Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's Time...

Shibya during my walking tour via my travel book. 

The past few days I have had zero obligations and being that I have no internet, no real comprehendible television shows to watch, and no substantial amount of money as we have yet to get paid, I have had a ton of down time. I did by best to keep busy and enjoy the rest of this summer vacation. I fully unpacked and decorated, watched a few movies I’ve been meaning to, completed 3 books, cooked every meal, lesson planned a bit, beat a video game, took a walking tour of part of Tokyo, even did all the things we always say we’re gonna do but never actually get to. I cleaned out my fridge, updated my address book, printed pictures, hand wrote letters and rode my bike to the schools I am going to be working at so I will know how to get there. Let’s just say I was ready to get busy. So when it came time to meet the teachers I was going to be working with I was overjoyed, not only to meet them, but to have something to do! I met with a school a day from Tuesday thru Friday.

Tobu: I will be working at 1 middle school and 4 elementary schools. First school on the list was Tobu Shogakko, ‘gakko’ meaning school, ‘sho’ meaning elementary. I will be at this school every Friday afternoon teaching 4 classes of 6th graders. Kim and I actually share this school, she will be there every Wednesday afternoon working with 3rd graders.

We left a half hour before our meeting giving us amble time to get there, thank god we did as we inevitably got lost. There are no street names on the maps, or on any streets for that matter, making the roads that much more tough to figure. Eventually we made it, parked our bikes and headed in to find out just where we needed to go. We were greeted and taken to a room where we sat and looked at the textbooks and had our classes explained to us. They showed us how far the students had gotten and asked us to make a game for the first day along with a self introduction. We met the teachers who we were going to be working with, saw the classrooms and a few of the kids who were hanging around.  It was good Kim was there for this meeting as this school spoke the least amount of English by far and as we all know, my Japanese is still quite limited, but all went well and everyone was very nice.

Chubu: Meeting number 2, and my first by myself. Snapz had showed me where it was and where to park my bike the previous day, which was comforting to know at least I had that down. Of course when I went that gate was closed and I saw no other entrance. Great. After circling a few time I followed a kid in, and as soon as an adult saw me in all my non Japanese glory she recognized just who I was. I was ushered in and went to a meeting room, busting out all my hello’s, thank you’s and nice to meet you’s along the way. This meeting contained Ms. Tanaka a fluent English speaker who lived in Australia for a year. Aside from her, the other teachers spoke enough to get by and between us we could have gotten things accomplished, though it was definitely nice to have Ms. Tanaka there.

I will be at this school every Wednesday afternoon teaching 5 classes of 5th graders, with roughly 30 kids per class. Not a big deal until they told me that day one they want to have 2 assemblies as an intro opportunity for the kids to meet me. One assembly will have 2 classes, so 60 some kids and the second will have the remaining 90 plus, but here is the kicker, I have to come up with a game to play with these students who know little to no English. That’s a lot of kids to be playing a game with! I have some ideas now as this meeting was about a week ago, though if anyone has any suggestions please let me know! After practicing my self-introduction with them, which they loved, they get pretty excited every time I say anything in Japanese, I left with Ms. Tanaka’s information and lessons to plan for.

Gohon-Matsu: The third and final elementary school meeting. I had directions and had a vague idea of where it was, I had been there before, but by car so really that helped me in no way. I headed the way I was told, but this no street sign thing came back to bite me again. I was lost. I pulled into some store and went inside with my map, sweating from every inch of my body and trying to hurry as I was now bordering on being late. I walked in and in my limited Japanese literally said, “Where, here?” The women chuckled and made fun of the rhyming words, the Japanese words rhyme also. They showed me where I was and where to go. I arrived 5 minutes late, in the Japanese culture 10 min early is on time so I was exceptionally late, and apologized profusely, the teachers were so kind and said really it was fine. I sat down with 2 of them. One of them spoke great English, and when I commented she said her boyfriend was from Canada and we chuckled about that. The other teacher spoke no English and confessed she was nervous about communicating with me. I said I know what she means, but it will be ok, I need to learn Japanese anyway. Communicating with her isn’t going to any different than what I face on a daily basis anyway, I’m not too concerned about it. I got a tour of the school and a few maps to take with me to show me how to get home as they were all concerned for me, haha, but I made it no prob! I will be at Gohon all day Thursdays starting next week!

Go Chuugakko: Friday was the last and final day of meeting. The other ALTs and I all had a meeting at the public library where we were to meet the middle school teachers we would be team teaching with. We all said our self introduction in English which was a nice treat, and then listened as our JTEs said their intros in English as well.

My JTE is a lady named Namiko and when she stood up and started speaking I knew we were going to be fast friends. She’s tall, thin and very stylish, something that is rare to see here in this little town. She said she has 2 kids and called them her ‘monkeys’. I loved her already. During our one on one meeting she busted out her iphone the deal was sealed. She said she was relieved that I was so nice and I said the same, she is so sweet and down to earth. She drove me to the school to show me around and introduce me to people, we chatted the entire way as if we had know each other for years. I taught her the word ‘hip’ and she taught me the months, not quite as exciting but still handy. She asked who I had meet when I was here last, and I described the other English teacher, the 25 year old guy who I thought looked like he just surfed in from Hawaii’s north shore. She told be his name and I told her that I really thought he could have been from Hawaii, since then his official name is now “Hawaii Boy”. She will just slip it in sentences when she is telling me about the other English teachers, and she will laugh and I will laugh and exclaim, “You can’t do that, I’ll never learn his name!” which just sends her laughing harder. To date I still don’t know his name.
School starts next Wednesday and I am so excited! I will be at the middle school all day and will start at the elementary school the following week. Yay!

Gaijin Card

Gaijin, short for Gaikokujin, which literally translates to “oversea country person” in other words, foreigner, THAT’S ME! I applied for the card the minute I got to Kamagaya and it has taken 3 weeks to be processed, but I have it! Having it in my little hand now opens up a whole new world.

I went to the BOE to get my card Thursday morning and was then escorted by Kurita-san to run the rest of my, now doable errands. Kurita-san is pretty much my favorite person at the BOE, he’s quite precious, he also happen to be hung over that morning allowing me to add a new word to my vocab. We first went to the bank where I opened up a bank account and got a cash card. Then took the proof that I had a bank account to SoftBank, a cell phone company, to get me…wait for it…an iphone 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have wanted one for sooooooooo long, pretty much since the day they surfaced, the phone itself is actually free here and the plan isn’t that much more than any other flip phone, I was sold. It takes two weeks to arrive as they had to have it shipped from somewhere else and are calling Kurita-san when it arrives. Once it does, I’ll pay for it (obviously) then making me an official SoftBank customer which will THEN unlock the door to internet. All is very official and rule oriented over here in J town. It’s been a week since I applied and I am literally counting down the days. I wish there was an advent calendar for this kind of thing.

Latest Accomplishment: Made a self-intro in Japanese, adding what schools I was going to be working at after trying to copy what my fellow JETs said during theirs, and was complemented immensely when Toki-sensei then told the room that I said I couldn’t speak Japanese, but look what I just did. I could have cried I was so touched. I was really trying and it felt nice to be recognized for it. J

Also, I learned how to write my full name in Katakana! After going to the bank, I hated being asked to write my name and having to hand it over to someone else who could. So I decided to remedy that. I can now write Kate and Kathryn Bohan. I’ve written it on pretty much every piece of paper that has crossed my path and every card I’ve sent. J


Headed to make my lunch and shower.

Lunch Day 1. My homemade bento box. 



  1. Good luck on your first day of school K-Bo!! Konichee wa mizzz Bohhann!!! :-) Break a leg!

  2. Have fun on your first day!! :-)

  3. KB: Lunch looks perty good, you have to plan an activity or game for approx 30 to 60 kids to play & you to give instruct, net easy! loveya



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