Christmas in Japan

If you start humming ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ most Japanese junior high school student’s eyes will light up, because they know the Japanese version: “Makka na ohana no tonakaisan wa itsu mo minna no waraimono. ” (The English translation of their first line: “The reindeer with the bright red nose, always a laughing-stock to everyone.”)…

Fall Vignettes

Fall is drawing to a close. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting colder. Winter is settling in, and it’s time for me to reflect on my teaching and life in Japan. As always, there have been highs and lows, and today I’ll share a few of each. Joining Art Classes On a…

Pescatarian in Japan

My one year anniversary of arriving to Japan has just passed, and I have a lot to be grateful for. I have a job, a car, a bike, an active social life, and a surprisingly big apartment, which I especially appreciate because it’s the first time I’ve a kitchen entirely my own. In the past few years, I’ve started to love…

Big Questions

Miraculously I’ve learned enough Japanese in the past year to survive in Japan and do adult things by myself, like get gas and buy train tickets . In order to force myself to study, I found a private tutor who I meet with twice a week. Our  one-hour lessons consist of grammar practice and explanations, and we also enjoy…

Some delightful moments

For the past 10 months, I’ve been an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher)  at two junior high schools in rural Japan. My bigger school has 380 students and is surrounded by rice paddies and rolling green hills. My visiting school is in a mountain valley that is famous for watermelon, and only has 40 students. I’m the only foreigner at both schools,…