Monday, September 26, 2011

Sports Festival II

The day started with sunshine, group exercise and a first grader being kicked to the ground by a cartwheel. The adversity would continue throughout the day.

It rained twice...

It was so wet the teachers dried the field with towels so we could finish the events.

 At the end of the day students made their way back onto the field which reminded me of a medieval battle scene...

To help against fatigue my school gave me with plenty of fluids (primarily energy drinks). 

There was tug of war, relay races and a 1st/2nd grader dance to “Maru Maru Mori Mori”.
I took many more pictures but need to protect the privacy of my students and their families. I guess you just had to be there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Family Matters

My 3rd grade class was a little strange today. First, it was an especially windy day so I had to use extra magnets on my flashcards...

The magnets were fine until I ran out of acceptable eye colors...

And then I ran out of those magnets completely...

For family we teach the phrases “Who is this?” and “This is my - .”

During the game...

Daniel:  Who is this?
Student:  This is my black sister.

After stifling my laughter I quickly moved to another group. As you can see from the card it is supposed to be “older sister”. But it did give me an idea to incorporate family words into other phrases.

I came up with a few more examples but they were all offensive. So please enjoy these...

Student:  Who is this?
Daniel:  This is my square brother. He likes Math.

Student:  Who is this?
Daniel:  This is my white father. He can't dance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Run Gaijin Run!

Yesterday I participated in my first earthquake/tsunami drill. Technically, we've had them before but I have not been involved. I got the memo but it was in Japanese...

This was a new concept for me having only been in tornado, hurricane and stranger danger drills...

I was teaching a 1st grade class when the alarm sounded and the head teacher made an announcement on the PA system...

Head Teacher: This is an earthquake. Please take cover.

They students lined up in the back of the room in the fetal position to protect their heads from any falling debris. The teacher and I also opened any windows. After the earthquake was over we were running outside...

In school I was taught to NEVER run in the hallways even during an emergency. It was extremely liberating. After an appropriate amount of time outside we ran back inside because there was a potential tsunami coming...

Once on the roof we had a school meeting and told the students there was no actual earthquake or tsunami (hopefully most of them already knew).

This was just a drill, but Japan experiences earthquakes almost daily. Please keep the Japanese people in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I am a fairly confident person. Somewhere in between giving a speech to strangers and shakin' it on the dancefloor. But every once in a while a situation arises in which I find myself unsure...

For example...

(Japanese conversation in the McDonald's drive thru)

Employee:  Welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order.

Daniel:  Yes. I would like a Big Mac Set. 

Employee:  Cheeseburger set?

Daniel:  No. Big Mac Set please. 

Employee:  Cheeseburger set?

At this point I start to wonder if I actually do want a cheeseburger set. Maybe this random McDonald's employee knows me better than I know myself. 

Usually, it is the questioning of my most basic answers that will send me backpeddaling and wondering if I really know what I know. A perfect example of this happened today...

Teacher:  Daniel sensei. Do you know ---- sensei?

Daniel:  Yes. She is teaching 5th grade again.

 Teacher:  Ah. I see. Is she well?

Daniel:  Yes.

Teacher:  Ah...really?

Daniel:  Yes...At least I think so...She seems fine to me...You know I'm not really sure...I don't know ok!..(and then I ran from the room crying).

Ok. All of that did not actually happen, but I think I've made my point. So until next time I will be learning everything about everything and everyone so it never happens again.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Samurais Have to Eat Too

New Co-Worker: Do you cook at home for your husband?

Staci: Sometimes but sometimes he cooks for me. Most of the time we cook together.

New Co-Worker: O, yes.  I cook for my wife.

Staci: Wow. That's really great.

New Co-Worker: She works very late and doesn't have time some days so I try to help.

Staci: That's very nice of you.

New Co-Worker: Yes.. but I don't want to. It hurts my Samurai Spirit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Weekend at Buddha's

I honestly do not know much about the teachings of Buddha or the man himself.

However I do envy his peaceful demeanor and thoughtful sayings...

on communication...

“A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”

on roadkill...

“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself”

on relationships...

“He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.”

and inspiration...

“Life is suffering.”

Representations of Buddha always seem so tranquil and relaxed. Needless to say, I would buy his brand of loungewear. 

Last weekend we decided to visit the largest Buddha statue in Japan. 

It is an astonishing 120 meters tall (394 ft)! 

There is also a garden and animal park around the statue...

a much smaller model of the head

some very eager fish

When entering the Buddha you must remove your shoes and walk into a room. Suddenly, the lights will go out and a guide will provide information. This is supposed to relax you and provide a sense of peace before entering. Instead, Staci's nails were digging into my arm as I tried to remember how to say “we changed our minds” in Japanese.

After a two-minute eternity the doors opened and we explored the rest of the Buddha. 

a big toe

 the view from Buddha's chest

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky”



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Grapes of Wealth

 Today's ridiculously overpriced item is grapes. This particular package costs ¥590 (almost $8). I can almost count the number of grapes on my fingers and toes!

I only have one question:  How dare you?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tornadoes are my New Facebook Friends

New co-worker: Good morning Staci. 

Staci: Good morning. 

New co-worker: Yes! 1 point for English conversation practice!!

Later that day...

New co-worker:
Staci, where are you from in America? 

Staci: Oklahoma. 

New co-worker: Oh.. That is near Kansas. 

Staci: Yes, it is. 

New co-worker: Kansas has many tornadoes... Have you ever met a tornado? 

Staci: Um.. Yes. I have met several personally. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Menu Misunderstanding

Thai food is usually too spicy for me but I finally found a place that serves food I like. It is hard to resist menu items like...

 fried rice with crap

And my personal favorite...

fried crap with curry powder and some vegetables

Surely this is just a mistake and that is not actually what is served. But just to be safe I never order either of them.

Takusan dato oishii ne!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mt. Fuji

Last Friday a few manly men and myself decided to make the journey to Mt. Fuji. 

We had worked all day and would be hiking all night. It began to rain just as we arrived and would continue for several hours. The hike started a little after 11 pm...

I am not a hiker. I just put together items I had at home and hoped they would be sufficient. Now the average Japanese hiker could be on the front of a magazine. They are completely decked out with any and every hiking item one might ever need like backpacks, rain suits, walking sticks, oxygen masks and so much more. They are prepared!

But occasionally you have hikers like this...seemingly oblivious to the fact they are climbing a mountain.

We started from the 5th station (along with most other people) and climbed about 5 hours to the summit. The climb becomes more crowded the higher you go...

Though we climbed at night so this would just look like a bright zigzag up the mountain. We reached the top a little before the sunrise.

Here comes the sun...

We spent a couple of hours at the summit exploring, taking pictures and relaxing...

The climb down was quite terrible, but we eventually finished. This was a humbling experience in many ways and although I will never do it again it was definitely worth the time.