Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An A - Z of Jo's Japan - Part One.

A is for Animation - is anyone not crazy about animation here? Whether it's comics or cartoons, everyone seems to be nuts for it. From the salaryman, reading his porno manga on the train, to the 18-year old school boy dangling his favourite Disney character from his phone; from the cartoon characters warning you against getting your fingers stuck in the train doors, to the cute character on the garbage vans. From his and her matching cartoon character clothing, to the old lady with cartoon characters dripping off her stationery. It's everywhere.

A is also for Apples - which are massive, often require two hands to eat and are the sweetest juiciest ones I've ever tasted. Yummy!

B is for Booze - now I have to admit that the last 16 months I've actually drunk very little, comparatively speaking thanks to studying for the Diploma and general tiredness / aversion to smoky places BUT drinking in Tokyo... shochu is probably my favourite drink. It's a clear spirit that can be made from various things like sweet potato, rice, barley. It can be drunk straight or on ice but is commonly used here as the base for cocktails. And it's bloody lovely. Bit of a gamble about the hangover though.

No post about booze would be complete without mention of the nomihodai which, roughly translated, means 'you are now challenged to drink as much as you can before your time runs out / you pass out and we'll take a ridiculously small amount of money from you to do it.' Nuff said. Wouldn't work in England, bars would be drunk dry. In Japan, the tolerance level is much lower. I'm sure bars shudder when a foreigner orders nominhodai.

B is also for Bikes - everywhere you go - bikes. Granny bikes mainly, with little baskets at the front, one gear and a self-locking device instead of a chain. And everyone cycles on the pavements, which can be rather annoying. Especially when it's raining and the cyclist is holding an umbrella. (see D is for Danger).

C is for Chan - which, along with Kun, San and Sama are honorifics added after people's first names. Except when they're used after the family name! Kind of like Mr or Miss. Except pets, kids (generally, although not exclusively, girls) and cartoon character are all referred to as Chan. Hello Kitty is Kitty-chan. Seriously. Kun is used for boys, San for adults and Sama for people who deserve a lot of respect.

C is also for Chihuahuas - Silly little bug eyed things that are not cute and can't cope with the Tokyo winters (but then neither can I) or summers and are generally carried everywhere anyway. In silly clothes. Okay, they're not that bad, but definitely not suited for Tokyo. Other than for the 'cute' factor. They're not real dogs though and, scarily, 'chihuahua' is also the second most popular search that has brought people to this blog.

D is for Danger - Tokyo is a dangerous city. You might step on a cockroach, slip off your stilettoes and sprain your ankle, break a nail fastening your designer bag, fall off your bike when trying to juggle steering with holding an umbrella and talking on your phone. You could be bruised by a granny's elbow as she charges past you at 20mph to nab a seat on the train or pass out from the salaryman's booze fumes on the train in the evening.

Okay. Tokyo is actually an insanely safe and secure place. I've not felt intimidated or worried for my safety here. I'll leave things on tables in cafe's while going to the toilet and know they'll still be there and, before my lovely green granny bike turned into a rusty mess, I'd happily cycle with things in the basket knowing they wouldn't be snatched. Heck, I'd even leave them in the basket while I went into a shop.

D is also for Dry Squid - love the stuff. Comes in a bag, very moreish - when it doesn't make you choke. Many hours of enjoyment come after eating it too, from trying to extract the strands caught around your teeth.

Part Two coming in next couple of days.

Things I Won't Miss When I Leave Japan - Part One

Takes battle stance for potential can of worm opening time:

1. People being able to smoke in bars and restaurants.
Many restaurants don't have separate smoking and non-smoking sections, let alone a ban. Often, if they 'do' have two sections they will be literally next to each other. I like to enjoy the aroma and taste of my food without inhaling your fag smoke, thank you. And I like to go out drinking for an evening without taking aching lungs home with me.

2. People who pretend to care about the environment.
I could say a lot but let's leave at one example: my house has 6 bins (9 if you include the small ones for batteries, pet bottle lids and lighers) to separate rubbish, and people get very uppitty if others don't abide by this. However, they people in the house think nothing of leaving all lights on, all extractor fans on and the heating on - when nobody is around.

3. Spoilt kids.
My opinion. Discipline and behavioural guidelines are sorely lacking in many many of the kids I've seen.

4. The weather.
Too cold and too wet. Summers are good though.

5. Shared living.
I'm too old for shared living!

6. Not being able to access a good selection of shoes.
My foot size is bigger than the average Japanese woman's. This excludes most shoe shops. The ones that DO have my size are expensive and the selection is crap!

7. Blind faith.
The students I teach are individuals who generally don't question anything and however much they might dislike something, often believe it's good for them and won't change it.

8. Cuteness.
Used to love it. Now it's too much. I don't see why everything has to be cute. From the shoes on the dog's feet to the character on the garbage vans. Why?

9. How long everything takes to get done.
Things that really should take a short time, really don't. Japanese people I've asked don't understand this either.

10. Rules.
Too many rules. That. Don't. Make. Sense.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Things I'll miss when I leave Japan - Part One

1. Convenience Stores - they're just so... covenient for last minute groceries and a million other things.

2. Vending machines - that work EVERY time. You put money in and, tada, a drink comes out. You may laugh but think about England: you put money into a vending machine and - well, it's a gamble if you get anything, in fact you're probably likely to lose your money.

3. Hot coffee in cans. Seriously. LOVE the stuff. Especially from a vending machine on the station platform on a cold day.

4. Feeling safe ALL the time. Knowing if I have my wallet and phone in my hand that they won't get snatched and I won't get attacked.

5. Oden. Seriously. When I first came to Japan the smell made me feel sick but then I sort of got into the occasional oden munch out. I'm particularly into the sausages, hard-boiled eggs and daikon (radish). So good on a cold day.

6. Being able to use large denominations of cash for small items. I wouldn't dare try it in England.

7. Consistantly hot summers. Okay, slight cheat this one as - well, you'll find out in September - but I certainly don't expect to experience more than about two hot days in a row in London over the summer.

8. 100 yen shops. Oh bliss, bliss, bliss.

9. Living in a no-tipping society. It's not that I'm tight, it's just that tipping confuses me and it's nice that staff do a good job because it's their job to do so, and not because they're after a tip.

10. Going into shops and restaurants where staff are polite and don't show they really don't want to be there - like they often seemed to do in London.

I'm going to find adjusting to London life hard, aren't I?

Part two coming soon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring what?

We're in the middle of a pre-rainy season almost daily non-stop pissing it down season.


And the Japanese always go on about how Japan has four seasons.

I think not.

We have cold, very cold, back to cold, wet, very wet, hot, bloody hot (love it!), typhoon, cold.

And somewhere amidst all that we have cherry blossom season and autumn.

Four seasons? Pah!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Time Is Right

November 2007 NOVA, one of the big chains of language schools in Japan, collapsed.

April 2010 GEOS, another of the big ones, collapses.

Aeon? Gaba? ECC? Shane? Surely it's only a matter of time before another one bites the dust.

My company just shut it's New Zealand branch. We can't afford new textbooks to replace tattered ones in the schools. Student confidence can't help but be shaken by what's happened with GEOS after NOVA. Maybe it won't make students leave, although I'm sure students will seriously consider whether or not to renew - but I think the affect on potential new students is going to be huge.

Teachers come and go from language schools, but the sheer number of teachers leaving from my district - experienced teachers; teachers who have been around for a long time; good teachers, is quite staggering. I can't help but think that this will persuade any teacher worth half a grain, to seriously consider other options now - and not wait around for the whole Japanese language school industry to come toppling down like a neat little row of dominoes.

And with the departure of good and experienced teachers, will come the departure of loyal students. I'm not saying inexperienced teachers won't do a good job - we all started somewhere, but with a lack of support from experienced colleagues, the potential to learn from others just goes.

RIP Industry. I'm glad I'm getting out while I still have the choice.


On another note, I'm glad I'm getting out before I go batty from hearing things like:

  • First year university students don't work hard because they're so tired from their entrance exams;
  • It's okay for kids to sleep in class if they're tired;
  • It's good for kids to go to cram school at kindergarten age because they need to get into a good elementary school;
  • Kids don't need free-time - it's healthy for them to get up at 5am, spend an hour travelling to school, go to their music/tennis/flower arranging club after school every day and then go to cram school and then go home and do their homework before going to bed. And it's good that lots of Japanese kids spend Saturdays being shepherded from swimming lesson to English lesson to music lesson. Okay, I'm paraphrasing slightly on this last one.
  • I've just had enough now of seeing babied / overly tired / uncontrollable kids. We're teachers NOT babysitters. Not every child is suited to the environment we teach in. That's a fact. If you're going to come to exhausted to a lesson - have an energy drink. Or don't come. If you're too tired to catch a ball and too tired to keep your eyes open in the lesson if you sit down, then what are we, as teachers, expected to do?

I adore some of my students but others should definitely be either at home sleeping or running around a football pitch to expend their energy. They shouldn't be coming to us.

And unlike some organisations where students attend 2 or 3 times a week for 90 minutes at a time, how on earth can people expect to progress when they come for 30, 40 or 55 minutes once a week and can't be bothered to study in between lessons. It's a struggle to teach them. They don't show progress because they don't put the effort it. They choose to study for whatever reason but I don't think the reasons are 'solid' enough. The courses are ongoing. They never end. There's no goal. There's no exam at the end. There's no progress check before going to the next level. Many of the students have never gone abroad. Most of them are certainly not brave enough to go on a trip that isn't an organised tour. They don't NEED English. They know this. And that's half the problem. The number of students who came back from a trip abroad who, when asked if they practiced their English when away, said they didn't is staggering.

There. I said it. I said what I really feel.

I'm not talking about every Japanese person. I'm not even talking about every Japanese student of English. But for the majority of students who come to our schools, it feels like this is the case.

Things that once seemed amusing to me are now just irritating. The time really is right to get out.


On even more devastating news: my external hard drive, containing thousands of photos, documents, movies, songs, etc has died. I've tried freezing it. Nothing. Am gutted. Hopefully a data recovery service can work some magic - and without charging an arm and a leg for it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

There IS something

A colleague, who is also leaving, and I were talking about work today. He said, 'there really isn't anything you're sad about leaving here, is there?', and it got me thinking. It's not that I'm actively not sad, if that makes sense, but rather that there's so many quirky ways of working and quirks in students, students parents, that sometimes I do find myself sighing in relief at the thought of leaving.

I'm sure the adage, 'you don't know what you've got til it's gone', may hold true in the case of Tokyo and my current job but, right now I can't see that. And, of course, I'm so utterly utterly excited about what's to come that I can't live in the mundane now. I want to be in the new future.

As far as work is concerned, that's not really a problem. I'm still making a big effort with the lessons I give and trying to support the teachers in my school as much as possible. But that's it. Unfortunately, this attitude is also distracting me somewhat from the diploma, which is a bad thing. I did, however, buy a new computer today which should make the diploma easier to get through as it's very small, light and portable and not old and prone to freezing or crashing.

I have come back down to earth regarding what's coming next but it IS kind of hard to not get excited about it all. The big groups of teens and seeing everyone in London over the summer and the amazing adventure that will start in September. And I have no reason to believe it'll be anything but amazing!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm Cold and I'm Tired

I spent all of yesterday completely knackered, got home, put the heating on it was so cold, fell asleep. Guess what? I then wasn't tired until about 3.30am. Am, again, exhausted.

I'll say this for Country 'x' - it isn't a cold country.

The weather in Japan is abysmal. Mid-April and the heating needs to be on? Still, at least we're not suffering from the volcanic fall-out.

Another incoherent post brought to you from the depths of knackeredness.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


... I'm bouncing around in a bubble of excitement about September. No anxieties today.

... I'm excited by the thought of having time between jobs - at the beginning of September - to do a little bit of travelling - current thoughts are Paris, Finland and Glasgow. Thoughts change...

... I had a good day. I like Tuesdays. I love my Tuesday students and two of my groups got bigger today - that means Tuesday is a three group day. I also have one teen that it lovely and my day finished with two giggly 20-year old friends who I thought were hilarious.

... I didn't get any diploma work done. I'm a bit concerned about how this is going at the moment but I'm so distracted.

... I went and explored (online) my 'new' home from September.

... I received my contract in the post for June (London).

Everything is good. Apart from my sleep patterns. Oh and the weather this week? Sunday - lovely, Monday - terrible, Tuesday - lovely. I've been alternating between heating and aircon in my room (I don't really need the aircon, but my computer does. It's seriously on it's last legs.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Random Monday Thoughts

I can't believe it's cold again. Yesterday was lovely.

I'm finding it so hard to concentrate on my study right now. And I have so much to do....

Todays mood.... sleepy.


A full-time job.
A diploma exam.
Leaving Japan.
A summer job in London.
A two-year contract in x.

There's so much going on in my head right now that I'm exhausted, my sleep is all over the place and... I'm nervous.

It will be understood why the big secrecy about x, but part of it is that I'm 99% sure it's the perfect decision and I'm worried that telling people may fuel the 1% of doubt to increase - if that makes sense. I don't want to justify my decision or have to explain it.

Part of my choice is for pure adventure and something I can't imagine. Part of it is going back to Plan A. Plan B was South America, Plan C was Spain. I'm not sure how many people knew about Plan A. But that's where I'm going if you DO remember that far back. Another part is - well, I've got a big ambition and this goes towards achieving it. Again, you'll figure out what I'm talking about somewhere down the line when I make it more explicit.

And above all. It's a good choice. A reliable choice. A choice that - given I'm not 25 and unlikely to change career - is a wise choice.

But there are so many thoughts racing around my head now and I wish they'd just calm down.

Today's thought was: I probably won't be able to get sashimi. Like, WTF? Of ALL the things I could be concerned about today it's whether I'll survive without raw fish.

I'm daft.

Friday, April 09, 2010


  • Lots of Japanese TV programmes seem to have Japanese people on, speaking in Japanese, with Japanese subtitles. I have no idea why.

  • I've noticed in Japan, and other Asian countries, lots of skin whitening products. I find this very sad.

  • A student the other day told me she'd just got a new job. A part-time one. She explained this was because she'd recently got married and couldn't cope with a full-time job and cooking and cleaning. I asked if she'd liked her job. She sighed and said she had. I asked if her husband helped in the house. She said he didn't know how. Good to know equality is live and kicking.

  • Another student told me she'd joined a marriage bureau. Fair do's. I mean, why not? She told me they were famous. And expensive. She said she'd known about them since she was a kid (like WHAT?). She said she'd had to get a certificate from the local government to prove she was single. She said she had to tell them her salary, height, weight and rank eight colours in order of preference. She's now considering paying them for 12 months to find her a husband. R-I-G-H-T.

  • Out of the mouths of students: 'I have a friend who is a transvestite, but he's okay'.

  • I have a student who looks like Ronnie Corbett. Except for her manicured nails.

  • I have another student who is the spitting image of Charlie Brown. She doesn't have manicured nails.

  • I have a stinking cold that came on suddenly probably due to too much excitement and not enough sleep this week.

  • It's cold. Bloody cold. It's the middle of April nearly and it's still cold. I think we've had three warmish days this year. Last weekend I was meant to go to hanami, the popular Japanese fight to find a spot to put you tarp down and sit on the ground until you bum goes numb, share food and get outrageously drunk festival in celebration of the cherry blossom which you must take lots of photos of - every year - even though it looks the same - every year. Anyway, the combination of having to work in the day (TWO six day weeks in a row!) AND the cold weather, and I just couldn't face it. Oh well. I can look at the photos I've taken every year since I've been here instead ;-)


Today I feel a little bit calmer.

After a flurry of emails last night things are making more sense and I know what I need to do when.

The problem is I'm now in a position where I'm not only working full-time and meant to be doing senior-teachery things BUT I'm planning to do my diploma exam at the end of May and need to re-submit two bits of portfolio and I'm thinking about the move to London / the move from Japan and logistics of that and the summer job and the permanent job (job 'x') after that.

And job 'x' involves a bit of a complicated visa process plus yesterday I was still hyper-excited, tired and uber-caffeine fueled.

The big problem is time. In London, I'm working full-time and won't have much time to sort things out for job x, so I wanted to do it now and here - with obvious complications. But it's fallen into place. Job x is getting me local help in London, Summer job will let me have the odd afternoon off to visit the local help and sort things out.

Am still very excited - and this is the reason I'm refusing to say where I'm going. You'll understand when I do say. Or, more likely, when I announce it on a new blog! Tiredness is overtaking me though. With so much going on right now my mind isn't very calm and so sleep is not being a good friend to me. Caffeine is though. And, of course, that isn't a good combination, is it?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

So excited!

I got the job!

That's the next two jobs sorted now!

Happy happy!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Interview no's and woes.

If I've been lucky enough to get an interview for a job, I've generally gone on to get the job.

I'm good at expressing myself. I'm good at getting employers to see what a wonderful thing they'd be doing by employing me. Piece of piss.

Okay, okay. It isn't but I've generally found them a pretty positive experience and not been too bothered by them. Take my current job: I knew the way they worked from a little bit of research and talking to someone who worked for them. I dressed the part, babbled with enthusiasm about how great it would be... and got the job on the spot. My job for this summer, well let's say within five minutes of chatting on the phone I knew I had the position. In TV interviews are unbelievably informal. Or mine were anyway. More a formality than anything else I think.

And then there was today. A phone interview for something I want with someone I really want to work for. High stakes. Won't say more. I applied - not a particularly great application as I hate application forms (do you see a pattern forming yet?) and prefer to let my CV do the talking - and was pleasantly surprised to be invited to do a phone interview. The interviewer basically said the job was as good as mine as long as I answered the questions and they got good references.

So. Phone interview. TWO INTERVIEWERS. On a phone interview. On speaker with mini time difference time delay and pauses so they could write down what I said. Oh my word. I sucked.
I was incoherent, repetitive, kept forgetting the questions, became less and less articulate. I didn't even SOUND like myself. *sigh*. I have never had an interview like this before. The first half was very very formal where I had to site examples of things I'd done in my teaching career that related to the questions being asked.

My typical responses were:

'er, yes, one time i er, no, wait, er, yes, i know, one group had er..... sorry, could you repeat the question please?

I talked a lot and answered something or other each time, but I don't think I actually answered the questions that were being asked.

I can think on my feet. I can bullshit til the cows come home and through me hypothetical situations and I can come up with good responses but ask me to remember instances of things that relate to things that the nature of my current job probably hasn't given me the opportunity to do and, well it was a disaster. The second half was more informal and I had lots of questions and the tone was much lighter, but I think the damage was done in the first half.

I emailed to think them for interviewing me and they said they'd take into account that it was the first interview of that type (competency based) that I'd done. I took this to mean they thought it was as bad as I thought it was.

*Sigh*. I'm so annoyed at myself. I prepared well for the interview. Or I thought I'd prepared well. I was even pre-empting the shitty interview questions like why do you want to work for us? what are your weaknesses? what could you bring to the job? what would you do if students didn't talk, etc. But they didn't even come up.

I am gutted.

Absolutely gutted.

I'll get a formal response in a couple of days but I'm so annoyed at myself for being so crap.

I'll pull out the silver lining somewhere later down the line. Right now, I'm just horrified at how shit I was.


I'm sure I'm not unique in my feelings towards being here. In fact, I know I'm not, but here's the thing: I did used to love being here. Back in the days when it was new and exciting and different. The first couple of years, in fact. And then the nature of the work I was doing started to get to me. I love teaching. I really love teaching. But in the environment I work in it often feels more like I'm entertaining than teaching.

That's not down to my company, it's the nature of the type of language school teaching that is done here. Students don't have fixed term courses. It's ongoing. Whether a student progresses to the next level is dependent on factors aside from the actual student in many cases. Some learners come for years and show no real progress. But I don't want to really get into this right now.

Tokyo frustrates me. I'm a restless soul, and being anywhere too long gets to me but there are so many other things.

Take kids, for example. And if I cause offense with what I'm about to say, well, it's not intentional, I'm just stating things as I've seen them.

As a quick aside, I read recently that shyness is the most desired quality for a kid to have according to parents surveyed. The same article talked about how the opposite is true in America and how Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world... and America one of the lowest. No point. I'm just saying.

When I first came here it used to shock me how kids rushed for train seats and left parents standing. It doesn't any more, although recently I've seen TV ads trying to teach kids that they should give up their seats, not throw rubbish, etc or they'll grow up into delinquents. Seriously. Now the fact that the TV is having to teach kids these things is part of my point. When I worked in kindies here, kids weren't corrected for bad behaviour. Kicking a teacher was met with a smile. General misbehaviour was either ignored or corrected by another kid.

In my schools, it's rare for a Japanese member of staff to tell a kid not to do something, even when that something is annoying, loud, disruptive or potentially dangerous. I'm talking about 5.5 years of observations here. Oh and if the parents are around (and often the kids will turn up or be dumped in the school between 30 and 60 minutes before a lesson and possibly left to hang around for 30 or so minutes afterwards) - they won't tell the kids to stop shouting or throw things around whilst waiting. I've seen toddlers run OUT of school and watched the gossiping parents take a good couple of minutes to notice this before.

I'm also shocked by the lack of interaction I see between parents and kids. And I want to highlight that I realise that I only see these things for a very short time and I realise I'm not aware of what goes on the rest of the time, but I can count on one hand - less than one hand - the number of times I've seen any kind of real interaction during a train journey between a mum and toddler. I've also seen a huge number of kids totally ignored while they scream and shout for attention to mums busy gossiping to other mums.

We see kids come to our classes who are uncontrollable, disruptive, rude to each other and have no respect for property.

On the other end of the scale there are children. Children. Not babies. Who are overindulged and coddled to hell.

Many many years ago I was a volunteer for a summer on a kibbutz in Israel where all the babies were grouped together during the day. Even with the babies, once they were toddler age (ie vaguely able to walk by themselves) they were classed as kids, not as babies, and if they fell over or anything, we were discouraged from picking them up. This is obviously the opposite extreme but I'm making a point here.

Further, I au paired for two years in Paris. During this time I saw some interesting things. Amongst them a LOT of coddling by parents who employed people to look after their kids and so overindulged them in the short time they spent together. What was interesting about this was how the kids reacted. One girl I looked, who was 3-4 when I took care of her, was treated as a baby by the parents and acted as a baby when with them. I treated her as a human being and she acted a good two years OLDER with me than her parents. Just saying.

Incidentally, I also saw kids who were given NO boundaries by their parents and grew up to be very confused little beings.

I'm not a mum. I have a psychology degree and am very interested IN child development but that's it. I'm not asserting I know what is right and what is wrong because I acknowledge every case, every family, every kid, every relationship, every culture is different BUT what I am saying is I'm shocked by some of the things I see.

Kids as young as 1.11 months have been thrown into our classrooms by mothers desperate for them to learn English. Now, we're not a kindergarten, we're a language school. We teach all ages and our class sizes range from one through to six students. We don't have a Japanese speaker in the room with us (which tends to happen when you teach in a Japanese kindergarten or school). Some of the young ones cope brilliantly, despite the bizarreness of the situation. I mean, imagine you're a kid and you've only ever seen green people and only ever been looked after by your parents (this is a society where babysitting is NOT a popular thing). Suddenly, you're thrown into a room with an adult person who is red and talks gibberish at you which you're expected to repeat for unknown reason. How would you feel?

I'm not saying that two years old is too young to learn a foreign language, because I don't think it is, BUT I do feel it's a bit.... strange!

To look at the bigger picture though, our job as teachers to these little people is kind of multi-fold - we are giving them their often first contact with a foreign person, and one who looks different to them at that, but we're also teaching them classroom skills, to listen to someone who isn't their mum, and so on. Valuable life skills. In an ideal world.

But often it feels like a losing battle. I honestly don't know what some of the mothers are expecting - other than the chance to go and have a cup of tea quietly somewhere. I see kids of three and four - KIDS - demanding to be carried the 20 metres across reception into the classroom, even after coming for a long time - and the mothers happily indulging this. The mothers don't say no. They don't try and discourage them. Shit, they don't even communicate with them, just lift them up and bring them in. AT THREE AND FOUR.

I have a new class of three year olds that just started. Kid D's brother has long been a student at our school and D's mum decided he should try a class. Kid D refused the first time. The mother allowed him to refuse. The second time Kid D allowed the mother to bring him in but wouldn't allow the mother to put him down. The mother didn't try and laughed at his 'cuteness' when he went shy in the lesson. The third time Kid D came, was to a new class. Kid D's mother was the only mother to come in and sat with Kid D on her lap in the lesson. When we did colouring, Kid D picked crayons, handed them to mum, and mum COLOURED IN THE FUCKING PICTURE. I 'suggested' maybe she let him do it, but she just shrugged. Like, WHAT THE FUCK????? She didn't even try to encourage him.

I've seen so many more things but enough for this post. And don't even get me started on adults who use the phrase 'we Japanese'. As in 'We Japanese don't like Asian countries.', 'We Japanese think all of Asia is the same', 'We Japanese don't eat....', etc.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

And now, the end is near....

My life in Japan, and this blog are drawing to a close.

I shouldn't have stopped updating but I think I got to a stage where:

a) I didn't really have anything positive to say
b) I had too many negative things to say and
c) I was just too busy.

In the last month I've been studying for my diploma, sorting out my next job and the one after that, working long weeks and earlier mornings, sorting out flights and other logistics, trying to keep my sanity....

Anyway, I did have a lovely time in Seoul a couple of weeks ago (tenth Asian country I've visited and possibly the last for a while...) despite it being really cold. My hotel room - as is common in South Korea, I think - had underfloor heating which I loved - and which was a great aid in drying out socks and boots that were soaked through by the rain!

I found Korea to be very similar to Tokyo in many ways. The general feel of it, the cleanliness, etc.... although I think I pissed off a few Japanese students by telling them that. I packed a lot of sightseeing into almost three days and it was fun to explore a new city.

This is such a bitty post, isn't it? But I'm plain exhausted from the schedule which has involved getting up significantly earlier on over half the week than normal - which has meant the days I've not had to get up early, my body has still woken me up early and I've been in a state of exhaustion for two weeks. Roll on Monday when things get back to 'normal'!