Sunday, February 24, 2008

DeathSponge NotePants

This one is for my kids.

せいと みってください! :)

For those of you who don't get it...
Death Note is an extremely popular manga (comic book) series that has been made into a really popular series of movies here in Japan.
Basically, it's about a guy that has a special notebook - if he writes your name in the pages of the notebook you'll die.

Somebody took dialogue from the film and dubbed it over a Spongebob cartoon. Funny stuff!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Valentine's Day 2008

visiting clubs on V-Day - 5.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Hey Gang -

I uploaded another random assortment of pics to my Flickr site, so check em out if you have time.

On V-Day I spent the morning at Taisha Elementary school - had class with 6th graders, 5th graders and 4th graders, and ate lunch with one of the 5th grade classes.

My kids at Taisha JH were taking their semester finals, so it was a good day to visit shogakko.

But after I went back to TJH, I wandered around the school and visited many of the indoor clubs as they practiced. I confirmed with the gymnastics team that they were having a competition that Sunday, which I went to. I chatted with my favorite team - the Volleyball team. They were practicing along the gymnastics club in the unheated gym, so I didn't stay long.

Next, I found a stove in the chorus club room, and then I wandered the halls chatting with various members of the brass band. They practice spread out all over the school in unheated classrooms - crazy since it was like 3.C outside.

The picture above shows some of the band members getting ready for a concert on Sunday, which I also went to, after spending the morning watching my gymnastics team compete.

The class of 4th graders in the picture below did a really nice thing and every kid gave me a card or candy or a drawing for V-day. Wooo! :)

I also posted pics from around V-Day - playing Blokus with my kids at lunch break, the mountains outside my apt all dusted with snow, etc.


Valentine's Day at Taisha Sho - 26.jpg

Monday, February 11, 2008

catching up with all my pics - #4

Nao, Atsumi, Kayla & Ang
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.


Here are two pics with my friends and fellow JETs here in Shimane.

Above is my lifeline to sanity - Ang - or Anna as she is known by her students at Taisha High School. She's pictured above with Kayla, the exchange student from New Zealand who recently went home. It's a shame they didn't let her stay until graduation. I'll be going to THS's graduation ceremony on March 4th - and one of the kids I'll be cheering for (ok - there is no cheering at a Japanese graduation - but I'll congratulate her) is Atsumi, standing next to Kayla. She's a great kid and was in my first class of 9th graders when I arrived back in 2004, so it's cool that I'll get to see her and a few other graduate.

Ang recently brought me OJ when I was sick!! She's so great! :)

Below is a pic from the goodbye party we had way last year for the JETs leaving last July. Pictured here is Sam, looking rather demonic and holding my Sumo fan.
We have a good group of JETs here in Shimane. With 5 of the 7 of us leaving from the Izumo area this upcoming July, I hope we get a good new bunch of people.


2007 Leaver's Party in Sada - 5.jpg

catching up with all my pics - #3

2nen sei - Opt-A book reading - 9.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Jr High kids...

As you can see from the dates on these pics, I'm bouncing all over time-wise.
The pic above is from just this past week.

I've been helping a small class of thirteen 8th graders prepare to read English picture books at local kindergartens and preschools.
They split up into groups and translated the English into Japanese and some groups even made props and hats.
I love classes like this - an elective English class - where the kids are really interested in English and usually a little less shy about speaking it.
I'm not at Hamayama Chu this week, so I hope I get to go with them in two weeks to see them in action in front of a crowd.
I do this same type of thing once a month at the local library, where I read English picture books to small kids from 4pm to 4:30. It's a nice volunteer job that I suggested about two years ago and it's become popular with the local moms.

The other Jr High pics are from sports competitions I attended - a track and field event and a soccer tournament.
Speaking of soccer, I stood out in the freezing rain for about 2hrs last weekend watching both my Jr Highs compete in soccer - it was cold!
But they both won, so that's cool! Maybe that's why I like Volleyball better... :)

The soccer tourney below was a special international tournament where a team of Jr High age boys from Ireland came over to Shimane and played against local teams made up of players from all the area Jr High schools. One of my Jr High teachers, and the soccer coach at Taisha Chu, was in charge of the "Izumo" team. I went out to cheer them on, and they scored first, but the Irish boys came back strong and ended up winning that game and the whole tournament.

Izumo vs St Joseph's from Ireland - 3.jpg

catching up with all my pics - #2

goofy girls at Yokan Sho - 1.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Shogakko - elementary school. I think I have a love/hate relationship with elementary school at this point.

On the one hand, I love the kids and they love me. (what's not to love??)
Most of the kids are great, excited to see me and have fun with English - which can be a stark contrast to your more blase Jr High students.

But after 3 and half years, I've done some of the same games and songs so many times, it starts to get really repetitive. Some of my schools let me plan the lessons and I try to introduce new elements, but some just want me to repeat the same lesson we did last year.
And I'm either too old or too fat or both - but elementary exhausts me - you have to be so "on" all the time - and the dancing and singing is not what I signed on for, but something I've learned to endure and even enjoy on occasion.

Teaching at shogakko certainly helped me cement the notion that I would never teach that level back in the States, but as I said, I have some wonderful memories from my visits to elementary schools, and the kids are fantastic. So some days I look forward to going, some days I'd rather not - but I always make the best of it.

Above is some of my awesome kids - these are all the girls in the graduating class of 6th graders at my medium size shogakko, They are outnumbered by the boys in that class 2-to-1.
And in two short months, they'll be starting class as 1nen sei at Taisha Chu. :)

Below is a typical day of me eating lunch with the kids. As you know, I don't eat fish. I don't eat a lot of what is offered as part of the school lunch to be honest. But I muddle thru - my recent tatic if it's a day where I can't eat hardly anything on my tray, is to distract from the fact that I'm not eating by asking one of the kids for their notebook, and then drawing something for them inside and signing it. They are always impressed, despite my mid-level art skills, and other kids will ask for their own drawing.

Anyway - I have to go to shogakko twice this week - once for English club at this very school - and on Thursday, Valentine's Day - for 4 lessons in the morning. And I'm actually looking forward to both! :)

lunch with 5nen sei at Yokan Sho - 3.jpg

catching up with all my pics - #1

my clean apt :) - 2.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Hey Gang -

I've been searching thru all my pics getting ready to compile a graduation movie for my awesome kids at Taisha Chu, and I've come across a bunch of pics that I never posted to my Flickr site for some unknown reason.

So I'll post a few links here.

Above is my nice, clean apartment!! :)

Tradegy struck recently when my kotatsu, which has served me well for almost 4 years, stopped working all of a sudden. :(
So now I'm using a hot carpet and a blanket, but it's not as good.
I still use the kotatsu as a table, with my computer on it (not shown in this pic), but it sucks to not have it as a heat source in this cold season.

I do live in a great apartment tho, and since I'm staying for roughly 18 more months, I need to really do a good spring cleaning when it warms up in April or May.

I do live in a truly beuatiful place, and I will miss my surroundings when I leave in 2009.

outside my apt - 3.jpg

Friday, February 08, 2008

My day at Hamayama Chu

Viking lunch with 3nen sei - 11.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

It's about a month away from graduation at most Jr High Schools in Japan. So at my new Jr High, we had a "viking" lunch today for the graduating 3nen sei (9th graders).

What is a "viking" lunch you ask? I wasn't too sure either the first time I heard the term. Plus, the Japanese person telling me about it a few years ago suffered from a common pronunciation problem, where "v" sounds like "b", so I was really confused by an offer to join in on a "biking" lunch. Where were we going??? :)

"Viking" style basically means "buffet" style - you walk along with a tray and pick what you want to eat from a variety of choices. Maybe it got named "viking" since that's how the Vikings ate - they took what they wanted.

So the 4 classes of 3nen sei brought their desks and chairs into the gym, where PTA moms and lunch center personnel had set up long tables with a bunch of different foods all laid out and ready to go.

I even had to give a little speech, since the menu was inspired by Izumo's American sister city - Santa Clara, CA. And I'm also from California.
I said my speech in English, and then in Japanese, and it seemed to go fine.

The food was good and the kids enjoyed the casual, eat-what-you-want atmosphere.

It was really cold in the gym though, so I couldn't wait to get back to the heated staff room after we finished.

I took more pics, but the Vice-Principal at Hamayama recently asked me to stop posting pics of the HJH kids if you can clearly see their faces - so no more close-up shots or vids from Hamayama.
What was already on Flickr I'm in the process of changing the pics from "public" to "private", so you can still see them, but you have to join Flickr and then add me as a contact.

I had a bunch of free time today - I didn't actually teach any classes - so I made a new English board diplay for February.

Feb English board at HJH - 1.jpg

And after school I wandered around to see the clubs practicing. They have a table tennis club at Hamayama - we don't have that club at Taisha Chu.
clubs after school - 3.jpg

Did I mention it's cold outside!!!! :)


snow outside Taisha Chu - 1.jpg

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Watch SUMO with Jason - Asashoryu vs Hakuho - Jan 27, 2008

Hey Gang -

Here is me sitting in my apt video taping my TV.
I did it to show the final match in the recent Sumo tournament.
If you watch the video, I provide commentary starting about 1:30 into the vid.

I'm a huge Sumo fan, and I hope to go to Osaka again this year to watch live Sumo in March.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Random pics and updates and a fifth year

Ayumi, Sayoko, Keiko & Yuki
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The pic above is from the same day as the video below - my 5 Facts video I made since I was tagged on YouTube.
These are the 4 girls that helped me make the video, so once again thanks to Ayumi, Sayoko, Keiko and Yuki for giving up some of their free time after lunch on two days to help me make a fun video.

The picture below is from a recent concert I went to in Izumo. It was a cool "arts festival" with many different types of performances, including a great taiko performance by Jr High kids, as well as chorus singing and brass bands.

Tomorrow (today actually) is the Super Bowl in America. Japanese TV carries the game live here on Monday morning with the time difference, and I always take that day off from work to watch.
My team - The San Diego Chargers - got close this year, but lost in the penultimate game to the predicted champs - The New England Patriots. I don't really care who wins, but it'd be nice to see the Patriots complete their perfect, undefeated season with one last win.

It snowed heavily for the first time this winter season on Friday, and by chance I had to drive up into the mountains to visit my smallest elementary school, Usagi Sho. I was a little nervous about driving up there, but it was fine, and I had a good time participating in the "mamemaki" ceremony to celebrate "Setsubun" - the offical first day of Spring. More on that when I post the videos I shot that day.

So this Friday, the 8th, is the deadline for telling my employers if I want to stay in Japan for one more year (from July 2008 to July 2009) or not. I'll tell you, my dedicated readers, before I tell them...

Yes - I'm going to stay a fifth and final year as a JET ALT.

I can't say that my 4th year was the best I've had here, but I hope to make some changes and set some goals for myself to make sure my 5th year is a more worthwhile use of my time.

Things at work always change in April, since that's when the new Japanese school year begins and staff changes mean current teachers leave and new teachers arrive. This can be good or bad, depending on who leaves and who stays. So I'm hoping that some good change will take place in April and I can make my final, full-academic year here a memorable one.

Today I watched volleyball in the morning and then went off to watch my Jr High soccer teams from both Hamayama Chu and Taisha Chu. By the time I got out to Hikawa at around 1:15, it was raining lightly. It was also about 5.C (42.F) outside, so it was cold and wet and muddy, since Japanese schools have an aversion to grass.

But luckily I was prepared with proper gloves, umbrella and coat and I was able to tough it out. i got to see both my teams win. The soccer boys did much better than my volleyball girls - teams from both my JHs lost in their morning matches.

With the writers strike halting most American TV shows, it was great to see the first episode of season 4 of LOST via iTunes this week. I'm a big fan of the show and can't wait to see how they're going to keep it interesting this season.

I started private Japanese lessons this week with a local tutor that many of the other area ALTs also use. She's a nice lady who speaks great English and I hope to be able to really get back into studying Japanese.

OK - that's about it for my ramblings today.

Hope you have a good week. :)


Arts Festival concert - 8.jpg