今週の漢字: 特別

Golden week, a time of a few national holidays with many companies also off for the time in between, is quickly approaching. I hear that a lot of companies are closed for a whole week, but in my school, there is no such luxury. Aichi Mito High School is fully open, except for the few national holidays. This fun time brings with it an abundance of sales. I think that stores have sales for almost anything. It seems that it is rare for stores to have no special sales. Of course, I hardly buy things until they are on sale. I think all the stores are taking the Macy’s approach with sales left and right. I guess the sales are usually in reference to some holiday in Japan versus Macy’s sometimes random sales in the U.S. Actually, I like the names of some of the sales I have seen. In the winter, a lot of stores in Toyohashi were part of the “Winter Bazaar.” Doesn’t that sound so exciting? How about the “New Year’s Bargain”? Of course, you can never beat the “Clearance Bargain”!

A Japanese person once told me that Japanese people eat up anything new. I must say that I have witnessed it first hand. I was walking by an electronics store on one Sunday when I noticed a long line that even wrapped around the building corner. My curiosity got the best of me, so I checked to see what the big deal was. There was some new electronic being released. I suppose that when it comes to electronics, there are even cases of lining up in America—Nintendo Wii anyone? However, have you ever heard of people waiting hours for a new food place? How much do you like donuts? I have heard countless times in the states of the greatness of Krispy Kreme, but would you wait on line for at least 2 hours just for some Krispy Kreme doughnuts? I like Krispy Kreme, but I would only willingly wait on line for an amusement park ride. Would you wait hours for Cold Stone Creamery? Well, I definitely wouldn’t. I don’t think Cold Stone is all that great anyway. I definitely do not think it’s worth the price. If I saw that long of a line for Cold Stone, I would happily go to another ice cream shop like Baskin-Robbins. Oh no, I’ll probably get tons of hate mail now.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je ne pense pas que les américains resteraient pour des nourritures. S’il y avait une queue longue, je pense qu’ils se plaindraient. Quand je suis allé à Disney World, j’ai vu que beaucoup de personnes étaient furieux quelquefois parce qu’ils ont dû rester pour plus de 30 minutes. Au contraire, je n’avais vu personne ici qui était furieux sur une queue. Il est possible que les japonais soient furieux, mais ils ne l’exposent pas.

今週の聖書の詩: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
- Romans 1:18-20 (NIV)

God’s creation is truly amazing. It’s unfortunate that people just refuse to believe. I haven’t really heard anything too convincing to argue against the existence of God and intelligent design. Well, I cannot fully admit that I am completely objective, but I try to be. Most of the time, people just attack either my faith or refer to their own beliefs, which doesn’t actually try to intelligently present a different case. I don’t fully believe in evolution, but I will say that I don’t think many Christians really understand the theory of evolution to refute it properly. I hope people can be smart enough to research on accurate information if they want to provide a valid argument for anything.

今週の写真: Here’s what I have for you this week: 1) Look what I made—chocolate chip blondies; 2) look at something else I made—pumpkin bread; 3) I didn’t make this, but YUMMY PARFAIT; 4) there was a rather large fish in a river in Toyohashi; 5) awww… cute!


今週の漢字: 仕事

Do you enjoy your job? I hope so, because I’ve been hearing a lot of depressed soon-to-be drones out there. If you don’t want to be a drone, I suggest that you find ways to enjoy your job and reevaluate your goals and motives. Okay, so maybe I sound arrogant or condescending, but there’s something I don’t fully understand.

A job is something that people spend the majority of time on. If you don’t like your own job, why do you continue to do it? I can understand if you don’t like it, but then continue in order to support loved ones like a family. In this case, your joy comes from being able to support your family and provide the best for them. However, what if the motive was purely for money? What really is the point in that? I can’t fully understand that. I mean I know that money is needed for most things in life. There’s even the saying that nothing is free. Even a beating costs something. How scary is that? Anyway, I hope you know why you do the things you do.

It’s been somewhat amusing to hear recent college graduates truly exploring the meaning of life now that life as a student is over (unless they decide to continue on the road of academia). For so long, many of my peers have been trapped in their own little bubble. I can remember my time at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I met countless students who believed that just by being in Tisch would guarantee a successful career in drama (or in some cases melodrama). In their little hometowns, they were big shots. However, upon entering NYU, they were no longer anything big. Instead, they had to reinvent themselves or work harder in order to become recognized. Even after being recognized in NYU for any student, it still doesn’t guarantee a successful career in the performing arts. I suppose there can be a debate as to what makes a successful career in film or theatre, but I don’t want to get into that. You might fall asleep due to the length of such a discourse.

If you still don’t have a personal philosophy on the meaning of life, what are you waiting for? I think your identity really depends on your own answer. Hurry up and get to it! Now!

Who are you?
What is the purpose of life?

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
J’aime poser ces questions. Je pense que je les poserai à mes étudiants. Je sais que ces questions sont très difficiles pour répondre. Des étudiants croient qu’ils ne puissent pas les répondre, mais je pense qu’ils peuvent. Je leur dis: «Le plus important pour apprendre une autre langue est effort.» Qu’est-ce que vous pensez? Laissez un commentaire!

今週の聖書の詩: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
- John 1:4-5 (NIV)

This light is Christ Jesus. What I find awesome is how the light took in all the darkness and shines right through. It can’t be extinguished. If it could, then sin would be able to overpower the Lord. Is the light within you, or are you wandering in darkness?

今週の写真: More sakura! The daytime pictures were taken on the top of Mito Mountain, whereas the nighttime pictures were taken in Toyokawa. I was brought to the tunnel of cherry blossoms where there were also some stalls set up. Later that evening, I was brought to the riverside where the cherry blossoms were lit by differently colored lanterns. Do you see the carp streamers? They are for Children’s Day, which is coming up soon (May 5th). Enjoy the beauty!


今週の漢字: 英語

The JET Program is not doing too well. The budget is being cut, and there are many schools switching to private companies for assistant English teachers. A few months ago, Nova, one of the largest private companies that distributed AETs had to shut down. There was a scandal where AETs weren’t paid properly and received poor treatment. All this including other factors led to its collapse. Right now, the importance of English seems to be winding down compared to the 1990s. The JET Program is the best program out there when it comes to AETs. The pay is the best, and there’s a decent support group available.

Recently, more schools have stopped with JET or flat out closed down. With the negative birthrate at play, there are fewer students in Japan. Even towns are merging like my town a few months ago. Most foreigners prefer to work near one of the major cities in Japan. This may be due to a lack of information on other parts of Japan. It doesn’t help that the major cities are the most popular and most known. I was no different. When I applied, my preferences were all around Tokyo. I love cities, and I thought that maybe I had a slight chance of getting placed there. Here’s some advice to those who are applying for the program: don’t choose the major cities for your preferences. Instead, try to research other locations out there. You’d be surprised how beautiful other parts of Japan are. If you love cities, maybe you’ll be lucky to be placed near one. I’d say I’m lucky, because Aichi prefecture is smack in the middle, and its capital is Nagoya (the 4th largest city in Japan).

Although Japan is a small country, there are loads of culture and experiences. This country, which can fit within the state of California, is so diverse despite the homogenous population. I hope English education can improve. It’s headed in the right direction with the introduction of an English curriculum in elementary schools. We’ll see what the future brings.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Quand je me souviens au sujet de l’éducation de langue étranger, je pense que l’enseignement d’anglais est la même des États-Unis. Les étudiants du lycée de Mito peuvent parler l’anglais comme beaucoup d’étudiants américains de parler une langue étranger. J’espère que les étudiants japonais veuillent plus d’apprendre l’anglais.

今週の聖書の詩: “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”
- 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)

今週の写真: These pictures were taken around Easter time. Look at how people can watch crystal clear TV on their cell phones! Look at the fun performance! Look at the Easter eggs!


今週の漢字: 慣れる

Adapt (2):
Many people have been asking me lately if I have gotten used to Japan. There are things that I feel I’ve gotten accustomed to, but I’m sure that I still don’t totally fit into Japanese society, especially in relation to language barriers. Small differences don’t really surprise me anymore like they did in the first few months here. Now that I know I will be here for at least another year, I am not thinking of my time in Japan as a long vacation or extended break, but I feel it is more like a temporary settlement. I suppose what is different about my time here compared to my college years just passed is that I am in Japan for more than 90% of the year. During my time at NYU and University of Miami, I was home for at least a third of each year. College felt even more temporary compared to living all on my own. I think bills also contribute to the reality that I no longer have the binds of a student tying me down. Then again, I guess bills have taken the place of school. Oh, the power of papers with numbers!

Aside from talking to people from the states, there are a few instances when I am reminded of New Jersey and Florida. When I first went to Miami, I registered a distinct smell along with my feelings toward all my experiences there. Of course, I also logged all the architecture and scenery into my memories. When I talk about the smell of Miami, I hope you know what I am talking about. It is by no means an odor, but more neutral. It is said that one of the most powerful associations with a place is the smell. I can’t really describe what the smell of Miami is like, but there are times when I smell something similar in Japan. For New York, it’s not so hard. Occasionally when I just so happen to be near some exhaust, I am reminded of New York, and a lot of good feelings come rushing into me despite having inhaled fumes. I know it might seem like a joke, but I'm completely serious. I really am reminded of New York from fumes and dirt, but it depends on certain conditions. Exhaust from one car is not the same as another. If you are thinking that I run around my town trying to take in bad gas in order to enter a state of euphoria, you are mistaken… I run around all of Japan. No, of course not! Don’t worry.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je continue d’écouter la musique quelle est populaire en États-Unis via la radio d’Internet. Je ne veux pas revenir et ne pas savoir la culture. Il est très important que je continue à savoir la culture américaine. Je crois qu’il change rapidement. Quand je pense ces trois années dernières, j’en réalise. Je sais des amis qui veulent revenir au temps d’université. Je ne veux jamais revenir à ce temps parce que je préfère la vie après l’université.

今週の聖書の詩: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

今週の写真: Here are some pictures of the area around the hotel with hot spring baths that I went to last week.