I sometimes can’t believe that I’m actually in Japan. When I was first sitting in my Japanese class at University of Miami, I would never have thought that I would actually be living in Japan. It seemed so exotic—so amazing. Of course it’s great here, but I see where I am and it’s remarkable how easy it is to travel around the world. If only it weren’t so expensive and the fuel cost so high to travel!

There are many roads I could’ve taken, but I’m happy that I chose this path. Perhaps if I decided not to join the JET Program, I might have gotten some nice role or job in the US, but still… this was too unique of an experience to give up. As Thanksgiving approaches, an AET told me yesterday how she looks around and feels so lucky to be in the position she’s in. It made me think about my own situation a bit. In most of my time in university, I never thought about LIVING in a foreign country. I was content with the idea of traveling around on vacation.

I didn’t have many expectations with coming to Japan. I heard a bunch of stuff from people about Japan, and while some things are closer to the truth than others, there’s a lot more than meets the eye of a seasoned traveler.

This is an experience I recommend to anyone who can do it. When I talk to some new JETs, I remember my excitement when I first came last year. I really feel more at home now instead of the initial shock and awe. I’m still very much excited about my time here, but I’m glad that Japan is a part of my life, not just another destination for a hopeful seasoned traveler. I turned onto a truly unknown path with no understanding of it, but now it’s a clearer road.

Wow! I’m amazed with how I inadvertently promoted the JET Program. Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je suis content avec ma vie ici, mais je pense au sujet des candidats pour ce programme. Il y a beaucoup des personnes qui veulent habiter dans le Japon. Pourtant, le programme m’a accepté. Les étudiants me posent quelquefois: «Pourquoi est-ce que vous venez au Japon?» Je dit: «Parce que je m’intéresse à la culture japonaise!» Il n’est pas faux, mais il n’est pas seulement cette culture. Cette sorte de la occasion d’être un AET était la première que j’ai entendu.

今週の聖書の詩: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

今週の写真: The week after Toyohashi Festival, I went to Miya Festival. They are known in this area for their old pageant wagons.



There is definitely so much on my plate these days! I feel like I’m slowly clearing it, but my effort goes nowhere. When I get really busy like I have been lately, my blog and e-mailing are the first to get the shaft. I love e-mails and I’ve been happy to share my experiences and weekly happenings to whoever cares through my blog.

So what has Justin been up to that keeps him away from the blogging world? For starters, there’s teaching. I’m glad that I’ve been given more freedom and responsibilities this year. It isn’t surprising, for I feel like I’ve earned it, but more work couldn’t have come at a worse time. Don’t get me wrong! I love what I’m doing. The students are lots of fun and I’ve been getting closer to a few teachers. Of course there are problems here and there, but isn’t that all part of life?

Theatre takes up a large chunk of my plate. As usual, I love and hate it. Theatre takes much sacrifice, but it’s always a thrill. I’m directing and producing a play in my area. It’s truly difficult, not just the language barrier, but the administrative side seems so frustrating in Japan. It’s possible my problems are unique to my circumstances and the theatre I reserved. After the play has been performed, I plan to write more on my directing and production duties that have swallowed me up. The performance date will be December 13, 2008.

I feel like I’ve been getting out a lot too. I don’t know why, but it seems like every year at this time, I do lots of stuff including playing host or going to different social functions. (I can’t believe I actually typed “social functions.”) Maybe hosting get-togethers is something I got from my family. I mean my family hosts Thanksgiving dinner for my mom’s side of the family every year since a few years after my sister was born.

I’ve been amused by what the students are focusing on recently… the opposite sex! You might be wondering, “Why now?” That’s a good question. Well, from what I’ve gathered, the thought of Christmas nearing makes them all content if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. For those who don’t, they get all flustered and worried. As I wrote about Christmas last year, Christmas in Japan is a time for couples to rule the streets.

Now, a bunch of students ask me questions about what kind of girl I like, if I like Japanese girls, and/or if I have a girlfriend. I tell them that I don’t have a girlfriend mainly because I don’t know where the people my age are. It’s funny how often I get nods and gestures of understanding. Do they know something I don’t? I’m not actively seeking for a girlfriend, but it would be nice to at least meet more people around my age.

Getting back on topic, I foresee my schedule opening up big time after December 13th. First, I have to put more emphasis on the second trimester finals, which are fast approaching. Then, I can really put more into the play. After that, it’d be much easier to deal with social gatherings. I count social life activities on my plate, because I have to sacrifice a bit for them. I wonder when I can see most of the bottom of my plate again.

This is actually a double-stuffed post to make up for the past two weekends of no updates. Stay tuned the end of this weekend for another update!

En français:
Il y avait deux problèmes la semaine dernière. Il était un temps mauvais! Mon téléphone mobile s’est brisé et je suis tombé de mon vélo. Après l’accident, j’ai continué aller en vélo. Quand je suis arrivé à la gare de Toyohashi, je suis allé aux toilettes à vérifier que ma tête était bien. Ma tête a saigné! Il n’y avait pas beaucoup de sang, mais je me suis inquiété. J’étais content qu’il n’était pas un accident sérieux.

今週の聖書の詩: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
- Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)

今週の写真: I went to the Toyohashi festival about a month ago. It’s the small city closest to my town. I hope you like the pictures and video, especially the picture of the minced WHALE I ate!


今週の漢字: 恥ずかしい

Halloween is always an interesting time in Japan: all the marketing with nothing coming to fruition. Well, it’s slowly changing. I have heard that wearing costumes has been sort of spreading. I wore a costume again this year, but instead of choosing to be something cute like I did last year as the sorcerer’s apprentice Mickey, I decided on something on the scary side. I love horror, so it was great this year.

I searched on the internet starting in July for a store that would ship to Japan. There were some sites with shipping and handling charges that I considered outrageous. Many stores did not ship outside of North America. It was rather frustrating. Luckily, I finally came across a site at the end of August that seemed legitimate with a reasonable shipping cost to Japan. I chose the headless skeleton costume and included a skull prop. The hard part was over.

I spent the last two weeks doing a special Halloween lesson. I tailored something specific for each grade. The first years watched a short clip from the Friends Halloween episode followed by a powerpoint on Halloween. Then, there was a game based on my powerpoint. The last activity was for the students to start on their masks. I informed them that if anyone wears a mask or does something unique on Halloween, he or she would get some candy. The second years started off with the same game that I used for the first years, because they already heard about Halloween from me last year. I proceeded to show short clips from two different scary movies, which didn’t go so bad. For the one third year class I teach, I showed the majority of the class an entire episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also created a worksheet that accompanied the episode. Students who didn’t want to watch Buffy watched the Halloween episode of SpongeBob SqaurePants.

For all the classes, I encouraged wearing a costume, mask, or anything that people wouldn’t ordinarily wear outside of their home. I was hoping for English teachers to also take part in wearing a costume. One by one, I witnessed the teachers rejecting the idea. For some of them, the idea of wearing a costume is ludicrous because of their status as a teacher. I didn’t agree and told them that it would just make them all the more appreciated. Usually, this was when it was more apparent that it’s about the embarrassment of wearing a costume than any other excuse. Did many students wear something? Not really. Only a few handfuls actually wore at least a mask. I still gave candy to students who tried to do something different on the spot. For example, there was a kid who wore his jacket like a stray jacket. There was another kid who took my skull and pretended to use it as a bowling ball. I was overall more pleased this year compared to last year’s lackluster effort. Here’s to next year being over the top (although I don't expect it)!

Stay tuned next week for another update!

En français:
Je suis allé à une fête d’Halloween. Aichi JETs l’ont organisé et il était très bon. Quand j’ai attendu pour le train, des personnes me posent pour une photo. J’ai vu que les autres personnes m’ont regardé. J’étais comme une célébrité. Il était intéressant, mais quand j’étais dans le train, il y avait une fille. Je n’ai pas voulu elle effrayer. J’ai caché le crâne. Il était bon qu’elle ne l’a pas vu.

今週の聖書の詩: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
- Luke 11:13 (NIV)

This verse really spoke to me. It’s amazing how all we need to do is open our hearts and be filled with the Holy Spirit. This isn’t about the spiritual high people may get from worship service or fellowshipping. It’s about something infinitely greater.

今週の写真: Considering Halloween just passed, it’s only fitting to include some pictures from Halloween. 1) A student in a costume. I have another picture with a bunch of other students wearing costumes, but some of their faces are not covered. So, I don’t think I can post it; 2) AJET Halloween party; 3) I’m the headless skeleton. Unfortunately with the flash, you can see me. Most people can’t actually see me through the shirt unless under the right circumstances.