Thursday, October 30, 2008
By the way, this girl is also a Shinto priestess!
We all knew that Dr. Ichiburo was pretty tough -- especially on us teachers! After this, I know I wouldn't EVER want to make him mad!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I brought them some gifts from home, including a Horace Mann T-shirt, Phillies sweatbands, a Flyers cap, some American candy, and a picture book of Philadelphia. They really liked them!
My "host dad", Takashi, is a pilot, and flies all over Japan. The mom, Mayumi, manages a company. They were so kind and generous. Their house had a great view of the city.
We prepared a Japanese dinner together. They taught me how to shop for and prepare sushi, and how to make tempura. Their children and 2 baby grandchildren came to meet me and have dinner with us!
My room: I had a great night's sleep on this tatami mat.
My family and I visited some famous places in town, including this huge underground cave. Okinawa also has a lot of caves that were used as hiding places during World War II. Some of the history was very sad. We visited one, and then also went to the Peace Memorial Museum.
Their grandson Kesuke came with us. We visited, played and sang songs together.
Our stay with our host families was short, but we had a wonderful time and learned a lot from one another. It was hard to say goodbye! But I hope to show Takashi & Mayumi around when they visit New York next year!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Kids study a lot of the same subjects that we do... (except calligraphy, of course!) All students in junior high and high school have English class. The classes are big. My favorite classes to observe were the English, music and art classes. Art and music are universal languages!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"Ohayu gozaimasu!" That means "Good morning!" The principal and student greeters (5 boys and 5 girls) greet every student with this greeting as they walk in. (No one comes by bus or car.)
Look at this beautiful courtyard! The students work to take care of it.
The students were very excited to see us! They even asked for our autograph!!
We walked around and visited classes. The students all wanted their picture taken, but they had to listen to their teachers!
Students call their teacher "Sensei." They don't use their names. This is a math class.
In English class, students played a vocabulary game in a circle. They took their slippers off before coming into this carpeted room. It was so much fun!!!
The library looks a lot like ours, except without computers. Kids have a special bag to carry their library books.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Okinawa is part of Japan, but it also has its own culture. Look at the shirt the mayor is wearing above. All the city officials wear this shirt - it's a special fabric made in Okinawa. The mayor doesn't wear a suit here! We also visited a teachers' college and talked with the university students planning to become English teachers. Many of them want to become teachers because of a special teacher that they had!
We had a great time talking with these future teachers!
If you're going to visit Japan, it helps to like fish. Japanese people eat a lot of it. Ever wonder how it gets from the ocean to your table?
The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest fish market in the world. Over $15.5 million worth of seafood is sold here every day! And it all happens before the sun even comes up.
You already read about jet-lag: that's when you wake up (or fall asleep) at crazy hours from being in a new time zone. Since I was already awake really early on my first morning in Tokyo, I went for a visit. It was something!! Electric carts zooming in all directions, all kinds of sea creatures (some still alive) for sale, restaurant owners making deals for the best catch! Finally we went to the tuna auction. The video is posted above. This tuna doesn't come in a can --- some fish are worth over 20 million yen! (How much is that in dollars??) Now, if you're not too squeamish, you can click above for more photos. Sushi anyone?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I love subways! Not the sandwich shop, the train!!!
I've been taking the Metro a lot here in Tokyo. It's the way to get around this huge city.
I've ridden subways in London, New York, Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Montreal... and I have to say Tokyo is among my favorites! Why? It's easy, clean, quiet, fast, and cheap! An average ride costs under $2. It's very easy - signs and station names are posted in English and Japanese. (I think that's very considerate.)
Everyone rides the subways in Tokyo - in fact, it's the most-used subway system in the world -- almost 3 billion train rides a year!!! (That's a lot of cars that are not on the road! Less traffic, less pollution.) With all those riders, you wouldn't believe that it's so clean. No litter or dirt. None. And it's so quiet, you need to whisper when you're talking to your friends. (Really!) Finally, the Tokyo Metro is also very safe. Riders stow their bags on overhead racks, then take a nap. Look closely at the top photo - what do you see? I'm told nothing is stolen, and lost items are turned in. And riders are courteous - they actually stand in line waiting to get on. Definitely, Metro is THE way to go!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tokyo is a huge, amazing city. It's a mix of old and new; of traditional and ultra-modern. The streets are full of people -- everyone is going somewhere, day and night. On our first full day, we had a bus tour; we visited the National Diet (not food -- it's the Parliament House!) and had some time in the Asakusa neighborhood. I had already been out to visit the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market (more on that later) before dawn! It's still dark, but the hustle and bustle is like rush hour. I've also been out to see neon Tokyo by night. The lights are so bright, it feels like daylight! Here are a few pictures of my first days:
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Today, we arrived in San Francisco, CA for our orientation. I met with 158 other teachers from all over the US who are also traveling to Japan. Everyone has a story to tell...
The highlight of the day was dinner at Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine's home. We ate my favorite foods -- sushi and flan! It was a tremendous honor to be a guest of the Japanese Consulate. Do you know what a consulate is? The consulate had views of the Golden Gate bridge and San Franciso Bay.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Yesterday's Courier Post has an article about my upcoming trip. You can read it in the Cool Links section.
Students, parents, and friends: What are your questions about Japan?