Teaching In Socks


Summer’s Christmas: Adventures in Cakesville and the lessons of Fern Gully revisited
June 10, 2009, 2:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday was “Roll Cake Day” in Japan. It might have been Roll Cake Day other countries too, but my attentiveness to the Pantheon of Significant Days only has a 500 km radius. Also, I’ve noticed Japan seems to have a penchant for minor, humorous and  consumer-inspired holidays. Also, I don’t know how to say roll cake in French (and the internet won’t tell me how) nor do I know the Kanji for “roll cake” (maybe it’s a swirl) so I have no way of confirming the holiday’s provenance.

Still, why was Saturday Roll Cake Day . Did Thomas Roll roll his first cake? Did Marco Polo trade a swirled pastry for some noodles and ginger? Did a blind sushi master accidentally grab cake and cream, stumbling upon an ingenious delicacy?

Nope.  June 6th is roll cake day because he number “6” looks vaguely similar to the pattern of a roll cake (and June 6th has two of them, see- 6/6). Pictograph puns!

I celebrated by buying a roll cake on June 7th, when they were being sold at a day-old  discount, and then eating an entire cake in two sittings. It was a delicious and terrible idea. The human body is not designed to handle some much cake and icing–even if it is arranged in geometrically desirous right-cylinder/spiral shape.

The holiday/seasonal celebrations are a multi-headed monster though; it’s also Firefly season. The Japanese have this strange dichotomy where they love industry as much as Carnegie, but–almost universally–appreciate nature with the spiritual connection and wonderment of an Oregon Hippie.

It’s an interesting balance I haven’t quite sorted out yet. For example, they have these fairly popular firefly festivals, but as my student noted, fireflys are prominent in this area because they have the only clean unpolluted river in the area (I secretly thanked that student for justifying the absurd amount of money I spend on bottled water each week). The chemical quality of the water is interesting given that Firefly watching garners the same amount of enthusiasm a Monster Truck rally gets in the U.S.

I suppose that enthusiasm is really the take-away here. While I really enjoyed catching fireflys as a child, in retrospect, compared with my Japanese counterparts, I probably took for granted. I certainly never attended a festival devoted to th insect. Nor did I have a secret spot (as some of my students do) to watch them.  I did watch Fern Gully a few times though, and I memorized that song at the Zoo about saving the rainforest, I doubt Japan did that (who am I kidding, Fern Gully was probably huge here).

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