Sunday, March 29, 2009


Guest's slippers lined up outside the dining room in a Japanese hotel (Ryokan).

The school year in Japan begins in April and ends in March. From April this year I will be a full time member of staff at a private high school in Nagoya. Responsibilities and the exciting chance to do lots of unpaid overtime abound! I have been asked to develop some form of international communication/exchange (more on that in another post) and on top of many other things I must take part in the various committees and meetings that exist outside the classroom. One of these is the 青年部 (sei-nen-bu = young teachers group).

I was 36 this march, but the sei-nen-bu does not concern itself simply with age. Most new teachers to the school have automatic membership and the purpose of the group is to support these new members using the perhaps over relied upon 'Senpai-Cohai' (senior-junior) method. Last Friday, the group went on it's end of year 'Gasshuku', a drinking session cleverly disguised as a training meeting, where teachers old and new discussed their successes and failures throughout the past year in front of the new staff (four nervous looking university graduates).

It's an exciting time for me. I always wanted to know just how far I could get on my own ability, not just selling my foreignness. The photography studio work was one experience that proved to me that some people just think about the way you work, not just about your nationality. Now I have a job with roughly the same contract as the Japanese teachers again given to me on the basis of hard work not just nationality. In the current economic climate I thought that this was a very brave move by the school. I am a little sad that I had to drop the studio work, but having a child changes things dramatically and there are always opportunities in new situations.

I arrived late for the meetings. My lift was held up at school with re-tests, whereas my one re-test student finished by 10am. The dinner and the after dinner party were fairly routine but good fun. I look to the new year with some trepidation but mostly with the feeling that here is a chance to learn and produce something worthwhile.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Parade?

The Nagoya St. Patrick's Day parade takes place on two roads in the covered shopping streets between Osu and Kamimaezu. The parade starts at Osu Cannon Temple and heads east, then makes a U-turn and heads back.
While walking east, I decided to skip to the parallel street and skirt the crowd to get to the front of the parade. Instead, I ran into the 'Free Tibet' march being held in the same shopping arcade at the same time as the parade. "What would be the chance of them bumping into each other?", I thought.
Sadly the Tibet group passed by the road that the St. Patrick's group were to exit from two minutes too fast for there to be a meeting. I think that the Tibet march leader started walking that bit faster when I asked him about the likelihood of an encounter. I must have sounded too much like a culture/political paparazzi.

And then the final mystery, the Indian film crew. One guy with a digital movie camera and an actor using the parade as a backdrop, walking around and looking bemused/aloof/mystical etc etc. What were they attempting to suggest with this location? Never got time to ask, but one of the assistants told me that the Japanese girl who was sometimes in shot was the (ex?) miss Japan. More mystery.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ultraman to the rescue

In response to the PRK's (supposedly) forthcoming missile test, Japan has unveiled it's latest in a new series of micro missiles, the Ultraman 1! This will in turn destroy any airborne threat and give the cute factor to this whole ugly arms business. A crowd-pleaser all round!

Monday, March 02, 2009


The economic slump is hitting the home-grown fast food market it seems. I am sure that the Gyu-don O-mori is smaller than it used to be. Boiled strips of cow meat flavored with onions and sauce on top of a bed (futon?) of rice. A raw egg mixed in for the extra flavor. The chain 'Yoshinoya' even has a stamp card to reward loyal customers. They must be the people we hear about so much on T.V, those sufferers of 'Metabo' (Metabolic Syndrome).
Me? Just late home after the full day then a part time job, making the end meat.