Thursday, October 28, 2010

An elementary visit

Today I went to one of my tiny schools. There are only 8 kids and this morning I was super excited to go. Last year, I went once a week, but this year they changed it and I only go once or twice a month (sad!).

I arrived and looked over the plans for the day. The teacher called me last night and we discussed the lesson (mostly in Japanese!). She decided we should do a Halloween lesson instead of vegetables (good since I realized this morning, I didn't end up planning anything for the veggie ahead of time).

The kids made masks and then they trick-or-treated from the principal, who gave them a couple of treats. It was fun and they had a blast wearing masks and dressing up. It was also a more relaxed English class than usual.

The best part of the day, though was at lunch. I got seated between on of my third graders, N,  and one of my second graders, K.

N and I had finished eating and were waiting for S (a third-grader) to finish eating. We did the usual game, where I steal their chopsticks and pretend I don't know where they are, but that only lasted for a couple of minutes before a new game began.

I decided to try to touch her nose with my chopsticks (they were back in their case). I got a good giggle, so I decided to try it again. She started using her chopsticks (in the case) to block me from doing it. I was able to get her a few times, but she blocked me more times. We eventually had to stop because we were laughing so hard.

Kids have the best laughs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A strange day

Yesterday, my students and I celebrated Halloween. We played a game with skeletons and put on masks. A little different from Halloween at home, but still tons of fun.

The room we were in had nice, big windows. As I looked outside (this one is not actually from that window), it looked like Christmas.

Such a strange mix of weather and holidays we had yesterday.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Japanese Learning - an update

Last year I posted here about my difficulties with Japanese Language learning. I was taking a course that was too hard and was really struggling. After failing the first test, I quit the course. I realized I was in over my head and was done trying to work at that level and went back to work that was at my real level (Genki Japanese textbooks).

Anyways, I decided that I wasn't going to let the books conquer me that I had to finish what I started and re-enrolled in the class again this year. Well, it turns out by the time one is beginning the 17th chapter of the Genki textbook, they will have a lot less trouble with the JET course.

This year, if I tried to use the five finger rule, which I teach elementary students at home. Anyways, enrolling in this course again this year, even if it's not an amazing course (more about that another time) is great because it shows me how much I've grown.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My first yuki mushi

Last year, about this time, I heard a lot about "Yuki Musih" (snow bugs). I heard we would see them and shortly after we would see our first snow fall. I didn't see them last year, but I definitely saw the snow.

Today, I was riding my bike home and I kept running into these things that looked kind of like the white cotton-y stuff that falls around during the summer. I didn't think much of it until, I thought it kind of looks like snow, but I was fairly certain that it wasn't quite cold enough to snow outside yet.

Then I realized it was a bug that kept running into my face as I biked home. I realized that today, I saw my first yuki mushi!

In kanji, that's 雪虫 (snow bug!).

On another note, it's gotten cold. I had to turn on my heater this evening. By tomorrow morning, this giant beast should be actually heating my house.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Water. As I sit here and begin to try to write about it, I'm not sure what to write, there are so many different issues surrounding water. There are people in the world who have no access, there are some very wasteful ways that we use it, the list goes on.

Others are affected again and again by our water use. Are we using it wisely or throwing it down the drain like waste?

I'm having a difficult time deciding what to write in regards to water, because there are so many issues. There are issues of access to water and how much time it takes people to get it. Are those same people and others getting clean water? There's the environment, how are we choosing to use water? Are we making choices that make life worse for others.

In developed countries we have access to clean water all the time and yet we regularly buy water bottles, which don't always get recycled and end up creating more waste.

There are so many issues around water, but what if we each chose to tackle one? What kind of impact could we have if each person chose to do something to make this issue just a little bit smaller?

The Blog Action Day topic of water was to get people thinking and talking about something on a day to see what kinds of changes we could make. The website contains some good information about the issues of water around the world. I know that for me, it has made a bit of a difference in education, which I hope will result in action. How can I help? What can I do that might make this problem less, even if it's only slightly less?

Ghandi said "we need to be the change we wish to see in the world." What kind of a change do we want to see? How should it affect the lives we are living?

A very inspiring video:

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Last year's first photo-worthy snow

I was going through some pictures and spotted my first snow photo from last year. Apparently our first snow worth photographing was on November 2. Just a couple more weeks and it will start to come down! I'm both excited and dreading it. Yay for snowboarding, not so yay for driving in the snow, short days and no more bike riding. But look at that hill just waiting for me to board and ski down it!

Update: Wow! I posted this right as an earthquake hit. Apparently a 5.4 and not too far from my town
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obon Fireworks

Working on going through my photos and found this.
My town decided to have a strange falling fireworks show during Obon.
Here are a few of my students :)
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Monday, October 11, 2010

The top!

The photo taken at the top of Mt. Panke in Nakagawa.
We made it to the top!
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Dave Barry Does Japan

Dave Barry Does Japan
Dave Barry Does Japan by Dave Barry

This book is Dave Barry's hilarious account of his trip to Japan. He runs into so many cultural things that any foreigner runs into. He repeatedly accounts that he doesn't really know anything about Japanese culture/language, but he shares his experiences - from sqatty potties (according to Dave, "a hole in the ground where they forgot to put the toilet) to food to places.

Having lived in Japan for just over a year now I found the book hilarious. I did listen to it in the car on audio book. I really appreciated the audio author, but found his miss pronunciation of major Japanese words (including cities, Kyoto and Hiroshima) really annoying. Don't study pronunciation of Japanese city names from the audio book and you'll be alright.

Regardless, Dave had me in tears a few times because I was laughing so hard as I, too, had experienced exactly what he was talking about. The book is quite ethnocentric to the US and is likely a bit out of date about American relations to Japan and some unknowns about Japan. Regardless, it's one I'd love to own so I could share it with friends and family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ashibetsu view

A photo I shot while in Ashibetsu at the kid's camp. I love this scene because it's what I see when I'm not too far from home (a little over an hour). It's even more gorgeous on a clear day when the sky is blue and the statue and the bridge are stark white.
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Teach the ALT to print double sided . . .

. . . and suddenly she'll be using half as much paper as before.

Last week I learned to print things double sided from our printer. Today I've already used this amazing feature three times.

. . . what else can I print? :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010


In one month people across the nation will set out to do the unthinkable: sit down & write 50,000 words in one month. Others, will simply post a blog once a day this November. We on the other hand will set out to post a status update once a day (: We are calling it: NaStatWriMo (National Status Writing Month). Join our craziness, invite others, & update your status everyday in November!

(I intend to update my twitter as well)