Monday, 30 September 2013

Crazy teacher

So theres a crazy teacher at my Tuesday school - which I found out about today - because I had to teach two classes with him. before I got here, my predecessor had written me a description of each school I teach at -for the tuesday school he wrote "there`s one teacher you should watch out for".. I wondered what this meant the whole time. 

After the first couple of weeks, I thought back to what he had written, I even re-read it, to make sure he was definitely talking about this school. Today it all made sense. This guy has lost a fair few marbles. He introduced himself to me this morning- and I thought he seemed nice enough - it was a brief introduction. It was ten minutes later when I started the long walk with him to lesson one, where I couldnt help but notice he was muttering to himself. He mutters to himself a lot - in quite a crazy way. I naively figured he might just be nervous - or maybe even thinking outloud - I know I talk to myself a lot - especially now that I am living alone - however, I do get a little embarassed when I realise someone has caught on.

 My lessons with him were a total joke. As I am expected to teach EVERY class in the entirety of my Tuesday school - which is 15 classes altogether - the rotation is slow - meaning that I am doing the same lesson for over two months at a time. Pretty easy I guess- Although somewhat boring for me to have to repeat myself so much. As it happens, I am STILL doing my self-introduction lesson at this school - and I think I will continue to do so next week as well (possibly the week after that also)..hmm. So, having done the same lesson a whole bunch of times, I have gotten into quite a routine with it. The way it works is that I show a slide on powerpoint, I speak a bit - and then I look towards the japanese teacher to translate as they see fit - sometimes they translate word-by-word (if the kids are particularly low-level)- or sometimes the teacher will pick up on a word or two that the students might not have understood, and ask them if they know it, etc. the point is that the Japanese teacher works with me. 

This time was weird. I would finish a slide, look at him, desperate to make eye-contact, but he was on a different planet. I started asking him, "can I go onto the next slide sensei?" but he was confused and confusing - just muttering away, I didnt know what to think. It got to a point where the students (who by this point are very used to how crazy this man is) would simply give me an OK sign with their hands whilst simultaneously rolling their eyes, some were laughing - at points I was laughing - it was weird, in the end he just got ignored. 

 The second class - was one of those really badly behaved groups. You can tell within the first minute of walking into a class how the lesson is going to go - what type of class is it? this was full of naughty kids who were yelling things out the whole time. Sometimes these classes can drive me nuts - other times they can be a godsend when Im not in the mood to take the job seriously. Today it was a godsend. they actually were saying in english that the teacher was crazy (probably the best english I had heard from students all day) so... we just had fun... I had a wild ridiculous lesson which I never would have gotten away with in my high-level school. I had fun, I was basically just playing around with the students - everyone was feeling silly - meanwhile old crazy is wondering around the classroom muttering to himself. I am lucky that I had done this class so many times, as by this point I have learnt the few key terms that teachers usually always need to translate "capital city", "religion", "dentist", "hobbies"..... when I asked the students, "whats this word" - it was weird that I was the one would had to tell them if their Japanese was correct... felt pretty good - it made me excited to learn more.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Pretty parks 2

Very old style japanese house:

Then onto my favourite local park- hitachi seaside park:

In a few weeks time, all of these little bush things will be red - I can't wait!!!:

My supervisor is on the left- and her husband on the right:

Pretty parks

Last weekend there was a Canadian woman staying with my supervisor - so they took her around to see some pretty things in Ibaraki. I tagged along- here's some pictures.

The kodokan house in Kairakuen park:

How lovely.

We bumped into Mitochan (the child of Mito) the mascot of Mito city.

A very traditional japanese lunch:

Can you identify any of these items?:

In the Second course we had our own traditional rice cookers:

This guys a big deal in ibaraki- but who can remember his name?:

Senba lake:

We visited the shrine of Yoshikawa family (my supervisors family) we lit incense and poured water onto the statues:

Then we visited a massive giant statue- there's a legend about seashells and a giants hand- that's all I can tell you:

Thursday, 26 September 2013


My Thursday school - is my second favourite school (of 4). The kids are a very lowest level - they have no motivation whatsoever, Im very luckily if they are all still awake by the end of the class (that is NOT a reflection of my teaching skills!! japanese students have a weird habit of just sleeping whenever they are not interested - i wish I could just fall asleep so easily - trust me!) .. the kids here are cheeky, naughty and badly behaved. On top of this, my Thursday schedule is not easy - I have 4 lessons back-to-back and it is exhausting. 

 So why do I like it here so much? The teachers of course! 

In my other schools being the only non-native with no Japanese I am naturally isolated - I cannot join in the teacher office banter - I do not understand announcements - I am a loner. I often just fall into the background. (although I dont mind - because now that I actually have work to be getting on with I can get on with my work). here - the teachers are very sweet. 

The English teachers talk to me all the time - after school today I am going out for dinner for two of them - this is almost the only case of teachers actually wanting to spend time with me outside of school (although I imagine I will be invited to a few things via my base school)... One of the teachers at this school is a really old japanese lady. She literally treats me like I am her grandchild - a pleasure I have never experienced in life before. 
This is the only school where they dont order bento - so im expected to bring in a packed lunch. Although really, I shouldnt bother as my grandma is constantly feeding me - its great. She waits on me hand and foot - hot drinks - cold drinks - fruit- cakes - treats - yogurts etc. its great. Im treated so well here. Grandma is amazing at english too - she has spent a lot of time in the UK and loves it there. Shes loves Winston Churchill and has more or less told me his life story. I came in today expecting her to give me a biography of him, as she promised last week. But instead she told me that her book is very old and in bad condition, so she has ordered one online to lend me (possibly give me...not sure) how sweet is that? seriously? Thursdays are a pleasure. The kids can be as crap as they like, Ive got grandma to protect me.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Shibuya- O east

Some pictures from a music thing I went to:

Anchorsong - loveliest guy who I met in London back in may, the night before he moved back to Japan. I sent him a message a couple weeks ago and he invited me along to this gig. 

This lady was doing an acoustic cover of radiohead:

This ridiculous screamo band from Brighton:

Afterwards I saw anchorsong (right) and his friend Shinya (who worked with Emily and Caspar last year on their film production in Tokyo). 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

I like things here

Slowly easing into life here- still adapting- I think it will take all the way until Christmas to feel properly normal- maybe longer- maybe this place will never feel real. Trying to orientate myself here is hard in some ways- as soon as you think you've figured something out it changes. I thought I had figured out the general vibe of mito- but I've just found out that it's the punk capital of Japan- and now Im very excited. I've also just found out that I'm an hours drive away from the largest ostrich farm in Japan. Apparently you can go there- pet the ostriches and then eat ostrich meat- haha!!!

I visited the beach in my town for the first time today- I didn't go swimming in the sea before you go all crazy about radiation- I just sat on the sand with Dyar (new amigo). It was really nice. It's always been a dream of mine to live near a coast- have my own beach- somewhere I can go whenever I want. And  now I have it. How did it take me two months to finally go there? It's a 15 minute drive from my flat. What a beautiful place- I can't wait to go in the winter- when the beach is empty of tourists, families and surfers, and it's just me and the winter sea. My only exposure to beaches has been on hot holidays; bikinis, kids splashing around, people sunbathing etc.. I've never spent time at a beach during a different season- I'm so curious and excited. I can enjoy that incredible sound of waves crashing whenever I want- what a luxury. 

Yellow tshirt

New tshirt I got in tokyoooooooooo

Thursday, 19 September 2013

robot ramble- this is how it is in Japan

There is no rubbish here- things are clean- people are respectful- no one enters a home or institution without removing their shoes or putting on indoor shoes. Eating and drinking in public is rude- the train is dead quiet as everyone obeys the rules. Transport here is immaculately timed. I am 15 minutes early to school each day- being late is unthinkable. Society works- everything has a perfect little system- everything is so well figured out- there are no gaps - every angle is covered. You just have to go with it- be flexible trust in Japan and Japanese people and it will work out- and it always does. Things happen as they are supposed to. The bus arrives on time- every time. There is no stress- just behave as you are expected to and all will be fine. You throw burnables out on Mondays and Thursdays in green bags. Unburnable rubbish is taken out on every 1st and 3rd Friday in a yellow bag. Recycling is every other Tuesday - you must clean everything and put it in the right bin- there are about 15 different recycling categories- bottles get recycled separately to their lids. You don't make a mistake. Everyone throws rubbish out correctly. You must throw it out between 6 and 8 in the morning- no other time - never the night before. Everyone respects all the little rules- everything runs smoothly. You never j walk- you always wait at the light. Even if there's no cars for miles. Every shop, restaurant bar or service place you walk into - you will receive the best service you have ever experienced. Everyone has a good time, is in a good mood and is willing to help. And you bow all the time at everyone. You apologise for your existence in any situation and you are grateful and respectful of everything. Everyone is nice. These are the nicest and most considerate people I have ever encountered. There is no crime. My students are insanely sweet. The teachers- incredibly nice and very open-minded to my ideas. I receive gifts all the time- it is customary to just buy gifts for everyone in the office- always weird snack food. It's great. It's called omiyage and you receive it gracefully. From the moment I leave my house I say ohiyo goziemas (good morning) to everybody I encounter.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

To Tokyo again

A retro games shop in Tokyo called super potatoe- three floors in Akhiabara:

Out on the Main Street in Akhiabara - this is the electronics and gaming area in Tokyo:

These women were flyering with masks on- I wonder what for?:

Hey look a temple:

And then more shopping in a toy shop:

I love these things: