Friday, 28 September 2012

My JHS obsession

I LOVE teaching at Junior High school.

Maybe this is because I only teach at my JHS once a week, I don't know but despite the fact that it is my furthest school, I totally look forward to going there every week. Unlike my other schools they don't provide me with a lap top. No biggie though, I just bring in my netbook and portable wifi and do I as please.
7 out of JHS days have completely butchered schedules. Yes they have a set time table, yet this doesn't seem to apply for English, and they really don't seem to take advantage of the one day that I am there. Since we started back, I have taught a total of 4 JHS lessons.

Now when I say "Taught" I really REALLY use this term lightly. Some people hate JHS for the reasons I am about to outline below, but these are reasons why I love it.

- Club activities - Cooking and Craft is where I live after 2.30pm!
- The JTEs do everything, even prompt me as to when I should do what ever bit they have allocated me. (in Japanese though, so if I zone out I usually miss my cue)
- I don't have to plan any lessons. - speaks for itself, all the fun, none of the hassle.
- I only spend around 10 - 15mins of the class doing anything "English lesson" related. - This means i spend the other 30 - 35 mins of the class driving the kids crazy. Stealing their pens, hiding their pen cases, talking to them, poking them etc etc. At first I was kinda scared of these kids, most of them are the same size as me, and my town if pretty rough so my kids are borderline delinquents for the most part.
But surprisingly really enjoy the break from the boring English lesson they have with their Japanese Teacher of English, and continuously coax me on and help me to plot and plan new ways or annoying them. They are a strange bunch.


Probably the main thing I like a about JHS is the fact that these kids can express themselves. Beyond the "I like Hip!" they have some really interesting things to say, IN ENGLISH.
A lot of kids go to eikaiwa from Elementary school, like Yamaha music and English, or ECC and whatnot so they know a lot more than you think. Bump into one of these kids in the corridor at JHS and you'll be surprised the things they try to come out with.  Just last week I had a rather detailed conversation about flamenco dancing...
After giving these guys practical and honest answers to their "00英語で何て言う?”questions kids come bugging me in the teachers room to throw their one liners at me.
I'm still trying to figure out what the phrase "American Joooooke!!" means though...

Public Holiday obsession pt 2

So the other day (Sept 17) Was aged peoples day. This is where we say thank you to the old people for being old and doing all the things that old people did when they were young that led to our lives being awesome now.  (Yeah I could have said that in an easier way, sorry!)

So what did I do??
Well you know me, I like to be outside, I went back to Ibaraki!!

Hello Kamisu my old friend!

Aya, Tomoko and the gang invited to their home for a barbecue on the Sunday, so I met Aya the bus stop and we drove to their place next to choshi.
I ate a lot of meet. The weather was weird, although it was rather warm and sunny, it suddenly began to rain so we had to move the BBQ inside.
Now normally this wouldn't be weird but my friends husband owns a grave stone making factory (I think) so inside was in fact inside of the storage units where they keeps all the grave stones. Despite the eerie surroundings we had an awesome time!
so much meat!

And there was a rainbow!

After stuffing ourselves, Tomoko and I were only half way through our drinking competition so we opted that we all head to Karaoke. We went to Karaoke ban ban in Choshi, we had an amazing time. Naturally Riko was scared at first but she soon eased up and fell into stride with us.

Karaoke BanBan, the first I have seen of its kind. 
The night came to a close when Tomokos husband sang Mr Children's Hanabi, and changed the lyrics from "one more time, one more time!" (mo ikkai mo ikkai - も一回、も一回) to "one more drink, one more drink" (mo ippai, mo ippai! - も一杯、も一杯!)which didnt mean final drinks, but that what ever drink we had, we had to finish in one go. then order another and down that too. By the end of the song Tomoko was completely gone and we had no choice but to call it a night lol.
The next day they drove me home (To tokyo station) but we stopped of at Odaiba first, he hit up round 1, watched a performing monkey and window shopped. And had an all round wonderful day.
Its at times like these that I miss living in Kamisu :(

Keeping active obsession

So before coming to Japan, I had just enrolled in salsa classes, I was about 3 months in when I skipped off to Japan-land leaving this beautiful world of dance behind me.

I lived in a town where I had to drive, although some of my neighbours were require to ride a bike my one of my schools were a little ways off so a car was necessary.

A year later, I moved to Saitama and my first gear less A to B bike was purchased. Now, I can honestly say that I hadn't ridden a real bike (Im excluding the bikes you use at the gym) since I was about 15. Thus, this new biking lark that I had to get on with was a nightmare. I think in about 2 - 3 weeks I got those weight lifter callouses on my hands (and they're still there - how do I get rid of these!?)

Long Journeys

School #1 is a 10 min walk away, it was then and is now a 5 min bike ride (3mins if i magically wake up at 8am and have to arrive at school by 8.20...)

School #2 is a 35 minute walk away some how it was a 30 min bike ride (in the beginning) Now I can do it in 15, which sounds about right.

School #3 is a 20 minute bus ride away. I think I walked home from there once or twice deffo an hour or more. On my bike it used to take me 40 mins, now I can get there in 25 mins on a hard fast bike ride. But I arrive at school looking like a hot mess. Luckily my lessons usually get cancelled or moved anyway so its no biggie (JHS).

Who cares? Whats this got to do with Salsa??

Well nothing.
Anyway, I decided shortly after buying my bike that I really needed to get fit/increase my stamina/do SOMETHING so I decided to join a gym.
The closest gym I could find easily was megalos (メガロス)in soka, about a 30min bike ride from my home. They had it all, over six floors they have grammed in squash courts, tennis courts, swimming pool, weights rooms, two studios, Sauna, onsen type baths and massage areas not to mention an array of classes including Salsa, Zumba and Belly dancing not to mention God knows what else. However even though they had Salsa classes they were at 11am on a Tuesday morning. Yeah, don't think school would be OK to let me out for that...

Joining the Gym.

Was relatively painless I could fill out the form on line for the most part, but I would have to head down to sign papers and what now. I was 1 year into Japan by this time and I had mustered up enough Japanese to go through this process solo, as I said it was too had as I had did the bulk on line. There is no English application page, I just used google translate and stuck the links in there. The sales assistant couldn't speak a lick of English, so after a lot of guess work on my part I was finally able to sign up and get started out.

I joined another new starter and we went off with a buff looking personal trainer for our introduction. The young lady I was with and I were made to do a detailed weigh in. it measure BMI, height, weight, muscle strength and a number of other things. The young lady was visibly repulsed by the fact she had a higher body fat rating than me (Even though she was a twig in comparison) and that I was already my exact ideal weight for my height. Oh well to her.

With that out of the way, and knowing that I hadn't turned in to a heffa, I decided I didn't need to use the machine and went only to the classes.
My routing was -
Monday - Belly Dancing
Wednesday - Zumba 
Thursday - Swimming
Unluckily for me they were closed on Fridays so I couldn't plan my week exactly as I had wanted.

How much does it cost?

I think in total, to sign up I had to pay around 30,000yen. I had to pay for 3 months of membership as there has been a problem of people (salary men and OLs) who joining the gym only to quit a month later as as feel they cant fit the gym into their schedule. By making us pay up this much in the first place, they not only ensure they get our money, but that we actually think long and hard before we joining up.
Monthly my fee is 7000yen and I can do everything, I don't have to pay extra for classes or usage of the pool and what not. Major bonus. However, as far as I know, I think I can only use the gym in Soka. I had been  curious about whether I could visit others, nows a good time as any to ask.
There are cheaper plans depending on when you would like to go and what facilities you would want to use. I opted for evenings, weekends and pool.

Public Holiday obsession pt 1.

This is a double post of sorts as it crosses over with some other stuff. - it will be in more than one part.

So I have come to notice that almost every month there is at least one public holiday, I near enough curse the months that don't have any. The most popular of which is Golden week.

Golden week

This is a set of days in late April early may which consist of the Showa day, Memorial day, Green day and Children's day (April 29th, May 3rd, 4th and 5th). This is great when the weekend is conveniently placed and we can enjoy a nice long week off, however, it wasn't like that this year, and If I remember correctly, I had to work smack bang in the middle of it.

Even so, I had a 3 day weekend then a 4day weekend (Hmm I think I messed up the math with that)

Part one Sat, Sun and Showa day.

What to do, where to go?
Well, I never leave such things until the last minute to decide. About a month or so before, my friends Aya, Tomoko, Tomokos husband and their daughter had invited me to go to Fuji Kyuu for the weekend. We left on the sunday and returned on the monday. Fuji kyuu is a theme park in Yamanashi, close to Mount Fuji. We stayed in the connecting hotel, and were able to get discounted theme park tickets and use of their large yet overcrowded outdoor baths. I would go on in more details but I'm  a visual lass. So I took pictures to save me for boring you to death with this text.

Just arrived at Yamanashi Winery.
Barrels of yummy wine. Yamanashi is famous for their grapes :) 

Usually I prefer red wine, but the white was beautiful, I bought a bottle on the right.

Riko showing me her piece of broken pine cone(?)

FujiQ from my hotel window XD 

Houtou, insanely thick noodles. But very yummy.
 I can't remember where we took this, but there was a luby museum there or something.
Night view from my window, I was pretty wasted by this time, hence the fuzzy picture. 
What I rode on :) I forgot dodonpa though! BEST RIDE EVER!

View from my other window :D