Christmas Countdown

The countdown is on! Tonight I start making my back to Canada! Just gotta catch the train that takes me into Matsuyama to catch my overnight bus to Tokyo. Then catch a train (I assume, I am not really sure how I am going to get out of Tokyo yet) to take me to Narita Airport. THEN I am just one short (12hr) plane ride from being home! Woo!

You can keep updated on my travels and random thoughts that result from not sleeping for over 35 hours by checking my twitter by clicking here. SEE YOU!

See you on the flip side…

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A Sushi Story

A Sushi Story; Or, Why I Love Japan #241

One Friday afternoon, a weary teacher arrived at her home after a long week of work. She was greeted by a gift left at her door.

a gift? for meee?

Happily surprised, she opened the gift and found a note and homemade sushi from her Japanese friend, Yoko.

a kind notedelicious homemade sushi

She ate the sushi and was happy.

delicious sushi

The end.

Christmas Lessons

The past couple weeks, as I make my final visits to my elementary schools before the holidays, I have been teaching Christmas Lessons! This basically involves a short powerpoint presentation filled with pictures of “Canadian Christmas”. Since they don’t really do Christmas here, anything I show them is greeted with shock and awe. The only thing “Christmas-y” that they do here is Christmas Cake, which looks a lot more like a birthday cake than any sort of Christmas cake I have seen. When I explained to them that we don’t eat Christmas Cake as they think of it (which is the only thing they seem to have taken into their culture from ours) they were even more shocked. It is hilarious.

These Christmas lessons are putting me in the Christmas mood! I can’t believe in 10 days today I will be at home, with family all around, enjoying a great Christmas Day! I still have sooo much shopping to do! But it doesn’t really feel like Christmas yet, with warmer weather still lingering and a total lack of any Christmas decorations.

Today, however, I was given my first Christmas gift! Since it was my last day of 2011 teaching at one of my visiting elementary schools, while I was enjoying a coffee break between classes, 4 grade five boys approached. They had made me a Christmas decoration and a Christmas card! So cute!

handmade christmas decoration from elementary studentsA handmade Christmas decoration made by my elementary students

I was so happily surprised when they gave it to me! It is always interesting which students take a liking to you in this way. These 4 kids aren’t the type to speak up in class, or to hang around after and try to talk to me. Rather, they are shy and nervous, and yet they took the time to make me this. So sweet. It really goes to show you that you make an impression on every student, even if you don’t realize it. It definitely made my day! My English-Japanese assistant also gave me some chocolates as a Christmas gift, and one of the homeroom teachers for a class I teach gave me a card which folds out into a beautiful Japanese-style calendar for 2012. What a great day!

Imabari Summary

I can’t believe its December 12th! It doesn’t feel at all like Christmas to me yet, although I did do some Christmas shopping yesterday and it did get me more in the spirit! I found some really cool things and managed to avoid buying anything for myself except for one little phone charm, so I was quite happy.

Imabari was amazing! It is such a great city from what I can tell – although honestly I spent under 24 hours there and it was only light out for about 4 of those hours, hah! Zeno and I arrived at Imabari station at 4:15, only to step outside the station and see Tats, a Japanese friend (and elementary school English teacher – he is Katie’s JTE), who had apparantly cycled to Imabari from Matsuyama! Crazy person! He said it took him about 3 hours. Anyway, he said he had only just arrived, and luckily he ran into us, since he had no idea where the fundraiser was taking place, had no where to stay, and no plans until the event started. Jacqui, our wonderful New Zealander friend and Imabari resident, took us all to her house for tea and snacks before the event. Now, Jacqui’s house really deserves an entire post on it’s own, but I will try and keep it short and sweet. When I first met her, she had said she was probably going to move, as she did not like having so much space to herself. And space she has: A gated driveway, garage, large garden (complete with large aloe vera plant), huge entry way, and about 8 rooms! This house previously belonged to the principal (or vice-) of her school, and is located right beside her base school. The caretaker of the school also cares for her garden! Amazing! The house was great and she ended up letting about 9 other people crash there that night. She has also decided not to move, so I guess the place is growing on her! It was really quite neat to see, especially since my friends and I all live in tiny apartments. (Well, mine is a fine size, no complaints here!)

So, after tea, Jacqui had to go to the event early to sell tickets. By this point, another Matsuyama friend had arrived, so the 4 of us headed out for dinner. Jacqui showed us to a nice local restaurant where I enjoyed a “rice omelette” and fried chicken skin! Yum! Delish! There is a place right beside my apartment that so serves an assortment of fried chicken innards, so prepare for a feast if you visit! After dinner we taxi-d over to the event, which was coffee house style (except with beer instead of coffee) and enjoyed the show. Many ALTs from Ehime (and a few from Hiroshima Prefecture) were there and some played some music, as well as many Japanese locals and friends of friends who had come down for the event. The music was great. There was also a silent auction, and Zeno and I take credit for driving up the prices of each item, despite not making winning bids on anything… we do our part, after all, it’s for the children. After the event finished (it as from 7-10), all of the ALTs (and a few Japanese friends) went to a local Imabari drinking establishment to continue the party. More singing, mingling, and having a good time. Then we all stumbled back to Jacqui’s humble abode to crash. After a minorly intoxicated facebook chat with Erika at 4 am, I fell asleep.

When I finally awoke, I rolled over, phone practically still in hand, and checked the time. 11:30 AM! Ah! Zeno and I had to be back in Matsuyama for 1:30 for a birthday dinner with Kaz (who I believe I have mentioned before – a friend from our BOE). Anyway, I yell “Dylan! Zeno! We’re going to be late.” When no response comes from Dylan, Zeno and I start pestering him, or at least who we thought was him, but was infact someone else. We are poking the covers and calling his name before I realize there is a text on my phone from him, saying “I left my bike key at Jacqui’s, can you bring it home when you come!?”. This was when we discovered that once Dylan left someone else stole his sleeping spot since it was warmer … Half the people in the room had awoke and left, although I had no idea, sleeping through it all! Anyway, Zeno and I quickly pack up, grab a quick bite of pancake that Jacqui has made (thanks girl!) and run to catch the 12:10 train back to Matsuyama. We were only about 30 minutes late to lunch! Oops! After a delicious lunch at an Italian place, Katie, Zeno and I went off Christmas shopping (which I won’t tell you about until I get home in 10 days!!!) and that was that.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend too, gentle reader (that if for the Buffy fans out there – sometimes I imagine myself like Johnathon, telling a story from a large armchair while smoking a pipe…. weird?).

Until next time

“You are PERFECT”

We had our “Skills Development Conference” last Thursday and Friday which meant that all the ALT’s from the Prefecture of The Love Princess (seriously, Ehime means Love Princess – I bet you lived in a place called the Love Princess – but you don’t… too bad) came to Matsuyama for a conference and a party. All of us Matsuyama ALT’s who work for the Matsuyama Board of Education recieved this email from our boss after our first day at the conference (okay, so the email wasn’t just regarding MY perfection, but the perfection of us Matsuyama ALT’s as a whole; and not specifically MY drinking but drinking in general. I had to lure you in to reading it somehow, so now that you are here you might as well just continue reading):

Subject: Thank you for all!

Body: Hello, everyone,

Did you enjoy today’s conference?
I heard about you from NAME-san and NAME-san. You did a great job.
Thank you for everything you did today.

Especially all Matsuyama’s ALTs were not late for the opening ceremony.
This is not special, but some ALTs in other area were late.

You are PERFECT!

I’m very proud of you.
Some of you will drink today. It’s not bad thing.
But don’t be late tomorrow like today!

And I’ll send the notice of the next meeting.
See you next week.

Isn’t that wonderful? I love our boss. Japanese & English are SO different in SO many ways so translating is impossible, and our emails are always the best. I love how he acknowledges that “some of you will drink, it’s not a bad thing”. I love it. I hope you also enjoyed.

Good day to you all