Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fire drill at a Japanese elementary school

NEC_0001Japanese fire drills are not too different from the 100 or so I experienced during my public schooling in the US. Kids walk out single-file with their teachers as quickly, orderly, and quietly as possible but this is kind of where the similarities end for me.

One interesting quirk about official disaster drills in Japan is that most staff or people in positions of power have a hard helmet ready for times like these. It doesn’t matter if its an earthquake drill or fire drill, the helmets are worn. I guess its great for worst case scenarios where you are a bit late in evacuating the building for clear grounds, but in most cases you probably won’t even have time to retrieve your helmet. I know I won’t as I am never at my desk when these things happen.


The students also wear something on their head. Every student has a seat cushion that doubles as a semi fire-resistant, debris protection apparatus. It looks kind of ridiculous and I doubt very much that it will help much in times of fire if the cushion is still over the fire retardant material. As for quakes with the cushion, well… it might help make identification of the victims after rescue crews pick through debris.

Differences aside, the kids are pretty well drilled about evacuating and they do a really good job getting out in an orderly and timely manner. I always enjoy the small demonstrations they have with the local fire fighters. Its fun to watch them put out oil fires with fire extinguishers. Japanese fire trucks sure are cute and tiny. Open-mouthed smile

Monday, November 21, 2011

My school’s 10th year celebration.

NEC_0009Today was my main elementary school’s 10th year founding anniversary. Most of the schools I have taught at have been at least 100 years or so old so it’s a big treat to be a part of the early history of a school. I’ve been at this particular school for about a fifth of its existence. I hope to spend at least another year there if I can.

I have gained a lot of respect and responsibility over my 3 years at my school and because of that, I was given the duty of manning the video equipment. I am surprised they gave me such an important duty even though I am a non-essential staff member at the school. I guess even the teachers and staff at the school have forgotten I am just an ALT. Smile I won’t hold it against them. I feel very glad they treat me as an equal.


The ceremony its self was kind of uninteresting to me but I did enjoy the parts where the student body sang and played a few songs they spent weeks learning over the past month for today’s event.


After the ceremony ended, we all went outside to release toxic balloons into the atmosphere with short wishes and messages attached to them. It was pretty cool to see all of the balloons fly off toward Mt. Fuji but I felt bad for the people that will have to clean the balloons up where ever they may fall. Hopefully they don’t make it past the mountain range, I’d prefer they didn’t make it to the ocean. Oh well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

TACOS! Home made tacos. ~Squee~ was born and raised in Southern California so it is only natural that I am partial to Mexican food. So it is no surprise that I crave one of the more well known dishes of Mexico, TACOS!

Living in Japan doesn’t make this craving any easier to satisfy. Not only is it expensive to buy fresh ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, and real cheese (not processed), its even harder to find decent flour/corn tortillas. Luckily for me tortillas have been getting easier and easier for me to buy around these parts thanks to huge national supermarkets like Max-Valu and PAX.


I recently found my hookup for my Mexican ingredients, a place called KALDI Coffee Farm. KALDI is an import food and drink shop. They specialize in all things world wide. A little bit from everywhere, especially the US. I can now get a decently priced 12 pack of flour tortillas for under 300 yen. Usually it would cost closer to 500-700 yen for 10. Its still pricey but its easier on the wallet.


My biggest help to my tacos is the best purchase I ever made at Costco. I bought a giant container of taco seasoning about 6 months or so back for about the same price as one serving packet of taco powder. I love you Costco Japan.


Anyhow tonight’s tacos were DEEEE-LICIOUS! I can’t wait to cook some up again. Maybe I can make this a bi-monthly thing. I don’t want to cause my wife to start resenting my food of the gods. Smile


Now to find a reliable local source for corn tortillas…

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mt. Sentouboshi (千頭星山) kicked our butts

DSCF0005Today I got to go out on another day hike with Joel. We decided to hit Amariyama again but head out to another summit located at 2100 meters up and about an hour and 45 minutes hike away.


DSCF0001This time around there was much less people around. No more gardening volunteers and no tour busses. The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived at 9am. It was like a completely different place without all the extra people. Much more serene and picturesque. Smile

DSCF0011We were incredibly fortunate during the whole hike. Not only did we get to go out for another fun day hike, but also the weather behaved the whole time we were there. Even though it was incredibly overcast, it was still possible to see Mt. Fuji clearly nearly the whole way up. This gave great photo opportunities at nearly every vista we reached.


There really isn’t much to write about the actual trail besides that it starts out very easy then goes into jungle undergrowth and goes normal again. We traverse 3 separate ranges before we reach Sentouboshi. The walk most of the time is some really rough and steep uphill walking. This is where we got our butts kicked by the mountain. We really didn’t expect the hike to be so brutal but we still enjoyed every moment we were there.






I figure if it were a clear day like last time we would have even better pictures but I kind of think that the clouds that encircle Mt. Fuji in today’s shots are really neat. So it wasn’t all that bad. It also gave me an opportunity to test out my panorama mode on my digital camera. For my first time I think I did pretty well. I look forward to using it more again sometime.



So that’s all for this week/today’s entry. Enjoy the awesome view. I know we did. Smile