Thursdays, 11.58 p.m. – 12.38 p.m. from 15 July 2010
Foreigners are seated in front of 23-year-old Kano Haruko, who had been a charismatic shop employee at Shibuya until yesterday. Although her dream was to become a high school teacher, she did not expect to be a Japanese language teacher to foreigners. Haruko’s expression is stiff. “You can go back if you don’t feel like doing it,” she is told by Takasu Kazuki, a veteran teacher, but there is a reason why Haruko cannot back out. Haruko snatches a textbook from Takasu and opens it to the pages that were taught today. It was the counter suffix. “Isn’t this elementary school level? It’s easy to teach Japanese language.” Haruko becomes a teacher. “Does anyone have questions regarding the counting system for things? I’ll answer anything (you ask).” Diana, a Russian, raises her hand. “The counter for a straw is ‘一個’ (ikko),” she responds when Haruko points to her, and Haruko tells her that the counter for thin, long things is ‘一本’ (ippon). Then Wang, a Chinese connoiseur of food asks, “Is the counter for a snake ‘一本’ too?” Haruko informs him that living and non-living things have different counter suffix. The counter suffix even differs according to the sizes of animals. A snake is known as ‘一匹’ (ippiki), while an elephant is known as ‘一頭’ (ittou). And Diana triumphantly shares her knowledge, “The counter suffix for brassiere is also different. Such as A, B …” “That’s because they are the sizes …” Haruko tells her. When Haruko writes ‘鮪’ on the blackboard and teaches them that it is pronounced as ‘maguro’, Jin Li, a well-off Chinese lady protests, “No! We absolutely cannot use that word in China!” It seems the case for ‘鮭’ and ‘フグ’ too. Bob, an American asks a flustered Haruko, “What is the name of the woven mesh for boiling ramen?” Haruko cannot reply. “What is the name of the rectangular plate that soy sauce is poured into?” … Haruko is angered to be made a fool. However, these are important questions for the students in order to survive. Haruko sees Bob, who works at a ramen shop for his living expenses, yelled at by the owner for not knowing that the mesh for boiling ramen is called ‘tebo’. With grim determination, Haruko brings her students out of the classroom the next day. It is an unprecedented action that breaks convention at educational institutions.
Naka Riisa as Kano Haruko
A former shop employee of a popular brand and fashion magazine model who is now a Japanese language teacher. She is the type who is truthful, speaks her mind and follows her own path, but as a result, she is soft-hearted and hates dishonesty. If she believes a person is wrong, she feels compelled to express her opinion. She has made personal statements with makeup and accessories since junior high school, and was well-liked by the girls although this drew the attention of the school. It was in the summer of her second year in high school that she was inspired to be a teacher. When her part-time job as a magazine model was disclosed to the school and she was on the verge of being expelled, her Japanese lanaguage teacher, Akimoto Kuniko, made Haruko accompany her to a children’s welfare facility to teach kids to read and write. Haruko developed an interest in being a teacher, and for the first time in her life felt appreciative of a person. The high point was Akimoto’s words, “Education will change the world!” Those appealing words made Haruko study hard. She went on to attend the faculty of education at a third-rate university and obtained qualifications to be a teacher but the world was not that generous. The limit for the recruitment of teachers had fallen because of the declining birthrate. On top of that, Haruko had ignored the time, place and occasion, choosing to dress flamboyantly for her interview. As a consequence, she was rejected. In order to make a living, she became a salesgirl, combining practical benefits with her own interest. However, she still wanted to be a teacher. In the midst of this, she is asked by Akimoto, who has taken over the operations of ‘Kobun Gakuin’ from her late husband after retiring from the high school, to work part-time as a teacher …
Aoki Munetaka as Shibuya Taiyo
A Japanese language teacher with two years of experience. After graduating from a college of physical education and sports, he travelled around the world, and became a Japanese language teacher based on the fervent conviction that “love transcends boundaries”. Because of his strong spirit of volunteerism, he acts proactively for his students, and on top of that, is easily moved to tears. However, he is goofy, irrelevant in some aspects and always runs around in circles. He is qualified to be an instructor in kendo and teaches students in private. However, he is considered annoying because of his overzealousness. But he is unaware of it. He believes in supporting students to the greatest extent possible but is hampered by regulations requiring them to work part-time up to 28 hours a week, and has recently begun to feel the limits of being a Japanese language teacher. In the midst of this, he encounters Kano Haruko, who flaunts rules and behaves boldy. He is attracted to her as a person and at the same time starts to reflect on his own life. Because he is obtuse about love, he is completely ignorant of Catherine’s feelings.
Harada Natsuki as Catherine
A Japanese language teacher with three years of experience. Her real name is Katori Miyuki. She is an unpretentious, shy, well-off girl. She majored in Japanese literature at a state-run university. While in school, she went to France on a study abroad programme, and as she taught her hosts about Japanese language and culture, she dreamt of “spreading Japanese culture throught the world” and became a Japanese language teacher. She has an earnest personality and is enjoys the confidence of her students, but refuses to let anyone call her by her real name. Her family is the head of an ikebana school and lives in a residence in Shoto. She is never short of money, but her outward appearance is somewhat modest as a result of her parents’ teachings. She carries a torch for Shibuya Taiyo. However, she is unable to confess her feelings because she is a late bloomer for her age. In the midst of this, while she gets jealous seeing Shibuya fall for the outspoken, spirited Kano Haruko, she is gradually influenced by Haruko’s liberated lifestyle.
Ikeda Narushi as Takasu Kazuki
A Japanese language teacher with 10 years of experience. He is a veteran teacher who is precise in managing his work but slovenly when it comes to his own private life. He does not permit any tardiness and absenteeism, and is famous among students as the ‘most terrifying teacher’. However, the school enrollment rate as well as the employment rate is high because of him, and he is most trusted by the school principal, Akimoto Kuniko. At the same time, in his private life, he is a divorced single whose must-have items are his worn out jacket and horse racing news. He had formerly worked at a trading company, and was entrusted with employee training at an overseas cotton. Armed with the high ideal to cultivate human talent by teaching Japanese language, he had changed career to become a Japanese language teacher. He dislikes Kano Haruko who considers her stint as a mere step to become a high school teacher, and deliberately provokes her to make a serious effort.
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