Sunday, 14 October 2007

PostHeaderIcon Whose pen is this?

Kore wa dare no pen desu ka
これは だれの ペンですか

This is the latest Japanese phrase that I have learned. Whenever I learn a new one I try to use it as much as I can until people want to hit me. My last favourite one was kino nani o shimashita ka which means "What did you do yesterday?". I ask it to at least one kid at every single lunch and never get tired of it woohoo. I really like eating school lunch with the kids but I do find myself getting frustrated at not being able to communicate beyond basic phrases. Especially when it's my favourite pupils being friendly and talking to me lots and I just stare thinking "Right... I heard 'ka' which means it's a question... can I get away with saying 'hai/yes'?". The other day someone asked me a question and the whole table looked at me and I hesitated and went "eeeeh" as I thought about my answer. Of course I had forgotten that the same sound is the casual form of 'yes' in Japanese so they all took that as my answer and laughed away to themselves. My Japanese is still pretty appalling and when we went out to dinner last night I couldn't read the katakana on the menu. Katakana is used for all foreign words so things like 'toilet' are spelt out 'toire' or 'cake' is 'keki'. Also, my name is spelt out in it as ku-rei-gu ha-n-ta or クレイグ ハンター. The other day I had to sign my name and I had to stop and think about the katakana for it. In my defence I hardly ever use it and a lot of the time the words don't sound anything like their supposed English equivalent. However, earlier this morning I did attend a town show in which the katakana for 'do-re-mi' was held up and I knew that 'The Sound of Music' song was going to come on. Take that katakana.

Funnily enough this links well with my next point as The Tartan Army seem to be singing this at games in reference to the Euro 2008 being held in Austria. I stayed up late again last night to watch the Scotland game over the internet and it was glorious again. When we scored two goals in the first ten minutes I was absolutely ecstatic but then nervous the next eighty. 3-1, take that Shevchenko. It's interesting how a simple football result can affect your mood so much. After each result I've been on a small high for a day or two after it and I'm not even in the country! I can't imagine what Glasgow was like for the France game.

It has been quite a relaxing weekend (shuumatsu in Japanese, I learnt that yesterday) and I've managed to sleep in past 7:30am for the first time in 10 weeks. The weather is cooling down significantly too which is actually a nice change after the long summer. Right now it is at a perfect temperature and it's only raining occasionally. I was quite busy earlier in the week and started to doubt my ability to teach after my 4th grade class didn't run as smoothly as I had hoped. Although I was rushed for time that morning and didn't have enough time to prepare. For the first time I started to get quite anxious and nervous before my other classes but did put a lot of planning into them. I mentioned to Noah that having him in my classes made me a bit anxious and he agreed. Instead of trying to communicate with me the teachers would just head straight to Noah and this was detrimental to my relationship with them. It was just a small issue but I noticed the difference when I came to teach the other classes. The 6th grade teacher can be quite disorganised but I talked through my lesson plan with her and she was great at helping me. The other classes went better than I had anticipated and now I feel I can build on the experience each time.

So, that's the teaching aspect covered. On Thursday night I went to play football with the Tano guys and the minor injuries from my fall last week are healing nicely. I've been admiring how great the human body is at repairing itself by checking the progress of my scab... interesting mmm yes. Friday was a glorious half day so I took a drive up to the temple near Tano; the one that I got dehydrated trying to walk up months ago. It was a fun drive and I was the only person around for miles and at one point I was on this dirt road with leaves and branches smashing off my windscreen. It was awesome. The top of the mountain looks like something out of 'Lost' or 'Jurassic Park' with structures appearing out of the thick green vegetation. I went up to the viewing station, lay down on my towel and listened to the new Radiohead album on my ipod. It was a very relaxing afternoon doze and I've started to enjoy 'In Rainbows' a lot more too.

That evening a few of us hit the metropolis of Aki City (20000 people) to celebrate Andrew's birthday. We bought him a Japanese fashion magazine for 15 year old girls and four cans of 'Cocktail Partners' which are the cheapest looking alcopops you've ever seen. It was quite a good night despite it being a smaller crowd than usual as a lot are off to Hiroshima for a sake festival. At around 2:30am we got a knock on the door from two policeman DUM DUM DUM. Why did they come around knocking at that time? Because Noah had parked his car in an illegal space... oh the humanity. The lack of space in Japan means that people need to pay for parking places but this car park was always empty and we'd both been parking there thinking it was fine. So this turned into an absolutely massive deal the next morning and Noah had to go talk to the guys at the Board of Education. On top of this he needs to go talk to the woman at the centre of it and probably bow and apologise or some rubbish. It's a complete joke and is even irritating me as I type this. The woman has a valid point if she has paid for a parking space but all she needed to do was mention it to us/write a note and we'd have known what the problem was. Instead she calls the police, gets our work involved and then wants to meet Noah face to face. I think the guys in our work were quite cool about it though so nobody really got into trouble.

I do believe that completes my round-up of events here in Japan. Cheerio for now.

Update: I forgot to mention that one of my lessons revolved around "My favourite .... is because it's...." I used music as the example and managed to burn a CD that included Led Zed and Bach. Take that J-pop.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.

Shashins