Monday, November 27, 2006

walking jikoshokai with shogakusei

another video of my so-cute-it-hurts shogakusei and my friend, Emily, on our way to make Japanese sweets on an outing to Matsue organized by the Taisha town council.


Sept 06 trip - DAY TWO - Kyoto

xSept 06 trip - DAY TWO - Kyoto - 120.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here are the pics from Day Two of my September Kyoto trip.

I won't go into too much detail here - I've added extensive notes below the individual pics on my Flickr site.

It was a great day - I got to see some of the most important sites, including Kiyomizudera and we had two great meals - Italian food for lunch and Chinese food for dinner.

Next up is Monday - and our trip out of Kyoto to nearby Nara.

more to come....


Friday, November 24, 2006

Sept 06 trip - DAY ONE - Kyoto

Sept 06 trip - DAY ONE - Kyoto - 26.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Hey Gang,

I'm finally getting around to uploading my Kyoto trip pics.

Up now are the pics from Day One - Saturday, September 16th.

My friend, Kazuki, whom I met over the internet, met me at the bus station at around 2pm and we used the rest of the day to see a few of the sites around Kyoto before spending the entire day on Sunday sightseeing.

We went to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, a famous picture-postcard spot surrounded by a wonderful garden.

We also had a great meal at an Irish Pub in the Gion district called Taggs (is that right Kazuki?). The assortment of restaurants is astonishing in Kyoto - especially compared to the meager selection out in Shimane.

And then we went to a cultural play, presenting many different cultural arts in one variety show. We walked through the famous Geisha district to get to the theatre, but we didn't spot any geisha walking about.

It was a good first day, despite the heat. Sunday would prove to be an even better day, but exhausting. I'll post those pics soon.

Oh, and on a weird side note, I fell down after getting out of the subway on the way to the hotel at the beginning of the day and ripped my favorite black jeans and bloodied up my knee. Not a good start, but it was ok.

Enjoy the pics!

Andi Watson

Originally uploaded by andi watson.

One of my favorite comic artists and graphic novelists - Andi Watson - has a Flickr page where he lets his fans behind the scenes, with glimpses into his sketchbook and ongoing projects.

He's incredibly talented and the nicest guy - every year at the big San Diego Con I would get him to sketch something for me. He can do all genres, but he excels at everyday people in everyday situations. But I also like his fun stuff, like these sketches of Buffy characters using the "super-deformed" style popular here in Japan.

You can find his graphic novels on Amazon, just search his name. I've even posted reviews there for a few of his books.

And click on this link to see more from his sketchbook.

He uses few lines and his work is often presented in black & white, but his sense of style is amazing, and his composition and use of negative space is fantastic.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

USJ in Osaka - Oct '06

USJ in Osaka - Oct '06 - 26.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

so I'm still jumping around time-wise - these pics are from less than a month ago...

I met my friend, Kazuki, in Kyoto, and along with two of her friends, Taka san and Yuka chan, we joined a group from Izumo at USJ (Universal Studios Japan) for a day of fun and sun.

It was a great time, and I hope we can go again. I love theme parks, and have been to the Universal Studios in California many times, so it was cool to compare the two.

It's a fun day out and so easy to get to by train - i highly recommend it if you haven't been yet.

Enjoy the pics!

2006 Speech Contests

2006 L. Hearn Speech Contest - 3.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Click on this pic to be taken to 2 pages of pics of my kids in three specch contests: Lafcadio Hearn in Matsue, Hokuryo High School in Izumo and Gotsu HS in Gotsu.

Last year Taisha Chu had quite a successful speech season, winning at least one prize at each contest we went to. And one of my students won a prize at the first contest of this year, so that meant 4 contests in a row with at least one winner. But the streak was broken at Hokuryo and unfortuantely not reversed at Gotsu, with no winners at either of those contests this year.

Hearn is the hardest contest we go to each year - the selections are about 2 pages that the kids have to memorize and the English is somewhat antiquated and stilted at times - Hearn was an Irish writer who lived in Shimane over 100 years ago and wrote stories about his life in Japan and he also translated many Japanese myths into English.
Mami won a prize for her recitation of "Butterflies" which I've one student perform each of my 3 years, and Wakiko did a terrific job with her recitation of "Ubazakura" but didn't make the winner's circle this year. She loves English though and I know she'll try again in High School.

Mami became my "champion" student in a way - she entered two contests with me and won a prize both times, the only student I have to do that.

The other pics include new students trying their first contest this year. I was truly and deeply impressed with how hard two of my soccer boys, Junpei and Tsuyoshi, worked on their speeches and how much they improved. From barely being able to read their selections to getting up in front of an audience and delivering their speechs in loud voices with gestures, full of self-confidence - I was truly proud of them and realized that the journey is more important than wether they get a prize or not. The satisfaction is in the doing.
Yuna also did tremendously well for an ichi nen sei student, and I think she had a fun time, so she'll be back for more.

Both Saki and Ayaka got sick during our rehearsal time, so neither was able to fully deliver, but both did fine and I think both gained from the experience. It's tough, because I ask my speech kids to do a little bit of "acting" to really sell their speeches, but both of these girls, despite being genki and friendly, were reluctant to go the extra steps and constant cries of "hazukashii" (embarrassing) were heard. But both did a fine job with pronunciation and I think their English improved as a result of their involvement.

I urge any of you ALTs reading this to get involved with your kids in Speech Contests! It's a great way to spend time with your kids and get to know a few of them a little better.

Of course it helps to have an enthusiastic JTE helping or leading the way, so I need to acknowledge my speech champion - Yamamoto sensei, who lead the way last year and this year and really gave of her time to help the kids do well.

If my transfer to a High School goes thru, I hope I can continue to help kids with speech contests at that level.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Araki Eigo club Halloween

I just added 4 more short videos, including this one, of Halloween activities at one of my elementary schools - Araki Shogakko.