The following day I entered the classroom as usual and saw "Tempura Sensei" written in characters so large they filled the entire blackboard. Seeing my reaction, everyone burst into laughter. The whole thing seemed ridiculous, so I asked if there was something funny about eating tempura. One of the students replied, "But four bowls is too much." I'm eating on my own dime, so whether it's four bowls or five bowls, it's none of their business. I finished my lecture promptly and returned to the staff room. Ten minutes later I entered the next classroom and saw "Four bowls of tempura, but don't laugh" written across the blackboard. I hadn't been so angry the first time, but this one set me off. A joke carried too far is blatant disrespect. No one's impressed by a toasted rice cake burnt black. These country folk have no sense of tact and think it's okay to push a matter without limit. They live in a backward little town where everything can be seen in an hour, so they get excited about a "tempura incident" and spread word as though the Russo-Japanese war had erupted anew. A pathetic bunch. They’re brought up poorly, gnarled like maple trees confined to flower pots, and end up as small-minded people. I can laugh along at a good-natured joke, but this was something else. This was the malicious side of youth. I erased the blackboard and asked if they found such cowardly misconduct amusing. I asked further if they understood the meaning of "cowardly." One of them asked me back whether, when one's own actions were cause for laughter, getting angry over the matter wasn't cowardly. What a smart aleck. It was a wretched thought that I'd come all the way from Tōkyō to teach such fellows. I told them to cease with the idle argument and pay attention, and I proceeded to lecture. When I entered the next classroom the board read "Indulging in tempura invites idle argument." Things were getting out of hand. I was so fed up that I told them I couldn’t teach such disrespectful rogues and immediately left for home. I heard later that the students were quite pleased to have a break from lecture. On this day, antiques were preferable to school.