frellnik: (Default)
We (ALTs) were all hoping to find out, yesterday, if our base schools would be changing and if we'd have to move apartments in August.  We were told that due to lack of information they couldn't tell us anything.

Apparently Iwaki is supposed to get 4 new ALTs in July/August and we only have 2.  There were three but one pulled out. These people don't even know that they will be posted in Iwaki. No one has been told their placements yet. So we are 2 ALTs short at this point and because of that we are stuck in limbo. All the new ALTs will be teaching Junior High School. 

I really want to know if I am going to have to move. It's a possibility because of how isolated I was after the earthquake and how when I hurt my back I basically had to wait 2 hours for Kodama Sensei and Takahama Sensei to get to me to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital.  If I had been living in Onahama there would have been 3 other ALTs that could have come over to help me and I, at least, wouldn't have been alone for those 2 hours.

That being said, I really like my town and my apartment and really don't want to move.  But moving to Onahama would put me with other ALTs and I'd have more people to hang out with.  So ...mixed feelings.

I just wish we could know for sure. I hate all this waiting.  I'm sure the new ALTs are all going crazy waiting to find out their placements! Last year I knew by the end of April where I was going.  I hope things get sorted out soon!!!


in other news, I re-arranged my apartment last night. well, the living room/kitchen anyways.  Moved my kitchen table closer to the stairs so that I could move my couch perpendicular from where it was, taking up the space where the kitchen table used to be.  Then I moved my bed/futon from my bedroom out into the livingroom where the couch used to be so that I can use the AC to stay cool at night. It's a bit cramped now, but still pretty good, and I can sleep at night!

Well I need to leave for school now and I'm still not ready...

Have a good night all! and those of you in Iwaki, have a good day at work!

frellnik: (Default)
Yesterday I learned to always have fun songs on hand to sing as back up in the Izumi class. The Izumi clas has about 12 students from gr.1 through 6. They are students with special needs.
Yesterday I taught the grade 5s and the Izumi class. We focussed on Food.  So for the Izumi class I mostly focussed on vocabulary since Grammar is a bit beyond the younger kids.

I started the class with a song (The pizza hut song) and we sang it 4 times and then tried it getting faster and until it was too fast.
After singing we did vocab. I had 13 cards and I got the kids to repeat the words after me and then I asked them to tell me what each one is in Japanese and then to tell me in English again.  Then we played the key-word game.  I choose a key-word, a word we've practiced today, and they kids repeated after me and when I said the key word they kids had to be the first to grab the eraser off the desk.    We played about 6 rounds but the youngest kids weren't winning much and they were getting frustrated so I figured it was time to do something else.

So I sang another song with them - a clapping song.  The title is "it's not hard I tell you so".  We started out really slow and went through each clapping pattern a few times to make sure the kids got it.  Then we sang the song about 4 times and each time was a little faster than the last.

At the end of class we went over the new vocab words again one last time.  It was different from my normal classes. I think these kids are going to learn a lot of songs!  Does anyone have any tips for teaching kids with disabilites? Most of my lessons are foccused mostly on vocab with games and songs.  It's also difficult because the kids are all different ages and grades.

My other classes yesterday went great as well.  I had to move one of my clsses up because I had to leave school at noon to go to Taira for meetings at the BOE.  My last class was scheduled to finish at 12:25 and I had to catch the 12:50 train which would have been cutting it really close.  

I caught the 12:50 train to Taira and ended up in the sam car as the JETs from Ueda.  We were told at the meeting that all the Junior High ALTs will be able to come back next year but that 7 elementary school ALTs will be cut due to budget cuts.  School visits by the BOE will start next week.  They will be looking to see how our classes go and how well we are liked at the schools. From that they are going to try and figure out which ALTs to ask back next year.  So I'll do my best and hope that I get picked to stay next year.

After the BOE meeting a bunch of us went to Candi's place for a potluck dinner party.  There were about 14 of us in total throughout the evening.  It was a lot of fun. We went to the grand opening of a new pet shop that opened up right next to Candi's apartment building.  I got to hold a baby short haired rabbit. It was so cute! It fit in the palm of my hand.  Then Candi asked me if I could interpret for her and help her buy a baby bird.  (I forget which kind...but it can learn to talk, it's white with yellow feathers..and this one is an albino so it has red eyes.)

So I spent about 30 minutes asking questions for her and relating the info back to her and she picked her baby up from the shop sometime today. IT's adorable.  It's only a month old which is too young to know what sex it is.. I got to hold it and use my fingers as a ladder and it alked around on my sholders.  The bird is so young that it has to be fed with a syringe .  Add warm water to the bird seed to make a paste and use the syringe to feed it to the bird.  It also has a little nest with a "lid" that he has to stay in unless Candi is playing with it or feeding it.    She has to feed it 3 times a day four hours apart and since she has to work all day, she has to feed it at night and have it sleep all day.  So she has to geed it at 5pm, 9pm and 1am, for the next two weeks. Then she can get a cage for it and start feeding it regular food.  And she's going to teach it to talk.

I feel very accomplished as I was able to help with all the info she needed to take care of the bird. It was awesome!

I hung out at Candi's place with everyone until about 8:20 when I headed out for the 25 minute walk to the train station. I caught the 8:50 train home to Izumi. Then I watched Armageddon in Japanese (it was on tv) and I cried again.  

Today I spent the morning chatting with friends in Ottawa (ended up spending almost 2 and a half hours on the phone with Matt) and to [ profile] ninja007 and then I went shopping. Found some plastic drawers to keep all my papers in.  On the way home I stopped to play jump rope with some of the kids from school. Their mom came to join us and we talked for a bit.  She had a bag of mini tomatos that she had just picked from her garden.  I ended up taking them home with me. lol  They look really good.

I spent the evening sorting all the papers I had accumulated and put quite a bit into one of the drawers...tomorrow I'm going to clean the floors, and maybe the shower...then I'm going to do the rest of my laundry.  But first, I'll be calling my mom and Kirstin.  Can't wait to say hi to people I miss!

I'm enjoying my 3 day weekend! 

frellnik: (Default)
Yesterday I woke up and it was a beautiful 21C. I slept without the AC that night and last night too! My apartment stayed at 24 degrese even with the windows shut! It was supposed to rain yesterday and today...but it didn't. Not a cloud in the sky. But it has stayed cool and not humid which is really nice and I feel much better now.  I taught grade 6 yesterday. I used my first period spare to get my teaching materials together and plan out how I was going to run the classes. Then I spent the rest of the period writing out my schedule for what grade at what school on what day in my planner so I would know at a glance what I will be doing when. It is hard to keep track because the two schools are at different lessons for the same grades. lol
I even put stickit notes in my curriculum guide (which is divided up by grades) so that I can keep track of whch lesson I taught at which school for each grade.

I ate lunch with one of the grade 1 classes. They are so small!  The stool I sat on was the same height as their desks! Cute!  They had lots of questions for me. I wish I'd get to teach them, but this school's first and second grades don't get English class.

After lunch I had another spare so I printed off an application form for go lloyds so that I can send money home. It will only cost me 2000 yen (about $20) for each money transfer...which is much cheaper than at the bank or post office.

I found out school starts a lot later than I thought after the New Year. Classes start Jan 11. Brings back fond memories of when I was in elemntary school and school would start on the 7th or 8th instead of the 2nd or 3rd that it has the past few years. So I'm happy for the extended vacation!  Also, the Canadian Thanksgiving Day just happens to land on a holiday in Japan.  I'll have to check with the other Canadians in Iwaki and see if they want to do a Thanksgiving Dinner on Oct. 11.

So yesterday went really well. The kids all had fun and I got to give out a few stickers.  We played the key-word game and fruit basket and a bit of pair work for conversation.  The lesson was about buildings and places in the city.  "Where is the...." "I'll show you" "Thank you" "Your welcome"
I was fun.

Today I got to school all set to teach my self-intro to the 4 different grade 3 classes only to find out that instead I'm only teaching 2 periods because they've doubled up the classes to give time to have an extra Japanese class. that means I have a LOT of free time.  So I taught 1st period and 5th period. And as it turns out...on Fridays, 5th period is before lunch.  So I spent a lot of today reading and studying.  

You know, for the amount of money they are paying me...I really don't do much. I did more work when I was in University. I really have nothing to complain about, but sometimes I wish I had a bit more to do. Yesterday I had things to do and I was busy for most of the day. I think I ended up with about 30 minutes of free I guess today made up for that. lol

I went to the post office after school today to mail a letter to a friend in Ottawa. It only cost me 110 yen ($1.10). I was told it should take a week or so to get there.  That's really cheap because the same size mail got to me earlier this week and the postage was $2 from the same person I'm sending my letter to.  Amazing how expensive Canada post is compared to Japanese post. lol  

At 2pm, all the kids when home. I could here kids calling my name...or more precisely, English Teacher. So when I went to the dor there was a group of kids waiting to bye to me...which led to high fives...which let to a mass of kids waiting for individual high fives and goodbyes! Sometimes I feel like a celebrity... this was one of those times. Not to mention the hand made gifts that the kids keep giving me out of the blue. 

It's only been 3 weeks but I really like my job.

frellnik: (Default)
Today was my first day at Izumi Elementary school. I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get to school because I had only been there once before and I went by car.  So I left my home at 7:20 instead of 7:35 so I would have extra time in case I got lost.  I went to the 7/11 and got myself lunch and 2 L of water. 

I biked to school.  I biked to the train tracks where I had to walk by bike up the special stairs (there is a smooth path in the middle of the stairs for bikes to be pushed up and down) and at the top of the stairs is an over pass...then back down the stairs on the other side. That was tiring!  Then I biked down one road and turned up another. That road was all uphill. I made it about halfway up the long road and then had to walk.  I passed a very steep staircase that the kids use to go to school rather than go the long way around by the roads.  At the entrance to the school grounds I stopped and looked up.  The school is on top of a frickin mountain!!  I had to walk my bike up the mountain side!!!  I thought I was going to die! I had to stop twice to catch my breath. By the time I got to the top of the mountain I was drenched! Friday, when I go back, I will be bringing a change of clothes!  

Coming home was easy though!  I didn't have to peddle until I was close to the over pass...I had to keep my breaks on the entire time!

I taught grade 6 today. I had four classes back to back.  After lunch I had nothing to do but study Japanese.  All the grade 6 classes were fun. Some laughed more than others and some asked a lot more questions than others. I asked everyone to introduce themselves to me once my self introduction was finished.  The 6-1 class decorated their blackboard to welcome me! They drew pictures  and wrote me messages! Then they all clapped and cheered when I walked into the classroom. I couldn't help it, I started laughing! I was really happy! They thought it was amazing that I could read their messages when they used Kanji. The teacher took a few pictures of me standing in front of the blackboard showcasing the drawings and messages.  I had to erase some of it to use the board for my self-introduction.

When I finished my intro - the 6-1 lass had written thier own short self-introductions for me and they each stood up and introduced themselves. I wasn't expecting that because none of the other classes had done that.

Also, my brother, Eric, is a huge hit in all my classes.  I have a picture of Eric taken at Jon's party and he's dressed like a Hawaiian pirate! The kids love him and they all want to meet him! I tell them that he is very tall and big (like a wall) and that he is very strong! I act out trying to push my brother across the room (like Eric and I used to do when we were younger) and how he just stands there and I can't move him even an inch.  He just holds his hand out and keeps me from moving and calling me weak.  The kids think it's hilarious! Then I tell them that he can seem scary at time, especially when you first meet him because he's so big and strong  but that he's actually really nice. I explain the expression "he's a teddy bear" in relation to Eric. 
Later when I explain what a moose is and show the class a picture of how big a moose is and tell a story about how strong a moose is but that they are really gentle creatures, the kids start laughing because that's how I described Eric (Big, strong, nice/gentle)


Eric, if you come here you will be very popular! Bring the Pirate hat!! :)

At lunch I ate in the teachers room with some of the teachers and we talked about Canada and how I'm adapting to Japan and stuff.  I've gotten into the habbit of telling everyone I'm allergic to tea becasue people keep leaving me glasses of tea on my desk for me with ice and I can't drink it.  I dislike tea and coffee so much that what I manage to swallow always makes a reappearance. I think most of the teachers at Izumi have figured it out now.

After lunch I watched the marching band and colour parade practice.  In the front of the parade are 4 students carrying big flags that they have patterns they make with the flags. Next is the Baton master? Followed by the drums. Behind the drums are keyboards andthen brass instruments followed by these little keyboard type things that you have to blow into while pressing the keys in order to get any sound.  Then comes the pom pom carriers (red and yellow) followed by the colour flags (green, blue, red and yellow) and they have movement patterns to follow too. Behind them are two more baton masters.  It's really neat to watch!   

They will be performing at noon on Sunday at the sports festival. I just found out that Izumi Kita Elementary (my base school) will also be perfoming there too. I know where I will be on Sunday!

Now I'm at home catching up on e-mails and once again chatting with [ profile] ninja007 

haha! Oh yeah, Yesterday I sent an e-mail to Mauler and Rush on Hot 89.9 radio station in Ottawa.  I wanted to request a song but didn't know how to do it without picking up the phone to call the station. I looked on the web site and couldn't find an e-mail for the station..just for the individual DJs.  So I sent him an e-mail explaining who I am and that I'm from Kanata and I moved to Japan...I listen online...yada they read my e-mail on the air (I was listening) and they didn't asnwer my question! They said something about I should be able to do it online...but didn't give me any info...then I get an e-mail back thanking me for the e-mail and telling me they read it on the air. LOL  So I guess I just can't make requests! lol  I laughed when I listened to the show. Rush said, "you know what I like about this e-mail? She didn't ask us to do anything! She just said hi!" LOL  They told me to say hi to Japan for them! I love those guys! they're awesome :)
ETA:  Just to give you an idea of how hot it is here.
 When I lived in Canada I had to go to the bathroom at least every 2 hours...I'd be lucky if I made it through a movie at the theatre without having to go to the bathroom in the middle of it.  Today I went around 7am and I drank 2 L of water at school and I didn't even think about going to the bathroom until about 3:30pm!  It's too frelling hot here!  It's unusual. They haven't had this kind of heat in about 60 years they said. Unfortunately, that doesn't make me feel any better lol.


Aug. 31st, 2010 04:47 am
frellnik: (Default)
I love grade 5s!!  They are awesome! They're enthusiastic, talkative, willing to ask questions! They were easy to make laugh and entertain.  The grade 6s were afaid to ask questions yesterday. Today we ran out of time in every class because of so many questions! It was amazing! 

So today went really well.  I taught 5 classes. Third period I had free because the kids were swimming.  So I used that time to write a letter to a friend and study Japanese a bit.  I also talked to my advisor about making name tags for the kids with squares on the back for stickers. When the kids win a game or answer my English questions correctly or volunteer to talk in front of the classs then they get a sticker. At the end of the year, the kids with the most stickers get a special prize.  Incentives :)

Tomorrow I will go to teach at my other school for the first time.  I am hoping that I'll be able to do my Self-Introduction there too.  I have to leave earlier because the school is farther away and I have to go to 7/11 to buy lunch which is in the other direction.  lol  I'd go now but the food doesn't stay fresh long. if I buy it now it will get hard before lunch time.  So I'll have to wait until morning.  It's not far though so it should only add a few minutes total to my route.  But there are lots of hills and my school is at the top of a mountain.  I'll have to walk my bike at least half the way. lol  There is even a part where There is a stair case that I have to climb and a bridge to cross the train tracks then go down the stairs on the other side...with my bike.  There is a smooth ramp in the middle of the staircase for me to push my bike along.  It's tiring. I'll be in good shape with all the hills and stairs in Izumi.

I need to find a post office...I need to mail a letter. lol

OH! Today a little boy asked me if I had a boyfriend. When I told him I didn't, he told me to keep trying and do my best! LOL!!! I had to hold my breath to keep from laughing until he was gone. He was so cute.  He was so serious too! lol  I love kids. 

Talking with Dom again! It's nice to have someone to talk to when I get home from work! lol  I'm lucky she's an insomniac or I'd have nobody to talk to most days. it's about 4:45am back in Ottawa so all my friends are asleep...or at least they should be lol.

So I wish you all a good day today! My day was awesome! I'm hoping tomorrow will be just as good!
Take care everyone!
frellnik: (Default)

Last night I left my AC on all night set at 18C on the weakest setting and I slept great.  I think I’ll do that until it cools down enough that I can sleep without it.  Right now it’s 29C but there is a nice breeze coming in through the open windows so it feels pretty good (although I’m not moving around much right now). Now that the sun is setting a bit and it’s not right overhead beating down on us, it feels a lot cooler outside.

I thought of another random fact I wanted to share with everyone.  You get your bills in the mail (gas, electricity, water, etc.) and you bring them to either the post office or the Convenience Store (7/11 or Lawson, etc.) to pay them.  I got my electricity bill in the mail the other day (just under $30 bucks for the month…which is more than most of the other JETS because I live with the AC on lol) and I brought it to the corner store last night and paid it at the counter. There is a barcode on the bill and they scan it and it brings up the amount for you to pay and then they stamp it and you get a receipt and then you’re done. easy.

So today the Principals of all the schools in Iwaki had a meeting at the Culture Centre and we (all the ALTs) were brought into their meeting in the morning and introduced to all of them.  We were also told today that the Japanese government is trying to save money so they are downsizing the JET program a little every year. They are scaling back the English programmes at school. So last year English was taught starting at grade 1. This year English is being taught to grade 3 and higher…next year will be grade 5.  So if not enough people decide to go home at the end of this year then some of us will be “laid off” at the end of the year.  I know 3 people for sure who are not coming back next year…but I don’t know how many places will be cut at the end of the year.  So Each school has to make reports on our progress and how efficient we are throughout the year and the best will be renewed and the others will be renewed if there is space. So it looks like no new ALTs will be hired next year to come to Iwaki.

We had a 2 hour lunch break today! Chelsea and I went to Yamani Book store in Taira on our lunch break so I could get a Kanji work book for the JLPT level 2 and she could get an application form for the JLPT.  Apparently Chelsea bought the last copy of the book I wanted and they hadn’t restocked so the clerk put the book on order for me.  It should come in sometime in the next 3 or 4 days.  They’ll call me when it’s in.  After we ate we went to city hall to pick up our ID cards.  I now have my health insurance card and my Alien Registration card (never leave home without it!). lol

After lunch we had time to work on our Self Introductions, so I finished laminating my pictures.  Then we went back to city hall to meet the Mayor.  We got into the room and were told where to sit.  The chairs were more like little one seater arm chairs. Very low to the ground.  They were comfy, but hard to get out of.   

A cell phone in Japanese is called a Keitai [kay tie].  Eden had pulled his keitai out to turn it off so it wouldn’t ring during our meeting with the Mayor. Of course it made a noise when he turned it off.  So Mr. Takahama saw this and told us all to “please set your keitai to stun.” At which point every one of us started laughing, including Mr. Takahama. Then came all the star trek jokes and wishing our keitais really did have a stun setting lol.  Mr. Takahama is a big fan of all the Star Treks. But his favourite is the original.

After meeting the Mayor we went back to the Culture Centre and we continued working on our self introductions. I was finished so I got permission to go home…after I went to the BOE to pick up my parcel that was still sitting on someone’s desk.  So I did.  When I got back to Izumi with my big box and was on the escalator I heard someone behind me say “how you doing?”  I half turned around and saw a guy dressed in almost a Hawaiian shirt and hat lol.  I told him I was good and asked how he was. He told me he was “super duper!” LOL!  I told him I liked that. He asked me where I was from and then welcomed me to Fukushima.  Izumi is his hometown lol.  He asked me if I needed help with my box and I told him I was ok. It wasn’t as heavy as it looked (sweaters and a picture frame).

On my way home from the station I passed a group of elementary school kids playing. One girl said “hello” to me so I said hello back which caused them all to giggle.  I asked her “how are you?” and she asked her friends in Japanese what to say. One of them told her the answer quietly and then she told me “I’m fine thank you. I’m Manasomething. and you?”  I told her my name and then in Japanese I told her that her English was good. Then  I asked them what they were doing and she told me that they were playing Dodge Ball.  I said have fun and she said thank you and I kept walking.  I got around the corner and I heard her run after me and tell me to wait.  So I stopped and turned back to her as her friends came around the corner and she asked me if I was going to teach at Izumi Kita Elementary school. I told her I was and everyone got really excited and she and her friend both said, at the same time, that they go to Izumi Kita Elementary school.  They are in 5th grade (4th class and 5th class) and that I absolutely must go to their class to teach English. lol   I told them I would be in their class next Tuesday.  Then Mana made me promise to say hi to her when I get there…I told her I may not remember her name because Japanese names are hard for me but that I would do my best. I think I’ll remember it though. Mana is the short version of her name.

So after that cheerful welcome I smiled the entire way home! lol  I’m still smiling! I would have asked to play dodge ball with them but I had that big box in my arms and the longer I was holding it the heavier it got….I was also wearing formal wear and didn’t want to get dirty.  So I’ll settle for seeing them in class lol.  Tomorrow is the first day of the semester and I have to give my speech in front of the whole school.  I have my speech finished.  I’m going to try to memorize it tonight, or at least part of it.  It’s just over 2 minutes.

Oh, I found more tv channels last night, including one that plays English movies. It’s weird, when I tried those channels a week or so ago they were just black. Then last night they were only the top right part of the screen while the rest of the screen was full of menus and stuff…then when I went through them again later they all looked like any other channels I have.  I don’t understand it but I’m happy to have them! BS 1 and BS 2 often show Disney movies.

Anyway, I think that’s it for today.   This turned out longer than I was expecting.  I got a post card in the mail today from the internet company confirming that they will come in the afternoon of the 29th so I will get my internet set up on Sunday! YAY!!!! That’s when I’ll be posting this. lol  Take care everyone!


frellnik: (Default)
Tuesday the 17th!  I guess most people back home are sleeping's 1:30am in Ottawa...and oh, only 10:30 pm in I guess Dom is still up.  Hi Dom!!  Sorry I can't chat...the library computers don't have msn.

So yesterday I went and saw a kids movie at theatres.  It was about a wasp named Hachi (wasp) who whose hive was attacked by hornets when he was a baby.  He was taken to safety but his mother (the queen) was captured by the hornets.  She promised him they would see each other again.  So he is trying to find his mother  by looking for the hornets and ends up in a small town. He makes some friends and then he meets a human girl.  She's afraid of bugs...but she can understand HAchi (and all the other bugs too...).  SHe was playing her harmonica and Hachi like the sound so he followed the sound and got stuck in her hair.  Anyway....she decides to help him find his mother. It's a really good story. I cried...once. lol   And I was able to understand about 90% of it. 

When you buy movie tickets in Japan you don't buy them at a buy them from a vending machine.  All the tickets are pay a different price depending on your age (child, student, adult, senior) and then there is ladies day (Friday) and Mens day....ect.   There is always someone working at the vending machines and you give them the money and they get your tickets for you.  I made the guy working there laugh when I told him what movie I wanted to see.  I was expecting it and laughed with him. 

After the movie I had 25 minutes until the train, so I went to Ito Yokado and bought a futon for about $150.  It's wonderful!  I can't feel the bar in the couch now!  I slept great last night...except for the heat that kept waking me up.  Mom, I changed my mind. Don't come visit me in August...we'll both be uncomfortable trying to sleep at night.  And you'll probably die during the day.  Come for Chritmas instead! lol

Today has been a nice slow day. I didn't do anything but read until noon and then I showered and ate and came out to Taira to come to the library.  I will be meeting Sam to go see The Scorceror's apprentice at 4:40 (in 2 hours) and then I will go to the grocery store on the first floor of LATOV before going home. 

Tomorrow I meet the teachers at my base school. I'm a bit nervous about that...  Then Thursday is another training day.  Friday-Sunday I'll be in Aizu (a few hours from here) for a japanese course with Home Stay.  I'm looking forward to that and hopefully I will have internet access while staying with my host family.  Should be able to chat for a little bit maybe.

So that's it for today.  Have to check my e-mail yet..and I'm once again down to 18 minutes. lol  that seems to be my magic number.

Take care everyone!
frellnik: (Default)

I got a library card today and I can use the library internet for on hour at a time! YAY!! Internet!!! I have 18 minutes left on this session so I have to type fast! lol

Monday and Tuesday I went to Fukushima for the orientation...I'm pretty sure I mentioned it. It was ok...not that interesting.  Some of it was really helpful.  Some of it was kinda boring. There was no section for Elemntary teachers and that angered alot of us...quite a few of us are only teaching Elemntary schools.

Then on Wednesday we all took a bus up to Koriyama to get our Alien Registration cards.  The bus ride took about 90 minutes each way and cost about 15 bucks (1500 yen) each way. We were told it could take up to 4 hours to get everything processed so we should leave early.  So we took the 7:15 bus from Iwaki station.  That meant I had to leave home at 6:15 to catch the 6:24 train to Iwaki from Izumi.  I did it! No problem.  So we get to Koriyama Shiakusho stop and we get off the bus and make our way to where we need to go...and there on the corner of the street is the Soka Gakkai Koriyama Chuo Culture Centre! Holy crap!  Soka Gakkai (SGI) is my religion and I had been wondering how to get involved with it in Japan and where I could go for meetings and stuff.   So we went to get our paper work done and it didn:t take 4 hours.  It took....45 minutes!  HAHA! yeah!  It involved filling out paper work and then going to the post office to pay for the paper work and then going back and handing it in and then it was processed in 10 minutes flat!  Crazy!

So we were finished by 10:15am.  So I went to the SGI Culture Centre and explained my situation and they were so eager to help me that they called the Fukushima main centre and that centre sent us a fax with a map and phone number for the Iwaki City Culture Centre.  Then they invited me in for drinks and we talked for about 3 hours! They even fed me lunch (cup ramen) and then we chanted for about 5 minutes.  Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with me.  These were older ladies and had never met anyone from Canada before and we really happy to talk to me (in Japanese ) about Canada and anything else (how I became an SGI member and why I speak Japanese, etc)  Then I was walked to the bus stop where I could get the bus back to Iwaki.  It was an amazing day!

Thursday I went Zahn's house for the day in Ueda and hung out and watched tv.

Friday I didn:t leave the house.  It was nice. I stayed in and had fun.  Or was that Saturday....that was Saturday.  Friday I went to Taira and went to see Toy Story 3 with Sam.


Today I walked to the Soka Gakkai Centre here in Taira (Iwaki) and met Saitou san and Honda San.  We talked for a bit and I was told I need an SGI Introduction Card from Canada and that I should contact one of the Ottawa Members to find out more.  They were really nice though and they drove me to the Washington hotel so I could use the internet there.  The learning centre was closed though, so I walked to Latov where the library is and got my library card.  So I think that:s it for now.

I am pretty sure I wrote my address wrong when I gave it to people before coming to Japan so I am going to post the correct version of it here.

The postal code mark at the beginning is a capital T with a horizontal line running parallel to the top of the T.  I can:t make the symbol on the computer...

Lisa Chenier
T 971-8172
Fukushima-Ken, Iwaki-shi
Izumi Tamatsuyu 4Come 6-14
Excel Haitsu B202

Ok. I have 5 minutes left. 

Take care everyone. I'll try to get into Taira tomorrow to get online for a bit. No promises though.
not sure If I can do msn on this computer, but I know I can do facebook! 

frellnik: (Default)

August 9th – 10th

Got up at 5:30 to get ready to go to Fukushima Orientation.  The BOE sent a taxi to pick me up at 6:30. I went out at 6:25 so the taxi wouldn`t have to wait for me and he was already there getting out of the car.  Next we picked up Chelsea in the next town over and then headed off to the BOE.  All the Iwaki JETs (minus the high school JETS) met at the BOE and took a bus (just us) to Fukushima city.  We got there at 9:30 and the orientation started at 10 with an opening ceremony.  There was a lot of interesting and important information given to us…some of which I already posted about.

For Lunch we went to an Indian restaurant and had a buffet of curry, rice, salads, nan bread, chicken, soups and more. It was really good and it wasn`t too spicy! I really enjoyed it!

At the end of the first day the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture made a courtesy visit.  His visit lasted about 45 minutes and he asked us questions and we asked any questions that we had about Fukushima.  He asked about why we decided to come on JET so I got up and answered in both English and Japanese. 

After the Orientation we went to our hotel where we had free internet in our rooms…but I didn`t bring my laptop.  I found 1 computer in the lobby with internet access so I used it a few times that evening. 

The second day of orientation was full of small classes. There were 8 and we had to choose 6 to go to. I got to go to everyone that I wanted.  For lunch we split into smaller groups and went to different places. I went to a Ramen shop. It was pretty good.  The farewell ceremony finished around 3:30 and we got back on our bus (this time with the High school JETs too) and went back to Iwaki.  It was a good trip but I was glad to be home.  I was in bed around 8:40 and I turned the lights out at 9:30. The sun woke me up at 5am the next morning.

August 11th

Today was another early morning.  We have the next week off for OBON.  So today all the new JETs took a bus to Koriyama to get re-entry permits in case we want to leave Japan and then come back again lol.  A single re-entry permit is 3000 yen ($30) and a multiple re-entry permit is 6000 yen.  I caught the 6:24am train to Taira and waited for the 7:15 bus from Iwaki Station to Koriyama Shiakusho (Koriyama city hall).  It cost 3000 yen for a round trip ticket.  We got off the bus in Koriyama and as we were walking to where we needed to go to get our re-entry permits I saw a building labelled  “ Soka Gakkai Koriyama Chuo Bunka Kan”.  Soka Gakkai is the name of my religion. This building is a culture centre specifically for Soka Gakkai.  So after getting the permits (which we were told could take up to 4 hours but actually only took 45 minutes!) I went to the Culture Centre. 

I went to ask if they knew if there was a centre in Iwaki and where it might be.  I explained that I was an SGI member from Canada and that I have just moved to Iwaki and am looking to join in meetings.  They didn’t know, but were very eager to help me so they called the Fukushima Culture Centre and asked them.  They faxed us a map and phone number for the Culture Centre in Iwaki. It’s in Taira!   So it’s not too far from where I live.. however it is far from the train station so I will have to figure out what bus to take to get there.

I got to the culture centre around 10:20am and I didn’t leave until 2:15pm!  They were so happy to meet a member from Canada that they invited me in and all sat around a table with me (there were 4 ladies) and they all wanted a picture with me (on their cell phones) and we talked for hours.  Then they insisted I have lunch with them so I had cup noodles (yaki soba) and they kept buying me cups of pop from the vending machines.   Just after lunch we were joined by one of the men who works the afternoon shifts at the centre ( I forget his name L   )  We talked for another hour or so.  At 2pm we did Daimoku for about 5 minutes and then he walked me to the bus stop after everyone said goodbye and wished me well and made me promise to come visit again J

It was an awesome day!  I caught the 2:22 bus from Koriyama Shiakusho and everyone else was at the Koriyama station by then so they caught the bus there at 2:45 and we all went back to Iwaki together.

I went to the department store in Taira and bought curtains for my room! lol   I need to put them up soon and hopefully they will work for me.

Well I’m going to eat dinner now and then watch some SGA on my lap top.

I found out that I won’t have internet at my place for at least another month. They are going to call in September to set a date.  That really sucks. But apparently the Washington Hotel in Taira has free internet on the 5th floor so I’ll be checking that out in the next few days.


frellnik: (Default)

August 7th-8th

Got up in the morning and left the house at 9. Biked around Izumi looking for the Maruto stores (groceries and pharmacies).  Biked right past them and got well on my way to Onahama city before I realized it.  Had to go into a shop and ask them to point out where I was on a map lol.

Found the pharmacy on my way home! lol bought toilet paper and other necessities.  Then found the grocery store but had no time as I needed to be home around 10am to call Sam and Chelsea.

Caught the 11:56 train to Taira and met up with Sam and Chelsea and went to Kojima to pick up my cell phone. I have a nice phone and it was free with my 2 year contract! YAY!  my cell phone email is   you can e-mail me from your computer and I can reply from my phone. J

Then Peter called and told me to call a guy named Hendrick who would be going to the Beach party before the fireworks that evening.  I had wanted to go but didn’t have a way to get there. The fireworks are at Onahama port and the party was at a nearby beach.  So I called Hendricks and he was able to take 3 people.  Sam declined because she was too tired (jet lag sucks!) but Chelsea and I both decided to go.  The only down side was that we were in Taira and didn’t have time to go home to get a bathing suit and towel. I decided I would go in the water anyway and not worry about it.

On our way to the mini mart to meet Hendrik we ran into another JET who is sort of separate from our group.  S is from Vancouver and came over with my group but she is a high school ALT and High Schools are separate from the rest of the schools (High school isn’t mandatory in Japan).  So she wanted to go to the beach party and the fireworks but had been left out of the loop.  So we told her to come with us and see if Hendrik had room for her. He did.

We got to the beach around 2pm and one of the other JETs lent me a pair of shorts to wear in the water so I would have dry clothes to wear later.  I went in the ocean twice and played in the waves. The water is a lot colder than I’m used to with lakes.  We played a game with a bamboo stick and a watermelon. Basically it’s the piñata game.  You wear a blindfold and run in a circle around the bamboo stick, then you try to smash the watermelon that’s on the ground in front of you.  I tried, so did Sam and Candy. Then Clarence used a larger bamboo stick and he missed too… Then Daniel went …he didn’t use the bamboo stick…he used a tree!  He smashed the watermelon to bits! lol  Then we ate it! lol  It was awesome!   

We had a BBQ on the beach and then around 6:30 we left the beach to head over to the Port where the fireworks festival was being held.  There were a couple million people there.  It was crowded!  Some of us got separated from the main group and we ended up with front row seats.  There was an open spot right at the front by the water and a family sitting there told us to go ahead and sit there.  I chatted with the family all through the fireworks. There would be about 4 minutes of fireworks followed by a minute to set up the next round. It went from 7pm until 8:40.  I took some nice pictures and a few videos. It was great!

After the fireworks we went back to the beach and had a bon fire.  Some of the JETs went skinny dipping and a few of them were drunk enough to dance around the fire with nothing on.  It was a great day and I didn’t get sunburned! not even on the top of my head! lol  I have issues with sun burns.

Hendrik drove me, Chelsea, Steph and Naz home after the bon fire. The last train leaves Taira for Izumi at 10pm….I got home at 12:40am.  I took a small nap on the beach near the fire.  It’s been pretty hot this week but today was nice, and after the sun went down it seemed a bit chilly. I walked back to the beach with a towel around my shoulders.  A group of JETs slept out on the beach in tents, but I didn’t have the gear for that.

I got home and took a shower to get rid of the sand and then went to bed. It was about 1am by the time I was in bed and all I could think was that the sun would be up in just a few hours.

In case I didn’t mention it before…the sun is up, in all its glory, by 4:45am and it has all but disappeared by 7pm.  And the sun rises and sets extremely fast! Sunrise only takes about 15 minutes to go from pitch dark to too bright to sleep. It’s nuts!


August 8th

Today I got up at 8am. I woke up before that but I managed to sleep again.  I had planned to go shopping this morning but I decided not to.  Instead I unpacked a bit more of my stuff.  My books are all on the shelves now and most of my clothes are in the closets. I’ve done two loads of laundry so all my clothes are clean.  Some of my clothes are really wrinkled so I’ll have to wash them before I can wear them. 

I went to Taira again today with Chelsea and Sam.  We went to a big department store and had lunch then went floor by floor looking around. I found the store that sells curtains! Unfortunately my windows (balcony door), is a really unusual size so I have to get my curtains made special…it’s going to cost me about 10,000 yen ($100). That’s ok. I can ship them home in 4 years. lol  My windows are 245cm by 200cm.  weird.

We finished shopping around 3:30 and decided to go see the new Ghibli movie “Karitagurashi” which is based off “the borrowers”.   It’s a good movie.

Today was also the last day of the Iwaki festival.  There was dancing in the streets tonight.  We got out of the movie just in time to watch the dance.  Every group had a special festival outfit, either a yukata or a happi coat and shorts…it was really colourful! There was a group performing the music (taiko drums and flutes). 

We grabbed some food and then headed home.  I packed my bags and took a walk to throw out some garbage (I haven’t learned how to separate my garbage properly yet so I just put the food stuff in a bag and threw it out in the not burnable garbage.

Tomorrow I have to be outside my house waiting on a taxi at 6:30am.  The new ALTs are going to Fukushima city for a 2 day orientation specific to living in Fukushima prefecture. Learning how to separate the garbage is one of the things we’ll learn, as well as reading and understanding the bus and train schedules and other important stuff.  I just wish I didn’t have to get up so early.

I’ve been watching Tomb Raider while I’ve been writing this.  I don’t think I’m going to watch all of it. I need to get to bed.

I hope you’re all doing well!

frellnik: (Default)

August 4th

I woke up early so I could eat breakfast and have time to chat with mom before I had to meet my group to go to Fukushima.  Breakfast was the same as the previous 2 days.  I ate more than I should have…again.   After talking with mom I packed up the rest of my stuff that wasn’t packed the night before and said good bye to my roommates then headed off to meet the rest of the JETS who would be taking the bus to Fukushima.

The bus ride took about 4 hours. We had 2 stops along the way for snacks and bathroom breaks. Each stop was about 20 minutes.  At the first stop there was a bread shop (kind of like a bakery but with only different kinds of breads). I got a cross between a croissant and a roll that was full of chocolate.  Red bull is only 200 yen here ($2) so I got one for the road.  I had planned on going to bed early the night before so I’d be well rested when I met my supervisors from the board of education. I was in bed by 11:00, but I didn’t sleep until after 2 and I was up before 6. I was not happy about that…but I wasn’t all that tired either.    We got to Koriyama (in Fukushima) and had a welcome ceremony.  Each of us was introduced to one of our supervisors from the BOE that contracted us.  Iwaki (my city) has 10 JETs that came in my group and 5 JETS that came the week before. We had the largest group so, to get back to Iwaki, we were driven in a small van/bus (a bus that looked like a van).

We made one stop along the way and Zhan bought grasshoppers (which she then shared with everyone on the bus). I didn’t have any. I’m not that brave.  She loves them though and so did a few other people on the bus.  Ewww.

Once we got to Iwaki we were brought to the BOE office to collect our luggage. We also had to quickly introduce ourselves to the other office workers.  Mr. Takahama gave us a script to follow to make it easier for us and so that those who can’t speak Japanese could be understood by the office people.

Everyone got to go to their apartments except for Chelsea and me. lol  We got to stay in a hotel for the night.  The hotel was nice. Small rooms.   I had a twin size bed, a desk, tv, fridge, closet and bathroom.  It was nice. There was a wall panel next to my bed with a lamp on it with buttons and switches for all the lights in the room, alarm clock and radio. The lamp was a night light. lol  I slept 9 hours that night. The best sleep I’ve had since I got here!

The next morning we had a nice Japanese style breakfast at the hotel restaurant (fish, rice, soup, vegetables, potato salad and probably one or two other things I’m forgetting). I love Japanese potato salad! lol

August 5th

We walked from the hotel to the Culture Centre which is right next to the BOE.  There we had class all morning.  We filled out forms to get our Alien Registration cards and bank accounts. Then we went to City Hall (just down the street) to hand in all the forms and stuff.

One thing I should mention is that Iwaki is like a whole bunch of cities and towns that combined to make a city.  The BOE, city hall, etc. are all in TAIRA.  I live in IZUMI.  For people who live in Ottawa…if Taira is Ottawa, then Izumi (where I live) is like Almont!  Taira has a downtown core and it’s busy, lots of shops , big train station with stores etc.  Izumi has nothing.   The train station is just a platform; there aren’t even street lights on most of the streets!  There is so much green. I’m in the mountains.  I’m glad I have a bike because I honestly don’t think there is a bus system in Izumi.  But I’m only about 15 minutes from Taira by train and I’m a 3 minute walk from the Izumi train station.

So in the afternoon , after our classes, we went to Kojira to sign up for internet and cell phones. I didn’t get to start mine that day.  I went to get a helmet and a light for my bike. Since there are no lights in Izumi, aside from house lights, I really need a light on my bike…the roads aren’t straight either. It’s really different from what I’m used to!

Mr. Takahama took Chelsea and me back to the hotel to get our bags and then took us to our apartments.  I got to my apartment around 5pm and Mrs. Kodama showed me how to use the gas stove and the washing machine, how to turn on the hot water (there is a wall panel and the water takes a few minutes to heat up), and the air conditioner.

Kasey (my predecessor) left me a whole tone of stuff for the apartment! I’m so happy for pretty much all of it! She even left me stuff I wasn’t expecting (like the fan to put under the laptop to keep it from overheating!) I was going to by myself one of those fans and now I don’t have to. J

The only thing I wasn’t happy about is that all the stuff (in boxes thankfully) was stacked up in the livingroom on and around the couch…which is where I need to sleep. So I had to move everything  before I could go to sleep.  I ended up putting most of the stuff away into cupboards and stuff. I have three boxes left.

Mom, she left me a big bottle of Advil! lol YES!!!

So I got to bed around 10:30 and didn’t get to sleep right away. I need to buy curtains. The ones I have are not wide enough to cover the window and they are white, so the light goes right through them.  Even though there are no street lights, there are some house lights and the moon was really bright.  Also the sun rises at about 4:30am here.  I was woken up at 4:45 the next morning.  I was really mad! lol

August 6th

Woke up way too early. Tried sleeping with a shirt covering my eyes but still ended up with a headache. I gave up on sleep at about 5:50am.  I listened to music for a bit then figured out the shower and ate breakfast.  I had gone to the 7/11 the night before and got pre-made meals and juice.  I left for the train station at 8:40 to catch an 8:56am train. I gave myself plenty of time to find the station, as I hadn’t been there before. It’s literally about 2 streets over from me.

Got to the culture centre 30 minutes before the workshops started and just sat around. Had a conversation with a random lady at the centre and it turns out she’s from my part of town lol.  We laughed about it for a bit.   People are really nice here.  I’m enjoying it, despite the annoyances. I need curtains!!!   Class went right to 4pm today. There was a lot of info thrown at us. 

After classes finished some of us went back to Kojima to get cell phones and internet. I got my internet application done and now I just need to set up a time for them to come set it all up for me.  I get unlimited internet access for about $53/month.  Unlimited downloads and everything.  Way better than what I had in Canada.  I have a fibre optics connection. apparently it’s good! lol

I got a cell phone today…well I have to pick it up tomorrow, but the contract is ready. I get unlimited e-mail through ezweb, and 144 minutes of calling time a month. The left over minutes from each month carry over to the next. I also get internet access but I pay by the amount of data I use…so I’ll only be using for GPS when I get lost. lol

The phone is free with a 2 year contract and the plan was less than $30 a month.  The phone is also bilingual, Japanese and English. I’m happy!

Tonight is the start of the 3 day festival in Taira.  There was dancing in the streets this evening and lots of booths set up along the streets. People were dressed up in festival attire and the streets are all decorated. It is really beautiful! I’ll try to post some pictures of the festival.  Tomorrow there will be fireworks in Onahama. I’m hoping to get to go to the beach party across the water from where the fireworks will be.  I’m supposed to call someone about it tomorrow morning.


Well that’s it for me. I’m going to try to go to bed early so I can get 7 hours of sleep before I get woken up by the sun at 4:45am. gggrrrrr. lol

I have to set my bed up every night and put it away every morning. I have a pull out couch in the living room…which is actually what we call a futon couch in Canada.  The bar in the middle of it is annoying, so I put the futon on top of it and it helps a bit. I’m going to get a thicker futon next month and it will be even better then.

off to bed for me!  Have a good day everyone!


frellnik: (Default)


Just a quick update. I'm in Fukushima city (in Fukushima Prefecture) for the Fukushima orientation. I'm in a hotel with internet access but my brain took a vacation so I didn't bring my laptop. So I'm using the computer in the hotel lobby lol.

I've learned a few things in the past few days....

There are 1200 foreigners in Iwaki city but 80% of them are white and black people really stand out!  We are the minority. 


Iwaki City is made up of a bunch of little towns.  My little town is called Izumi and I am the ONLY JET in Izumi. 

Elementary school JETs do not team teach like the Junior and High school JETs. We are the teachers. The Japanese English teachers in Elementary school don't really know English, so they follow our lead. I am the teacher!  um....ok.

DO NOT squish or crush the GIANT WASPS (the size of your thumb!!). Their bodies release a pheramone that calls all the other wasps in the area.  (Holy shit!)

The spiders here can get as big as the palm of your hand! they are disgustingly huge! but thankfully they aren't poisonous.  Also thankfully, I haven't seen any in Izumi yet.

Izumi is the boonies!  There is 1 bus. There are plantations all along the main roads...beautiful mountains all over...It's very hilly.  There are no street lights! 

The sun comes up at 4:30am!! and it has set by 7pm. all year long!  I need curtains!!!!  my apartment faces east and the sun wakes me up every morning between 4:30 and 5. lol  I've found curtains I am going to buy next week.  I have to buy two sets of curtains because my window (balcony door) is too wide for one set.  

let's see, what else....  I wrote an entry every night for the past few nights and saved it to my computer at my I'll post those when I get internet at my apartment...which won't be for at least another week or two.  I have to wait for someone to be available to set everything up at my apartment since Kasey aparently didn't go through the same place as me.  I am going to have awesome internet though!  Unlimited access and unlimited downloads with a fibre optics connection (200 kbits/second) for roughly $56 a month!  So that will be good.

I think that's about it. i don't want to say too much about the past week because I took the time to sit and type it all out so I'll just post it all when my internet is all set up.

I got my cell phone and it has it's own e-mail.
all e-mails go straight to my phone and it's free.  So if you want to send me a message go ahead. I won't answer if I'm at work, but if I'm home I'll answer pretty quickly.


frellnik: (Default)
I have had an amazing few days!

Thursday night I got my placement information for my job teaching in Japan. I will be living in Fukushima prefecture (in the northern region of Honshuu Island about 2 hours north of Tokyo) in a city called Iwaki. I googled Iwaki and I found out that it is absolutely beautiful! It has 60km of coast, 7 beaches, gorges with beautiful waterfalls and walking paths, and it rarely gets below 0C. Summer has about 2 weeks above 25C. I'm going to be spoiled! The city is quite large but about 70% of it is mountainous so most of the people live in the other 30% or the area. There are lots of parks, a large aquarium, a light house, museums, the Japanese version of the Upper Canada Village (where you learn what it was like to live in 19th century Japan) and so much more! I am so excited!

Then on Friday I went to Toronto for the National SGI Buddhist Youth Festival. I was part of the youth orchestra. There were three of us in the orchestra from Ottawa, the others were from all across Canada. There were 50 members in the orchestra. There was a national chorus as well with over 200 members. There each region of Canada (west, prarie, central, east and Quebec) had individual performances and then there were a few performances where more than 2 regions collaborated and performed together. We sold out! over 2200 tickets sold!

It was absolutely amazing!!!

The festival was held yesterday at the Roy Tohmpson Hall in Toronto. Amazing! The festival is to commemorate a new curriculum put together by our Buddhist group sponsored by Feed the Children and
We to Me. The theme is "We to Me" - caring about others and fostering better interaction and inter-conectedness. Your Victory is My Victory illustrates this point and is the name of the festival and the song that was performed at the end.

Then today we had a youth general meeting and then everyone headed for home. It was an amazing weekend! I made some new friends and played my clarient in an orchestra accompanying over 200 singers in front of over 2000 people!! We got a standing ovation. In fact, the audience was applauding before we were half done the song! Then after the initial applause they just clapped along with us until the end when they went absolutely nuts! What an incredible feeling! I had the time of my life! I am so happy that I got to be a part of this.

There will be a DVD of the event which all the performers will get a copy of. I'm glad for this because I didn't get to see the show. And because all of the performers are scattered around the country, none of us know much about what the other groups performed. I'm really looking forward to seeing it!

Well, I haven't slept much in the last few days so I'm going to get ready for bed and take an early night!
Have a good night everyone!

ETA: HOLY CRAP!! It's "ME to WE" not we to me. omg. that's embarassing!


frellnik: (Default)

December 2016



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