dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
Today marks the first week that I've gotten all my reading of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ done for class before we even met for the first reading. In fairness, it's a relatively short chapter and like three quarters of it is dialogue, which is always easier to comprehend than, to pick an example at random, a half-page about how beautiful and pure a girl is using an extended inorganic chemistry metaphor.

(That example was not random)

I also got more practice handwriting, when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I took the postcards we bought at the wedding and wrote them out to our old Chiyoda Eikaiwa students. We do a mix of English and Japanese, with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd writing the English and me the Japanese, and my penmanship is atrocious. Sometimes I wonder if they can ever read what I've written:

2017-07-23 - Postcard Japanese
I think every single looks different.

I can instantly read this and know exactly what it says, but I kept having to look kanji up while I was writing because I didn't know how to write them. This is actually a major problem with Japanese writing nowadays, even with native speakers. Auto-complete kanji selection means that writing that takes place on computers or phones can be done phonetically, leading to a phenomenon called character amnesia, or 漢字健忘症 in Japanese (kanji kenbōshō) (article here. I write in Japanese relatively often, but literally the only time I hand write it is for these postcards.

I had a nice vacation--still too short, as they all are, but I was able to go back to work with a minimum of problems. My insomnia last night was entirely down to the people across the alley staying up and talking until 12:45 a.m. on a Monday and drinking like four cups of water because I was inexplicably thirsty. And yesterday was [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's birthday, so we went out to dinner and I ate duck curry! Emoji Fairy La And I had butter chicken on Sunday, and I'm having more butter chicken tonight...


Chiyoda!: Friday

2016-Jul-22, Friday 23:29
dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
One benefit of staying in a ryokan is that you get both dinner and breakfast, so after sleeping in almost until the last minute, I was awakened by [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd with exactly enough time to make it to breakfast after a quick shower. And such a breakfast:

Get in my mouth.

We had to eat a bit quickly in order to make the ferry, and originally I thought we were going to miss the shuttle from the ryokan to the port and would have to walk. What was I thinking? This is Glorious Nippon, after all. They held the bus for us, loaded our luggage into it while we paid for the room, and then drove us down in time to catch the 8:25 ferry and the street car that was just leaving after that.

We didn't try to make the 9:40 bus after arriving at 9:35, so we popped into a 7-11 to withdraw cash and get snacks--I got a melon pan, om nom nom--and then up to the bus center, where we bought tickets and asked for the proper platform to board the bus. I thought it was eight, but I was misremembering. It was nine, like it's always been.

Also, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd accidentally bought us children's tickets instead of adult tickets and we were worried for a moment, but we were being silly. This is Japan, and the ticket counter exchanged them for free. They were actually the same price, so I'm not sure why the 北部 line even offers separate tickets.

On the bus, we learned that Pokemon Go had finally gone live in Japan, causing a frantic burst of activity as [ profile] tropicanaomega captured every unclaimed gym in sight.

And then, we arrived in Chiyoda.

From the highway. That building with wings is the community center.

Kaminaka-san, Hattori-san, and Sunada-san were all waiting to meet us at the bus center, and after a round of hugs (hugs! In Japan!) we started on our short tour. First we went to the Geihoku Cultural Center, new since we lived here, that had exhibits about local folk crafts like weaving and rice growing, about kagura performance, and about the festival of Mibu no Hanadaue. Then we went to Mibu itself, walking down the shōtengai where the festival takes place and ending at Mibu Jinja, where we went for hatsumōde our last year in Japan.

Not as impressive now, without the snow and lanterns and crowds of people. I wish I had a picture of that night...

After that, we drove up to a viewpoint on top of a hill, and after a short walking path, we found our way to 壬生城跡 (Mibu shiroato, "the ruins of Mibu Castle"). I didn't see anything that looked remotely like a castle had ever been there, but there was a spectacular view:

Facing toward Ōsaka.

After that, we went to look at our old house, still pretty nice looking and still sitting next to the abandoned twin house next to it, and and then off to Chiyoda High School! Unfortunately, due to the Japanese policy of transferring teachers after only a few years, very few of the people that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd taught with were still there. There were a couple, though. Umeki-sensei, who teaches math, and Nishihara-sensei, who teaches science, and the school nurse were all there. We also ran into Koyama-san, mother of Kazu, who I wrote about in this post and who is now a high school student. We didn't talk for very long because Kaminaka-san had set us a schedule, but we looked around for a bit in the school and then continued on to the Yae-sogo Communtiy Center for lunch, where we were met by Nakamura-san, the other Hattori-san, and Bōno-san.

Lunch was amazing. They had remembered I liked sake a lot and brought two small bottles for me, one of local sake from Chiyoda and one from Saijō, where the sake festival is held every year in late August. We had conbini bentō and okonomiyaki, as well as dessert jello from somewhere. I got a grape and aloe jelly that tasted exactly like the drinks I used to get from vending machines. We chatted, and I did a lot of translating to and from Japanese, and there were only a couple times where I just brought the conversation to a halt because I couldn't think of how to express an idea. It was amazing. Why did we leave?

Oh yes. So [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd could go to school and fulfill her dreams. It's a good reason! And yet, when I'm here, walking around Chiyoda, speaking in Japanese in a way that I was very uncomfortable doing when I lived here the first time...

If I had moved here before knowing as much Japanese as I know now, I'd be conversationally fluent. But, well, there's nothing to do about that now. I just have to keep trying and keep studying.

また今度, I said as we left. "Until next time..."

And we will be back, someday. Sooner than five years.

After a three-hour meal, we had to catch the bus back to Hiroshima, so we took the taxi Kaminaka-San had chartered and packed away the hand-made pottery pieces he had made for each member of our group, including [ profile] aaron.hosek, who wasn't there due to having not been in Hiroshima with us, and we got on the highway bus and started the trip back. After the trip, we walked to our hotel--not Hotel Active, sadly, because there was a weekend price spike that made it not worth staying in--but in Toyoko Inn on Heiwa-Ōdōri, which was further but not significantly so. We were scheduled to meet some old friends from our Japan days, who happened to all be here at the same time in a weird serendipity, and after we checked in that's what we set out to do, though [ profile] tropicanaomega and [ profile] tastee_wheat stayed behind because they were still incredibly full from lunch.

The tabe・nomihōdai was at Sōgo, not Mitsukoshi like we originally expected it would be, so it took a bit longer to get there than we thought it would. Not too long, though, and once we made our way through Sōgo to the special beer garden elevator and went up, we had a couple hours of drinks and food with friends. The food wasn't that great, but I got some nice use out of the bottle of sake that it didn't seem like anyone else was drinking from, and a lovely time talking to people I hadn't seen in years. And some Japanese practice with an acquaintance, though I think because of the beer, she forgot that I'm not that great and just launched into full native speed and I followed along as best as I could.

At ten they threw everyone out. Some people were going on to a bar called Koba and originally I was planning on joining them, but on the walk there I started getting more and more twitchy in a way that told me that it was time to go back to the hotel. So I said my goodbyes, walked back to the hotel with a friend, and read until [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd came back and then went to bed.

Steps taken: 14050.

Note: If you're interested in more about Chiyoda, I did a whole blog series about it here.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms) called Let's Speak English (though I keep reading it as "Let's Speaking English"), written and drawn by an ALT in Japan. It's a collection of 4koma comics about her life there, with plenty of episodes I recognized from my own time in Japan. Like how the centrality of rice to the traditional Japanese diet leads to odd ideas about American eating habits, or the questioning looks from small town residents who wonder why the outlander is there, or the problems of a language barrier, or how super bent-over old people actually exist.

They do, by the way. One had her hat blow off into a ditch while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were walking by and she refused all of our attempts to help. I hope she didn't get stuck down there...

Obviously a lot of my like comes from recognizing the situations she finds herself in, but it's written for an audience who doesn't live in Japan so it's not an inscrutable mess for everyone else. I'm kind of tempted to contribute to her Patreon campaign, since this is the comic I've been looking for ever since Life After the B.O.E. ended.

Kazu wins

2013-Feb-13, Wednesday 19:54
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I'm not sure why I'm remembering this story now, but I've been thinking about it for a bit, so I'll post it here and maybe some of you all will like it.

So in the children's eikaiwa at Chiyoda, there was the one kid. His name as you may have guessed from the subject line, was Kazuo, but everyone called him Kazu, though he started getting a bit annoyed about it towards the end, I think because he thought it sounded childish. Over the 2.5 years we taught him, he changed a lot, going from a wild kid with tons of energy who obviously hated being in class to a wild kid with tons of energy who tolerated being in class because he was taking kendō classes and was doing his best to live by his understanding of bushidō. Which was certainly really cute.

Anyway, like I said, he had tons of energy, and after he certain point, he decided that he had to beat me, so we started...well, I'd have to say "sparring" before class. It wasn't really wrestling, because he was definitely going for full-contact punches and kicks, but at the beginning he was 8, I think, and 11 when we left, so it's not like he had enough strength to really hurt me unless he got an extremely lucky hit in (which he never did). Obviously, he was maybe half my size and a third my weight, so I never responded in kind. I'd typically let him circle around, deflect his blows, occasionally grapple him or put him a hold and tickle him or flip him upside down, etc. And for his part, he seemed to accept that clearly I was huge compared to him, so I wasn't going to fight the same way he did.

Well, after a while, the whole thing kind of acquired its own momentum. He was obviously burning up some of the energy he started with in the daily sparring, and he became kind of obsessed with beating me. I'm not sure what he would count as beating, because even as he grew bigger he never even came close to being able to match my reach or heavier weight. He kind of got obsessed with it, though, and as we sparred, he'd repeatedly say to himself, 「負けんぞ!」 ("I won't lose!")

On the very last day of class, it was close to the Fourth of July, so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I made sausages, hamburgers, etc., and we had a banquet, the students' parents brought a shaved ice maker, and we all sat around and ate and talked. Near the end, it kind of spilled outside, and we got to the point where I was chasing Kazu around with an icecube. Well, being a Japanese mountain town, there were bunches of small walls, paths between the rice fields, narrow alleys, and so on, and in this competition, the advantages were all reversed. I was faster than he was on the straightaways, but there basically were no straightaways so it didn't matter. He spent maybe 10 minutes dodging me and ducking around corners until he got out of my sight a moment too long and I lost him. On the way back, he stepped out of an alleyway into my path and saw me.

He looked at me warily, but I held up my hands to show they were empty.

"負けた," I said. I lost.

That's my main memory of him now--the grin he gave me when I said that. In the end, his perseverance did pay off.

Be well, Kazu. 最後に、絶対負けなかったよ。
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
Tonight was the farewell party for our Chiyoda adult English class.

I'm really going to miss them. A couple weeks after we arrived in Japan, a man showed up outside our house on a bicycle and introduced himself as a representative of community center English class. He was quite surprised to see two people, but he told us about how [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's predecessor had taught the class and asked us if we would be willing to do so. We agreed (it would seem like a total asshole move not to), and at that time, we didn't know what to expect.

And honestly, in the beginning we were pretty bad. We didn't have a good gauge of each other's teaching styles and we didn't really know how to properly make lessons for the class, which wasn't helped by the fact that their English levels were so widely spaced (from one member who had studied English in university and spoken conversational English to a couple who hadn't mastered basic English grammar). A lot of our early lessons were basically lectures, which is precisely the wrong thing to do in a language-learning class that only has 9 students. Nonetheless, they kept coming and over time, we gradually improved our lesson-making.

The thing I feel kind of bad about is that our Japanese got much better over those three years than many students' English did. Though, part of that is the way they treated the class. For some, it was just a chance to speak the English they already knew. For some, it was a diversion--once every two weeks, they learned English for an hour and a half, then didn't think much about it the other times. For others, it was a hobby, and you could tell the effort they put into it outside of class by their progress in class. There's no way to learn a language in an average of 45 minutes' study a week unless you want to study for 75 years, but it doesn't matter. We taught as well as we could.

Along the way, we learned about as much from them as they learned from us. Bits of Japanese, famous places in Japan and bits of Japanese culture, funny stories (I still remember the hairdresser saying he took a special trip to a spring famous for 蘇りの水 [yomigaeri no mizu, lit. "Resurrecting water." "Revitalizing water" is probably more natural] to put it in his hair), food from the places they went, and so on. At the end of the party tonight, we all stood outside and looked up at the full moon, and one of the students said, "When you're in America, you will be looking at the same moon." With all the friends I'll be leaving when we leave Japan, it's a good thought to remember.

Excuse me a moment. I think I have something in my eyes. Both of them.
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
Today was the usual Wednesday children's English class, as it has been for week upon week upon week, but because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's friend is here, it threw off our equilibrium, and we didn't remember until Ueda-san rode up on his bike to make sure that we were okay. We were originally supposed to have matcha and Japanese sweets, but Ueda-san's wife[1] was unable to come and since she was the one who was going to make the food, we didn't have any. Still, we taught them how to ask "how do you like?" and how to answer it, so they could at least ask us a bunch of questions. We've given them a solid English foundation (or at least I like to think so) for when they get to studying English in school. We still speak Japanese better than their English, but that's because we live here, which is a point I'll probably make on the last class we do.

One other thing I've noticed since coming here is that people rarely speak formally outside of work. I mean, sure, in a work situation people still use formal language, but even when meeting new people I haven't heard that much of it. When we met the 大川s, the husband (who I had never met) used casual Japanese when speaking to me, so I just copied him and used it back. I have a bit more practice at it than [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, who defaults to speaking more formally, but that's not really wrong (women tend to speak more formal Japanese than men in daily life). It makes me glad that I put in some extra effort to studying casual Japanese.

I've been working on an ORE conversion for Unhallowed Metropolis lately. I've always thought that UnMet was a great setting saddled with a somewhat odd and humdrum system--it's a bit confusing, and basically lacks anything special. ORE seems to be my go-to system for doing anything lately, so I've been using it to make a few conversions (plus some original stuff for extant ORE settings, but tinkering is something I'm fond of). Just need to finish up the social combat rules (it is neo-Victorian Britain, after all) and add the psychic and medium stuff and it'll be done.

And I really, really, really need to work on an outline for my NaNo so I'll be sure to finish it.

How did it get so late? Anyway, I'd better go to bed...

[1]: One thing I'm still unsure about is forms of address. Since honorifics aren't tied to gender, both Ueda-san and his wife are "Ueda-san." When addressing them specifically, I can use the formal words for husband and wife, but when talking about them to other people I'm not sure of the proper way to distinguish between them.
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
I've been reading a blog called 1000 Things About Japan that the author started based on the idea that she might be leaving Japan after 20 years. Some of the things she talks about are nearly universal for foreigners in Japan (the high value placed on white skin, being stared at, people assuming they can't talk to you even if you speak Japanese to them, etc.), some things are particular to her taste (disliking large festivals and the smell of oden), and some are an artifact of her living in the same apartment in Tokyo for 20 years (disliking particular things about the city, or liking/disliking the way her neighbors behave, and so on). There's a lot in there to make me nostalgic (in Japanese, 懐かしい), some stuff I disagree with, some stuff I find odd--the usual reaction to someone else's thoughts, I suppose. I didn't have any major sort of epiphany reading it, but it was interesting.

The one thing that really amused me was her talking about how she "won't miss" people's unconsciously racist attitudes towards, for example, black people. Also, she's American. I'll just let that sink in and move on.

I was happy on Wednesday because in the children's eikaiwa, one of our students pointed to another that I always seem to understand their side comments to themselves. She was being overly generous (I'd say I understand 50% of them, at best), but the sentiment was nice. I try my best to avoid the natural response to join in the laughter when I don't understand the joke, because if I don't, I'd rather make it a learning experience by asking them to explain it to me then just let it pass by.

I had more to say, but I don't remember it. When I do, I'll post it.

Plague and Tea

2011-Jan-23, Sunday 21:32
dorchadas: (Slime)
Note: This is not about that coffeehouse we found in Hiroshima City.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are currently plagued. Well, it's mostly better now, but we still have residual coughs and tiredness. It's good that Chiharu wasn't able to come for dinner, because we probably would have given her the plague too. On the other hand, we missed the enkai that Takamiya had. And both of us were invited, since they wanted to meet me. (T_T) Oh well, maybe next time.

Last weekend, we went to a tea ceremony at Shukkeien garden. They have them every month, and one of our students from our adult eikaiwa does tea ceremony as a hobby. She wasn't at this ceremony, but because of it, she gave us her tickets to attend, so we went.

It was a lot like the ceremonies I've been to before that the tea ceremony club at Chiyoda High School put on, though obviously more elaborate. The main difference was that there was one person whose entire job was explaining how the tea was prepared, what the implements being used were, and so on. All in Japanese, though I did understand a few bits. They put a black bean and an umeboshi in the tea, which meant that the taste at the bottom of the cup was excellent. The sweet beforehand was quite nice too, though we were apparently supposed to bring our own paper to put it on (at Chiyoda and the various tea we've had at temples, they provided it), though fortunately the woman next to us noticed that we didn't have any and gave us some extras from the bag she had.

The most memorable parts for me were, sadly, not really related to the actual ceremony. We were seated in rows around in the room, on strips of red cloth laid over tatami mats. The servers went from left to right, giving each person tea and moving on to the next person. For the second cup of tea, the server skipped the woman next to me and served me first, and didn't noticed until one of the other servers pointed it out. This led to a problem--he had broken the order, but he couldn't take my tea back, so after some profuse apologies he withdrew and the other server gave her a cup. It did also mean that I got to say the traditional line of お先にいただきます (osaki ni itadakimasu, literally, "I receive before [you]") to someone who wasn't [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd.

The other memorable part was sitting seiza. One thing I did learn, based on looking at the feet of the people in front of us, is that we're doing it wrong. When Japanese people sit seiza, they have their ankles turned out so their legs make a short triangle. When I do it, I tend to just kneel down and flatten the front of my legs and feet out against the floor. This leads to the neeed to suffle around and makes my legs fall asleep after not too long, which obviously isn't advisable. This time, I ended up shuffling after 10 minutes, with numb legs after 30 and with pins and needles after 50. Though on the other hand, I did manage to sit seiza for nearly an hour, which is an accomplishment all its own, I guess.

Sickness is back now, and I'm getting a bit too tired to write. I may have more about the three days in the city in my next entry.
dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
On Sunday, as [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were out for a walk around the neighborhood, we passed by a house where two of the students from our children's eikaiwa lived. This time, however, the students and their parents were all outside having a barbecue, and they invited us over to eat. They were having mutton, which turns out to be quite tasty when fried over some coals and seasoned with onions. They also had grilled mushrooms, which were excellent with a little salt. The best part was talking to each other in Japanese, though. We talked about traveling, where we had been in Japan, food, linguistic bits, and so on. We got to demonstrate our Japanese and our students got to use their English a little. We're supposed to have them over for dinner some time in the next few weeks. Hopefully that goes well.

I think the main thing I'm happy about is that it happened at all. It's the kind of thing you read about happening, but don't think will actually happen because it belongs to a bygone age where people were kinder to each other and all that crap. I guess I'm being too cynical.

I had a college student tell me, "I love you" today in Suzugamine's lunch room. I'm pretty sure she was using it for two reason A) I'm a guy and she's a girl and B) It's one of 5 English phrases she remembers from her high school days, but even so, it's a little depressing to realize that the Japanese expression I seem to be using most often is 結婚している ("I'm married").
dorchadas: (Slime)
My most memorable student was pretty much a frightened rabbit. When I came in, we sat down and I opened the book. I said, "We'll start here," and she got this blank expression and shook her head no. I asked "here?" and pointed to a different page, and she shook her head again. It took a bit of work, but I finally managed to convincer her to show me where she left off by pointing at pages until she nodded yes. Of course, what I should have done is just asked her to tell me (in English) which number the page was, but I didn't think of it at the time. ^^;; I did manage to get her to talk a bit near the end, which was nice.

I did a lot of explaining this week. Lang does various conversational practice groups called "topic talks" where you either discuss a article from The Economist or a series of questions based on a subject (like "art" or "houses" or "speaking languages"). So, I had to explain a lot of English idioms, like "up to your ears" or "bailout," as well as bits of U.S. political history, the reason the Southwest is running out of water and the difference between American and Japanese houses. It's a good thing I got a liberal arts education.

Next week, I start at Suzugamine. Most of the classes are team-taught with a Japanese English teacher, but I have to teach one class on my own. It's a test-prep class, so there's probably a strict syllabus to follow, but I don't really know anything about it yet. I was really worried until I realized that they weren't going to make me write the textbook myself.

I also got yelled at by the owner for having my hair down. Now, when I say "yelled at," I mean Japanese-style, so she came over, sat down, and said, "If it's no trouble, it's company policy, so could you please-" *hair-putting up motions* "I feel bad asking, because it looks so pretty, but if you don't mind..." and so on. So, I put it up. :-p

More events

2009-Feb-11, Wednesday 00:46
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
Hmm. There's been a few things happening to be and I haven't gotten around to posting them yet. Here we go.

The interview in Hiroshima went well, and now they want me to come in and teach a demo lesson involving the class reading and discussing an article from The Economist. That'll be either this Saturday or next Saturday, presumably next since they haven't gotten back to me yet.

While I was in Hiroshima, I went to an Indian restaurant called Spicy Bar Lal's for lunch. After I order my food, I pull out my iPhone to look around on the internet while I'm eating and the Japanese businessman next to me, who's probably in his 50's or so, sees this as his opportunity to practice his English and starts a conversation about it. I make a few offhand remarks about the iPhone, and noncommitally ask where he lived when he was in America. Then he says Chicago, which piques my interest a bit more. It turns out that, 20 years ago, he lived in Chicago for two years when he was attached to the consulate there. So we talk about the importance of English, how Japan's population is declining so domestic companies need to look at foreign markets, the benefits of living abroad, teaching, and so on. He gave me some advice on looking for a job, since he currently works for the Hiroshima-ken Bureau of Labor. If I do get the job and end up teaching at any companies, maybe I'll see him again?

Tonight, we went to visit our future Japanese tutor--Hirata-san, the wife of a priest (Buddhist, I believe, judging by his clothing, though Hattori-san mumbled jinja under her breath when she was trying to tell us where they lived, so I could be wrong). She served us a very good meal and we talked a bit. She told us about how speaking English was one of her hobbies, so she made friends with a lot of the foreigners in the area, and told us some stories. Apparently a college in New York (I don't remember which one) had a branch in Chiyoda in the early 90s, but it closed after only a couple years. She agreed to tutor us in Japanese conversation if, in exchange, we would help her practice her English. Not exactly a hard bargain there, and people who know English well enough to teach it and who don't already teach English in high school are pretty rare up here in the mountains.

As a random side note, one of her stories mentioned her grandmother, and how she was a "daughter of the shrine." Apparently her family has been priests at the shrine for at least a century, and possibly longer. Kind of neat. ^_^

Been a long time

2008-Dec-25, Thursday 01:12
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
But I have an update now.

Yesterday ago was the bonenkai (end of the year party) for our adult eikaiwa at Funky Tonky, the restaurant I've mentioned in here a ton of times. It was neat--the food was a nice taste of home (sort of--cheese fondue, bouillaibaisse, pot pie, and no rice or soup and only one dish involving fish), and I got to explain to people why English spelling and pronunciation often have very little to do with each other (answer: it all made perfect sense when we spoke Old English). We also talked about the difference between British English, American English, Irish English, and so on, and I got some very confused looks when I demonstrated some Irish to them. One of our students also jumped the gun and brought a speech about sumo (next lesson's topic, along with sports in general). I was originally thinking about asking him to save it, especially since last class he used our beginning "what have you done since last we met" everyone talks English time to give a sales pitch about a product his wife's company was making, but really, it's getting him to speak English, and that's the important part. Also, it's possible that said product was being sold to raise money for a hospital--Sunada-san's English isn't the greatest, so it was a bit hard to tell.

Tonight was the children's eikaiwa's Christmas party, which mostly involved sitting around an eating. As they aren't as good at English, there was much less conversation, though we did learn that there's some sort of local fire festival on the 11th of January, and that there's another kagura performance on the 22nd of February and Ueda-san (whose idea this class was) wants the students to sing Edelweiss before the actual kagura performances start.

As a side note, we got a kagura pamphlet explaining the classic performances in English (though the one I just found has magically become Japanese somehow), including several of the ones we saw back in October. Three of them at least told the story of Tamamo-no-mae, and they're much more interesting now that I have a better idea what was actually going on (though I guessed most of it--kagura doesn't have extensive dialogue).

Tomorrow we have the Kaminakas over for dinner, and the day after we leave for four days in Kyōto. As stuff is happening now, I'll try to update more often.

Still no job, but prospects are increasing.
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
So, tonight was the first day of the local eikaiwa. It's a bit more like a club than a formal school--it's every two weeks, people don't always show up every week, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I don't get paid for teaching it, etc. It's also definitely a beginning language class. Some students can hold stilted conversations, a couple can speak very well (and one is basically conversationally fluent), but most of them are fine products of seven years of English education in Japanese schools and have a hard time introducing themselves--though, in their defense, meeting for an hour and a half every two weeks is not going to be a miracle way to learn a language. Since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's predecessor left us precisely zero information on the class, we used the first day to do mostly introductions and get a feel for what people wanted to learn.

At first, it was kind of awkward. No one answered our questions, there were lots of pauses, etc. Once [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I demonstrated an "informal introduction" to people in the class, though, and then split them up into pairs and asked them to talk with each other, it seemed to break the ice. They were much more willing to talk when they weren't singling themselves out, and while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went around and helped correct their English, I chatted with the odd person out from the pairs. He turned out to be a bus driver with pretty good English who's been to America three times and who looks like a younger George Takei. He studied English at NOVA, but liked the Chiyoda Eikaiwa's relaxed atmosphere much better.

I told them to call us by our first names, but I don't know if it'll take. Being Japanese, they prefer last-name + -san, which is fine with me. Most of them are 30 years older than me anyway, so addressing them that way won't seem weird at all even though they're our students.

Oh, and the youngest student there told me my hair was awesome and that he was envious of it, though he had to look up "envious." All the women there also were excited to see our wedding album, which we brought in to show pictures of our families (though if I knew that the Japanese on our wedding invitation would have been read by people in Japan, I would have been more careful and not accidentally put a random hirgana character in the middle of my name when fixing an error).


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