Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lost in Translation

A funny thing happened today in class. I was teaching my students adjectives that describe people. For example, artistic, athletic, musical, funny, friendly, and smart. Well, with each word I asked my students to give an example of the teachers at the school whom they thought matched the adjectives. I would give them suggestions and they would either agree or disagree. However, something really funny happened when we got to the word smart. I gave an example of a male scienct teacher and the girls began to laugh a lot!! They noticed the confused look on my face and said...in broken English....That teacher is not slim! Realizing what was happening I began to laugh. I learned something new today...smart in Japan means slim. How those connect or are related I have no idea but it is just too funny. Oh, the joys of living in another country. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good Times

I just got back from a wonderful weekend with a couple of my friends. Alina and I went down to visit our friend, Millie in Kobe. It was such a wonderful and nice break from the crowds and stiffness of the city. In the Kansai area (southern part), men gave up their seats for us and help me with my luggage!! I have NEVER had that in Tokyo. So, I was thankful to get a little "Southern Hospitality".

One night we went to a Bath House where we lounged around in several different "types" of saunas. (No, we weren't naked in this kind of "Stone Spa"). We went with two of Millie's friends from here in Japan. These two women were TOO much fun!! Since they knew what they were doing they were our "tour guides" in the spa. Our first room was a HOT salt room. We laid on rocks of salt and let the heat consume us. The temp was 55 C!! Yes, that's 131 F! After each hot room you go into a cold room. It reminded me of a really fancy walk in cooler in a restaurant. :) Then it was off to the charcoal room. Japanese believe in the healing properties of charcoal. The marbled stoned floor was heated we had to run out because it was so hot. But it was wonderful while we were laying in there. (p.s. we are given a hug towel to lay underneath us while we relax) That room was around 44 degree Celsius. After another quick stay in the Ice room we made our way to a wonderful room. It smelled of cedar and cloves. Its was so sweet and a delight on the senses. It wasn't too strong at all! This spa was absolutely wonderful! We had such a good time! Also, on this trip I participated in my first Yoga class! Wow! Talk about amazing. Why i haven't done it before, I don't know but I was sure missing out. Great exercise with minimum impact. PERFECT! And you feel great afterwards.

The trip was such a delight. It was relaxing and peaceful. I really hope I get to go to Kobe again soon. It would even be great if one day we could live there!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Answers to Emi's Questions

One of my favorite people posted these questions on my comments and I wanted to take the time now to answer them! Thanks Emi for asking!

1) What is the life of a child (ages 6-12)in Japan like, from what you have observed?

The life a child in Japan seems to be very similar to that of a child in the states. Go to school, come home and eat, homework, and then off to bed.

2) What sports are in Japan?

Japan has many of the same sports that are in the states. But some are more popular than others. Baseball is a very popular sport and tennis is increasing in popularity. Basketball and Football are not so popular.

Tamasei (the school where we work) has a LARGE variety of sports that are imported. Basketball, Volleyball, Softball, Tennis, Rythmic Gymnastics, Dance, Cheerleading, Badminton. I think there are others but I am drawing a blank. Tamasei also has a traditional sports club known as Kendo (Japanese sword fighting with swords made from bamboo). Here are some pictures of a Kendo match we saw while we were in Nagano-ken at the Matsumoto Castle festival. P.S. These are not Tamasei students.

Getting ready for the match.


The fight is on!

3) What are the hot things to do in Japan?

Hmm....this is a good one. I think anything to do with friends. This includes going out to eat and hanging out and talking for a long time. (you can do that at restaurants here, where as in the states you eat and leave quickly) Free time is rare for adults in Japan. The Japanese work long hours sometimes seven days a week. College students mostly like to go out with their friends. One thing that is popular among young girls is Pulikula. This is a really fancy picture booth where you get to take fun and crazy pictures and then decorate them on a computer in all sorts of crazy ways afterward. The states should really get one of these things. Check out the example below. It's a lot of fun!

1) The Booth 2)Collection 3)The Decorating Monitor 4)Finished Product





4) What do they like to do during free time? (If they get any.)

For housewifes they like to go and chat for a long time with their friends or go shopping. For the men it is usually sleeping, golf, or using their free time to do more work.
A recent thing is for couples to go play tennis together with other couples.

Thanks for asking! Please feel free to ask more if you got 'em!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mundane

So, I think I always approach this blog writing thing thinking I need to give you some great story and while I may not do so good at that part I still put pressure on myself to make it worth your while....which i still want to do but today...i don't think I have anything worth while...just wanted to share a little of the mundane here in Japan. So, here goes....

Today my eye hurts. Not really sure why but I think it might have something to do with staring at the computer all day. Today at school is a light day of teaching so what I usually end up doing on Fridays after lesson planning for the next week, is sit and try to catch up on emails and facebook and other misc. tasks. So, that is why today I did a lot of staring at the computer. Yesterday was my birthday and a few of the people made it really special for me. Especially my husband. He is awesome! He bought me tickets to go see STOMP in July and I am super excited about it. This has always been something I have wanted to see!!

We are preparing for our trip to Hong Kong and India and it's hard to believe we will be leaving in about 7 weeks already. I can't wait and I am excited to share all of the pictures and adventures with yall. Also, classes are almost finished here. The last day of classes is July 9th! Hard to believe this semster is almost over! It feels like it just got started.

Today I need to go to the grocery store. I go about once a week and that is taking some getting used to. People in Japan don't buy in bulk. You only buy what you need for the week. Also, we just got our bikes!! Which I am so glad about! We bought one new and got another one for free used from a friend. This will make trips to the grocery store much easier! Thankfully!

Got any questions? Please feel free to ask! I would love to answer them! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer is starting!

We are feeling the heat come on as the humidity in Japan begins to increase. I haven't worn my hair down all day since May because it turns into a ball of frizz after I leave the apartment. However, even though the weather may be uncomfortable we are still loving our jobs and we are currently in the process of deciding whether or not we want to stay until April 2o10. It's a tough call and we have been praying a lot and once we know I will update this thing. But, until then just wanted to share a few things about our time here that have been really funny or have just been fun because it is so different.

First....Story:
Jason and I go to Japanese lessons every Tuesday night and when we arrive there is a room where we have to take off our outdoor shoes, put them in the designated shoe lockers where we exchange them for slippers appropriate for indoors. You may not know this but this is the Japanese way. In many cases you remove your shoes before entering a building and put on indoor shoes or slippers. Well, when arrived at lessons the other night I took off my shoes and put them in the locker and got out my slippers. That night I wore flip-flops. I tell you this because flip-flops are NOT at all common in Japan because they look too much like indoor shoes. So after lessons were over I went to go put on my shoes. I opened the locker I thought I had put my shoes in only to discover a pair of black men's shoes. I thought to myself, "That's odd. Well, maybe I have the wrong locker." So, I checked all the other lockers and couldn't find my shoes. Then a thought popped into my head, "Ohh man, what if someone is wearing my shoes!?" So, I put the indoor slippers back on and headed into the lesson room. I told my teacher what I thought had happened and she got the biggest kick out of the possibility that someone had on my shoes. So, in the scuffle of it all other teacher's got involved and a search party bigger than was necessary began. It was quite humorous to watch us go around the room peeking under tables at peoples feet and getting questioning looks. But, then, I spotted my shoes across the room! And they were on some man's feet!! Now, what? I have never had to approach a stranger before to ask for my shoes back! I mean, what does a person say in that situation especially when the person isn't a native English speaker? All I could do was point, smile, and say, "Um, excuse me, you have on my shoes." In the background huddled around me are the Japanese teachers laughing at the awkwardness of the situation and trying to help me understand the mans rapid explanation. He was late and he didn't pay attention. So, we awkwardly exchanged shoes amidst the laughter and conversation (which I couldn't understand because it was all in Japanese) and I walked away with embarrassment and delight because this is really only the kind of thing that can happen in Japan.


Second.....video:
Coldstone in Japan. Even here they will sing one if you fling one!


video