Tag Archives: oyama

Why 7-year-olds make the best exercise coaches!

It has been getting hotter and more humid here in Tochigi. The week started out in the upper seventies, lower eighties…which is pretty hot in my books. (-_-;) (Butte, Montana summers rarely even reach the 90s. If they do, usually it only lasts a week or two. ) But then the clouds and rain came rolling in around Wednesday. Normally that would be a relief, right? Yeah… No! Not necessarily. I prefer the sunshine. It was hotter, but fairly dry. Now it is “mushi atsui,” or, muggy. Which means it feels at least 10 degrees hotter even though, technically, it is cooler. …and everything is sticky. Thankfully it is still at a manageable level! I have decided the reason why I can’t stand the summers here is because I store heat like a furnace. (Because of adapting to all those Montana winters!) So, come summer, I start to overheat! Blech! Yesterday, I ate lunch with class 2-1. (2nd years, class 1). Afterward they invited me to join their recess activity. Freeze tag. It was a thirty minute long recess! Non-stop running ensued…well, until I was “caught” and had to freeze! Of course I had lots of “helpful” teammates who came to my “rescue!” Chasing little ones, or being chased by them, really is the best exercise program! They are far more strict than any exercise coach! They won’t allow you to give up. “Ah! I give! I’m dying here!” “Sensei, you are not dying. Obviously! Come on! It is boring if you just stand there! Run away!” I love my second graders!


Ni-sen…nantoka…onee-san (or; the 2 thousand …something?… older sister)

This week at school I got to meet and talk to two of the cutest roly-poly little twin sisters I have ever seen!  They are two of the new 1st graders.  I haven’t gotten the opportunity to teach first grade yet this year but they also attend the “special” class near the teachers’ room…probably because they have major A.D.D!  Their attentions spans are really short…even for 6-year-olds!  I really feel for their parents!  Hopefully they have a lot of help at home because they are quite the handful!  (^o^)

I was coming down the stairs from lunch with the 3rd graders when I first met them.  They were standing with their teachers near the teacher’s room and they were showing off for them when one of the girls saw me.  She came straight up to me and said “Dare desu ka?” (Who are you?)  I laughed because she was just too cute and told her my name.  Then she said something to her sister along the lines of “Look!  She looks like the 2 thousand (something I didn’t understand) big sister!” (Children often call older kids and teenagers “big sister” or “big brother” … technically I should be called oba-chan (auntie)).  I have no idea who they were referring too…and the other teachers were surprised and didn’t seem to understand who or why either.  Maybe it was in reference to my weight. (-_-)  Here in Japan I have to shop in the Plus-size section even though back home I wear a size 12. LOL!

Anywho!  They were completely adorable!  They dragged me around and then told be to come to the Tanpopo room with them (Dandelion Room).  I followed along and they started riding the rolling white boards around the room.  Their teacher seemed fine with it!  That was the first time I had spent recess-time indoors!

The next day as I came down from lunch with another 3rd grade class I met some teachers at the foot of the stairs.  They asked me if I could hold on for just a bit since the girls were coming with the “grandpa” (their nick-name for the school groundskeeper.)  Sure enough they rounded the corner with the “grandpa” in tow.  Then they traded off and grabbed me again and had me follow them to the special education classroom.  This time I drew some pictures for them on the whiteboards… and I got pwn’d!  At 6-years-old they are already better artists than I was at 10 or 11!  (Granted I didn’t really start drawing until junior high…) But for 6-year-olds their hand-eye coordination is awesome!  One girl’s favorite thing to draw was Doraemon. She draws him very well!

Unfortunately they only had one marker!  Which meant I had to swipe it while they weren’t looking to avert any more arguing.  This is also where their ADD came in handy because all I had to do was distract them into doing something else…not difficult at all to do with those inclined to being distracted!  Distraction is a handy tool I learned while taking care of very young children at church during Sunday School!

Ichigo Overload!

The prefecture I live in, Tochigi, is famous for their strawberries.  So, of course, we all had to go out and experience strawberry-picking at one of the famous local farms.  For around $12.00 you can go and eat as many strawberries as you can pick and stuff in your face… in 30 mins. It. was. awesome.  They took our party of eight plus about 8 others and assigned us to one greenhouse.  We each recieved a paper cup to put our stems in and were let loose to eat to our heart’s content.  The strawberries were huge!  Granted, my favorites were usually the smaller ones…their flavor is more concentrated, I swear!  We all definitely want to go again.

After gorging on strawberries we all headed to Sano to shop at the Outlets and the AEON.  …I think I ended up spending the most.  But the wonderful thing about the Outlet stores is that they now have a GAP Outlet store.  Now, I never really was much of a GAP kinda gal.  I usually stuck with their kid sister, Old Navy.  But at the outlet store they actually carry clothing in XL!  Not Japanese XL either.  American XL of course!  I can usually never find XL sizes at the regular GAPs here in Japan (the most common sizes you can find range from an American 00 to a size 8, maybe 10 at most!  …but the average girl here wears a size 2!  Grrrr!).  It is so nice to buy clothing that only has one ‘X’ in it instead of three!

After shopping for hours in Sano we headed back to Oyama…back to the Strawberry Farm, that is.  This time it was time for their Japanese "Italian" restaurant/buffet to open.  It has the best Japanese "Italian" food in Japan…of course, we didn’t realize until after we got in and settled that is is much more expensive on the weekends.  Oh, but it was worth it.  I had the best roast beef and mashed potatoes that I have ever had…anywhere!  Granted they were tiny little bite-sized portions demo oishikatta!  I am now so stuffed I could puke.  I have so much food from all of our shopping today. And tomorrow is the potluck at church…man, Oyama is bad for my health!

xxxHOLiC Season 2!

Yay! Season 2 of xxxHOLiC starts today!…at 1:59am. But yay! I am so excited! Thankfully we have a tape recorder on our DVD player so we can record it! Yahoooooooo! Now I just have to figure out which channel TBS is on…

Well, we had our first training seminar today. The stupid financial yuppies who are trying to give us the boot have given the other company until tomorrow to come up with enough teachers otherwise they want to have the dispatch companies bid again for the Oyama City jobs….which would take for.ev.er. BorderLink doesn’t sound like they have enough teachers prepared since they called our office yesterday?today? in an offer to “help” out us ALTs who would be left jobless by being so gracious as to hire us. Yeah, more like they wanted to steal us so they could get the contract cause they can’t find enough people to fill the positions.

We will know more tomorrow. Also tomorrow I will get my first inkan! (official-type stamp thing with which I sign all my official documents in Japan) They even figured out my name in Kanji…since it was cheaper than katakana. They are using the characters for *mari that have the meaning of a kind of “gospel truth” and the *sa for “sand” 真理砂 <—like that. Cool, eh?

Snoozing the day away

I am slowly learning the streets of Oyama. I got the key to my “new” car a couple days ago and decided to drive the streets looking around and figuring out where stuff is. There is a lot to learn! Oyama is probably about the same size as Marugame or Utazu I would guess. It is not a majorly big city but the buildings are tall enough that I can’t see any mountains in the distance. That was one major feature of Kagawa that I did quite love. You could see mountains in practically every city. Even Takamatsu. Thankfully we will be visiting Kagawa on a regular basis! I need mountains! The flattest place I have ever lived before was Rexberg, Idaho…but even then on a clear day you could see the Tetons in the distance.

We finally got all the major appliances bought for our apartment. And by “we” I mean Traci of course. It is starting to feel more and more like an actual home. I even managed to clean up and arrange my room. I think I will be keeping an eye out for a fluffy rug and a nice comfy-cozy reading chair to make it perfect. I also need to find a dresser/bookshelf and perhaps a bed frame….hmmm…

The weather here is also gloriously warm…especially after Montana winters. Usually is it in the lower 60s during the day and then it cools down rapidly at night and gets cloudy and thundery. I love it. Apparently there have also been a couple of small earthquakes in the area…but I didn’t feel either of them. Hopefully those stay tame in the future as well.

Well, I am settling in. I still have a few more days of nothing to do before I start training at work on the 1st. I am kinda excited. Kinda nervous. I have been lazing around for over three months! I can’t wait to get back to work. (Mainly because I have almost depleted my “savings”!) (^.^)v


That is how I am feeling right now.  Bleh.  I made it into Japan without a hitch.  Note to self: don’t fly when you have a sinus infection.  Stuffed up sinuses + changing cabin pressure = pain!  I spent the rest of the night after I landed being unable to hear anything out of my left ear…without it sounding like I was under water that is.  It cleared out by the morning but the trade-off was an extremely sore throat (from all the drainage.  Lovely).  I blame Wal-Mart.

I somehow managed not to fall asleep standing on the train to Oyama and made it to my new apartment.  It is a vast improvement over the last one.  Waaaaaay better.  Small, neat, clean and cheap.  The bathtub is my favorite feature and it has one of those Rinnai water heaters you hear advertised about on the Paul Harvey show.  Sweet.  Downside is that it is on the first floor and I have a view of the parking lot and some sort of utility tower.  It is also in a not so pleasant neighborhood.  In order to get to here from the train station a few blocks away you have to walk through an….entertainment district of sorts full of …yeah.  (~_~;)  Think Las Vegas.  Pachinko parlors and hostess bars.  I am going to start carrying mace, or whatever the legal equivalent is in Japan, when I have to go out late at night .  I know the crime rate is low in this country but…there still is crime.   Thankfully I will have a car to get around in.  Otherwise Oyama is a pretty cool little city and I will have plenty of opportunity to visit Tokyo.  In fact we are going to Tokyo next weekend!

Tomorrow we will be meeting up with the boss’s wife to go to town hall and get our paperwork done and then we are going shopping for appliances.  We have nothing to cook with at the moment except a toaster!  Thankfully we already have a refrigerator.  It is going to be an interesting day, that is for sure.