Today’s lunch: rice pasta with chicken breast, kidney beans and chick peas, Boiled potatoes, carrots, green beans, burdock root, and broccoli. 

I love BOE days where I get to eat at my own pace

Today’s lunch: rice pasta with chicken breast, kidney beans and chick peas, Boiled potatoes, carrots, green beans, burdock root, and broccoli.

I love BOE days where I get to eat at my own pace

I’ve started doing flower arranging classes once a month and this is what I’ve done (with a lot of suggestions from my teacher and the other women) My ceramics teacher knows a lot of people around my part of the prefecture and has become, as he likes to put it, my Japanese dad and does his best to invite me to things and put me in touch with people around my town. He knows I like indoor things so he connected me with a former high school classmate who does ikebana in her family’s garden. All the materials are grown on their property which is tucked away off the main roads making it hard to find but I like how secluded it is. It’s quiet and peaceful. 

I never went into this really wanting to try flower arranging in particular but I figured I’d give it a shot. The teacher is an older man who is kind and patient and explains things in an easy to understand way. There’s a whole way of thinking about the certain arrangements and looking at it from different angles. After playing around with different combinations of flowers he came over to give me feedback and started off with “If you were the flower, where would you be?” which caught me off guard. I’m going into this knowing absolutely nothing and I feel like I have no sense of aesthetics. There’s a theory of how to pair flowers, there’s an allowance of creativity with shaping the stems and choosing the positions. I’m learning a whole new set of vocabulary in the process and it’s forcing me to think and look and mostly to relax. My teacher told me not to over think it which is hard for someone who over thinks everything but maybe I can change a little through these exercises. Working away in a quiet room for an hour and half, playing around with flowers to try and make something beautiful seems like it’d be good for stress.

Afterwards, the other 5 women and I sit around having tea and eating snacks people bring. They’re all kind and it’s nice to do something a little different in a relaxing setting. Like tea ceremony, I went in with the mindset that I’d give it a shot but I enjoy the challenges of both and the people I learn with make it worthwhile.  

Today marks my first full year in Japan since arriving in Tokyo. I had a general idea of what to expect based on messages from my predecessor and from other former JETs that I knew. Nothing I read on the internet though or heard from other people fully prepared me though for my life here. With JET, with other teaching programs abroad, it’s not only that our teaching situations are different but how we approach our lives here makes or breaks our experiences here. It’s common sense but it’s true. I can’t say my life in Fukushima is different than I thought it’d be because I wasn’t sure what it’d be like. It was kind of enough to think of moving to Fukushima in general minus any specifics. Despite my uncertainty and opposite of what some people said, coming to Fukushima was the right decision and it’s been an interesting year. If I could go back and tell myself a few things though, I’d say this:

1. Your first year of teaching will exhaust you no matter how much you think you’ve prepared so stop being so serious and relax. Sometimes lessons will go great, sometimes they’ll be routine, and then sometimes they will be so rough you can’t help but want to cry in the bathroom during your break. In that case, make sure you have tissues, let it out, move on, and write as many notes in your teaching journal so that you know what not to do next time.

2. Don’t be in such a rush to switch things up in the classroom. Go along with what your predecessor did, get a feel for the schools and then make changes (a little at a time)

3. You will be invited to different events which will generally lead to more invite from other people that you meet so don’t worry about getting to know people in town. Even if your Japanese isn’t all that great, there will be people willing to show you the things about Japan they know and like. You don’t have to be fluent to get the point across that you’re friendly and willing to see different things.

4. Getting used to a new life in a new country can be exhausting but start thinking about goals during JET and afterwards. It gives you something to work towards when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Which leads me to the next point

5. Save your money. The JET salary is enough to live off of and put aside a little extra every month. It’s not easy living paycheck to paycheck so even if it’s 100.00 a month, save it. You’ll thank yourself when you’re able to start paying off grad school or a large trip abroad. 

yajifun:

Photo book of Fukushima Prefecture : Soma Nomaoi wild horse chase festival
福島縣寫眞帖 野馬追 1908年
“著作者 福島縣廳 寫眞師 田村鐵三郎 大畑泰助 發行兼印刷者 小栗栖香平”
“四四、野馬追(原町驛の東凡八町) 相馬郡原の町野馬追原に於て行はる數千の歩騎を率ゐ将士皆戎装武伍凛然進退一に戰陣に準す世に島津氏傳ふる所の犬追物と竝稱して天下の偉觀と為す蓋し其由來する所相馬氏の先平将門騎手を小金原に集め垌馬を驅逐し以て戎事を習はしめたるに起り要は祀に寓し武を講するにありしと云ふ”

yajifun:

Photo book of Fukushima Prefecture : Soma Nomaoi wild horse chase festival

福島縣寫眞帖 野馬追 1908年

“著作者 福島縣廳 寫眞師 田村鐵三郎 大畑泰助 發行兼印刷者 小栗栖香平”

“四四、野馬追(原町驛の東凡八町) 相馬郡原の町野馬追原に於て行はる數千の歩騎を率ゐ将士皆戎装武伍凛然進退一に戰陣に準す世に島津氏傳ふる所の犬追物と竝稱して天下の偉觀と為す蓋し其由來する所相馬氏の先平将門騎手を小金原に集め垌馬を驅逐し以て戎事を習はしめたるに起り要は祀に寓し武を講するにありしと云ふ”

Fashion and clothing wise, I tend to wear a lot of subdued, darker colors so looking for an age appropriate yukata turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Yukata are bright and colorful so that young girls won’t be outshined by the fireworks (or so the lady at the shopping center told me). This makes sense but unfortunately, a lot of bright colors all at once doesn’t really work on me and apparently the patterns I gravitate to are the one reserved for older women. My friend recommended I just order my own fabric and take it to the woman who makes her yukata and kimono. I finally found something somewhat bright that matches my taste and hopefully it’ll be complete by this weekend when I go to my first festival of the summer. 

Fashion and clothing wise, I tend to wear a lot of subdued, darker colors so looking for an age appropriate yukata turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Yukata are bright and colorful so that young girls won’t be outshined by the fireworks (or so the lady at the shopping center told me). This makes sense but unfortunately, a lot of bright colors all at once doesn’t really work on me and apparently the patterns I gravitate to are the one reserved for older women. My friend recommended I just order my own fabric and take it to the woman who makes her yukata and kimono. I finally found something somewhat bright that matches my taste and hopefully it’ll be complete by this weekend when I go to my first festival of the summer. 

Leaving 福満虚空蔵尊圓藏寺

Leaving 福満虚空蔵尊圓藏寺

I don’t know why I was surprised to see this Akabeko inside the temple grounds. I was in Yanaizu after all

I don’t know why I was surprised to see this Akabeko inside the temple grounds. I was in Yanaizu after all

View from the top of 福満虚空蔵尊圓藏寺 in Yanaizu, Fukushima. Earlier that day, I had gone to the Saito Kiyoshi art museum nearby and it’s clear how the scenery in this part of the prefecture inspired his paintings. 

View from the top of 福満虚空蔵尊圓藏寺 in Yanaizu, Fukushima. Earlier that day, I had gone to the Saito Kiyoshi art museum nearby and it’s clear how the scenery in this part of the prefecture inspired his paintings. 

it was a weird day trip

it was a weird day trip

From the parking lot, it looked like there was just one person taking photos of the view of Lake Inawashiro but on closer inspection, it was just this Hideo Noguchi scarecrow.
As you can clearly tell, the wind was really strong

From the parking lot, it looked like there was just one person taking photos of the view of Lake Inawashiro but on closer inspection, it was just this Hideo Noguchi scarecrow.

As you can clearly tell, the wind was really strong

The strangest scarecrows at the Nunobiki Wind Farm. 

The view of lake inawashiro

The view of lake inawashiro

I made cards to go along with a writing race practice for the first years after my JTE said she wanted more writing practice. Here’s how the game works

  • make two sets of vocab cards 
  • split the kids into two teams and go over the phrase ‘I like_____’.  (This can be used for ‘I play___ ’ or ‘I don’t like___’, easy grammar).
  • hand out cards like ‘baseball’ ‘science’ ‘cats’ randomly
  • when you call out their card, one student from each team has to run to the board and write ‘I like’ + the word on their card as fast and as legibly as they can.

This has been one of the most intense games I’ve ever done at JHS and something that I’ll definitely do again. Pretty much any writing/drawing competition gets the kids excited but my 1st year students were so much fun to watch as they got into it. They each had two cards so double the chance to practice writing and racing out of their seats.

I got complaints from one class when I first tried it out that there were some kids who couldn’t read the words so I drew pictures just in case to make it easier. 

One boy asked me “Sensei, is this round thing in the middle supposed to be sushi??” I kind of just looked at it, realized how weird it looks and lost it which then made everyone else laugh. I laugh way too much, I know that and they know that

image

I enjoy making crafts and materials but I’ve accepted the fact that I am at best mediocre with drawing anything that isn’t Admiral Ackbar’s face

image

I think it’s pretty good.

Now whenever this 1st year sees me, he just yells ‘Hey sensei, sushi!’ at me. I like feeling that I can joke with my students and since I see the ones at JHS only every couple of months or so, I want them to have fun and feel comfortable with me. It’s ok if they think I’m silly or quirky, as long as they get into the games and get something out of it. 

It looks like typhoon weather has worked its way up to Fukushima. Yesterday was beautiful and clear but thunder, lightning and pouring rain woke me up around 2 am. I live in a very small house that shakes when trucks pass by so it was a rough early morning feeling my walls shake every so often. I hate being a light sleeper.

The rain has calmed down slightly, I can see fog rolling in over the trees from the 2nd floor of the junior high. I’m hoping it calms down just enough tonight so I can make my 2nd osteopath appointment. As much as I enjoy rain for the cool air it brings in the summer, I want this typhoon to pass soon. 

chanaeinehime:

So I was really curious to know y’all’s perspective on the word ‘gaijin’. There’s an interesting debate going on over on Thisisnotjapan which often discusses race, gender, etc from a Japanese perspective and I usually agree with them. However, I’m not sure if I do now because I get the sense that…

The only time this bothers me is when people point and yell “it’s a foreigner!” in a loud voice. It makes me feel really awkward but I usually just turn the volume up on my ipod and go on with my day. It’s exhausting when it happens all the time but it passes quickly. I don’t mind being referred to a gaijin or gaikokujin because it is what it is. When the yankis outside the train stations or in the stores make a big deal out of me just going about my day I roll my eyes but that’s about it.