今週の漢字: 機会

It’s frustrating when people say something like this to me: “How are you? It must be better than my life with all the excitement you have of being in a foreign country… I’m jealous.” It’s nauseating for me to listen to this balderdash. Okay, it’s not as nauseating compared to when people say, “S/he is the one,” or even worse, “S/he completes me.” I think this is an appropriate time for me to mention these awful lines as right after Valentine’s Day it is usually within a matter of weeks, sometimes days, when people make such ridiculous claims. Most of the time, these relationships end quickly, but anyway, I digress.

If you want to travel around the world, do it! Do what you are passionate about (in many cases)! If you want to teach English in a foreign country, there are many opportunities. The JET Program is only one of the numerous options out there. There are programs for other countries too. I think the JET Program is one of the better ones out there because of the good salary for working as an assistant teacher, and there is a social network that comes with the package. I don’t mean to advertise for the JET Program. Okay, I lie, but I want to point out that there are ways to work in another country, if you want to do it.

Stick to your choices! I may not be the most practical considering my career goals include entering into one of the most competitive occupations (drama) and traveling the world among others. I decided to come to Japan, because I felt it was the best time to try and experience another culture. Will I stay in Japan forever? Probably not, but I am not totally opposed to the idea as long as an opportunity that interests me enough comes my way. Will I go to graduate school? Probably not, because I eventually plan to audition and live on creating works of art. However, if my path changes to something like psychology, then I would go to grad school. Is it silly for me to live this way? Possibly, but I feel that as long as I am walking down the path that is set for me, it’ll work out. I expect very difficult times, but I also expect joyous times.

I do not want to live for money, nor do I want to live for the sake of work. I want to create art for the sake of creating art. I want to help where I can. I want to see and experience what I can and what I want to an extent. How much to an extent? I will only let it go as far as it extends based on my beliefs and way of living. I am not trying to endorse “fighting the system,” because I know that we are also bounded by society. On the contrary, I am endorsing to work with the system to fulfill your passion in life.

Do not say corny lines like the cringe-inducing ones I mentioned earlier in regards to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Just don’t, otherwise you deserve a slap from me. However, in all seriousness, do not be blinded by the world and society!

Stay tuned next week for another update!

今週の聖書の詩: “Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.”
- Psalm 27:11 (NIV)


Setsubun - This was on 2/3 and people throw beans to chase away the devil and let happiness and fortune in.

Snow in Akihabara! This is the first time I saw snow stick in Japan.

Homeless - look how organized...

I just felt like I had to take this picture. I couldn't believe this was in a museum. Can you proofread it? I hope so.


Valentine’s Day rolled around this past week. For the teachers and my English track students (except for my third years because they don’t come to school anymore in order to concentrate on exams), I baked peanut butter cookies. First, I feel that I should mention how there really isn’t an abundance of peanut butter like in the U.S. There’s something here that is called “peanut cream,” but it’s not the same. A bit of peanut can be tasted, but it’s very fatty. There is Skippy here, but I have to go to supermarkets to find it. Even in some, it can’t be found. The other drawback is how it is so expensive. So, although the recipe called for peanut butter, I used the peanut cream. Because of its more creamy texture, it was really hard for the cookies to form, so I had to add more flour. It seemed to have done the trick, but I’m curious how these cookies would taste with peanut butter.

Immediately after the New Year’s hoopla in Japan (Jan. 1st), Valentine’s Day ads were in its full display. However, they are geared toward women. In contrast to America and many other countries where men bear much of the Valentine’s burden, women generally give to men in Japan. The prime gift is a homemade baked good, especially all or partially chocolate. When I was showing my friend around a few places, we saw lots of women of all ages crowding the baking areas or the special Valentine’s baking areas. It was really intense even to witness. It was also really hard to maneuver through the mobs. Ah, what love does to people… well, it’s probably mostly crushes actually.

This is an important time of the year, because this is the opportunity for the girl to confess her love. It doesn’t mean that a girl can only give something to that guy whom she longs for, but she can give to anyone. However, if there is that special guy, he gets the big prize—the hand and homemade creation that the girl has put in her all. Naturally, there are some guys who get many confessions. So, when do they respond? A response is not needed until White Day, which is a month after Valentine’s Day. I’ll write more about it next month.

Considering Valentine’s Day took place on a school day, I experienced the giddiness that spread throughout the school. Many teachers (male and female) got treats from some students (only girls give). I got a sizeable amount of chocolate, and I have so many cookies left over. I baked too much, so now I can indulge in lots of sweets. Time to eat!

Stay tuned next week for another update!

今週の聖書の詩: “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)

Considering my post’s title is “love,” why not quote from the Bible’s chapter on love? Well, I didn’t quote the most famous part, because I really like this particular verse. It shows how love is powerful, but it is definitely something thrown around easily these days. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the misuse of love is something that stretches long back instead of a more recent problem. I think it’s rare for someone to fully have love, but I think a part of love can be attained. Well, this is just my thought, and I'm not sure if it has any backing. I think this is one of those abstract things that is interesting to think about.

今週の写真: Be warned: Most of the pictures are of me. It’s time for me to engage in my narcissistic practice.

Wearing Noh masks

A building in Meiji-mura

Jail (Meiji-mura)...

Zojoji Temple in front of Tokyo Tower

DISNEY STORE in Tokyo (Shibuya)

With my friend, George, at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo (Harajuku)

Seafood cream pizza (lots of seafood, corn, asparagus, and mayonnaise)--YUM!


今週の漢字: 新年快樂

Happy New Year:
It’s the new year! YAY! To clarify, it’s the lunar new year for those who don’t know. So today, I’m not using Japanese kanji. Anyway, I have been spending about ten minutes on the new year in my classes. I actually learned a number of Chinese characters in order to give this cultural lesson. I also spoke in my poor Chinese, but the students seemed to enjoy it. Of course they don’t know that I don’t really have the best accent or great vocabulary. It’s more about the culture.

I have been focusing a lot of my language learning time split between Japanese and Cantonese. It’s been difficult, especially Chinese because although I get a lot of vocabulary, I forget it when I am trying to use it. Maybe it’s because I am abroad or maybe it’s the new year time, but an interest in my family’s origin has been sparked. It’s not that I didn’t have an interest before, but I didn’t do too much investigation. Expanding on being abroad, I think this interest has also come from how easy it would be to travel to China.

In light of all this, here’s what I plan on doing:
1) Practice my Chinese
2) Listen to more Cantonese songs
3) Watch some more Chinese movies
4) Eventually visit China

This week is a much shorter post because of all the excitement. Stay tuned next week for another update!

今週の聖書の詩: “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.”
- Psalm 75:1 (NIV)



今週の漢字: 正直

One of the stereotypes of Japanese people is how honest they are. This stereotype seems to come from the low crime rate. I was walking around with a friend who is visiting from Shanghai, and when we passed by a store that had much of its merchandise outside, he said to me, “Wow, I’m amazed no one steals from it.” I never really noticed instances like that even when I first arrived. I suppose it’s true that in many other places in the world, merchants would have a lot of things stolen if they just leave stuff outside without keeping watch.

There are other instances when I talked with friends about the honor system in Japan. The railway highly relies on the honesty of riders. For example, if you were to buy a ticket and lose it on the way, when you get to your destination, you can explain to the ticket person your situation and where you were coming from. Then, you have to pay the fare again, but who would know if you bought a cheaper ticket and then told the ticket person that you came from the very previous stop? This is a good time to explain that in Japan, the rails work in that riders put their tickets through the stalls and must keep the tickets until they exit. The ticket stalls at the destination would eat up the tickets upon exiting. So here’s another example, in some small towns, the ticket stalls are unmanned after a certain time, which is usually about an hour and a half before the trains stop running. Riders can easily buy a cheaper ticket and easily walk right out at these particular locations.

There seems to be an alarming amount of honesty exhibited by students in Japan compared to America. As one of my friends likes to say, “Japanese students just don’t know how to b.s.” It is especially hard for me to get my students to use their imagination. For example, if I give them directions to make up a place, it is so difficult for them. Instead, if I have them choose some place real, they can just choose any random place and continue with the activity. From the advice of some other AETs, I sometimes present the start of an activity leaving the students to their imagination for the rest. However, it also seems that many of them just don’t want to do any extra work; it’s easier for them just to use things they know instead of trying to formulate something original. So, I feel that it’s both the result of how they don’t usually have any time to hone their creative skills in school (aside from art) as well as their lack of much effort. Throw in the fear of being wrong into the mix and you get a stereotypical Japanese student. I will point out now that not all students are like this. Plus, only one factor might be the cause of a student’s little to no participation.

Although the honor system is very important in Japanese culture, honesty seems to go out the window with regards to communication. In America, there’s the prime example of when a woman asks her boyfriend or husband if she looks fat. It would be an automatic death sentence if the man agreed in the slightest. In Japan, it seems that people cannot offend anyone, which is probably where the stereotype about Japanese people being shy and nice comes from. I have experienced some people using alcohol as an excuse to speak their mind. I really wish people would just speak their minds, but again, this is a very different culture. Lastly, kids, don’t try any of the things I mentioned here. Let’s keep the honor system up!

Stay tuned next week for another update!

今週の聖書の詩: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat own at the right hand of the throne of God.”
- Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

今週の写真: I went with a friend to a place called “Meiji-mura,” which is in Aichi prefecture. It’s basically a museum with many relocated buildings that have historical value from all of Japan.

Police Box


Drum at the dojo

Archery (kyudo) area behind the dojo

Red Cross Hospital

Choo! Choo!

Post Office


Bath house