Monday, February 20, 2006

Valentine's Day in Japan 在日本のヴァレンタイン日

So I'll talk about the title of this post and then go back in time to talk about other stuff. Sound good? Okay. Now, shut up and read and behold the pretty pictures.

Valentine's Day in Japan basically means all the women have to hand out chocolate to all the men, which is known as "obligation chocolate". I almost thought the women in our office weren't going to do it, and I was quite happy because 70% of Japanese women hate the "tradition", but I got one anyway, in the shape of an amused monkey. While I appreciate the gift, and will have a White Day return present in the form of white alcohol (pina colada, anyone?), the choice of monkey is ironic in that a few JETs refer to themselves as "trained monkeys" - amusing people who speak English but are not to be taken seriously or thought of as more than a toy. Sometimes.

The office supervisor, of course, got entirely appropriate chocolates. I really want to know where the girls got these particular ones. The packaging reads as "girl's kisses".

The shop where I bought stamps from the Angry Old Man and also purchased the Evil Potatoes is closed! One day I was going by it on my bike on my way back from the BofE, and it was shut with 'For Rent' signs on it! What the heck? I mean, I hated the shop but I'd at least like to what what happened.

Edit: I talked to the bike shop guy next door, and apparently the husband died, so the wife decided to close shop.



One of the schools I was at last week was having a day where the older students would go to the younger grade classes to dispense guidance and stuff like that. I remember doing the same thing in my elementary school. I hated it, as I recall.

At another school, I was browsing around the teacher's office when my eyes fell upon this incredibly disturbing picture. Kids have cooking classes, and this is a cooking textbook. She looks like she just dumped a bunch of arsenic in her baked goods.

In accordance with my previous stance, if you're going to teach something, make an effort to teach it right. Subject-verb agreement, people! The only way this gets forgiveness is if it was actually written by an elementary or junior high student.

Japan likes its tobacco, and the unscrupulous youth can easily buy cigarettes and alcohol from vending machines. This one, however, has a sign that says it will have an "adulthood verification function" device attached to it in 2008. A bit late, and I think the cigarette vending machines should be outlawed completely, but better than nothing.

A few days ago, a fire truck raced by one of the schools. Meaning that there was a fire somewhere in the neighbourhood, the school officials quickly telephoned the fire department, got the address of the fire, checked to see if any student's houses were nearby, and finding that there were, quickly called the house and called the kid to the office to prepare for any possible shock. All of this within maybe 1 minute. Cool and commendable.

On the weekend, I was hitching a ride with my friend on the way to our weekly soccer game. We went by the Culture Centre, and due to some kind of event and people parking on the road because they couldn't bother to do it in the lot, what should have been a 30 second ride to pick up her brother turned into 15 minutes. Attention all road-parking 4-way-flashers: YOU ARE ALL BASTARDS, DIE DIE DIE.

Walking home, found this at the entrance to a person's driveway. Shinto paper, to protect against the entrance of evil spirits and such.

Since the school term is winding down, I've been having the last lessons of the year with the more regular schools. I've received wonderful "memory books" of the past year (I've only been in the schools for 6 months but they all say "Thank you for a year of teaching" - I think they need to check their math), but the real gems are when the students say "Your classes are always interesting" "I look forward to coming" and best of all, "I hated English but now I love it". Since they are relatively few, I believe these testimonials. Hurrah, I have worth!

In other news, to help me with the increasing number of Brazilian kids in the schools who do not speak Japanese, which is the main language of instruction for my English classes (oh sure, you laugh, but I can spend either 30 seconds explaining the game in Japanese or 10 minutes in English), I have ordered a "Teach Yourself Brazilian Portuguese" book. My Chinese textbook has just shipped, so I will be studying that soon too.

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