Thursday, 11 November 2010

I had to surpress I smile today

when my 中1Y class, who are incredibly crap, sweet, maybe, but incredibly crap, all turned to listen to Kotono who asked "Sensei, don't you think that this class uses an awful lot of English in class?  We use a lot of English!"
"Yes", I nodded, "You do.  I'm so happy!"  Oh well, they have yet to learn the full horror of English for six years in a Japanese high school.  Still, that wasn't as bad as discovering that one of my 高IIIF class couldn't spell 'blue' - it's "bull" apparently. Uh huh.  Six years of English.

It's odd

when someone that you were involved with sends you a mail out of the blue that starts "Hi Rebecca". 

Hi?  Fuck.

I should be

getting off my fat arse and finishing my overdue assignment on Functional Grammar.

I, however, find myself doing little dances and performing little ditties along the lines of "Thai...laand, Thaiiiiiiilaaaaaaaaaand, THHHHHHAAAAIIIIIILLLLAAAAAAAAAAAANNNND!"

Off on Christmas Eve.  Wow, the first Christmas for a long time that I won't be alone on a beautiful beach. I'll be "together" on a beautiful beach.  How nice!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Son Son Son of a Gun!

Someone is playing The Vaselines in the neighbouring big purple apartment (next to our medium-sized blue one). That I'd never have expected in a million years (much like the fact I'd be livning in a blue apartment!)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

I think like Minako. Worrying.

Not that I told her.  Naturally, I have to try and be somewhat aloof.  I mean, I wouldn't want all the students to think that I, too, pay great attention to the news when a typhoon is approaching and I, too, am crushed when it is heading towards Kansai and then veers off in a perfect right angle never to trouble us and never to give us that extra day off of school/work!

You'd think I'd learn: they've only hit once in nine years!

I achieved a first today

I walked into a 100 yen store with the intention of buying a pack of plastic A4 files and came out with...a pack of plastic A4 files.  Only.  No ear plugs.  No gaget for the kitchen that I will never use. No nothing other than the intended purchase.  How proud did I feel?!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Fuck nostalgia

Have just seen a video of a long, white haired, chubby J Mascis singing Feak Scene in 2008 and it's guaranteed that I won't sleep tonight.  Terrifying.

Suddenly it all makes sense....

Have just been having an early 90's nostalgia-fest on YouTube and got reminded of Superchunk, the only American power punk pop band (or "Chapel Hill  music scene" as their Wiki site would have it!) I really liked.

I loved their second album No Pocky for Kitty, and didn't concern myself with the fact that I had no idea who Kitty was and what Pocky tasted like.

Funny how life works out.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Too amazing for words....Broom Cupboard nostalgia

 "I am No NO, small robot you know, friend of Ulysses....UUULEEEEEEEEses!"

Go Away, Robbie!

I know he was just a kid, but he was so rude to the others when he left and smug about his success and rubbed the other members' noses in it (although Angels was released three times before it caught on!) I used to like TT, but never liked Robbie that much, it was Mark all the way for me! They went on to have several number ones without him before splitting and several hits without him after reforming.  He was living in the States spotting UFOs  before dropping hints that he'd like to be let back in.  They are very gracious: I'd have told him where to go!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Waking up at 5:30am covered in sweat

It can only mean that the summer has arrived......yuk!

Oh well, as expected

Shockingly poor defence, the Germans more than deserved to win.  At least I got to chant "The referee's a wanker !" after the Lampard disallowed goal.  What was he thinking, though,  with this comment: "Nobody can stand here and tell me Germany were a lot better than us. They were not 4-1 better than us."  Errr, they were from my sofa! The "lions" were lucky it wasn't 6-1.

Friday, 25 June 2010

I woke up to this after I stumbled out of bed this morning...Go Japan!

What a great result.  The match started at 03:30 and unlike the spectator, I didn't have the chance of getting up at 15:00! 

It is quite tragic that England will play Germany: apart from being outclassed, it allows the sun to trot out the tired old cliches about 'Wurst', 'Herr', 'Hun' etc.  It is so cringe-worthy.  Ho hum. Germany eh?  Guess that'll be England out then.  (Hope I'm wrong though!)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

What you say, what they hear

"Has she gone?"  "keshigomu?"  - eraser!

"In Japan....."  "Panda?"

And one I'll never be able to top:

Risa: How do you say 買う in English?
Rebecca: Buy.
Risa procedes to write I want to by clothes in her notebook.
Rebecca: No! Buy! B. U. Y.
Risa writes be you why in her notebook.

But the dictionary says....

Students often trust a small electronic device with a small electronic voice more so that the living, breathing personification of the English language in front of them (ie me!) One of the strange (and down right dangerous events for a "safety country") is the piggy back fight on Sports Day.  It has the twist that you have to grab the cap of the opposing team member to win.  The dictionary came up with "Cavalier battle" so no one was that interested in the correct "piggy-back" despite me saying "Are you a soldier?"  It didn't help that 'battle' is a Japanese-English word.

Tusks beach

The Japanese name for the Ivory Coast -  コートジボワール - is a katakana version of the French Cote d'Ivoire and would be something like kotojibowaru if romanised.  No wonder I had no idea who Portugal (a slightly more manageable ポルトガル potorugaru) were playing the other night.  Y had no idea what kotojibowaru was in English and after several attempts of trying to make Japanese-French sound English said "Tusks beach". Cue fifteen minutes of me pissing myself laughing at the African country of Tusks Beach.  Found out today that the old name for the Ivory Coast in Japanese would translate as....Tusks Beach!  Guess I owe him an apology. 

Monday, 14 June 2010

Da da da da da da da da da Nippon!!!!!

England 1-1 USA Oh...... and it doesn't look any better reenacted in Lego

Japan 1 -0 Cameroon YEA!!!!!

School moto biscuits!

Gift-giving is very common in Japan.  I'm not quite sure what all the staff had done to deserve biscuits and shudder at the cost when the school is practically falling down round us.  They looked pretty, shame they tasted rank!

The flying futon

Futons should be aired regularly and sunlight helps to kill dani (flea type things) that love futons and tatami. Saturday was boiling so I hung my base futon and left it as I went shopping.  It was pretty windy and I ignored the niggly feeling that it might blow away, as, well, it had never done so before!  Walking down my road, I discovered the futon was no longer there or on the ground, so thought that a futon thief or ninja-speed homeless guy may have nabbed it.  Getting back inside, cue the no lesser horror of seeing it on the roof of someone's garage!  Getting it back was actually very easy but embarrassment caused me to wait until dark: walk through the next apartment and lo and behold the ground is higher, reach up and sprint back inside!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Blown away by my nose-blowing

In my company class last night, Jing, a Chinese girl who studied and now works in Osaka, said that one of her colleagues had asked her to find out whether it was true that British people use the same tissue multiple times instead of blowing and then throwing away the tissue as Japanese do.  As I like her and Tsubasa, and they were the only ones there on time I exaggerated (well, only slightly) how Brits put it up their sleeve and then desperately try to find a usable patch amongst the holes!  Tsubasa, who is the weakest at English in the class, responded "Eco!" They were horrified and amused by my tales of tissues beneath pillows.  Perspective (my new obsession) is always interesting though: I told them how disgusting I find it in summer in Japan when people get out hankie-sized towels and wipe at their sweaty face and back of their neck and then put the towel in their bag only to get it out again and repeat a few minutes later.  They couldn't see why that was gross at all!  I didn't let Jing get away with it though as  I told Tsubasa that in China I'd seen many old men bend over, place a finger on one nostril and blow the offending matter out of the other in a long slimy trail onto the road. 

Amusing English of the day

The first year high school students are making a poster for their mid-term test.  This is actually a third year junior high test, but they were so bad last year that we decided not to give them such a fun test!  The topic is "It makes me happy" and the choices have varied this year between jellyfish (?) Pikachu and comedians amongst the expected swath of pop stars.  Yusuke seems to be a popular choice and I was informed by Mayu that "I like Yusuke. He is a singer and entertainer. His birthday is 17th Spring..."
I was thinking, whilst reading an amusing article on sub-editing, about how, in the aftermath of the oil leak, BP was being referred to as "the British company", but now it would appear that, in American minds at least, Change Obama is now calling it by its ancient name British Petroleum.

What a pathetic attempt by Obama to deflect the criticism he is facing from the American public after being seen to have done nothing for the last 40 days.  They are even saying that Bush had visited the Hurricane Katrina site eight times in the first month and all Obama has done is poke his finger in the sand once - and we all know how Katrina damaged Bush more than his warmongering.

Let's just start referring to Iraq as "America's War in Iraq" and global warming as "American-caused global warming" or Britain obesity problem as "The American fast food consuming obesity crisis."

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Dumb but friendly or smart but cold?

There once was a little girl called Riho who used to talk to me throughout the lesson (mainly about Prison Break), show me her new pencil case and laugh at all of my cheesy jokes.  She was very good at English and I even managed to piss off her older sister by saying "Riho is much better at English than you were at her age!"  There now is a seventeen year old Riho who is in the upper stream, hangs out with all the popular and smart girls and is, well, rather indifferent to me!  I didn't teach her class at all last year, so was looking forward to getting them back this year.  They are very obedient and do all the work with the minimum of iyaaaaa (FFS! God! Sigh! Tut etc that you'd expect teenagers to utter).  They are a tight unit and recently they have made it clear that there is a wall between me and them that I have no right to try and climb over.  I was quite depressed in today's writing class: they cottoned on straightaway, I got through all that I wanted to and they readily accepted that they should finish for homework, but they didn't ask me one question. There was no banter: there were a few jokes between themselves, but I wasn't invited in. 

Compare this with the third year high school class.  They are supposed to be the top class of the senior year, but half of them don't belong there, some of them are struggling with vocabulary and grammar that they should have mastered in junior high school.  I moved six chatterboxes to the front of the class. I despaired that only 50% handed in their homework (which was already two weeks late!) Half the class struggled with the same material that Riho's class (a year younger) did with ease.  They said that it was impossible to complete their homework by tomorrow - "I know you said write 100 words, but how about 50?" Yuri continued to disrupt her classmates even after I had moved her.  I told them "Kuro-chan (a comedian Yuri is in love with) only likes girls who do their homework and are not annoying!"  She said "I don't think so!" I said "It's true, I spoke to him last night and he told me that he only dates girls who write 100 words."  They said "Rebecca, you are so full of shit!"   I had a bit of a sore throat at the end of the class, but I guess it was kind of fun.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Called an old hag and accused of having athlete's foot all in one day

I've always liked Mei-chan.  She has all of the attributes that my favourite students have: friendly, smiley, cheerful and is willing to try a little as she likes me.  We bonded when she was a first year as she was frustrated that I couldn't understand what she had had for breakfast - ohagi. She insisted to one of the Japanese English teachers that she explain to me exactly what ohagi was (much to both of our amusement).  It sounded gross - sweet rice balls covered with sesame seeds or sweet bean paste.

Anyway,  Friday I was in quite a bit of pain, the old back injury had been creaking ominously for a few weeks and Thursday night it gave out.  I asked the girls to behave because my back was hurting.  Mei said to her friend "Oba-han desu kara ne" "It's because she's a middle-aged woman."  Using the Osaka form han rather than the usual chan made it all the crueller!  I mock-shouted "MEI!" and she put her hand over her mouth and racked her brains for a bit before coming up with "Sorry!" much to her classmates amusement.

I got my revenge not long after.  The third year junior highs have twenty easy questions to answer within two minutes for their mid-term test.  The lower level classes seem to peak in the second year and then pretty much stay the same level for the remainder of the time at school, so her confidently suggested answer to "What did you have for lunch?" was "I had pan".  I explained that pan, the Japanese for bread, is French and not English to which she replied "So, we can't use French?"  I said "Am I a French or an English teacher?  Is this a French or and English test?"  "Oh, I see!" replied Mei.  I related the story to her Japanese English teacher who said "Please don't think that all Japanese are that stupid!"

My bare legs and sandaled feet prompted much muttering amongst the second year high school.  I wasn't really listening, but they must have been wondering why I had no socks on (something the Japanese staff would never do at work) I said to a pair of girls "What are you saying about my legs?" From the other side of the classroom Sayumi announced "mizumushi!" Athelete's foot! I probably dug my own grave by telling Sayumi she was really rude and yes, I did know the meaning of mizumushi so be careful what you say.

As I have been having some trouble with athlete's foot recently, Sayumi caused me to spend the rest of the lesson hiding behind my desk and paranoidly looking at my feet "They can't possibly see anything can they?"  At the end of class she asked about the contents of the writing test. I explained, and then said "I'm deducting 5% for your mizumushi comment!"

The daft emails that students send you

I like the vast majority of my private students: the fact that they chose to come to my home rather than the easier choice of signing up with one of the language schools makes them independently minded and outgoing.  Juggling schedules and other commitments often means that they have to rearrange lessons and I often find myself answering the odd question that they have out of class time.

I had a Rakugo performance today and drink
meeting after that. I perfomanced 'Till Death Do Us Part. 
I am drunk now.
I will read carefully tomorrow after I come back.
I'm sorry  I am a boozer.

Followed an hour later by:

I'm still drunk but I'm so embarrassed to see my spelling mistakes in
the previous mails. Sorry!

My doctor student always cancels and I get these gems:

I am sorry I cannot go today, 10th and 17th. I am very busy this month.  I will pay you every fees, so please don't fire me. I will see you March 24th (you will have a vacation?). I miss you!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Licking the lid

There are plenty of things that one does in the privacy of one's own home (plucking, picking, licking, scratching and scraping) that are fine confined to the gaze of nobody, or only those who are used to your revulsive habits.  Much as you would be unlikely to make any friends by whipping off your socks and whipping out a nail clipper in front of your colleagues, yoghurt-consuming individuals should really consider the fact others are trying to eat their lunch whilst you slither your tongue over the foil covering of your pot and proceed to poke it around to scoop up all the yoghurty lid residue.  Quite a repulsive spectacle!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Feeling slightly homesick?

I guess I must be or else why would some sub-standard photos of bluebells make me burst into tears? It's not the obvious things that get you, it's those you have practically forgotten and, for me, flowers seem to be a theme at the moment. What weird emotions: one minute I'm wiping a tear, then I'm in shock that one of the contributors is a Japanese woman from Osaka (!!!) and then chuckling that the next one is called Harold Lloyd ("do do do do do do do/Harold Llloyd/do do do do do do do/A pair of glasses and a smile"!)

A few weeks ago this small bank covered with  daffodils on Hieizan got me, and easily usurped the last of this year's cherry blossom. 

Dumb Question of the Day

"Sensei, you know that you have blues eyes - by the way why do you have blue eyes? Look at her eyes, everyone!  Look at the shape! Why are they blue? Anyway, is everything you see blue?"

Ah the tendency to see the world through the naively optimistic hue of bluebell-coloured spectacles!

After checking that she didn't, infact, see the world through a shade of turd, I reassured her that, yes, I, also, can detect a spectrum's worth of colour. "That's great!"

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Feeling mildly nauseous

and it will turn into full-scare pit of stomach retching if that smug, gimpy, sense of entitlement Cameron gets in tomorrow.  Just the thought of the Conservatives in again is so depressing that I think I'll weep if they win.

Gary Yonge's article sums up exactly how I feel

Brown may be hated, but be careful of what you wish for. 

Froth is actually quite a tricky word to pronounce.

If you're not careful, your mouth can end up producing a great big raspberry sound.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

H&M opens in Osaka. Oh tempered joy!

Finally, after Tokyo getting all the shops that make me misty-eyed, the great H&M arrives in Osaka.  I would have said "with great fanfare", but, I was shocked to learn that I had somehow managed to be unaware of this occurence.  Still, off I trotted on the opening day to find the Dotombori bridge area looking ominoulsy more packed than usual and a queue going up and down and up and back down again on the river side walkway.

 With heavy heart, I got a relatively empty Uniqlo to wonder around inside instead!  

Whilst, still excited by the prospect of a four storey H&M, I wonder when I will actually get the chance to enter the store.  You have to wonder at the decision of putting it right bang in one of the most crowded and touristed areas of Osaka.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Centre stage

Apparently, it takes twenty years for someone to live in a new language situation to become completely incompetent in their mother-tongue language.  Obviously, you would have to be using only your second language for it to all fall apart. Most ex-pats in Japan lose their ability to spell and I often get tongue-tied and frustrated when the correct English word just will not come.  The weirdest thing, however, is when you are staring at a simple word and its form looks strange and you just can't trust the spelling and start thinking that there is either something wrong with that word or your brain; I've just been searching for an idiom revolving around the word "stage" and after five minutes or so, a kind of panic set in: that "stage", does that really say stage? What are those strange five letters and why are they arranged in that order?  It must be correct as there is a whole bunch of idioms using it here.  Fortunately, it all resettled in the grey matter and I calmed down.  Sometimes it doesn't, and I'll be left unhinged for the rest of the day, by a three-letter word.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

How the rest of the world insists on seeing Japan

I'm pretty sure that this video touted by the BBC as "Japanese zoo trains staff to catch runaway 'tiger' " is actually footage of some entertainment being put on for the school kids so clearly visible in the video.  That, however,would not be entertaining enough, or provide a quick laugh at how "wacky" those Japanese people are.

It is not entirely one way as Japanese people enjoy and  insist on believing the cliches about every other nationality, but I have been thinking about how Japan is portrayed a lot recently.  I read an interesting essay on the subject just last night, about the relevance of Japanese studies, or any cultural studies and how much of it reinforces stereotypes out of laziness, ignorance or only the 12 hours allocated to an "academic" course, especially when it is taught by people who have never spent an extended period living in Japan or by Japanese who have long left their own country.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Not the greatest of looks,

but a pretty good way to check for seaweed that might be lodged, rather unfetchingly, in ones teeth.

The problem when you are reasonably good at photography

is that you don't end up having any photos of yourself, or, at least, any decent ones: if you aren't completely over or under-exposed, you end up with weird implements sticking out of your head. Why can't people look at the whole of the view finder and ask themselves a couple of vital questions such as:
a) What is the subject?  Is it Sento-kun the weird freak mascot of Nara city, that is a cross between Buddha and a deer, and, thus, has offended a whole load of people, and cost the tax payer a ridiculous amount of money to design?  Or, is it Rebecca together with Sento-kun?
b) Does Rebecca have a coat hanger sticking out of her head?

People's way of thinking is often weird

You want to buy your teacher a small gift to say "thank you" as you are leaving school.  You are an 18 year old Japanese student.  H'mmmmm, what would be a good gift?  Ummmmm, perhaps something useful...but what?

OK, what do I find useful? Got it! Notebooks and pens!  Yes, I'll get her a notebook and pen. Plus, I'll even tipex out the price on the back of the notebook (because that'll be a good look).  I'll buy a flowery notebook for my female techer.  The male? Well, I'll get him a plain black B5 one.

Friday, 12 February 2010


I wonder what it means when you find yourself thinking "Oooh, I could watch another episode of Hart to Hart!"

"He's quite a guy........What an amazing woman!" 

I wonder what prompted Mrs H from being "an amazing woman" in season one to "a woman who knows how to take care of herself" in the later seasons?  Also "Their hobby is murder" changed to the slightly more impressive "When they met, it was murder!"

Friday, 18 December 2009

This is the first year that I have noticed (with great foreboding of the nature of future years) that Christmas in Japan has finally "arrived" on a large scale.  A lot of shopping areas put up decorations and the Kobe "Illuminarie" has been going for serveral years to commemorate the victims of the Hanshin Earthquake, but this year, the TV commercials seemed to take on a different spin: namely that things being advertised without a Christmas connection, seemed to feature santas or families acting "Christmassy"

Christmas in Japan is basically thought of as "romantic" and officially it is when a couple dress up and go out for a posh dinner and eat iced sponge! I was greatly amused by the tree in Mio department store (my second home") This year it featured TV screens that inbetween having santa bouncing around, showed a recurring two minute video of a girl alone on Christmas Day, but who finally meets a guy.   Talk about taking the Christ out of Christmas!

Quack quack

I wonder of the definition of being out of your mind involves going out in the cold to view a giant rubber duck?
I was, however, cheered to discover that it actually appears to be taking your own smaller version and taking pictures of it in front of the duckzilla version (Santa togs for the teeny version optional!)

Friday, 4 December 2009

I was never a huge fan of Walnut Whips,

but I hope that my path is never darkened by one again after discovering that they appear to share their shape with the average faecal matter of the average Japanese.  You may wonder why I know that Japanese people produce a whorl of turd, but the answer is simple: they draw them every where.  Not just the kids.  This one was drawn by one of my 40 something private students who went on to explain "Asian people eat a lot of rice, so our stool is very big."

If you want to feel really old

Make sure that you take a group shot of yourself with a bunch of 18 year olds. Go on! I really recommend it.  Exactly half a life time away. Actually, it was perhaps worth it as the group in question managed the not so rare feat of making me shed a tear or two.  I also sucked air through my teeth today.  This was pointed out.  Apparently, this is a Japanese trait.  I just thought it eas a universal "I'm not sure if that is the case". I was encicled by my share of the KoIII Sogo course girls after their final English class as they each spewed forth a sentence ("Rebecca, in Japanese OK") saying how much they had enjoyed the class and like me.  I think the dam burst was caused by the noisy crew saying "Sorry we are always noisy and you have to tell us to be quiet all the time!"

Friday, 20 November 2009

Reading Liz Jones

- God, never intentionally, I usually end up directed there by default, but it must be some masochistic tendency I have: I always want to spit at the computer by the end of the first paragraph.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Sakura Sakura

Time for the entire population of Japan to gaze in wonderment at the Cherry Blossom again. Ahhh how the brief and splendid life of the flower brings to mind that of the brief and splendid life of a samurai. A gust of wind and short down pour and it's all over (until next year).

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Det Don Flack from CSI:NY wears too much blusher and lipstick.

Well he does. He looks silly.

I have the body of a 55 year old Japanese woman

Which is made all the more blatantly clear when you decide to strip off and soak in the, not quite kitsch, not quite cheesy, bathing establishment known as Spa World. I drew the short straw this month as the female bath was Asia Zone. Europe Zone is far cooler. Asia Zone is OK but the centre obviously realises its limitations by getting rid of India and replacing it with Dr Spa...unfortunately a failure. OK, so India was indistinguishable from Islam (too ironic for comment) but since replacing the elephant statues and jet bath with some non-descript pools of supposed healing value, the crowd, and pube count has increased. I know that I'm a hairist but I don't want long, black pubes drifting in my direction if you please.

Anyway, what was my point? Oh yes. It's quite depressing to be surrounded by the high of tush and pert of breast as your 35th birthday looms like some ominous cloud (3 days to go) but when you notice that the grannies have got better bods than you the heart does tend to sink somewhat. That and the staring. Yes, I am foreign, yes I have a different body to you lot but do you really think I want to be eagerly viewed in a state of undress? It's one thing to be eyeballed (fully clothed) on the train every bloody day ("Get over it, yes I'm not Asian, but stop focking looking at me!") but to watch as 98.879% of the bathers eyes take in your face and then automatically move down to your nipples (yes, Crickey O'Reilly, they are a different colour to yours) and, not content with metting out that humiliation, descend lower to examine your pubic hair (OK folks! It's brown and wavier than yours but keep your bloody eyes to yourself!)

Only one thing for it:revenge glaring "Look at the brown torpedo teats on that! Cor would you ever! No wonder the cerebrally-challenged gaijin male population refer to your pubic hair as "Muff Fuji" - get a trim why don't you! And as for you Grandma, I can't work out what is droopier, your jawline, flaccid udders or your "amazing how much skin can hang off such a bony thing" arse!

I feel much better now.

Henri Cartier-Lego

I adore his work. He is easily my favourite photographer (predictable maybe - but Martin Parr at number two wouldn't be!) These Lego images by Mike Stimpson are wonderful:the Ebbets one, however, is genius.