Yep, that's me in the red dress.
This photo was taken in Japan in 1997 or '98, while I was teaching English in a small town in a rural part of Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo on the Pacific coast.
The setting is Noda Elementary School, one of two elementary schools (and a kindergarten and junior high) at which I taught.
The handicapped students class was putting on a play titled "Momotaro," a beloved fairy tale about a boy born from the pit of a peach who goes on to have wonderful adventures.
One of the characters in the tale is an oni, or demon, who vexes Momotaro and his pheasant and monkey friends, only to be defeated by Momotaro's unearthly strength. The chastised demon then promises to reform his ways and be nice to all creatures great and small.
At least that's my distant memory of how the fairy tale went. I'm probably botching it badly, as I'm sure I'll hear from my Japanese friends.
I played the part of the demon owing to my towering height (5 feet 7 inches).
My one and only line during the whole play was "Eh, nani? Namaiki-na..." (Eh, what? How impudent ...) It's funny how we remember such small details.
In the photo, I'm getting a push from Y.-sensei, the class teacher. I forget what part she played. She was one of the kindest, gentlest, most nurturing people I've ever met.
My only regret was and is that she is married, though I'm happy that she is happy.
Well, these wonderful kids -- a monkey and a pheasant and a daikon ( giant radish) in fourth or fifth grade nearly a decade ago -- are now fondly reminiscing about their high school years. I haven't heard from Y.-sensei in some time, but I'm sure she's still married and still teaching.
And all of a sudden, I feel old.