Friday, December 26, 2008

Me and My Argonauts

Hey Gang -

Just plugging myself here. More good stuff all about me! :)

Seriously, it's kinda funny that I now have so many people watching my videos and reading this here blog. I do the same stuff, just now I get more comments and feedback on it.

I do get asked about my YouTube user name from time to time. My channel name is "Myargonauts." Most people get the reference, but a few are clueless.

Way back in the dark days of AOL, when I got my very first email address, I wanted something that referenced "Logan's Run" - my favorite sci-fi film of all time. But Logan5, the name of the main character, was taken. I tried and tried to think of something, without using my actual name.

Eventually, I came up with "myargonauts," which is a reference to the famous greek myth about Jason and the Argonauts. Jason searched for the Golden Fleece on a ship called the Argo - so the men who sailed with him were called Argonauts. Since I'm Jason, they are "my argonauts." Not very clever, but I liked it. And it's a name that has stuck for over 10 years now.

My buddy, Koichi, was nice enough to give me a great write up over at his blog, called

Click Here to go to the page. I wish I had some web design or layout skills and I could make this blog much more presentable.
Anyway, it was really cool of Koichi to give me a nice shoutout - so Thanks Koichi!

He's got a great site, so click around once you're there and check it out. His front page today features an interesting article on the Japanese lyrics to the Xmas song "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." Good stuff!

Today, December 25th, was the last day of 2nd term at school - just another working day in Japan. I did dress up as Santa for my Jr High kids tho. I stood outside the entrance and said "Good Morning" in my best Santa voice and handed out stickers and shook hands.

From tomorrow I start my winter vacation. I have about 10 days off in a row, but I won't really be doing much. I'm pretty poor at the moment, so no travel for me. So I hope to spend some time updating my Flickr site and all 3 of my YT channels and this blog too. We'll see if the laziness takes hold or I actually get some stuff done.

I do have my Japanese tutor tomorrow. I continue studying even tho I'll most likely be going home next year. It's almost weird to say "going home" since I now consider Taisha and my apt here my "home." By the time I leave next July, I will have been here for 5 full years - that's longer than I've lived anywhere in the same house/apt as an adult.

2009 is gonna mostly be a painful year for me in many ways. I'll rush around trying to get things done before I leave - tasks I want to accomplish, places I want to visit, etc. - and always I'll be thinking in the back of my mind - this is my last graduation/class field trip/Osaka sumo trip, etc.

I'm really excited that I get to go to Tokyo for a few days in early February. I haven't been back to Tokyo since July of 2004, when I first arrived in Japan for JET Orientation. I know February isn't the best time weather wise to be visiting the capital of Japan, but I plan on making the most of my trip. I'd really like to visit Tokyo Disneyland, so hopefully I'll be able to work that in, even tho right now I have no one to go with, and the idea of going to Dland by myself is rather depressing.

I have a Japanese female friend in Osaka/Kyoto who I was going to invite, but she just sent me an email today inviting me to her wedding party that same weekend. Funny world innit? :)

It's 1:20am here and an American Football game is about to start on NHK, so I'm off to watch that. (I don't have work tomorrow so I can sleep in!!) The snow is hitting my windows and the wind is blowing hard. It was almost a white Christmas, but not quite. Hope your holidays are going well.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Father Christmas - a story in Japanese and English

Enjoy a nice Christmas tale of Santa, read to you by some of my great students and myself with a fairly inconsistent English accent (apologies to my Mom and Dad).


Sunday, December 21, 2008

1000 subs! ありがとうございます! THANKS!

I recently passed 1000 subscribers to my main YouTube channel.

Thanks to them and others who stop by to watch my vlogs, my videos often end up on the Top 10 most watched or most discussed list for all the people making vids in Japan.

It's pretty cool and if you're a subscriber and you're reading this too, then I thank sincerely for your support.

I have some good stuff planned for 2009, so stay tuned! :)


Saturday, December 20, 2008

High School Musical invades Japan

This is mostly for my students, many of whom really like the J-pop band, NEWS, that this young actor/singer is from.

The report shows them staging a live version of the first HSM movie in Japanese. And he has to kiss his leading lady on stage.


Big picture update - #3 of 3 - pics from Aug 08

farewell to summer community concert - 15.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I posted a bunch of pics of me and my kids as we finished our summer vacation and started to prepare for the big event of the year - Sports Day in September.

Above is a picture of some of my local elementary kids - mostly 4th to 6th graders, in a combined band playing in the "farewell to summer" community concert.

I spent the last days of summer at my schools, even tho classes wouldn't start until the first week of September. My 9th graders were at school each day too, preparing for their upcoming Sports Day.

Here you can see one class - the Red Team - taking a break in the quad after working on their group dance and cheer.

TJH Sports Day 2008- prep - 4.jpg

some students are assigned to work on the costumes the students will wear during this group dance routine - here you can see one of the more elaborate costumes to be worn by a green team leader:

TJH Sports Day 2008- prep - 50.jpg

Some of the kids are assigned the job of making the huge class posters that inspire their teams to victory. This is a cool design from my 2nd Jr High's Red Team - and I helped them come up with their English motto - "Red Fire - Burning to Victory!"
HJH Sports Day 2008- prep - 8.jpg

It was hot! You can see all of us in the pic below have sweat towels draped around our necks - they're essential in the 30.C+ heat and humidity of the Japanese summer.
TJH Sports Day 2008- prep - 31.jpg

It was great to hang out with my 9th graders in a relaxed atmosphere at school - goofing around and having fun. I get along great with this group - I've been teaching them since they were 5th graders at elementary school, so we're comfortable with each other - comfortable enough for me to allow them to try and tie my hair up above my head - didn't quite work tho... :)
TJH Sports Day 2008- prep - 22.jpg

So that's about it for my August update. I had about 375 pics to sort thru to find the best and most appropriate ones to post to my Flickr account.

Looking ahead to my September update - I have an overwhelming 1.362 pictures to choose from. I take a staggering amount of pics on Sports Day every year, and this year I had two Sports Days and I also visited Taisha High School and took pictures there as well.

Hopefully I have time during my winter holiday to get those pics posted.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

How we stay warm in my rural Japanese school

As winter approaches in many places where my subscribers live, I give a quick glimpse into how we stay warm at my rural school.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Driving in Japan - Going to Matsue on Sunday

Another driving video - this one features Mt Daisen and me on my way to Matsue, the capital of Shimane.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Big picture update - #1 of 3 - pics from Aug 08

Jacob & friends
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Hey Gang -

Jacob says "Konnichiwa!" Jacob is the green dragon from the Chinese zodiac in the picture above. I've collected Jacob and his friends over the years from a small craft shop in Hinomisaki. Jacob was the last one I needed and now I have all 12.

I spent some time over the weekend updating my Flickr site with a bunch of new pics. I'm going thru my backlog of pics by month, so this batch is from August of 2008.

This update post will highlight some of the pics involving me and school and my students and events I went to during summer vacation.

The next update will be about other ALTs and JETs and some of the fun we had in August. And then update #3 will be about the preparations for Sports Day, which got underway during summer vacation.

Speaking of SD prep, I did upload a few pics from the earliest days of preparations, like this one below of my kids in Taisha working out their team dance routine:

early Sports Day prep - 4.jpg

One fun event I went to this past summer was a chorus concert in Izumo featuring both my Jr High schools and also former students who are now at Taisha High School.

My kids:
TJH Chorus Club - concert in Izumo - 2.jpg

Ang's kids, some of whom were once my students:
Taisha High School Chorus Club - 9.jpg

I also had a great time in Mid-August at the Taisha town festival, the goen matsuri.
I got to see tons of my students dressed up in their summer yukata (casual cotton kimono) and plenty of people turned out in the summer heat to enjoy food stalls and games and entertainment:

2008 Taisha Goen Matsuri - 8.jpg
(Do I look good in glasses?)

Lastly, I had a great time listening and lending support to both my schools' brass band clubs as they competed in the kentaikai, or prefecture-wide tournament.

I snapped tons of great pics of my genki band kids in Matsue, and I also traveled to Ohda to see my C-Team band (mostly 7th graders) compete in their tournament too.

08 brass band kentaikai in Matsue - 19.jpg

08 brass band kentaikai in Matsue - 25.jpg

C Team concert in Ohda - 10.jpg

C Team concert in Ohda - 5.jpg

So that's about it for this first update. I hope to blog about the other two batches of pics later this week.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Questions from my interview test for my Japanese Jr High students

If you're curious what kind of things you may be teaching if you get this JET gig to teach in Japan, then here is a peak into my last two days at work this week.

I spent periods 1-4 on Monday and Tuesday interviewing every 7th grader (ichi nen sei) in one of my Jr High schools.

I had to ask each 12 or 13 year old a series of 15 questions, and they had to answer in English.
They had the questions in advance, and I didn't try to trick them or ask them out of order, etc.
Just a straight forward test of their speaking skills. This is why I'm here. So my kids, out here in very rural Japan, have an opportunity to speak with a native speaker, even if it's in this type of scripted format.

The teacher in charge of these 140+ kids is doing a good job with them this year, and most of the students did really well, answering each question as best they could.

The great thing about this for me is that I get a chance to learn a little about each kid - what music they like, if they have siblings, what club they're in at school, etc - so I can start putting a name to the face and more of a personality to each kid. Some are shy, some are super genki, some obviously really like English and study hard, and some could barely answer any of the questions.

I recommend this type of activity highly to any ALT with the time to do it.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rumination - I recommend Books about Japan

Welcome to Jason's Book Club. :)

I talk about 5 books related to my life here in Japan. I provide links to each book at the YouTube page for this video.

I also try out a new Pepsi flavor, Pepsi White, and briefly show my new kotatsu at the end of the video.