Friday, March 24, 2006

Ohguni sensei

ALT Invasion at Taisha Sho - 10
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Ohguni sensei got this whole day (See post below about the ALT Invasion)organized and kept it running smoothly. A big thanks to him for the fun day and for a great year in his class.

Yano sensei

ALT Invasion at Taisha Sho - 11
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

A big thanks to Yano sensei for a great day and also for a wonderful year with her 5th graders. I hope I get to teach with her again next year.

ALT Invasion at Taisha Sho

ALT Invasion at Taisha Sho - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The two classes of soon-to-be 6th graders at Taisha Elementary will be going to Hiroshima on a class trip in late April. So, just like last year, I gathered together a few of my friends and local ALTs and we all converged on Taisha Sho to joint-teach a lesson and help the kids practice their English.

As part of their trip, the students have to go up to foreigners in the Peace Park and ask them a few simple questions in English - "What's your name?", "Where are you from?" etc. Not tough stuff per se, but daunting for 11 and 12-year-old Japanese kids.

So to get them used to meeting new foreigners I brought with me Mark (England), Ang (England), Chris & Susie (America), Mark (Ireland) and Rusty & Lisa (America). No Aussies, Canadians or Kiwis this time, but I did try.

I'm sure for many of my small-town students, this was the largest group of foreigners they've ever encountered in one place - you have to remember I'm the only non-Japanese person in my town - No Chinese, No Koreans, No Brazilians - just me.

And the kids had a great time - we did a we short self-introductions, played an easy warm-up game ("Cowboy Showdown") and then all got in a big circle and sung and danced "The Hokey Pokey." After that we split into groups and practiced the target dialogue before turning the kids loose to go up to all the adults in the room (The 8 foreign teachers and the 2 Japanese homeroom teachers) and practice the dialogue and gather signatures. About 3 kids were able to talk to all of us and get all 10 signatures - earning them a much-coveted SpongeBob sticker.

I wish these two classes the best of luck on their trip to Hiroshima and I hope they have nice weather, so there'll be lots of foreigners milling around the Peace Park.

Click on this pic to see more pictures from this day.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Taisha Elementary Graduation 2006

Nagami sensei & pupils
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is Nagami sensei, one of the 6th grader teachers at Taisha Sho, my biggest elementary school, and some of his 6th grade graduates.

Since Taisha is a bigger school than Yokan Sho, their graduation ceremony took a little longer than Yokan's, so I was able to swing by and see the kids leaving the school for the last time.

I had a great time with both 6th grade classes at Taisha Sho this year, and that is in no small part because of Nagami sensei, who is a fantastic teacher and really devoted to English education. I hope I get to teach with him a bunch more this upcoming year. His daughter, Wakiko, was one of my speech contest winners at Taisha Chu this past year and his younger daughter, Kanoko, was in my English club at Yokan Sho. Both are great kids and their English is leaps and bounds ahead of their peers.

Click on any photo for a few more pics from Taisha Sho.

Me & Maejima sensei

Me & Maejima sensei
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here I am with the other 6th grader teacher - Maejima sensei. She wore traditional clothes to the graduation ceremony - not a kimono as such, but hakama - the same type of pants I wear when I play kendo and a crossover top.

We got lucky with the weather and it was relatively nice that Friday so we could take pictures outside.
I'll miss those scenic mountains in the background when I leave next year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Graduating Class of 2006 at Yokan Elementary

The Graduating Class of 2006 at Yokan Elementary
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is the somewhat small class of 6th graders who just graduated from my 3rd biggest elementary school - Yokan Sho. Yokan has only one class per grade, and no one class has more than 30 students, so it's relatively smaller than Araki and Taisha Sho - my two biggest elementary schools.

They were a good class and I'll be happy to see most of them everyday starting in April as they start Jr. High.

I attended Yokan's graduation ceremony this year, since I went to Taisha's last year, and will attend Araki Sho's ceremony next year - that way I would have been to all three of my bigger elemnetary school's ceremonies during my tenure here. They all have graduation on the same day at the same time, so I can't do more than one a year. Although this year I was able to swing by Taisha Sho and see some of the graduates as they left the school for the last time - I'll post some of those pics soon.

Yokan Sho 2006 Graduation

Yokan Sho 2006 Graduation - 28
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Yokan had an interesting wrinkle in their sotsugyoushiki (graduation ceremony) - after the graduating students received their diploma they exited the stage and then went into the audience to find one of their parents and handed the dipolma off to them.

The student would bow and say something along the lines of "Please hold on to this for me" and the parent would bow back and say "Omedetou Gozaimasu" which means Congratualtions.

A few of the Moms wore ceremonial kimono, such as the lovely one pictured here. And most of the Moms cried at some point during the ceremony.

6th grade Teacher & pupils

6th grade Teacher & pupils
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is Ago sensei, the 6th grade (roku nen sei) teacher, and three of his 6th grade graduates (sotsugyousei).
Ago sensei was a cool guy, so it'll be interesting to see what grade he teaches next year, as this year was his first at Yokan Sho. His daughter is one of my students at my Jr. High.

Most of the elementary school teachers advance each year with their class - so, for instance, when I first arrived Sonoyama sensei at Yokan Sho - one of my favorite Elem teachers - was teaching the 2nd graders. This past year he taught the 3rd graders and next year he'll teach the 4th graders. Not sure if this continuity is good for the students overall, but this system is very much in keeping with the social dynamic here in Japan of group harmony and the importance of the group.

These three girls will be with me everyday at Taisha JH starting April 10th. They didn't have to wear a school uniform at Yokan Sho, but they will at Jr. High.

with the Principal & Vice-Principal

with the Principal & Vice-Principal
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here I am with the Kocho sensei (School Principal) and the Kyoto sensei (School Vice-Principal) at Yokan Elementary. The Kocho sensei always gets spiffed up for these occasions, often wearing a tux coat with tails.

Luckily we had decent weather and were able to pose outside for pictures.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Trivia for week of March 20th

Uma Thurman's father, Robert, is a respected professor of what subject at Columbia University?

A. French
B. American Studies
C. Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies
D. Economics

Answer for week of March 6th (highlight line below):
50 Cent Congrats to Titia for writing in with the correct response

Monday, March 06, 2006

goofing around with the coolest chicks at Taisha Chu

more goofing around - 7
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

In addition to the cool students from my optional English class (see pics below), the other group of kids I'm gonna miss is the small group of girls who hang out with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays after lunch in the language lab.

We watch movie clips, music videos, short cartoons or listen to music and play cards and eat snacks and chat about whatever - it's often the best 20 minutes of my day.

While I'm sure the new 9th graders next term will be just as fun and genki, these girls have been so nice and cool to me they'll be a tough act to follow.

They are clockwise from the lower left: Nobuko, Anna, Ruriko, Masako & Yuki.

Students like the ones pictured in these posts are the reason I decided to stay a 3rd year - they make all the other crap bearable.

my goofy lunchtime companions

more goofing around - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here are (left to right): Maki, Manami, Mako & Risako

All super-smart and really fun to chat with - I'll miss 'em all after they graduate in a few weeks.

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - end of class pics

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - 15
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

My elective English class for the 9th graders finished last week.

It was a tougher class this term, with some strong persoanlities making it difficult to simply teach, but as always, the girls in the class were a delight - enthusiastic about English and willing to play just about game I threw at them.

Here are 5 of my favorite people in Japan (left to right): Kana, Manami, Marina, Konomi & Yuka.

Unfortunately two of the girls from this class had to miss the final class for interview test practice, so Chikako and Yuri are not in any of the pics.

We braved the cold of the hallway outside the language lab and I snapped a few pics of all the kids in class that day in small groups. Click on any photo here and you can see them all at my Flickr site.

Ask Japanese girls to pose or simply count down 3-2-1 CHEESE and this is the photo you'll get. Peace sign every time. So I asked them to try something different and got a few interesting pics, like the pics below...

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - the wave?

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - 14
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

So when I asked them to "pose" they came up with this design all on their own. Not sure what it's supposed to be - the Japanese Wave?

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - pose!

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - 10
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

It was too cold to go outside like I did last term, so we did the best we could indoors. I tried to get them to do some interesting poses, and a few of those pics turned out well.

This is back to front: Anna, Sayako, Miho, Yurie and Kaori.

Great gals - I'm gonna miss 'em all.

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - boys

2005-2006 Sentaku Eigo class - 8
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

With a little coaxing I can get the boys to pose beyond the normal "Peace" sign too.

I had some problems this term keeping the boys in line, and since they outnumbered the girls 2 to 1 in this class, it was tough going at times, but a good learning experience overall.

BTW - not the 5 boys pictured here - these guys are all some of my best students.

Trivia for week of March 6th

Here's one for you youngsters that read my blog.... :P

Which Eminem protege had an ongoing feud with rapper Ja Rule?

A. Ludacris
B. Fablos
C. Nelly
D. 50 Cent

Last Week's Answer (highlight line below):
"You got me straight trippin', boo!"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Japan has a long way to go...

I really do love Japan, but there are things about the country that are frustrating, exasperating, tiresome, aggravating, annoying, mind-boggling, and/or disturbing. Something along these lines happened today at work, but that story will have to wait for my next post. For now, I'll share this story from United for a Multicultural Japan.

Japan is going to be undergoing a serious population depletion in the coming years, and they just don't do themselves any favors in the areas of immigration or accomodating foreign residents...


Mommy's Mug Shot
The UMJ Volume 2.9 (Opinion)
By: Amy Uehara
The other day, my two children and I went to the local city office to get photo copies of my foreign registration file. I needed it for my visa application. You see, I have been married to a Japanese man for 13 years and have thought of Japan as my home since I was 19 years of age. Yet, every three years I need to apply to continue living in this country. I have no intention of divorcing my husband and abandoning my children. I am not listed as living in the same house as they because they are all listed on the JYUMINHYO or the list of household residents. I am not. I am in a separate file. As I am home most of the time and do most of the domestic work, i have taken to calling myself a live-in foreign laborer or SUMIKOMI GAIJIN RODOSHA.

This year, along with my application for the three year visa, I applied for the permanent visa. This allows me to stop having to apply every three years. I will be able to stay in Japan with my childten should my husband die or divorce me. Otherwise it could be very difficult to apply for the one-year guardian visa the Japanese government recently began granting. I still must buy a re-entry permit every time I leave Japan or I will not be able to come back to my home. Even with a permanent visa, I still will not be listed as living with my family together. I am an outsider in my own home. There is no record that I have given birth to my children on my records although I believe I am listed on their birth certificate.They are Japanese nationals. This would change if I changed my citizenship to Japanese. I love my native conuntry and am intent on keeping my citizenship. The other reason would be that a new Japanese citizenship for me would not mean that I could stop being an outsider. When I enter Japan after a trip, I enter through the Japanese line with permission. People stare and I am told that the foreign line is "over there." I tell them that I am allowed to enter through the Japanese line and they look puzzled. This would not change with my exchange of citizenship. It is not yet common knowledge that many foreigners will live and die here as part of this nation's citizenry.

When my son saw my many pictures in the file at the city office, he said, "Mommy, you look like a criminal." The pain in those words ran deep as I looked at my pictures and my finger prints over the years. And my crime was falling in love.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Pinch - Punch!"

"Pinch, Punch, It's the first of the month.

NO "returns" of ANY kind!"