Monday, October 6, 2014

sports day

Everyone stands at attention looking west. As the sun begins its descent from zenith, the flags flying at our school grounds follow suit and make their way down the poles. Japan's national anthem plays solemnly over the PA system. When the last note finishes, it echoes off the mountains and reverberates through town, hanging in the air for one last moment. Our 体育大会 has come to a close.

Sports Day is an annual mainstay of Japanese school life, held at every elementary, middle, and high school in Japan. Some of the details vary from school to school, such as the time of year the ceremony takes place (some areas observe it in the midst of spring, while the majority celebrate at the dawn of autumn). But others are rather common, such as group presentations or the obstacle course relay. Finally are the events nearly universal in their practice across Japan: there will be marching, there will be foot races, and there will be ラジオ体操.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

teaching english beyond the classroom

This past Tuesday marked an important moment in my work as a JET here in Japan. Along with a fellow ALT, I started an 英会話 in my hometown. While most ALTs will find this rather mundane (many JETs host classes of their own), it's exciting for me because to my knowledge, my town has never had one before. Having something I can point at and say "I started that!" is nice, as opposed to taking over responsibility for a project somebody else had a vision for. This is also one of the rare opportunities I get to meet new people and make friends in my community; unlike Tanzania, people aren't too keen about random visitors coming to their home for no particular reason but to see what they're up to. Unfortunately, I've had to restrain myself from sharing that particular part of Tanzanian culture with my town, as I've told many of my Japanese friends.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


This past Tuesday, Chikusa High School and Junior High School partook in a "beautification" project around various parts of Chikusa town. The general end goal was to clean up some of the areas that were prone to gathering trash, whether due to gravity or because it's a place that attracts litterers. I went up with the 2nd years to the Shibiki Pass, an area well-up a winding road from the center of town that leads to a neighboring village and looks down into a huge valley. The vista is amazing and lots of people go up to see it, but they tend to leave their trash on the side of the road before heading back down. I figured we'd be walking around with bags and sticks, picking up loose papers and wrappers in the gutters.

Monday, May 19, 2014

springtime is here!

In just a blink of an eye, we've gone from saying さようなら to the previous school year to holding mid-term exams here at Chikusa High School. Where did all the time go? A lot has certainly happened in the past 2 months, and it's about time to catch you up! Here's some of what's happened in my life since I last wrote.

Friday, March 14, 2014

weekend fun

Sorry I've been a little off the blog a while. I've been pretty busy and haven't had as much time to sit down and write as I'd like. Thankfully, my school schedule is starting to slow down as we near the end of the final term, so let me catch you up on what's been happening in my neck of the woods.

Monday, February 17, 2014

hadaka matsuri

Some of you may have caught a strange post I made on Facebook over the weekend:

I was in Okayama prefecture this past Saturday attending a very special, if unusual, Japanese festival that happens every year in Okayama City. At this festival, countless men, young and old, drop trou and hike a up their rear end, and then run around the streets surrounding 西大寺, one of Okayama's main temples. Why such an event takes place during the coldest month of the year says something about the people who choose to participate, though it is quite hilarious to watch a bunch of grown men clutching each other, jogging to the beat of taiko drums while screaming at the top of their lungs.

The event is called 裸祭り, or the Naked Man Festival.