Exam time

15 07 2009

It’s end of term exam time. While that means I’ve been super busy writing exams, photocopying and designing the Inter newsletter it also means that now I only have half-days at school. The students have exams block 1-4, then the bus leaves at 12.50pm. So I’m sitting at home doing some marking in between reading on the internet and getting distracted by the elementary school children walking home.

I feel a bit spoilt as mum send a parcel with new clothes. I wore the white skirt to school this week and it was nice and summery. Today I wore my new linen pants from UniQlo. I forgot to say that when you go to the changerooms you take off your shoes. While you are trying on clothes the shop assistants rotate your shoes so they are facing you when you exit the changeroom.

Recently we also received a backpack in the post that we got from ebay. It’s to make our Kansai travels easier – no way I want to be dragging a suitcase around the train stations!

In theory, I should know 42 verbs after working through the ‘Instant Japanese’ book. Let’s hope I can remember them.

Better get back to my marking…but first, have you ever seen a yellow watermelon?

Yellow and Red Watermelon. Available now at Apita.

Yellow and Red Watermelon. Available now at Apita.


Yet another strange movie

11 07 2009

Metro ni notte "Riding the Metro subway"
Yet another strange movie from Tsutaya video store that we watched. All the the movies that have English subtitles seem to be quite odd. Japanese movies/dramas are very slow, there is almost no conversation as it’s mostly monologue and the time-travel plot in this one was a little hard to piece together. Maybe Japanese understand the motives behind people’s actions without it being said, but I don’t understand at all why an unprovoked woman would throw her mother down a flight of stairs in order to kill herself in the womb in a time-travel moment.

I had after school dorm student study supervision duties today (yes, Saturday) so I was at school until 2.40pm. I went to catch the public bus as all the school buses had finished. I got on, tried to explain what stop I wanted, and I think the bus was actually an express to Tokyo that doesn’t stop in Kisarazu (although it does pick up as we catch it when we go to Tokyo). So, I couldn’t catch the bus home and had to walk instead. Benno met me halfway on his bike and we walked down the hill home. It only took about 50 minutes but I was pretty tired after starting teaching at 7.30am and I was disappointed that the public bus is no good. Had a few tears but then had a red-bean onigiri and a nap at home and was okay.

Dinners have been good this week – tofu and lentil shepherd’s pie, roast potatoes and gravy, coconut milk peanut satay sauce with battered tofu, blackbean sesame and broccoli udon, chickpea and sweet potato curry with brown rice, nasu-don (eggplant on udon).

The weather is not really warming up – it’s still around the mid 20s in terms of temperature- but the humidity is something else with 90-100% humidity most days. At least there’s often a breeze so it doesn’t feel so bad outside or inside.

Now after my 6 day work week it’s definitely time for bed! Only 6 more working days and I’ll be on school holidays. I have finished writing all my revision sheets and exams. On Monday I’ll photocopy the exams and Tuesday I’ll start writing the tests on the summer achievement homework that the students will take in week 1 of term 2. The work never ends!

I want to ride my bicycle

9 07 2009

I rode my 3 speed mama chari bicycle to school today for the first time. It took 35-40 minutes to struggle up the hill into the rice-paddy mountains to school and only 20 minutes to cruise down the hill (trying to avoid the trucks and buses).

Although it was fairly cool in the morning, the weather was still about 100% humidity (according to the weather website) and so when I arrived at school I was drenched in sweat. Fortunately I had a towel and a change of clothes but I wandered around with a pink face for the next lesson.

Here’s the view of the dam behind the school.

The view of the dam and surrounding greenery behind the school.

The view of the dam and surrounding greenery behind the school.

I don’t know how many more times I really want to ride up that hill, but it is fantastic exercise.

I’ve handed in my summer holiday homework, am half-way through the newsletter and have written half of the tests for the end of term exams. Most of my classes are now doing revision as their exams start next Wednesday. I feel on-track, even if the students haven’t figured out that it’s time to start studying.

Cat Socks and Movies

5 07 2009

With our stockpile of oats from Costco I made some toasted muesli with coconut, sultanas and mixed nuts. It’s pretty good so I’ll make it again when it gets too hot for poridge in the mornings.

I also made some cashew nut cookies that were so awesome – chewy and sweet – but they all got eaten before a photo could be taken.

Our Japanese top loader washing machine has been attacking our clothes in a way that we are not used to as we had a delicate front loader at home. So we decided we should buy some new clothes. The first store we tried was full of trendy young clothes – bright pink shoes, Engrish oversized t-shirts and short-shorts with suspenders. However, we did find some cute room socks.

We went to UNIQLO and found a store that was more conservative in its fashion expressions, although the slogan t-shirts were still in abundance. We each got a new outfit to last us a while – quick dry shorts, long pants, colourful t-shirts, linen pants, linen work shirt, pleated singlet top. Not bad for 8000 yen (I figure UNIQLO clothing is a bit like Target.)

It was a bit depressing finding the right size. Although I’m not big, I am a large here. The linen pants were L (hard to find as most of the clothes on the rack were only S or M) and the tops were M. I’m used to being a S or XS in Australia. Shoes also are quite narrow with a maximum size around 25 cm (fortunately that’s about my size) and always have heels.

Benno's colourful t-shirts, quick dry shorts and soft green long pants.

Benno's colourful t-shirts, quick dry shorts and soft green long pants.

Lara's linen pants size L, black linen shirt and brown pleated singlet top, size M.

Lara's linen pants size L, black linen shirt and brown pleated singlet top, size M.

Lately we have been going to the Tsutaya video store each week to watch a Japanese movie (with English subtitles) to improve our language skills. We have watched a kids movie called Panda Kopanda. It was Hayao Miyazaki’s first produced work in the 70s about a young girl called Mimiko who has no parents but is looked after by her grandmother. Her grandmother go away for a short while and she is looking after herself. One day a giant panda and his baby panda called Panny escape from the Zoo and come to her house as there is a nice bamboo grove outside. They become a family, mama Panda (Mimiko), Pa Panda and Kopanda (Panny). It was very cute and had a catchy theme song that you can listen to here.

Everyone playing their brass instruments outside Mimiko's house.

Everyone playing their brass instruments outside Mimiko's house.

Last week we watched a strange movie called Kamome Diner (seagull diner) about a Japanese woman who opens up a diner in Finland that specialises in homestyle Japanese food. Two other Japanese women end up helping in the diner – one because she knows the Gatchaman song, and one because her luggage was lost by the airline. It didn’t always make sense but it was a nice feel-good movie.
The lady who lost her luggage, the owner of Kamome diner and a woman who knows the Gatchaman theme song.

The lady who lost her luggage, the owner of Kamome diner and a woman who knows the Gatchaman theme song.

Last night we watched ‘Gou-Gou datte neko de aru’ or ‘Gu Gu the cat’. A famous female manga artist becomes depressed and stops drawing manga after her cat Ne Ca dies. After a while she gets a new cat called Gu Gu, maybe finds love, gets ovarian cancer, battles on, lets Gu Gu loose in the park and takes photos of it frolicking and has to chase the cat several times when it runs away…and finally she makes another manga. This movie also features Marty Friedman (guitarist from Megadeth who is now a Japanophile living in Shinjuku, wearing only platform shoes) as an English language teacher who happens to be Death.
Gu Gu the cat movie

Gu Gu the cat movie

I’m not sure if any of the movies we watch will make sense – only about 1 in 10 videos have English subtitles and we have been grabbing random movies to watch, not knowing what they are about apart from the front cover image.