Thursday, November 29, 2012

Night & Day In Shibuya

This past weekend, I spent a ton of time in Shibuya. I met up with up an old friend from high school before taking myself on a mini shopping spree. The following day we pulled an all night at the fabulous club WOMB.
Here are a few shots from a day and night in lively Shibuya.

Simply Shibuya,

[The Latest]

Google Search: Chicken broth substitutes
Tune: Right Now By Rihanna
Accomplishment: Tortilla Soup.
Obsessions: Home Alone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Men vs Women

One Saturday a month I teach an advanced English class, and boy oh boy do I love talking to this group! They are very good at English, all are pretty well-traveled and quite a few have worked abroad. I usually try to create lessons that get the seventeen or so seniors to debate and voice their opinion, something that isn't always doable in many English classes in Japan. However, because the majority of this group has lived abroad, they all have a bit of a western mindset when speaking English, which makes opinionated discussions feasible. I usually try to choose safe topics, sticking to interesting articles or current news reports.
But I really pushed the envelope last weekend. 

I introduced the topic of Men vs Women. 

Off the bat it doesn't sound all that controversial. But when we get into gender roles etc, it can be. Also, remember that this conversation is taking place in Japan, which as a culture has strict gender roles. That, plus my audience is predominately made up of senior citizens, who may or may not hold to the traditional roles. I wasn't sure how it would go over, but just to suppress my own curiosity, and because I have been know to stir up trouble (only sometimes I swear!), I had to give it a try. 

The lesson went like this...
After I told them the topic we were going to be discussing, we made a list of the traditional roles of Men and Women on the board. Their answers were what I expected; people should get married, women should take care of the kids, men should go to work. 
Then I introduced them to this article, about a mom who decided to raise her child as gender-neutral. The article is pretty interesting, though really far-fetched for Japan on the whole I would say. But this group took it like champs and we discussed the pros and cons of raising a child as gender-neutral. My only goal with this was to get them to maybe, kinda, sorta, understand the mother's reasoning, and not write her off as crazy. 
Then I explained that we were going to to an opinion walk. I printed out 11 sheets of paper with bold statements on the top, such as, Women should not be allowed to drive. Men should make more money. etc. For about 15 minutes they were to walk around the room and anonymously respond to the statements as well as to other people's responses. The idea being that they were having a conversation on paper. If the statement made them uncomfortable they could skip it.
 For the last five minutes of class they were told to take another walk around the room and simply read the conversations.

Here are their responses.
The English isn't always perfect, but you can completely understand what they mean. 

The most fascinating thing I noticed from this, was that on the whole, the women were a little more liberal in their thinking, stating that it's not so terrible for boys to wear dresses, women don't necessarily have to get married etc, though they most likely would not have voiced their opinion in front of the class. The men tended to be a bit more traditional in their thinking, both on paper and in the class. Though some surprised me with a few of their written answers.

I thanked them again and again for their participation, and they assured me they really enjoyed the activity. I walked away calling this one a success.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,

P.S. Big thanks to my friend Megan for all her help with this lesson and for the article on Sasha! Thank goodness for Gchat!

[The Latest]

Google Search: Dominos Japan English Log In
Tune: Right Now By Rihanna
Accomplishment: A run in the cold.
Obsessions: Ginger milk tea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Deborah, Debster, Debbie, Debs, De-bo-ra Sensei,

Kamagaya will not be the same with out you,
but so glad to hear you are safe and sound back in England calling.
Will miss you big time, friend.

See you later alligator, riiiighttttt?!

[The Latest]

Google Search: Argo Japan release date
Tune: Clumsy Thumbsy From the Ellen Show. This is definitely not a song, but I couldn't get enough. Love her.
Accomplishment: Cleaning my apartment.
Obsessions: Cookies from Kamakura.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Go Fish!

The other day, Namiko and I were trying to think of a way to have the students practice their newly learned vocabulary, ordinal numbers. While we brainstormed, I mentioned that I had just played the card game, Go Fish! at home with some friends. Somehow we put the two together, and within 30 minutes we had created, laminated and cut ordinal numbered playing cards. We even managed to squeeze in 10 minutes of practice before class.

When we got to the classroom. I explained the game in English before we demonstrated in front of the class. Namiko checked for understanding in Japanese, then the kids practiced repeating the phrases after me a few times. I went a little overboard when I said, 'NO! GO FISH!' so, during the entire the lesson there were screams of, 'GO FISH!' from around the room. It was so great to walk around and listen to these kids speak solely in quick, simple, English. For a second I forgot they weren't native speakers.

The best line of the day came when I walked past a table and heard one boy scream to another, "GO FISH!" the second boy responded,
"NO! NO MORE FISH!" before doubling over in laughter.

Your turn, 

[The Latest]

Google Search: Irony examples. I ultimately explained irony to one of my JTEs by emailing her the Alanis Morissette song, Ironic. Thanks Ms. Morissette.
Tune: Ironic By Alanis Morissette
Accomplishment: Watching these kids really hold to the direction of, "No Japanese!" during this lesson.
Obsessions: New mint jeans.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend Update

we had friday off to celebrate 'labor thanksgiving day,' according to my planner. works for me. these pictures don't quite capture all that happened, but it was such a fun-filled weekend. we really made the most of debs last weekend in japan.

highlights included...
[1] friday shopping in shibuya while my family enjoyed thanksgiving dinner in california. 
thanks to the iphone, tori and i were in constant contact sending pictures back and forth. 
you show me the family, i'll show you what i bought at forever 21.
[2] a rainy shibuya crossing.
[3] saturday morning with my lovely, very advanced, adult class.
[4] for debs' last saturday in japan, we went for a big night out at WOMB in shibuya.





hope you all had a great one as well!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Scrappy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 This is the third year in a row that I have celebrated turkey day in Japan, and while I am always pretty bummed that I can't be home in sunny LA eating turkey and stuffing with friends and family, I am always curious to see what original ways we'll come up with to celebrate the holiday over here.

This year, I completely forgot about the holiday until everyone from the US started wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. I was content with it being just another Thursday in Japan, but then I came home from work and watched a bit of TV. It was a Thanksgiving episode, and I thought, "Awww man! Now I wanna celebrate."

So I texted all members of JET village to see if anyone wanted to try to throw together a scrappy, totally causal, relatively creative, last minute Thanksgiving. We had a few members on board. We quickly decided on a menu, divided up the tasks, and everyone came over to help cook. Since we didn't totally know what we were doing, the theme of our make-shift Thanksgiving was, "No complaining." Not that any of us would have anyway, but just to make everyone more comfortable with their tasks, if the green beans were burned no one was allowed to complain, if the chicken (no turkey in Japan) wasn't flavorful enough, you wouldn't hear any negative comments from the audience. It was a great theme, you couldn't fail! By the end, it all became a huge joke, but I think it really took the pressure off.

Given that I sent the text out at 5, and we ate at 7, the meal turned out pretty great! Better than we expected.

It was a very happy thanksgiving indeed. 


Gobble, Gobble, 

P.S. You can read about past thanksgivings here and here.

[The Latest]

Must Read: A Chinese Education, For a Price...NY Times. 
Google Search: Simple green bean recipe.
Tune: Broken Hearted By Karmin
Accomplishment: Watching everyone walk home a little fatter and happier. :)
Obsessions: New baked apple dessert.


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