Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Marking Summer B-Notebook Entries

The B-note is where the students write their journal entries. I have been going through them all day today, as it's the first day of school and they hand in a lot of their summer homework today.

Here are some samples from third year student Miss Marina Yamanaka, to give you a taste of what they are like. Marina wrote more entries (34 in 40 days) than any other student this summer. These are exactly how she wrote them, line breaks, grammar, spelling, capitalisation. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Wednesday, August third

Today is sunny.
It was hot.
I went to hairdresser, to cut my hair.
I studied society. Because I forgot it recently.
I watched animation.
It was "Star Corby."
It was good.

Tuesday, August ninth

Today is sunny.
My relative came my home in the afternoon.
She said "My child will be marriage next year."
Child is twenty two years.
It was hot.
So I turned on the air conditioner.
It was cool.

Thursday, August eleventh

Today is sunny.
Recently I read same books.
My favorite book is it now.
Its title is "Satan is from today."
Its hero is "Yuri."
He's fiance is boy.
Because Yuri raced accidents.
So he's fiance is boy.

Monday, August fifteenth.

Today is sunny.
I went to Kochi with my family.
To play.
I took the corkscrew.
It was interesting.
I like corkscrew very much.
But I was tired.

Wednesday, August seventeenth

Today is sunny.
I was walking with my dogs.
My dogs kinds are "Shetto Land Seep Dog."
But I met a woman said, "Oh, those dogs are "Cory."
I wanted to said, "These dogs are "Shetto Land Seep Dog."

Monday, August twenty-second

Today is sunny.
I haven't went to school for a long time.
But I thought no kind.
I want to sleep, and play.
Summer rest is finished.
I think that lament.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

School starts again tomorrow

Gosh, it feels like it's been forever since I taught a class. Really, it has probably been more than six weeks. And then when you consider that the first week was spent cleaning my apartment and taking fellow tokushima jets on a tour of kamikatsu and the prep for that, plus four weeks of craziness with Tom (and Alex, too), there is just so much stuff that has happened since the last class that I taught. Now that I think about it, there was also that day of American students visiting the school which may or may not have happened before I taught my last class last term. And then since Tom left a week ago today, I have gone to a barbeque at the beach, sold my car (driving three hours to drop it off on its last insured day) and read a quarter of that harry potter book I started so long ago (250 pages in japanese is so mean feat, yo).

And now I see that my vacation time is drawing to an end, and tomorrow it's back to the grind, as they say.

But I think I have had it better than some of my students.
Of course many of them come to school in the summer weeks (but not the two weeks that surround o-bon) to do their club activities and get ready for the upcoming 運動会 (un doh kai). undohkai = sportsday/wide game day/activity day or something. So for them that is fun. Perhaps a downside is they need to wear uniforms, but there are uniforms and outfits for so many things in this country that I'm sure they don't notice it as much as a western kid would. And the upsides are many: they get to get a free ride on the schoolbus to meet up with their friends, rather than a two hour bike ride accross town and up hills, they get to play organised sports with many friends, and they get to plan for their team cheers for the undokai. Well, that last one would be fun for me, if I was a student.

But somewhere in there the third year students had a test. Yes, a test in the middle of summer break. And don't forget the homework. This is what happens when summer lands between terms one and two instead of after the last and before the first. The upside of having the school year like that is getting graduation/free holiday/entering school at the time when the sakura are in bloom. Spring really is Japan's best season. The opposite of home, where it is the dirtiest (read: worst).

My only obligation this summer has been to help out with the speach competition entrants. There are four of them: Hiroki, Ayumi, Misuzu, Eri. The latter three were also in the Awa Odori troupe, and were possibly the most talented aside from the leaders. I digress. Often. When I have been at the school helping them sort out pronunciation, rhythm, pace etc was when Tom got to sit at my laptop typing up his blog and so forth. The day before yesterday (Monday) I came in and Masui-sensei (the English teacher I work with) couldn't make it. We did do some practice, but it has gotten to the point where all they need to do is memorise it better. So we all ended up talking. They asked me stuff like why I came to japan, why I studied japanese, why tokushima, et cetera et cetera. Normally these are questions I am tired of, but when it is my students who I already love but get so few chances to properly chat with, I really enjoyed answering. They asked me if there are any students I haven't chatted with outside of class yet... I couldn't think of anyone, but maybe in the first years? I try to talk to everyone at lunch hours if I can. They told me that sometimes they all get intimidated when I come into the room to eat lunch with them. As though they have to speak English to me. (This conversation was 95% in Japanese).

Then talk moved on to ALTs in kamikatsu that they remembered. Waaaaaay back in the day was a girl called Claire, from somwhere in Europe, they recalled, and Brad (maybe only at the elementary?) another guy from Winnipeg who was "as big as a bear, really scary." After Claire and Brad was a girl called Chris, then Brennan, then me. I was kinda shocked at what they said about Brennan. "We felt like he didn't like us." "He never talked to us." "There were no tears when that guy left, it was just like 'have a nice trip... next!' " At least I can feel confident that they won't say anything like that to me. It kinda puts me at ease about how much Japanese I have been speaking. On the one hand, they would have been forced to speak more English with Brennan, but on the other hand, they maybe didn't want to speak with him so much. It was very reaffirming in a roundabout sort of way.

I remember that for the three months or so before I found out where I was going in Japan, I was regularly praying asking God to put me in the right place, the best place for me to be. And Kamikatsu has definitely been the answer to those prayers.

Yesterday and today's speech practices were cancelled to give the four kids some time to finish up the rest of their summer homework. They are working harder than I have been. When I haven't been reading harry potter or manga (Bleach and HunterXHunter) I have been playing final fantasy IV, VI, Star Ocean, and a little of Hourai High School on my snes emulator. three of those four have been in Japanese. (not star ocean). So technically I have been "practicing" my Japanese, right? In truth it's little more than entertainment at this point, I don't really learn anything from it anymore. But it's fun, and it makes my vacation just that much harder to say goodbye to.

It's been a really good summer.

I have wondered if I am getting a little more introverted, or maybe if I am just needing balance, but I actually felt a little relief when Tom left. It was kind of like "aaah, that was fun, but it's nice to get back to my normal rhythm." that kind of relief.

And this whole not having a car thing has been fairly mendoukusai. It makes life so much slower. On the flipside, it has confined me to my apartment and places within walking distance, forcing me to actually slow down and do the needed relaxing before school starts. So I can't really complain, yet.

So now I wonder, do I need to write my own massive entry about the summer vacation in detail?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

ba ba ba BAAAAA

1. What is your occupation? getting paid scads of money for being a native english speaker
2. What are you listening to right now? japanese teachers talking, the hum of computers, and the buzz of cicadas.
3. What is your favorite TV show? At the moment: Naruto
4. What was the last thing you ate? pizza flavoured chips with artificial cheese on them
5. Do you wish on stars? If I was on a star, like the sun, I would surely wish to be off of it.
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? mauve
7. How is the weather right now? temperate.
8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Colin
9. How old are you today? 24
10. Favorite drink? Bottled green tea, cold and fresh out of the vending machine
11. Favorite sport to watch? hockey
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Blue.
13. Do you wear contacts? No, but I phone them.
14. Pet? Do cockroaches and giant centipedes count?
15. Favorite month? nope.
16.Favorite food? maybe?
17. What was the last movie you watched? Waterboys
18. Favorite day of the year? The emperor's birthday (dec 23)
19. What do you do to vent anger? Use an anger vent. What else would I do?
20. What was your favorite toy as a child? Transformers. They were more than met the eye.
21. Fall or spring? In Canada, fall. In Japan, spring.
22. Hugs or kisses? Hugs. I'm a sucker for the white chocolate.
23. Cherry or Blueberry? I'm gonna go with mountain peach (aka "myrica" a kind of berry)
24. Do you want your friends to email you back? All I want is for people to comment on my blog.
25. Who is most likely to respond? Nobody. I am only sending this thing back to you.
26. Who is least likely to respond? ...
27. Living arrangements? Teacher apartment.
28. When was the last time you cried? After watching "hotaru no haka" aka Grave of the Fireflies, a movie where you watch two elementary aged kids die.
29. What is on the floor of your closet? I don't have a closet.
30. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Jared Neufeld, probably.
31. What did you do last night? Read manga and part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Japanese
32. Favorite smell? The air in rainy season.
33. What inspires you? Painful honesty, people going hard for god.
34. What are you afraid of? Getting to heaven and not hearing God say "Well done, good and faithful servant."
35. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Not plain, thanks.
36. What kind of car do you drive? I used to drive a Daihatsu Mira, but I sold it three days ago. By the end of the month I should be driving a Toyota Starlet.
37. Favorite car(s)? BMW Z3, Dodge Viper, and one I could afford: the Civic.
38. Favorite dog breed? Nope.
39. Number of keys on your key ring? Zero. It used to have one for the car, but like I said, sold the car, with the key, but I kept the ring. Apartment key is not on the ring, its on a different chain.
40. How many years at your current job? Two, and going into my third and last.
41. Favorite day of the week? Hard to say. Mondays are my one truely free evening, and I have all three grades during the day, so that's fun. Tuesdays I have the second and third years and the special needs class, and then Judo in the evening. Wednesdays are the elementary school days, and I have three or four crazy classes, and when i had a car I would go to rent movies on wed nights because they are only 100y for catalogue movies. Thursdays are maybe the least fun, because it feels like I work all day. It's a shorter school day, but I only have three classes and one is the special needs and right after lunch we have the sign language class, so I always feel rushed to do the marking of journals and my prep for the evenings conversation class. Fridays are first and third years again, and judo in the evening. Saturdays are different all the time, and Sundays as well, aside from being church days. So all in all my week is pretty busy but in a fun kind of way. So maybe my favorite day of the week is Today.
or maybe its Tomorrow. *-_-;
42. How many Provinces have you lived in? Manitoba
43. How many cities have you lived in? Winnipeg. Kamikatsu doesn't count because it's a town, not a city.

I may blog this.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tom is leaving... (:_;)

He's on the bus to get to the airport. We're hoping the taiphoon winds dn't force the bridges the bus needs to cross to close.

Monday, August 22, 2005

More links to Tom's page

Here's the next set of permanent links to Tom's website, and of course, his main link.

thomax's main page

Aug 8
Aug 9
Aug 11
Aug 22

Friday, August 19, 2005


himeji, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

i was here with my family in march and now here i am again with tom. back for more.

our lift out of tokyo

Monday, August 15, 2005

asahi summer festival

the last place we performed at, another great summer of dancing coming to a close.

dancin in the street

we dance or "flow" through various parts of town

Sunday, August 14, 2005

us, today, in fujikawa

Friday, August 12, 2005


manji-ren, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

we bumped into jonny lawless, who was looking for this ren because his friend is in it. in the search we found the two ren i wanted to see and another jon wanted to see before we finally spotted them.

8 pm

8 pm, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

first day of awa odori

just going to watch tonight. in a little under an hour the roads will be clear of cars and getting jammed with people.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Well, at least someone is taking the time...

At the moment I just can't gather the focus to post a long script of what we have been doing the last few days, so I won't. Instead, I will post links to Tom's livejournal page. Tom has had time to type because when I have been at school coaching the kids for their English Speech Competition practice, he has been sitting hammering away at the keyboard in the office.
I'll give you the main page and then follow it with all the permanent links.

thomax's main page

July 27
July 30
Aug 1
Aug 4
Aug 5

It's been a fun and busy trip so far...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Miyajima's Itsukushima Shrine

The famous Floating Torii. There are deer everywhere. One even tried to eat Tom's shirt.

Hiroshima Carp vs Tokyo Giants

Monday, August 01, 2005

genzai tachiba

genzai tachiba, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

Where we are standing now: Hiroshima's "Genbaku Dome" aka atomic blast dome.