March 6, 2008


OK. So it's about time I get my butt back in gear with this blog. I actually meant to about 2 weeks ago. I started a post (below) but never finished it. So, tonight, even though I'm dead tired, I'm doing an update. Not too long like usual though. Here's that update from before.

"My dad was behind reading my blog from traveling and finally got caught up the other day [a couple of weeks ago by this point]. He let me know that I kind of left people hanging about my decision to stay or leave Japan after one year..

I have decided to stay for an additional year. So I won't be back until July or August of 2009. I was just blowing the bad-teaching practices stuff way out of proportion after that mid-year conference. It's really not so bad and it's only part of being here. And I'm enjoying most of the rest of my life here. I sometimes get lonely. I sometimes get bored. But to be honest, that happened back in Georgia. Here though, I have an incredible amount of free time. I'm getting paid very well. And I can study and practice my Japanese whenever I want. It's pretty great. (Plus, I didn't have any graduate school stuff ready. Something I'm starting to work on again.)

And I realized I left people hanging on some pictures, and one post, that I promised (or that I had mentally promised)."

So here are links to the updates/pictures below. Please check them out.


Ninomiya Visit

Naked Man Festival


Today's Run

PS If you comment and it doesn't show up it's likely that I felt it was more appropriate as an email. Remember my email address is listed in my profile. So if your comment is becoming lengthy, that's a sign you should send it as an email. And that way I'm more likely to be able to get back to you.

Today's Run

Well, I'll start with the day. Average for the most part. I'm getting the hang of my schedule and how the teachers are and can even recall some of my elementary teachers' names these days. And even though I'm getting used to my JTEs' manners, there's one that when I work with her, it's either a homerun all the way or a complete dud. And not only that, I feel useless, used, or undervalued, usually a combination of the three. I'm trying to use it as a learning experience. I do like teaching, but I think I perhaps invest myself too much personally into it. I'd like to be able to turn it off or disconnect myself from it whenever I need to. It may sound odd or cold, but it can be useful for certain situations like today or certain comments the students thoughtlessly make. If you're too personally attached, it can strike a little too deep.

Anyway, that was a bit further than I meant to go. I was just trying to say it was a so-so morning. Lunch perked me up a bit. I had a nice talk with the kids I ate with. Played around a bit. Did half-English/half-Japanese. So I'm learning and they're learning, and we don't have to sit in silence anymore.

After lunch, I went back to the teacher's room to finish up my lesson prep for the elementary. The topic was time, so I made a giant digital clock with holes where the numbers would be so I could post it on the board and write in the numbers and erase as I needed. But I decided to be a little creative and made it a Hello Kitty clock, just for kicks. It turned out pretty well. Let me know if you wanna see pictures. Of course, when I got to the school, I realized I had forgotten to make the only thing I needed for an activity. Luckily, it wasn't hard. I just needed to write out various times for the students to use. But that got me a bit in my rush mode. Then, in class, I realized I had forgotten to bring some number flashcards so I had to run back downstairs to get them. I didn't waste the time though, I had them count with their homeroom teacher until I got back. It only took them counting to 38 for me to return. Anyway, we had a grand old time, but afterward, I was in a daze and accidentally went to the next class early. That one was just as crazy as the first one in terms of activity and genki-ness. (Have I taught you all genki yet?) It ended with a mini-concert of Edelweiss on recorders in C major with a tendency for C sharp, really sharp. But it was cute and then the teacher called the students forward who wanted to say a goodbye to me. Several did and they had nice things to say. This was the last class of the year. But I'll be seeing them next year (read: school year, meaning in April) as 4th graders.

Needless to say, I was tired afterward. But I'm training for a half-marathon in a couple of weeks. Check that. It's in about a week. I didn't realize it was so close. And my dad's been training for a full marathon for a while now. And I've been complaining to myself about the running I've been doing, maybe an hour's run 3 or 4 times a week. He's out doing at least 7 miles a day, it seems. At this point, those are his "light" days. His hards days are about 15 miles. So anyway, today I upped it to an hour and 45 minutes. Man, I didn't think it would make that big of a difference, but I'm wiped out. I think I'll still run tomorrow, but perhaps change it up a bit and do interval work instead of just straight running. Then Saturday, I can try a longer run, perhaps the full 13 miles. Then, next week, I'll lighten up a bit so energy can build up for the race.

Also, while I'm on these runs, I've started taking my iPod and doing Japanese lessons. Pimsleur's is pretty great. I recommend it to anyone trying to learn a language. I just started a few weeks ago and it's back to the basics for me, but I'm able to just run through each lesson once and move on. I think if I had started with the audio lessons right when I arrived here, I would have had to listen to each one at least twice if not more to get the hang of it. Believe me, it's a very slow and appropriate pace, but sometimes it surprises me with the complexity of some of the sentences it asks you for when you start getting to lessons 6, 7, 8 or so. With the timing, I usually end up in the middle of a lesson at the end of the run, so I usually just start back at the beginning on the next run. I like the review. Anyway, the Japanese is coming along fairly well. I always feel like it's going soooo slowly and that I'll never be able to speak with the people around me, but sometimes, I can see just how far I've come. Here's a taste. I'm not using a book to help me, so if you do know Japanese, then forgive any mistakes.


I study Japanese with an iPod. It's difficult. But it's interesting. I want to speak with the other teachers at Takase Junior High School. That's why I study every day.

March 2, 2008

Hina Matsuri

Today was officially the Girl's Day Festival, but several of us celebrated it yesterday by going to the town of Hiketa in eastern Kagawa. The town is known throughout Japan for it's Girl's Day Celebrations. Hina means doll. So, of course, everywhere you go, you see dolls on display. But these aren't just any dolls. They are special dolls that only come out for this day. They are displayed on a 5 or 7 tiered display that looks like red felt carpeted stairs. At the top are a man and woman, like a lord and a lady. And as you go down the stairs you find the various members of their court. The reason Hiketa is well known for this festival is because almost every shop and many private citizens put out displays for everyone to view. Many dolls are a few generations old and there was one set that dated from the 1860's.

We started the tour of the town with a tea ceremony in a community center. We were served by little girls dressed up in their kimono. Then we toured the town of dolls. Some stores are completely shut down by their doll displays. Others stay open for business and just have the doll displays next to their merchandise. There was one electronics store that just looked crazy with its display next to the appliances. We stopped in a converted soy sauce factory that has an open courtyard and seemed to serve as sort of town square. Then we took a walk to one of the town's shrines. I bought a couple of ceramic dolls almost right away. I tend to be more of a tightwad or spend my money on cheap useless stuff. But I saw these and thought they were perfect right away. I started walking away but something brought me back. They were a little expensive, but I'm trying to be on the lookout for more meaningful and lasting souvenirs that I can use or display for real. These were perfect I thought. They are somewhat abstract glazed ceramic lord and lady dolls with the stand and red velvet and backdrop screen of gold fabric. They were handmade by an artist from Kagawa. I'm pretty happy with them.

Anyway, of course, pictures are to come. (They're here obviously) I've been slacking on the blogging lately. I've been meaning to post a few pictures for some previous posts and do some follow-up blogging to things that I mentioned earlier. Perhaps I'll have some time tomorrow. Now I'm tired.