As I come to the end of one of the busier weeks in my life, I finally find myself with enough time to sit down and write. With tomorrow being my last day of training, and today my only day off after six consecutive days of kids teaching demos, my time over the past week has been filled with prep work and actual work. I always have good intentions of writing more, but it is interesting to note that you can move to the other side of the world only to find out you're the same person everywhere.
Training was split into two parts, good choice and KEW, with good choice being the adult teaching methods portion and KEW standing for Kid's English World. Good choice was a rather laid back experience, and involved lots of time spent sitting at a table and reading from a manual. In stark contrast, KEW training has been a high power, non-stop, energy draining thrill ride. Starting on the second day, I've done demos after demos of different levels and ages, until you're singing the songs and chanting the vocabulary in your sleep. I've learned that smiling is important and that it is frickin' hard to sing and dance at the same time for a half hour. Yet, as exhausting as it is to live through, I can already see the value from the training starting to show.
All of the initial stress of having to be loud and smiley infront of other people, singing songs acapella and playing games with adults pretending to be children was pretty quick to evaporate after my second or third showing. The doubt I had in my abilities to think on my feet during a lesson is also starting to fade, as I've learned that any game that makes the learning fun is effective, and anything that involves throwing a ball into a basket from across the room is an instant success, even among pretend children. The manuals for the lessons do a great job of telling you what needs to be included, and for the sake of the condensed thirty minute demos, as often as not it is harder to not go over time than anything.
In my free time, instead of writing, I've been taking to the streets through either elaborate, meandering walks or brisk, directionless runs. If you look at my last post, there is a picture there of the hotel that shoots up from the top of the Nagoya train station. Along with three other buildings next to it, that block happens to be the tallest section of buildings around for many kilometers. Fortuitously, this provides me with somewhat of a built in compass. With a beacon in the sky, that can be seen from a fair distance, I am able to set off in any way and always circle back to the center of my new world with ease.
My ability to navigate has also been further improved by my recent acquisition of an iphone, my first ever smart phone. I realize I'm a little late to the party, but I've just never had a necessity for them over the past few years. Yet, as it turns out they are basically the cheapest available phone in Japan, with an Android alternative running you about an extra 2,000 yen a month, and a simple flip phone parallel in price. I've already used it to chat up girls at a bar and find my way back home today after I wandered outside the range of my landmark based navigation system. I guess it is paying for itself.
Walking is swell and all, but I think with my first pay cheque, the purchase of a shiny new (or used) bicycle will be in order. Every morning when I wake up and the sky is clear, I can see mountains in the distance. I'm also acutely aware that there is an ocean a mere 5 kilometers from the floor I am currently lying on. Although I think the sea is easily within my capabilities, the mountain quest would be a pretty lofty adventure without a wheeled steed.
The bicycles of choice here may not be what you think. If all the rage for bikes in North America is trail riders and sleek road racers, then Japan's mainstream double rimmed weapon of choice is something more reminiscent to what you might have seen in the 1950's. You're picturing the curvy, swooping, old fashioned bikes and you're absolutely one hundred percent spot on. Except they all have baskets, every single one. I'm not sure why this has become the trend for the Nagoya bike scene, but I find them all rather charming. I've been scoping out places that sell bikes, and there is a shop a couple blocks off that has a lonely looking green bike that gives off that abandoned vibe. It's also cheap and has a sweet basket, and I'm freaking tired of walking with my groceries.
Last Sunday was 3/11, and the one year anniversary of the Tsunami and Fukushima meltdown. I had to go to Sakae that day to get my phone, so I guess I wasn't very surprised to seem people marching along the streets in what I thought was a memorial ceremony. However, I was quite shocked to instead see many of them holding anti-nuclear signs, and to learn that the whole thing was just as much in protest as remembrance. From what I've heard, the wound is still fresh, and it is hard to find a single person in Japan who doesn't know someone effected by the tragedy.
Other than everything else I just told you, there is little to report. Two more demos tomorrow and then a day off before signing a contract Wednesday. I walked briefly by Nagoya castle today and snapped a quick photo, but I plan on going back Tuesday and visiting it proper. We also recently got a rice cooker and I am the master of chop sticks!
Thanks for reading,