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Showing posts from September, 2011

On Japanese Education Part II

(The first part being, of course, my rant about the way classes are conducted. Fear not, this is more of a comparison and just general explanation for how it works.)

Actually, their grade levels are split up similarly to ours.
小学校 =shuugakkou-elementary school, which they have six years of from ages 7-12

中学校 =chuugakkou-middle school, which is three years from ages 13-15. Middle school is actually their last required formal education. High school is optional, though most people do end up going.

高校 =koukou-high school, for three years (ages 16-18). Here I'm a 2nd year high school student.

大学 =daigaku, University. University students live at home for the most part. (I am allowed one comment aren't I?I really think that dorms are more fun and give you an earlier experience at independence without your parents doing stuff for you. There, done.)

And also, because you didn't really see what my school actually looked like, here ya go:

That's my building, which has both mid…

Japanese English Makes me Laugh (a lot)

For those of you who are familiar with Japanese and Korean music know that randomly in the middle of the song they are liable to throw in an English word. So you'll be listening to this song and you won't understand it so it's like this: laelriajwelifafie....BABY...aleifaelifj...I'M YOUR MAN...faliejflaiejf...

You get the picture.
Turns out, the same principle is applied to random items as well. And often this English makes me laugh, because it's either
1. Gramatically incorrect, and they have absolutely no idea when I ask them if they know what it means
2.Gramatically correct but doesn't really make sense when you read it. Or rather, it seems like it should make sense, but on some level it doesn't.

Allow me to illustrate:
That's the cover of my obento box. I mean just read it!

I like this one too. The picture isn't very good, but it says, " Campus notebooks contain the best ruled foolscap suitable for writing." FOOLSCAP? I thought only …

文化祭!(Bunkasai--Cultural Festival Days 1 and 2) and Man I'm Tired!

So this weekend was Musashino Joshi's annual Cultural Festival, an event that all high schools (I would assume) have, where the school is open to the public and classes and clubs put on events, or set up quiz games or food booths. Essentially it's like a carnival. Traditional culture...not so much (though there are aspects of it). Mostly it's just good fun. My class was doing a chocolate banana food booth, so on Friday (the school-wide prep day, even though techincally it was another Japanese holiday) we got cardboard and began making our booth, which was Hawaiian themed.
And you'd think it wouldn't take very long, but it took the entire day and then about half an hour on Saturday. (Also, what' you're seeing is Summer Uniform Form 1.5, where there's the sweater over the shirt.) But in the end the booth turned out pretty sweet, if I may say so myself:
The top says Chocobana, and the sides of the poles are made to look like palm trees with a monkay on it. I…

Food Diary: Part II

Heya folks! So in lieu of something more heavy (everyone's comments on the education post were really interesting) here's my Food Diary: Part II (part one being the one with the ramen). Now I shall tantalize you with images of delicious Japanese food:

That was a bowl of soba my host mom made. I don't know how well you can see it, but there's two different eggs up there. Remember how I said their eggs were orange? Well, compare the left egg to the right egg (which is our typical yellow).

Chicken and vegetable cream stew, with cucumbers (upper left) and bread.


Because Suntory is the boss!

And last but not least, the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine:
I was proud it took me a month before I had McDonald's! And it was DELICIOUS.

Also, just one random note: TOTORO! And I'm very happy. :)   

In Praise of American Teachers

SPOILER ALERT: This post is going to be part rant, part commentary and part revelation, so be prepared for a lot of text and some opinions (which may be rather harsh).

Since I've had about a week of school I think I'm just about qualified to make comments about the type of education in Japan, and a bit of confusion I have about world education rankings. Let me be rather blunt at first: a dull teacher at an American school is already more intersting than a teacher at a Japanese school. The best examples I have for this is comparing American math and science classes to Japanese math and science classes. Science and math classes that I've always had have been very teacher-student and student-student interactive, with discussions, questioning, and interactions with the material. Japanese math and science classes are completely lecture based, where the teacher either reads directly from the textbook or instructs the students to. Even when the teacher wrote on the chalkboard (y…

There's No Place Like Home

So I confess: I've just about hit the month mark, and this morning I had a moody bout of homesickness. I was just sitting at my desk before class started and suddenly this thought popped into my head: "Why did I do this? I'm going to be killing myself when I get back." So I was sitting there indulging in a pity party, when one of the English teachers, Abe-sensei, walked in and mentioned that I looked a little sad. One short explanation later she essentially told me to quit whining and deal with it. All with classic Japanese politeness, of course. So I figured I'd post this reminder of home instead:

We made chocolate chip cookies! They didn't taste quite the same, probably because I had to convert from our measurements to grams and stuff, but they still tasted like home.

And per request (yup, I do read the comments, even if I haven't figured out how to actually reply to them!) Here's a breakdown of my school day by class for today:

8:25am- Buddhist pra…

Culture Shock and Routine

Sorry for the delay guys, school started and I was freaking a bit, so I just sort of...forgot to post stuff. My bad! But I'm starting to get a routine now, so here it is:

6:30 am-wake up and get dressed in my supremely awesome uniform. Eat breakfast (usually bread and jam) and get ready for school

7:00 am-out the door and down to the station where I catch the 7:13 train

7:13-7:40- riding the rails. Usually standing with my annoyingly heavy one-shoulder bag. Good thing I'm used to heavy school bag weight, I thank CPS for that.

8:00-arrive at school, head up to my classroom and just sort of hang out.

8:25- school starts, and every morning we have this Buddhist prayer thing with chanting and this rosary-type thing. Monday mornings we have a longer one where we go into an auditorium with everyone. (I did mention my school was Buddhist, right?)

3:30-school's over. I have six classes everyday, and lunch, naturally (my mom makes me obentos! yay!) I walk to the station with a few …

Birthday and School

Hey everyone! First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for the birthday wishes, whether I recieved a letter in the mail, or an email, or a facebook post. It means a lot to me that everyone was thinking of me. (Sorry, wanted to get the mushy bit out of the way first.)

My birthday was pretty nice. It was the day before school started, so I pretty much just chilled out. Midday, my grandmother called me up to her apartment, where one of her friends presented me with this:
They hadn't meant to give it to me on my birthday, so it was really just a very lucky coincidence. It's a beautiful kimono, and I'm really lucky.

That was the cake I had for my little family celebration. Much as I would have, I didn't eat them all: I had the shortcake, my mother had the mont blanc and my grandmother had the chocolate (Ayuko was in Osaka, so it was just the three of us.)

Then here's the picture you (might) have been waiting for: *drumroll*
TADA! Summer school uniform! It's a navy…

Ladies and Gentlemen it Gives me Great Pleasure to Introduce...

...my family! I've given up on that video, everytime I try to upload it, it goes: *coughcoughmetalliccomputerbeep* I'm sorry, there was an error uploading your video.

But THEN it occured to me that despite frequently referencing my family I haven't shown you pictures of them at all. And since nothing major has happened recently, here goes:

All right! My host sister, Ayuko, is the one on the far left and my grandmother is the second from the right (the last lady is one of her friends.) I'm the awkward looking one.
Some stuff to know:
1. Ayuko is incredibly cute and nice. Kinda quiet, and a little slow-moving (and that's self-described) and loves Snoopy and the color green.
2. My grandmother can literally do everything: paint, cook, sew, misc. crafts. She made me a shirt. I mean, really! It's like she's the 80 year-old superwoman!

From left to right that is: Asako, my host mother; Osamu, my host dad, Me, and my host father's parents. I just call them grandm…

Home Pickins'

I kept trying to upload this video where I gave you guys a tour of my house, but it refuses to upload. I'll try again later. In the meantime:

...since nothing much has happened recently, here's more food pics:
There, my dears, is the first bowl of real ramen I've had so far: miso ramen. It was HUGE and it was DELICOUS. It literally MADE MY DAY. Just enough spiciness and mm mm mmmm!

That is egg rice. It's really easy to make:
1. Make rice
2. Put some in a bowl
3. Crack an egg over it
4. Stir it up
5. Eat

And that's the snack aisle from the 100 yen shop. I resisted the urge to buy stuff, be proud of me! Ate some taiyaki instead (pastry filled with anko-red beans-and shaped like a fish); much better deal.

More random Japanese Life Info:
1. They don't eat the skins of anything: if the fruit has a skin, they peel it off.
2. Portion sizes, like the size of a yogurt cup, is annoyingly tiny since I love me some yogurt.

(One last note, which won't apply to everyone: …

Typhoons, Earthquakes and...Showers?

Just letting you guys know what my priorities are there! I have exactly a week until school starts, so I've been just hanging out and getting my bearings. If you want to know the list of things I miss, they are:
1. My tempur pedic pillow
2. Cereal
3. Steak; like a plain steak with nothing on it because I've eaten a lot of rice and miso lately and I could do with a steak. Or McDonalds. I'll probably cave for that in a week or so.
4. Air conditioning

So to answer any questions, yes there was an earthquake yesterday. It was really tiny, so not a big deal (wah, I half wanted my first earthquake to be really exciting!). My chair and curtains and the floor of the apartment started swaying from side to side, and by the time I realized that no, it WASN'T my imagination, it was over. Hooray!

There's also a typhoon. Which means a lot of rain, since the city I'm in is landlocked.
So that's the extreme weather news from Claire Williamson!

NOW, to the real point of thi…