Thursday, October 30, 2008
Since I got out early I had alot of free time today, so I decided to get some stuff done. I took my bike over to AEON and the Premium Outlets. I shopped a bit. The whole point was to get two things. 1. a hacky sack for Kentaro as his present for doing a good job in the English Speech. 2. A Halloween costume, because Halloween is tomorrow! I went to Toys'R'Us and saw a Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas for only 12 dollars but I decided I wanted to be something else. I really wanted to be a character from Naruto but I don't have any time left to make it.
Anyways, at AEON I found the hacky sack I wanted to buy so now I have all the presents for my English Speech students. I'll give it to them next time I go to Azuma. I also made a couple other purchases.
Since I've been playing Ultimate almost every weekend I finally bought cleats: Only 3900 Yen (39 dollars) and good quality Adidas cleats.
Next I bought an Engrish shirt (The first one I've ever bought) I couldn't pass them up because it was two for 1000 yen (10 dollars)
First we have "Looking for Love" I mean come on read it. And the pictures on it just make it even better.
And now you know why I had to title this blog post Looking for love haha.
Next we have On kendo hacker. Because not only do I cheat at kendo I hack it. Also I don't know if thats an OTL or an O and a weird N or Pi or what, either way it is amazing. Oh yeah and there's a dog too.So after my visit to AEON and the Outlets I stopped at work man where I found some interesting stuff. And ideas for a possible costume. I considered being either a Zombie Japanese Construction Worker (Because they dress like ninjas and just generally look like badasses) Or just a ninja haha.
So yeah I think I'm going with the Japanese Construction worker. Its too cool to pass up lol. I can buy everything at workman too for relatively cheap.
Here's a whole article about construction man fashion lol http://pingmag.jp/2006/01/18/construction-worker-fashion/
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This past weekend I went to
I met with Matt at the station where most people were supposed to meet but it turns out it was just Matt and me. Everyone else had gone to
Once we got to
After finishing at the restaurant we went toward the bus stop that was supposed to take us to Ageha (the biggest club in
Unfortunately for me Ni-Chome is the gay district of Tokyo. Arty Farty is the bar/club we went to. I’ve been there before and last time I went there it was a lot of fun, but I think that’s because of the group I went with. This time wasn’t so much fun because it was so crowded and I wasn’t in the mood to try and find space on the dance floor. I’m not homophobic, and honestly even if it was a straight bar and it was that crowded I wouldn’t have liked it. I would of much rather gone to Ageha because I think it would have been more fun, and I know for a fact there would have been more space lol, but its ok I still had a decent time.
From there we took taxis back to the hostel which had a weird curfew of 2:00 -4:30am. We got back at like 4:00 but couldn’t get back in until 4:30, so we waited outside. Here's a picture of my "room" its a capsule hostel.
The next day we woke up, showered and headed for Harajuku for some shopping. On the way we passed by Akasaka - it threw me into a jumble of emotions because I haven't been back there since I've been in Japan. I miss those days so much.
In Harajuku there was a Halloween festival there. We split up and some of us got brunch and the others got all you can eat (which here is called Viking) at a place called Shakey’s. I ended up choosing the pizza because there aren’t many chances for all you can eat pizza in
I found Luke's best Japanese Friend.
While in Harajuku I bought the toy called Mugen Edamame which means Endless (Infinity) Edamame (Soy bean). Basically it’s a retarded toy that mimics a Soy bean and you can pop the beans out over and over again. Why Japanese people love this I have no idea, but because its so ridiculous I bought it. I also decided to buy a Naruto Shirt because I don’t really ever treat myself to anything and I felt like doing it. I think soon I’m going to buy a DS (with a Kanji Dictionary game) or an Electronic Dictionary, because it would make life so much easier. The thing is I want to do some research first because they run about 200 dollars.
I get paid again on the 10th next month which is pretty soon and I haven’t spent much of my first pay check. The next paycheck is supposed to be a bit more than the first because of all the expenses they took out, which is good. I still wish I got paid as much as the JETs (another English teaching program). I think they get roughly 700 more dollars per month than us which really can add up.
Yesterday I taught at Funatsugawa (the smallest elementary in Sano). It was pretty fun, I made a mask with the 3rd/4th graders (more of a hat) but I liked the way it came out hah. Last night (Monday night) I was invited by the Principal to come drinking with him and the 5th/6th grade teacher Mr. Yamaguchi. It was crazy. We ate, drank, and talked we pretty much talked the entire time in Japanese for 3 hours. After some time had passed the Principal got pretty drunk and started giving me the close talk and I’ve only known him for 2 months and I’ve only been to Funatsugawa maybe 4 or 5 times.
We talked about why I came to
I was surprised at how much sake they could drink, they were pros. It was a Monday night and I only drank a few beers but they were pounding the Sake. I asked if they ever get hangovers and the principal said no we’re both veterans haha. The principal also tried to tell me a story about how drinking sake alone is the best. I don’t know if it was his opinion or if it was because of a poem or Japanese people in general feel that way. From what I understood he was saying just being alone hearing the crickets chirp on an autumn night and reflecting on your thoughts sometimes is good (or the best). Apparently it is romantic or cool for guys to be alone drinking sake? Seems a little weird but I think it’s a cultural thing.
Since I told him I want to learn about Japanese culture he was trying to teach me stuff. He also wanted me to eat this paper sheet of fish, but I definitely wasn’t drunk enough to try it. I just didn’t want to gag or something if I ate it because that’d be rude Hahah.
It was a really good experience and I really wish I would have remembered to take pictures. I brought my camera but forgot to take pics and regret that. Next time I go out with them I won’t forget.
Today I’m going to Azuma to give the gifts to my students who participated in the English Speech contest. I hope they like everything.
It’s finally starting to get cold here and it’s almost November. The mornings and nights are chilly but it’s hot during the day. I wonder when I’ll have to turn my heat on?
Friday, October 24, 2008
What fruits basket is if you don’t know: It’s a game where the students get their chairs in a circle and there is 1 less chair than number of people – kind of like musical chairs. Each student is assigned or picks a fruit (or whatever options there are depending on the category). It starts with there being one person in the middle of the circle of chairs. They are known as the ‘Oni’ (Demon). That person says a fruit (or item in the category of choice) and everyone that chose or was assigned that fruit must get up and find a new seat. In our case the words were ghost, bat, witch, jack-o-lantern, Frankenstein, mummy and skeleton. There is also a key word that can be said where everyone must find a new seat, usually it’s fruit basket but since we played a Halloween edition the key word was Happy Halloween (if said everyone had to get up and find a new seat). The person left without a seat is the new Oni. This continues until the teacher decides the game is over or time runs out.
It’s a really fun game and the kids love it. Whenever teachers get stuck in the middle the kids go crazy. When I’m the Oni I usually new a few items so more kids have to find new seats and they have to listen better.
Yesterday my Junior High School Azuma had its English Speech contest. Kids from every school in Sano met at this community center for the contest. After teaching at Azuma Elementary, 3 Azuma Junior High students came over to practice their English speeches with me. We practiced for about 2 hours. I had to help with their pronunciation, they almost all had the same common mistakes. It was pretty interesting and I took some pictures and videos. I wish I was able to post pics of the kids and stuff of it but apparently I can lose my job if I post pics.
My kids didn't win -- they didn't get 1st 2nd or 3rd but I thought they did well. My first year student Kentaro (7th grade) did well with no mistakes. My 2nd and 3rd grade students Momoko and Hiraku had some mistakes. Afterwards they cried, I felt really bad and they if I would of practiced more with them they would have done better but no one every asked me to help them out. i wish I would of in hindsight but can't change it now. After the speeches we had a long lunch break and Robb brought a hacky sack. We played that during the lunch break and after the kids watched for a while I made them play haha. They all looked interested but Japanese kids are just shy. So I brought the students from my school into the circle then other students started joining lol. Hacky sack is a good ice breaker haha.
After the results the contest was over. We went for ice cream to help cheer the kids up. I asked them what their favorite things were because I'm going to do something special for each of them. Momoko likes Naruto so I'm going to draw her favorite character for her and give it to her. Hiraku likes this band called News so I'm going to burn her a News CD. Kentaro likes DS, so I haven't decided what to do for him yet.
Friday (today) I taught at Ueno. The lunch was actually good today - it was dry curry beef (like taco meat basically) with pita bread. Whats funny is bread here is Pan - so it was Pita Pan when the kids said that I laughed. We also had some veggie soup and cheezy bread.
I talked with Matsumoto sensei about Ito sensei and we agreed he is a little weird and a little loud. He also wears his pants very high. We had a really good laugh about it, like falling over laughing – until he came back in the room. Then other teachers asked about it – we referred to Ito sensei as “He” and all I had to do was pull my pants up and they guessed correctly hahaha. I also gave Arai sensei my contact info and told him lets go bowling together sometime in Japanese lol. So hopefully he emails me or calls me and we go!
This weekend I'm headed to Tokyo (possible shinjuku ni chome) and Ageha! EXCITEMENT!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday I woke up nice and early and went to Utsunomiya again and played ultimate. I took some more photos of it. It was an awesome time. I always have fun out there playing ultimate. Its probably my favorite sport. More photos 写真 CLICK HERE! << リンクです
I gave them my camera to take some pics too and here are some I got....
I'm getting to know the guys there alot better. I finally know some names hah, last two times I was just going with nick names like Poor Boy, Shining boy and Muscle boy. I also got phone numbers and contact info. They said they want to hang out if I'm ever in Utsunomiya. Also the captain was asking me what I was doing after I'm done being an ALT. I told him I didn't know yet, he said I'm always welcome to come out and play.
I guess the ultmate thing is going well. I'm teaching them English ahha, ultimate English and they are teaching me how they play, because even though we have similar plays they call them different things and have slight variations and stuff. Its fun tho.. most of the time I tell them minarau which means I'll learn by watching haha.
On Sunday I woke up EARLY again (damn it I hate waking up early) but Its cool because I RETURNED TO TOKYO! I went with Carrie and Adrian, the whole time it just felt surreal. We went to Ueno, which I've been to and we went all places I've been included randomly going to the same exact Curry place I went last year. Here are a couple shots but for the full photo album CLICK HERE
We visited the Tokyo National Museum, which was as amazing as it was last time... and we also walked around Ueno a bit. We also went into the "Biggest Department Store in Tokyo". We got lost in it.. It was lot of fun running around tho with Adrian and Carrie, they're good peoples. We ate at EXCELSIOR for lunch! haha Its a rip me off version of Starbucks but I think I like it more.
I think after that we headed back. It was a fun day all in all.. I want to have more weekends like this past one. When I was in Tokyo it just felt surreal the whole time, like I was there but I wasn't. I think it's because just about all my friends that were there last time aren't there now and with that thought in mind its eerie. I guess I'll have to make more friends ha. I do miss Tokyo alot though. Probably the best time of my life hands down.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I think it’s been so long I forgot some of the stuff that has happened since last time I updated.
What happened.. hmm
The past weekend was somewhat eventful. I stayed busy but nothing major or great happened. Sunday I was supposed to go shopping with Grant and Carrie, but Carrie wanted to get drunk early haha but I’ll get to that in a second.
That morning I agreed to help Grant pick up some bikes from the Outlets and bike them back to his place to save some money instead of having them be delivered. I woke up pretty early and ate some breakfast then headed out to Grahams. From his place we walked to the station and took the bus to the outlets.
After we got there we saw some of his students for the first time out of school (he’s never seen his students outside of school because they all live like a 30 min drive north). He said it was cool to meet his students but they were weird because when we saw them they said I looked cool then they wanted to know if I thought they were cute, but they’re 9th graders… I pretended I didn’t know what they were saying and just said thanks haha. After talking to them for a bit they said they wanted to come with us, but that’s DANGER ZONE, and we were just picking up the bikes anyways. Before we got the bikes we got some McDonalds. I got a mega mac of course:
Of course it was great. Although made me feel sick afterward haha.
Then we got the bikes headed back and that was taken care of. I was jealous because their bikes have speeds, mine doesn't!
After that we were supposed to shopping but Carrie’s need to get drunk overwrote her shopping needs. So we met up and headed to Tochigi Beer Festival again at about 1pm. On the way there I saw this guy on the train I had to take a picture of. He looked ridiculous: You'll have to click on the image to make it big, zoom in on his face and his socks...
Once we got there we met up with Sean, and Robb/Company there. It wasn’t to happening so we decided to leave and we went to this bar called the Crows nest. I met a couple Japanese people there but didn’t exchange any phone numbers or anything so yeah. It was fun we sung karaoke for about 2 hrs. After that I called it a night because I figured I spent enough money. Watched a movie at home and took it easy.
Monday was a national holiday here. In the morning we all met at a train station then biked to a local coffee shop thats supposed to be really good, but I don't really drink coffee so I can't tell. Its a nice place though. They have good cake.
I went with Becky and Carrie to the outlets again, this time to get some Halloween candy to give to our teachers as a gift. When we first got there I saw some of my students, and of course they were 8th Grade girls. They asked if Becky or Carrie were my girlfriend, I told them no. For some reason the girls here are obsessed with knowing whether or not you have a girlfriend. They wanted to talk for a while but it started to get awkward so I ended the conversation a little early. After that Becky, Carrie and I went into a pet store just to check it out. There was tons of cute dogs there, and dog clothing (all of which angered me). After that we searched at Toys’R’Us because we heard they had cheap candy there. I also found some cheap versions of games we have in America:
We didn’t really see anything worth buying so we decided to go to the international market near by. We went to the international market and bought some candy, where I spent about 20 dollars on candy which is a lot and I didn’t get that much haha. After that I helped Carrie get all of her stuff she had lost the night before, like her alien registration card, driver’s license and other stuff that fell out of her wallet. It was funny because the people at the taxi place knew her by name.. They said in Japanese were you drunk last night? Ahha….
Wednesday night we had movie night at Matt’s place. This week we watched three ninjas, which is a freekin awesome movie. HIYA! Kristine has that movie quoted down to about every line, it’s almost scary. I think next week is Good Burger which I’m excited for!
Last night I spoke with Halston for like 2 hours about. It was nice to catch up with him and just talk. I told him my goal of learning 2042 Kanji by Dec. 4th. (Which is a lot to learn in just a short time) He was surprised and told me to do my best. I also inspired a few people online to learn at my pace. I pushed Halston to set some goals and I want him to achieve them like I will with mine. I set my latest deadline by the end of this year for the Kanji goal.
As far as teaching goes this week has been mostly normal/easy teaching. I spent the whole week at Ueno. I gave the teachers the Halloween candy and they were very thankful. They’re all such nice people I wish I could speak more Japanese. After I finish the Kanji I will start studying sentences and I will be able to get a real grip on the language. The crappy part is that by the time I get really good at it I’ll probably be leaving. I think the time to figure out if I want to renew my contract comes in January… whether I am or not I don’t know yet. As of now I’m leaning towards coming home. I met a good group of people here though and I do like the schools I teach at. The thing about moving here after being in Tokyo is at first it was a super downgrade, but as time goes on Sano gets better and better. If I were to stay here longer it would get really nice.
I think if my friends/family at home knew this they’d be like WHO CARES COME HOME! I think just about every week someone from back home asks, so when are you coming home again? Even though they are suffering it’s nice to hear and know my friends really miss me. I miss them too, but I’m having a good time here.
I also bought a puzzle and finished it in like 2 days.
I feel an intense motivation to get better at Japanese, specifically the Kanji. After watching some of Randy Pausch’s lectures one of the notes I took from it was -- Do the nastiest thing first. I think with Japanese Kanji is the nastiest part. It’s like setting the playing field, by doing kanji first you’re putting yourself on a hill, and everything else after that is downhill, so you don’t have to push so hard. I’m also learning them in a weird way, by memorizing how to write them and what the meaning in English of each is (like learning a key word for each). I’m not learning how to say them in Japanese because that will come with experience here, like just walking around or shopping at the grocery store for example hah.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Last night the bunch of us went to Tochigi where there was a Octoberfest! I've uploaded pictures and videos on facebook and the links are here:
Here's a couple from the album:
Here's a video of the night:
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Here's a video that I made of Hot Scream (Utsunomiya University Ultimate Frisbee Team) With some extras at the end. Please Enjoy! これは私のビデオです、お楽しみください。
Youtubeのバージョン Youtube Version
To see pictures of the weekend please click the link above ^^
This weekend was very fun. On Friday I was supposed to go see a movie with Matt, Becky and Astea, but Astrea didn't show up (she was going to drive us there) because I guess we didn't confirm that we were all going. Anyways at around 7:40 we decided to just go bar crawling. It was a great decision. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera because I was expecting to go to the movies. I wish I brought it because damn there were some funny moments.
First we tried to look for this Jazz Bar we've heard of, but didn't have any luck. We kept looking and found some really small neighborhood bars. We went into the first one and it was kinda awkward. It was only old people and it was smaller than my house. We sat down and tried to order 3 beers but they only let us order a big bottle and we split it. The owner of the bar (a woman) kept sitting with us and talking. She asked if we knew any Enka (traditional Japanese songs) and Matt said he knew one.. of course she put it on the karaoke and made him sing. It was hilarious but a good experience hahah.
After that we went to a Yakitori place and got some Chicken, that place was kind of boring but we got to talk for a while. Then we explored a bit more and found a nice looking place. It was a small place and there were 8 people signing karaoke. We got in and sat at the bar area. We order a few drinks and the people signing karaoke warmed up to us real fast haha. We all started talking and it was really fun. One of the guys said he was a police officer and he was good at sumo. Of course I didn't believe him so I got off my bar stool and challenged him. I slapped my belly and put my hands down in sumo stance then he came at me haha. It was freekin hilarious.
Later on we found out they were all bankers from Gunma Bank. They must of had a long week and decided to go party. They were alot of fun and we sang some songs with them.
They were really insistent on asking if we had girlfriends. Matt told them he did so he was ok. I told them I didn't so the guy that I sumo wrestled against told me to date his sister haha, I don't know if it was a joke or not but it was kind of funny. Anyways after about an hour or two there I went home for the night.
Saturday morning I woke up early because I wanted to go join the team at Utsunomiya to play some Ultimate Frisbee. I was supposed to me Atsuhiro at the station at 10 but I took a wrong train and backtracked, but I eventually made it haha. I was very apologetic but he said it was no problem. I bought him lunch because I felt bad later. Anyways Frisbee was alot of fun and the guys asked if I wanted to go drinking with them again (like last week). Of course this time I accepted! After playing Frisbee all day Atsuhiro invited me to come with him. He said we're going to a public bath, I was like ok! The public bath was awesome, luckily my eye sight sucks without glasses so I didn't have to see all that man junk. After the shower area I went to the spa area and got in a jacuzzi thing it was great especially after running all day. After that I went to the onsen (hot spring) outside and it was great. What's funny is I think Atsuhiro was more apprehensive than I was. I was like whatever we're all men we all have the same stuff, I don't care.
After the public bath we met Oliver at the station. I decided to invite him since he was in Utsunomiya for the day. All three of us walked to the Izakaya (bar) where we were supposed to meet everyone. We got in and it was a really nice place. We had a great time just talking and learning about each other both in English and Japanese haha. Luckily one of the guys had an electronic translator.
After the Izakaya Oliver and I headed home. One of the team members (nickname was Tom) was going the same way. We got on the train and we were on our way. I saw three guys walking to find seats, I offered mine seat to them. I guess they thought that was a nice gesture so they gave Oliver, Tom and me some Strawberry Jam. After that they said we were Jam friends haha it was awesome.
Oliver and I got back to the station around 11:30. There we met up with Adrian, Matt, and Graham. The girls were all out of town this week, they went to soccer tournament in Nagano so we had a "guys night out". After meeting up we tried to look for a bar to go to. We ended up sitting infront of the 7-11 talking to some guy named Mario who was in his 50's and from Paraguay. It was crazy to talk to him in Spanish and Japanese. A few times I had to take a step back and look at the whole situation and laugh because it blew my mind. I tried my best to remember Spanish but after studying Japanese so much its almost replaced it. The 5 of us ended up going to Ken's Bar after that. Had some pizza and then called it a night.
Today (Sunday) I woke up late and then met up with Oliver and Graham to play tennis. First we went to this coffee shop that is supposed to be amazing. They have coffee from all around the world and I mean all around the world. They had coffee beans from something like 30-40 different countries and you could order a cup of any kind you want. You could also buy 100g of the beans from that country. They brew each cup individually. I got Brazilian coffee, and I'm not much of a coffee drinker so I couldn't tell if it was good or not hah.
We finished up there then headed to the courts. It took us a while to figure out where it was ok to park but we eventually found a place. We walked over the courts and volleyed for a long time. Graham and I played a game or two. A Japanese couple was playing a few courts over. I told Graham we should challenge them in doubles. So we walked over and asked if they wanted to play. We spoke a bit in Japanese and told them we we're any good, and the husband said in English I know. I was like damn that's harsh! Anyways after the greetings we played. After volleying we broke up into teams and played 7 games. I was expecting to be Graham and I vs. them, but I was on the team with the Husband and Graham was on the team with the Wife. My team won 7 to 5. It was alot of fun. After that we met a Guy who used to be the Principal at one of my schools. We spoke with him in English for about 20 minutes it was a good conversation. He said he wanted to hang out with us I was like sure, even though you're like 60 or 70. He said he had alot of free time so I hope he calls me hahah.
Tonight I've just been relaxing, I made that video and posted the pictures from the weekend. I also took a bath earlier and did some laundry. I go to my Junior High School tomorrow for the 2nd time. Junior High is good because its different and refreshing. EXCITEMENT!!
Friday, October 03, 2008
I really enjoy teaching, I’d say probably more than I expected. Being around kids all day is a lot of fun, but definitely tiring. I think I’m much more tired when I’m not teaching than when I’m in the classroom. I only ever feel tired right after lunch and recess when I’m in the staff room sitting there being bored. I thought that this job would be a lot more fun than any office job I’d land in the states (at least right after college) and my experience so far confirms it. On a side note the 1st and 2nd graders here are overwhelmingly cute.
It can sometimes be difficult to talk or work with some of the teachers here because they don’t know any English and my Japanese isn’t strong enough to bridge that gap just yet. Somehow through body language and other various ways I’m almost always able to communicate what needs to be done. Thankfully I haven’t had any serious problems at all with the teachers. I think pretty much everyone at my schools likes me. There hasn’t really been any one time where there has been a total failure to communicate. I was expecting to hang out more with the teachers but because they are so busy and with the whole language gap it is a bit difficult.
I feel healthy and I am getting a lot of exercise. I bike to school everyday and am very energetic in the classroom. I think the kids love the energy. I'm still working on making a catch phrase that I want all the kids saying by the end of the year haha. I also take every chance I can to go play games at recess. The kids always fight over me because some want me to jump rope, want me to play soccer, and some want me to play dodge ball. I try to do a little of each everyday. On the weekends I’ve been trying to stay active as well. I bought a tennis racket and plan on playing this weekend. Last weekend I went to my prefectures capital (like a state capital) about an hour train ride away and played Ultimate Frisbee. I made a bunch of new of new friends there. Last weekend after practice they invited me to come out drinking with them but I already had plans, maybe this weekend I’ll go with them haha.
I think that my life here can only get better as time goes on. So far that’s been the trend and I think its going to continue. I believe this because I’m going to get to know Sano better (find all the awesome little niche places), I’m going to keep making new friends (in addition to the ALTs make Japanese friends), and I’m going to continue to improve my Japanese (so I know what the hell I’m buying/eating/using ect.).
Soon I think there are free Japanese language classes in Ashikaga, a close by city. I want to go when they start so I can continue to learn. Self study is good, and I’m learning but not at a fast enough pace. I think being in a class of some kind might facilitate faster learning because there is someone pushing you to learn.
My ALT friends and I have decided to make Wednesday nights “closet movie night”. Where we watch a movie that is supposed to be bad but we all secretly like. Last Wednesday we watched Mean Girls, which I thought was well written hah. Next Wednesday I think it’s Snakes on a Plane, which I still haven’t seen but want to.
Life is good.
This week I taught at Tenmyo and Ueno, all easy and fun. I'm starting to teach about Halloween the kids seem pretty interested, but the teachers almost seem more interested than the kids haha. I want to dress up and go to class, if they let me I totally will.