Sunday, October 28, 2007

Print Club - "Purikura"

Hiking Day - Purikura 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Purikura pictures are as much a part of Japan for me now as sushi or sumo or bowing.

In case you don't know what they are, here's a brief explanation. Purikura is the nickname for these types of photos, derived from the Japanese pronunciation of "Print Club" or "purinto kurabu" in Japanese katakana. These pictures come from a little booth you go in, take 6 or 8 shots with your friends, and then decorate with light pens and then print out on sticker sheets to be cut up and shared.

You see them everywhere in Japan - both the booths and the pictures themselves - many people use them to decorate their cell-phone and my kids decorate their notebooks and pen case lids with them. Girls seem to like making them more than guys, but the boys have them too. And any student in Jr High or High School will be a purikura expert, knowing the best poses and best things to decorate and write on the pcitures.

I decorated this pic. Simple stuff, just wrote all our names in English and added the crown and bow tie and flower. But the girls knew how to get the machine to email their keitai (cell phone) with the pic and then they emailed it to me. I've taken purikura dozens of times over the past 3 years, but this is the first time I've had digital copies. So that allowed me to post these two on my Flickr acct. In real life, the pics are usually quite small, less than and 1 inch by 1 inch, about the size of a small postage stamp. It usually costs about 400yen for a sheet of about 24 pics.

I like to collect the ones I take, so I've started a book with just pages of purikura pics from my trips to the booth, and from other friends in Japan and students.
When the new Avril Lavigne CD came out, a bunch of my kids asked me if I could make them a copy, so I downloaded it off of iTunes, and burned them copies and charged them purikura pics for the burned CD. Most gave me more than one, so now I have a bunch of fun pics of my kids.

If you come to Japan for a visit, definitely give purikura a try. It's not too hard to follow along even if you don't know Japanese and while some of the booths have a myriad of options, most usually have an "osusume" or recommended course you can just follow.

Yay for purikura!


My Friday at Taisha High School

visiting Taisha HS - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I had a day off from my Jr High classes on Friday, so I emailed my friend, Ang, who teaches at the local high school and asked her if I could come observe some classes at her school for part of the day. She said sure, so I went to Taisha High School for the morning on Friday, and taught three classes with her and her JTEs.

We taught all 1nen sei (10th grade) classes and all of them had at least a few of my students from Taisha Jr High who are now at THS. It was great to see a bunch of my former students. Taisha High is a BIG school with about 1000 students, and there are 9 homerooms (kumi) in the 10th grade alone. So we taught in 3 of the 9, and had a fun lesson about shopping and Ang's JTEs were really nice, including me in the lesson.

Best of all I got to see some of my favorite kids - like the three on the left in the picture above - Yuki, Hiromi and Shiho. I had class with them during 4th period, right before lunch, so we got to chat a bit after class. I really miss some of them, but they all seem to be doing well at High School, and I must say that many of my former students were raising their hands and answering questions during the English lessons, so that made me happy. :)

After lunch I had to head over to Taisha JH to work on my submissions for the Lesson Plan Swap Book we put together for the ALTs in Shimane. So despite having a "day off" I started my day at 8:30am and ended it at 5pm. Oh well - it was a great day. :)

I just added about 20 pics from Hiking Saturday to my Flickr acct, so click on the pic below to see more pics from that fun day! (They go with the video in the post below)

Kana, Suzune, Momoko and Saya

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Year 4 of my adventure

So I've been writing and posting to this blog for a little over 3 years now. It's morphed a little over time, becoming more of a repository of my photos and videos, almost exclusively about my teaching job, than a diary of my thoughts and feelings.
And that's ok. I set out to give an insight into what it's like to live and work in Japan as an ALT in a rural community, and I think if you go back through the archives and look at my pics and vids, you get a pretty good picture of what life is like for us JETs out here in the inaka.

I was talking to my friend Michele once a few years ago about this blog and I told her how I wanted to go off on a rant about my frustrations and feelings and she advised that I keep the tone of this blog light and informational. She suggested I start a 2nd blog for my "life diary" type entries. Well, it's been a while, but I think I'm going to follow her advice.

But I'm not gonna post the link to my new blog here - I think I'll let that one be anonymous and just rant away if I feel like it. Hopefully doing that will help me sort thru some troubling issues I'm dealing with at the moment.

Lately I've been really depressed. The reason that I mention that here is that if there are aspiring or new JETs reading this, then they should know that despite all the fun I have here, the job is not without it's frustrations, and living here can get to you at times.
My recent low ebb has more to do with personal issues anyway, more so than work related issues. But your personal can spill over into your professional, and I find myself getting annoyed at things at work that would normally not bother me so much.
Of course, my supervisor just sent me an email asking if I want to stay for a 5th year. :P
I don't have to give my official answer until February, but they already want to know for budget planning.

I'm just really not sure. Part of me wants to stay - part of me wants to leave - and part of me wants to stay in Japan but not as a teacher. It's gonna be a tough choice.

My recent bout of self doubt was triggered by a video I watched on You Tube - Click Here to see it.

That video is in itself a response to another video, a short film titled "Are you anybody's favorite person?"

I thought about this and I don't think I am anybody's favorite person. Sure, people like me - I'm a likable guy most of the time. And my kids like me, as I am a fun teacher.
But I don't think I'm anybody's favorite person. I was once, but that was a long time ago now.
And I just don't see that changing anytime soon - certainly not while I'm in Japan. So that's had me thinking, and when I think like this I often suffer from insomnia, which makes me tired and cranky during the day.

Anyway, this is turning into exactly the type of rant I was gonna start posting on my new blog.

This week has kinda sucked, and I haven't been in the mood to edit the movie I mentioned about Taisha's Sports Day or to post anymore pics, etc. But I'm sure come the weekend I'll be bored in my little apartment and you'll see some new stuff here soon.

I hope all is well with you and please come back again for my regular posts soon.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Taisha JH Sports Day prep

Mikitaro, Yuta, Ryo & Yuki
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Hey Gang -

I just uploaded 101 pictures from the days leading up to Taisha Chu's Sports Day.

I'm going to use these 101 pics to make a short movie - so you'll be able to see which ones I use and don't use and how I crop and scan and edit them to make the movie.

Click on this pic of Mikitaro, Yuta, Ryo & Yuki to go to my Flickr page to see all 5 pages of pics.

I wanted to make one movie for their Sports Day, like I did for Hamayama Chu, but I have SOOOOOO many pics of my Taisha Kids that I've decided to make two films - part one will be these pics and the prep and part two will be a longer film including 200+ pics from the actual day of the event.

I hope to have the first, shorter film ready and posted to my You Tube acct by the end of this week.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Video update - Brass Band and Volleyball

I added 4 vids today - 3 from when I went with Taisha's brass band club to Tottori ken for the Chugokutaikai - and one from a recent Volleyball match here in Izumo.
The band vids are from the same day as the recent batch of pics I added to my Flickr site.
You can see the some of the band kids ducking my ever-present camera, and some being the natural hams that they are.

I have lots of short vids like these that I hope to post over the coming week, so check back for updates.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sakamoto sensei & the 9th grade Brass Band members

Sakamoto sensei & the 9th graders
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

On August 24th, I drove about 2 hours north-east into adjacent Tottori prefecture to attend the Chugokutaikai - the regional competition for my Brass Band club.

I actually missed their performance by about 10 minutes (shhhh - don't tell anyone...) because I got a little lost and underestimated how long it would take me to get to the music hall. So just as I arrived, my kids were coming out of the main hall into the lobby to have their pictures taken. So I got to snap plenty of pics and hang out with them until the results were announced. They made the top 7, but not the top 3, which would have allowed them to go on to the All-Japan competition. From Shimane prefecture, Izumo First Jr High once again advanced - they are quite the powerhouse school in the Brass Band arena.

Once again, my band kids this year have turned out to be some of my favorite kids to hang out with and chat with - really great kids and quite a few of them are very good musicians as well.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Taisha HS school festival

Taisha HS school festival - 10.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Click here to see a few pics from my visit to Taisha High School during their school festival back in late August.

My friend, Ang, teaches at THS, and many of my former students graduate and go to THS. So it was great to visit for a few hours and see a bunch of my old kids.

They have a 2-day school festival just before their day-long Sports Day. During the festival, they have theme rooms (haunted house, game rooms, food rooms, etc) and homeroom performances by the 12th graders, like the girls in this picture.

I didn't take too many pics at their Sports Day on Sept 1st - but I did shoot some video, which I've posted to my You Tube account.


Chorus kentaikai in Matsue - genki 9th graders!

Chorus kentaikai in Matsue - genki 9th graders!
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Click here to see some pics of my great Chorus Club girls. I attended their prefecture competition in the capital of Shimane, Matsue, back in August. The girls sang well, but did not advance to the regional competition.

I've been working with these 10 girls after school preparing them for a performance at the school Cultural Festival at the end of October. I'm teaching them a song in English from the film "Rent." The song is called "Seasons of Love" and I think we'll be able to pull off a great performance.