generally just a good bunch of kids. The ichinensei are mostly good. The exception is a group of boys who try to be cute by talking in class and making crude jokes. The first time I met them, before school started, they introduced themselves using dirty names. The only problem was they used Engrish, and while I understand English and a lot of Japanese, I don’t get Engrish. They all had great fun while I seriously made an effort to memorize their names: Mr. Sex, Mr. Condom, Mr. Cream, etc. Ha ha. It wasn’t until one of them used a dirty word in Japanese that I caught on. Don’t ask how I know the dirty Japanese words, I just do.
Finally, the sannensei are bastards. I know you’re thinking that’s a bit harsh, but they really are. I won’t generalize- there are a lot of good students who try hard, but the rest are bastards. They try so hard to be cool, which just isn’t going to happen because:
1. They’re 15.
2. They don’t listen in class, bother the ones who do, and thus are stupid.
3. You can leave your shirt untucked, roll up your skirt, unbutton your shirts, etc., but you’re still wearing a school uniform, which will NEVER be cool.
By far the worst are two girls. It is trendy in Japan for young people to dye their hair light brown/blonde and for girls to wear lots of makeup. Okay, fine, whatever floats your boat, but you’d figure it wouldn’t extend to the 15 year olds. Not these two. Golden hair, more makeup than any respectable clown would wear, and skirts hiked up so far I don’t know why they bother putting them on at all. I look at them and just see a waste of human parts. Yes, it’s that bad.
They come to school around 1 or 2 pm, not that they ever make it to class. They just roam the hallways taking to their friends, making passes at boys (who probably already fucked them and can’t be bothered for seconds), and being loud. Sometimes they just hang out in the teachers’ room and swear at the teachers.
In addition, Japanese Jr. High Schools have two rather silly rules.
1. The students have the right to attend class. So, no matter what they’re doing, we can’t kick them out. Also, there’s nothing like detention.
2. No matter what, a student will pass through the grades and graduate. Even if he/she does ZERO work.
Think about that for a moment. You’re 14 years old, in school. You know that you can talk, skip class, basically do whatever you want, and not only not get in trouble, but graduate anyway? Yeah. Consequently, we have a lot of bastards. I consider it a good day when they all skip, or put on their headphones, head for the back, and go to sleep.
Yes, this is a JAPANESE school. Surprising, isn’t it?