Hokubu: School Year End and School Year Beginnings

Sorry that this hasn’t been updating as often as it should be; I’ve been meaning to write about these things actually, but keep putting it off. I would say I’ll get better at it, but chances are, I won’t >.< At least I remembered to do it haha.

Okay! So recently, I went through my school’s graduation of their third years, end of the year party, staff change, entrance ceremony and start of the year party. If it’s odd that you’re hearing about this in April, well, that’s because the Japanese school system is on a different timeline that America or Canada or any other school timeline I’ve heard of. The start of the new school year is actually in April. Summer break starts at the end of July until the end of August. Winter break is from mid-December to early January. And then the end of the year is around the middle of March. So instead of graduation in June like most everyone is used to, this graduation was in March. My teachers were pretty shocked when I explained it to them.

That being said, I should also mention that Japan takes graduation VERY seriously. I mean, this was as super formal event, everyone showed up (even the 1st and 2nd years) and yeah… there was a lot of pomp and circumstance to this; I don’t remember my JHS graduation being this intense; granted, we don’t say “graduation” for JHS in the states. I believe the word is “promotion”. Anyways, they put a lot of detail and stuff into this ceremony. They practice for DAYS before hand. The day before the actual ceremony, they were practicing all day.

As the ALT, there wasn’t a whole lot I had to do or that was expected of me. I just had to dress nice, show up, and sit with the teachers. We sat a little off to the stage, the PTA on the other side, while the third years, parents and other students were arranged in the front (in that order). The students were marched in by class, led by their homeroom teachers. You could honestly tell this was a practiced event because the precision was ridiculous. Sharps turns, quick movements, the works.

The ceremony itself was really just a bunch of speeches given by the principal, members of the PTA, and the students themselves. Each student was called up by their homeroom teacher to walk up to the stage to receive their “diploma”. This was the longest part of the ceremony, but I taught two of the four classes, so I made sure to stay somewhat more attentive when those ones crossed the stage. Now, I had been warned that this was a very emotional event and that students might actually faint from the overwhelming emotion or whatever. I thought they were kidding.

They weren’t.

Students were actually led out of the gym at certain points (if they looked pale or woobly). What’s interesting is that the teachers and parents, even the students, didn’t panic or freak out when someone dropped. The teachers all converged on the area and brought the student outside to recover and the ceremony continued as if nothing happened. At least 4 students fainted; a few others were escorted out, but I don’t think they ever fainted.

After they were done with the names, we moved everything from the stage and pushed the flowers aside so all the third years could pile up there for a group pictures. Finally, they sang a song for everyone and that’s when pretty much everyone in the gym started crying. They filed out as we clapped and went to the field to wait. Then we all left and went to the gates to clap for them as they left the school with their parents. Now, I wanted to stand near the end so my third year students could see me; but I was dragged to the middle and only a few saw me. Some I could see were looking for me, but never found me. I wanted to go to the park with them to take pictures, but no one would tell me where they were so I missed out L and I didn’t get to say good bye to a lot of them. It was REALLY dissatisfying, I’ll tell you that much.

On the 28th, we had a leaving ceremony for the staff at our school being moved to new schools or retiring. My principal was actually retiring so it was a big deal. We had a ceremony for it where all 10 of the teachers sat on the stage and gave speeches and announced where they were going; unfortunately, one of my JTE’s left. There’s also this interesting custom where you give gifts to the teachers leaving and they give you gifts too. Now, as the ALT, I wasn’t expecting anything at all. But I gave presents to all the teachers leaving, the gift itself dependent on how well I knew them. I actually ended up getting a few things; my principal even remembered how much I love roll cake and bought me a huge piece (in the bag).

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We had our Sobetsukai (End of the Year Party) at a really ritzy hotel; got our picture taken (no smiling allowed apparently) and had some good food. Well, I assume it was good because I couldn’t eat half of it haha. Here, I guess it’s a common thing to throw people into the air (I think only guys) for accomplishments and stuff. Cause no joke, we were tossing the retiring teachers all over the place. Don’t believe me?

IMG_1586Do you now? 😛

I ducked out of the second and third party, mainly because I had to work the next day and partially because my stomach was acting up. But it was fun J On the last day of March, we threw confetti at the principal as he left the school for the last time; it was a great idea, but the cleanup was a pain in the BUTT. It certainly didn’t help that it was kinda windy that day either.

About a week or so later, we had the Opening Ceremony for the new school year and the Entrance Ceremony for the new incoming first years. The Opening Ceremony wasn’t any different from the other two that I’ve been to except that this time, ALL the teachers line up by year and subject and are introduced to the school. Being the ALT, I’m in the Free Teachers section and one of the last to be called.

The Entrance Ceremony is almost like a reverse Graduation ceremony. The parents all come and the PTA too; all of the students that were being sent to Hokubu were supposed to have been told that I work at Hokubu most days and that I would be their ALT again in April; however, many of them (meaning most) seemed to forget that I would be there. The majority of the day excited whispers and giggles of my name as well and boys yelling for me across the hallway followed me. At least they greeted me >.<

Lots of speeches and unfortunately, I had a nasty case of hay fever (I still kinda do actually) and kept trying to keep myself from having coughing fits. Instead of the students going up to the stage when their name was called, they just stood up and bowed to the principal. We were all put up on the stage again to be introduced. This brings me to:

Embarrassing School Moment #10: I having a terrible coughing attack and actually had to be escorted out of the gym until I was able to regain my ability to breathe again during the tail end of the ceremony. I felt so bad >.<

A lot of students approached me after the ceremony and even though we could only speak like, two or three sentences together in English, their parents seems pretty impressed. I switched to Japanese for some of it so they could better express themselves which the parents were also quite impressed with. That same evening, we had our Start of the Year party up the street from my apartment; I love it when they pick places that are close to where I live XD It was buffet style this time so I could just pick and choose what I wanted which was nice. I was seated with one half of the free teachers; I always tend to sit with them. They’re a good bunch of people. Not a lot to report on this one except that it’s always the same few people that attempt conversation with me, as if everyone else is afraid to try or deal with my broken and choppy Japanese. I don’t mind too much, but sometimes I notice when people are avoiding me.

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I wasn’t expecting this, but we actually ended up doing like, a legit game. Almost something similar to what I would do in my classes. We were divided into three teams; I ended up in team C. Basically, we had to run down the length of the dining hall and play janken (rock scissors paper) with the person at the end; if we won, the next person in our group could go and do the same. However, if you lost, you had to wait for your ENTIRE team to run down and grab you and bring you back; you had to go back and do it again too. Had I known we’d be running that day, I would have worn different shoes. But nooooooo. I felt like being fancy and wore heels. So, I chucked them off and ran barefoot, which my teachers thought was HILARIOUS.

My team ended up winning even though we had a slow start. We got these, fortune coupon things at random and I still to this day have no idea what mine means or says. But it wasn’t terrible? I didn’t go to the second or third party either because I actually had to leave for Nagoya really early in the morning for an event with Liraizo.

There has been some development school wise, but I’m not going to write about it yet because I’m not entirely sure I can? I’ve told some people, but I’ll hold off on posting it here until a little later I think. Expect a couple posts in the future for lives and stuff; I will probably end up doing a separate post for the Final BFN live that I went to over the weekend; mainly because lots of stuff happened and it was insanely emotional. Until then!

Posted in ALT Life, Hamamatsu City, Japan, JET Program, JHS Life | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Instores and Lives: November and December

Okay! Here’s the second section of the rest of the lives and instore events I attended in 2015. This one is much shorter than the previous post. I’m going to do the same thing and do bullet points instead of completely writing out what happened. One, it’s easier; two, I’m feeling particularly lazy.

11/7: Spur of the moment Instore with シブルバシル
-This was literally spur of the moment. Kim and I went to Edison to order some CD’s and boom. Ended up buying a CD to attend this event.
-Event was just a talk and picture
-The talk was… interesting. It was a quiz game and the loser had to do a batsu cheki
-Izumi (the vocalist) lost and omg his batsu cheki made everyone cringe, even us >.< I’m so glad I didn’t get it in the cheki pile
-We got a picture with them and I ended up choosing Izumi and Marya; I really only picked Izumi because I figured he’d do something weird or funny; he kinda sorta did.

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11/14: Ogre God Festival Vol. 2 Live (Liraizo’s First Anniversary)
-Quite possibly one of the longest lives I’ve ever been to; it started at 12:30 and we didn’t end until about 9:30/10:00.
-I knew a lot of the bands, but didn’t participate in all of them
-ぞんび was fun! They had a song where the furitsuke was moving like a zombie
-Managed to be fourth row when Liraizo came on stage for their set.
-Amazing set list, but man did my make-up and hair take a beating
-Left shortly after Suzune’s screaming to get in line for cheki; since this was their one man, they included special atari cheki. I needed it!
-Stayed in line with a Japanese friend to hold our spot when the encore happened. Though, part of me wishes that I had gone back to the encore because they were throwing things out to the fans, even Suzune and he never throws anything… EVER.
-When it was time to pull cheki, I managed 3 atari; I traded one with Kim for a 6-shot atari she had pulled earlier. She actually pulled 7 since she bought the remaining old cheki XD
-6 shot was first, but nothing special for that one
-My two-shots were Touma and Suzune
-Got a side hug with Touma
-Bucked up the courage to ask Suzune for hug cause he’s not a huggy person and HE DID IT. I was so happy!

12/5: Black Gene for the Next Scene Tokyo Hard Mode Winter Tour, 1st Night
-Venue was in the middle of NO WHERE; like, in some odd location in Waseda. I ended up joining a group of BFN fans who recognized me to find it.
-Even having the ticket number I did, I managed fourth row (that’s just how small this venue was)
-Venue was so small there was no actual entrance for the first band to go on stage and so they had to go through all their fans first
-Wore parka’s over parts of their usual outfits
-San was waaaaaay too tall for the stage: he hit his head on the ceiling during their first song, Fear Dance
-No guard rails, so we all had to learn a new way to gyakudai (quite possibly one of the most awkward gyakudai’s I’ve ever done)
-Found out the meaning of the tour title; not a single rest song to be found at all. I usually don’t pay attention to the tour titles because I never really put them together with the theme of the live; MISTAKE OF A LIFE TIME.
-The AC was broken
-I am now completely convinced that -涙kHz- is a work out song; Ice even sounded like a personal trainer
-Longest gyakudai ever (famous last words, refer to 12/27 Hard Mode, 7th Night)
-Thought I broke my toe after slipping out of my shoes and rolling my ankles; found out later I ony dislocated it
-Continued to participate in the live until the encore ended; had to be helped upstairs by fellow fans
-Had three pictures; pulled a musical post cheki for Ice and then had two non-pose cheki with Toki and San.
-Got to hold the microphone with Ice for our picture
-Told Toki I had broken/hurt my foot during the second round of Fear Dance
-When the staff were rebinding my foot after my photos, BFN came up and saw me; the shaaaaaame

12/12: Spur of the moment Instore with Lagna
-Again, went to Edison with the intention to only order something and ended up with a ticket to an event
-This was a question and answer session. I asked the question, “If you weren’t in the music industry, what job would you want?” or something along those lines.
-It was a simple picture afterwards, but there was a recurring trend of everyone doing the “Yarazo” pose so I went for it!
-We ended up going back a second time because Kim’s photo came out wrong and needed to be redone; they were super nice about it and let her take it a second time once everyone was done.

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12/27 Black Gene for the Next Scene Tokyo Hard Mode Winter Tour, 7th Night
-This was technically the finale for the Tour; there was a special “Xtra Hard Mode” for Ice’s birthday on 1/1
-Pulled an atari cheki where I could chose the member and pose; of course I chose Toki
-Staff let us in early because they thought it was too cold for us to be standing outside.
-Snagged a good shimote spot next to my two BFN buddies
-BFN played all my favorite songs minus one (its ballad and this was Hard Mode; they weren’t going to play it)
-Had three gyakudai’s
-The second gyakudai was 40 minutes long. 40. MINUTES. LONG. Do you even realize how long that is? It’s long. It’s so freaking long
-Had an entire bottle of Pocari Sweat (drink) poured all over myself and another fan, courtesy of Rame
-Got to saizen during the long gyakudai as Ice made everyone rotate until the song ended
-Ice literally picked up Rame (over his shoulders) and threw him into the crow; we BARELY caught him
-All of the band members, even their support drummer participated in the saizen gyakudai
-At the start of Fear Dance, Toki screamed into the mic, “BE CAREFUL PLEASE,” while looking where I was standing
-Ice thought it would be a grand idea to add 10 minutes of head banging to the usual pre-Namida work out mix
-Caught a piece of candy Toki threw
-Had a wonderful (short) conversation with Toki before and after my picture about my foot and the live this time around. Told him I’d see him again on 1/30
-Usually, I write down the conversations right after they happen so I don’t forget anything when I post about them (the 1/8-9 conversations with Lirazio will be a perfect example when they’re up), but I forgot to do it for this one.
-I finally got to hug Toki. Life is perfect

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I originally had a live planned for 12/31 but I was feeling really ill and sick so I ended up staying in Hamamatsu instead. And that wraps it up for the 2015 concerts! I’m still working on the other posts for January and February; March and April might take time since the majority of those lives are for BFN (they’re disbanding in April).

Posted in Instore Event, Japan, Japan Concerts, JET Program, Visual Kei | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Instores and Lives: September and October

It’s come to my attention that I haven’t posted about this since September. I’ve done A LOT since then. Like, looking back on it, it’s a good thing I wrote down things I had planned in my planner otherwise I would be missing stuff. I think this post will only cover the rest of September and October and then a second one will cover November and December, just to make it easier. Let’s get this show on the road! The Liraizo 9/5 live was the last one I covered so after that… was… Black Gene!

Okay, so pretty much everyone knows that Black Gene for the Next Scene (shortened to Black Gene or BFN) is my honmei. I’ve been their fan since their first debut live in Nagoya nearly four years ago. Even after I left Japan the first time, I faithfully followed them and their music. So naturally, I would jump at a chance to see them again. Shortly after arriving in Japan in August, BFN announced a single release in September. I preordered two copies from the two stores they were going to have events at. There was one at FiveStars on 9/25 and then one after the live at Edison on 9/26. The one on 9/25 I had to rush to; it started at 6:30 I believe. Or 6, I can’t remember it was a LONG time ago. I took my overnight bag with me to work and just changed in the bathroom before leaving work. Kim met me outside of FiveStars and went to go wait while I went up to my event.

The event for this instore was a Jeopardy like quiz game. Of the categories I could read it was “Nagoya Kanji”, “Anime”, “Nagoya Specialties”, and “BFN Members”. When you showed your ticket to get in, you got to pick a member of your choice and you were given a piece of paper. I picked Toki of course and wen to sit down. I had a pretty decent number (12, I think), but because I was coming straight from work, I arrived a little bit after doors had already opened. I should have been second row, but by the time I got there I managed fourth row. Still not too bad all things considering. I sat by a couple fellow Toki fans and we chatted about the upcoming one-man the following night.

BFN came out and we were told that whichever member won the quiz game, anyone who chose that member would get to have something signed by them. Cue excited chatter! I’m not gonna lie; that would be awesome to have something signed only by Toki. I don’t actually have anything signed by them (only a fan I got at a live for buying an old CD), so that would have been nice. The members were curious who had picked them and so we raised our hands when each members name was spoken. Ice had the most, Rame and Toki were tied, and poor San only had 2 people. I felt really bad for him and after talking with the girl sitting next to me, we tried to see if we could change out tickets to San; we couldn’t, but the staff could tell we meant well.

The quiz itself was pretty funny. Lots of drawings, confusing kanji, interesting descriptions of Nagoya cuisine and all the band members getting questions wrong about one another. In the end, San ended up having the most points, Toki behind him, then Ice and Rame had none. We all got ready for our five shot with the band and helped stack the chairs up. The event was running a bit behind schedule for some reason and so a lot of the girls were getting antsy. But the nice thing about FiveStars is that we go up based on our number, whereas some stores just do it based off of where you’re standing at the time. So even though I didn’t sit where I was originally supposed to, I got to go up sooner for pictures. I ended up choosing to sit next to Toki and San.

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Fast forward to the next day: I went early to buy goods at the presale before the live; I was buying for myself, Kim, and another fan overseas, so I wanted to go early enough to pack away the rest of the goods before going into the venue. Between everything I had bought, I managed to get an after live atari two shot with each member of the band! It was a non-pose Atari (I didn’t get to pick the pose), but still! TWO SHOTS.

I had a pretty decent ticket for the live too. It was at ELL Fits All so no matter where I would stand in the venue, I’d see the stage. I managed to secure a spot in the Pit (SCORE), but one of the fans pushed their way to the pit and wedged herself between me and another fan and neither of us were happy about it. It was hard to do much because I kept whacking her in the face because she didn’t want to participate in anything.

Girl.

You’re in the Pit; either participate or get out.

They played all my favorite songs, but the one song I thought they would play they didn’t; they didn’t play Fear Dance! Which is so odd since it’s like… their signature after涙-kHz-. I wasn’t the only one who was surprised either. But they played DOOM which I hadn’t heard since their debut early for years ago, so that was FANTASTIC. Other fans seemed pretty surprised they played it too. They did one encore and then everyone started dispersing from the venue, most fans leaving, some of us staying behind for our two shots. Since I managed one with each member, I got in line for the first one then had to be let back in the venue for the others.

Rame was first and he was SO CUTE. He’s so adorable. He shook my hand afterwards and we chatted for a couple minutes before I was ushered back inside. After that was Ice; he’s so freaking spacy I love him. After him was San who is hella tall. Like, even in the picture, he’s slouching forward kinda so he’s not standing up straight. He shook my hand too, but we didn’t have time to talk much. Toki was last and the fans in that line actually remembered me from the debut live in Nagoya way back when. They let me go last for Toki, in a way ensuring that he would talk with me knowing I was the last one. I went in, took the picture and he shook my hand. We spoke a bit and it went something like this (from what I can remember):

Toki: Thank you for coming! Was the live fun?
Me:  Yes! It was a lot of fun! I’m glad I could come tonight.
Toki: You look familiar. Have we met before?
Me: Well, yesterday.
Toki: No, not yesterday. I know you were at FiveStars yesterday. I meant before that.
Me: …yeah, we’ve met before. But it was a long time ago.
Toki: Oh? How long? Last year?
Me: No, it was for the Namida release.
Toki: Namida?! You’ve been following BFN since Namida?
Me: Actually, I was at your debut in Nagoya for DOOM, but Namida was the first time we met. I went to an event in Tokyo.
Toki: …you! I remember you!
Me: …you… do?
Toki: Yes! You were the foreign girl Sala threw his drumstick to!
Me: (O_O) <–my face at that sentence
Toki: You are, aren’t you?
Me: …I’m surprised you remember that.
Toki: Are you coming to the event at Edison?
Me: Yes, I am. I’m going to the store after this.
Toki: Well! I’ll see you there! Thank you again for coming!
Me: -still kind of stuttering that he remembered me-

After that, the staff had me leave and the other fans I had been talking with had waited for me on the sidewalk to finish. We walked to Edison together, but since we had been the last ones to leave the venue, we were standing for the instore. It wasn’t very long; just a simple “Kanpai” (cheers with tea or orange juice) and question and answer session. Toki got pressured into trying some whiskey; his body didn’t take to it very well as his entire neck blossomed into a bright red color.

We lined up for the pictures, but people who had to catch Meitetsu or JR trains took precedence so I was able to get pushed to the front as I was one of those people haha. I thought I had been told that we just had to stand by our favorite member, so I went to go stand by Toki, but I was moved to the center to stand by Ice and San; I think Toki saw the panicked look on my face, but we couldn’t do much about it. Took the picture and I was sent on my way. I’m still glad I got a picture though.

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Man, this is gonna be a long post. Ugh. This is what I get for waiting for so long to post; seriously. Okay, change of plan. Unless I decide to write out the whole experience for a specific moment, I’m just gonna do bullet points for the remaining lives in this post. It’s gonna be way too long otherwise.

I did have a live on 10/4 for Liraizo, but that was not a pleasant experience in any shape, form, or state so I’m just going to avoid that one with a 10-foot pole.

10/10: Liraizo instore at Zeal Link
-I went with Kim, but since this event was actually BEFORE the album release (issues with the company manufacturing the album, release date was pushed back to 10/28), the tickets were shuffled and we weren’t sitting together. She was second row I believe and I was back in the fifth row.
-First part was a talk event; I honestly don’t remember what they talked about.
-Second part was having our personal messages recorded. This was actually really cool; I’ve never done this before. You write what you want them to say on a piece of paper and they either say exactly what you wrote or tweek it however they want, with your sentence or phrase still in mind. Since I bought all three types of the album, I was allowed three different messages.
-The three messages I chose were: “Good Morning”, “Good night,” and “Happy Birthday” I had written my name at the top too, just to give them the option of using my name if they wanted
-The order of members: Touma, Yutoman, Yuki, Suzune, Kili
-All five members ended up adding my name to the message (Miranda-chan)
-Touma, Yuki, Suzune, and Kili all ended up changing my message to more than what I wrote; Touma had the longest messages out of all of them.
-Suzune and Kili used English in my messages; Yuki tried to say Happy Birthday in English, but panicked last minute and said it in Japanese. He offered to do it again, but after listening to it, I wanted to keep it
-Suzune actually sang Happy Birthday in English for my third message
-Kili kept saying my  name with worse and worse pronunciation as the messages went on. By the third message, he said “Milandla”
-After all the messages were said and done, we got back in line for pictures. This was “selfie style”; I’ve never done a selfie two shot before, so that was awwwwesome.
-When I stood by Touma, he pulled me closer because apparently I wasn’t close enough to start with
-When I stood by Suzune, I apparently was standing on the wrong side as he took my hand and led me to the right spot to stand >.< he didn’t let go of my hand either until we took the picture, so while he was fiddling with the settings on my phone for our picture, he was swinging my hand back and forth XD
-I was actually one of the last people to get a picture with Suzune; he wanted to redo my picture because it didn’t come out quite right, but they were running late and they had to get to the venue for their taiban live (of which I was not attending)

10/10: SCREW One-Man at ELL Fits All
-This was a couple hours after the Liraizo instore; had I known sooner, I would have gone to the taiban rather than this one-man, but I ordered these tickets back in the beginning of August and I didn’t know about the taiban then.
-From what I can remember, the set list was fairly tame for SCREW
-I can’t remember what the gyakudai was like, but I don’t think it was that intense
-Byou’s mic kept messing up and going in and out; at first I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal, he could just use a different mic, but it was explained later on why it was an issue.
-During the last song of the main set, Byou actually left the stage angrily; the song wasn’t over but the band kept playing.
-When the band came back out for the encore, Byou explained why he stormed off; apparently he was sick and the mic helped cover the higher notes he couldn’t reach right now, but since it wasn’t working it made the music sound bad, which made him upset. We were honestly more concerned over his health rather than if the music was off key.
-As an apology they did three encores
-There was a chance to meet the band afterwards, but I figured that since I was attending two events the next day for them, I didn’t need to bother.

10/11: Two instore events for SCREW at HMV and Zeal Link
-The first event was actually one of the fastest events I’ve ever been to; I didn’t initially know what it was for, but I had the first and second ticket for it.
-Basically, the four members were standing at tables with printed cheki and you would walk up and point to the one you wanted (face down) and they would hand it to you and they would shake your hand. We didn’t get much time to talk with them as the guy ushering us was pretty on top of it.
-I went back a second time since I had two tickets. I was done within 15 minutes!
-Second event was a signing and handshake event.
-First time I went up, I had a sign board that I made with their pictures (they signed by their picture)
-Don’t remember much of the conversations, but some were about their upcoming 10th anniversary, some were general “where are you from/what do you do”. When I got to Byou, I asked if he was feeling better today and not to strain himself when he’s sick. He was so sweet >.<
-Went back a second time around; when I ordered the mini-album initially, I didn’t realize it was a mini album. So I ended up ordering two at each instore LOL
-Had a photobook signed second time around
-Band seemed surprised to see me back a second time; can’t remember the conversations exactly >.<

10/31: Halloween Taiban in at Ikebukuro EDGE in Tokyo.
-This live was absolutely magical; went with Kim and Ann, but also saw a few other friends/fans I know
-We dressed up, mimicking Liraizo’s bloody eyepatch look from previous uploaded photos. I thought we looked pretty sick! (In the cool way, not the actual sick way)
-We were really only there for Liraizo, but a couple other bands I knew were playing as well. Liraizo was… second I believe.
-Since it was Halloween, everyone was dressed up in some form or fashion.
-Suzune was Edward Scissorhands; Yutoman painted half his face as a skeleton; Touma was Jack Skellington; Kili didn’t dress up as anyone specific, but had his bloody eye patch; Yuki dressed up as “Yukiko”
-During one of the songs, Yuki went too far forward when going up to the stage platform and fell off stage; he landed on the girl who always cosplays him… who was standing right in front of us. We managed to get them both back up and Yuki patted her head to make sure she was okay.  He sat on the bar until the song finished.
-I ended up catching a pumpkin Touma threw; had some sort of candy inside.
-Reign played a bit later and they were all dressed up as Lupin the 3rd characters
-We ended up leaving after shortly after Reign played because we were tired and we wanted food >.<

 

And lordy that took a long time. I seriously apologize for slacking on these reports >.< Next Instore/Live post will cover November and December, possibly January. But since I still have a live coming up for January, I might just wait and do that one in February.

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Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi Stage Play and the Things I Live For

This is a bit late as well, but I’m doing my best to catch up! I’m sick with the flu currently and in an attempt not do go crazy from cabin fever, I figure I’ll work on these posts a bit more while trying to also come up with a coherent lesson plan for Friday (if I’m able to go to work by then).

In January, I went to Tokyo with a couple Hama JETs to see the stage play for舞台「 戦国Basara 4」 皇 (Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi). If you aren’t familiar with that name (and you probably aren’t), it’s a video game based off of historical events and figures in Japanese history. Specifically, this game focuses on the Warring States period of Japan. In the game, you can play as a variety of characters with different weapons and backstories; at first I was skeptical about it, especially since it was all in Japanese. I thought it would be too difficult to understand or catch on to, but oh man was I wrong. The game is so addicting! I love it! I ended up buying it shortly after playing it and try to make a point to play a couple stages at least once a day (usually in the evening before bed). It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but it’s been helping my Japanese a lot because I can read and listen to the dialogue; some of it is in old Japanese too, so that’s interesting to hear. My teachers are floored I play it. My students too!

Sengoku Basara 3 was actually released in America under the title of “Devil Kings” to play off the popularity of “Devil May Cry” but it didn’t really take off. In fact, in Japan, the popularity didn’t grow until SB3 either; the game focused on the Battle of Sekigahara which is one of the biggest points of Japanese history (Ieyasu Tokugawa unifying Japan etc). It’s also been adapted into an anime, but the anime doesn’t follow the original games at all. A special season was made called “Judge End” that is VERY loosely based off the “paths” of Sengoku Basara 3.

Aaaaaanyways, side tracked for a moment, there’s a stage play about the game that’s been running for about 10 years. This year is the 10th anniversary. Each play is usually based off of a different game or point in the general story; sometimes they do their own thing, sometimes they try to follow the game. This particular play focused on the character Sen no Rikyuu from SB4 Sumeragi (the most recent Sengoku Basara game). When I first heard that there was a stage play, I was skeptical (once more) about how good it could be. I mean, the majority of the game is fighting; highly stylized fighting. How were they going to match that on the stage? I was especially worried about how they were going to do Sen no Rikyuu’s character; he has split personalities that change in an instant and the only way to know which personality he is, is based off his hair. When it’s braided, he’s Wabisuke. When it’s down and straight, he’s Sabisuke.

But! I was impressed with how much thought when into it. The opening was one of my favorite parts as the characters are all introduced with a small fighting scene. They had these white panels gliding across the floor with pictures and colors being projected onto them while the characters dashed around them. It was amazing! My favorite character, Tenkai, wasn’t in this play, but three of my other favorites, Mori Motonari, Chosokabe Motochika, and Shibata Katsuie were. I wasn’t sitting next to my friends as I had bought my ticket WAAAAAY after they did, but I still had a decent view! At the very beginning, Yukimura and Sasuke ended up walking really close to where I was sitting; the cast often times will show up in the audience. Two characters, Nagamasa and Tsuruhime did it later on as well.

My favorite part by far was when Motonari impersonated the Sun Goddess’ voice to get Tsuruhime to do something; he was caught in the act by Sasuke and Yukimura and his face, OMG his face was absolutely priceless. I want the DVD of the play JUST to have that look on my laptop background. Once I get the DVD in April, I’ll be sure to post a picture of it because it’s just so perfect.

(pictures above were taken by Capcom, not me; Sabisuke is the guy with the fans)

The play itself was amazing. It was all in Japanese (minus Masamune’s random Engrish), but without consulting A or P, I understood about 40% of it. With their help and our collective thought we have about 75% down. There’s a few parts we’re unsure of, but once the DVD comes out in April, we’ll be able to watch it again and maybe bring that percentage up.

I ended up buying a bit of merch (I’m a sucker for badges and photo sets, don’t judge me) as well as the 10th anniversary collaboration CD. I hadn’t planned on getting this, but they were playing it before the play and during intermission and I needed it O_O They took instrumental theme songs from 12 characters and gave the vocals. Some are… eh. But the majority of them are really good! It came with a special DVD, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.

We decided spur of the moment to visit the Basara Café that was nearby the theatre. It was a really good decision! The people we sat next to were really nice. The dishes and drinks were all inspired by characters that were in the play. I couldn’t have Katsuie’s drink because it had alcohol in it; but I did manage Motochika’s drink. You got random coasters too with every dish/drink you ordered so we each ended up ordering two food dishes and three drinks each. P was a trooper and did two of the three alcoholic drinks.

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Recently, as in last Sunday, it was announced that they would be doing another play in July; based off the title, A and I were believe that it might involve my favorite character, Tenkai/Mitsuhide, and Nobunaga. We aren’t entirely sure, but from the title, it sounds like it. We’re hoping Maria show’s up too since she was a new character in 4/Sumeragi, but hasn’t been in either of those plays yet. Even Sakon and Katsuie have had some face time and they were newly introduced then as well. Needless to say, we’re planning on going to at least one play. We want to try for the finale in Osaka, but it’s really hard to get in to.

I ended up joining the fan club as well and just in time! They’re having a fan meeting event at the end of May! Already put in my request for both time slots; mainly because I can’t pick one over the other. The afternoon session has Katsuie and Motochika’s stage play actors while the evening session has Tenkai’s game voice actor. Figured, put in for both and see what happens!

In other news, work is trucking along! The end of the school year is fast approaching (March 18th is my school’s closing ceremony), but I’m enjoying the classes I have left with my students! I’m not sure if I’ll get 3rd years again next year, fingers crossed I can visit at least a couple times! Also, time to catch up on Embarrassing Moments.

Embarrassing Moment #8: Splashing your breakfast smoothie ALL OVER YOUR FACE AND HAIR. Yeah. The one day I decide to bring breakfast to work, this happens. I had uncapped my thermos to stir my smoothie and I guess I didn’t screw it on tight enough or the right way because next thing I knew, it was all over my face and in my hair. I ran to the locker room, a few of the teachers trailing behind me asking what was wrong and then promptly had to clean the trail I had made (it had blueberry in it, it might have stained). For the rest of the day, all my students asked why I smelled like blueberries; I was going to lie and say a new perfume; my JTE’s thought it would be hilarious to tell them what really happened.

Embarrassing Moment #9: When your students realize what a fangirl you really are (ES). So, at one of my Elementary Schools, the teachers know I listen to Visual Kei and attend concerts on a monthly basis. Usually the first thing they ask me is “Any new concerts?” after a week or two of not seeing me. This launches me into showing pictures of the concert/event I might have gone to since they last saw me. The students love looking at my phone and seeing my pictures and since it’s before class and with the HRT, I usually speak Japanese. Therefore, the students can understand me (unless my broken Japanese is really THAT bad). So this means, students get to hear the fangirl side of me.

And there’s a new thing I wanted to start that is somewhat similar to Embarrassing Moments; The Things I Live For. So these are things that happened to me that make me happy or remind me why I’m here and why I love what I’m doing. I’ll just do three for now, but I have a list!

Things I Live For #1: Students requesting a class with me outside my usual class period. This happened just last week when I was asked by my first year JTE that one of my classes had asked me to do a second class after their usual one. When I asked about the class they have after mine, Social Studies, he said they had asked their teacher if it was okay to have an extra class with me since they were so ahead with their Social Studies work. She said yes and so next step was for me to say yes to teaching back to back classes with them. This particular class (1-1) happens to be one of my favorite first year classes; they have the most energy (sometimes a bit too much), but they love my lessons and are always participating, even the girls. So how could I say no?

Things I Live For #2: Having an in depth and deep conversation about Sengoku Basara with your students. This actually happened at my elementary school that I visit every Monday in a class that I’ve had trouble keeping the attention of the students in. Well, more like there’s a group of boys that are REALLY hyper all the time and just have a hard time focusing on class. It’s not their fault, and I really do try to incorporate physical games to keep them motivated and somewhat focused. Well, before the start of class, I was setting up the activity I had planned for them; while I was setting up, the group of boys came over and started to poke around my stuff. When I turned around to tell them to stop and go help pass out text books, they were looking up at me with huge eyes. I have two keychains on my pencil case; a keychain of Motonari and a keychain of Katsuie. We ended up having a long discussion before the start of class (and one boy proceeded to tease me that all my favorites die at some point in the game) and when they sat down, I was surprised at how attentive they were. They were the first to volunteer for my activities and even asked the class leader if they could walk me back to the staff room so we could talk more Basara. It’s a simple thing but… set my heart a light >.<

Things I Live For #3: Students approaching me outside of school. This has happened a few times already, but only with my ES students. Twice it happened with the same two kids (Oiwake students) and once with another two students from another ES (Kamijima). The ones from Kamijima even went as far as to walk me all the way to the train station so we could talk. The students at Oiwake speak a mix of English and Japanese to me which is always fun. Again, it’s the small things >.<

And that’s all I can think of now! But I’m sure I’ll have a post or two up later for my VK stuff (cause boy am I behind on that) and about the upcoming Graduation! Keep your eyes open!

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Hokubu Bonnenkai, Family Visit, Christmas, Trip to USJ, and New Years in Japan

This is SO late, but I’ve been really busy lately and haven’t had time to write blog posts as often. I’ve managed to bust out a couple posts already, so now I just have to actually POST them. This one will cover five big things that happened in December; my school’s bonnenkai (end of the year party), a visit to my good friend’s house in Ko, my trip to Tokyo, my trip to USJ with Jami and Derek and what I ended up doing for New Year’s (since my initial plans fell through due to me being sick). I had more pictures, but my phone was replaced a couple weeks ago and I forgot to write down the Japanese specific account I had for it; soooooo lost all those pictures >.<

Parties are a big thing here in Japan, especially if you work in a group environment setting. I’ve been to… two so far since being here that were set up by my JHS. First one was way back in September and the second one was in October. This one, however, was a bit more special… and a bit more expensive. The Bonnenkai (End of the Year party) is one of two biggest events for JHS teachers in Japan. They go all out for this dinner. We were put up in a really fancy hotel, had an impressive array of set dishes brought out to us (though I really struggled since the majority of it was seafood) and played games to pass the time. Even though the food was mainly seafood, I pride myself in being able to eat all of it, even if it took me five minutes of chewing and copious sips of tea to swallow. I was seated with the Special Education teachers (which was nice because usually I’m sitting by the same people).

We had a quiz show PowerPoint and I couldn’t really answer many of the questions because 1) I only understood 25% of what the questions was asking/hints given and 2) couldn’t form an intelligent answer in time. I knew that all the questions/hints revolved around things that had happened in the past  year. But having only been here since August, it was a bit hard for me to contribute. I think that the teachers who set up the enkai remembered this would be an issue for me (I had also stated in my staff introduction that I have an easier time understanding Japanese when I hear it rather than being able to speak quickly) because the last one was insanely easy. So easy, I was actually afraid to answer it; I was pretty sure I would still get it wrong. The hint was: “フレシュメンバー” This reads as “Fresh Member”. I had a feeling they were talking about me because no one wanted to answer the question. So I raised my hand and the mic was passed to me and I said super quiet, “私?”Which reads as “Me?”

Thunderous applause.

And impromptu speech. Luckily! They asked me to give it in English and F-sensei just translated for me.

I really do appreciate how the teachers try to make me feel involved and part of the group, even if it’s only at these things. It’s a bit more of an issue at school for some reason. But anywho, we moved onto a more difficult quiz based off of the top 10 moments of the year. At the second question, I had raised my hand to high five one of the teachers sitting next to me for a picture and the host took this as I wanted to answer the question and so he said “ああ!ミランダさん!はい、どうぞ!” –> “Oh! Miranda! Yes, please answer!”

Yeah no.

I shook my head and said it was a mistake and I could steadily feel my cheeks turning red from the attention >.< He moved onto the next person, but because of this, it was now a joke to call on me after each hint/question was given. One the last one, I tried to answer with the help of F-sensei, and I could tell that the teachers were impressed I tried even though I wasn’t anywhere close to what they were aiming for.

Bingo is a huge thing here. I can’t even begin to explain how excited my students get when we play bingo. Part of our fee to attend included paying for prizes; some of which were super nice, other were not (joke gifts).  I managed to bingo somewhat early on, but my gift wasn’t one of the better ones; it was still good, but it wasn’t the cool Beats by Dre headphones that the 1st year Japanese teacher won *shakes fist*

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We had a nijikai (second party) afterwards and I was talked into joining since it was karaoke. I hadn’t prepared for it (or practiced for that matter), so I was worried about how much I could actually do. I promised to sing at least one song, but explained that I do enjoy listening to others more than singing myself. Halfway through I sang “Kyptonite” by Three Doors Down cause it’s one of the few songs I know completely and at a range I feel comfortable singing. I then surprised all of them by joining in with two other teachers to sing a Disney song in Japanese. I had to trail in and out for a few chords, but they were going nuts.

On 12/23, I went to visit my friend Misaki and her family in Ko (a town outside of Toyohashi). I met Misaki during my first year at Pacific University; she ended up coming to visit Alaska that winter and when I was in Japan my first time around, her family would invite me over every couple of months. They’ve taken me to Mie, spent my first New Year’s in Japan with me, celebrated my birthday with a yakiniku picnic and even helped me get to the airport at 4 in the morning to go back to America. They’ve been there a lot for me, so I always try to make time for them. I finally got to visit them this time around!

We spent a bit of time chatting and catching up; a real test of my Japanese there, but they know my listening comprehension is better than my spoken ability, so they’re pretty patient when it takes me a bit longer to respond to their questions. We ended up making a trip to the super market to get supplies for dinner. When I visit them, they tend to go all out. I love Kaa-san’s (what I call Misaki’s mother, endearing way to say Mom) kaaraage so we decided to make that! Along with some pineapple kinton (pineapple sweet potato mash mix) and some yummy rice mix. When I visit their house… it’s not a matter of whether or not I’ll eat their food; it’s more like, how much food they have me eat because they want me to eat more. I’ve loved everything I’ve eaten there in the past, but the issue comes when I’m full and trying to save room for whatever desert they have set aside (in this case chocolate fondue) and they keep pushing more food on me XD While having the fondue, we watched this show called “Karaoke Battle”. I’d never seen it before, but I really liked it! We made our own game of guessing their score before it was revealed. Apparently I have an ear for this show because I was always the closest. They drove me to Toyohashi station to catch the train back to Hamamatsu (I had work the next day).

I got my Christmas gift from my parents on Christmas day! I wasn’t able to open it until after work since I had to have it redelivered, but I got a PS3! I had one on my general wish list on amazon (the one I share with my family around holidays and birthdays); I wasn’t expecting to get one, especially since I just had it on there to keep track of the price, but… I got one! And it’s been great in helping curb my need to spend money (to an extent).

I actually had to work on Christmas; it’s not considered a holiday here. I really didn’t mind. Since there’s no class, I have time to bust out lesson plans uninterrupted; and I can listen to music while I work. I also made small bags of chocolate for all the teachers in my JHS as well as wrote all of them New Year’s cards in Japanese; I even wrote the kanji in their names and some of my teachers have really, REALLY difficult kanji. They seemed to appreciate my effort.

I went to Tokyo from 12/25 to 12/27. Originally it was only for BFN’s Hard Mode Winter Tour Finale on the 27th, but I ended up extending it to spend time with friends. Had dinner with a friend on Christmas, hung out with another friend on her birthday, caught up with another friend that night, and Sunday before the live, I got brunch with the same person I had dinner with on Christmas. I had biscuits and gravy O_O It was so legit too! I won’t go into too much detail regarding BFN’s finale since I actually do talk about it in one of the upcoming posts.

Originally, I was supposed to work on 12/28, but I was asked to take paid leave as no one was going to be at the school. So I used the day to deep clean my apartment and relax until my trip to Osaka. I wanted to play my PS3, but I knew that if I started playing I wouldn’t stop and I’d miss the train to Nagoya.

12/29 was all about USJ (Universal Studios Japan); I went with Jami and Derek and it was a blast! It was super crowded, but we managed to secure a spot in the Harry Potter Park. While waiting for our time to go in, we did the Jurassic Park ride and Back Draft. I’ve never been on the Jurassic Ride before… I didn’t know what it entailed either. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love roller coasters. I really do like them, but when it comes to a constant drop where I go airborne for a short amount of time… I do not like that at all. So… when we started getting pulled up… I knew that we were gonna drop and I didn’t like the distance it was going to be.

I was not amused in the slightest with that drop. And yes, I did go airborne.

We walked around a bit more until it was time to go to the Harry Potter Park (really the only reason I wanted to visit USJ in the first place). When we finally went in, my excitement was everywhere. I was like a kid in a candy store (and I was quite literally when we made it to Honeyduke’s!) Derek and Jami were such troopers; I was taking pictures of anything and everything. We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks and I finally had Butterbeer! I had the hot stuff, but I wish I had done the cold one. Apparently there’s a big difference between the two. Afterwards, we went around looking at the shops and taking pictures. Ended up buying Lupin’s wand! I wanted to go on the ride, but there was a 4 hour wait for it and yeah… no. I didn’t want to ride it THAT badly. Finally got my Ravenclaw scarf though!

We left after that and decided to get dinner a bit early; Jami and I had invited our friend Anna to dinner earlier in the month, so we waited for her to arrive. We all went to the same university together when we were in Japan. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Café and ended up staying there for a while just talking. Haven’t done that in a while. Jami and I had to leave by a certain time though because we needed to return to Nagoya. I actually passed out on the Shinknsen because I was so tired! I never do that XD

I had pictures to post, but as I stated in the beginning, I lost them all when my phone was replaced. I will be visiting it again in August, so hold out until then for photos.

Now, my original plans for New Year’s involved a concert in Tokyo at Ikebukuro Edge, but I felt really ill and I didn’t want to make it worse by traveling. So I stayed behind while Kim went ahead. I was able to resell my ticket to someone who wanted to go though, so I’m glad she was able to enjoy it in my stead.

Instead, I stayed in and watched a bit of Kohaku with A and P. Kohaku is a singing competition that’s done during New Year’s; there’s the white team and the red team. I believe the white team is the Boy’s Team and the red team is the Girl’s team. But that might be reversed. From what I’ve been told the boys win most of the time XD We also visited a nearby shrine to rid ourselves of the bad juju from the previous year, pray for a good New Year and draw omikuji lots (fortunes). I got an upper middle fortune; better than the one I did last time!

Also had photo for this, but again… they were lost >.<

Phew! And there we have it! Sorry that it took me so long to write about it! I’ve gotten so bad at this blog thing! I will probably have a more recent post up either later today or within the next couple days.

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JET Program Application: The Interview

It has come to my attention that the time for JET Interviews have arrived! I can’t believe it’s that time already! I wanted to write a post about this, mainly because I spent hours scouring the internet for advice and help on my pre-interview practice as well. I applied to the Japan Consular of Anchorage, Alaska, so everything I will be writing is about my personal experience there; I promise you that your situation will be drastically different than mine as there were only 15 people that applied when I did and got accepted to the interview stage (largest group in years). Out of those 15, 7 of us made it to Short List status.

I’ll try to cover all the important bits; I remember a fair bit of my initial interview, so here goes nothing!  I’m hoping this doesn’t find anyone too late!

Preparing for the Interview

First things first; congratulations for making it to the interview stage! I know when I got my notification, I was beyond shocked! I wasn’t expecting to make it and what a surprise it was to see I would be interviewed! Take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back! Now, down to business! Something I did for hours upon hours a day was research any and all possible questions that could be asked to me during this interview. And I’m really glad I did because many of them were actually asked to me. Here’s a something I also found helpful: READ LAST YEARS GENERAL INFORMATION HANDBOOK. Specifically portions about working in Japan. It can be found on the JET and CLAIR website; it’s a great tool to get an idea for what JET is looking for.

Scour blogs (like this one) for advice. You can pick out the things you want to focus on. I’ll give a small list of possible questions later on in the post. Anything you can find will help you.

Practice answering questions to yourself; kind of like a mock interview. Are your hands moving too much? Do you fidget? These things come into play! (we’ll talk a bit more about it later in THE INTERVIEW).

Practicing your answers will help you hear how they sound and how you sound. Be confidant in your answers! And give them some thought too. If your questions is “Why do you want to work in Japan?” Don’t say, “Because I like anime.” That’s a one way trip to the reject pile. If you want to say it’s because of anime (and really, no problems if so) don’t just say that; give them a story. Explain WHY anime is so interesting to you. Why do you like it so much? How did you get into it? Straight answers aren’t the way to go; the more detailed you can be, the better.

Time yourself; how long does it take to answer each question? Which ones are you finding it difficult to answer?

Writing down your answers helps too. Sometimes it’s a good way to process what you want to say. There was a particular question in general that had me stumped when I saw it on a blog and writing it out really helped me.

Check, double check, even triple check that you have your interview voucher. I had to fly to get to my interview and that would have SUCKED if I had forgotten it. In reality, my form had printed off wrong so I had to run around last minute to find a printer and reprint it before my interview.

Getting Ready for the Interview

Dress like you’re going to the last job interview ever in your entire life. Get those pants pressed, dry clean that suit jacket, the whole package! I wore a black suit skirt with a black suit jacket and a black and white blouse.

Ladies, if you do decide to wear a skirt, WEAR TIGHTS. You’ll have to wear them in Japan, so do it at your interview. They don’t approve (Japanese workforce) of wearing skirts without tights or pantyhose underneath. Keep that neckline in check too; don’t have it dip down too much as too much skin here is a really bad thing. You can keep your hair up or down, but keep it professional and classy!

For guys, I enlisted the help of my JET friends who are guys: suits are the way to go! Three piece is a bit much but a suit jacket and slacks are key! Clean shaven and neat hair; easy on that cologne.

If you have piercings, its okay leave them in, but express you’re okay taking them out for work (I did) Also nothing too flashy (none of that hoop business). I have five piercings: two on each ear lobe as well as a cartilage piercing on my right ear. I left them all in, but only wore simple studs.

If you have colored hair, that’s fine, it really shouldn’t hurt your chances, but be aware that if you ARE chosen you will most likely have to die your hair to a reasonable color. For example, one of the girls I came to Hamamatsu with had fire engine red hair but had to dye it back to brown before starting work. I have blonde and caramel highlights (almost like an ombre) but my school doesn’t mind that. Just keep in mind, that if you have a color that isn’t considered “natural” you may be asked to change it.

Bring copies of EVERYTHING. Your application, your birth certificate, your transcripts, anything and everything they might ask you for.

Have questions ready to ask the panel; I don’t think this is a deciding factor, but it shows that you’ve done your homework on the program.

THE INTERVIEW

And here we are! The long awaited interview! Generally speaking, your interview can last anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. The person before me took 35 minutes whereas my interview took 25 minutes. After meeting the accepted shortlisters, I found out that one girls’ interview took 45 minutes!

Arrive to your interview a few minutes early, 10 minute at the most. As the Japanese say “Being early is on time; being on time is late”. It gives you a chance to ground yourself and focus as well. Converse with other people waiting (if there are any). They’re probably just as nervous as you are and some peer support might be appreciated!

There are lots of stories out there ranging from traditional interviews, to super fun interviews to interviews that are reminiscent to a firing squad. There is a common phrase said with JET and you should probably get used to hearing it: ESID; Every situation is different. Just because one person’s interview went swimmingly doesn’t mean you will have the same experience. How your interview will go won’t be clear until you’re already there. The point to doing this is to make you panic and see if you break; do you crack under pressure? Do you get flustered or angry? As a job interview for becoming an ALT, a teacher, you need to be able to handle difficult situations and challenges. They’re doing it for your betterment if anything.

During the interview, there will be three to four people on your panel. There were four for mine; a JET Alum, an embassy worker, a professor from the University of Alaska and another person from the embassy (representing the Japanese side; he also administered the Japanese test at the end). When you’re brought in, shake everyone’s hand. EVERYONE. It leaves a lasting impression, believe me. When they ask you questions, make sure to look at everyone, not just the person who asked you the question

Relax. If you’re too stiff or rigid, they’ll notice. Have fun with it! Make them laugh! Don’t feel like you have to be prim and proper and perfect through the whole thing. I managed to make the Japanese guy laugh during my interview; whether or not it was because he was overly tired (I was the 13th applicant that day interviewed) or if I was genuinely funny can be debated, but I did it. Remember, you’re going over to be a teacher; they want to see that you can have fun and go with the flow.

Of the questions they’ll ask, sometimes they will ask you something or say something that contradicts what you may have originally said in your application. For example, one of my interviewers said that I had asked for a large city in Aichi as my first choice placement; I did not. In fact, I had asked for anywhere in Aichi as I had lived in Aichi previously for school. They were firm in saying that they were right, so I asked for a moment and pulled out my copy of my application and gave it to them, showing them that maybe it had been a mistake written on my interview sheet, but that I had indeed asked for Aichi as a whole. My second choice had been Nagoya City. Seeing I had my ducks in a row, they moved on. Most everyone I’ve spoken to has said they got a contradicting question; this is why it’s a good idea to know your application inside and out.

For Questions, here are some things I was asked and that I came across when scouring the blogs online:

Why do you want to work in Japan? Why not a different country? (I was asked this question)
Why do you want to work in the JET Program?
Why do you want to teach English?  (I was asked this question)
What makes you stand out from other applicants?
Why would you make a good ALT for Japanese students? (I was asked this question)
If you were placed in a location that was the complete opposite of what you asked for, how would you react?
Will your medical history or current medical condition(s) hinder your work in anyway? (I was asked this question)
How do you deal with conflict in a work environment? (I was asked this question)
Gender roles are still somewhat separated in Japan (only women serve tea at the schools); how does this make you feel?
How do you feel about punishment in class?
A teacher is verbally scolding a student in front of the entire class; how do you react or feel?
(As a woman) if you were asked to serve tea, would you? (I was asked this question and actually have had to serve tea during a school event)
Give two weaknesses and two strengths; explain how you would overcome your weaknesses.
Who is the current Prime Minister of Japan? (I was asked this question)
Name two current events happening in America (insert your country name) right now that you could use in school.
Name three things you would bring to Japan to represent your state/country. (I was asked this question)
Name three facts about your state/country.
Talk about any previous exposure or experience in Japanese/Japanese culture (I was asked this question)
Talk about your hobbies
Teach us a 5 minute lesson on (insert topic)

The list is honestly endless of the question that you could be asked or might be asked. My list is honestly nowhere near as comprehensive as some, but it will at least give a ground work for you to use until you build up your bank of questions and answers. When the interview is over, shake all their hands again.

And you did it! You successfully finished your interview! Well what do you do now?

Post Interview

You wait.

This is quite possibly the hardest part of the entire process because now you’re just hanging out there waiting for someone to tell you if you’ve been accepted. My interview was on February 5th; I was told of my short list status March 31st which is really early according to their timeline. Keep your head up and know you did the best you could do!

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to message me!

Good luck!

Posted in Japan, JET Program, JET Program Application | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Day at Hokubu Junior High School

So I figure this is long way over due, especially since I’ve been talking about it for like the past two or three posts. I wasn’t sure which day I would write about since I’m only at Hokubu three times a week and the schedule changes depending on tests, special events or if teachers are sick/decide to cancel for some reason. I’m usually at my JHS Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, but for the sake of getting all my class years in, I’ll do Friday.

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5:30 Alarm wakes me up to remind me I should probably start thinking about getting up

5:45 Alarm goes off again because I most likely turned the first one off without a snooze

5:55 Yeah, that’s right; third alarm because this is how long it takes me to get out of bed. USUALLY this works and I get up to shower

6:30 Rummage around the apartment deciding what to wear while simultaneously finding breakfast and deciding if I should try to make a lunch

6:45 Snarf whatever breakfast I managed to find and grab a fruit or pack of crackers for lunch because I ended up deciding not to make a sandwich

7:00 Take out the burnable trash down the street and head to the bus stop outside my apartment

7:20 Arrive at the bus stop closest to my school and walk the rest of the way. If I’m lucky a student might talk with me, but usually it’s just me and my thoughts (or headphones if I’m in a musical mood that morning)

7:35 Arrive at school third years scream good morning from the third floor balconies when they see me; drop off stuff in the locker room, check mail box for papers, check desk for papers, check weekly teacher board for class/period changes and teacher message board to see if any of my teachers called in sick. I also use this time to prep anything last minute for my lesson, like making copies for papers

8:10 My day officially starts (when I start getting paid). On Tuesday, this is when the teacher’s meeting usually takes place. I understand maybe… 20% of anything ever because it’s always pretty formal and I can only make out small snippets of what’s being discussed

8:30 to 9:20 Free period; usually spent working on lesson plans for later lessons in the week or finish prep for other classes for that day

9:30 to 10:20 Midori (special needs class) This class I have on Tuesday’s too; I much prefer the Friday class because the students are much more genki (energetic) with the impending weekend. Tuesday they’re just dead.

10:30 to 11:20 HR 1-3 (read as Homeroom Year 1, Class 3; Year 1 is equivalent to 7th grade in the States. Year 2 is 8th grade and Year 3 is 9th grade) I love teaching my first years because they always get into the games I’m doing. There’s only been a few instances where they weren’t into it, but from what I was able to gather they usually get that way right before tests. I’ve learned to make physical activities or activities that are really fun to take their mind off of it

11:30 to 12:20 HR 2-1

12:20 to 12:50 LUNCH. I actually usually don’t eat lunch; if I do, it’s not a lot. Since I have so many food restrictions, it’s pretty much impossible for me to eat kyushoku (school lunch). The majority of the food that’s found in the kyushoku is a trigger food for flare ups for me, so I just avoid it all together

12:50 to 1:15 Speak with my JTE’s if they’re in the staff room or walk around the school. Sometimes I have to stay at my desk though because my JTE’s have sent students to do something or turn something in to me. I also have a letter box with my 3rd years, so I check on that if I’m able to leave

1:20 to 2:10 HR 1-1

2:20 to 3:10 HR 3-2 Usually while I’m waiting for class to start (there’s a small 10 minute break in between each period) the girls will come up and talk with me; they’ll also play with my hair since I leave it down most days. The boys will also try to come talk and convince me to try a new brand of coffee (they’re shocked I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis). I really, REALLY like teaching 3rd years. They’re into learning English, love my activities and the majority of the girls in the two classes I teach write letters to me every week. The boys can sometimes get a little out of hand, but they’ve died down in the past week or so

4:10 My day officially ends, but I stay longer to talk with my JTE’s to plan for next week if we haven’t already had the chance to do it earlier on in the week.

4:30 to 5:00 Head home on the bus!

And there you have it! Roughly what a day looks like for me. Some days aren’t as packed as this; Friday just happens to be the one day that I have the bulk of my lessons. Tuesday is four classes and Wednesday is three. I’ll do a post on a day at an elementary school to since those are quite a bit different.

Posted in ALT Life, Hamamatsu City, Japan, JET Program | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SDC, Kimonos, and My First Attempt at Teaching Third Years

Before I put up a post on an average day at my JHS or ES, I figured I’d catch up on the now (besides I’m still working on it). Since I last updated, there have been a few things note-worthy to talk about. So let’s begin! First off, let’s tackle SDC because it’s BARELY clinging on in my head and I’m sure that all the points I wanted to talk about will vanish if I wait even one more day.

SDC stands for “Shizuoka Development Conference”. This is a two day, you guessed it, teaching conference for ALL the JET ALT’s in Shizuoka. It’s out in Asunaro or rather, the middle of nowhere. You may think I’m kidding, but holy crap that’s about as inaka (country) as you can get. The train didn’t even have a ticket collector or distributor. The amount of foreigners in this small town was overwhelming, I’m sure. The really cool thing was that I ran into my friend, E, a fellow Japanese major that I went to college with in Oregon! She actually found me; I was so spacy on the train, she walked up to me and it took me a few seconds to realize who she was and what she was doing in front of me. I can’t believe we happened to be on the same train heading out to Asunaro!

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Baaaack to SDC! They have some professors and teacher’s come in to present topics of interest, but the bulk of the presentations are done by the ALTs. Although, first year ALT’s didn’t have to present; we don’t have to do that until our second year. During the first day our schedule looked a little something like this (and it’s not completely accurate as I don’t have the schedule right in front of me while writing this):

Registration: first part of the morning; just had to grab my nametag and packet for the training.

Opening Ceremony: most of the Hama JETs sat in the last three rows of the auditorium; Hama SMASH!

Lesson Planning– this involved all the municipal ALTs in Hamamtsu, Shizuoka and Fujieda City. Basically gave us a scenario and had us pair up with someone in our table group to discuss how to plan and prepare for the lesson. I really enjoyed this!

Lunch: Om nom nom food! They had a lunch box available, but yay food allergies.

(For the workshops we were able to choose which ones we wanted to attend)

Workshop 1 (Introduction to Teaching in JHS and ES in Japan/How to Communicate with your Teachers): This workshop was actually pretty informative. The two presenters had great ideas on how to find time to speak with our JTE’s about lesson or HRT (Homeroom Teacher for ES). I’ve actually struggled a lot with speaking to my ES HRT’s, but the ideas they gave me have been helping a lot!

Workshop 2 (Active Student Teaching): This workshop was originally supposed to be about having the students more engaged in the classroom; almost like having them run the class without realizing it. However, all I remember is the presenter trying to push their “passbook review sheets” on us. Feel like it could have been a great presentation had it actually been about the topic it was supposed to be about. I don’t mind hearing ideas that work for other ALTs, but that is not what I intended to spend a workshop listening to.

Workshop3 (Bringing the Textbook to Life): Now this one… was misleading. I thought this was more about how to make the textbook more interesting with games or pronunciation exercises or things of that sort. No… it was about using drama; like, acting. I really spaced out during this one because wasn’t interested in the topic at aaaaaaall.

And that was the end of day one! Onwards to day two!

Teaching Bazaar: This is where most of the ALTs presented. There are various booths and tables with activities, teaching topics and the like. The majority of the things I liked I actually heard from other Hama JETs. We just rock that much apparently lol.

Workshop 4 (Using Visual Media in the Classroom): Probably the BEST workshop I attended by far. It was actually done by two Hama ALTs, J and D. I ended up giving a few of their ideas a go, like using Apple TV and an iPad in the classroom. It’s a HIT in my ES! Kamijima especially! The kids are more eager than ever to participate because they get to touch the fancy iPad. I’ve had kids who were the kind of student that shied away from any form of contact with me to becoming the student on the edge of their seat screaming “HAI!” (yes) at me with their hand raised so they could answer the question on the iPad.

Team Teaching Strategies: The same as day one, done with all the municipal ALT’s. Basically discussing ways Team Teaching can work and something else that seemed important at the time but actually failing to remember most of this workshop. I think there was some role playing in it as well, but I didn’t get much from that portion.

Problem Solving: Minus the role playing, this one was the same as well, but we discussed dealing with problems in the workplace which all seemed to be based off of miscommunication (moral of the story kids: TALK TO YOUR TEACHERS).

Closing Ceremony: Just like the opening one except you know… closing.

And cue mad rush to the one platform out of the middle of nowhere. There was only one train that left between 4 and 5 and none of us wanted to wait until 5:30 for the next one. But that was the end of my first SDC! Overall, I pulled some pretty good ideas from it that I’m using in my classroom teaching today.

And a feeeeew updates on my schools!

Pen Pals at Kamijima: I brought this idea up to my father who is a special needs teacher at an ES in Alaska and he had a couple classes interested in exchanging letters with an ES class from Japan. So I brought it up to my head teacher at Kamijima and she in turn brought it up to her boss and they want to do it! It will be with the fifth year classes and we’re turning it into a semester long project for them. The head teacher was really excited to hear about how we would go about doing it. We might even include photos of the students and the school in the letters! I hope the students are as embracing to the idea as the teachers are.

Embarrassing School Moment #6: Literally running to class after being told you were being expected at a class you initially thought was cancelled. That’s right, it finally happened; I was legitimately late for a class. But! In my defense, the way my schedule had been written out made it seem like it was cancelled. Thankfully it was caught early on and I was able to rush through prep (so happy it was only a bingo lesson) and ran to the classroom (third floor, mind you). I felt terrible! But my JTE was pretty understanding about it. Can’t let that happen again!

Had an Authentic Kimono Fitting and Tour around Hamamatsu: This one… I was skeptical about; mainly the kimono fitting. Now, it’s no secret that I’m uncomfortable with my weight and image; it’s a constant battle, believe me, but I’ve ALWAYS wanted to wear an authentic kimono. Like, a legit, need help putting all the pieces on, kimono. When this opportunity came up, I wanted to give it a shot! But… I was hesitant after saying yes because I know that I do not fit within the Japanese standard norm of sizes. I’m waaaaaay outside of it. I was hoping, however, that kimono’s would be different. And it was a real kimono store so they had to cater to all body shapes right?

Wrong-o (sorry, I’ve been watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas like once a day for the past week).

I went to the kimono shop and was brought to the back room to get dressed and fitted. Now… I don’t think that the shop owners or the ladies who helped me knew that I could speak Japanese. Their comments made it pretty obvious that they were going to have a hard time fitting me. First, the issue was my feet. Yes, I have large feet. I’m an Indian, we have large feet. So of course, my feet wouldn’t fit in the “tabi” (basically they’re socks with more of a shape). After FINALLY finding a pair that fit me, they moved on to the under garments. Well, those wouldn’t wrap around me all the way. So I had to have two underskirts wrapped around me. We managed to make it to the under robe when they realized that the kimono’s they had picked out for me weren’t going to fit me. Which SUCKS because I really liked both of the ones they had picked (dark blue with golden and bronze leaves or black and silver with pink and white flower petals). I’m really short, so the combination of that and my body figure just went against me like no one’s business during this endeavor. So after 20 minutes of listening to them discuss how they were going to dress me, they both left the room to hunt for a kimono.

I broke down.

I started crying a bit because I was really embarrassed that this was such a difficult thing to do when it really shouldn’t have been. I tried to compose myself when they came back, but I think they could tell I had been crying, but I brushed it off as something being stuck in my eye. Don’t know if they believed me, but they dropped it.

They found me a silk kimono (all the others were cotton) in a light gold color that seemed to fit okay. Not perfect, but it worked. I had to be really careful though because if I took too large of strides, it was obvious that it didn’t fit right. Now, I forgot how kimono’s can be like the eastern version of a corset. When they started putting the beginning layers of the “obi” (sash around the middle) on, holy crap. The ladies didn’t even warn me when they were going to tighten the straps; she only placed a hand on my shoulder and for a split second I thought “Oh crap, I forgot about this part” and YANK. That lady was tiny, but boy did she know how to tighten an obi. I got a pat on the shoulder as an apology though.

I didn’t mention this earlier, but all the kimono’s they had picked out earlier were in sets; like the obi and kimono went with each other. However, being a special case, they were basically working from scratch. They were having fun apparently because once I had the straps on my obi on, they spent another 10 minutes deciding on the under fabric for the obi (decided on red) and then decided to let me wear a really special pink obi. From my understanding, it’s special because it’s rare and old. Most obi’s just have floral, linear or block designs; this one was a full blown picture. The back of it had one too! It was so pretty! They topped it off with a gold rope around the front and I was finished. I wished I had put more into my hair because I did love how I looked.

After meeting up with the rest of the group (it was really just me and the ALT who was heading the tour, J, along with the students of her school who were in charge of it) we visited a few shops and a shrine. I had NO idea there was a shrine just down the street from me. Also, walking up and down stairs in a kimono is HARD. REALLY, REALLY HARD.

We did some purikura as well, which was a little hard with six of us trying to cram into a purikura booth to take decent photo. I accidentally left my glasses on, so I feel it looks a little weird. I had put in my email address to get the downloadable pictures because a couple came out really well, but for some reason my email didn’t register or I didn’t do it right because I never got an email about them. Which sucks!

Then we did something that wasn’t originally on the agenda; we went to the Annual Hamamatsu Piano Competition at ACT City. Our intent was to show off the kimonos there and speak with the foreign pianists, but it was taking FOREVER for the judges to announce the pianists that were moving on to the next round. We arrived around 7:00… we didn’t leave until about 8:00. I didn’t make it home until about 8:45 after taking off the kimono and walking home.

Even though it started out rough, it turned out good. I’m really glad I stuck through it and went.

Experiencing My First 3rd Year JHS Class: I’ve been hearing all sorts of stories from fellow ALTs about how crazy their 3rd years are and how they don’t care for English all that much except to pass it on their entrance examinations. So, I tried to go into my first 3rd year class with zero expectations; that way I wouldn’t be overly disappointed if they weren’t all that excited to have me in the class room. My only consolation is that both 3-1 and 3-2 had gone through the trouble to request classes with the ALT (me) and that they are always the first ones to greet me when I come to school every day. So that had to mean something, right?

Oh boy, I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into.

Two boys came to the staff room to bring me to class (first class you’re always escorted to class by the students) and F-sensei was also in the hallway waiting to walk with us. The boys asked me to slow down a bit and walk a little farther behind F-sensei; I did and all of a sudden one of the boys started asking me for advice on how to ask F-sensei out. Now… she’s married and has a kid, so this threw me off for a second. I just laughed it off and told him he shouldn’t try that, but he kept pushing. So I switched to “not being able to understand what he was saying”. That seemed to work!

I went into the class while F-sensei went to get a TV for my PowerPoint and all the kids literally applauded me when I walked in. Like, what the heck, I’m just an ALT, stop clapping. While we were setting up my PowerPoint, I was swarmed with girls wanting to talk to me and half of them were touching my hair (they aren’t allowed to have it down if the length surpasses their shoulder. As a teacher, I’m allowed to have mine down even though it reaches my mid-back). I let them do what they wanted, I didn’t mind really; the 5th graders at my ES will braid my hair during breaks so I’m quite used to students playing with my hair.

I went through my introduction and for the most part, it was really good. This particular class has a really high English level so I was able to use more advanced questions with them rather than what I used with my 1st and 2nd years earlier in the semester. Then I made it to the part that I was both dreading and looking forward to… the question session.

The majority of the questions were asked by the two boys who had initially invited me to their class a couple weeks ago. Here’s how it basically went down:

Me: Okay! Any questions?
Male Student 1: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: It’s a secret!
Class: (laughter)
Same Student: How many boyfriends have you had?
Me: That’s also a secret!
Class: (more laughter)
Same Student: Will you be my girlfriend?
Me: -deadpan face- No.
Class: (laughs even harder, teacher included)
Male Student 2: Will you be MY girlfriend?
Me: -deadpan face- No.
Male Student 3: Will…-waves for MS1 for help; student runs over and whispers something- Oh! Will you be my girlfriend?
Me: -dramatic pause for effect with small tilt of the head- …No.
Class: (dying of laughter, teacher is barely able to sit in her chair at this point)

After that the girlfriend questions seemed to die off for the moment and the girls were able to ask some questions. I had a word find activity that could be done alone or in pairs and they had 15 minutes to finish it; if they did, they got a star on their paper and if they brought their paper to me after school, they could get a small prize. In my mind, the prize would be a pin of their choice from my “Alaska Box”. The boys got way too excited for this “prize” and asked if the prize was a kiss. Don’t know where that came from and I told them no, but they seemed to be pretty convinced it was a kiss. Huddled up in the corner of the classroom talking about it as I was walking around the class.

In all honesty though, I really do like this class. They’re kind of crazy, but it’s really just those two boys. I’m sure it will wear off eventually? I’m hoping anyways.

Embarrassing School Moment #7: Dislocating your toe at a concert and having to explain to every teacher and student who sees you limping across the school why your foot is bound. Yeah, so it happened… I hurt myself at a VK live; granted, I was expecting this to happen eventually. I’ve hurt myself before, but it was more like stubbed toes or a smack to the head by a fellow fan who was head banging. In those instances, it was never anyone’s fault; just an accident. This one was ALL on me. I forgot my live-specific shoes at home and figured the shoes I was wearing would work out just fine. Well… that didn’t work out right. At the live (Black Gene), I was taken by surprise when BFN did a second round of Fear Dance before the final gyakudive. I slipped out of my shoe and as I was trying to gain my balance while also trying to hop sideways, I rolled both my ankles. THEN to make it even better, the person next to me didn’t see that I had stopped moving and kept going and landed on my right foot. At first, I thought it was broken, but later found out it was only dislocated; it still hurt though! I’ll go into more details on what happened after that since this is not a VK specific post. ANYWAY. For the past two days I’ve been having to explain to my teachers why my foot is bound and I’m limping. I have to keep it bound for the week to prevent the toe from dislocated again. It’s not hurting nearly as much anymore, but it still does hurt to an extent. My teachers at Hokubu know I listen to VK and attend concerts and so I didn’t have a problem telling them where I hurt myself; it was still a bit embarrassing though. The students are who surprised me the most. At my ES, the kids will carry my things to my next class or back downstairs for me since it takes so long for me to move down and up the stairs. At JHS, the students walk with me to and from class and to the staff room to make sure I make it without hurting myself. It’s really sweet!

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Hoping to have another post up later this month about what a usual day at my JHS looks like, along with a usual day at an ES. Also REALLY behind on the VK posts, the next one might have to be two parts since lots has gone down since my last one (September I think?). Keep an eye out! I suspect this month will get busy!

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Culture Festival and a Bunch of Other Things I Keep Forgetting to Write About

So… I had a feeling this would happen. The first couple months of this blog would be filled with posts and everything would be dandy… and then things would slow down. And I would forget I have a blog.

I forgot I had a blog.

But! At least I remembered before it was like… January or something. Since things have indeed slowed down since I first arrived, it’s hard for me to find things to write about. But! We did have something go on a bit ago so I will jot that down.

In Japan, junior high school and high schools have something they call a “culture festival”. Personally, I knew what this was when my teacher’s told me about it. However, the version I was expecting was different. The cultural festivals for JHS and HS are different and I wasn’t aware of that until another ALT told me so. For JHS, the cultural festival takes place in the form of a singing competition. Each class, as well as year, practice for months on a song to perform to the school, PTA, and parents. Judges are brought in from outside schools (like a high school or university). The brass band will also play; while the judges are deciding on the winners, the teacher’s arrange for a special performance for the students to watch.

Now, the version I was expecting is geared more towards high school. Some people might be familiar with it, but basically the school throws an actual festival at the school and invite the public to join. There’s usually games, performances and all sorts of stuff. Students put months of work into these.

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A part of me is sad that I won’t be able to see one of these, but I did enjoy the JHS cultural festival. So, let’s get down to it.

Hokubu’s Cultural Festival took place at ACT City Hall this year; according to my teachers, they usually go somewhere else. Shamefully, I haven’t been to ACT Hall since I’ve been here even though it’s a huge part of Hamamatsu. And I don’t just mean that figuratively; that place huge, it’s hard to miss. I live very close to ACT City Hall, but my school asked me to ride the bus over with them. the 3-2 and 3-3 group invited me to ride with them an since I don’t teach third years, I thought it would be a nice chance to spend some time with them. The third years at Hokubu are all very friendly to me and tend to be the loudest students when I arrive in the morning, when I’m walking down the hall or when I’m leaving at the end of the day. When I walk past their portion of the hallway to the first year side, students will literally run to the door just to say good morning or hello to me. I love it >.<

So, I rode the bus with them. I wasn’t told I didn’t have to dress up and you think I would have learned by now to do the opposite of what they say, buuuuut yeah no. Luckily, I have a locker at work now so I was able to change into the blazer I keep at Hokubu for instances like these. The staff were all so busy I was actually forgotten at one point and a teacher had to come back and get me to bring me to the bus. The students thought it was hilarious. The trip itself was quick; Hokubu is only about 15 minutes by bus to my apartment so maybe 20 all the way to ACT City. I followed everyone in and sat with my tantosha’s HR class, 3-3.

I often forget how much Japanese culture is based around formality and ceremony. I have never been to such a formal singing competition O_O not that there’s anything wrong with that! It just seems to always catch me off guard. You may recall a blog from September or so when I was talking about my speech student. He didn’t win or place at the speech contest, but was asked to perform his speech at the Culture Festival. I spent weeks helping him get down difficult words; I have to say that I was very proud of him for doing it in front of his peers and teachers. He nailed it! (Still bitter he didn’t at least place in September as his pronunciation is as clear as a native speaker -_-)

Afterwards, the singing portion began. It started with a song sung by the entire first year class (all of them my students) and then they split up into their home room classes and sang again. Something that I also noticed that is different from America is that the students are the ones who will play the piano for the song and conduct the song. I didn’t realize this until placements were being announced, but that was being judged too! There’s no rambunctious cheering either; only clapping. There isn’t really much to report on this except that these students sounded AMAZING O_O like holy crap these kids are good.

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For legal and safety purposes, the faces had to be covered in order to be put on my blog.

Before the lunch break and second half of the festival, the brass band played. That brought me back! Though with how well these students played, I almost forgot they were only in junior high school. Though the band director did enjoy talking to me afterwards about how I played clarinet and saxophone in JHS. He even invited me to join their practices when my clarinet is fixed!

I was invited to eat lunch with the 3-2 class, but I had to decline because I needed to stop by the BoE to pay for rent. Usually, I would do this on our monthly meetings, but that day happened to be the meeting and since I had a cultural festival (two others did as well), we were given an alternate meeting the following week. However, we still had to pay rent; one ALT had no hope of paying it during her lunch break so I offered to do it for her. The brass band ended late but they were still going to start the festival back up at 1:00. I literally had to RUN to the BoE, pay the rent and run back. There was no lunch that day…

The third years went after lunch and then we had what they called “Special Stage” I honestly had NO idea what this was. None of the teachers were able to explain it either. So I just went with it. But as explained earlier on, a teacher (sometimes more) will arrange to have a special guest performance for the students to enjoy. One of the first year teachers did it this year and they brought in a group called CUBE. This group does tricks an acrobatic stunts revolving around soccer. They were really good! They even called some of the students up to join some of their stunts.

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Afterwards, the placements were announced. They take these kind of things really seriously here! The teams who didn’t win, at least in the third year classes, broke out in tears; I can kind of understand though. It’s their last year doing this and they probably wanted to go out on a high note. The class I was sitting with, 3-3, didn’t win overall, but their conductor won for his category. I believe 3-1 won both piano and overall.

And that’s really it in terms of “big school events”. Here’s a few snippets of things that have been going on as well:

-Halloween at ES: Yes, Halloween was a big deal, at least for the elementary school I was at the weekend before. It was on a Thursday, but all the classes I had that day brought costumes in to wear during my class. I had originally planned on showing those classes a Halloween video, but for some reason, my computer refused to work on their TV unless it was a powerpoint. So last minute we had to change gear and do Halloween drawings. The students didn’t seem to mind; I managed to get lots of pictures, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m allowed to post them? I’m going to lean towards probably not. I wish I could because I got a picture with my favorite student in the fifth year classes. I’m only in his class maybe twice a month, but he follows me everywhere! I mentioned to him and the teacher my first time in his class that he reminded me of my brother when he was that age. He doesn’t look like my brother, but his personality is practically identical. Ever since that day, he has unfailingly called me “onee-chan” (big sister) outside of class and follows me all over the place, even if I’m not teaching fifth years the day I’m there. I’m sad I won’t have him in JHS. He attends Kamijima so he’ll most likely go to Hikuma.

-Halloween in Tokyo: That’s right, I went to Tokyo (again) for Halloween! Kim and I managed to snag tickets to one of Liraizo’s Halloween lives and our friend Ann joined us! I’ll spare the details for now since I promised I would separate my live/instore posts with other things I do. But! We spent Halloween in Tokyo and it was splendid.

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Embarrassing School Moment #5: Going all the way to school and making it to the staff room before being told by your JTE that you have something on your face. In my haste to leave work, I snarffed down a chocolate croissant and flew out of my apartment; in that effect, I managed to have chocolate on my face and NO ONE SAID A WORD until I went up to speak with my JTE about our class. I had even spoken to my Kyoto and kocho-sensei and they didn’t say a word -_-

Granted Third Year Classes: This one I’m super excited about! I’ve been asking to help out in the third year classes since… late September; mainly because I think they would benefit from being able to expand their English with me and also because I can provide them with a small educational yet fun break from the onslaught of stress that comes with trying to make it into a good high school. Plus, about half of the third years I see all ask me when I’m going to visit their class; I always feel bad when I have to tell them I won’t be visiting because the school hasn’t said I could.

That changed yesterday! Two students, who I recognized as third year boys, came into the teacher’s room and stopped at my desk. I thought this was weird because… no student ever comes to me unless I’ve told them to (for like a prize or something). The only times students acknowledge me in the teacher’s room is by saying ‘hello’ or ‘see you’ as they pass me, IF they pass me. So the fact that I had two students at my desk was surprising to say in the least. We had a very interesting conversation. First off, some background information: I always have my planner out; I have two pictures on the outside and three on the inside. The ones on the outside are of me and my best friend Rae and then on the backside it’s my two dogs. On the inside, I have three cheki (mini Polaroids), all of which are me and some VK band. This conversation was spoken entirely in English:

Student1: Hello!
Student2: Hello!
Me: Hi! How are you?
Student1: I’m good!
Student2: I’m happy! And you?
Me: I’m good, thank you. Can I help you?
Student1: Eeeeeeh *pauses* What do you like?
Me: What do I like? I like music. What do you like
Student1: Oh oh me too!
Me: *turns to second student* What do you like?
Student2: I like games.
Student1: *points to planner* Who this girl?
Me: That’s my best friend, Rae. She lives in America.
Student2: She’s very cute! Boyfriend?
Me: She’s married.
Both: Married?!
Me: Yes, married.
Both: Ooooooooh.
Student1: She’s cute!
Me: I’ll tell her that.
Student2: You’re cute too!
Me: *trying not to laugh* Thank you.
Student1: Boyfriend?
Me: It’s a secret!
Student2: *points to planner* May I open? (I think that word got around I had pictures inside of it; a few of my second year classes have seen them).
Me: Sure.
Student2: *opens planner and shows other student* Which is boyfriend? *shows cheki* (One is of me and Taka from Uchusentai:noiz; second one is of me and Shun from Duel Jewel and third is me and the entirety of Liraizo and Reign)
Me:…. They’re ALL my boyfriend.
Both: ….really?
Me: Yes.
Both:… really?
Me: *nodding* yes.
Both: *turn to JTE sitting behind me* Sensei! *points to planner* Really? Joke right?
JTE: *shakes head* No joke; really.
Both: …WHAT? *turns to Kyoto-sensei* Kyoto-sensei!!!! Really? Joke? Joke right? Joke!”
Kyoto-sensei: *shakes head* No joke.
Both: O_O
Me: *dying in a fit of laughter* Joke! Joke! I’m joking!
Kyoto-sensei and JTE: *also trying not to die of laughter*
Student1: Oh…Joke! Okay! Well, see you!
Student2: See you!
Me: Bye!
(Students leave only to come back in seconds later)
Student1: Please come visit 3-1 after testing!
Student2 Please come visit 3-2 after testing!
Me: Okay! I will talk with your English teacher. Who is your English teacher?
Both: (instert JTE name)
Me: Okay! I hope to see you soon!
Both: See you!

And that was how I found out I had been asked to teach some third year classes. I love the fact my JTE and Kyoto-sensei were in on my joke.

I went to speak with their teacher and I’m very happy about being able to help out in her classes! It adds a little more work on my schedule, but I really don’t mind! A lot of ideas I have and have been hearing from other ALTs are geared more towards third years; I’m excited to try them out now! I actually get to do my intro again in a couple weeks for them (didn’t think I’d have to until April with the new first years). It’ll feel weird doing it again after so long!

Other than that, not much else to report on! I meant to do a couple JET posts regarding the application, but I kinda missed that >.< I’ll try to do one in January for the interview stage since I’m aiming for this blog to be helpful to future JET’s as well. Also, been thinking about doing a post about what a typical day at an elementary school and junior high school looks like. Will try to have one of those up soon! Also have another Instore/Live post that will spouting soon. Waited way too long since the last one haha. In other news… It’s November! What the what!

Posted in ALT Life, Culture Festival, ES Life, Halloween, Japan, JET Program | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hokubu Junior High School Sports Day

After being cancelled and post poned twice, I finally was able to experience Sports Day! Ours took place on 9/30 and the weather was perfect! I won’t be able to post many pictures on this one because I’m not allowed to post pictures of my students (well, at least not the 1st and 2nd years, but it’s just safer to not do it at all). I do have a few of the school grounds I can put up.

So I arrived really early to help set up. They didn’t really need my help since the students were already on top of it! Still, I asked if there was anything I could do to help and I was asked to serve tea to the PTA when they arrived. I bounced back and forth between serving tea and telling people where they could stand/sit. Around 8:30 the opening ceremony started and each team marched past the tents and stage with their team flag. I mentioned this in a previous post, but at Hokubu, the three years are divided into four different teams (Green, Yellow, Red, Blue). This is because some events have only one year competing. With the three years interspaced between four teams, they still have someone to cheer for them while competing.

There were quite a few events; some traditional relays, others…not so much. Of course they had the relay races, the sprints and tug o’ war, but there were also others that I had never seen before, but thought were amazing! One relay was called the Dice Relay. Two people from each team would be holding onto a ring and would stand on the opposite side of the track where the finish line was. At the start of the relay, the pairs would decide which way to go; left or right. They would have to run until kocho-sensei threw a large die into the air; if the number was even, then you had to run left. If it was odd, you had to run right. It was so funny to see students scrambling to turn around when the die didn’t roll in their favor.

Another was called Typhoon. I believe this was the 1st year game; they grouped up at one end of the field in rows of five. The first row would take this giant pole and run down the field with it; they would have to spin around a cone and then keep running to the next cone. After reaching the other side, hey would run back towards their team and yell “Typhoon!” and sweep the pole underneath their team. The team and to jump over it and then duck as it came back up an around for the next row to take. I really wanted to do this one! The 2nd year game was a race which involved walking on people’s backs. One person would literally walk over people to reach the finish line. Baaaasically human bridge. I was more concerned about the student’s safety than anything!

The 3rd years did events according to gender. So the 3rd year girls did a dance and then the boys did an event showing off… physical strength? That’s the best translation I could find; it was all about precision and strength and uniformity. It was impressive to see them make human pyramids!

I was in the middle of taking a video when my kocho-sensei comes up to me and says that it’s time for the PTA tug of war with one of the classes. I didn’t realize he wanted me to participate too! I didn’t follow him when he walked away and when he turned around to see if I was, he made a motion to follow. I did and as I got closer to the rope, I could hear all the students whispering and murmuring, “It’s Miranda-sensei! Is she going to play? What is she doing?” I joined the group doing tug o’ war and on my side, I had yellow and red 2nd years cheering for our side. Soooo they’re all students of mine. Once the game started they began chanting “Miranda-sensei, ganbare (which is like, do your best.)” It was so sweet! I left after two rounds, waving to my students as I returned to the tent and not seconds later one of my JTE’s comes to the tent saying they wanted me on the teacher’s team for the teachers vs. students match. I figured sure, why not. Now, I thought I would have to “lose” the match like I did with the previous one, but the teachers took it so seriously! They did a relay with the teachers and students too and I was asked to do that one as well, but I said I would sit out on that one because I could tell just by looking at their team that they were all runners. Mandi doesn’t run. If I am, you should probably be running too because something is most likely chasing me. The teachers won that rely too!

The day ended with the closing ceremony. I really enjoyed it! I look forward to doing more next year! I voiced with my teachers that I would love to help out on a team next year; we’ll see how it goes!

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(Only pictures I found that did not show students’ faces)

Posted in ALT Life, Hamamatsu City, Japan, JET Program, Sports Day | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment