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Two days remain in my trip. Today was a sad day in class, but got better at home.
Today, August 15, is the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II according to our professor. Today is a day of remembrance for veterans who served in Japan's armed forces during the war.
The day started just fine, as an unexpected ten people showed up to class. Two of the five people who missed presentations yesterday returned. After some brief discussions that didn't go anywhere, we watched some highlights from the popular high school baseball tournament now going on. Similar to the NCAA basketball finals in the U.S., the high school finals consist of teams from every prefecture competing in a single-elimination tournament.
Tomorrow is the last day of classes, and also features skits being presented by the various classes. While most classes' skits have been in the works for weeks, we were only invited to discuss ours today. We plan to do five minutes' worth of sketches illustrating various annoyances and curiosities about daily life in Japan, but I'm praying that we can all get out of it somehow.
Today was the last day when we watched "Beautiful Life," a TV drama with pretty good production values. I watched the first part of today's episode on Monday afternoon, and explained it to my classmates before we watched the remainder. It turns out that this episode was actually the series finale, and features an ending which is anything but happy. Some people in the class broke down in tears, and the mood was very somber in the closing hour of class.
After helping a classmate compile some of the professor's digital photos into a booklet for the class, I left campus, got some lunch, and headed home. With no homework due tomorrow, I only have to wash my clothes and pack on Friday night before departing on Saturday. It's nice not to have anything to do.
In Japan, there is a tradition of reciprocal gifts. Any gift received must be repaid with a gift in return of about half the perceived value. I gave my host family a gift from Long Island's famous Big Duck shortly after I arrived. Today, my host mother gave me a couple of gifts to take back to the States: a set of traditional toys including a top and a paper balloon, and a traditional-looking hand towel. They're small enough to pack in my luggage, and they were a nice gesture from my host mother. That nice surprise made up for a saddening day in class.
Money is holding up just well. On Friday and Saturday, I can spend the last few thousand yen in my wallet before heading home.
Today's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" episode was particularly profitable for a contestant who knows English. One contestant got a ¥2,500,000 question asking for the chemical abbreviation for gold, another was asked to identify the abbreviation for a company's top executive, and a third was asked for the English name for the stick a conductor uses. My host family, the contestant, and the studio audience were all convinced it was takuta, the loanword used to refer to that stick, but I insisted it was baton. "Baton" was, of course, the correct answer to the shock of everyone in attendance.
I blew ¥200 in the tin badge vending machine again, getting two new badges for my Famicom collection. They both come from the game "Ice Climber," which came back into the spotlight last year after its title characters were added to the game "Super Smash Bros. Melee" for GameCube. I now have seven of the 15 badges in the collection.
Tomorrow is the last day of classes, and I've cleared my camera's memory out to take plenty of pictures. One of the staffers took a group photo today with a total of nine cameras for 12 people, and I expect that sort of thing to happen regularly tomorrow after the shortened class session. Packing everything will be no small task, but it will be doable.