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Latest Happenings

Posted by Andrew on July 8, 2010 at 10:14 PM Comments comments (2)

Hi Everyone

 

I hope that you’re all doing well and enjoying training through the winter months.

 

Time is absolutely flying by and a lot has happened since I did my first post. My sister got married and had the wedding in Thailand, I found out that snow/ice is sometimes extremely hard and broke my wrist snowboarding near the end of the season (not as good as Michael Barlow unfortunately did his leg mind you), saw the beauty of the cherry blossoms and I signed on to stay in Japan for another year after my Dad retracted his comment that he’d freeze my pet parrots and send them over to me if I stayed in Japan longer than one year.

 

I’m very glad I've got another year to go because it's been too fast and I'd be really sad if I had to leave Japan now with still so more I want to do and learn. Also, I need to get my revenge on snowboarding after my time was cut short this year as well as participate in next year's White Battle (a snowball fighting tournament) and improve our team’s 50% winning record from this year.

 

The last couple of weeks have been particularly stressful. Last Saturday I celebrated my 28th birthday. It was so stressful that I only had time to do fireworks on the beach, go to an onsen (Japanese public hot baths), eat delicious sushi, go to a japanese pub where the owner is a funny, singing, psycho 50-something year old man, and do karaoke. I didn’t realise at the time but a friend back in Oz pointed out that it was a very Japanese day with onsen, sushi and karaoke. I guess Japan has had more of an impact on me than I thought.

 

 

It doesn’t end there. This weekend looks like it’s going to be as stressful as the last with a few of us teachers going on a bit of a roadtrip to a really famous onsen/hotel in Aomori prefecture where you sit right on the edge of a beach in an onsen (a wall separates you from the ocean) and can watch the sunset in 35-40 degree water comfort. Here's hoping for clear weather, good times and nudey fun (yes you only get to hold a modesty towel when you go into these places).

 

 

A funny story I’d like to share with you happened a couple of weeks ago when I was helping four of my students to study for an upcoming standardised English test and I was trying to explain a practice question to do with the human brain to one of my really good final year students. And when I say ‘really good’ I mean really good. She’s smart, friendly and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth… or so I thought. She couldn't understand what I was saying so I started drawing pictures.

 

At this point it is important for you to note that my students still seem to think I can’t speak any Japanese at all. Admittedly I’m still at a very low level but I can understand some things as this student found out.

 

I know I am no Van Gogh but apparently I am worse than I thought. At one point she said in Japanese to her 3 classmates, who all kept perfectly straight faces, my picture looked like a set of breasts. There was a bit of embarrassment for her and a lot of laughter from the rest of us when I replied to her ‘Is that true?’. Ahhh, what will they say next?

 

 

Another story was that I went to another local high school with three foreign female teachers from other local schools to help out with a big science presentation project their students were doing. After we had finished and were walking through the building towards the exit we passed a group of 15-16 year old girls and when one of them saw me she staggered back against the wall, sunk down a little and said 'Wow!'. Hahahaha it was classic. Unfortunately for me I do not seem to have this effect over women around my own age.

 

Until next time

 

Mata ne

First Entry.... Finally

Posted by Andrew on January 7, 2010 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (3)

Konnichiwa from Japan

 

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas holiday period and I wish everyone well for 2010. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new Shodans of the club, as well as those who have achieved new ranks since I left in August. Well done!

 

My first four and a half months in Japan have absolutely flown by and I’m absolutely loving the experience of living in Japan. There’s so much to talk about but I’ll start with a bit about where I live. It's a relatively small town called Hachinohe. Hachinohe is in Aomori prefecture, which is the northernmost prefecture of Honshu, the main island of Japan. The population is about 240,000 and it is mainly an industrial and commercial fishing town.

 

I teach English at a senior high school where students are aged between 15-18 years old. The students are a good bunch and are very friendly. I also spend a few days a month at a local handicapped school, which is about a 5 minute drive from the high school. The students are nearly always full of energy, which is good to see. There’s also a certain few that follow me around wherever I go, including waiting for me to arrive and walking me to the door to leave (no comments about that last part Lesley). It’s a rewarding experience and definitely puts things in perspective.

 

In terms of the weather, I can sum it up in one word…. COLD. In fact, the most common word Japanese people seem to say around here is ‘Samui’ (Japanese for cold), which is said with varying degrees of pain on people’s faces and stuttering in their voices because of the uncontrollable shivering. They also tend not to open their mouths so much to talk in order to save heat escaping from their bodies. OK, that last bit is made up. Temperatures at the moment seem to range between -3 to 3 with Japan’s arctic version of the Fremantle Doctor regularly coming in to cool the place down further. Despite all this, there are still many young Japanese girls in particular who will confront the cold temperatures and icy footpaths with enthusiasm on Friday and Saturday nights in a cute miniskirt and high heels. Alas, who is it for me to question this any more than I already have but say ‘girls, ganbatte!’

 

As for snow, Hachinohe gets less snow than the western side of the prefecture due to the mountains that separate the two sides. In saying that however, last night we had the most snow in a night since I’ve been here and I had to plough my way to work this morning. Of course that was after I had to get a 6 inch layer of snow and ice off my car before I could drive anywhere. On the positive side though, this weekend I get to try snowboarding for the first time ever. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.

 

I live in a two bedroom apartment so it is quite big by Japanese standards. There aren’t too many differences between my apartment here compared to one’s in Perth except that the bedrooms have tatami mats on the floor and the shower and bath are in an enclosed room where the walls and ceiling can get completely wet. Oh yeah, I also have to remember to drain the water pipes every night to prevent them cracking from the water in them freezing. Unfortunately this also prevents making the quick early morning dash through the cold apartment to the bathroom or shower as you have to wait for the 45 odd seconds for the pipes to refil before they can be used. Turning the pipes on and off is definitely a feature that I think should be included on any smart panel devices in the future to be installed by the average Japanese bedside.

 

I have felt a few earthquakes since I've been here. All have been very small and have been no more than 3.5 magniture. Earthquakes are also a new experience for me and going through one is a very surreal feeling. As long as they don’t get much larger I’ll be happy, since some of the stories I’ve heard from other people about the larger one’s are not particularly pleasant. In saying that, one of the first earthquakes I felt was in the early hours of the morning. It was enough to wake me up although obviously not fully as I remember thinking 'just a bit to the left please' before drifting back off to sleep.

 

So that’s a short intro to where I’m living in Japan. I will add more posts very shortly with some of the experiences I’ve had, as well as some photos. Stories you can look forward to are:

- My sleepwalking roommate during my orientation in Tokyo

- Japanese festivals

- Food, including how a delicious bowl of ramen caused a minor eye injury

- My New Year holiday

and many more….

 

If there's anything in particular you'd like to ask about, please feel free to post a question and I'll try my best to answer it. Take care everyone.

 

Mata ne

Andrew in Japan

Posted by Shito-Ryu Australia Karate-Do Kai on August 16, 2009 at 9:01 PM Comments comments (2)

As some of you may know one of our long standing members and Black Belt Instructor, Andrew is going to live in Japan for a year. Andrew was accepted into the JET program as an Assistant Language Teachet (ALT) and will be working at a High School to help teach English. Andrew is going to Aomori which is on the top of Honshu island.

 

Andrew is going to keep us posted on what he is up to via our blog which should be very interesting. Anyone who is a member of our site will then be able to post comments and keep in touch with Andrew while he is away.

 

Have a great time Andrew! and we all look forward to reading your Blogs (don't forget the photos and video).