Saturday, March 31, 2012

Disembarkation


We have dreaded writing this post because it means our time in Japan has come to an end. It is difficult to leave friends, family and a job that pays you to be awesome at English.          

Quick English Lesson:

Watashi wa eigo no kyoushi desu.
(I am an English teacher.)

or as I like to say...

Watashi wa eigo desu.
(I am English.)


 Japanese culture is something we will never fully understand, but it has earned our appreciation and respect. You would be hard-pressed to find people so kind and helpful.

On Saturday, we gave up our car before becoming incredibly lost after we boarded the wrong bus. And yet, this memory will fade away. We will remember the good times...

AET Welcome Party

School lunches


South Korea




Kyoto




Fuji




Halloween








Disney Sea!

Our time with the Kajiyamas



We will see you on the other side (of the Pacific)!

Monday, March 19, 2012

NHK Man


If you have lived in Japan for a few years you have probably met an NHK bill collector. NHK is Japan's one and only public broadcasting company.  Apparently, most people, both foreign and Japanese, try to avoid the bill collector at all costs. We have been blessed by two such visits in our time here.

The first visit was only a few months after we arrived in Japan and early (9 AM) on a Saturday morning... 


 NHK man: “Ah. Gaikokujin. Wakanai” (“Ah. A foreigner. I don't know”) while 
shaking his head. 


For a very awkward 30 seconds we failed to communicate and he left. 

The second visit was not as pleasant. I opened 
the door and the bill collector quickly came inside and stood in the genkan.

While this representative also spoke no English, our Japanese had improved
Here is what happened...

NHK Man: TV?

Daniel:  Yes.

NHK Man: Ok. Something something something something NHK something. 
Something something something something 3000 yen something pay 
something something. 

Like I said, our Japanese had improved, but I was still not understanding.  
He told me to wait while he contacted someone who spoke English. I was 
slowly resigning to the fact that I might have to pay this man to go away. And
 then I got on the phone with the English representative...

NHK English Man:  Hello. So you have a TV so you need to pay the NHK fee. 

Daniel:  Why?

NHK English Man:  (laughing) Well...it is something that you use and is 
provided free for people. It is your duty to pay. 

Daniel:  But I don't use it. We don't understand Japanese television so we 
don't watch it.

NHK English Man:  (laughing) It doesn't matter. You have to pay. There is
 no choice. Everyone pays. Plus, we help people with medicine and other things.
Everyone pays so it can be free.

Daniel:  Yes. I understand the concept of public television. We have the same 
thing in America, but we don't force people to pay for it. So I don't understand 
why I have to pay for something I don't use. 

NHK English Man:  (still laughing) So you don't want to pay? Are you sure?

Daniel:  No I really don't.

NHK English Man:  (suddenly serious) Ok. Put the other man back on the phone. 


The NHK man even came into our apartment to verify that we did not use cable
and could not access their channel on our TV. I realize the NHK man was just doing his
job, but I'm not paying and I will see you in Kyoto in August...end of post!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Japan In A Week


My dad came to visit this last week for a fast and furious tour of Japan. We started in Tokyo...

Takeshita Dori


Kaminarimon Gate


Tokyo Sky Tree


Then we took a quick detour to Kamakura...


Daibutsu (Great Buddha)


After Tokyo we visited some other sights around the area...


Fukuroda Waterfall (with 6 inches of snow)



Oarai Beach


monkey sculpture in Nikko


He also came to one of my schools to help teach English...

a lesson about the weather


It was a lot of fun and now my dad has at least 7 new pictures of himself. The only question now is which one should be his Facebook profile pic.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ramen!


Last month we went to the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum. Now when I say ramen I am not talking about the college staple...




Ramen is originally from China and very popular in Japan. This particular museum is designed to look like Tokyo in the late 1950's. Visitors can enjoy the atmosphere and try ramen from different regions of Japan...






I forgot that taking pictures in the shops was prohibited, which Staci is explaining in this picture...






The best ramen, in our opinion, was from the Sapporo region of Japan. Consequently, it had the longest line...




The food was delicious and the museum is a must-do if you are in the Yokohama area.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What I Say, What They Hear


I decided to make a few illustrations to show what it's like to be an English teacher in Japan. As you can imagine, miscommunication is inevitable...

“You say” sounds like the Japanese word for oil paint.


Pears in Japan are more like apples in shape and light green in color.



“Show you” sounds like a popular sauce.



“Yu” is a very common Japanese name. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sumo


We attended the Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo this last month...



Before coming to Japan, this was the only sumo wrestling I had known. Two inflated people, in socks, trying to stand long enough to knock over their opponent. But the real thing is so much better...


Once you get over the initial shock of such large men in such small uniforms, the sport itself is very interesting.

Sumo, Japan's national sport, began around 2000 years ago to honor gods in the Shinto religion during festivals. Many of the same traditions remain, but occur symbolically. Wrestlers lift legs up high in the air and then stomp them down to scare away demons. They also throw salt to purify the ring.

In Sumo, unlike in boxing, there are no weight classes. Wrestlers are trained by their coaches in 'stables'. The object is to get your opponent out of the ring or have them touch the ground with something other than their feet. Though very exciting, the matches usually last only a few seconds...

After the tournament

Outside of Ryogoku Station


A super kancho!


Sunshine City in Tokyo




And remember, just like in a movie theater, it is not advisable to sit in the front row. Because instead of stiffness in your neck you could be crushed by a wrestler. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Family Affair


Our families came to visit us over the Christmas/New Years holiday. Though enjoyable, it was like taking 4 illiterate children on vacation. We have become somewhat accustomed to living in Japan, but to be responsible for someone who is new to international travel is exhausting wonderful.

We were always trying to get them to try new foods...

chicken kebab


okonomiyaki


gyoza dogs (meat dumpling in bao dough)


real crab soup



Japan also has a lot of history and many sights worth seeing...

famous monkey sculptures in Nikko


Oarai beach


Ushiku Daibutsu (Ushiku Buddha)


Fukuroda Waterfall in Daigo



To relieve some stress and look awesome we took shopping breaks...

H&M


and spent one night at the happiest place on earth (besides Krispy Kreme when the red light is on), Disney Sea in Tokyo...

Under the sea




Carousel on the Arabian Coast



We also spent time with the Kajiyamas. They have helped us so much and have basically become our adoptive parents in Japan...

breakfast with the Kajiyamas


New Years Day



and now I present the only photo with all of us...


Hope you had a good time in Japan. Come back anytime, but call first. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christmas In Japan


We had Christmas parties with some friends and English volunteers from Staci's school.

Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but most Japanese people can agree this is what a Christmas meal should look like...

This delicious meal could be yours for only ¥3880 (about $50)


It should include fried chicken, a Christmas salad and a Christmas cake. Having fried chicken and cake on Christmas is supposedly an American tradition. I guess the holiday does celebrate a birthday...



Apparently, you must reserve a Christmas meal 2 months in advance and then stand in line to pay for and receive that meal. We missed that window so we had to make our own fried chicken.



After a delicious feast of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes and rolls it was time to play dirty santa...



Then we had a friendly competition of picking up beans with chopsticks...



And of course, Christmas cake...


Merry Christmas!