Saturday, November 19, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
On Sunday, I went to Osaka on a solo shopping trip. I needed to pick up a few things, but I also wanted to visit Denden (the Kansai version of Akihabara in Tokyo) to play more UFO Catcher. After winning two plushies in Sannomiya, I felt really confident that I could win a lot more. I started in the newly-opened Namco Land, which I figured would have a lot of similar machines to the ones in Sannomiya's Namco Land. I took a good walk around to see if there was anything I wanted to win, and ended up coming out with these two items:
I actually happened to run into a few friends on the way out of Namco Land, and one of them offered to take my huge pillow home, which I'm glad he did! I went to Sofmap to pick up a Xbox 360 joystick, and then continued on to visit any and every game center I could find. Some of them were small and didn't have anything worth winning, or the games didn't look as simple as the one I wanted to do. I visited a small one that had a Sentimental Circus plush, but it involved trying to pick it up and make it fall through the gap. I threw in 1000 yen but couldn't get it to move the way I wanted it to, so I walked away from it. I went to the Taito Game Station but didn't see anything I wanted. And then I went to the Sega Arcade and found the EXACT same Sentimental Circus plush that the other place had! The setup was similar to the D-ring game (explained in my previous post), except the ring was smaller, circle-shaped, and on a cylindrical rubber tip instead of a ball:
The other difference was that this claw had both of its prongs, whereas all of the ones I had tried previously only had one prong (because really that's all that was necessary). There was no question that I was going to go after this one. The claws at the Sega Arcade are quite annoying to work with. The way that it drops, it will rotate ever so slightly, which meant that I would end up completely missing the ring if I didn't aim correctly. I think I missed 3 or 4 times, and it really frustrated me. I kept trying though, and went to get more change when I needed it. After somewhere between 2000 and 3000 yen, I finally pushed the ring off, and Shappo, the Sentimental Circus ring leader, fell down the hatch for me to grab.
Carrying two large plushies and a joystick, I managed to get to Namba Marui to look at some designer handbags and for a new umbrella (didn't find one), and then started heading to Shinsaibashi. I stopped by Don Quixote to get a couch cover (the checkered on you see in my pictures), and then to a few other game centers, including another Sega Arcade where I won this Rilakkuma cooking pot (the one I have is the white variation shown on the side):
With that, I was pretty much done. I didn't feel like doing any more walking because my arms were aching from all of the bags I had to carry. I was quite pleased with all of the stuff I managed to win. I realized that I had just as much fun playing as I did when I won the item. It takes precision to win, and it's definitely something I'd like to pick up as another hobby. I'm rather excited to return to Tokyo in December, where I can visit all of the game centers Sunshine 60 Street. I'm wondering how big of a suitcase I might need...
We went to Namco Land, which was the biggest game center I knew of in the area. Most of the UFO Catchers here had one type of setup, like in this video (which isn't mine, just one I found through a search):
Of course, this was just the final push for the guy to get the item; the plastic D-shaped ring actually starts perfectly centered on the rubber ball and takes more than one try.
At first I thought that these machines were just pointless to try, because I knew that ball was rubberized, meaning that the plastic ring is practically "sticking" to it. That means that the claw is not just going to make the ring slide off, but only move slightly. My friend saw one particular machine with a large baby seal plushie in it. She said it was really cute, and when I looked at the ring on the machine, I could tell that someone had tried it at least once. So I said, "Well, why don't we give it a try?"
200 yen was for one try, while 500 yen was for three tries. Knowing that the one try would just be a waste, we dug up some 100 yen coins and popped in 5 of them. She tried the first time, and not being very successful, she let me take over. I could see that the ring was moving ever so slightly, and the more I tried, the more I believed I could eventually get that seal. After we both ran out of coins (totaling about 1500 yen I think), we took turns guarding the machine while one of us went to get change for our 1000 yen bills.
Finally, after about 2500 yen and a final pull, the ring fell off and the baby seal plush dropped down into the prize window. We were both so excited (me much more than she) and then we realized that there were two unused tries on the machine.
What I learned was that, when you have extra tries left on a machine, you must tell one of the staff and they will let you transfer credits to another machine (or they'll put another prize in the machine you just used). I took a look around the game center and found a large Doraemon plushie that I didn't particularly want but looked easy to get. I got that one in much fewer tries. Afterwards we took purikura (the Japanese photo sticker booth) to commemorate our winnings:
So what I thought was a difficult game to win was actually quite simple. It's a lot easier than the traditional type where you have to use the claw to push the item itself, because those you can actually screw up. With these machines, the only way you can really mess up is by missing the ring completely, which is what I ended up doing a few times. Part 2 of my UFO Catcher story takes place in Osaka, where I did some solo shopping and came home with three big bags of stuff!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Please see my donation page here and donate if you can: http://www.extra-life.org/participant/KasumiTorisei
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
"Beautiful" isn't the first word that comes to mind when I think of Bowie, MD, but I said yes anyway. She said, "Wow, it must be great having lived in such a beautiful place. And I think you're very beautiful as well." I said thanks, but I was so confused. Either way, she seems to have taken a liking to me.
Everyone else was in the principal's office for a meeting, so only she and I were in the staff room. When the clock hit 4:30 I said goodbye and left, but then I had to go back a few seconds later and said "I forgot something." She laughed and said, "You're funny." I just smiled. She asked if I would make my bus, and I said I was okay. Then I left and headed home.
I thought about it some more, and I realized that Bowie really is beautiful compared to other cities, specifically those closer to and in certain parts of Baltimore and near Southeast DC. Though I don't live there anymore, I recall having days when I looked outside the window and thought about how peaceful my neighborhood is.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I was thinking, "Why is she telling us this? What does this have to do with anything?"
Fast forward to second period, Band class. Instead of practicing, we all sat around the room, and I heard the same thing...planes crashing into buildings. I can't remember if there was a TV on; I don't think there was, because I still didn't quite understand what was going on. All I knew at that point was that they were calling for early dismissal, and suddenly we were moving to the cafeteria.
At that point, I can remember thinking, "My dad is at work. I have no one to pick me up from school." It was then that I saw one of my friends, sobbing. Her mom worked at the Pentagon, which was also hit. She had managed to have her dad come pick her up, and when he arrived, he asked if I needed a ride, and I said yes. I found out a few days later that my friend's mom was safe, thank God.
I was in so much of a daze after getting home that I don't remember who was home first, whether it was me or my mom. I don't remember if my brother had gotten home before or after I did. I think I was the first one home...but all I remember is going downstairs to turn on the TV and finally see what my teachers were talking about.
This wasn't just a small plane, but a passenger aircraft. and it wasn't just a random building, but two very tall buildings in New York. Before that day, I had no idea what the "World Trade Center" was. And it was on September 11th that I finally saw it for the first time on TV, and both towers were smoking and in flames. I think by that time the towers had already collapsed, but all I remember is seeing replays of the towers over and over again.
It was by this time that I had wondered what happened to my dad. He works in DC, and I had no idea if anything else could have possibly happened. I found out later after my dad got home that he had gotten into an unrelated traffic accident; someone stopped to ask him for directions, and shortly after they both got back on the road, that same person accidentally rear-ended the mail truck my dad was in, causing my dad to suffer a back injury from whiplash.
The rest of the day was blurry. I remember not going to school the next day, and possibly the day after that, and maybe even for the rest of that week. I just don't remember.
I tend to not remember many things very well. You would think that my memory of 9/11 would be as clear as a bell, but it isn't. I can only recall that life forever changed after that day.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I haven't been in much of a blogging/video-making mood lately, because there's been so much stuff going on.
I arrived in the US two weeks ago and spent a day or two finishing up my cosplay for Otakon. It was received pretty well, despite my character not being recognized by most people. Oh well, they're missing out on the greatness that is Dynasty Warriors.
After Otakon wrapped up, I celebrated my dad's birthday and got to see some family. The rest of the week consisted of shopping and seeing friends.
I realized a few things about traveling that I should keep in mind the next time I visit:
1. Leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and depart for Japan on a Tuesday or Wednesday. That was my original plan, but because my dad had already decided his 2-week vacation period, in order to avoid the conflict of finding a way to the airport I had to depart for Japan on a Monday, which was his last day off, I think. That made packing more difficult, because while I wanted to take Sunday to do so, that was the day that several friends wanted to come and see me. Had I left on Tuesday instead, I could have taken Monday to pack. I ended up leaving a few things behind that I had meant to take with me, just because I had stayed up late to finish packing that night after my friends left. Fortunately none of the items are things that I absolutely need, and my parents will send it to me whenever.
2. Two weeks is really short, regardless of having concrete plans or not. I have no idea why, but even though I stated pretty clearly on Facebook and to people who asked that I'd be in the US from July 25th to August 8th, some of them still had this idea that I was staying longer than that. As much as I'd like to stay longer, I just don't want to use up too many vacation days at one time.
3. I should save up and book even earlier next time. This time I had booked my flight with Orbitz a little under 2 months in advance, but when I proceeded to choose my seats, a lot of them were already filled up.
4. I don't have to check my bass guitar. When I was coming back from Japan after study abroad in 2009, I had two suitcases and I had bought a semi-hard guitar case for the 5-string bass guitar that I bought a few months before that. Because the guitar case was so large, I had to check it and pay a $100 fee, which wasn't really a problem for me.
Since that time, they had changed a few regulations for baggage, and I would've had to pay $200 if I had checked my bass as a third piece of luggage. Not only that, I might have had to pay even more because that semi-hard case is larger than than the size limit for checked baggage.
So this time, I decided to trust the airlines and put my bass in a soft case (as long as they put the fragile tag on it, which was done the last time). Fortunately, the woman at the check-in counter brought it to my attention that I could bring my bass on board as a personal item. She probably wouldn't have said that if she had seen the backpack I was also wearing (I had a backpack, the guitar, and my purse, but you're only allowed a carry-on bag and one additional personal item). So I ended up putting all of my stuff from my purse into my backpack, and then stuffed the purse into my guitar case. There we go--two carry-on items! The bass was able to fit in the overhead bins on the first flight to Chicago, and then when I changed planes I was able to store my guitar in a long, narrow cabin that was located conveniently next to my seat and near the bathroom.
So that's what's been up. I don't know when I'll make another video; I've been really exhausted lately.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Right now I'm making this post from the plane heading towards BWI airport from Chicago. It's been a very long day. Everything was going pretty smoothly, and my flight from Tokyo had even arrived at 2:00pm Central Time, 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. My connecting flight was supposed to be departing at 4:38pm, and then I found out that it was delayed due to thunderstorms in Maryland. We actually didn't take off until after 7:00pm, which was pretty annoying, but it's not like I could do much about it. What matters is that I'm coming home for the first time in 51 weeks.
It's been an amazing first year as a JET. I love my city of Ono, despite its drawbacks. I've made a lot of new friends who have made life in the inaka so much easier. I was able to contribute to my kids, and hopefully I helped make an impact on their lives. But those kids have also taught me a lot, and I'm very grateful for that.
I think we're about to land soon, so I'll make some more updates when I can. There's a lot to be talked about, so once again, sorry for the lack of updates in the past few weeks!
Monday, June 27, 2011
Confused, I ignored it and kept riding home, wondering if this guy was going to do what I thought he would. And I was right. About 3 minutes later, I'm riding up the hill, and from the corner of my eye I see this truck driving in the same direction, and he pulls over on the other side of the street to wait for me coming up the hill. As I pass him, he says, "Hi, excuse me," I turned my head in his direction and freaked, and decided to keep pedaling. He yells louder, "Excuse me!" but I ignored him.
A small part of me felt a bit rude, because he may have had an honest and legitimate question about directions or something. But I highly doubted that. If this guy needed directions, he would've slowed down the first time instead of honking and saying hello as he whizzed by me. From my experience though, I had a feeling that this guy probably wanted to ask me some personal questions, eventually leading to a "I think you're pretty, can we be friends?" type of thing. It's happened so many times, both in Japan and the US, and I absolutely hate it.
Besides, if he was some gaijin in Japan honestly looking to talk to other foreigners in the area, he probably shouldn't be trying to talk to a girl half his age on a bicycle during a hot summer afternoon. Who in the world wants to stop and talk to a stranger at a time like that?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The line shown in the picture is actually what it had grown to over a day and a half; it started out short and in the center and eventually grew longer towards the left side of the screen. I felt really lucky that this happened JUST before my warranty expired, but still somewhat upset that this kind of defect would happen after only a year. I had a bad experience with my old MacBook that I got in 2008, in which the screen failed after about a year and a half, just a few months out of warranty. Hopefully the same won't happen to my MacBook Pro, which is just outside of warranty (I contacted Apple about this because, unlike with my iPod Touch, I NEVER received an e-mail reminder that my warranty was about to expire, and I got them at the same time).
So after purchasing the AppleCare Protection plan for my iPod, I contacted Apple to set up a repair. I bought the iPod in the United States, but of course now I live in Japan. So what do you do when you don't live in the country from which an Apple product is purchased?
Here are two choices: You can go to the nearest Apple store (the nearest one for me is 1 1/2 hours away in Osaka and I'm not waiting until the weekend to go) or you can set up a repair online. For the latter, just follow these steps:
1. Go to Apple's Service and Repair page. Enter in your product's Serial # (this page will help you if you don't know how to find it) and then select the country in which you are currently living, and then click Continue.
2. Your product and Serial # will be displayed on the next page. Under it is a link that says "See your service and support coverage." This is where you can check your product's warranty status.
3. Next to the heading that says "Repairs and Service Coverage: [your product's status here]," there is a button that says "Set Up a Repair." If your product is under warranty, or if it is out of warranty and you don't care about any charges that will be incurred, then go ahead and click that button.
You should be able to follow along Apple's step-by-step process. The country you select at the beginning is important because it will be listed on the page where you enter your address. Also, the services available may vary depending on where you live. For example, when I chose "United States," I expected to receive an empty box in which I would pack my iPod to be sent. But when I went back and chose "Japan" as my country, Apple's website informed me that an actual person from a courier service will come to pick up my product, and that I can schedule the date and time period that I would like them to come. So I chose the next day between 6:00 and 9:00 in the evening.
After submitting my Repair request, my confirmation e-mail was written in Japanese, but when I clicked the link to my iPod's Repair status, the page was displayed in English. So if your confirmation e-mail comes up in another language and you're not sure of what it says, don't worry about it.
So for the next few days/weeks, I will be without my baby :( I plan on buying a new one with a camera within the next few months, but I still want my current iPod to be in good condition and under warranty in case I pass it on to someone else. I wonder if they'd mind that the back is engraved with "Proverbs 3:5-6" on it...
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
So I got my stuff packed for the weekend and headed out on Saturday morning. It wasn't until after the hour-long ride to Shin-Kobe station, and then the 80 minute ride on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima, and then getting to the front desk of the hostel where I'd be staying...
...that I realized I had left my Alien Registration Card at home. -_-;
In most cases while in a foreign country, of course your passport is one of the most important things to carry with you. Of course, once you actually move to that country and receive an alien registration card (外国人登録証明書, gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho), you don't need to carry your passport with you on a regular basis. During my winter trip to Tokyo, I carried both since I was staying away from home for over a week.
But this would be just a weekend; I'd leave Saturday morning, stay one night, and come back Sunday evening. So I decided not to take my passport.
However, I had forgotten that, a few days before, I had taken my "gaijin card" out of my wallet to scan a copy of it for unrelated reasons. After I was done, I had completely forgotten to take it out of the scanner and put it back in my wallet.
Fortunately, the receptionist had no problem with me not having my card, and just asked if I had any other picture ID. I still had my Maryland state ID, so I just showed her that and she said OK. Whew!
After I got up to my room, I started getting ready for the concert at Namiki Junction. After looking at my ticket, I noticed at the bottom that it said I had to pay an additional 500 yen for a drink ticket when entering. Immediately I started feeling concerned about whether I'd be carded when going into the live house. I started thinking up possible explanations and was prepared to plead for them to let me in, showing them that I was of age AND that I wasn't here in Japan illegally--I had my Japanese health insurance card with my birthday but no picture; my state ID; and the envelope that contained my ticket with my current address on it.
I was a bit relieved after going to Namiki Junction's website and reading the venue policies. For late night lives, ID is required. But for the girugamesh concert starting at 6:00pm, the only note written was that children 6 and under weren't allowed. Obviously I'm of age so they wouldn't need ID for that.
Long story short, I got into the venue and enjoyed the concert with no problems whatsoever. But there were some things during the weekened that I passed on doing just in case I needed to have my gaijin card for it.
So the moral of the story is: Never leave home without your gaijin card. I know some people out there say, "Meh, I never carry it and I've never gotten into trouble," but I wouldn't advise that you try it. I've been carded randomly before, and besides, you'll still need it if you plan on doing other things like checking into other hotels/hostels, going to a host club, going to a nightclub, or--if you look really young for your age--being in a game center after certain hours. That last one has happened to me before, mainly because the friend I was with looks like she could be in middle school when she's actually turning 24 this year.
So yeah...that card is important.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
I revived my profile on JapanZone Friends after what seems like years. All the discussions and topics about AMBW that I've been reading about lately drew me back to using the site. One of the reasons I quit before was because I wasn't meeting many Japanese guys (or Japanese people in general), but rather people from other countries. The other reason was because the options I had as a "free" member were VERY limited, and I wasn't going to pay money to become a VIP member.
But I've returned to the site, to do a bit of an experiment on whether I can easily find an "Ideal Match" (18 to 25-year old Japanese male open to dating or even becoming friends with a non-white, non-Japanese girl). So I restored my profile, uploaded a new picture, and edited my information (it still said that I was "hoping to go to Japan," lol). I added a Japanese translation of my English introduction message in hopes of encouraging more Japanese speakers to contact me.
After my profile got approved, I looked at "My Matches" (few of which looked interesting to me) and waited for some visitors and Smiles (which are kind of like Facebook Pokes). I got what I usually get when I use online dating/community sites: Middle-aged, non-Japanese men. I can't say there's anything wrong with these men, but I'm 22, and I would much prefer to have a guy in the same age range, and not closer to my dad's age (won't lie though, if Fukuyama Masaharu proposed to me I'd say yes :P)
Of the 55 visits to my profile that I've gotten so far (some of these are repeats), about 10% of them were from Japanese men in their 20s. Even fewer were in my 18 to 25 age range--about two or three. The rest were from men from other countries (I'm listed as being in Japan so they may have thought I was Japanese) and about half of them were ranged from 30 to 51.
But since visits don't necessarily mean anything other than the curiosity of seeing the rest of a person's profile, let's look at the smiles:
I have 22 smiles total. 3 of them are repeats, which makes 18 different individuals. 5 of those 18 smiles are from Japanese men. Of the 5 Japanese men, one of them is within my 18-25 range, but he didn't look very interesting; there was absolutely no spark from looking at his profile. Another guy, who is 30, looked pretty interesting and seemed like the type I could hang out with, so I sent a smile back to him. (He has yet to respond again.) Another smile was from a 32-year old who was only listed as being interested in language exchange-related activities and not dating, which was fine by me. I replied to him saying thank you, and he replied back introducing himself and saying he wanted to practice English.
I won't even go into chats--none of them were from Japanese men.
Am I trying to prove anything with these statistics? No, nothing other than the fact that these are the typical results that I get from sites like these. But I'm pretty sure it's a common case; I imagine that the population of men over 30 on these sites is fairly large. I also expect that a site focused on uniting Japanese and non-Japanese people will probably have less Japanese people and more people from other countries...there's a lot of different countries, whereas there's only one Japan. Not to mention that the online presence (not the mobile online presence) of Japanese people, aside from mixi and 2chan, is known to be pretty low. Finally, I may just be doing one single thing wrong: listing my country as "Japan." Even though that's where I live, it may be possible that the Japanese guys I'm looking for are looking for women who DON'T live in Japan, and the middle-aged men from other countries might think that I'm Japanese. I don't think the former is likely, but the latter might be.
What this proves is that even the Internet isn't an easy place to meet certain types of people. The best way to meet anyone is in person, but unfortunately it's not always easy. There's a lot of luck or fate involved, whichever you believe in. There's also money involved if you intend on traveling or paying to get full service from dating sites. It's probably easier if you're the "go-getter" type, but I'm not one of those because I'd rather wait for people to come to me, and then I get to decide whether I'm interested in that person or not. It's easier than for me to continue going after guys who are likely not interested in me because they didn't give me any special attention from the get-go, or guys whose kindness I've misinterpreted as interest. (See my YouTube video titled "I still don't understand Japanese guys." as well as the follow up from White Day.)
As I am finishing up this blog, I just received another smile...from a 42-year old in Germany. And I've also received a chat request from a 41-year old...who, needless to say, is not Japanese. Even if he was, it wouldn't matter...he'd still be 10 years younger than my dad. But if he was Fukuyama Masaharu...
So here are some questions:
- Do you use JapanZone Friends or similar sites focused on international communication?
- If you do, what kind of people do you tend to get contact from?
- Why in the world do I get so many contacts from [much] older men, despite the fact that my "Ideal Match" obviously states that I'm looking for guys 18-25?
This is only the beginning, so should some additional activity come about, I'll write a follow-up.
Friday, May 20, 2011
That being said, farewell. I'll try to make some last minute arrangements to have people take care of my possessions when I leave.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I've heard of making board games out of calendars, but I wanted to add some elements to it to make it more interesting. Calendar Party (I came up with that name on a whim) is loosely based off of Mario Party for Nintendo. I won't explain how Mario Party works, but it's basically a board game involving the roll of a die (or dice).
I did this game for the first time just this morning with my sixth graders. I would recommend trying this game out only after you've gauged the English ability of your target class
So here's what I did:
1. I started with a blank calendar, with Sunday through Saturday written at the top:
With this you can use the calendar of any month and just write the dates in. I laminated it before putting in the dates so I can reuse it with dry-erase markers and change the calendar to a different month.
2. After your dates are in, you can make special spaces. I made plus and minus spaces that will allow players to advance or go back if they land on them. I also made a "Back to Start" space, which is usually assumed to be bad, except for in special cases (which I will explain later). Other spaces are quiz spaces. If a player lands on a quiz space, they have to answer an English-related question. I try to make them pretty simple since these are elementary school students we're talking about, but you're free to make the questions as easy or as difficult as you like.
3. In Mario Party, the #1 goal is to get as many stars as possible. There will be only one star on the board at a time, and the location will change every time a player/team reaches it. (In this case, I've decided to use an American penny, just to make the kids mesmerized before the game starts.)
So let's say the first "star" is placed on the 31st. The rule is simple: Get to the star before someone else does. Players/Teams will take turns rolling the die and trying to advance to the star, running into plus/minus spaces and quiz spaces on the way. Once a player/team reaches the star, that counts as a point for them. This doesn't mean the game is over (unless you're short on time, then you can make it over). When the star is reached, a new star will appear on the board, but in a different location.
How do we decide where the new star will be? Randomize it. Write numbers 1-31 on cards, then put them all in a bag and pull one out without looking inside the bag. Whatever number that is, the new star will be in that space. It could be right in front of another player, beyond reach of everyone in a single die roll, behind a player...who knows.
4. Deciding who goes first. Players/teams will draw a number from the bag, and the order will go from the team with the highest number to the team with the lowest number. I considered the roll of a die or doing group Janken the way my students usually do, but that takes more time.
5. There's one more rule, based on a previous version of Mario Party (Nintendo's up to 8 so I don't even remember which one it was): If a player/team advances and lands on a spot where another player is, those two have to battle it out! The easiest thing to do as a battle is to do Janken (Rock, Paper, Scissors).
So let's say Orange is on the 13th of the calendar. Red is behind, but rolls and moves enough spaces to land in the same spot. Red and Orange now have to play Janken. The winner gets two choices:
"SWITCH": Choose any player on the board and switch places with them.
"BACK": The winner rolls the die, and the loser must move back the designated number of spaces.
There are some conditions to this "shared space" rule. If a player is on a plus/minus space and advances/moves back to the same spot where someone else is, there is no battle. That's just to reduce the amount of times teams have to play Janken, which can really slow things down if it happens too often. Also, sharing a space as a result of switching/being switched does not count as a Janken battle.
6. So where's the English? In the quiz spaces, which I mentioned before. Also, when each player/team advances spaces, I would encourage getting everyone to recite the English date names written in the calendar (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.). You can also replace the "shared space" Janken with a quick quiz question instead.
Those are pretty much the only rules I have for now. This game is very flexible, so you can add/remove/change all kinds of things for this game. It's still very much in "beta" version, as I literally came up with this Mario Party thing about an hour before class (though I had been thinking of doing a board game since last week). When I come up with more ideas I'll add them. Also, if you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to let me know!
Monday, May 16, 2011
I had answers to that question going through my head, but I didn't want to believe them. One explanation is that perhaps some Asian men, either consciously or subconsciously, find Black women (and women who are otherwise darker than they are) to be not good enough. They see the beauty in an Asian woman, and they'll definitely see it in a White woman, but Black women are simply "not for them."
I had an experience in high school in which I had a crush on a Korean guy in my history class for almost a year. He was very kind to me despite how persistent I was, and he seemed to generally care about me as a friend. My Korean half felt some sort of connection with him, and I seriously thought I wanted this guy. But one day, I finally asked him, "Why is it that you're not interested in me?"
His answer was that I wasn't a "pure Korean." I took this as meaning that I was tainted, and thus undesirable to someone--a 100% Korean--like him. (I should also mention that he wasn't even born IN Korea, so that makes him Korean American :P)
I got over him very quickly after that. On top of that, he was a bit of a Korean nationalist and horribly racist against Japan (he kept it to himself unless the topic of Japan came up, which was often brought up by me since I was studying Japanese). He had friends of different races throughout high school, but he would only ever think of dating a Korean. And I don't count.
That incident really messed me up. From that point, my interest in Korean guys slowly faded, and my interest in everything else Korean started to fade as well. I heard about racism in Korea against halfs, including with Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. I remember seeing his story a few years ago after the Super Bowl about how he was picked on in South Korea simply for being mixed, and then suddenly when the Steelers win the Super Bowl, Korea suddenly have pride in him as if he was theirs. This attitude absolutely disgusted me. Don't take this the wrong way though--in no way am I ashamed of being Korean. I love that my mom is not like that Korean guy back in high
school; she doesn't feel any resentment towards my choice of studying Japanese, or the fact that I'm living here. And I know there are other Koreans who would think the same way. I want to believe that the alleged negativity and racism in Korea is only the minority, and that the rest of the country is okay. I guess I have to go and see for myself. My interest in going has waned, and at this point I feel I would only want to go if my mom came with me.
Anyway, it was because of this Korean guy that I started to become aware that interactions between Asian guys and Black girls was rarer than it should be, and I feared that it was because Asians (and pretty much everyone else in the world) generally looked down on Blacks.
I've been told that being half-Korean gives me more of a chance, but I don't believe that's true at all. A lot of people will probably "one-drop rule" me in their minds: I'm half-Black, so therefore I should be counted as just Black, even if it's a total giveaway that I'm not 100% Black.
And this is why I was searching for information on AMBW, even though I'm half. I can much better relate to Black women that are struggling to find Asian guys open to dating other races (other than White). I know they are out there, but I wish it was easier for me to find them.
In the AMBW Facebook communities, the Black women pretty much always outnumber the Asian men. Whenever an Asian guy posts something in the group, they are welcomed by quite a few women. But when a Black woman posts in the group, where are all the Asian men?
Just look at this 2009 blog from OKCupid. Black women get shunned not only by Asian men, but by men of every race. It's sad. You can say it's the fault of the Black girls (not mature enough to be called 'women') who reinforce the stereotype of being loud and obnoxious, but it's also the fault of people who believe in those stereotypes. And it's the fault of the media (I blame the media for everything, really) for portraying Black women in such a way.
We need to stop eating up stereotypes on TV and actually interact with people. Ignorant people will just sit back and believe that all people of a certain race are more or less the same. Slightly less ignorant people will try to talk to one or two people of a certain race, and if they fit the stereotype that person will sit back and say, "See? I was right." Open-minded people will treat others on an individual basis, and will still believe that there are people who go against the stereotype.
I'm working on blocking out my experience with that one Korean guy, because I know there are Koreans that do not share his racist views. I'm also hoping to meet more guys in Japan that are open-minded.
I'll end this lengthy blog post with a quote from a Japanese girl I found in Japan Zone:
"I like a guy who can play some music instruments and never say 'I love all Japanese girls.'"
I only hope that people will keep an open mind, and to try and look beyond race. Congratulations if you got that dream girl or guy of the race you so desired, but remember that it's their character that is more important, not their skin color. I'm not interested in the hip-hop loving Asian dude trying to get with any Black girl and treat her like some kind of "trophy." I'm not interested in the Black guy who only wants me because I look "exotic." And I want all women to love their guy (or future guy) for who he is, not because he's a "hot [insert race here] guy."
I wanted to make a YouTube video about this, but I haven't yet figured out how to express my thoughts properly.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
My first reaction was shock. For almost ten years, we had been searching for this man, or RATHER, we sent thousands of troops over to the Middle East to ignite a "War on Terrorism," which is really a war on winning control of the Middle East, thus gaining control of foreign oil supply. The search for Bin Laden was just a backstory much forgotten amid the reports of troop deaths, civilian deaths, reporter deaths, fallen ally deaths.
No doubt, Bin Laden's death shocked billions around the world. I saw reports of Americans celebrating in the streets, chanting that ultra-patriotic chant of, "USA! USA!" And at first I was happy to see the coming together of American citizens in joy, as opposed to continuous complaints about the economy, health care, stupid politicians, and how disappointed everyone was in Obama.
But as time passed, I began to realize how messed up everything really is. America is celebrating the death of a human being--yes, a sick, evil-doing human being, but a human being nonetheless. Once upon a time, humans were supposed to be on the same side. Purely coming from my Christian perspective, it was God and man versus Satan. We were all created as God's children, every single one of us. I celebrate coming a step closer to eliminating terrorism--if that's what the demise of Bin Laden means--but I will not celebrate his death.
I agree with the idea that a dangerous man is probably better off dead, rather than have him continue to plot the killings of more innocent people. But isn't it pretty messed up that the elimination of ONE MAN cost us thousands of American soldiers, millions of Muslims, and billions of dollars?
Will this celebration and American pride change the way some Americans think about Muslims? Can we stop discriminating against them for stupid reasons, which we never should have been doing in the first place?
I'd love to say so, but that's not the case. Osama Bin Laden's death means next to nothing. People will continue to die, one way or another. Al Qaeda is still out there. Other enemies exist and will arise. The economy is still crap. People still don't have jobs. We will still have to go to work in the morning.
To celebrate Bin Laden's death is one thing. I can imagine a feeling of relief for someone who lost loved ones as a result of his evil doings. But then there are the insults, the jokes about him being shot in the eye, the desire to see photos of his body, probably just to get a kick out of seeing him dead rather than to confirm that he really DID die. For that reason I didn't particularly enjoy watching Monday's episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I thought it was pretty classless, but anything for ratings, right? Except I'm pretty sure Stewart and Colbert were on the side of extreme excitement.
On the other side of the fence, I'll say that cheering when an enemy has fallen is nothing new. Ever played Dynasty Warriors? ;)
I believe the U.S. made the right choice burying Bin Laden's body at sea, as opposed to going old school by beheading him and bringing the severed head to President Obama, which would be all the proof of his death that we need (but not necessarily want--that's gross).
All I wish is for people to show some class. Hide your excitement and
show respect for the troops and the Navy SEALs who carried out the
operation. And to the other side, don't be too hard on those celebrating. Just focus on what you're doing, and don't put yourselves on some kind of pedestal just because you're reacting "the right way."
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The one I ordered is the medium-sized Bamboo Comic. While I was researching to figure out which one I should buy, I only learned that the Bamboo Comic comes with illustration software, and is only sold in Japan. Once I got my tablet and looked on the back of it, I learned another thing: It's actually a Bamboo Fun. The "Comic" part merely describes the tablet + software package. So to all of you out there wondering whether you should get a Bamboo Fun or go through the trouble of getting the Comic, I advise you to not go through the trouble getting the Comic (unless you live in Japan, then there's no trouble at all).
The other odd thing is that on Amazon (where I bought it), The Bamboo Comic is cheaper than the Bamboo Fun of the same size, despite the fact that the Comic has the illustration software AND came out last year, as opposed to the Fun which came out in 2009 (my guess is that there are no mechanical differences, one just comes with stuff and the other doesn't). But whatever. My tablet amounted to about 14,000 yen (about $170 USD), including the cost of COD service. The Bamboo Fun of the same size seems to be around 16,000 yen at the least.
I had fun playing around with it yesterday that I didn't even turn on my 360 to play Dynasty Warriors 7 (shocker!!). I've done some doodling and posted it in my DeviantArt scrapbook, and I also tried the Handwriting feature to write a few IMs to a friend. Of course when typing is faster it's a bit pointless to write, but it's fun to do anyway. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I'm very satisfied with it so far. Here's a little sample of some Kanji I wrote:
I didn't write the "Sooyong" or "SCHIZO-ALIAS," but you can see how the tablet enables me to make smooth strokes in the Kanji that resemble the font I used for that text.
I'm going to keep practicing, but I still prefer to draw on paper. However, this tablet will make coloring my images a lot easier and less tiring.
Monday, April 4, 2011
On the first of April, certain teachers leave and transfer to different schools (in most cases), and new teachers come in. I had a chance to meet and get aquainted with the new teachers at my Mon-Thurs-Fri school, but at my Tues-Wed school I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone because I wasn't there (I took last Monday through Wednesday off for a 5-day weekend). I also didn't get to see any new teachers until today.
At this school, hardly anyone left, but a lot has changed. The old vice principal is gone, as well as the school assistant (who made me feel comfortable only because she was often as clueless as I was about things) and saddest of all, one of the former 4th grade teachers who was also my English supervisor. She was really awesome, and teaching her class was the ONLY time that I did the job that I actually applied for; that is, an assistant language teacher and not THE English teacher. She led most of the class and called for me to serve as a demonstrator and English consultant, which is what middle and high school ALTs do. Of course, I didn't mind being THE teacher, but while I had to frantically think of what to do with each of my classes at different grade levels, I could at least rest assured that for the two fourth grade classes, I could relax and give the reins to my supervisor, who did a wonderful job.
She asked me at the end of last semester, "Do you have any advice for me?" and I told her, "Actually, I think you did a perfect job." I couldn't think of anything at the time, because all I could recall was how well her classes went and how much her students learned, even without me talking at them in English like I do with my other classes. I guess now that I think of it, she could probably let the ALT use just a little bit more English, but that's actually what SHE praised ME about. She said that she was very pleased that I would often say more in English than I was asked to say, which was different from other ALTs that she worked with in the past.
Anyway, she was really great, and from now for at least four months before I transfer in August, I'll have to carry on without her. I think I might know who my new supervisor is, but I haven't been told yet.
This blog was definitely supposed to be about my apartment interior decoration...I had it titled "My Apartment" and then realized I had been talking about my English supervisor for two paragraphs. Oops. So the apartment blog entry will come later.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The graduation ceremony, as with any other Japanese ceremony, was very formal and systematic. I think most Americans witnessing one of these events would think that it was a very 'boring' and 'tense' atmosphere.
From the time the graduates started coming in, everyone applauded until the entire class reached their seats. The procession was very precise, from the way they walked in to the way they turned to walk in a different direction and so forth. Once the class came in, the applause stopped and that would be one of the few times you would hear clapping for the rest of the ceremony.
The students--especially the girls--looked so wonderful all dressed up. The cuteness of the girls in their ruffly plaid skirts, dark blazers and cute hairstyles would put AKB48 to shame. One girl, who's a bit of a tomboy, came in wearing a gray suit with slack shorts down to her knees. Some of the boys were already wearing their junior high school uniforms (I love those high collar jackets!). I had wished that I was graduating with them!
Unlike most ceremonies in the U.S., speeches did not come until after the awarding of the diplomas. I'm used to having to sit through a number of long speeches before getting to them, so I was surprised when the diplomas were the very first thing on the list. While most people in the U.S. would end up applauding after every single name called (unless there was an announcement NOT to do so), here it was simply expected to remain silent as each person stepped up to collect their diploma. After that, there were two speeches, one from the principal and the other from the head of the PTA. After the principal's speech, there was a video of a congratulations from Japanese baseball player Saito Yuuki. I was pretty impressed that they got him to make a video message, and I wasn't sure if it was just typical of Japanese elementary school graduations or if it had something to do with the fact that the principal's son is a sports anchor for Fuji TV in Tokyo.
In addition to the parents, school-related officials, and staff, other attendees included the 4th and 5th graders. They were responsible for helping to set up, as well as singing a song for the students and collectively reciting a farewell speech to them. I realized how important it was for them to be there, because the three grades will be together once more when they all enter middle school. The sempai-kouhai ("upperclassman-lowerclassman") relationship in school is very important in Japan, from the very beginning all the way through high school. When I was in elementary school, I never really knew any of the students above or below me, except for my brother who was three grades ahead of me and the kids who lived in my neighborhood.
Towards the end was a slideshow of the 6th graders with photos of them from 1st grade all the way up to now. Since teachers rotate schools so often after 3 to 6 years, I was wondering if any of the staff was even here during the graduates' first two years at the school. As the slideshow went on, each of the students narrated part of a speech about their memories at the school, field trips and the like.
At this small school, where there is only one class per grade (with the exception of the current 4th graders, in which there are two), I realized that this class of 32 graduates had been together every single year, and friendships were probably very tight. Unlike with my school--which was probably four times the size of this one--and even many other schools here in Ono and the rest of Japan, these kids didn't have to think about who was and wasn't going to be in their class the next year. It was always them from the beginning. As I watched the slideshow, I sort of envied these kids, but not for long. I ended up going to three different elementary schools, with one friend remaining by the time transferred to my third school in 5th grade. By 6th grade graduation, I felt fortunate that I had made so many friends in such a short time, and that they didn't treat me like an outsider just because I didn't know them for as long. Some of these people I met in 5th and 6th grade are still my friends today.
As for that one friend I had left when I moved, she has been my best friend for the past 16 years. I had realized after I moved that I really didn't feel like I was truly friends with anyone at my first school. I was well-known throughout each grade, but it was only for being somewhat of a teacher's pet. I ended up not keeping in touch with any of those people, but my best friend had faithfully called me and wrote letters all the way up until internet and then driving became accessible for us.
Anyway, that's beside the point. The point is that these 32 kids have been exclusively together for so long up to now. This will change when they enter middle school, since they'll be mingling with the kids from my other school (at least; I'm not sure if there are any other kids going to that middle school).
After the slideshow, the kids sang a song in front of the stage, and then thanked the staff for taking care of them, and that's when their teacher surprised them by telling them that we the staff were going to sing a song for them in return. As we began the song, I looked at some of the students and some of them looked pretty surprised and were smiling. Then after we were done, the 6th graders sang one more song before the ceremony ended. The very end of the ceremony was probably the most unusual part ('unusual' as in different from America): After everything was over, the vice-principal just said "The graduation ceremony will now come to a close!" and there was absolute silence and stillness, with the exception of the mechanic sound of the stage curtain lowering automatically.
After that, the students proceeded out of the gym as we all applauded once more, which was just like my own graduation. One thing I'm glad I did have was the after-graduation party at school. I think these kids all went home with their parents and then probably had a nice dinner at some restaurant, which is cool too.
Friday, March 18, 2011
I've been keeping up with news coverage on the Japan earthquake, tsunami, and now nuclear crisis since it happened, pretty much from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.
Things have been normal out where I live, in the Western part of Japan's main island. I've been going to work, and the students have been coming to school. I was in Kobe on Sunday and everything seemed normal, with the exception of people standing on street corners asking for donations to help the victims of this disaster.
While humor in the light of a dark moment can be good, there are some things that are simply not okay.
For one, anyone who says this crisis was "payback for Pearl Harbor" are uneducated and just outright ignorant. Uneducated because obviously you weren't paying attention in history class when your teacher was telling you about the a-bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII. You also weren't paying attention to any incident occurring in the U.S. (ex. 9/11, Hurricane Katrina) in which Japan helped US out. Ignorant because obviously not all citizens of Japan were responsible for what a few military officials decided to do. You guys are the same idiots who think that all Muslims are tied to terrorism.
Next, with that douchebag writer from Family Guy, Gilbert Gottfried and that rapper who isn't worth the two U.S. quarters in his name. How about instead of making jokes, you actually donate some money to help out? By the way, none of those jokes were funny; not only because this is a huge tragedy we're talking about, but also because they weren't clever in the least.
I'm watch TV and see Japanese people talking to the camera, asking for contact from their families and friends, looking for people who are still missing, and grieving. Smiles and laughter are good, but not when they are at the cost of someone's loss or tragic misfortune. Have a heart--think about how you would feel if you were in this situation. I'm not saying be depressed 24/7 either. But making fun of tragedy is tasteless, childish (though even children would be more mature than that) and insensitive.
Next, for the scores of people overseas who are either worried about getting overseas radiation or about people living in other areas of Japan. Take the time to read this note that someone named Paul Atkinson wrote on Facebook about the current situation. In short, even in the WORST case scenario, the radiation is highly unlikely to spread as far as areas like China, California, and India. In fact, even Tokyo is not quite at risk as people make it out to be (though I completely understand evacuating that area for safety measures). Iodine pills in California is just plain ridiculous. It's kind of sad how hysterical people will get about what they hear, instead of seeking more information about the facts of the situation. I understand the concern, but asking people who live all the way in Western Japan to come home is not necessary. Demanding exchange students to come home is one thing, but cancelling study abroad programs not happening for another several weeks is not necessary.
My own parents are concerned about me and have been contacting me frequently, but I am happy that they are actually listening to what I have to say and that they aren't demanding that I come home because of something that just happens to be in the same country. Japan is small, but it is not microscopic. A disaster of Chernobyl proportions (which this is NOT) would prompt me to leave. But not this.
This "come home, U.S. is safer than Japan" attitude irks me a bit. I know that those who were living in the eastern region have made a perfectly fine choice by going home to the U.S. temporarily. But rest assured that other regions of Japan are okay, and should someone make the decision to relocate to the west instead of going home, please respect their choice and continue to support them. We are not ignorant to the situation. In fact, I'm sure a lot of us living in Japan is probably researching the news even more than you are. I have been doing so from dawn until dusk (except for when I'm teaching classes of course) and that is why I feel assured about my own safety.
Those of you in Cali, if you just bought a ton of potassium iodide supplements, you have wasted your time and money. Or while you're at it, you can go ahead and put plastic wrap and duct tape on your windows and doorcracks to seal yourself inside the house, free of radiation and eventually free of oxygen :)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Pretty much all Japanese cellphones these days have a function called "Osaifu Keitai" (wallet cellphone), which uses the Sony Mobile Felica IC touch reading system. The Felica symbol looks like this:
Now, let's talk about WAON. I first learned about WAON when visiting a grocery store in Ono, and figured it was just some membership to rack up points while grocery shopping. I didn't intend on using WAON, but then while looking for mobile applications to use with my cellphone, I found a WAON app, so I decided to try it out. At AEON-affiliated stores, they offer a lot of deals for WAON users, so I figured it would help me out if I started using it now for the time that I'm in Japan.
I will explain how I set up my phone (REGZA T004 with au by KDDI) to use WAON. If you have Softbank or NTT DoCoMo and want to try this, I can't really help you in detail but the procedure might be similar. Also, please learn some Japanese if you can't really read that much, unless you're like me and know how to figure things out without knowing what certain Kanji mean.
The first thing I did was download the WAON app. When you launch the app for the first time, you'll see an explanation of Mobile WAON and JMB Mobile WAON. If I'm not mistaken, JMB WAON will give you Mileage points instead of WAON points. Scroll down past this message and select which WAON service you want to register (I'm assuming you want the regular Mobile WAON).
When you get to the application page, fill in your name (last name first, of course) using Katakana in both the Kanji and Kana fields. It also asks for your phone number, e-mail address, and I think your residential address as well. Once all of the fields are filled in, confirm it. You may or may not get a confirmation e-mail of some sort; I didn't get one on my phone even though I turned off the mail filter temporarily.
The next part took me a bit of time to figure out. If you end up exiting the app right after registration, when you launch the app again it'll start all over and make you think that your registration didn't go through (it actually did). So once you register, proceed to your nearest WAON チャージャー (not WAON ステーション), which is likely at an AEON-affiliated department store. The thing about Mobile WAON is that, unlike with WAON cards, you can't charge it with money via credit card (you probably don't have a Japanese credit card anyway), so you have to charge it with cash.
Charging is easy. At the WAON Charger, you just follow the directions on the screen. Place your phone on the Felica symbol and the machine will read it, and tell you that you have 0 yen and 0 points if it's your first time. It'll then ask how you want to charge, cash (現金) or credit card. Choose cash, start inserting as much money as you want. The last time I used the charger, it was only letting me put in one bill at a time, so I had to charge it three times to put in 3000 yen. I think the max is 20,000 yen, I think in the span of a month. When you're finished, press the blue 入金 button. You'll get a receipt and you're done. If you want to check your WAON balance, just open the WAON app and it'll show you.
Using the WAON reader to pay is also very simple. If you're at a cashier, just tell them that you're using WAON to pay, and then touch your phone to the Felica machine. When you hear the sound of a dog's bark (hence the name "waon") it means the transaction went through. Congratulations! You've just made a purchase using your cell phone.
Of course, you can also buy a WAON card, which costs 300 yen and requires no registration. And if you're ever concerned about not having enough money on your card, you can charge right there at the register--just ask the cashier. Yesterday I bought a few items for the apartment, and noticed a sign on the counter about charging the card before making a purchase. So I asked the cashier, and she just asked how much money I wanted to put on it. Then I made my purchase, and voila! I ended up not going home with my items.
Because they were too big for me to load onto my bike ^_^ So I asked to have them delivered to my apartment. The items were a metal rack for the kitchen, a black curtain, and a cushion for the couch. The box and the cushion were just too big for me to even want to try carrying them home on a Monday night.
So anyway, that's WAON. There are other similar payment services such as Nanaco and Edy. If you're familiar with Suica, ICOCA, and other smart cards for the train and other stores, WAON is just as simple. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. Next I want to try mobile Suica, but since Suica is mainly for Eastern Japan, I can't really use it right now. I already have a Suica card anyway so I'm not even sure if I need it.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
So in response he said that he wanted to get to know me as a friend first. He was even nice enough to write a response to me in English accompanying his verbal reply, probably thinking that I can't read Japanese (or something along those lines).
So, leaving work, I felt really embarrassed about such a miscommunication that could have easily been avoided on my part. So while I was at my other school on Tuesday and Wednesday, I wrote a letter in Japanese clarifying that I know we don't know each other very well, that I appreciate him as a friend, and that if the car I made was too sweet, he didn't have to eat it.
I gave him the letter on Friday after his students' English lesson, and told him that, in America, "Valentine" doesn't necessarily mean "lover" or boyfriend," depending on the relationship, and that in some cases it means "special person" or even just a good friend. I asked him if he thought I meant "boyfriend," and he said he did, which is why he was so shocked. So I apologized and told him to read my letter whenever he had time. He was busy for the rest of the day, so I take it he'll have read it over the weekend, and maybe even write me a response (which I told him to write in Japanese if he was going to write anything at all).
Oh, the joys of intercultural miscommunication.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Fortunately...class ended 45 minutes after it started. And my other 3rd grade class (and their teacher) came in. And they're good kids...noisy when they get to play a game, but it's productive noise.
But I understand why teachers blow up and even throw things when they get frustrated. Because that's exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to throw a chair at the window. I wanted to take all the noisy kids out of the classroom and send them somewhere else, and just let the quiet kids stay.
I have all of the sympathy in my heart for Natalie Munroe and her frustration with her high school students. In my case, I know we're only talking about little 3rd graders, but I know how she feels when students don't want to cooperate, participate, and would rather do anything other than participate in class. I don't know who's to blame. Overall class behavior seems to be a reflection of the teacher's personality and level of strictness among other things. But are they like this all the time? Even at home with their parents?
So many parents spoil their kids too much, and they believe that teachers are supposed to be eternally patient angels, even if students disrespect them and try to treat them like doormats. Which, of course, students never disrespect anyone, because "my baby would neva do that; no, not MY child. MY child knows how to behave." Reality check: Your child is not perfect, and if you truly believe that it's always everyone else's fault and not the fault of your child, then you suck as a parent.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Now I'm not part of the JET selection committee, but I think there might be a few misconceptions of how they choose people. Someone who didn't make it probably wouldn't want to hear anything from someone who DID make it and is in Japan right now, so if you happen to be one of those people and are easily offended or not in a good mood, don't continue reading this.
First off, I don't know the exact criteria for choosing people who get interviews, and then people who get in from there. This is only my opinion, based on who I've seen not accepted and my own experience going through the interview process.
1. I've heard of people who have lots of teaching experience (especially foreign language teaching experience), certified in some level of the JLPT, and have lived in Japan for X number of months/years who have gotten rejected. It's possible that those people are overqualified. Before coming here, I had zero teaching experience, no JLPT certification, and lived in Tokyo for 11 months. In my opinion, JET isn't looking for English teachers--they're looking for people to teach English. In middle school and high school, English teachers (called "Japanese Teachers of English," or JTE) already exist, and they're looking for a non-Japanese person to enrich the learning process. Not to say that people who don't get in aren't capable of enrichment. If you're overqualified, chances are you are capable of getting a job other than with JET. Also, if you stated in your application that you have applied to other jobs, that might be another contributing factor. At the time that I applied for JET--just like with college applications--I only had one. I was going to wait until I got rejected to start looking at other jobs, especially because I was still in school at the time so I knew I'd have a few more months to keep looking.
2. It's not true that JET only hires weeaboos and otaku and J-Pop fangirls. I'll be the first to admit that I DO watch anime from time to time and my library consists mostly of Japanese music, but I am FAR from the aforementioned categories. There are people who are interested in other Japanese things, and then there are people who don't know much about Japan at all and are looking for something new. Personally I wouldn't want to hire one of those foreigners who know ZERO Japanese, knows NOTHING about Japan, and just applied "'cuz they felt like it." I don't know if anyone like that has been hired, but I'm sure somewhere in the crowd of ALTs there is someone like that.
3. Maybe you weren't what they were looking for--literally. JET is no beauty contest of course, but I think they're looking for what they believe is the image of an ALT, not only as an instructor, but as a representative from overseas, a mentor, a neighbor, and a member of the community. One of the things that most people know about JET is that ALTs and CIRs end up doing things unrelated to their job, such as joining clubs, teaching extra classes in the community, and writing short columns in the community newsletter. I don't know how they determine who best fits that mold, gets an interview, and then nominated, but JET involves more than just teaching. I will say that looks are definitely not everything, as I once saw a REALLY tall and significantly heavy dude (sweat was visible in more places on his body than I wanted to see at Tokyo Orientation) who was nominated to be a high school ALT...I imagined Japanese kids snickering behind his back about his looks but maybe that's not actually the case.
4. Simply put, you might have done something wrong on your application, or it may have gotten there too late. JET says that any incomplete or late applications will not be considered, and that's that. With three copies pof the application and all the official documents in the world (okay, it's really like three or something like that), if you're not careful you may end up missing something that's supposed to be in that envelope to the Embassy. If I remember correctly, they aren't going to tell you that you're missing something, so you may not know for sure whether that really was the case. As for me, I checked millions of times (okay, maybe like ten times) to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Luckily, since I lived in the D.C. area, all I needed to do was take a train into Washington and hand deliver my application to the Embassy the day it was due. If you're not so lucky, I would suggest getting the necessary documents well in advance. The JET Program website always posts the list of required documents well before they post the actual application, to make sure you have a fair amount of time.
So that's what I can say about JET. The key point in my statement included with my application was that being a JET in Japan was not simply about teaching language, but about sharing culture with Japanese people. It is not just about you being the giver and the students being receivers; it's about cultural exchange. Living in Tokyo for about a year, I didn't think there was really much else for me to learn about living in Japan. And yet here I am, six months and a week after I got on the plane from Reagan National Airport, and I've learned so much already, from everyday life, from teachers, and even from my own students.
I'm sure not getting making it through the JET process is a learning experience as well. People whine and complain about getting in, and it's some of those same people who say things like, "Well I don't really like kids anyway," and, "But I ended up getting hired by [some other company]." JET is NOT the only way to go, so if you don't make it, it's not the end of the world, and if you were going to give up that easily, maybe your lack of perseverance was just another reason for you not to be chosen. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just because you didn't get into JET does not make JET "retarded" or "stupid." It's okay to be disappointed, but ego inflation is just making yourself look like a conceited jerk.
And yet, the class seemed to have trouble understanding what to do. Their teacher was saying that it seems difficult for them and that they don't even learn that kind of grammar in middle school. But how hard is it to understand "he" and "she"? The 4th graders at my other school are going to introduce members of their family. My supervisor at this school, who is one of the 4th grade teachers, taught her class "he" and "she." I think it may be a challenge to pick up, but I'm sure they can do it. Even so, maybe I've done more than what I needed to do.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
What I've also decided to do is to really think outside of the box. I don't have to limit wall decorations to just posters, but instead hang up all kinds of items to create a really interesting look. So far I've put up a girugamesh muffler towel and a belt that I never wear. Needless to say, I'm going for a punk/visual kei design, using black, white and red.. My challenge is going to be finding the things that I've envisioned in my mind, like patterned fabrics that fit my style.
The living room is going to be first to be decorated. Next will probably be the bathroom, and then the bedroom. For the bathroom, I've considered a few options: Taking pages from J-Rock magazines and covering the walls with them; going to visit a host club or two and take a look at their bathrooms (it's been a while since I visited one); or going for ultra-kawaii with Hello Kitty. I'm leaning towards one of the first two...I think it would be very amusing to have pictures of hosts in the bathroom!
Hopefully I'll get to start shopping during Spring Break in March, and finish designing the living room by May.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Anyway, those two teachers gave me their students' completed papers. One teacher just put the stack on my desk, but the other teacher actually communicated with me a bit, and asked me how I was doing after about an hour of checking. We had a nice little talk about the writing differences among some of the students (some of them writing 'kujira' and some writing 'kuzira', which is Japanese for "whale"). I told him that I was going to take the papers home with me so I could have a closer look at them, but actually I'm going to use some of them as examples in my next video, so you can see what I'm talking about.
Lately I've been busy doing and thinking about a million things at once...making lessons, writing blogs, making videos, preparing to buy tickets for upcoming concerts, ideas for decorating my apartment, making chocolate for Valentine's Day...sometimes I wish I had a househusband to help me get all this done. Or a persocom.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I found pants that actually fit! I really like them because they're comfortable, casual and fit my style. Another piece from Ozz, which has become one of my favorite brands ^_^
Brand: Ozz On
Price: 1200 yen
Store: closet child, Harajuku
Another pair of pants that fit. I haven't worn these yet, because I haven't figured out how to take care of the drawstrings at the bottom of the legs...I don't want to trip :/
Brand: Ozz croce
Price: 1800 yen
Store: closet child, Harajuku
Brand: Qutie Frash
Price: 4200 yen
Store: closet child, Harajuku
I'm not sure if you can see it, but this is actually a 2-piece skirt, with the lace being a separate piece. This makes the skirt see-through in some areas. I wore this combined with a pair of black shorts worn over stockings. The top piece would probably work with a pair of pants as well.
Brand: Ozz On
Price: 1400 yen
Store: closet child, Harajuku
Sterling Silver rings
Price: 525 yen each
Store: Paris Kids, Harajuku
Dragon Charm Choker
Brand: Ozz On
Price: 1200 yen
Store: closet child, Harajuku
Isn't this just the cutest thing? I carry my phone or camera in it when I go out. I haven't used it lately since I have nothing to attach it to when I go to work, but the next time I go out I'll be sure to have it :D
Brand: HN+nois (h.NAOTO)
Price: 1680 yen (50% off from 3360 yen)
Store: h.NAOTO, Harajuku
Price: 600 yen
Store: closet child, Shinjuku
So that's pretty much it for my special items from Tokyo. I won't be out shopping for a while since I'm trying to save up for some lives coming up. I think my next shopping trip will be in Osaka, which I STILL haven't visited yet. If you haven't figured it out by now, closet child is one of my favorite stores in Japan. They have an online shop, but I'm not sure exactly what they have compared to their in-store stock. Be sure to check out BODY LINE's website too, they have good stuff and ship overseas as well.
Now to just figure out how I can set up a photoshoot with someone here so I can put some outfits together...