Teaching & Learning In Japan

Despite being here to teach English, I arguably do much more learning in Japan than I do actual teaching. One example would be last Thursday when I went to my smallest visiting elementary school. I come here 3 times a month, and teach the 1-4th graders (English games, etc) and the 5-6th graders (a combined class with a total of 8 students). I plan the entire lessons so these are usually just games as well. Last Thursday, my 1-4th class was cancelled, and instead, the whole school – all 25 of us, went to learn about harvesting rice! It was good fun. I enjoyed spending time with the kids not on school grounds – somehow it changes things. I also enjoyed helping the local farmers with their crops. Rice is so much apart of the Japanese lifestyle that learning about it was a great experience. Enjoy the photos!

RiceGetting ready to harvest the rice by listening to the farmers.

Rice

The Rice Itself.

Rice
This is put through a machine that separates the rice from the stalk.

put those kids to work
Child Labor.

Rice

The Principal has the easiest job…

Visiting the Mother Temple of Besakih

I feel I learned the most about the Hindu religion during my visit to the Mother Temple of Besakih while in Bali, Indonesia. A beautiful place, we were guided by a local temple guide who spoke excellent English and was kind enough to share with us some details of his religion. I will share what I found were some of the most interesting points with you now. (You may already be partly familiar with my experience with the Hindu religion in Bali from my previous post.)

to the templeThe white represents the good and the yellow the bad.

Balance seemed to be constantly represented in the temple. As you walked up the stairs to enter the main area (to which tourists were only allowed to enter with a registered guide) you were amongst statues that represented good and evil. Offerings are given 3 times a day in Bali. Each time you offer to the good spirits and the bad spirits. The offerings for the bad spirits were left on the ground at entrance ways so that the bad spirit would not enter.

offerings on the ground


Often times, as these offerings contained bits of food, they were eaten by the local wildlife.

Interestingly, priests in the Hindu religion are required to marry and have children. Our guide told us the priest must live a full life, which meant marrying and raising children, in order to offer guidance to others and better understand life himself. I found this to be an interesting contrast to other religions.

Animal sacrifices are also still made at this temple. We saw small birds chained up in the back, but was an issue we did not discuss at length.

Every 15 days people pray at the temple, for the full and new moon and picnics are held at night.

pagodas
Pagodas around the temple area. 

ulm
Prayer area. That symbol is the sound “ulm”.

A stark contrast to the Christian churches I am used to visiting, I found the Besakih Temple fascinating. Learning about the Hindu religion, something I knew almost nothing about, was amazing, and I am grateful for the experience.