Today Yusuke took the day off work as his last “summer holiday”. So we decided to visit a couple of nearby hoikuens this morning. Today was the day that Hannah had to take two PET bottles into kindergarten to practice her bottle dancing (hmm, interesting..). Yusuke had read the letter about a week ago, and told me she needed to have two bottles with rice or beans in them to use as shakers. For the whole week, that letter (in red, as all the important ones are) has been attached to the pin board in the kitchen. I had some PET bottles in ready, but forgot to put the rice in last night. When I went to get them out of the cupboard, Hannah said, “you have to put dots on them to make them look pretty.” I asked Yusuke to read the letter again, and he said, “they recommend you put origami inside to make it pretty, and two 330ml bottles”. I was livid. My bottles were 500ml, and I hadn’t prepared origami to put in there, or anything of the sort. So there I was, at 7:30a.m., with only Luka and I dressed, no one breakfasted, having to drive out to the stupid convenience store to buy drinks that I didn’t want, to make rice and paper filled shakers…actually sounds funny written down. I slammed around shouting for a while, then went out, came back and set to work putting stickers on the bottles, and getting Yusuke to glue and cut origami triangles for the inside. I had Hannah and Luka helping me in between eating their weetabix. So finally it was done, but of course, I spied some bottles at the school gates that were infinitely “prettier” than Hannah’s, but Yusuke was more upset about that than me. “I feel a bit bad about it now,” he said. “Good, you should,” I replied! Not in a mean way, but had he told me earlier, I could have prepared and Hannah and I could have made a fun activity about it.
Ho-hum, anyway, after dropping Hannah off, we whizzed back home and I cleaned the kitchen and got the washing hung outside before we went to the first hoikuen. Kamisato hoikuen which is about a 5 minute drive from here. The place is only four years old, so it’s really clean and new looking. There is only one floor, and all of the rooms lead off one corridor in an L-shape. Each classroom has their own little toilets, and under-floor heating. There is a little tatami section for the 0-1 year old class and 1-2 year old class for their afternoon naps. From 3-6 the children all nap on their futons in the hall. Pretty funny to see all the futons when they are laid out 🙂 One class did some dancing and parachute playing outside while we were there, so all in all, it was a really good atmosphere.
The second one we went to see, Dai-Ni hoikuen, is about 5 minutes drive too, but up towards the mountains, so it wouldn’t be on any route I would take to work. This place was also ok, but the teachers looked tired…really tired. I had heard that since the city laws had just come in since the towns merged, their workload has been increased. Their system is much harder now than before, so caused a lot of stress for the teachers. Despite this, and the uniform items (bag, formal uniform to be used for ceremony, sportswear) it is still a pretty good place. Both hoikuens had big playgrounds outside and clean, big classrooms, just that Kamisato had a better feeling. Getting a place is still pretty competitive, so we will really have to cross our fingers that we get a place at either of them. Twenty eight students will graduate from Kamisato, but there are already thirty five applications for next school year..yikes!
It’s a bit stressful too having to write the hours that I work on the application form…gives me a bad feeling. Like when you are afraid of getting found out. Ah well. It’s a stupid system anyway, where it’s easier to get a place when you are ALREADY working. How can you even need a place at hoikuen to look after your child, when you obviously have that facility anyway?!?!
We will apply to Kamisato today and then fingers crossed that it all goes ok and we get a place for Hannah and Luka 🙂