今週の漢字: 規則的

The club time seems to be the best part of school for many students in Japan. For some students, the purpose of school is club time. As with any high school in America, not all students feel the same way about clubs. Some prefer to go home early while others prefer (or are forced) to study, which is basically just memorizing a bunch of facts and figures. For those who belong to a club, there seems to be nothing but drills. I don’t think I have ever seen a practice game or any game at all during the club time.

I understand the necessity of drills and skill improvement, but I think people need to also build stamina and game experience by playing practice games with fellow club members. As with most things, this is not always the case. There are some times I believe I have seen the soccer team play scrimmages. However, I’m not sure as the ball seems to like to try hitting me. I hope that they are playing scrimmages instead of targeting their teachers.

If you think adults play games over drilling, you deserve to actually get hit with a soccer ball. I don’t know why I have been overcome with violence. It must be all the viewing of martial arts clips on youtube. Anyway, getting back to the adults and sports, the kind of club mentality of belonging to a group continues way into adulthood. Then again, Japanese society focuses more on a sense of community. Similar to school, adults may participate in big tournaments, but usually without any scrimmages. I wonder if everyone is playing a practice game behind closed doors as if it was a taboo. In all seriousness, I really have seen some actual game playing instead of drills, but I’ve seen so much drilling that it seems like games do not exist outside of official tournaments.

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je fais une promenade dans le lycée quelquefois. Quand je suis allé au club de musique, j’étais très déçu. Les étudiants ont accordé leur instruments pendant 30 minutes. Ensuite, ils ont pratiqué sans le chef d’orchestre. Chacun a joué de son instrument. Mon amie a dit que c’est le même dans son école.

今週の聖書の詩: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
- Matthew 16:26 (NIV)

今週の写真: Kyoto – Day 2: Kinkakuji and Kiyomizu-dera—pretty, eh?


今週の漢字: 書く

For this week, I’m just going to free write. Err… I mean type. So here we go…

I am currently listening to an American radio station. It’s Z100 broadcasted in the NY tri-state area. I occasionally listen to this station when I am free, but I’ve been listening to a mix of American stations, Hong Kong stations, and of course Japanese stations. It has been very interesting to listen to the different stations.

I feel that I am losing a lot of English vocabulary that used to be readily accessible in my conscious. I think that it is repressed into my subconscious as I just can’t seem to pull out more difficult vocabulary. I can say that probably my studying of many different languages contributes to this problem. I still read The New York Times regularly, but it’s not really enough to keep more difficult vocabulary in the foreground of my mind.

With languages, I have been researching and practicing a bit more Cantonese. I noticed that I seem to have a mix of dialects? I’m not completely sure, because I don’t talk to too many people about my studies. I have my reasons, but it’s been a recent discovery that fascinates me. Actually, the main thing I am trying to practice with Cantonese is using conjunctions, so I can say complex sentences rather than the simplest type of sentences that I am most comfortable saying. Of course a lot of the simple sentences have stuck with me since I was a little. I was one of those children who refused to go to Chinese school. I don’t regret anything, but I don’t like it when people think that I regret not learning Chinese… any dialect. I didn’t have that care to learn when I was younger. I guess I can understand why people in my position might fall into regret. I am not that kind of person though.

Okay, so enough about languages right now. I am content with my current position. I am a bit more forthcoming when it comes to explaining my future plans. Before leaving America, I had the intention that I would stay in Japan for three years and kept an open mind for an additional 2 years. I still feel this way, but I am actually articulating this plan now when people ask instead of keeping an air of ambiguity. I love keeping people on their toes though. I guess it’s about time that I just let it all out. Maybe that’s why this free writing—err… typing—is so good. I wonder what would happen if criminals were forced to write exactly what’s on their mind. Well, I suppose they just wouldn’t write anything self-incriminating. Okay, that was a strange tangent.

On that digression, I am finished with my free typing in English. It’s time for doing it in French. Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
C’est plus difficile qu’en anglais. Je suis content avec mes étudiants. Ils sont très drôles quand je leur parle après la classe. Quelque personnes sont drôles dans la classe aussi, mais ils sont spéciaux. J’aime les étudiants qu’ont beaucoup d’énergie. Quand il y a silence dans ma classe, il n’est pas bon pour moi. Il est imperatif que les étudiants participent. Je crois que ce soit le même en autres pays.

今週の聖書の詩: “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
- Hebrews 6:7-8 (NIV)

Don’t be like the land producing thorns and thistles. Don’t fall away from the Lord. If you stray away a little bit, I hope there are people to keep you in check. Listen to the Lord and place all your worries on Him. Let Him guide!

今週の写真: Kyoto – Night 1: We continued walking around Kyoto at night and ate at an お好み焼き (おこのみやき - okonomiyaki; some people translate this as Japanese pizza, but it’s not exactly) restaurant located in restaurant alley. I was happy to see that Kyoto is a bustling city, but it can be attributed to all the tourists traveling for Golden week. I wonder if there’s a difference during the off-peak season.


今週の漢字: 母の日

Mother’s Day:
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there including the best, which is of course my mommy (and my grandmothers and great aunt)!

When I went to church, the first song was to the melody of “America the Beautiful.” I was a bit confused why a Japanese church chose to sing an American patriotic song, but as I was singing, I noticed that it had nothing to do with America. It was actually a song about mothers. I really had the urge to sing “America the Beautiful” while everyone else was singing in Japanese.

I come from a home where both parents work outside of home; my sisters and I are given more freedom than the stereotypical Asian American families, which means we are not forced to study all day and practice instruments. We can do and learn nearly what we want as long as we stay focused on the Lord, health, and our studies.

I noticed that a lot of mothers in Japan are stay-at-home mothers or they may work part-time. The father is usually the sole financial provider in the household. There are even cases where the father actually lives in an apartment in or near the town his job is located, but the mother and children live somewhere else. School consumes a lot more of the children’s time compared to many other countries. It doesn’t mean that students in Japan are busier. They just spend more time in school either for club and/or studying. Many children really don’t see their parents as much as children in other countries. There are some exceptions. Did you really expect no exceptions?

Remember to wish your mothers a good one. Also, last week marked the one-year anniversary since I started this blog. It never ceases to amaze me how fast time can be. Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
La natalité est negatif en Japon maintenant. Plus de mères veulent travailler. Je comprends parce que le monde est plus affecté avec l’egalité d’hommes et femmes. Je crois que ce sois bon. Les femmes peuvent faire beaucoup au lieu de ne que rester à leur maisons. Pourtant, je n’aime pas les femmes qui veulent être comme les hommes.

今週の聖書の詩: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?”
- Isaiah 49:15a (NIV)

今週の写真: Kyoto – Day 1: I have about 250 pictures from Kyoto, so I’ll be posting pictures in parts. I won’t be posting all of my pictures, but some of my favorites. On day 1, we arrived at our hostel in the afternoon. After we dropped off our stuff and my friend parked his car, we all (6 people including me) went to Nijo Castle. There are two gardens and two palaces (outer and inner). One fascinating tidbit is that the floors were built to produce a slight screeching sound when someone or something walks around inside. As evening approached, we crossed a river and headed to another area, Gion.


今週の漢字: 京都

I finally went to Kyoto during the long weekend we just had, which is why I couldn’t update on time. I went with some AET friends by car from Saturday morning until last night (Monday). On Friday night, we went over to the driver’s apartment to sleep over, because it’s closer to Kyoto and we wanted to play a board game called “Settlers of Catan.” If you don’t know anything about this board game, it’s sort of like a cross between “Risk” and “Monopoly.” I don’t really like “Risk,” but I was sold after hearing how the game has some similarities to “Monopoly.” Anyway, Kyoto is closer to me compared to Tokyo, so it took a little less than 2 hours to get there. I heard that it takes only about a half hour by shinkansen from Nagoya.

We stayed at a hostel aptly named “Kyoto’s Cheapest Inn.” The accommodations are good for the price. There are some private rooms, but it was hard to find a room for 5 people plus we booked only 2 weeks before. Golden week is one of the busiest times in Kyoto, so hotels and hostels were full a long time before 2 weeks ago. When we got to the hostel, we actually bumped into a fellow Aichi JET who was also checking in. She joined us as we went sightseeing in Kyoto. We saw many temples and walked many streets. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan, and a lot of the old has been kept in the city as plenty of the new has been mixed in. I’ll write about what we did on the next post.

Stay tuned this weekend for another update!

En français:
Nous avons mangé une variété de nourritures en Kyoto. Le premier soir, nous avons mangé «okonomiyaki» et crème brûlée. Okonomiyaki est une spécialité de Kyoto, alors il était très délicieux. Pour le prochain dîner, nous avons mangé sushi. Il était bon aussi. Nous avons mangé à McDonald’s ou nous avons acheté des nourritures à un marché pour le déjeuner. J’ai des photos pour le prochain post.

今週の聖書の詩: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
- Hebrews 2:1 (NIV)

今週の写真: I saw a clown show, which was marketed as a circus two weeks ago. 1) Kids introduced the clown show; 2) The clowns threw out giant balloons into the audience; 3, 4, 5) At a shrine near me on the same day as the clown show, people were throwing mochi and other goodies into the crowd.