Odds and Ends


Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve in Japan and we felt like an update was in order before our big trip.   Tomorrow we take the bullet train to Tokyo where we’ll stay for three nights.  After that it’s off to Kyoto, Osaka, Miyajima, and Hiroshima.  We’ll return to Noheji on January 2nd.

Since we’re not bringing computers along, we decided to write a longer entry to hold you over until we upload our pictures from this once in a lifetime trip after New Year’s Day.

Holiday Lesson Week

Julie and I just finished a crazy week of teaching.  Every lesson followed some sort of holiday theme for the duration of the period.  In my case I taught the same lesson all week long at three different schools.  Here’s how it went.  After a few minutes of sharing some of my family’s Christmas traditions, I had my students participate in a missing lyrics activity designed from an earlier lesson using the song “Good Day Sunshine.”  This time I had them listen to the song “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” (original Burl Ives version).  By the end of the week, I had listened to the song over 150 times.   You probably think I’m sick of the song, and I guess I am, but after a few lessons early in the week, the song stopped bothering me (at least during class).  The words and melody just sort of washed over me like white noise as I managed my class and directed the traffic of students looking for the missing words taped to the walls of the room.

After we went over the lyrics for the final time, I put on the cap, beard, and eyebrows in the picture above, pressed play on the CD player one last time, and lead the class in a sing-along.

Holiday Celebrations

Yesterday the people of Japan celebrated the emperor’s birthday.  Every student and teacher had the day off, except for the people who go to my school.  Since so many people in the community don’t have to work that day, my school puts on a sports club ceremony that’s open to the public.  It reminded me of a long-held tradition at my high school in Oregon where the male seniors dressed up like girls and performed a complicated dance routine to the teachers and underclassmen.  Although there was some cross dressing at the beginning of the ceremony, Noheji’s festival ultimately proved to be less scandalous and spontaneous.  It was obvious the students had been practicing for weeks.  The ceremony was as much an opportunity for them to get-the-weird-out and crack jokes as it was to showcase their discipline, dedication, and athleticism.

For example, in one routine, a group of students performed a modern day interpretation of Snow White and Seven Dwarves while simultaneously teaching first aid and CPR fundamentals.  Later another group of students dazzled us with a jump rope activity that included double dutch push-ups, cartwheels, and backflips.

In the afternoon I had to stay at school, but Julie went to an English Christmas party at a community center. She baked cookies for the occasion.

Language Update

At some point after our first six weeks here we picked up enough Japanese to get by in our day-to-day life.  In order to improve we’ve basically had to study on our own.  At times this has been a struggle, but I’ve come up with a new strategy.  I’ve decided if I have a webpage open, I’m going to have a Japanese textbook open too.  So far it’s worked out well.

Noheji Catholic Church

A few days ago we walked by what we assumed was a garage.  Turns out it’s a Catholic church!

Driving Safety

If you are over the age of 50, you must put one of these leaf stickers on your car.  If you have only been driving for a year or two, you must put a leaf sticker on that’s green and yellow.


See you in January!

Yoi oto shi o!



2 Responses to “Odds and Ends”

  1. scalesoflibra Says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you two!

    It’s a bit nerdy of me, but it makes me happy to see that you’re using music to teach language. When people ask me for tips on learning languages, I always tell them: music! I honestly think that the main reason 7 years of French evaporated from my mind pretty quickly after high school (despite being so similar to Spanish, my first language), yet 3 years of Japanese have largely stayed with me, is because I got into Japanese rock music but never stumbled upon French music that I really liked. Even before I could write in Japanese, I would find the lyrics to songs in romaji and learn them that way. Once I could write in hiragana and katakana, I started a lyrics notebook using these scripts. Once I learned kanji, I started another lyrics notebook, this time using all three scripts.

    The only downside is that I really haven’t had any need to use some of the weird vocabulary that I’ve learned, LOL.

    • pacificloons Says:

      yoi oto shi o!

      music is great. one of the english teachers I work with became interested in english because she spent all her time translating songs into japanese in her youth. I agree that it’s a great teaching tool.

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