Discovered this on Louana's blog...read the lyrics and the meaning behind them here.
And now, a word from our sponsor (me):
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Yusaku, Kengo, and me
Then, yesterday, I had some fun with trains around Fuijeda:
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I checked out their website tonight and watched "Lovers in Japan" - the video is sweet:
I am definitely looking forward to the concert and an evening out with some of my cool co-workers!
Monday, December 8, 2008
-took the train to Shimizu at about 10:30 am (saw Fuji-san for the first time on the train!) - had to change trains in Shizuoka, got confused, called Michiko and got everything straightened out,
-arrived in Shimizu at about 11:35 am, went to Michiko's friends' house for a very international Christmas dinner, complete with sushi, mashed potatoes, pumpkin soup, edamame, KFC chicken and McDonalds french fries,
-enjoyed some conversation with Japanese and foreign guests,
-took the train from Shimizu back to Shizuoka at about 5:15 pm with a new friend from the party, Kim. Met up with Christina, a fellow teacher, at the station and took the train to Hamamatsu,
-arrived in Hamamatsu at about 6:45 pm, met up with a group of other teachers and foreigners, and headed to a Western (literally - waitresses complete with cowboy hats) restaurant for a few hours,
-then off to karaoke...the group of us who had to catch the train to get home decided to take the 1:19 am express so we could enjoy as much karaoke fun as possible,
-caught the train and got off at Shizuoka with Christina (since it was an express train, it didn't make a stop in Fujieda),
-stayed the night at Christina's,
-took the train this afternoon at about 12:35 pm back to Fujieda (P.S. I had to do this without my contacts in, half-blind...we bought Japanese contact solution at a convenience store since I didn't have mine with me, and when I tried to put my contacts in this morning, they were all cloudy and weird...don't know what that was about),
-went for a bike ride and took some photos around Fujieda:
and now, after a long (but very fun) weekend, it's time to go to bed and get back to work tomorrow!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Only in Japan, a country that is rooted in the importance of being part of a group, would this ever work.
In other news, I did karaoke on Thursday night! It was so fun. Photos will be posted on Flickr soon.
I am going to two parties tomorrow - a Christmas party in Shimizu and a going away party for another teacher in Hamamatsu. It should be a good time.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Of course, with only a toaster oven, a microwave, and a burner in my apartment, the idea of baking cookies was a little daunting at first. But, with the translating help of my manager today on my break, I bought the necessary ingredients to make those peanut butter concoctions of goodness.
(crazy Japanese ingredients)
I didn't have any measuring cups, so I had to eyeball all the cups and teaspoons.
Here's the thing about my toaster oven. It doesn't even have temperature settings like American toaster ovens. There's just one temperature - 860 watts, whatever that means.
Since the whole thing is heated by a coil in the middle of the oven, the cookies were coming out a little...uneven, to say the least. So, I devised a plan to put the two rows of cookies on separate sheets of tinfoil. When one side was getting too done, I took them out, turned the tinfoil around so the not-done sides were facing the center, and put them back in the oven.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The lesson was about softening criticism and there was a lot of focus on phrases like, "I'm sorry, but..." "I'm afraid that..." "Maybe you could try..." Toward the end of the lesson, there's usually a lot of free conversation, where the students are given something to talk about and they have to try and use the target phrases. In this case, I paired them up and gave them different cards with scenarios on them. For example, Student A was a parent and Student B was their child's teacher - they were at a parent-teacher conference and Student B had to inform Student A that their child was doing poorly in school. Since I had an odd number of students, I paired up with someone and the conversation went something like this:
Partner (Student B): "I'm a little concerned with your son's attitude in school."
Me (Student A): "Why? Isn't Bobby doing well? He's so smart and I'm so proud of him."
Partner: "He's very smart, but...I'm sorry to tell you that his last test scores were horrible."
Me (whispering): "Remember - softened criticism!"
Partner: "Oh, right, right...his test scores were...not so good."
In another scenario, Student A and Student B were married and getting ready to go to a party; Student A had to tell Student B that he/she didn't approve of their spouse's outfit. One of the pairs in my class spent a looooong time on this particular scenario - and when I checked in on them, I found out why:
Me: "What is going on? How can you possibly still be on this scenario?"
Student A: "He says that if I don't like his outfit, he'll just take off all his clothes!"
Meanwhile, Student B is just cracking up, along with me and the rest of the class. Oh, man...that was a perfect way to end a stressful week.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Because how many times have you said to yourself, "Man, I could really go for some octopus balls right now..."
After taking the local train from Fujieda to Shizuoka, Michiko and her friend Kana picked me up at the station. We headed to their friends' "mansion" (a Japanese apartment with more than two rooms) and the takoyaki party began.
Just in case any of you back home want to make your very own takoyaki (and I mean, really - who doesn't?), here's what you do:
1. Get yourself a nice slab of octopus.
2. Add some batter to your takoyaki pan.
3. Drop in some of that chopped octopus goodness.
4. And some squid if you're feeling daring.
5. Add some chopped onions and pickled ginger.
6. Get your friends to help you flip the balls so they cook evenly.
7. Keep flipping until...
8. ...they are a nice golden brown. Then you can add some okonomiyaki sauce, dried fish and dried seaweed.
And, actually, they weren't that bad. There was enough batter to kind of mask the fact that there was octopus even in them. I didn't throw up at the table, which is always a good sign. But will I go out and by a takoyaki pan so I can make some octopus balls at home? Probably not.
9. Smile with your new friends because you just survived your first takoyaki party!
And last night, they lit the Christmas lights near Fujieda Station, right in front of my school. I took a quick photo tonight on my way home:
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Saturdays are the busiest days at work - I will be teaching lessons pretty much back to back for eight hours (with an hour and a half break). At the beginning of the week, I observed Jen while she taught. In the middle of the week, I taught some and she taught some. Today, I taught all of the lessons but one. I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the day - just anxious about the lessons and hoping that everything would go smoothly.
All in all, I think it went really well. My students are great - I've been getting along with them well. There's still a lot of information for me to learn, but I think I'll be fine.
I'll miss Jen, though! I've gotten so used to having her around to help me and answer my questions. It's been really fun getting to know her.
And after work, I went to Jen's goodbye to Fujieda party and had a great time. I met some more foreigners and had some good conversations. It was really nice to talk to some people who have been in Japan for a few years and share some of the struggles that we've experienced.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
(Jen and Miho enjoying some nabe)
And yesterday night, we went to the Gato Rojo - a Mexican restaurant about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Everything is 500 yen (about $5). I was so happy to have some Mexican food - we had such a hard time finding some when we were in Japan in 2005. It was great to spend some time with some of my co-workers. AND, they play classic rock - incredible. This might be my new favorite restaurant.
me, Yusaku, Hiromi, Jen, and Miho
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
On another note...
I love Skype. I've talked to Mallory twice now and it's so good to hear a friendly voice from home. The call was clear and without delay - and free. So...those of you who haven't downloaded Skype yet - DEW IT. Then call me. I can't tell you how great it is to actually hear someone's voice when you are a world apart.
Monday, November 17, 2008
my bike, which I've decided to name "Popeye the Sailor Man"
It's coming along. I bought a really pretty wall hanging today for about $10.00, and I am planning on putting up a lot more photos from home.
Be sure to check out some more photos from my adventures today in Fujieda!