Category Archives: EDUCATION

文化的な交流の永久 – The Permanence of Cultural Exchange

In my new job, I have many responsibilities, but the most important one is at once both simple and complex: I am mean to be a cultural ambassador from America. What this entails, I do not yet fully comprehend, and I doubt that I will ever be able to fully understand what this position means. On a mechanical level, in the classroom I am to function as something analogous to a recording device, and I am to help the students understand how and why certain English words or grammatical structures work the way they do; however, to limit the position to that would be a waste of time for each party involved. The JET in JET Programme stands for “Japanese Exchange & Teaching,” and what I have realized in my first two weeks here is the significance and intent of that first part: Exchange.

Exchange of cultures has played a major role in every nation in history, as through this new and different ideas can spread and help people grow and change, and this has been the focus of much of my study throughout high school and college. I love the way that different practices, customs, and ideas can being, end, spread, and develop as they migrate through multiple cultures, and, most of all, I love how the process is ever-changing. And now, through this program, I can take part in this eternal human practice in a way that I never have before. Sure, I had passed ideas back and forth with my friends from both the US and Japan during college, and even when I went abroad I had the privilege of meeting new people from England, France, and Guatemala who gave me opportunities to gain new perspectives and insights; but now, as I live in Japan, I am gaining …continue reading


8 Must Know Japanese Kanji’s related to Body Parts

“The Limits of Your Language are the Limits of Your World.”~Ludwig Wittgenstein~

Picture from Pixabay

Hi everyone! Hope you are all enjoying learning Japanese on a daily basis. 🙂

When it comes to learning Kanji’s, I believe the best way is to group them in a categories where you can learn a handful of them at the same time. Once you memorize them as a group, it will be easier to remember when you are ready to use them.

Today’s lesson is all about learning just 8 of the Kanji’s that are related to your body parts. These are simple and easy to learn Kanji’s so, once you go through this lesson, you will be ready to use them right away.

Kanji Challenge Series 3 – Body parts

Body = karada

体, からだ

My whole body is sore.

Karada jyu ga itai.

からだ じゅう が いたい。

(体中 が 痛い。)



Please wash your face every morning.

Mai asa chanto kao o arattene.

まいあさ ちゃんと かお あらってね。

(毎朝,ちゃんと 顔 洗ってね。)

Eye = me


Please close your eyes.

Me o tojite kudasai.

め を とじて ください。

(目 を 閉じて 下さい。)



My nose is so stuffed.

Hana ga sugoku tsumatte imasu.

はなが すごく つまって います。

(鼻が すごく 詰まって います。)



Open your mouth.

Kuchi o akete.

くちを あけて。

(口を 開けて。)



You need to get your ears checked.

Kimi mimi no kensa o shite moratta hō ga iiyo.

きみ みみ の けんさを してもらった ほうが いいよ。


Neck = kubi


Try these neck exercises.

Kono kubi no undo shite mite.

この くびの うんどう してみて。

(この 首の 運動 してみて。)



His hands are huge.

Kare no te wa totemo ōkii.

かれの ては とても おおきい。

(彼の 手は とても 大きい。)

Leg= ashi


Move your legs faster.

Ashi o hayaku ugo kashite.

あしを はやく うごかして。

(足を 早く 動かして。)

Hope these Kanji’s were easier to learn than the last ones. If it’s hard for you to memorize, take one Kanji at a time, and move onto the next once you memorize one at a time. 🙂

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Building Bridges as an ALT with Your School’s Board of Education

Source: Gaijin Pot
Building Bridges as an ALT with Your School's Board of Education

For as much as I sometimes moan and groan about the daily grind of being a direct hire assistant language teacher (ALT) here in Japan, the reality is: this isn’t a difficult job. Most of the time it is relatively low stress. I seldom take my work home with me and — as this article proves — I have plenty of free time to engage in other pursuits.

One of the primary benefits of working as ALT through a dispatch company is that you don’t need to deal directly with the bureaucrats at your school’s city board of education. Their own staff act as a buffer between you and the BOE executives.

Being a direct hire (or considering the option in your next ALT job search), where there is no such buffer, you have to learn to handle face-to-face dealings with BOE managers.

So today, I hope I can impart a bit of advice with some of my own experiences, thoughts and reflections on what I’ve encountered — and may have done differently — in my dealings with the city board to help keep them onside.

1. Respect the chain of command

One of the key aspects to consider when seeking to build good relationships with your board of education, lies in recognizing the difference between what you are legally entitled to do and what the BOE considers to be acceptable.

My own current contract, for example. Legally, I am entitled to 20 days of annual leave, to be taken any time.

However, if you decide to take two weeks off in the middle of a term, your BOE won’t be happy. There is, however, some room for negotiation in this regard — provided that you are reasonable about it.

Take my winter travel plans as an example. Officially, my winter vacation this year does not …continue reading


What is Japanese Obon?

Knowledge of Language is the Doorway to the Wisdom. ~Roger Bacon~

Picture from Pixabay

Hi everyone! Hope you are enjoying the month of August (Hachi gatsu, はちがつ,八月) . Hard to believe it’s already August where I feel like summer (Natsu, なつ, 夏 ) is approaching to the end, and we are about to start the fall (Aki, あき, 秋 )season before we know it.

Every year around this time of the year, I always miss back home (Japan, にほん, 日本) due to Obon(Obon, おぼん,お盆) festival. Obon lasts normally for 3 days. Obon is a major event during the summer in Japan as we welcome and honor the souls of our ancestors(Gosenzo sama no rei,ごせんぞさまのれい,ご先祖さまの霊) from the spiritual world. Some people translate the Obon to “Festivals of the Dead” but I don’t know if I quite like the translation. I would rather want to call it ” Festival of Souls” or even “Soul’s Day”.

During Obon, we often visit the graves (Ohaka mairi, おはかまいり,お墓参り ) as a family to clean the graves and also to replace the flowers at the graves with fresh ones. We then pray at the grave, thanking them for watching over us every day.

When Obon festival starts, which is normally around August 13th, we hang Japanese lanterns (Cho-chin, ちょうちん,提灯 ) outside of our house so the returning sprits can find their way to our home without getting lost. After 3 days of celebration, we then use floating lanterns (toro-nagashi, とうろうながし, 灯籠流し) in the river to send off ancestor’s spirits back. Floating lanterns are also believed to guide them back to where they came from.

As another way of sending off the sprits back, we celebrate Obon(Obon, おぼん,お盆) through Bon Odori(Bon dance,ぼんおどり, 盆踊り). Bon Odori is a Japanese dance celebration where we dance to our folk …continue reading


自転車の日記 – The Bicycle Diaries

Since last week’s post was all about the realization of a new life here, it is only fitting that this weeks post is concerned with the nature of that new life and all of the new adventures it brings. Naturally, the experience, as with every one, has not been an incredible, paradigm-shifting one, but just a general slice of life.

I have work at 8:20 every morning, and I normally wake up two hours to an hour-and-a-half beforehand. In that time, I shower, make breakfast, brush my teeth, dress myself and hop on my bike to make the five minute commute to work, and when the day is done I ride my bike around Kiryu before eventually making my way home. However, though this may sound mundane, it has been a rather interesting week of discovery in more ways than one.

Through this first week of routine, I have found my own rhythm to the mornings when I wake up. Like many other college students and recent graduates, I am still accustomed to the “work hard, play hard” school of thought which usually resulted in me waking up fifteen minutes before class began to then arrive on time in a huff of drowsiness, self-loathing, and frustration. However, I can no longer be afforded that lifestyle, and, as such, I have begun to go to bed at a reasonable hour and then awaken early enough to be prepared for the day. I shower after waking up, and then I make my breakfast, which consists of green tea, miso soup, rice, fried eggs, and some granola w/ dried fruit. In college, breakfast was almost a delicacy during the week, and it is astounding how much better my days start off now that I have made it a mainstay in my diet. I am …continue reading