The Past Few Months


So it’s been a while.  Many of you who have been keeping up with our Flickr photos probably already know that Julie’s parents visited us a few weeks ago.  We’ll have a post or two of the trip up in a few days.

In the meantime we thought we’d write about a few things that happened to us since our last post (nearly three months ago).

After our big trip to Nagano we more or less went into money saving mode.  In early January we took advantage of the generous teacher discount (free day passes and rentals) at our local ski hill and went downhill skiing as much as possible on the weekends.  We also started cooking more meals at home which gave us an excuse to learn some traditional Japanese recipes.  Look for a food entry in the near future with lots of photos of our favorite dishes.

Towards the end of the month we got a little burned out on skiing and found other things to do in our free time.  I spent a big chunk of time in January and February reading, studying and playing games of Go, and making music mixes.  Julie continued her yoga, tea ceremony, ikebana and kanji classes, applied for graduate school, and began studying for the GRE.

In early February it really started to hit us that we didn’t have much time left in Japan (we’ll be returning to Portland in August).  Initially this was made us sad but we sucked it up and decided to make the most of the time we had left.  We spent more time hanging out with our friends in the community, including a couple coworkers at my school.

For the rest of February we hibernated and didn’t stray too far from our heater.  At the beginning of March we attended graduation ceremonies at our schools.  We said good bye to some awesome people, including a student I’d been tutoring every day at lunch.

As the school year came to a close a math teacher at my school approached me and asked if I’d be interesting in teaching a couple of math lessons in English.  Since I’ll be returning to teaching high school math in August, I decided to go for it.  In the advanced homeroom class we did an investigation involving a series of diagrams of toothpicks.  The students had to figure out the pattern and create an equation to determine the number of toothpicks in any given diagram.  In the regular homeroom classes we explored the experimental and theoretical probabilities of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”  Both lessons went very well, though the investigation was a little nerve-wracking as I was also being observed by three English teachers, two math teachers, a science teacher, the principal, vice principal, two graduating seniors, and the school nurse.

For the rest of March we prepared for the arrival of Julie’s parents and the departure of our coworkers who would be transferring to other schools.  It turns out one of our good friends, a person who works at my school, was transferred to a town pretty far away from Noheji.  It was very difficult to say good bye to this person but we know that we’ll see them again in the months to come and will continue to correspond when we get back to the U.S.

About a week and a half ago we met our new coworkers.  At Noheji High School I’ll be working with four new English teachers who are all extremely nice, interesting, and professional.  I think the last few months of teaching are going to be a lot of fun.

One last update relating to the game of Go.  I’ve been playing in monthly mini-tournaments (6 people) at the Noheji club for quite a while now and have been coming in either first or second pretty consistently over the past several months.  This past week I competed with a 7 kyu ranking and went 5-0, even legitimately beating a 6 dan opponent (13 ranks higher than me) for the first time.  It made me wonder if I was stronger than 7 kyu.  The week previously, at a Go club in Shichinohe, one of the members guessed I was around 3 kyu (4 ranks higher than I was at the tournament).  This seems a little high to me and I suspect I’m probably somewhere in the middle between the two rankings.  At any rate, I’m further along than I thought I’d be at this point but I still have some gaps that I need to fill to get to where I want to be before we leave.

If the ranking thing is mysterious to you, I’m basically a solid intermediate level player as of right now.  A 1, 2, or 3 kyu rank is advanced-intermediate.

I think that’s it.  Sorry for the lack of pictures but we’ll be sure to post a bunch in the posts to come, including:

1.  Exploring Aomori with Julie’s parents.

2.  Exploring Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Tokyo with Julie’s parents.

3.  Homecooked meals (including some delicious one-pot (nabe) dishes).


4 Responses to “The Past Few Months”

  1. Hanna Says:

    Wow! Missed your posts but it sounds like you’ve been making the most of everything. Enjoy the rest of your time in Japan :o)

  2. bcline909 Says:

    Glad the PacificLoons are back!

  3. Katie Says:

    Excellent update, Taylor! You are sounding quite accomplished at the game of Go. Strangely enough, my 2nd-5th graders were just learning about this game in our morning reading class :0) Are you going to buy a board to bring back with you in August?

    A good family friend of ours visited Japan a few years back and Kyoto was his absolute favorite place to visit. What did you think? Where have you loved visiting the most? I can’t wait to see you two! Take care!

  4. sarah austad Says:

    I am subbing at Lincoln School today. I just showed your monkey video to Kelvin. Kelvin said to tell you he liked the videos very much! Have a fun weekend. Hope to hear from you soon!

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