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Tour of My House
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Jump to December:
    Week 1:   1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th  
    Week 2:   9th   10th   11th   12th   13th   14th   15th   16th  
    Week 3:   17th   18th   19th   20th   21st   22nd   23rd  
    Week 4:   24th   25th   26th   27th   28th   29th   30th   31st  
Image Jump:
  • Fish for Lunch
  • Big Things Carried during Festivals
  • Christmas Tree Decorations in Japan!
  • Paper Christmas Trees the Kids Made
  • Sakugi's First Snow
  • Christmas Cake
  • An Odd Christmas Treat
  • Snowy Mountains
  • The Heian Shrine
  • The Zen Garden
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Images from Miyajima
  • Oh Deer
  • Stairs To Hill Temple
  • View From The Top
  • Temple Statues
  • The Very Famous Miyajima Gate
  • Week 1

    Monday, Dec 1

      IN A NUTSHELL: We Wish You A Merry Christmas Already??

      Bonfires at the Elementary School I was doing my first Christmas Lesson today. I only have two elementary school days in December, so they are both going to be Christmas-related. After playing a round of Christmas Bingo, I was teaching the kids "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" which was on one of my "Learning English" CDs. I was really nice and gave them the lyrics in katakana as well. Anyway, between classes, I looked out the window on the stairs and saw a bonfire! I never even knew you could go behind the school, but there were a bunch of kids (and teachers), all hanging out in the back of school around a bonfire! However, no sooner did I wonder whether I would be invited, when I was asked to join them after second period! I walked outside, taking my plastic 100-yen microphone with me on a whim, and walked up the concrete stairs behind the school to a dirt landing. And there was the bonfire!

      Potato Time! I noticed that some of the teachers were digging through the fire with long sticks and pushing out tinfoil-wrapped objects. It turns out, they were cooking potatoes in the bonfire! They let them cool then unwrapped the tinfoil and the newspaper underneath, then (starting with the younger grades) had a feast of roasted sweet potatoes! I could not imagine anything like this happening at my elementary school in the States - randomly roasting potatoes over an open fire - but it was a lot of fun! The kids passed around the microphone I brought, having a grand old time with it. Suddenly, one of the third or fourth graders took over and began singing SMAP. Others joined in and I watched in amazement as they sung, in its entirety, "Sekai-ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" ("The only flower in the world") by SMAP. SMAP has taken over Japan. This is proof.

      No Points for Me I went shopping tonight since I had not had a chance to over the last three weekends. The store was crowded and there was this CD player sitting on top of the refrigerated goods section repeating a techno riff and an obnoxious announcement over and over. All I could understand was the first part: "Welcome, welcome!" My first theory was that they wanted shoppers to leave the store as fast as possible since it was near closing time. However, I ran into Okumiya-sensei (the Japanese-language teacher at the Jr. High) in the store and she explained that they were having a sale. I found out the next day that one could get double points on one's point card on Mondays and Tuesdays at Sungreen. This would be useful if I had ever gotten around to getting a point card. They ask me every time whether I have one, but because there's always a line behind me and because I just want to get back home with all this food, I've never bothered signing up for one. Oh, well.

      Why Can I Buy Christmas Decorations at the 100-yen Store?? This was shocking to me. I walked into the 100-yen store (the equivalent of the 99 cents store) and there was an entire section dedicated to Christmas decorations. Why? The don't celebrate Christmas here. Furthermore, why is it all cheap? Well, I did not question that as deep and bought a bunch of Christmas stuff for both my house and my "Corner" at school, including a mini-tree (marked up to 300 yen) a stocking, a funny little banner that said "Merry Christmas," a mini christmas tree, a wreath, and wrapping paper. I think I spent less than $10 total on all this stuff. But... why? I mean, even Sungreen is decorated for Christmas: they have three giant santas, a snowman and at least four Christmas trees all around the store... and it's not even a national holiday!

    Tuesday, Dec 2

      IN A NUTSHELL: My First Food Poisoning

      That'll Teach Me Not To Have... Something I experimented a little for dinner last night. Part of the reason was to get rid of some of the stuff in my fridge which, upon reflection, is a really bad way to experiment. I made a simple Japanese meal - rice and miso soup - but when I felt very ill this morning (I could not even finish my cereal), I realized any number of things could have caused it. It could have been the milk near expiration, the cheese near expiration, the tofu near expiration, the quail eggs, the old miso mix, the soy sauce, anything. Why did I try so many new things at once?? I don't want to throw EVERYTHING out!

      Random Haircuts I'm not sure why, but when I walked into my Jr. High classes today, I noticed that at LEAST four boys had gotten short haircuts since I last saw them a week and a half ago. Was it Get-Your-Hair-Cut month or something? Or maybe it was a group thing. I do wonder. I also wonder why almost no one wears their hair long here.

      Can't Finish Food - This is a First I could not finish my lunch or my dinner, which is a definite first for me. Although I did not get physically sick, my stomach hurt too badly to do anything. To add to my confusion, hotmail completely changed its format, making me wonder if I was hallucinating. So I turned on Odoru Daisousasen. Then the pain went away. I was tempted to watch it all night. Anyway, I somehow knew to drink a lot of water which I found out later, when I emailed my mom, was a good thing to do. I'm kind of scared to eat anything in my fridge now, though I now suspect it is the miso mix because it is the oldest thing in there. I threw it out (well, washed it out, as required by Japanese garbage disposing regulations) and will cross my fingers.

    Wednesday, Dec 3

      IN A NUTSHELL: Preschool Kagura

      Cutest Thing Ever! I went to the preschool today (my stomach still not happy, but not in too bad of pain) and was happy to see that I did not have to do anything but watch. The kids were rehearsing their play. Even the littlest kids had something to do and all of them got to play some kind of drum. The best part was when the older kids (5 and 6 year olds) came out and did kagura! I couldn't believe it! They had two kids playing the drums and a hero, a demon (the kid was clearly imitating the professional kagura demon from that one night - it was really cute,) and a princess. It was way too adorable.

      Half Day The Jr. High students only had a half day today due to the testing again, so I spent some of the free time putting up Melissa's Corner for Christmas (with decorations from the 100 yen store). Sinc eI had not received any questions in my box for awhile, I took down some of the old questions to make room and wrote a note asking if anyone had any more questions. We'll see what happens...

      Trick or Heeeey I went to our Bihoku JET Meeting today and noted that my stomach had absolutely no problem with the chocolate cookies (newly available from our tea and snack fund.) Surprise, surprise. The meeting was quite informative as always, but it makes my day very full since I don't really have a lot of time between the meeting and English conversation class. I come up with a lot last-minute, but so far, it's all worked well. After the eikaiwa class, I was in the exercise room with Odagawa-san as usual, and I asked her about the show "Trick" because I wanted to see whodunnit after last week's cliffhanger. She said she wasn't sure when it was on and I was surprised she was not an avid watcher, given its huge popularity. Anyway, we had fun watching the Wednesday Night "Heeeey" show as we rode our exercise bikes. That's not the show's real name, but that's what I call it. It is a very silly Trivia show. They have contestants but they don't compete or anything; all they do is listen to two guys talk about an obscure trivia fact. During the explanation, they press a button that makes the sound "Heeeeeeeey" (which, in English, is the equivalent of "What?" "Really?" "Eh?" or "Seriously?") and they hold down the button longer if they are really impressed by the trivia fact. At the end, they tally the "Heeeeey"s and decide on the winner. One of the best "Heeeeey" trivia bits I ever saw was about a group of monks. In order to better practice their Buddhist chants, they all went to Karaoke together where, amazingly, the chant is available as a song choice. It was hilarious. They had a shot of about eight monks, in full robes, sitting in a karaoke box (with remnants of snacks and drinks on the table in front of them) singing along to the chant. It was obviously set up, but had me rolling.

    Thursday, Dec 4


      I Love Odagawa-san! When I came out of school today, there was a little note on my windshield telling me the channel and time the show "Trick" was on! She investigated for me, just from my side comment! How cute! She gets a gift. Oh, and I did watch the show, by the way, and found out whodunnit! It is really one of the strangest shows I've ever seen (with spooky credits) the oddest part being the random salute all the characters give every calligraphy clue they find. Next week there's an entirely new plotline starting with only two of the same characters. I'm tempted to rent more, though I'd rather learn Japanese better first.

    Friday, Dec 5

      IN A NUTSHELL: Mr. Santa

      Slept In! For the first time, I missed my alarm and slept in! I woke up at about 8:15, hurriedly dressed and ate cereal and made it to work by 8:35. The odd thing is that my contract says that my official hours are 8:30 to 4:00 but the Pink Book (the Handbook of All Things JET) mentioned how important it was for me to attend morning meetings, even if I did not participate. So, until today, I've attended all the 8:15 meetings (which aren't in a special room or anything, just in the staff room, so everyone just sits at their desk.) I have no idea whatsoever if anyone noticed or cared. However, I do wish I had the deal the girl in the next town has -- she gets Wednesday afternoons off instead of having shorter hours every day. The 'shorter hours' are annoying because I always feel obligated to stay longer, which misses the whole point of having shorter hours in the first place. Oh, well. I can always study Japanese.

      Kanji Tests for the Japanese? Apparently, there is a test that the Japanese take that measures their kanji skill. Although Tomomi-sensei had not originally signed up for it, he ended up taking it anyway and he received his score back today. It was impressively high, judging by the reactions of the other teachers. He said he had gotten over 90% on Level 3 or something. Only when he showed me the chart, Level 3 seemed barely past high school level, so I'm kind of confused. Still, way to go, Tomomi!

      New Questions! I received a question in my box that said: "What do you want from Santa-san?" It was in Japanese, but I loved how they called him Santa-san.

    Saturday, Dec 6

    Sunday, Dec 7

    Monday, Dec 8