Place Where You Live:

Takikawa, Hokkaido, Japan

I sit next to the table tennis coach at work. I never see him speak without bobbing his head, and he always says, “Ha cha cha” before sitting down, dropping his laundry basket full of books on the floor. The state he seems to know best is one of rushing: jogging into the teachers room after class, dodging through the obstacle course of cardboard boxes, the laundry basket of books, and the precariously arranged heater in order to make it to table tennis practice on time.

I, on the other hand find, myself in a state of ease, teaching English classes alongside Japanese teachers, preparing English lunch discussions three times a week, and grading essays in the nest that’s been created between the laundry basket, heater, and boxes.

Our school has a bright red roof and is flanked by farms and small houses. When I first arrived, dragonflies hummed over the buckwheat field, looking for mates. Now the buckwheat has been cut to make soba and the sun sets behind the distant mountains before I leave school. Yukimushi, the snow bugs, drift before me and settle on my forearms as I walk home. They tell me that soon it will snow, and we won’t again emerge from the Hokkaido winter until May.

Though outside I see snow bugs and dragonflies and buckwheat, inside every day will be the table tennis coach, ha-cha-cha-ing, rushing, and dodging. The field he sees when he leaves work at eight must be much darker.