Tell me what you want, what you really really want

As an assistant language teacher, I have the unique privilege of teaching all three grades and working with many different teachers. There are many times I wish I could video tape the classes and share them. Teaching styles of course vary greatly. Student response also varies greatly. It’s a fascinating thing to witness. Currently, second... Continue Reading →


what it means to be foreign

This past week has required me to reflect a great deal on how foreigners, specifically English speakers, more specifically Americans, are perceived by other peoples. I’ve written before about the “gaijin smash”. What patterns of our culture have differed so much from others? What narratives have I been fed that have resulted in my “normal”... Continue Reading →

Gaijin Smash

The word gaijin has a bit of a distasteful edge to it – though it directly translates to “outside person” and its intended meaning is often simply “foreigner”. The implication though is “not one of us” or “outsider”, and too often is put into a negative context. Without the negative context though, it is difficult... Continue Reading →

why we learn (& teach) languages

Experiences like this make you wonder why you are doing them. Why does the Japanese government want a whole mess of foreigners sprinkled throughout the country, having misunderstanding after misunderstanding, many awkward moments, cultural blunders, chance encounters, experiences of a lifetime...? Is English that important that they want to spend hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars... Continue Reading →

the magic of greeting

あいさつ - aisatsu - 挨拶 greeting, well-wishing, salutation, recognize 挨 - push open, greeting 拶 - be imminent, a message “...greetings make others feel happy, since it shows that you acknowledge them.”  (Japan Today) In the four minutes we had between classes in middle school, I don't recall ever really greeting anyone in any kind of conscious... Continue Reading →

Before you sign your life away….

...take a pause and make sure your jitsuin (実印, official personal seal - the kanji is "reality/truth" + "seal/stamp") is facing the right way. There are several different types of inkan or "seals" that bear one's name in Japan. They're used much like our signatures in the U.S. Because Japan is a cash-based society however,... Continue Reading →

Is that a nice T-shirt?

The other day in class, we were covering a page in the textbook where a teacher says to a student, "That's a nice T-shirt!", when a question arose. Was it actually a nice T-shirt? I didn't think it was anything special. It had some kanji written on it, which translated to something like "Health First!",... Continue Reading →

Hijiki Salad

  My aunt gave me some hijiki and my extended family gave me an incredible bilingual cookbook with a recipe for hijiki salad. It didn't come out as good as hers but she probably put more love (read: sugar/mirin) in than I did. Next time I want to try it with honey. Need first a... Continue Reading →

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