Japan occasionally gets hit by typhoons. Some areas can get hit pretty badly, which sucks. The thing about typhoons though is that if one is coming, or even looks like it’s coming, to the area a typhoon warning is issued. If the warning comes out then school is CANCELLED for that day. Even if you’re already in the middle of the day, school is done, everybody go home. So, while typhoons are usually a bad thing, the prospect of school getting cancelled is a VERY GOOD THING.
Remember that Japan employs a near-suicidal workforce, one that prompted Ms. Americanized to wish for her country to be bombed back to the stone age, as it just might get her a day off. In that context, Japanese people won’t sweat a little wind and rain if it gets them an early day off work.
Unfortunately, the typhoons almost never reach Kyoto. They end up dying before they get here, passing through in the middle of the night, or hitting a different part of Japan entirely. Amazingly enough, this is actually pretty disappointing. Since I’ve been here, school has only been cancelled once because of the typhoon. I was at the Ghetto School when it happened. As the warning was expected to come, the TV was on in the teacher’s room and tuned in to the news channel. By the start of classes at 8:55 however, the warning had not been issued and everybody was forced to proceed as normally until it did.
After EVERY CLASS, the teachers would come back to the teacher’s room and ask “Did the warning come out yet?” They’d hear no, and you could just spot the look of dejection on their faces. Finally, sometime during third period, the warning was issued. “It came!” the teachers who were in the teachers room exclaimed. No one said it, but instantly everybody’s countenance did a 180-degree turn as they smiled to themselves – yes! We get a day off for once!
After third period ended, I swear the chime had *barely* just finished and one of the teachers was already on the PA system – “The typhoon warning has been issued. Get the fuck outta here! Go home!” In that very instant, the whole school roared as I’m sure each and every student let out a scream of jubilation. The other teachers returned from class, exclaiming, “The warning came out!” The students poured out of the school, with the teachers not too far behind (I went home, closed my storm shutters, and went to sleep). With the exception of drinking parties and the heavy influence of alcohol, I have never seen the teachers at the Ghetto School so happy, especially within the school’s confines. It looked like someone had told them they were entitled to an all-expenses paid fancy sushi dinner, not that a dangerous storm of violent winds and heavy rain was heading their way.
Welcome to Japan.
But that was only once. As I said, the typhoons have a nasty habit of blowing through Kyoto late at night, or missing it entirely. The latest typhoon to hit Japan … it was a particularly big/strong one, and on it’s predicted course, it was going to roll through all of Japan. Again, I was scheduled at the Ghetto School. All day, the teachers kept an ear open for the potential typhoon warning but it never came. After hitting the southern tip of Japan, the typhoon’s trajectory changed – it hooked to the left a bit. Which meant that Kyoto was only going to get hit by the very edge of it – not enough to bring about a typhoon warning.
After a full day of classes, as the students left school, the teachers turned on the TV to the news again, which was dominated by coverage of the typhoon. The Ghetto School teachers watched this with a certain bitter envy.
Reporter: I’m here in Kyushu … the winds are particularly strong … I can barely stand up. You can see a tree that’s been knocked over here on the side of the road.
Teachers: Ah … lucky bastards. You KNOW school is cancelled there.
Reporter: And here we see a convenience store, closed because of the typhoon … the windows have already been blown out, and it looks like there’s substantial damage.
Teachers: Some people get all the luck … blasted typhoon.
Note to Japan. When your workforce wishes destruction upon their own country JUST to get a day off … you may want to rethink your work-ethic standards. Just a suggestion.