Friday, August 6, 2010


Gosh, that title was kind of weird to write!

But yep, the time has come.

As I said in my sayonara speech to City Hall folks, it's been a great two years.

I'll miss the good friends I've made here -- both Japanese friends and other ALTs.
I'll miss living near the ocean and driving along side it.
I'll miss the fresh sushi and other seafood.
I'll miss hearing the shouts of "Dana Sensei!" as I walk down the street.

This list could go on, but the bottom line is...

I will miss Japan.

Of course there are things I won't miss, too. (Like little kids looking at me sometimes like I'm an alien, or the challenge of simple tasks due to the language barrier, or the lack of central heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.)

But overall, I have a wonderful experience here, and Japan--its people and its culture--will always have a special place in my heart.

It's been delightful sharing my Japanese life with my family sine Wednesday afternoon. They have been extremely busy, and I've worn them out by doing lots of: walking around Kuji, trying different foods, shopping, and meeting people. Mom and Deanne got to try on kimonos yesterday afternoon while Dad and Devon went to the beach. They've enjoyed their time here, just as I have.

Even though I've been saying goodbyes for the last few weeks, it still seems like today has come quickly! I'd like to leave Kuji by going out with a bang! So here are some photos I took of setting off fireworks with friends last week...
Goodbye, Kuji.

Or as my students always said...

"Seeeeee youuuuu!"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Fifty nifty United States..."

I've had a personal mission/game I've been playing for the last year and a half or so.

I noticed that in addition to wearing t-shirts with interesting/funny English, students were also sporting apparel of different U.S. states. So I decided to see how many of these state shirts I could get pictures of.

My total is 44 out of 50. Not bad. The six states I'm missing are: Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, and Vermont.

I've made a whole ablum of "U.S.A. t-shirts" that you can access by clicking on the title over on the right side. (Or you can click here.)

Here are a few of my favorites from the album...

"Come here, West Virginia..."

This boy could be part of the Lollipop Guild from The Wizard of Oz -- he has the same expression.

So. Precious.

I love the boy doing the army crawl in the background.

Preschool buddies--so cute!

And here are a few photos that aren't in the album because they're kids wearing t-shirts of countries...

Well, peace out for now...

In about 30 minutes I'm going to the station to welcome my family to Kuji! I'm excited to show them around and have them experience my Japanese life. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tidbits of culture

Just as it's hard to believe that my time as an ALT in Japan is coming to an end, it's also crazy to think that I've written over 260 blog posts about it!

Despite all the posts, there are still aspects of Japanese culture that I've failed to mention. So I want to write a little bit about three things that are very popular here:

The game "Rock, Paper, Scissors"

In Japanese, it's called "Jank-ken" (or Jan-ken-pon). And it's pretty much the way to decide anything and everything.

The game usually starts by both players chanting, "Saisho wa gu!" at the same time, (It means "Starting with the stone!") while pumping their fists. Then they shout, "Jan-ken-pon!" On "pon," they throw down either a rock, paper, or scissors. Ties are broken by two more fist pumps and "Aiko desho." ("Looks like a tie.")

So it's the same rules, just with a special chant.

There have been many, many times at elementary schools where I have taught the English version of the game, (a simple "Rock, paper, scissors, 1,2,3" instead of a chant) and there have been many, many lessons in which "rock, paper, scissors" was somehow incorporated.

The Backwards Park

I don't know why everyone parks backwards into a parking space. I guess it's to make a fast get-away? (It sure makes for a slow getting-in, though!)

But it seems that the backwards park is an unwritten rule here...

And it's a rule that I always break. I find it much easier to pull into a space and reverse out of it. Plus, it's easy to find my car when it's parked the opposite way as all the others. :) Dare to be different.


In Japan, there's a recycling pick-up day--like trash day--that's once a month. Plus, there are recycling bins at the front of grocery stores and outside of convenience stores.

In my apartment, I have a little recycling can beside my trash can...

Also pictured is my "eco bag" that I take with me when I go shopping. :)

I've developed some good environmental-friendly habits while living in Japan, and I plan to take those with me wherever I live next.