Monday, November 28, 2005

My brother, Paul

My younger brother, Paul, shipped out for Kuwait and eventually Iraq today.

Paul joined up about one year ago, and went through basic training and then journalism school - so now he'll be attached to various units reporting stories and taking pictures. It makes me feel a bit better knowing that he'll be using a camera more than a gun while over there, but it doesn't ease the worry.

You can follow Paul's adventures at his blog, which you can see by clicking Here.

One interesting thing Paul told me during our last phone conversation for a while yesterday was that the U.S. military in Iraq is not allowed to have any alcohol - no beer, no nothing. Being a muslim country, it's simply against the rules and he said it's strictly enforced. I'm sure my brother, who really enjoys wine, and many of his fellow soldiers will be going through their own version of detox in the coming weeks. He should have internet access though, so I'm hoping that we'll get regular updates letting us know that he is safe.

I'm not a religious person at all, but I pray for Paul's safe return, and moreover I hope the same person that left today comes back to us in one year's time. Be safe brother - we love you.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

2005 Gotsu Speech Contest - winners!

2005 Gotsu Speech Contest - winners!
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I've been really busy this month and it all culminates with my taking the JLPT next weekend in Hiroshima. But I've managed to upload a few recent pics.

This one shows Honda sensei, Wakiko, Susumu and me after the trophy presentation at the Gotsu HS Speech Contest.

Wakiko, an 8th grader, won first prize (out of 28 student contestants) for her recitation of a selection from "Harry Potter" and Susumu, also an 8th grader, who recited a funny story about a barber shop, is holding the team trophy what he won with Wakiko naming Taisha Chu as the top school at the competition.

It was a great end to my speech contest "season" - and my kids did awesome! I had at least one prize winner at each competition we entered.

To celebrate I took all 7 kids and Yamamoto sensei, the faculty sponsor, out for ice cream and drinks last week. See a picture of all of us and more random pics by clicking on this pic.

should be studying at this very moment

Sumo in Fukuoka, Kyushu

Sumo in Fukuoka, Kyushu - 7
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I posted about 18 pics from my recent trip to Fukuoka - a large city on the southern island of Kyuushu. My friends - Rusty, Satoko & Mark - and I went primarily to see live Sumo wrestling.

But Fukuoka is a great city - lots of Western shops and restaurants - i was able to buy Western magazines in English and we even had really good Mexican food one night.

So click on this pic and you'll be taken to all the pics on my Flickr acct. I'll try and label them soon.

This pic shows the champion (Yokozuna) from Mongolia named Asashoryu. Just yesterday he won his match and in doing so he set 3 MAJOR Sumo records - most wins in a single year with 83 (out of a possible 90), 7 consecutive tournament wins (never done before) and he won all 6 tournaments in one calendar year (A Grand Slam - also never done before). He has dominated the sport ever since I arrived in Japan and I've become quite a fan. But he has a great rivalry with a fellow foreign wrestler named Kotooshu - a huge 2.04 meter Bulgarian who was the only rekishi (wrestler) to beat Asashoryu this tourney.

BTW - the kanji Asashoryu uses for his name translates to "Morning Blue Dragon" which I just think is way cool. I bought this print of his hand print and a calendar with him at the souvenir stand - what can I say - I'm a fan. We waited "backstage" after the day's matches had ended and we got to see Asa come out of the training room - i was able to snap a few pics but with my regular film camera. I can't wait to see how they came out.

believe it or not - too small to be a sumo wrestler

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hokuryo speech contest

Hokuryo speech contest - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I know I'm still way behind with updates.... sorry!

Here is a pic from just this past Saturday.

I had three of my JH students competing in an English Recitation contest at a local, private High School - Hokuryo HS in Izumo.

That's Yamamoto sensei on the left, then Yuki, Maki & Mami and me.

Of the 37 junior high students competing, 9 win prizes and Yuki and Mami were two of those - Yuki winning a 2nd place plaque and Mami winning a third place plaque. My girls rock!

More pics & updates soon, and there are more to see at my Flickr site - just click on this pic.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Araki sho Eigo Club - Halloween

Araki sho Eigo Club - Halloween - 6
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I know this blog is seriously out of date and in dire need of an update. I've been super busy lately, but I should have some time in the coming week to update the trivia and post a few more pics.

Don't give up on me! :)

Here is a great pic of me and my English Club kids from Araki Elementary. You'll notice that they made their costumes out of black garbage bags, and 4th grader Shinya on the end even made himself a cool hat, kinda like mine for my Merlin costume.

I grew my beard for the whole month of October just to have it for this week of Halloween lessons, but while it grows white, it doesn't really grow THAT white, so it didn't really work as the fake one I had last year. Alas, that one fell apart and it's hard to replace here since they don't have Halloween in Japan. I'll try and pick one up when the Santa costumes come out for Xmas season.

We got to go trick or treating around the school and I taught the kids a bit about Halloween traditions and we played a fun game using English. More pics are on my Flickr acct accessible by clicking on this pic.

Hope all is well.


Usagi Shogakko - Halloween puzzle project

Usagi Shogakko - October 2005 - 12
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I went to my smallest elementary school - Usagi Sho - last week and we worked on a project to make a puzzle. We all started out with a blank square of wood about 18" x 18" with a center main piece cut out that would make the puzzle pieces. I went for a Halloween theme.

I decorated the outside rim with various Halloween themed images - altho some suffered from the thickness of the paint and brushes I was using, but you can see what I was going for at least.

You can follow the progression of the project to the finished piece. This was a great day and typical of the cool activities this small school is able to do because they only have 8 students. I have a great time every time I visit.

main piece

Usagi Shogakko - October 2005 - 6
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I decided to paint the middle section as a Jack O'Lantern as it's a round shape and an image that the Japanese students are somewhat unfamiliar with as they don't have Halloween in Japan and they don't have large, orange pumpkins either. (The pumpkins here are about the size of a cantaloupe and green)

I painted my name and the date on the back - you can click on any pic here and you'll see it at my online Flickr account.

I was pretty happy with the way it turned out, since it's been ages since I've painted anything, but I really enjoyed doing it - I've always enjoyed art but never felt I had much capacity for it. And I once drew a pumpkin that my old girlfriend swore I couldn't possibly have drawn, making this drawing even more personally satisfying. :)

cut into pieces

Usagi Shogakko - October 2005 - 4
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Then I had to use a special saw to cut the middle board into puzzle pieces - I think I ended up with about 14 pieces. They had about 4 saws set up for the kids and teachers to use and a local carpenter and furniture maker came in for the day to help us and supervise the cutting.


Usagi Shogakko - October 2005 - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

All put together, the puzzle looks like this. I let the kids at Usagi Sho keep it even tho they wanted me to take it with me. I'll try and upload some pics I have of their puzzles - some great art.

-Jason the Artiste