Typhoon Guchol (Or: how to freak out an entire office of Japanese teachers. )

Typhoon Guchol is slamming Japan as I type (although from where I’m sitting it looks like a blustery Wellington day) and as a result, all of Kagawa, as well as the other prefectures in its path, are on lockdown.

Typhoons in Japan can be deadly. The last one I experienced here killed several people, so this time I took a few precautions: I moved my plants inside, I shut my balcony door (for the first time in some weeks) and closed the curtains in case of broken glass, and I stuck my poncho in my bag when I left for school.

Yes, that’s right. The kids all get to stay home and have a sweet typhoon day but all the teachers are here as usual.

Knowing what a day without classes is like, I prepared for a day of free time in the office. I packed two textbooks, an iPod full of listening exercises and some sweets.

Oh, and my togs.

I recently discovered that my school has a rooftop pool and I have managed to wrangle permission to use it when the kids aren’t around.

To my mind, typhoon day–when there are no kids around to freak out at the gaijin in the swimming pool–was the perfect day to take a dip.

To the office full of bewildered Japanese people, however, it was apparently the maddest thing they’d ever heard.

I told my JTE I’d brought my togs and she freaked out.

“But, Hannah sensei, it’s raining!”
“Yes, but if I’m swimming I’ll get wet anyway!”
“But typhoon is coming!”
“Is it dangerous?”
“No…but it’s raining!”

However, because she’s great, she went and checked (with what seemed like half the office) if it was okay for me to use it today. Everyone she asked would turn, look at me blankly, turn back to Yamamoto sensei and point out the window at the typhoon while speaking high-speed Japanese. Once she had convinced them that I was serious about going swimming and it was probably just a weird gaijin thing, they would shrug, stare at me again, and nod.

With the necessary permission, and a handful of keys, we went up to the pool. It’s got a view over the city and, because there are no kids here today, it was really peaceful. It was also beautifully refreshing in the ridiculous humidity and heat.

I did slow, lazy laps for about an hour before the rain got really hard and I got cold. Drying off was harder than it usually is because I’d left my towel in the rain, but I struggled back into my clothes and returned, damp and happy, to the office.

That was five hours ago, and I am very dry again, but teachers are STILL coming up to me to check if the rumours are true.

“Yes, I went swimming this morning. No, I didn’t die.Yes, I am aware it’s raining.”

I don’t care. The pool is too nice for me not to take advantage of it.

But I can’t wait to see their faces when I get on my bike in the middle of the typhoon.



2 thoughts on “Typhoon Guchol (Or: how to freak out an entire office of Japanese teachers. )

  1. Hello honey…long time no speak…..Alison sent me your blog link and I realise now why….it’s to improve my English – you write so beautifully….I had to look up the word ‘prefectures’ so I’ve learnt something today!! Lovely story….I have the same over here…swimming in the outdoor pool in Birkenhead at night in the rain is beautiful and people think I’m mad! (I know….Birkenhead doesn’t have quite the same ring as Kagawa!) xx

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