Excited

Oh I’m excited for so many reason!!!  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Last weekend was our 6 year wedding anniversary.  Last year I was too busy at work to do anything special for it, so it seems like we made up for it this year.  We stayed in Uji, a town near Kyoto.  If you have ever seen the back of the 10 yen coin, the building called Byodoin is located in Uji.  It was really close to the hotel we stayed at and was beautiful, of course it would be since it’s a world heritage site.  The hotel was by far the most luxurious place we have ever stayed in.  There was even a private onsen tub in our room that had full widows that would open up so you have a view of the river…  It was so relaxing, I wish we had the time and money to go back for another weekend.  I will always have my memories at least ^_^ and the pictures.  We were hoping that Kyoto would have more fall colors than it did, but we still had a good time.  We even went to Nara to see two gardens we missed the first time and to feed a bunch of pushy deer.  They just wouldn’t stop biting me on the butt.

That was last weekend.  John wanted to go somewhere this weekend too, but as our official fall vacation is next week I told him no.  Next week is kind of busy for me, it’s my schools bunkasai (culture festival).  I’m excited for it, even if it is a 6 day work week.  I hope I have enough energy to stay awake on Saturday when the students are preforming.  There looks like there will be a lot more singing this year than last year, but the songs sound interesting.  After the culture fest there will be an enkai, which are always fun.  Thankfully this enkai is only about $40 bucks, last time it was close to $80… but the food was wonderful.  I forgot that I was supposed to take John to Cafe Source to have delicious food!  Well, his birthday is Thursday, maybe I’ll take him then.

Sunday morning, bright and early, John and I will start our week long vacation.  We will definitely see fall colors this time.  We are finally going to explore more of what is north of us.  We are going to Kanazawa, which has one of the top three gardens in Japan… we really like the Japanese gardens.  Then we are going to drive along a coastal road that is supposed to be beautiful (but unless you have a car, pretty hard to see as there are no modes of public transportation).  Then we will take a train through the Kurobe Gorge, it was originally used to help build a dam in the middle of the mountains but has been converted into a sight seeing train.  There are hot springs along the way, and I look forward to at least dipping my feet in a free foot bath.  It’s supposed to be the peak time for fall colors, I can’t wait to take photos.  After that we are heading to Nagano.  There are many things we plan on seeing, but I don’t really feel like typing out my entire itinerary.  We will be going to Matsumoto Castle, which is supposed to be amazing, and we will also be going to some falls in the mountain that look like it was taken right out of the game Legend of Zelda – Twilight Princess (the half moon shaped falls).  We will be stopping in a post town before heading back to Takamatsu to see Ritsuin-koen in the fall (the all we need to so is see it in the winter and we have gone for every season).

We ended up cutting a day out of our vacation because the burger festival (which was canceled due to a typhoon) is now the Saturday and Sunday at the end of our vacation.  So we are going to see Ritsuin-koen on Saturday morning and then drive to Mt. Daisen to eat some burgers with friends.  It will be nice to have a full day at home after our vacation to do laundry and settle.  Our vacations always are so jam packed with stuff, they can sometimes be stressful.

Speaking of stressful, our winter vacation is December 20th – January 12th.  I can’t wait till we see New Zealand and Singapore.  We are also editing our vacation plans a bit for after the new year.  We were going to to to Thailand, Taiwan, and maybe South Korea during Golden week (in May), but there are a lot of festivals and also the best weather in February.  So as long as my vacation is approved we will be visiting these countries early February, I hope I get to see a festival!  We still plan on going to Okinawa during Spring break though, then we will have been to all of Japan’s main islands.

Well this has gotten to be a lot longer than I expected.  But let it be known that I am excited for what’s coming! 😉

Now it really has been a while

I didn’t want this to become one of those blogs about Japan/my life that just stop/fizzle out… but I have never been very good at keeping up with these types of journal things.  I will try again though, as I still have another year in Japan.

Some things that have happened since the last time… well, considering I don’t even remember the last post, and I’m too lazy to go look, I’ll just say a lot has happened.  The kids have had their summer “break” and are back in school.  Honestly they had so many club activities, undokai practice, etc… I don’t even know how you can count that as a break, poor kids!  I have already planned all of my vacation days out for the entire year, and I didn’t have any left over for summer.  Because of this I got to spend every day at the school, basically sitting at my desk.  I managed to get a lot of reading done ^_^… don’t get me wrong, I did work at my school too, but there is only so much I can plan (especially when it’s not even guaranteed that I’ll get to teach stuff to my kids).  I got another head start on the English News Letters and the English Board ideas, those things are completely free for me to do what I want with so I don’t have to hold back.

Last weekend was the undokai, so the kids have been busy practicing for that.  So many of their classes were canceled so they could practice for the sports fest, it was a little ridiculous.  During the undokai there were so many injuries, and a couple over heated students, but over all it was a good undokai.  It ended up raining towards the end, but at least it didn’t rain in the beginning like it did in some areas.  One of my friends ended up having her undokai canceled halfway though and then having to finish it on Sunday (with only getting Monday off).  After the sports fest the teachers had their enkai.  We went to Cafe Source, a lot of the other JETs have already been there (since a bunch of them live nearby), and I was excited for it.  I found a really yummy drink (non-alcoholic per my usual) and the food was supper tasty!  We had the equivalent of pot roast… so good… and the pizza was supper yummy (though there was a soft boiled egg on top that I made sure to avoid).  I suppose I should bring John there sometime ^_^.

Oh, I got ahead of myself a bit.  During summer break Tottori had their Shan Shan Festival, which I was a part of.  In fact, it was their 50th anniversary, and the organizers wanted to do something special, and what says special like a Guinness Book of World Records achievement?  There were thousands of us dancing down the street for the world record… I’ll see if I can find some pictures.  Since I was dancing this year I couldn’t take pictures, but I noticed some friends in the crowd and remember seeing a picture of me dancing on facebook.  After the World Record attempt we started the actual festival.  I think it was only two hours of dancing… but it felt like more.  It was so muggy and warm out, and so much dancing… I was exhausted afterwards.  However after the dance there was an enkai with our group, and they even allowed John to come (since he pushed the cart).  The party went kind of late, I don’t think we got back to our apartment until 2 or 2:30 am… and then I worked in the morning the next day.  It was a good experience and I’m happy I did it, though I don’t think I would do it again ;).  We actually have a Shan Shan contest coming up in October (because the original date was canceled due to a typhoon rolling through).  So practice is starting up again.

Along with Shan Shan practice, my class will be starting soon.  I’m excited for it, I have been looking forward to this class for a while.  All of my old classmates raved about how interesting the History of English class was.  I was supposed to take it in Spring session, but I didn’t look so instead I’m taking it Fall ^_^ ah well.  I actually did really well in my two summer classes, which surprised me a bit.  It had been a while since I was in the mindset of being a student, and then I had work, taiko practice, shan shan practice, eikaiwa, and a “life”.  I got A’s in both classes, which made me happy.  I also learned some new note taking strategies that I hope to be able to use in the future.

John has been engrossed in a game of his called Endless Space.  I would go to bed, and when I got up for work he would still be sitting there playing it.  It was getting a little annoying, but he has been pulling away from the game on his own, only to replace it with Age of Empires… but at least that doesn’t take as long.  We have also been playing Diablo III a lot, especially now that they have started using seasons.  I finished the Walking Dead season 2 and Wolf Among Us games, both by Tell Tale.  I really enjoyed them, and I think I will replay them soon to get some different endings.  I also found out that Walking Dead will have a season 3… I’m so excited!!!

I got distracted again!  So now that the undokai is over, classes are back to a normal schedule, for the most part.  It also means the start of the speech contest practices.  We don’t have a lot of time, and my students seem to be busy with other clubs, but I have high hopes for them this year.  They have some tough speeches, but with a little work I think they will be great.  I really need to talk to my vice principle about getting all these hours of overtime either paid or extra time off later, like all of the other ALT’s… awkward conversation ho!

Speaking of vacation!  Our fall vacation and winter vacation have been approved!  I’m so excited.  For fall we are doing another road trips, this time through the Japanese Alps for 9 days.  I’ll try to remember to post about it as it happens (since I’m sure I’ll have free time at night to write about it).  For winter, we are going to New Zealand and Singapore between December 20th and January 12th.  The majority of our trip will be in New Zealand and the final week we will be in Singapore.  I’m excited for the amount of English I will be surrounded by, and not having to worry about translating… being able to understand everything I read will be great!  It’s also supposed to be beautiful, in both countries, so I’m excited.  I love Japan, but one part of the reason we came was so we could go to other countries as well!  I’m happy we are finally leaving the country to explore, since it’s been a whole year since we’ve been here.  We also have a tentative vacation planned for spring break (Okinawa… still Japan but a bit different), and Golden Week (South Korea and maybe Thailand).  After my JET contract we are thinking about traveling through parts of Europe as well before coming home.  It’s a lot of traveling, but how often do you get this kind of opportunity?    Well I suppose I should stop here.  More to come!

It’s been a while

It feels like forever ago that I posted, though it seems like it was in April.  Only two months, not too bad considering I’ve been getting progressively busier.

Lets start with my job, I have new teachers, I like them to varying degrees.   It’s to much to get in to, but at least I’m not getting left behind… so that’s something.  We also have a few student teachers here for about a month, two of them are English teachers.  I’ve only really talked to one, I should really work on talking to the other one, but like I said, I’ve been busy.  All my elementary schools are having regular English lessons now, which is great, except they are going to start this weird thing soon (this month) where one of my JTE’s are going to come with me and we are going to team teach the lesson, instead of having me with the homeroom teacher.  I’m not sure how I feel about this, since Kenta-sensei is a very strong personality and I feel like I will just be his aid (instead of having the class mostly to myself).  We’ll see how this works out, when I was first told about it I thought they were trying to get rid of me… but I guess not.

Now, the reasons I’ve been so busy outside of work.  I have joined my towns Shan Shan group, a dance group that does the umbrella dance at the Shan Shan festival.  I’m excited and nervous, practice meets twice a week and I have been working really hard.  I know 2 dances so far, for the most part, and they just started showing me the 3rd yesterday.  I only have till August to learn all 4, and then we dance for multiple hours in the Japanese heat in down town Tottori City.

I also am still doing taiko, and our performances have been picking up the warmer it gets.  We just had a show this last weekend, though the group had reduced the amount of parts we play in shortly before (which was a little annoying since we had been practicing so much).  Taiko still meets twice a week as well.  Then there is eikaiwa (my adult class on Thursdays).

So Mondays: Taiko and Shan Shan practice

Tuesday: free!!! yay

Wednesday: Shan Shan practice

Thursday: Taiko and Eikaiwa (taiko gets cut short both Monday and Thursday, but that’s fine)

Friday-Sunday: free unless there is an event or a JET outing (which are also picking up now that it’s getting nicer).

You would think, how are you so busy with all of those free days which you don’t have any hard commitments?  Well I’ll tell you, I am also a graduate student.  My first summer course just started and it’s already a lot of work, I have another class starting next week too.  So all those free days, and parts of the other days I might need to be studying/doing homework.  I’m trying to do some of it at work too, since I don’t always have a full class load, but there is only so much I can do there.  Hopefully I can find a good balance soon.  I was super frazzled earlier this week, but today I don’t feel so bad, though I do have a write-up due every Sunday that looks like it might be a bit of a hassle.  Keeping the time difference straight in my head is also messing with me, which I didn’t think it would, but again, hopefully I can get a good flow going and it should be fine.    Well I’m going to head off and finish my English Board at school so I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the month.

New School Year

So spring vacation is over, our trip to Kyushu was mildly eventful… but I don’t feel like going into it.  The new school year started last week and all the new first years are adorable.  The boy’s uniforms are all too big on them, I can’t even see the fingers poking out of the sleeve on some of the kids.  I hope their growth spurt comes soon.  Two of my elementary school visits start next week, I’m a bit excited to be able to go see them again.  It has been very boring at my middle school, there is a lack of English classes – though I did manage to snag some second year classes (which I normally don’t teach).

 

I was asked on Friday if I wanted to go to the 1st years camping trip.  I said yes and have been excited/nervous about it since.  I have always wanted to go on a Japanese school field trip but I had heard that ALT’s rarely get to do that kind of thing.  I started getting nervous that I would have to find a tent or at least a sleeping bag, but then I found out that it’s not actually camping.  We are staying in a hotel on a mountain, the hotel even has western rooms (hahaha), not really my idea of camping.  Another humorous bit is that they put me and the English teacher in charge of the meal prep on the second day (with the kids)… I wonder if they know I can’t cook, John does all the cooking (if I do anything it’s baking, or the occasional chopping of veggies or something for John).  We’ll see how this goes.  We actually leave tomorrow morning, and we come back Friday afternoon (just in time for the students to go home on their own).  On Saturday I have the Yonago Angel House Orphanage visit, Sunday is our taiko performance, and next week I have a full work week plus I work Saturday for PTA day.  I’m feeling a bit busy with all the events that are happening and I now can’t wait for the long weekends coming up.  Though John and I wont be traveling since we spent way to much money on our spring vacation and have almost nothing in my account (thankfully I get paid next week).  Well I suppose I should get back to trying to translate the schedule for this trip!

Two posts in one day!

I can’t believe it!!! I’m posting twice in a day.  Why you may ask?  Well it’s because I just found out all the teachers that are leaving.  The saddest of all is my kyoto-sensei (my vice principle) is leaving… I thought he was safe this year, but I guess not.  I’m kinda really upset about it.  I wished that damn kocho-sensei (principle) was leaving, but I guess that’s not going to happen.  It’s kinda sad, all the teachers in a bank of desks (I call it the Island of Misfit Teachers since they aren’t part of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year teachers desks) are leaving, well except for one teacher.  There are a couple non-teachers leaving two, an office lady and a lunch guy.  Both of which are super nice to me all the time.  Basically all the teachers that have gone out of their way to talk to me, even if their English wasn’t good and they knew my Japanese was bad.

The new English teacher is here (I think) though we haven’t talked to her yet.  I feel like I will let her take the first move.

Now all the student are leaving for spring break.  I wont see them again until school starts back up.  Though I wont teach any of them unless my kocho-sensei starts letting me teach the higher grades.  Overall, I’m feeling a bit sad and now I really want my vacation to be awesome.  I wonder what the party will be like tonight.  The going away party is technically tomorrow, but I won’t be able to go to that.  I’ll have to make the most of the year end party.

End of Year

It is now the last day of school at my middle school.  I’m sure the elementary schools are done too, but I haven’t had an elementary school visit in a couple weeks.  The teachers have also learned who is staying and who is leaving.  The teachers have been really vague with me, but I have determined that none of my English teachers are leaving.  In fact we are getting another one.  So there will be 5 English teacher… and then me.  I was a little surprised, and then they dropped a bomb on me.

The reason they are getting another teacher is because one of my teachers is going to start teaching English at the elementary schools.  When I heard this I got all kinds of nervous.  I teach at elementary schools… will I still be teaching there?  I only teach 1st years at the middle school, so they can’t take my elementary schools from me, what else would I do.  Turns out I still will be going to the elementary schools.  Though my role at them is still unknown.  I don’t know if I will be teaching with Yamamoto-sensei or if I will be separate from him.  Overall I feel like they are in the process of kicking out the ALT in my town.  They say this is only because they are going to be making it mandatory to start teaching English in elementary school in the next few years, but this is just so strange.  I am very curious how this is going to work out.  Though I’m trying not to worry about it since I leave on vacation tomorrow.

Speaking of vacation, we are heading to Kyushu starting tomorrow.  John and I are road tripping it, so hopefully nothing goes wrong along the way.  We are going to stop in Hagi in Yamaguchi-ken, see the sights there for a day.  Then we are heading to Nagasaki, it’s supposed to be very international so we are hoping for some good non-Japanese food.  Then it’s off to Kumamoto where we will take a day trip to Aso mountain and the gorge to the south east.  We will begin our trip back by going to Hiroshima for a night and seeing another JET friend.  Then Rabbit Island on our way to Takamastu.  We have been wanting to see Ritsuen-koen for a while now, and we are finally making it there.   After the park we will drive back home in one stretch.

Well it seems like I have stuff to do now, write again soon.  Hopefully next time there will be pictures of Kyushu.

My first…

So it’s finally happened.  Last night at 2 am John yells for me to wake up.  He was so considerate, since I would have slept through it otherwise.  I finally have felt my first earthquake.  I was so excited afterward.  It only lasted a few seconds, but I found it exciting.  I went on facebook and noticed that other friends had been woken up by it, with the epicenter being near Shikoku, I think around Ehime, they felt it the worst.  One of my friends in Hiroshima said it broke a couple plate and a wine glass, but so far that’s the only damage I heard about ^_^ hahaha.  Some other friends are getting all paranoid that it’s a precursor to another 9 point magnitude earthquake that will come soon.  I’m not to worried.  I guess that’s the benefit of living in the more stable part of Japan.  I’m just happy I felt one, I really thought that I would be here for two years and not feel one.

Now all I need to do is find a tornado and chase it!