Gaijin Noses 外人の鼻

20130110-午後013948.jpg

Look I realize that us gaijin 外人 (foreigners) tend to be generally better endowed in the nose department than our Japanese counterparts, but its no secret that the Japanese like to draw attention to this fact like there’s to tomorrow.
This was a poster I was up at one of my shougakkou 小学校 (primary school) today for a marathon, notice that a gaijin is featured. Alongside having the blond hair we apparently all sport, his nose is illustrated as no less than 16 times the size of the Japanese runners around him!

Just think for a moment about racist Japanese stereotypes, it would be something along the likes of small eyes, big teeth, flat faces right. Yet could you imagine over pronouncing those physical characteristics, in an advertisement featuring a Japanese person in any western country the exact way it has been done here for our gaijin friend…….. exactly…… because that would be racist! Oh Japan.

Anyhow I don’t have a particularity enormous shnozz but that ain’t stop my students from commenting on it pretty much every time I see them, the most common being the grabbing of the nasal bride between the eyes ours tend to be quite pronounced while I have seen many Japanese that can probably stare themselves in the eyes if they went cross-eyed.

20130110-午後024314.jpg
This is a novelty set of gaijin nose and eyes that I have seen at ドン・キホーテ (a popular, variety store) on occasions. Obviously intended for dress up parties, its existence really highlights the cultural tolerance gap here in Japan for me, like think about it could you imagine rocking up to a costume party with your eyes taped back and a pair of fake buck teeth in, when people asked you what you were you’d be like ‘uh obviously I’m Japanese’. Case and point!

20130110-午後025611.jpg
Look on a final note, this is an picture introducing the characters that feature in the textbook ‘New Crown’ that we use in teaching English at Chuugakkou 中学校 (Junior high school). Notice the ‘gaijin’ characters, all 3 obviously western ones have blue eyes and blond or red hair, so there hammering in there stereotypes to children from a very young age as to what foreigners apparently look like. Think to yourself, how many blond people do you know, unless your from Scandinavia or Sweden I’m guessing not many. In America it’s around 5% of the white population that sports naturally blond hair. Silly Japan, you have do much to learn XD

-たこ

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Living in Japan

I came across this recently and couldn’t help but share, after returning home to Australia over the Christmas period, I have been nothing short of amazed at just how ignorant my fellow countrymen are regarding the country in which I reside!

Without further without further ado, an extremely insightful Cracked article into what Japan is really like, 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Living in Japan!!

#5. Everything Is Frightfully Low-Tech

Quick question: When was the last time you had to use a fax machine?*

*”What is a fax machine?” is an entirely acceptable response.

“Some sort of … sex toy?”

Well, you should try moving to Japan if you want to recapture the magic of the fax machine and other 1990s technology. I actually use one about twice a month to send out my work invoices, because many of the Japanese companies that employ me do not accept paperwork by email. The rare ones that do require that my Word/Excel files be compatible with their 1998 version of Microsoft Office, which is sort of like requiring your Avengers Blu-ray to play on a Betamax machine.

My point is, on the surface Japan seems like the closest thing Earth currently has to a moon base, what with their stock exchange being entirely computerized and wireless Internet literally coming out of their vending machines.


But the truth is, many things are still being done in painfully old-fashioned ways, a phrase which here means “by hand and on paper.” Actually, having seen the amount of paper a typical Japanese office goes through, I feel safe in assuming that the entire country has declared a shadow war on both the information age and trees.

How can this be? Well, Japan is still mainly in the hands of the older generation: Over a fourth of the population is over 60, and they’re in no particular hurry to adopt new technology (particularly not Apple products, because as far as Japan is concerned, Steve Jobs can go fuck himself). Institutions like banks, the postal service and government offices still keep all of their records on paper, maintained and filed by superfluous personnel who could easily be replaced by an old Soviet computer (which incidentally is more or less what a friend of mine at a Yokohama municipal office was using at his workstation as recently as 2010).

Many businesses still don’t even accept credit cards. A Japanese airline can get you to any corner of the globe without a hassle, so long as you’re paying in cash, even if the tickets come up to a few thousand dollars each (and I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience). This is made even more difficult by the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 24-hour ATM anywhere in Japan.

“We’re proud to announce the launch of a new debit card, usable only in this room and only for the next 11 minutes.”

That’s right; most banks in Japan keep their ATMs indoors, which means that once the banks close (typically around 6 p.m.), so do the machines, utterly defeating their entire purpose for existing. It’s another extension of that technological resistance — pretty much anywhere outside of Tokyo harbors a deep generational resentment for automation. They don’t want the ATMs operational while there aren’t any bank employees around to help in case something goes wrong (although outside of users being clubbed with a thermos and robbed, the list of possible mishaps is embarrassingly short). You can always try an ATM at a convenience store (the number of which currently exceeds the national population), if you don’t mind the variable transaction fees that seemingly change at random. And that’s only if your ATM card will even work in machines outside of your bank, which it almost certainly won’t.

The damn thing even looks like a 1980s fever dream of the future.

Of course, the best time to find out whether the 7-Eleven around the corner accepts your card is after 1 a.m., when all of the public transport has stopped and you desperately need money for a taxi. Basically, if you’re planning on doing anything at all besides going to and from work, you need to keep fistfuls of cash either on your person at all times or piled under a mattress in your freezing apartment.

Wait, why is your apartment freezing? Because …

#4. The Houses Have No Heat

Japan is constantly depicted in movies and TV shows as a technological wonderland of science and innovation, to the point where you would expect every toilet to resemble the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, complete with a not-quite-real-or-fake-enough Patrick Stewart screaming “Make it so!” in a Japanese man’s voice. The reality, however, is that your house or apartment will most likely lack such basic things as central heating and thermal insulation, and you’ll be forced to burn that Ghost in the Shell poster your mom would never let you hang up just to stay warm.

Behold, the wonders of the Far East.

Traditionally, Japanese houses have always been built to let as much air flow through them as possible, because the summers here average somewhere between 80 and 90 degrees. Unfortunately, this piece of architectural brilliance will betray you come wintertime, as there is nothing at all in place to keep frozen winds from bursting into your house and dragging warm air off into the night like the werewolves from The Howling. But as most foreigners in Japan learn firsthand, you’re sort of expected to just tough it out.

You can pick up an electric AC/heater, if you feel like throwing down hundreds of dollars to pay for both the unit and the required professional installation, but even then it’s only enough to cover one room. The Japanese simply do not heat more than one or two places in the entire house — they never have, and they aren’t likely to start before you move here. Your only other option is a kerosene heater, which you can’t really leave running overnight unless you’re trying to burn and/or suffocate your family to death. Of course, having one also means keeping several cans of kerosene around the house at all times, so the “burning” thing may eventually happen on its own.

“It’s cool, plastic isn’t flammable.”

Newer buildings like those in the middle of Tokyo probably have central heating systems strong enough to microwave a chicken just by shutting all the windows, but considering that land and building costs in Japan are still some of the highest in the world, the only people who can afford to live in new homes are those rich enough to insulate the walls with unicorn pelts.

#3. The Hospitals Close on Evenings and Weekends

The good news about health care in Japan is that your insurance is accepted pretty much anywhere. The bad news is that most hospitals keep shorter hours than a Blockbuster Video. Generally speaking, Japanese hospitals are only open from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and are usually not open at all on the weekends. So if you lop off a digit at a family barbecue, you basically have to wrap your stump in a Pikachu towel full of ice, wait for Monday to roll around and hope your severed finger doesn’t get freezer burn.

“Attention horribly injured people: The hospital will close in 15 minutes. Please continue clinging desperately to life.”

Even then, it’s no guarantee you’ll get to see a doctor, because outpatients are usually only admitted in the morning. If you don’t get to the hospital quickly enough, you’ll have to wait another day (oh, and good luck using all that personal time in a country where missing work is considered a form of light treason). Also, first-time patients can’t make appointments at most medical facilities, so you pretty much just have to show up and hope somebody dies in a car accident on the way to the hospital and frees up a slot. And make sure to bring cash with you (see above), because while the majority of hospitals have ATMs, you really don’t want to play “Will my card work here?” while you’re bleeding from the face.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to visit the ATM before we attach the second oxygen cylinder.”

If you do manage to make it into a doctor’s office, make sure that you bring someone with you who can speak Japanese, because not many doctors or nurses speak English. Which actually brings me to my next point …

#2. You Will Always Be an Outsider

Since this is the Internet, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Engrish.com and Japan’s many hilarious (hirarious?) failings with the English language. But honestly, Japan is an industrialized nation full of well-educated people, and English is one of the most widely spoken languages on the planet. Zany out-of-context Internet photos aside, how alienating could it really be over there?

The short answer is very.

The long answer is more rambling and incoherent.

Simply put, the country just isn’t very accommodating to people who can’t speak Japanese. Without the language, you will barely be able to buy food or get around, let alone establish any kind of permanent living situation that doesn’t involve keeping a bilingual girlfriend/boyfriend/hostage on hand 24/7 to translate every commercial that comes on the radio. You can’t just exchange shouts with people and come to a working understanding like Han Solo and Chewbacca. Real life doesn’t work that way.

So how is that different from moving to any other country where English isn’t the native language? Well, for starters, Japanese is one of the hardest languages for Americans to learn, requiring 2,200 hours of study if you want to be considered truly proficient. This is partly because of the difficulties of learning a new language as an adult, and partly because English and Japanese have about as much in common with each other as Halloween and Halloween III.

Dear God, imagine what their text messages must look like.

That being said, once you actually got the whole language thing down, you might expect to finally be able to integrate yourself into Japanese society and thrive, right? Well, here’s how it was with me: I’ve been coming to Japan for nearly a decade, my wife is Japanese, I speak the language fluently, I know the culture inside and out, and yet I’m still “that foreign guy” to most people here (even the ones who have known me for close to 10 years).

“Hi! My name is Vanillaface McCheeseburger! My hobbies include ‘not being Japanese’!”

Japan is one of the most homogenous nations on Earth — roughly 98 percent of the population is ethnically Japanese. No matter what you do to try and fit in, you will always stick out like a sore thumb in a room full of people who have had their thumbs removed by rototillers.

For instance, one of the biggest hot button issues in Japan concerns people of Korean ancestry who live in the country. In most cases, these are people who were born in Japan, have Japanese names and speak almost exclusively Japanese, but because of their Korean lineage, they are still legally considered foreigners and as such face several restrictions (such as the inability to vote or hold management positions in the public sector, a law that the Supreme Court actually upheld in 2005). The government literally decided that all Koreans are dastardly shitheads who are not to be trusted and mandated it to the entire country.

Take your incredible goddamn barbecue & piss off!

So now ask yourself this — if the Koreans in this example (who by all rights should be full Japanese citizens were it not for ethnic prejudice) are given the same treatment as convicted felons, what chance does a white kid in a Gundam T-shirt have to not be considered a complete outcast?

I’m not saying that every single person in Japan hates foreigners, but if you live here, you will be constantly reminded that you are most decidedly not Japanese, nor are you likely to spontaneously become so. Still, it’s a small price to pay to live in a place as outlandishly crazy and fun as Japan, right?

Yeah, about that …

#1. The Country Really Isn’t That Weird

I’m guessing that one of the top reasons people want to move to Japan is because of how eye-poppingly insane everything here is. Japan is the patron saint of the Internet — everything is either batshit crazy or adorable (or both), with the sole requirement of being impossible to explain in any conceivable context.

For example, this is food.

Man, I’m about to destroy a lot of illusions.

To start, let’s talk a little about Japanese TV. You may have seen clips of some X-rated Japanese game show floating around the Internet wherein an audience full of young women eagerly compete for the privilege of having sex with some random guy on stage in front of hundreds of people (if not, you’re probably searching for them right now). Here’s the shocking truth behind those videos — they are porn.

We know, it’s easy to get thrown off by the high production values.

As in, they are professional pornographic videos dressed up to look like a game show, because … you know, just because. Does porn need a reason? There’s a Simpsons porn out there featuring people sweatily groping each other in jaundiced yellow body paint, for Christ’s sake. Nobody is posting clips of that on the Internet and claiming it’s the new season … well actually, somebody probably is, but nobody would seriously believe that.

The porno game show I’m referring to is called Kobe Surprise, and it is every bit an actual game show as Walt Disney’s Pocahontas is a historical documentary. Just like those goofy “true life” pornos MILF Hunter or Bang Bus, nothing about it even approaches reality, yet all you apparently need to do is tell everyone it’s from Japan and suddenly people think it comes on every night after Wheel of Fortune.

Amazingly, this has never aired on network television

Don’t get me wrong — there are some daffy game shows in Japan, and there is definitely erotic programming on late night TV, but the country isn’t full of shamelessly sex-crazed lunatics who have stopped trying to measure the immensity of the shits they no longer give.

“So what about those infamous vending machines that sell used panties?” you might ask. Well, they do exist, but they were outlawed nearly 20 years ago. You can still find one from time to time, but they are illegal as fuck and usually hidden in sex stores or fetish clubs, and not in a bus station next to the Mr. Pibb machine.

That’s where they sell the pure strain gold.

I shook my head particularly hard when I read about the Japanese fundraiser that allowed people to squeeze some hot girl’s breasts if they donated money to AIDS research, because every website that reported on it wrote about it like it happens every Tuesday in Japan. It doesn’t. The event was hosted by a freaking porn channel — that’s like if Hugh Hefner held a topless car wash at the Playboy Mansion and the BBC told the rest of the world that there was one next to every McDonald’s in America.

But maybe you dream of living in Japan not because the porn flows like water (it doesn’t, at least not any more so than in any other country where the Internet is a thing), but because of your love for anime, which is so popular and widely accepted among Japanese adults that you could enjoy your obsession in peace with the approval of your peers. Even though we’ve moved on from porn, don’t put those tissues away just yet — you may need them for the next paragraph.

After all these years in Japan, I can honestly say that animation (major studio productions notwithstanding) is still mainly considered kids’ stuff. There is shockingly little anime on television, and most of it is unapologetically meant for children. The only adults who really get into it (referred to as otaku) are usually perceived by the media as overweight, unwashed weirdos who are probably child molesters. Sound familiar? You’re bound to spend just as much time hiding your Trigun DVDs from company here as you would anywhere else.

With the added burden of the traditional Japanese Head of Shame

Japan does have its eccentric side, but at the end of the day (and especially outside of Tokyo), it’s pretty normal and boring. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from moving here (because I live here and I’m not planning on leaving anytime soon), but if you are really considering buying a place in Japan, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Because if you step off the plane armed with nothing but what the Internet teaches you about this country, chances are you will be arrested before you make it out of the airport.

Via: Cracked.com

Taking Sick Leave As An ALT…….

26935345

Just had one of those awkward 年休 (annual leave) vs 病休 (sick leave) discussions on the phone with my OTE (Japanese Teacher of English).

(All in Japanese – Which I am terrible at)
Daniel: Sorry Sensei, today I must go to the hospital, I might need an X-Ray.
Sensei: Oh I see that is too bad, you can take nenkyuu 年休 (annual leave).
Daniel: Is byoukyu 病休 (sick leave) OK?
Sensei: {Hestitantly} Hmmmmmm maybe…….. Please get better you must teach tomorrow morning.

Taking byoukyuu (sick leave) is something akin to taboo in the Japanese workplace, the Japanese only take it if they are on their death bed…… instead they take their nenkyuu 年休 (annual leave) or more often than not just come to school sick and ganbarre 頑張れ it out (A Japanese phrase meaning to persevere through hardships). The main reason for this is that the cultural understandings of sick leave differ here in Japan.

However in addition to this Japanese tend to be keen to burn through their annual leave as opposed to sick leave since they don’t use their annual leave anyway!!
I guess this is because the in the Japanese mindset people dont take things just because they are entitled to them, a good example of this is the concept of a nomihoudai 飲み放題 (all you can drink) place can charge 1500-2000円 (about 18-24$) for 2hours all you can drink. Japanese rarely go crazy (not that they can drink all that much anyway) at such places where as us gaijin loose our shit and get wasted!

Back on topic in addition to this Japanese teachers GET HUGE BONUSES twice a year, the amount of which is directly related how many days of sick leave they have used, ALTs get no such free wads of cash…….. so why should we use up our precious annual leave when were sick, caz yano thats what sick leave is for!!!!

Rant Over

Life In Japan 日本での生活: 6 Months Down The Road

20121127-午後013921.jpg

Foreword: I don’t mean this to be a long rant, but rather an insight into my experiences and the difficulties I have faced thus far on one of the most amazing adventures one can embark on in life, JET.

So I’ve been on this crazy roller-coaster know as the JET Program for 6 months to the day and needless to say its been a journey of epic proportions!
Honestly reflecting on my development from a personal perspective, I’ve grown more in the past 6 months than I have in the past 6 years, the person I was the day I stepped off that plane half a year ago is dead and buried. This however in no way is a bad thing, if moving to the other side of the world to a country where you scarcely speak the language on your lonesome will teach you anything it’s self-reliance. My cooking skills have sky-rocketed for feeding myself is a necessity, furthermore I’m in better shape than I have been in my entire life. Back home life was all but convenience, here if I want something I must do it myself which has made me more or less self-reliant, a perk of being a city JET is I need to ride a bike everywhere I go as opposed to relying on driving, a task I despise.

20121130-午前090657.jpg

Anyhow I’m now on the path I have been searching for all my life. I’ve discussed this in past posts but I had many issues when I arrived, being an early arrival JET I had more or less no support network as I came at a difficult period when many old ALTs were leaving, most had no time for me, nor the KEC (the Kobe board of education) the resources to properly orientate me.

20121129-午前104836.jpg

Don’t get me wrong the first 2 months in Japan I had the time of my life, it’s a period i can now nostalgically reflect upon as being a magical twilight, I was high on life, the JET handbooks tell us this is called the honeymoon phase….. It was all that and so much more, gazing out through the at window at the chilly landscape from my desk I wonder if it was even real.

20121129-午前104858.jpg
But the day came when it all came crashing down around me, as with any high, nothing lasts forever in the cold November rain.

Between my 3rd and 4th months here I fell into a deep state of depression, I took a good hard look at myself, the person I was becoming and decided a change was in order. Suddenly all I could think about was the life and people I had left behind, constantly overwhelmed by a sense of longing to return home. Almost overnight I started to notice things that I had previously found endearing about Japan to be little more than annoying and foolish.

20121129-午後035748.jpg

This sudden bout of depression hit me like a ton of bricks and couldn’t have come at a worse time….. the arrival of the new 2012 JETs! All around me were dozens of new faces still in their honeymoon phase loving life, meanwhile I was miserable for no reason I could discern. I loved my life, my job, my friends, YET I constantly found myself having to drag myself out of bed in the morning to face the day. Being around people was enough to bring me to tears, the worst part was I had no reason to be depressed yet I felt broken inside.
This was all compound by the fact that during natsuyasumi 夏休 (summer holidays) the Kobe board of education sends its 120 or so ALTs off for mandatory summer school, skill development conferences and language school! Because of this I couldn’t simply lay low for a couple weeks whilst I felt my world crumpling around me, but rather I had to put on a brave face day after day whilst I was forced to associate with the rest of the Kobe JET community. Now I won’t lie this place is pretty much highschool, with there being so few foreigners in Kobe it’s almost like living in a small town, everyone knows everyone and gossip is the commodity that’s most revered.

Regardless somehow I pulled through, I took a good hard look at myself, the person I was becoming and decided a detox was in order, overnight I stopped drinking, started exercising (even more than I already did) and radically changed my diet. I’d love to admit that this is the secret for conquering cultural shock but I would be lying….. As nice as the though may be there is no quick fix, there’s only one cure for this kind of affliction….. Time.

Anyhow on a more positive note there certainly was a light at the end of the tunnel, when did I emerge for this state….. Well I’m not entirely sure, it was around the beginning of my fifth month, but I thank god I had the support of my friends here. This certainly won’t be the case for the vast majority of JET participants but I have around 60 other ALT’s living within a 5 minute walk of my apartment, a good 10 in the building itself!!

20120907-153105.jpg20120924-午前100922.jpg

It wasn’t until the hecticness of the summer died down that I truly found my friendship circle and the people who would be there to help me pull through. This was when things started to shape up, after a long hibernation I emerged from my apartment a new man, keen to resume exploring all this country has to offer. I am now well on track to becoming a prominent outspoken member of the JET community here in Kobe, am enjoying my job more and more by the day and have not let the onset of winter keep me down.

At the end of the day I have landed on my feel and am really in a great place and am more or less content with life, when my recontracting forms arrived on my desk I sent them back signing up for another 20 months or so here in Kobe without a second thought, I really hope that the decision is that easy when they come around again next year.

Studying Japanese

Anyhow on to a question I am very frequently asked, ‘so how is your Japanese coming along?’ well although its certainly far from amazing every day is getting easier and easier. Now I never really bothered formally studying as I really lacked the motivation for a really long time, that said I know what am amazing opportunity it is to be living here and have the chance to learn Japanese with the plethora of resources available. Its not only that though, Japan is really a country that isn’t exactly very accommodating to those who don’t speak Japanese, seriously even in a relatively large city like Kobe you either learn or will find life very very VERY difficult! Now I naturally have a certain interest in Kanji so when i learn new words I typically look up how to write them and continue to revise until they stick in my head. And so through my natural curiosity my vocabulay has grown to the point where i know perhaps 1000 words, a couple hundred kanji…….BUT NO GRAMMAR!

受け入れ挑戦 (Challenge Accepted)

受け入れ挑戦 (Challenge Accepted)

Grammar was never my strong point in English so I have put of learning the Japanese equivalent like the plague, unfortunately with a less than basic knowledge of how to put together all the words I know I come off sounding retarded when I try to speak the language. In my mind I imagine that speaking Japanese is like building a house, although I have gathered many bricks I have no cement to bind them together and simply blurting out the (usually) appropriate words will only get you so far in conversation…….

3oi348

That all said I speak 10 times more Japanese than when I first arrived here, one thing I noticed about this years new Kobe JET’s is that I was one of 6 out of around 40 that didn’t have at least intermediary level Japanese. This often leaves me feeling very inadequate when compared to my peers, many who are Japanese majors, if anything though I have taken it as a source of motivation to step up my studying whilst I am here. In the least my goal by the end of my first year is to be able to have 80-90% fluent conversation with my shougakkou 小学校 (elementary) students, being children they can only put together more or less simple sentences so really make great conversation partners, more than that though, I have really formed a bond with many of my ES students and I hate myself when they ask me questions I cant quite grasp, since I really hate to surrender and tell them ごめんちょっとわからない ‘sorry I don’t understand’.

Work Life

Look I’m no teacher,I never was and I may very well never be. That said, I am expected to be one, as I have discussed in the past my predecessor was a woman who spoke fluent Japanese and in fact taught and developed the curriculum for the 2年生 (8th grade) JHS class without the Japanese teacher last year. What I’m getting at is I had ENORMOUS boots to fill, replacing this superstar ALT isn’t something I will be capable of any time in the near future……. but I’m getting there.

AzTnALMCMAA_ftE.jpg-large

In terms of preparing lessons they really threw me in the deep end with this one, for the first couple months I was all over the place and have no idea what I was doing, because of this my plans tended to be hit or miss. Unfortunately my chief OTE (Japanese teacher) is a first year sensei who speaks less than amazing English to the point where I’m often hesitant to speak to her without the other English teacher within earshot who can chip in to translate, as she misunderstands what I’m attempting to say most of the time which creates issues I would much rather avoid.

Generally though the English level of the teachers at the JHS level is not so bad, as I have been picking up Japanese here and there I can now even usually get my point across to the teachers who speak but a few words of it. One thing I try my best to do is help the English teachers improve on their English ability by actively trying my best to introduce new words to them on a daily basis, a favour I like them to return to me with my Japanese studies.

Now I teach at a JHS 3 days a week and 2 nearby ES on the remaining 2 days, luckily all 3 of them are within a half an hour bike ride from my house so if the weather is nice I often ride to school to get some bonus exercise in.

The only difficulties I have encountered at the elementary level would have to be in regard to the consumption of kyuushoku 給食 (school lunch) with I eat with the kids. See these meals are firstly usually disgusting (anyone who disagrees is admitting they enjoy consuming slops) but they also tend to contain 600-700 calories! That’s good and all for Japanese children with lightning fast metabolisms but 700 calories is almost as much as I eat in an entire day! Needless to say I quickly came up with techniques to subtly ‘avoid’ eating much of the food without the kids noticing but that’s a story for another post.

Otherwise I really love ES, the kids are usually still young enough to have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm, they listen attentively, rarely refuse to participate. Basically when I’m there I feel like I am a kid again, its fun, the kids playing with me and I with them (as long as they keep their fingers out of me), shougakko will always be where my heart is at!

textbook61

My thoughts on teaching English to the Japanese, one that most ALTs tend to share is that the system really prohibits 99% of them from ever achieving real fluent conversational English, this is why the fluency level in Japan is by far the worst in all of Asia. The textbooks tackle teaching a language completely wrong, the focus is solely on exam results rather than on learning the language, often I find the textbook using unnatural clunky English that although grammatically correct hardly makes sense. However the opinion of the ALT hardly holds any swing, in fact in one brutal conversation I once had with an OTE I pointed out an error in the book, rather than accepting my correction he opened the book to the last page with the publishers details and told me to write them a letter…….. Despite the foolishness of the approach to teaching foreign language in this country, otherwise I really am quite happy at school now, its been a bumpy road much like the rest of my experiences here thus far.

If you got this far i’ll applaud you for your perseverance anyhow in the past 6 months I truly felt happy for the first time in longer than I can remember and content with the path I am taking in life, taking in to consideration the work and social aspects as well as my personal development, never forget all you need is Kobe.

20120907-153318.jpg

If you would like to read about my thoughts 28 days into the program you will find them here, I wrote another on experiences after 100 days located here.

Halloween 2012!!

After 2 weekend of Halloween parties in Kobe and Osaka it’s safe to say I’m Halloweened out! A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join a krew dressing as nigirizushi for Halloween.

20121108-午後030548.jpg

The Saturday prior to Halloween a couple dozen of us pilgrimaged to Amemura アメリカ村 (America Village) in Osaka the Friday following we did it all over again for the annual Kobe JET Halloween party at IZNT in Sannomiya.

Here’s a couple of photos from both!

Australian Cultural Festival Board

20121019-午後035540.jpg

With today being the eve of the Bunkasai 文化祭 (Cultural Festival) at my base JHS, I have been hard at work all week creating an Australian cultural booth, this is my sign to point visitors in the right direction tomorrow 😀

Did I really need to colour in the entire thing blue……

Well lets just say there are 2 ways to do things, the right way and the Tako way!

Daniels Australian Cookbook

20121015-午後015942.jpg

This Saturday is the Bunkasai 文化祭 (Cultural Festival) at my Chuugakko 中学校 (Junior Highschool) and returning from a week of leave I found myself being asked to plan an Australian culture table with in my free time over the next few days.

Here is today’s creation, Australian cookbooks!!! Featuring the recipes to make Anzac Biscuits, Lamingtons, Sausage Rolls, Australian Toffee and Fairy Bread!
I have printed enough to make 300booklets……… Sigh 50 down, a plethora of folding to go.

Sometimes I have deeply regret seemingly ‘amazing ideas’ without considering the work required to bring them to fruition….
(−_−;)

20121015-午後015947.jpg

20121015-午後015955.jpg

A Night In A Shibuya Internet Cafè

20121014-午後054204.jpg

Saturday evening I found myself in Shibuya without a room for the night. The last night of my trip I had foolishly not got round to booking a hotel, hoping to simply walk up to one on the day. My presumption that there would be rooms available in one of the most densely populated areas in the world was far from accurate.

20121014-午後054443.jpg

And so midnight rolled around, defeated I looked to the next best thing…. A mangakiss (Japanese internet cafe).
These establishments typically offer customers a small room with a comfortable chair, computer with Internet connection, gaming devices, movies and access to a vast manga library.
Alongside this other amenities include a communal shower, luggage storage and free all you can drink vending machines.

20121014-午後050930.jpg

I decided upon one of the larger venues Gran Cyber Cafe B@gus, even checking in at the wee hours of the morning they had space at a fairly reasonable rate of 2000円 for a 9 hour stay.

To be honest it wasn’t what I would consider the most comfortable night sleep as the chair doesn’t exactly go all the way back. Not exactly sure if I would be up for it again, but for a desperate lad on the streets of Shibuya it did just fine!

20121014-午後050522.jpg
This is the entrance to Gran Cyber Cafe B@gus.

20121014-午後054348.jpg

Free vending machines

20121014-午後054425.jpg

Part of the manga library

20121014-午後050528.jpg

20121014-午後060533.jpg

Please Wait a Moment しょうしょう おまちください

20121010-午前073829.jpg
皆ーさん しょうしょう おまちください
Gomen (Presumably) loyal readers, I apologize for the lack of updates recently.

Parentals are in town and we headed to the capital leaving me little time to blog, so hang tight whist Nihonomnom takes a short break this week.

I shall update on my adventures soon
(^◇^)

Shougakko Japanese Class Doodles

20121002-午前104701.jpg

Clearly I learnt an awful lot of Japanese attending a 2年生 (2nd grade) Japanese class my shougakko this morning (≧∇≦)