Category Archives: TEACHING

Song of the Week 27 – “Put ’em Up”

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“Put ’em Up” by Amuro Namie

This week’s song comes to us courtesy of Malcolm Harper. At the end of our interview, he had this to say about his song choice:

This was the very first Japanese song I ever heard, and it was this song that got me interested in Japanese music. It also introduced me to Amuro Namie, who became my favorite Japanese singer. I figure if I have to choose a song to reflect this interview, this is most appropriate. Without it, I may not have been interested enough to come work in Japan.

This song went along with this week’s interview.

Check out the full post here!




The post Song of the Week 27 – “Put ’em Up” appeared first on Memoirs of a Gaijin.

…continue reading


Malcolm Harper – How to travel, teach, improve each day, and thrive all around the world

Last week I sat down in Maebashi, Gunma with Malcolm Harper, traveling teacher and bon vivant, to talk all about his travels, lifetime enthusiasm for Japanese, and the differences he has found between the American and Japanese school systems. His thought on these matters and more are articulate, steadfast, and impactful.

Mr. Harper’s class is now in session, so come sit down and get ready to learn!

Getting to Know Mr. Harper

So Malcolm, give me an elevator pitch for yourself

That’s a good question. Well, my name is Malcolm Harper, and I wake up every morning and ask myself “How can I do better than yesterday?” In my heart I believe that despite mistakes and other things that may have happened in the past, it is necessary to learn from those and improve.

So every day, I wake up and put this philosophy into practice.

So where in the world do you wake up now?

Right now I am waking up every day, or at least I should be waking up every day, in Isesaki, Gunma, right here in the middle of beautiful Japan. I can see a lot of that beauty in the mountains that surround me, such as Akagi, Haruna, and Asama.

However, before I came here, I woke up every single other day of my life in Wichita, Kansas.

Really, you woke up every single other day in Wichita?

Well, maybe not every day, but the majority of them. I’ve made sure to travel around a fair amount.

What places did you see before coming to Japan?

Traveling has always been a passion of mine, and I am fortunate enough to have been able to pursue that passion on several occasions. I have been to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and I lived in Mexico for a semester during college.

And while I have been …continue reading


Song of the Week 26 – “Hell Patrol”

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“Hell Patrol” by Judas Priest

Last Week I bought a ticket to Download Japan, a metal festival being held in Tokyo on March 21st. I bought the ticket to see Ghost in concert for the first time, but I have not listened to any of the actual headliners, which includes Judas Priest and Slayer.

It felt almost blasphemous to see these two metal icons in concert without at least listening to them a little beforehand, so I have spent the last week listening to a lot of Judas Priest, especially the Painkiller album.

I can’t believe how long it took me to finally listen to them, but I suppose it’s better later than never. “Hell Patrol” is probably my favorite off the album, though that is not to disparage the other songs. I simply love the ring of the chorus as the demons all scream “THE HELL PATROL!!!!!!”

Sometimes it’s just the simple things in life.

This song went along with this week’s post.

Check out the full post here!



The post Song of the Week 26 – “Hell Patrol” appeared first on Memoirs of a Gaijin.

…continue reading


Song of the Week 25 – “My Shot”

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“My Shot” performed by Lin Manuel Miranda in Hamilton

Just like JP did with his J-Pop song, Valerie has finally added a second Musical song to the playlist! I’m kicking myself for not adding this sooner, but Valerie has beaten me to it.

“I feel like this song is basically us in JET. As expats here to teach, we are taking our shot and making sure not to throw it away. We may have come from different places but we are all taking our own shots and rising up.

We don’t know what’s coming but we are all holding on to our opportunity, and we’ll each have to wait and see how the history books mention us later.”

This song went along with this week’s post.

Check out the full post here!



The post Song of the Week 25 – “My Shot” appeared first on Memoirs of a Gaijin.

…continue reading


Valerie Landers – Expatriate Princess

Valerie Landers is easily one of the most memorable people I have met in Japan.

As a six-foot, sassy and opinionated African American woman with dreadlocks, she provides a stark contrast from the homogeneity of the Gunma countryside. And she always has something to say, be it nonsensical or heartfelt.

Last week, I traveled out to Tomioka, Gunma to sit down and pick her brain on what it means to be such an iconoclast. We discussed the sights of Gunma, life among other anglophones, being black in Japan, and how expectations work out (or don’t)

Come sit down and hear her what she has to say!

If you had to give an elevator pitch for yourself, what do you think you would say?

I don’t know if it’s a good pitch, but I am a “Goose-Mouse-Princess.” A goose because I’m ridiculous, a mouse because I am small and scared a lot but still try anyways, and a princess because I pretty much think of myself as a princess in my own world. And part of that ties into being rescued because I am as scared as a mouse.

Perhaps a strange combination, but I find it works for me.

Then I have to ask, where did you rule before you came to Tomioka?

Before coming here, I ruled in the DMV, which means D.C.-Maryland-Virginia for any non-locals. I generally tell people that I am from D.C. because most people haven’t heard of Prince George’s County, the suburban Maryland area where I grew up.

But now I’m in Tomioka, Gunma, the best town in the best prefecture in all of Japan. It’s definitely underrated, but since August 2016 I have been working to put it on the map.

So was Gunma on your radar when you first applied to the JET Program?

I have to admit that when I first got my …continue reading