Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! 2009


I can't believe its 2009! That's great, I think this year will be amazing for many people including myself. I'm still at Chris' in Kyoto so I'm going to keep the post short. I'll be posting pictures and videos of my stay here, which so far has been just awesome (A good way to bring in the new year). I've made a lot of friends here, some of which live kinda close to me. Ok, more to come in a few days.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

So again.. lol, alot has happened again since my last post.

Saturday I spent relaxing pretty much, and I can't really remember anything noteworthy happening lol.

On Sunday Chris came to Tokyo to go to a party that a friend of his (Marika) was having. I decided to go meet him up and attend the party as well. He also caught up with another one of his friends from middle school who is in the Navy, but is stationed near Yokohama. His name is Josh. I met with Chris and Josh at about noon in Shibuya. We went to our old place in Akasaka, and walked to Temple. It was really nostalgic walk. It felt so natural, and at the same time so eerie at the same time. After living in Sano, I can see why some people dislike Tokyo. It's freekin crowded and smelly haha.

Here's a public link for facebook photos from the day, check them out
Facebook link:

We also went a couple other places, to name some... Roppongi and Yoyogi. Afterwards we went to Harajuku for the party. Here is a picture of Marika, shes was the host. We were supposed to be bouncers at the party, and just help arrange stuff, it was really easy and fun. We got to meet alot of Japanese people learning English it was a fun time. The food was really good too!
Fujimama's (The place where the party was)

After the party Chris and I tried to catch last train back to Sano but of course we missed it. I had school on Monday of course, but I didn't panic haha. We went to Ueno which is a station that is still in Tokyo but a bit closer to my house haha. Chris and I stayed in a Capsule Hotel. It was Chris's first time in one. They are just umcomfortable, I only got maybe an hour or two of sleep. We had to wake up at 4:30am to catch the first train back to Sano. We caught it and made it back around 7:07. I showered and went to school hahha. I told the teachers at my school what I did and they said please rest when I get a chance. Anyways there wasn't any time for rest because right after school was the Bounenkai for Ueno (End of year party). I surprisingly wasn't tired.
I took a pic of Chris in his Capsule from above (upside-down because my capsule was above his haha).

Here's a video I made from the pics and videos I took at the bounenkai. Please Enjoy!

The enkai was alot of fun. Although the only person at Ueno that speaks any real English is the vice principal I still had a blast. The food was a bit difficult because it was all seafood but oh well I survived. The Vice Principal at Ueno though is so hilarious. I wish I recorded some of the things he was saying. For example before he did his speech he told me, "I want to drink as quickly as possible so I'll make it short." For his speech he just said "Kanpai" which means cheers hahahah.

The enkai was awesome, I felt bad thought because Chris was at my house all day just chillin and studying. He said it wasn't a problem but I still felt bad haha.

Tuesday I went with Chris back to Tokyo because he was going to return to Kyoto that night. We went to school to see if anyone was there but since it was a national holiday it was closed. After that we went to Roppongi to see if Hiro (a friend of Chris') was there. He didn't work until 10 or something so that was a failure. Pretty much the whole day of Tuesday was a failure.

Today (Wednesday) is Christmas Eve, I taught 4th grade. It was kind of fun, but it feels weird working on Christmas eve, and I work tomorrow on Christmas day too. It really doesn't feel like Christmas at all. It feels like any ordinary day, I'm sure tommorrow will too.

Tomorrow I'm teaching 6th grade. After that I'm headed to Tokyo to catch a bus to Kyoto. I hope all goes smooth for me tomorrow.

To my family and friends back in America: I’m sorry I'm not there with you to celebrate this years holidays. I love you all very much and I'm missing you all terribly. Thank you for helping me make it this far, I couldn't have done it without you.

I probably won't be posting until I get back from Kyoto so to all:

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Big Update

So it hasn't really been that long since my last update but I got alot to talk about.

First let me say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I love you. Your probably the best mom I know, you've always trusted and supported me in whatever I've done, there's nothing more I could of asked for. (I'm lucky)

Next let me talk about teaching at Tenmyo from Wed-Friday. I got to dress up at Santa haha. The first and second grade students loved it. I made the teachers all call me Santa Sensei haha. Alot of the students knew it was me but still got a kick out of it. The third and fourth graders too, most figured it out but it was stil alot of fun. After they figured it out they started chanting Nicholas Santa! Unfortunately I can't post any photos of me and students but I have some that are just me so its ok. If you want to see some of the pictures with me and students email me or comment : )
Also that day I read a bit about Tenmyo's history. I found out the school is the 2nd oldest in all of Sano. It was built in 1873. Here's a picture of one of the classes from 1911.
It feels really cool to be a part of something that has gone on for so long. Even though of course back then they weren't learning English hah.

So all of the schools here have something called a 忘年会 or End of Year Party. Friday (Last night) was Tenmyo's Bounenkai. After school I went home and changed then met Teraoka sensei and we went to Chakoya where the Enkai was being held. I've been to Chakoya before, I went there for my birthday and it is surprising much bigger than I thought.

Me and Teraoka Sensei (Head of English at Tenmyo)

Nakao Sensei and Student Teacher

Best pic of the night!
I wish I took more pics but I was busy enjoying everything.
The enkai was alot of fun. I really wish there was more of them. The next one is in March. I have one with Ueno Elementary next monday. Enakis are a great way to get to know the people I work with. Its cool because everyone has their opinions of each other and I'm just getting to know them so I'm starting to see what kind of personalities they all have. All of the teachers are so busy during the school week its so difficult to hang out, and thats a shame. At the enkai I planned to have some Yakiniku (good japanese grilled meat) with Nakai sensei. I'm excited about that. I also want to hang out with Yagisawa sensei more he seems like he'd be fun to hang out with. I can't wait for Ueno's Enkai!

Today I've been doing a ton of house keeping, cleaned a bunch did laundry, went grocery shopping and so on. Earlier today I got a package from my grandparents full of American food and snacks. It makes me so happy I almost cried.

My family rocks.

Pretzels.. oh how I miss you. Your salty goodness and crunchiness can make me fall to my knees. Why they don't make or sell you here I'll never understand. I also got some Sour Patch kids, jammed packed of sugar... just the way I like it, some Jerky, soup, and cereal mmmmmm.

Tonight I might go to this other "Drunk Santa" party, but I haven't decided yet.

Tomorrow I'm going to Tokyo to see Chris, it's been a while. He has some party going on but during the day I think we're going to go back to Akasaka and cry and hold each other haha (so many memories there). Also we're going to go to this party together, and apparently Chris and I are going to be bouncers there ahaha. EXCITING LIFE!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas is coming up

On Monday I taught at Azuma Elementary. For 6th grade I taught about Christmas and we had a Christmas skit. After all the students gave me a Christmas gift. I got a ton of little gifts from the Ojima Sensei's class.

Today I taught at Azuma Junior High. It was a typical day, and I taught all the classes (7th - 9th) I got a gift from Sakurai Sensei, which is super nice. He also gave me a gift to send my brothers in the states which is awesome. I have to buy some stuff for them myself to send, I haven't had a chance yet.

Here's a picture of all the stuff I got. The green box is for me, the green bag is for my brothers (from Sakurai Sensei (really nice)
All the small stuff is from my students (AWESOME!)

Here's a random pic I took, it was a nice day.

My new toaster oven (I don't think I put a pic of it on here yet)
Here's my set up, I put the microwave above, where I had storage before, and I put the toaster on top of the fridge.
I wanna start baking stuff, but haven't yet. I'm looking forward to Kyoto.... talked to Chris and Halston for a while today too. Chris is coming to Tokyo this weekend, I'm going to meet him there I think and we'll both come back and crash at my place. EXCITEMENT. (been a while since I seen him)

He also might be going back on the same bus as me, which would make it easier for me, but he hasn't decided yet.

Some Monks Chanting

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nothing Special

Today I taught at Ueno, 4th grade, semi-weird lesson plan about Christmas. I wore my contacts today. Alot of kids were asking "Why aren't you wearing glasses", I explained I was wearing contacts.. some didn't know what contacts were. Some said 「すごいかっこい」Or すげえかっけ!Which means super cool/super good looking. Which I guess is good they thought I was cool. Some were talking about how my eyes were green, they didn't believe it. After school I talked with some teachers about Christmas, they were generally interested. In Japan they make snowmen out of 2 big snowballs, not 3. They also usually put a bucket on its head instead of a hat.


I've started up my kanji study again... I hope it lasts this time. I'm definitely not going to make my end of the year deadline, but thats ok. I learned alot of grammar and finished my Genki I book. WHY ARE YOU KEEPING ME FROM LEARNING... KANJI!!! WHY!!!! The first step is the biggest, in fact its 2042 steps in one.


Tomorrow I might interview some of my co-workers in Japanese. I was going to do it today but I wussed out. Probably because the woman I was going to ask is cute hah. Also I feel like a baby when I speak Japanese, its aweful. All the teachers are so freekin busy all the time. Even on weekends, its like impossible to do anything.

Tomorrow's Friday. What am I doing this weekend?

I'm feeling melancholy, but don't know why. I think I'm feeling lonely. I think when I sit around and don't do much or when I get bored I get lonely. I need to keep busy.


Sunday, December 07, 2008


Sorry I don't have any pictures for this post.....

On Friday I had a dinner party with Okada Sensei, Teraoka Sensei (Head of English at Tenmyo), Nobe Sensei (She is cute! ^ ^), Adrian, and Becky. I think the point was to introduce Okada sensei to Becky. Becky is going to be her private English teacher. I kind of was almost offended (taken back) by this because I live so close to Okada (5 mins by bike), and I'm the English teacher at her school (Tenmyo). I think she'll have to pick up Becky from her house like 10 mins by car. Apparently Okada wants to learn from a female because she lives with just her daughter so its safer? I don't think I'm that threatening but its whateva. The dinner was really nice and Okada sensei was very accomodating. Her house is super nice, she worked with her friend (a designer) to make her house. I had a great time at the party, despite not being Okada's new English sensei hah.

On Saturday I went to Utsunomiya and played Ultimate all day. I played pretty well, it was alot of fun. We played in some foresty field instead of the normal place near the river. I like the place by the river more, but its ok.

I made a baby smile by making some funny faces on the train back to Sano. The mom didn't even notice which made it better haha. That made my day.

When I got home I was exhausted so I took a bath and went to bed super early, like 9:30. (Which is like a record for me)

Today (Sunday) I went grocery shopping and bought tons of stuff. I also went to a concert with Graham and Kristine, it was nice but I don't know if it was worth the 3,500 yen. The perfomance was by the Gunma Symphony Orchestra, they played well and the choir was the same one I heard at Iwafune last week too!

I was supposed to make bagels today, but I got lazy. I want to wait and do it with someone, not alone so when they come out crappy I can blame in on them (joke).

I bought my ticket for Kyoto, I leave on Christmas day and its an overnight bus so I'll get there at 6:30AM. I'll probably spend about 11 days in Kyoto. Which is an awesome amount of time.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another Month Bites the Dust

Now I am finished with my 3rd month NOVEMBER! December rolls in, and yet it still feels like I just got here.

I've now been in Japan for the same amount of time as last time, but it doesn't even feel close to the same. (3 and a half months) I feel like last time I did so freekin much in such a small time it was nuts. Went so many places, saw so many people ect. I don't feel like I've done half as much this time around but I guess that's because I have to work everyday and only have weekends off. That and I didn't come to tour, but to work. There aren't any arranged trips either, so maybe I'm/my friends here are lazy?

I've been to Tokyo, Oyama, Utsunomiya, ect. but no real touristy spots. But it's weird I don't really want to go to the touristy spots (at least any within trains distance) I feel like I'm past that.

I've decided for Christmas I'm going to go to Kyoto (so at least that's some travel) to visit Chris at Doshisha University. That'll be alot of fun. I just need to buy the ticket which I should get on soon because they might be selling out, I really have no idea what its like to go to Kyoto around Christmas. Everyone tells me its colder there, which sucks... hah. DOSHISHA UNIVERSITY I'M COMIN FOR YOU SOON! I HOPE YOUR READY!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Interesting Week

I only had 4 days of school this week because of Thanksgiving. But it was a bit weird because we had last Monday off.. instead of actual Thanksgiving day hah. Whateva I'll take it!

You know lately I haven't been talking much about my schools. If anyone wants to hear about my lessons just leave a comment.

Anyways I had a pretty relaxing weekend. Took a ton of pics and videos. Posted 'em all on facebook. On Saturday Graham and I decided to go on a bike ride. We just rode around northern Sano. We were supposed to be playing Wii, but it didn't happen, o well!

Later that day we met up again and we went to the Choir Concert in Iwafune. Really nice sounding... I wanna buy the CD!

In other news I'm almost done with the Genki (Japanese Textbook), and I've bought Genki II and I'll start it as soon as I finish with the first one. I have failed I think in my Kanji study deadline. Maybe if I stick to my 1 lesson a day for the whole month of Dec. I can do it, but its doubtful.. sigh. Mush on though! As long as I'm learning something everyday thats the important thing!

Here's the link for the photos from Saturday:

Here are some of my favorite pics from the day:

Graham taming the Hippo

A really nice Shrine

Solitary Shrine

A Rock Quarry, I call it Industrial Japan haha

The Choir we saw in Iwafune
I want their CD!

Cya latas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving and Tokyo

So all of the ALTs, and some others came together at Adrian's house for a thanksgiving dinner. It was a good time, we talked enjoyed great food and good times.

This is our meal:
From left to right: Bread, (Purple) Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Mushroom Gravy (with the blue lid) White Meat, Dark Meat, Cranberry Sauce, Green Beans, Stuffing, Bread.

I asked Graham his opinion and here's what I got:

That night I also went to Shinbashi to meet people I talk to on Skype. People that have helped me or just talked to me randomly on Skype. Here are some pictures. I met them and we sang some karaoke.

Me, Frandy, JpMidnight

KgWorks, Me, Kapio (He organized the event)

Me and Mahal

Kapio Hiromi and Blue.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Important Happenings!

Important news!

My company emailed me and said that the Board of Education here is thinking about extending our contracts. Originally we had signed our contracts, which finished in March (when the school year ends here). However the BOE likes us, so they are talking about extending our contracts until July (Summer break starts here and only lasts for the month of August). I think if the BOE follows through and offers me employment through July I'll accept it. I feel like if I went home at the end of March I wouldn't have been here long enough. At the same time I don't think I would want to recontract for another year from March 2009 to March 2010. So by extending my contract to July I think its the perfect scenario for me.

Now to the Other stuff:
(especially weekends) I have this overwhelming urge to go outside and do something. Even if its going somewhere in Tokyo, or Oyama, or Utsunomiya, where ever really. I hate sitting at my computer when I'm in Japan. I feel like I need someone (friend) in my life that is super ambitious and is always doing something... that would be awesome. Maybe that or I just need to be that person myself and do everything and invite people. I feel like I waste my time doing nothing. I'm ok doing things by myself and I don't need someone to do stuff with, but it makes things more fun when I have a friend to do adventerous stuff with. Alot of people here that I'm friends with are either poor, boring, or isolate themselves.

I feel like I've had this urge since I've got here. And it hasn't been satisfied yet. I don't think it will go away even if I start being more adverturous.

I NEED ADVENTURES! (I'm on one, yet I don't feel fulfilled yet!)

ADVENTURE FACE! (Old pic but its adventurous) Things that happened over the week:

On Tuesday I went with Noshiro Sensei and Carrie to an Eye doctors here. I gave them my prescription and managed to register to get some new contacts, so this week I'm trying this trial pair. I'll start wearing them more if they are comfy. The eye doctors gave me three boxes of solution with cases and everything for free. I don't think I'll need to buy new solution for a while lol. They are Acuvue Oasis or something, they aren't bad but they do get dry after about 8 hours or so I think. I'll buy two boxes next Tuesday when they're ready for pick up.

Taught at Tenmyo from Wed-Fri. I got out early on Wednesday and got my first hair cut since I've been here! Here's a pic of it: I took with my new WEBCAM!!! (More about that later)

Giving directions in Japanese was interesting but I didn't really have that much trouble. The barber (was a woman) and I talked a bit about stuff. She said she'd try to learn more English and I said I'm learning new Japanese everyday lol. I told her about myself and she thought it was cool, because I guess being a foreigner (at least in Sano) automatically makes you interesting.

On Thursday I had to stay at school late because I got out early on Wednesday which I was ok with because I just talked to Teroka Sensei for like 2 hrs. I talked about drama in the school between the teachers and the Principal. Kinda crazy how much goes on behind the scenes at some of my schools, I guess living in ignorance is good and bad? We also talked about what is common in the US vs what's common in Japan, like with people my age. How in America its common to move out of your parents house after high school or college. But in Japan its common that females live with their parents until they get married. I told her about the emphasis on individuality and America and how everyone wants to be independent. Pretty interesting talk. I didn't get home until like 6 something but it was ok because I had a good conversation with her.

Here's a dinner I had this week:
Delicious, easy to make, and nutricious! Triple play! haha. Chicken salad thingy.

(Fri) Last night I went to Becky's because she was having a "house warming party" but not really she just bought a couch and needed help getting it in the house lol. Even tho the delivery guys brought it in just fine... Anyways the party was alright, we played some circle of death (drinking games) and hung out. I think Rob had the most fun, because he doesn't get to go house party's often haha. After that we went to Shidax for some Karaoke, but in all truth I should of just went home before that. Karaoke was fun but not that great because I was just exhausted. It was just a bit annoying because we couldnt decide what to do and no one was happy with the results and everyone was tired. I think Kristine got some good photos of the night, I'll ask for em later.

Today has been a little bit of a waste. I did some laundry, and did some stuff around the house. I also went out and bought a web cam, so now I talk with people from back home and they can see me! I also bought a bike pump which is great because now my bike feels like new after pumping the tires, they must of been really low.

I talked with Chris (who is in Kyoto) and Halston (MD) for a couple hours today. Here's the thing we used.

We caught up with each other and talked for a bit. After Halston and I played an online game, fun times.

Tomorrow I'm going to Adrian's house in Oyama for a big Thanksgiving event! It should be fun, but I feel like they is going to be to many people there and not enough room. There should be plenty of food because we all are bringing something, but ... just so many people and doing anything in big groups is difficult in Japan.

In other news, this picture of Luke makes me smile lol. It also makes me miss my family.

I was thinking about going to Chiba to visit a friend but she way busy this weekend. Maybe next time.

Now I'm bored and finishing the last of my laundry, I don't think anyone is doing anything tonight, I think I'm in for a boring Saturday night. In the mean time I'll be crawling out of my skin to do something.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ashikaga Wine Festival

What up What up?

Yeah so this week has been easy. I taught at Funatsugawa on Monday. Taught the whole school in one day again haha (all 21 students in the school). At recess we played cops and robbers, the kids love getting chased, but always complain that I'm to fast haha. I like funatsugawa but the 5/6th grade really doesn't get into English at all which makes it hard to want to teach.

On tuesday I taught at Azuma JHS where I finally gave my students the gifts I made/got for them. Here's a picture.

For Kentaro, I bought a hacky sack because he really liked playing it when we played during the lunch break. I hope he plays with his classmates and they all see how fun it is haha. For Hikaru I burned a copy of her favorite band's CD. She likes a group called NewS and the album name is Pacific. I also included some extra tracks from other CD's because there was room. For Momoko I drew two pictures of her favorite Naruto character Neji and gave her the free Naruto bag I got at Kiddieland in Tokyo haha. For all of them I wrote a note in Japanese saying:

I know the English speech was difficult, but I think you did your best. If you always do your best you will never have any regrets in life. I used my hanko (signature stamp) and hanko'ed the note too haha.

I think they all really liked their gifts.

Wednesday through Friday I taught at Ueno ES. On Wednesday I taught 4th grade, which is pretty fun. After school that day the incoming first graders came to get tests done. A small paper test, and eye sight and hearing test. Just to check up on them I guess? It was kind of fun just hanging out with the students and helping the kindergardeners. On Thursday and Friday I taught 2nd and 1st grade, and I've decided they are my favorite grades haha. This one cute little first grade girl wouldn't leave my side, at recess she wanted to hold my hand haha. She also brought me over to the monkey bars and made me watch her do it haha. She was all excited and I told her GOOD JOB!

After class was over in the 2nd and 1st grade I told the kids "手を上げてください” Which means please raise your hands and when they did I ran up to them and started tickling them. It was really funny, but now all the kids just come up to me with their hands in the air because they want to be tickled so its funny but kinda weird haha.

At recess on Thursday these two 2nd grader girls wouldn't leave me alone. I had to phyiscally run away from them during recess. I climbed a tree and hid. They kept wanting to hold my hands. A six grader came over and said they we were lovers haha. I told her NO! and Help me! lol.

After school on the day that I taught 2nd grade (Thur) this kid came up and talked to me for a bit, then I realized his hat he was wearing had this written on it: F*** the World (but without the stars) haha. It was hilarious that people here can wear that, have no idea what it says and on top of that he's a 2nd grader without a care in the world. I think sometime soon I want to bring my camera to school, I still haven't done it. If I take pictures of kids though and post them I can lose my job so the pictures will just be for me and anyone who requests them via email I guess.

This weekend was the Wine Festival in Ashikaga. Here are some pictures.

Here's a link to the rest of the album:

It was pretty fun, but I'm glad I didn't go with everyone else at 7:00am, I went with Kazuya and Matt at about 10, and got to leave with them a little early at about 4:30. Surprisingly I didn't get drunk at the wine festival. I think its because I'm not a huge fan of wine so I didn't go crazy, but I did eat alot of stuff there because everyone brought different stuff with them. We got to eat in the vineyard, it was really cool. There was live music, good food, good drinks, and good people.

And a video!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Second Month Complete

So I've finish October and it is was my second successful month here. I'm still enjoying teaching. Alot of the kids are warming up to me, pretty much everyone has my name down by now. They are still confused about what to call me: Nicholas Sensei or Lockard Sensei, but that's ok.

I haven't been bringing my camera with me places lately and I hate to post without any pictures or videos. Friday night I went to Graham's for little get together. Graham had like 8 people over or so, it was pretty fun.

Saturday during the day we had a big brunch and all hung out at Kristine's house. I bought15 bucks with or fruit but made this huge fruit salad it was really good and really worth it. I also had some pancakes and bacon and other goodies. Saturday night I went with Oliver to Oyama and had a few beers, and bar hopped. Met a couple people but didn't exchange numbers.

Today I went to Tokyo with Carrie and Adrian. Here are some pictures.

Here's all the pictures of the trip:

For those of you who know Yoyogi park you know its a nutty place where people do everything imaginable. We came across an acapella group it was pretty cool, I took a video. We also came across a bunny pageant which was funny.

It was another trip down memory lane being back in Tokyo again.