We've been very busy finishing up our training and getting our lives sorted out on this side of the world. Monday and Tuesday we had kids' class training. The kids' classes seem like they'll be a nice break from the regular Nova routine. In kiddie classes you take your shoes off and enter a carpeted room, then sing, dance, and jump around for 40 minutes...there's a very basic English theme to the lessons, much akin to being a host on Polk-a-dot-door, or Sesame St. In our training, we alternated acting the part of the class and instructors, and didn't get to play with any real little Japanese people. My first attempt at a kids' lesson will take place tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.
My main branch is easy to get to, just a short train ride north of Nagoya, and it seems I have a good team of friendly coworkers.
In a voice lesson (that's the open discussion room) last week I posed this question:
"How would you describe philosophy?"
How's that for a nice discussion topic for ESL students? One of the girls was quite fluent and able to give a good response. I told her I was very impressed as I actually had no idea what it was, or how to define it.
The topic arose naturally because the class was eager to inquire about my personal details - me being the new instructor in town - and they were curious as to what I had done before coming to Japan.
Things are slowly but surely coming together here. I haven't been able to find any karate classes yet, but I'm sure those will come. We're still struggling to master some of the basic language, but that's coming along.
We have acquired some shelves for our room, so we no longer have to sleep amongst our own clutter.
We put up our Canadian flag, a picture that Dave gave us, and 2 prints that my friend Vince drew, giving the apartment a comfortable homey feeling.
EVERYWHERE there are Beatles' tunes playing, if you listen carefully. They are usually instrumental versions, but they are used as elevator music, in department stores, even when I called work and was put on hold.....wait...what is that? Let it Be???
We have found peanut butter!!! It tastes great, and we both missed it terribly.
Whenever you buy ANYthing it is wrapped about a hundred times, very neatly, and taped up just perfectly. Ex. I bought ketchup, and they gift wrapped it. The next day, I gave myself a bottle of ketchup as a present. I was very grateful and thanked myself very much.
We got a good deal on some speakers, and now have our mP3 players hooked up so we can listen to all our music all the time. It adds to the atmosphere and comfort of the apartment. It also adds to the Beatles theme that Japan has going on.
We went out for karaoke again, this time to a 24hour karaoke bar. Approximate price is $10 Canadian for 2 hours, all you can drink. The drinks are syrupy and watered down, but still....cheap drinks and entertainment....I'm not complaining. We went out with a bunch of other teachers, only one of whom Tara knew by name. All the teachers are friendly like that.... we're all lost in the supermarket here, so it's easy to fairly easy to find people to hang out with for a night.
We finally made our way over to Nagoya castle, though it was quite late at night and we couldn't get up close to it. From afar it looks impressive, illuminated against the dark sky with golden dolphins crowning its roof. We biked all the way around the castle grounds, which are encircled by a moat. There were many people sitting and walking around the grounds as well. A group of about 40 highschool students were playing a large group game in an open field. It looked like a cross between red-rover and freeze-tag. They were silent and still for quite awhile, and then shocked me when they went screaming and running across the open field.
On Thursday we discovered a huge market shopping area. Many used clothing stores touting "Authentic American Style Vintage Clothing!" It was all pretty cool stuff. Rock n' roll t-shirts, and "real Levi's denim", and such things. The clothing here was all very cheap, but cool! This was a relief since we had previously only seen shopping in and around Nagoya station, which features the sorta designer names I thought only existed on Fashion Television back home.
Interestingly, we found this shopping district by passing through a buddhist temple. There were people making wishes (tossing in a coin and pulling a large rope to ring a bell), and wafting the smoke from burning incense into their faces. The whole temple had a powerful feeling to it.
Ok, those are my random observations for the day. Hopefully I'll have some more adventures to report soon.