The elementary school nearest my home was having a street fair not so long ago. My cutest little neighbor is a first grader there and she came by with her mother one day to give me some food tickets as enticement to participate. Unfortunately substantial rainfall forced the event indoors, but it went off well according to all reports.
I attempted the “quiz rally challenge” on the second floor. There were five questions about the history of Hatchou in Tsu (津市八町) posted on the walls in random order. Each question had three possible answers. One custom for multiple choice quizzes in Japan is to have one character for each choice: generally, あ、い、う、え、お as a replacement for a, b, c, d, e. For this quiz, the labels seemed more random. My choices turned out to be こ、ま、で、と、う. The reason for the seemingly random order of the posters and the labels on the answers was to obscure the fact that the correct answers would spell out a word: おめでとう, omedetou, or congratulations!
My answer – こまでとう – didn’t spell anything out, unless we assumed it meant, “Take one to task at the stone temple lions.” (独楽で問う) Or, perhaps ‘in the space between trees in a grove’. (樹間で)
At least I did good on the can stacking contest. They showed us two phrases in classical Japanese of six words each. After hiding the phrases, they started a clock and we were supposed to sort the twelve cans into the two phrases and stack them so that the phrases read from top to bottom, as Japanese used to be written. Not only did this require memorizing the phrases quickly, but the sentences had to be constructed in reverse order. After I finished my phrase I helped the kid with me finish his. Everyone around us were impressed.
My cute little neighbor is a hoot. She is always very curious when my sweetie is coming over. One time I was scrubbing dishes in the kitchen and she was standing at the back door asking me about it. I explained that my girlfriend likes a tidy home and I didn’t want to disappoint her when she came to visit. My neighbor wanted to know if my girlfriend scolds me like a mother. I think I just chuckled and smiled.