Monday, August 30, 2010

Applying for a Parking Space

Not the most exciting subject, but certainly an important one for many of us.

When you buy a car, before you can actually receive it you must have a police-approved parking space within 2km of your house. That is, unless you live in a tiny village with low population density, in which case the process is much simpler (though I can't offer advice as of yet).

You can pay your car dealer to do all of this for you, although I was quoted 30,000yen which seemed like too much. To do it yourself, follow these steps:

(UPDATE 9/2013: Details about the specific forms used in this process can be found here.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Learning Japanese: Vocabulary building

A daunting part of learning Japanese is memorising reams and reams of words. Sitting down and forcing endless amounts of un-contextualised information into your brain is hard. Ideally, of course, you would learn in-situ. For a lot of people that isn't possible.

For that reason, here is a list of the ways in which I have learned vocabulary in the past:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Workplace Transfers: 異動

One big difference between Japanese and Western workplaces is the common nature of transfers. In order to support traditional values of inter-connectedness, Japanese companies shuffle their employees around to different departments and regions every 1 to 5 years. The goal of these transfers is to create employees with a broad skill base and an overall understanding of how everything in the company works.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why do Gaijin Smell so Bad?

Japanese people think gaijin smell awful. Some say it's a buttery smell.

Well, that's pretty accurate. Right now I stink. But there are good reasons for this.

Listen up Japan: take this into consideration before you harshly judge us whiteys:

1. Summer is far too long, too hot and there is no air-con in this (or any other) school.

2. Japanese deodorant doesn't work! It's more like scented water. I'm forced to have the stuff imported.

3. Japanese washing-machines use cold water. What's the point in that?

4. You stink too, so shut up!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Second-Hand Stores

Pretty much synonymous with selling rubbish from dead and poor people's homes, second-hand stores aren't something I would previously have connected with Japan. How wrong I was!

They come in several guises, all of which are great sources of bargains.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

5 Random School Lunches From Japan

When I first got here I thought lunch was great - plentiful, reasonably tasty and a new experience. 18 months later I dread the whole experience.

I recently explained why eating with my students kind of sucks sometimes, but now I want to talk about the food itself.

I'd like to point out, before any enraged Japanophiles get on my case, that although I openly dislike a lot of Japanese school lunches so do the Japanese.

Without further ado, here are the five lunches I was presented with last week:

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Japanese Cars for Tall People

I'm 6'4" and have a pretty rough time in most cars. When I was car shopping I tried loads of different models. There are clearly a lot of nice, affordable cars in Japan; like the Nissan March, Honda Fit and Toyota Passo, but legroom can be a big pain in the arse (let's not even mention K-cars).

So let's look at five solid options for tall people in Japan:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Soaplands: the Japanese Brothel

A soapland is a brothel. You pay a woman to use her naked body to clean you. She gets you all foamed up, uses her boobs and ass like a sponge and then fulfills the rest of your agreement.

If all this is making you reconsider your opinion of prostitution then you certainly aren't alone.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mending/Changing the Paper in Shouji Screens

Japanese paper doors may be attractive (at least from the inside), but it's very easy to stick an object through them, as anyone living here will know. Guests staying have a particular knack with this.

Anyway here's a guide to changing/mending the screens (障子を張り替える) if you're nervous or curious.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Robots in my Toilet

Something makes me scared of earthquakes. It's not the danger (my apartment is "earthquake-proof" apparently). It's not the fact that I might spill a beer or bang my head either. It's that my robot collection will fall down the toilet.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

WS: "I Can, Can You?"- Elementary school

Can is one of the staples of low-level English. I've had fun teaching this plan before, so here it is for you. Hopefully it will give you some ideas, at least.

"Can" isn't very hard to explain, and when I taught elementary the kids really enjoyed the lesson. I introduced it about 8-9 months into the year. At this point we had learned some easy verbs like swim, run, walk, jump, fly and climb. This took 35-40 minutes if I remember rightly.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Getting an MNP Reservation Number

To make use of Japan's Mobile Number Portability, first you'll need to get an MNP Reservation Number (MNP予約番号, MNP yoyaku bangou). Reservation numbers are available through providers' websites and telephone hotlines, but if your Japanese is limited, the most straightforward route to a Reservation Number is a visit to your local cellphone shop.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mobile Number Portability

Mobile Number Portability (携帯電話番号ポータビリティ―, keitai denwa bangou pootabiritii) is a system imposed by Japanese government legislation since late 2006. The system allows cellphone users to migrate between cellular service providers without changing their telephone number.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Elementary School: The Hello Song vs. "Anything OK"

Those of us teaching English will have reams of stories complaining about the repetitive things we have to do. Read and repeat after Mr Dom, read and repeat...

One of the worst cases for me was The Bloody Hello Song. Last year I taught elementary students one day a week. I loved it and desperately want to do it again. But one thing I don't miss was the shockingly bad
Hell-o-o! Hell-o-o!

Hell-o-o how are you?

I'm fine, I'm fine

And I hope that you are too!

x3, then x3 again with a stupid "gesture dance". At the start of every single lesson.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

WS: Japanese Second Grade JHS (12/13yo) Syllabus (New Crown)

This is simply a typed up list of the vocab and important phrases taught in the second volume of New Crown. It's useful to have as a reference of what is learned when when designing worksheets/bingo. There's nothing worse than slipping in a load of words students don't know yet and complicating a simple activity.

It may also be interesting for those of you who want a better idea of the form teaching English takes in Japan.

As usual, click here to view in Google Docs, but you'll want to save a copy.