Category Archives: TEACHING

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

    

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

    

日本で新しい最初 – New Beginnings in Japan

It should be obvious that this past week brought forth a slew of new beginnings in my life. The beginning of the 14 hour flight from New York to Tokyo, and the beginning of the jet lag that followed. The beginning of my new cell phone plan, apartment lease, and job contract, as I settle into my new home in Kiryu. The beginning of new relationships with my coworkers and newfound friends in my town, as well as the beginning of a new era in my friendship with my native Japanese friends from Geneseo. In the most succinct way possible, this week marked the beginning of a new life for me.

The American bank accounts have been closed, the car sold, and the goodbyes said, replaced with Japanese bank accounts, a bike, and new hellos. I am truly beginning this new life, and only now has it begun to set it, six days after arriving in Tokyo, and four after coming to Kiryu.

As I write this, there is a festival whose own beginning shall come at the arrival of dusk, and I will soon be partaking in the festivities to take in new experiences. I feel this event shall play a major part in the differentiation of my life in Japan from my life in America. Festivals exist in each country, but Japanese matsuri are a much different beast from the American carnival or festival. Over here, festivals exist for everything from the blooming of sakura trees in spring, to the celebration of the new year, and even the casting out of the demons in February; while we may have similar ideas behind American holidays such as Halloween and Easter, these Japanese styles of celebration emphasize the roles of spirituality and tradition in a more overt fashion than the undertones …continue reading

    

Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you’re single

Source: Gaijin Pot
Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you're single

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year. As the songs say, it is a time for joy, a time for family, a time for presents and various other forms of merriment.
In Japan however, Christmas is very much about families and in particular couples.

Perhaps even more so than Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time of year in Japan when couples fully express their love for each other, usually in the form of elaborate, extravagant dinners and over the top gifts.

However, for some, it can be a very depressing time. If you’re single, Christmas can be a pretty depressing time. It can often seem like you are the only man or woman in the entire universe who doesn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

And even for those of us lucky enough to be in a relationship, Christmas can often be a solitary experience in Japan, as our Japanese partner, and sometimes even us too, are forced to work on Christmas Day, since Christmas is not a recognized holiday here.

It would be very easy to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on the whole thing, just say “Bah! Humbug!” and try to forget Christmas even exists. It doesn’t have to …continue reading