Monday, 30 March 2009

PostHeaderIcon Bad Japan: Graduations


I'm pretty sure my work hate me.

The school year in Japan ends in March and this means there are graduations for every top grade from kindergarten to senior high school. They are a very important deal over here and the day is full of bowing and other formal drivel. For the foreigner it means giving up your public holiday or weekend to sit for two hours and be bored to death. It is hard to tell whether the boredom comes from not understanding everything said... or just being bored by with what little you do. It does give me an excuse to wear my suit but it does seem rather pointless when you enter the school and replace your smart shoes with bright green slippers a few sizes too small. I always end up walking like a chicken through the halls.

The ceremony itself involves every student getting a certificate which is then followed by every person in the town giving the same speech. The weirdest parts come at the end when all the other grades give a synchronised speech in which each student says a few words. One student will bark "I REMEMBER SPORTS DAY".... the second will go "WHEN YOU HELPED ME!.... followed by a "I WAS HAPPY! THANK YOU! It is absolute torture to listen to. The day ends with a few songs along the lings of Arrriigaaattooou Saaayyyooonnaaarraaa and the amusing "Keep on Beeerrreeebbbbbaaaaing (believing).

My most hated part is something I have already complained about already. I have called it "Now is the time to..." and it is something I have noticed with Japanese people. Obviously the end of the ceremony is the time to cry so people burst into tears. If they are not real then the women will dramatically but delicately dab their eyes with a handkerchief. Then the students leave the hall in a shower of petals as emotional music plays in the background... as they walk off into the future. By future... I mean the school down the road full of the same classmates.

Interesting fact: I decided to write this because the "town photographer" just walked into the office and I hate him. He's such a gloomy looking wee man who fancies himself just because he bought an expensive camera. He even made himself an armband with カメラ (camera) written on it just so everyone knows how important he is.
Thursday, 26 March 2009

PostHeaderIcon Bad Japan: Samurai Japan

Samurai Japan

The World Cup of baseball took place last month. I had a bracket going with some of the guys here which I lost because Cuba and the Dominican Republic are rubbish. Anyway, Japan won it for the second time in a row by beating South Korea in the final (5-3).

I wanted South Korea to win it. Why?

Japan are exceptionally bad winners and losers. They seem to lack any sense of humility and respect for the opposition. When they are losing it is because the other players are taller, stronger and faster. Japanese players perform poorly because they can't eat miso soup or play in conditions that aren't the same as home. When they win... well... they let you know about it. It is far removed from the euphoria of winning that we witness back home It turns into this massive outpouring of pride, being the best and basically boasting that the rest of the world is inferior to the mighty Nihon. It's hard to explain but I've seen enough to get tired of it. They call themselves 'Samurai Japan' by the way. It's all that samurai spirit of being quiet and dignified... apparently.

Here is a quote from the Prime Minister that sums it up for me:

" Millions of people across Japan tuned in to watch the final live on television while Prime Minister Taro Aso hailed the team's efforts, saying, "We have reaffirmed the fundamental power of our country through this tournament."

It's absolutely mental. Reaffirmed the fundamental power of our country through this tournament. Every other country in the world would get hammered drunk and be proud of the achievements of their team in that sport. Not use it as a platform to heal some of the wounds that they obviously still hold from ssssssssh.... the war. They're mental.

Also, some guy was waving a Japanese military flag behind the home plate which I thought was a bit tasteless since they were playing South Korea. You know... the country they invaded and occupied and which that flag is a symbol of.

Still... Japan deserved to win and Ichiro is a machine. Also, I reckon I prefer Japanese people to Koreans so don't be too offended my Japanese tomodachis.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

PostHeaderIcon Goo

Interesting fact of the day: Japanese people say 'Goo' instead of 'Google'. They sound really stupid. Anyway, here is my house in East Kilbride on Google Street View.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

PostHeaderIcon Tatties

Hello internet. The weather is fantastic today. I feel like I am committing some sort of crime against life by being stuck in my office with my back to the window. The school year is just about done so that means it is the season of graduations and enkais (work parties). I really can't be bothered with either but I guess it is nice to wear my suit every so often. I'm trying to avoid the enkais because nobody likes me at work and I just sit in the isolation of my illiteracy. Nah... I'm only kidding. I just can't be arsed paying £30-40 to eat sushi I don't want whilst failing in the same conversations I had 18 months ago.

I've actually been in a very content mood for the past few weeks despite my frequent complaints. Work this week has been a breeze as I've got nothing to do but study Japanese, read books and catch up on every news article ever written. The change in seasons is making me more optimistic and my recontracting means I don't need to worry about anything again for months. I keep meaning to write more Japan related posts because I get bored writing about myself. I'd say I'd start that tomorrow but I'm going to take it off because I'm going to have a St Patrick's Day night of drinking.

In saying that... I hate St Patrick's Day because of all the irritating things it reminds me of. Firstly... St Patrick is no where near as cool as Saint Columba. He beat the Loch Ness Monster. At University it was the posh gits from the South of England buying their first pint of Guinness and then going "ewwwwww". Then there are all those bloody stupid Americans with their green rivers, cheap shamrock and leprechauns tat and 'Irish Car Bomb' bloody stupid cocktails. Furthermore... it reminds me that Scotland is full of whinging gits like myself who attack another country's national day because of our own inadequacies of not being independent.

Note: There is a proposed referendum due in 2010 but it's all a mess due to this economic recession rubbish.

Other news:

I have a handlebar moustache deal going on today. Nobody has mentiond it at work.
I'm getting pretty good on my skateboard. I haven't even fallen off it yet.
Last week my favourite teacher said Noah and I have noses like mountains.
The same teacher might be having a cheeky affair with the woman we both hate at work.
I learned how to play Norwegian Wood on my guitar.
Sigur Ros are still absolutely amazing.
My 3rd grade at Junior High School graduated. I will actually miss them but I don't think I'll realise it until I start teaching again. I think they were my favourite class. I probably should have gotten a picture with them.
Monday, 9 March 2009

PostHeaderIcon Good Omelette

I don't really have much to write about this afternoon but I thought I'd take advantage of this free time to write an update. The junior high school has exams on this week so I've spent the day reading wikipedia (Dodo, Easter Island, Vikings, and Bach). Also, I've been tearing through my second Murakami book (Norwegian Wood). He's never amazing but I like books with outsider type characters that never really go anywhere. Although I've noticed that I really don't like the way he describes his characters eating or drinking. It reads so fake and it irritates me. "He sat down and ordered a cup of coffee. The coffee was good here and he often found himself staring into the empty cup until the earlier hours of the morning." Everything reads like that... and I know what kind of cafes in Japan he is talking about. I have a bit of a dislike to these crammed, fluorescent lit, miniature tables, tiny glasses of water, bitter coffee and pathetic sandwiches places. Also, I hate the way his main characters always go on about "I know a place with good omelettes." Japan doesn't have good omelettes. They just have these fluffy, tasteless pieces of crap. It's all LIES.

I was going to write in my blog last week about two different experiences I had whilst eating school lunch at junior high school. I was teaching my last class to the 3rd grade and I made them all weep when I gave a little farewell speech. Although... I think it is a requirement at Japanese graduations to cry so I'm not too proud. Later on two of the female students handed me a note asking if I'd eat lunch with them later. This was a nice surprise because I have been the only one instigating conversations at school lunch for as long as I can remember. They usually end up with half the table ignoring me and one of the loud boys making a joke at my expense. Anyway, last week I had a great conversation with the two girls in English. Then they said "Hanta... we think you are.... nice guy" and I almost wept myself into my bowl of grey gloop. It was a lovely little lunch and it's a shame that it's so infrequent and that those girls will be leaving at the weekend. Anyway, the 3rd grade were absent the following day and I sat at a table of 1st grade boys. After offering them half my lunch and trying to talk about baseball they decided it would be better to mock my Japanese for the next 15 minutes. I ignored them in the end and stared at a watering can on the opposite of the hall whilst I tried to repress my desire to swear at them in English.

My trip to Osaka at the weekend was a bit of a rainy mess. It made me realise that I actually prefer the countryside over the cities sometimes. It was just full of horrible young Japanese people whose only goal in life is to buy a new handbag or get a new hair dye.. You'll notice I did not specify a gender because both of them are at it.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

PostHeaderIcon Japanese

The Prime Minister of Japan can't read Japanese. There is no hope for me.

Anyway, I'm off to Osaka for a few days. I'm going to eat lots of food. Cheerio
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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.