Challenges abound

So I’ve definitely been meeting my fair share of challenges over here in Japan.  Seems like something new pops up every week from trying to borrow a wrench at a bicycle shop and getting berated to getting into a shouting match with my friend over her driving after drinking (loooong story – maybe I’ll devote a blog entry to it).  I run into challenges in the classroom too when trying to figure out ways to teach the kids in new, fun ways.
Luckily, when things go well in the classroom, it makes me forget about everything.  The feeling of fulfillment I get from leaving an excited, happy class of students is super rewarding.  I did a lot of research before I came over and I was warned on several accounts that I would be challenged mentally/socially/even physically as an ALT.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t possibly imagine these kind of situations on this level.
However, I will leave you with a great bit of advice from a former ALT that I has helped me out.  “Challenges in life come at all times and must be treated as opportunities to learn,  These opportunities help discover strengths that one never knew one had.”

Game Save Darwinism

20120615-162739.jpgSo I have this tradition whenever I buy a used game (particularly a cart game with limited saves). When ever the game has all the saves used up, I respectively only overwrite the lowest level/time so as to respect the hard work that the previous owner out into the game. Weird, I know, but that is my way of the gamer ninja.

A Nice Sunday

So I poked my head outside to see if I could do laundry yesterday and was greeted by extremely warm sunlight! What a surprise since my area has been mostly cloudy and rainy lately. So I decided to do something outdoors to get some exercise and sun. I ended up riding my bike around town and I found a small bike trail that ended at an onsen! That was an awesome treat after a good workout.
I even found this awesome genin ninja training park on the trail.

20120514-103035.jpgThat chain log bridge was actually fairly tough to cross.

20120514-103220.jpgI think I found the advanced section of the training course, but I didn’t dare try to cross it. Finally, I got to the end of the trail and enjoyed a good shave and a soak in the hot spring.

20120514-103553.jpgAfterwards, I ate a bowl of tsumetai suuramen. A bowl of ramen served ice cold. It was a nice compliment to a scorching soak and sauna.
Sunday was a much needed break from an otherwise hectic week I had been having. Phew!

The Neverending Bus ride

Wow, what a night so far after getting to Tokyo…
Japan has some of the best public transit in the world. I decided to take advantage of the very cheap and popular ‘Night Bus’ option. Originally, I planned on getting a bus in the morning, but that didn’t work out so well since it was my ALT friends birthday the night before. So I decided to get a later bus ride to Tokyo. My bus was scheduled to leave at 2:30 and I would arrive in Shinjuku at about 7:30.
Wait, I forgot to mention that it’s Golden week this week. Yea, that’s important. Continue reading

Hiking and Hanami 

I did some hiking on Saturday morning up Toya Mountain.  It was pretty awesome, especially since I thought I was terrible out of shape.  It was able to lead the group up the mountain!  The entire hike was about 1.5 hours up and then about 45 minutes down.  The summit was 580.6m high with a pretty good view of some of the other towns surrounding us.  After that, I went to a local park and sat down under a cherry tree and watched the petals fall down (something I have been waiting to do in Japan for three years…)  Since WordPress is kind lame about importing photo albums, here is a link to it.

Hiking & Hanami

Redelivery with Sagawa Otodoke

Hey guys,
I found some hopefully useful information on how to schedule a another delivery with Sagawa Otodoke.  I ordered some stuff from and it came while I was at school.  So I had the following receipt jammed in my door.  Luckily, you can call the smaller number (the one that begins with 022) with your mobile phone and schedule a redelivery!   The bigger 0120 number is if you have a LAN line.  Call the phone number and you’ll hear an automated voice to guide you (although if you’re Japanese is a bit weak like mine, it’ll sound a little fast). Continue reading

What the heck!?

So my last Friday was a little nuts.  I’ll start with the little things and then give the big whopper of a story at the end.
Friday is usually a light day for me.  I teach one fifth grade class and one sixth grade class and then eat lunch with one or the other.  In my 5th grade class, we were going over introducing yourself to someone with a phrase like “Hi, My name is Tito.  Nice to meet you” and have the student reciprocate.  Near the end of the class, I made up a simple game of catch where one kid start’s with saying “What’s your name?” and throws the ball to another kid in the room who responds.  Then the student with the ball repeats the question to another student while tossing it to them.  Well, a little girl (one of my quieter ones) in the class was the 2nd or 3rd person to catch and she stood up, started to attempting her sentence and then froze up.  I saw the tears welling up in her eyes and she peeped out, “I don’t know!”.  Now if I had any kind of kryptonite, it’d be a crying kid.  I darted across the room right as she responded said nervously, “Ah, just throw the ball to someone else!”.  She chucked the ball, put her head down into her arms (luckily someone caught it) and the game continued.  Thankfully, for the second round where we responded to “How are you?”, she did MUCH better and was happier.  Phew… crisis averted.
Continue reading

First real day of work

So I had my first day of class today. Just had to do my introduction that I had prepared during training (and won Best Demo from my group… No biggie). I was a little nervous my first lesson and a little lost on what was going on, but I stuck to my training and got through it. I had three classes today.
During the first one I think the kids were a little tired, but next time I’ll try a more involved game to get their energy up. In the second class, I got a little bit better of a response since their grammar as a bit better. I think some kids were a little wise to my goofiness though. Will have to figure out a happy medium for them. I still had fun with them, especially when the teacher would catch the kids goofing off and smack them in the back of the head. Finally, during the last class, I think the kids were a little too energized from lunch, but I just went with it and they were a blast! I hope I can turn more classes into ones like this!


Minding your P’s and Q’s

So there’s a fairly cheap ramen shop right down the street from me. I can walk in, sit down and they bring out a nice 500¥ bowl of pork ramen (600¥ for a large!) with out having to say anything. I always say “Itadakimasu” before I start (a Japanese word like saying grace before meals) and “Gochisoosamadeshita” when I’m done (a “thank you for making me full”) These ramen shop owners love this and today they handed me a handful of hard candies and his chocolate covered biscuit thing as I was leaving. I love Japan.