Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Obviously, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Japan, but one of our friends hosted a Thanksgiving potluck dinner at her house. We had all the typical Thanksgiving food items: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, mashed potatoes, and many desserts.

We wish that we could have been home for Thanksgiving, but this year, we are especially thankful for such a wonderful and supportive group of friends. They really have become integral to our well being while in Japan away from our families.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hello Winter

This entry was posted from Dan`s phone.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

School festivals

Each of the schools hosted a festival that showcased choir performances, plays, art work/projects, awards, and individual student’s written works (some in English). These were similar to an open house but the students mostly ran the festivals with the occasional speech by the principal and teachers. These events, just like the morning assemblies at these schools, were very formal and organized. The festivals were basically a chance to allow the community see what has been happening at the schools. Remember that the schools are halfway through their school year. I came in at the beginning of their 2nd semester.

I've posted some video of the festival from Kozuya middle school. This is a link to my 1st year (7th US) student's performance. My 2nd year student's did "Asian Dream Song", a really beautiful song that is popular among many pianists. The video of their performance is below this text. For the festival's closing ceremony, the underclassmen (1st and 2nd years) thanked the 3rd year students with a cheer. They finished by singing the school song and opening the Japanese piñata. Click on the colored words to view the videos.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Making Soba

There is a soba (Japanese noodles) place in Ichinohe that Tyler and I really enjoy. It is a small grocery shop on one side, and a seating area with a kitchen on the other side. The restaurant is only open during lunch, so we rarely eat there except on holidays and vacation days. We’ve caught them a few times when they were not technically open but they’ve served us anyway. The most recent time we went, the cook (maybe owner) brought us into the kitchen and he taught us how to make soba from scratch. Here are some pictures of our soba class.

がんばります! (I am trying)

I have been studying Japanese on and off for the three months that I’ve been here. I was using a college textbook that I inherited from one of my predecessors, but now I am taking a correspondence class offered through JET. So far, I am able to read the two different Japanese alphabets, Hiragana and Katakana, and I recognize some Kanji. Hiragana is the alphabet used for Japanese words, ie. いぬ (dog) is pronounced eenu. Although I can read Hiragana, I don’t typically understand the words being read. Katakana is the alphabet that approximates foreign language’s words. Most of the words are English words, but there are also other language’s words that are katakana-sized. An example is アメリカ (America), pronounced A-ma-ree-ka. The “A” is like “o” in on, “me” is like “may” minus the “y”, “ree” is a mix between “ree” in reef and the name Lee, and “ka” sounds like “cot” minus the “t”. Japanese also uses Kanji, which is Chinese characters or symbols. There are thousands of characters and each of them have different Japanese and Chinese pronunciations. Many of them have numerous meanings as well. I have heard that high school graduates typically know around 1,800 characters. 一戸 is the Kanji for Ichinohe. As for the language, I am able to say basic greetings, tell time, count, order food at some restaurants, and drop a few vocabulary words here and there. I am not studying as much as I should be.