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Moment: 規律

10 May 2010

Iori stands outside the door to the teachers room, visibly working up the nerve to enter.  She is the Nichoku, the student assigned for the day to bring the class to order, keep attendance, and lead the greeting and bowing that bookend every class period.  She is tasked, in short, with maintaining ‘kiritsu’–order, discipline, respect. Today, her responsibilities include fetching me from the office. This does not happen every day. Lunch and English class are one thing, but walking the eighty feet from the office to the classroom, alone with the strange but congenial white guy who pretends not to understand Japanese, is something else entirely.

She slides open the crooked wooden door, and presents herself with a volume that belies her desired aura of confidence.  “I am Iori Kudou”, she shouts, as though any one of the teachers at this school of 77 students in a minuscule town is unaware of her name, not to mention her birthday, family information, and any pertinent medical conditions. “I am from the 4th Grade Classroom, and I am here to ask Hal-sensei to come teach our class”.  She steps back, waiting for an answer.

I jump up from my desk, with an “Ok, let’s go!” Be assured that having returned from Hong Kong yesterday, I’m faking the enthusiasm.  As we leave the office, I beckon her towards the copy room, where I will grab some pieces of scrap paper for the lesson I’ve planned.  I stroll in without a second thought, but Iori stops at the door.  She genuflects, and says “Shitsureishimasu”.  “I am about to intrude”, or “I will be rude”, depending on how one translates it. I am the only one in the room.

I gather the papers I need, and she practically jumps aside to let me go through the door first.  As I cross the threshold, Iori lingers behind me for a moment.  “Shitsureishimashita” she says.  “I have committed rudeness”.  She bows to the now-empty room, then jogs to catch me as we walk to her classroom.

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