takao47 (takao47) wrote,

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Baked Sweet Potato Exchange – Some Cultural-anthropological Perspective

What you have learn most in high school is irrelevant for majority’s people’s ordinaily life; reverse-osmosis, mathematical induction….

Actually these are not main focal points of crazy high school life. Takao47 presumes that a meat of high school life is a moratorium… what will you do after graduation; very much like university years. After all most people don’t figures out what they want to do anyway whole life. The period will not mould one’s foundation for rest of life. It should be just fun and develop some (un)people skills.

Anyhow now Takao47 is in a very retrospective and melancholic mode and Takao47 is also becoming mellower for recalling bittersweet memories.

OK here is an episode one. On grade nine, Japanese kinds usually require to challenge an entrance examination(s) for respective school they wish to enter whether these institutions are public or parochial schools.

Anywho on one cloudy day on March, Takao47 and other troops of junior high school buddies and some kids Takao47 didn’t very well organized a group to go to this prefectural high school to write an entrance examination. We had to write five subjects examinations: Japanese language, English (Of course), Mathematics, Science and Social study. Takao47 learned later from university friends come from another prefectures mentioned that in some places besides these five liberal arts subjects, some prefectures demands more.

Takao47 is uncertain about present situation s though. So some kids are required write 9 subjects exams. The additional exams are covered in area of musicology, visual fine arts, gymnastics and domestic engineering. Our prefecture’s board of education Kanagawa-ken asks us to spend 50~60 minutes for each examination as for as Takao47 remembers.

Anyhow that exam day, we completed 3 examinations before lunchtime. In afternoon we completed remaining two examinations. Takao47 is still vividly remember what went through because an examination administrator is going to have a huge presence in high school life later…Actually it was very critical role. Well very assumingly at the frist sight, this fella was high school gym teacher type dude, and later I found out it was the case, which Takao47 and other most kids dislike. Usually these gym-type are arch-nemesis since they are the enforcer of high school rules if there is such thing.

Anyway after long examination day probably after PM3:00, all exams were completed and we were dismissed from classrooms. Takao47 and other schoolmates silently gathered to discuss exams and else. We felt very hungry because we ate just one lunch that day. Usually Takao47 & other kids eat three lunches school days, well a lot, yes sh*tload of lunch. 3 bento boxes with full compacted white rice and side dishes like fishes and stuff...
- 1st lunch will be around AM10:00 between 10 second recess between the classes.
- 2nd lunch is taken place as an official luncheon around noontime.
- Another last 3rd lunch is probably before AN EXTRA-CURRICULA sports activity.

BTW we ate lot but none of them become supersised… I am now just wondering why… were we just very hyperactive and had very good digestion capacity? Takao47 doesn’t know the truth behind this.

Takao47 is now very curious about high school kids in other country’s and their eating habits… Did you guys live like pings in feedlot of intensive hog farm? Hahaha

Anyhow our junior high school (grade 7 to 9, 12 ~ 15 years old usually) had some
sort of school sub-cultural tradition of another eating habit! As you know some taught in Japanese public school system, most Japanese public schools don’t have centralized-HAVC (heat, ventilation and air condition) system. In winter time, out junior high school’s classrooms geared up kerosene stoves. It looks like an useless crap for someone coming from cold climates. Well while its inefficient hot air circulation is true…which provide minimum heat supply of heat. Nice part of this kerosene crap is that you can use it for minor cooking. We liked making baked sweet potato (Yaki-Imo 焼き芋), it is pretty easy to fix just cover sweet potato by aluminum foil for half an hour and you will see the result.
Takao47 did realized that when people watching a fire and becaming a silent.. people tend to speak their bottom lines. Don't know why...

Takao47's junior high school homeroom teacher (science) was quite nice guy and we always had plenty of supply of potato in either classroom or his office. He talked about important issues in life while giving science lecture and eating potato which made is less serious and less convincible anyway. After class, we sometimes made a jaunt to an incinerator near school gym equipment storage to get a heat and eat another round of stuff. Usually we had endless supply of scrap lumber, unrecyclable cardboard boxes and discarded papers from garbage bins were piling up there. So in our junior high, baking was a norm…sort of integrated part of our school sub-cultural tradition.

With this perception in mind, we went to this high school’s incinerator to find a warmth and talk about stuff. As usual, I had a stuff and aluminum foil in bag. Takao47 was very handy-dandy guy.

One of buddies of Takao47 who smoke on regular-basis has a match so that we started a fire in this burn barrel to make some baked ones. Somewhat all of our junior high school students gathered near this barrel because we don’t know other students very much and we felt uncomfortable to mingle with kids from other schools. We were bit scared. It was kind of awkward to gather for the only reason we attend same junior high school, but anywho we were talking about exams we completed and discussed about what were correct answers and what kind of extra-curricula activity you will going to do in this school and what-not else.

When we gathered Takao47 discovered that a girl secretly admired (yeah admired…not lusted!) from different class in our junior high school was actually with us. Takao47 was really excited about this unexpected finding. He thought “This high school life is going to be an awesome one! With this girl for three years.”

Takao47 gave her a half of smoked potato and engaged conversation… Well it was sort of smooth move but it was Takao47’s first dialogue with her. When Takao47 was grade 7, he saw that potato exchange triggers some relationship among senior students so that Takao47 followed our school heritage. It seems that our junior high school students like sweet stuff. Some regional or tribal rule?

Takao47 was speculated that whether this girl understands his intention or else. Nevertheless she accepted it and Takao47 presumed that this was the bigging of our courtship… Were we Japanese macaques (nihonzaru, Japanese ape) washing potatoes by saline water beside beach? Takao47 was a happy camper. Oh we will be befriend with and eventually develop to GF-BF thing… And we ate silently while watching a fire in barn barrel with other kids.

Then all the sudden, one teacher came up… it was the exam administorator Gym buff Takao47 sat with more than 5 hours and started screaming:

(whole conversation was like that... in Japanese, I cannot translate these properly in English)
Gym Buff: おまえら、ここでたき火なんかしていいと思ってるのか?
Takao47 & Match Kid: わかんないですね。いつも、自分たちの中学ではやっている事です。
Takao47 & Match Kid: いけませんか?(with attitudes and gunning-off looks )
Gym: まったくXX中学の生徒たちはしょうがない...

After this incident, we twentysome students got really nervous because we afraid that we may get pigeonholed as potentially troublesome kids may cause disturbances/riots among students, which we did eventually later. But that time, we were just concerned about outcomes of exam! How about Takao47’s fun life with this pretty girl! Few days later, we went to this high school to see exam results and we, kids from our junior high school were all admitted.
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