Sunday, October 31, 2010

WS: Halloween

Well, it's Halloween today so maybe this is a little late, but for those doing something next week or next year here are some activities for mixed ages.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Accommodation: Capsule Hotels

If a Love Hotel seems too lonely, Couch Surfing too scary, Youth Hostels are full of roudy youths and an Internet Cafe too sleazy, why not opt for a capsule?

People bang on about capsule hotels being a Japanese revolution of quirkiness and efficiency. To be honest they're just a crappy version of a bunkbed, but they can be handy when you need a cheap place to stay in the business district.

Beware: Height Resitrictions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Japanese Cooking Measurements

A cup is a cup, right?

Well, it is, as long as you stay in the same country. Even though the word "cup" remains constant across a number of countries and is a constant go-to word in the kitchen, the actual volume it refers to differs by country.

Let's clear this up with the help of some internationally recognized measurements:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Example of a Landing Permission

As a continuation of our visa series, today we take a look at the 上陸許可 (jyouriku kyoka), or "Landing Permission," stamp in your visa. This stamp is your lifeblood in Japan. Obey the items written on this stamp, or risk deportation from and sanctions on re-entry to Japan.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

WS: Review Crosswords

Laura has been at it again and made another great couple of sheets.

These two are crosswords for 2nd and 3rd graders. The second grade one covers vocab and grammar up until about mid-October (chapter 6) for New Crown, and the 3rd grade one is a review of past tenses, including present perfect forms.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Buying a Used Bike from a Recycle Centre in Japan

Being the headcase that I am, I thought it would be a great idea to cycle back to my town (in the mountains) from Tokyo. At a mere 277km I was fearless. So I set about bike shopping.

I briefly considered spending 700,000yen on a nice, new road bike before thinking about buying second-hand. I came across a place called Suginami Green Cycle. There I bought the pictured bike for 15,000yen. The retail price is something between five and ten times that.

This particular blog only has information about Tokyo bike shops, but if you contact your city office for information about local schemes like this you might get lucky.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Example of a Japan Visa

If you come to Japan and intend to stay for a long time, you will almost certainly have a "Japan Visa" in your passport. It is big and shiny and takes up a whole page, and at the top in block letters are the words 日本国査証.

We explained the difference between this Visa and the much more important Landing Permission (上陸許可) before, but for your reference, here is an example of a Japan Visa and explanation of its important points:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting a Re-Entry Permit (Going on Holiday)

In addition to other items in our growing visa guide, you will probably sometimes find yourself in need of a re-entry permit. This is required if you want to leave the country for a holiday, etc. and then return. Why you need one with a valid visa is anyone's guess, but if you don't bother getting one, your hard-won working or student visa will be voided when you return.

They come in two formats - single re-entry and multiple re-entry. The former is 3,000yen whilst the latter will set you back 6,000. I'd recommend the multiple even if you aren't sure about a second trip - you never know when an emergency will come up and having to go to the prefectural office at short notice may be valuable time wasted.

Anyway, here's how you get one:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

WS: Vocab Crunch

Here is a simple warm-up lesson idea that can be used with high-functioning, motivated students. It's super easy to prepare and can be tailored to review material from the last lesson.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Your Real Visa: 査証 and 上陸許可

Visas are a pretty big aspect of any expat's life. And more often than not, they seem to leave people feeling stressed and bummed out. Last year, when I was up for renewal, I waded through a lot of information about renewing visas in Japan. I’ve collected and organized some of that info here.

First off, I want to introduce the difference between a Visa and Landing Permission in Japan. Many newbies are unaware of this difference, which can be very dangerous: If you screw up and overstay in Japan because you mixed up the dates on your Visa and your Landing Permission, you could get deported from Japan and barred from reentry, even as a tourist. So, listen up:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Regional Sites and Mailing Lists

If you are part of the JET Program, you are probably aware of the robust and cohesive communities JETs tend to form. In each region, older JETs train the newbies, helping them accustom to Japan by introducing local events and facilities.

Through generations of JETs, fantastic and comprehensive regional websites, wikis, and mailing lists come together. And usually, the managers of these websites and mailing lists welcome anyone in the local community to participate and make use of the information--not just JETs.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Accommodation: Couch Surfing

If you are on a very tight budget and can't afford the other cheap accommodation options (Love Hotels, Capsule Hotels, sleeping in Internet Cafes and Youth Hostels) or just looking to meet new people then you may want to consider Couch Surfing.

CS is a project where people around the world list themselves as free places to stay for visitors. Through the site you can contact them and see if it's alright for you to visit on specific dates and stay for X amount of time.

There are loads of people in Japan offering this. 1200+ in Tokyo alone.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

WS: Mine and His (First grade JHS)

Those of you teaching the JHS New Crown textbook at the moment will be on or approaching using personal pronouns and possessives (I, my, me, you, your, you, he, his, him, she, her, her).

My lovely girlfriend has again made a great lesson plan. On Friday I had a fantastic lesson with my students on this, so I thought I'd share the activity that we did together.

Friday, October 08, 2010

New Year, New Teachers

Those of you working as an Assistant English Teacher in Japan are probably familiar with the mysterious shifting of personnel every year. Particularly in March and April (but also sometimes in September and October), schools in Japan throw big "going-away" and "welcome" parties to commemorate the changing personnel.

These personnel changes are the public equivalent of company transfers. Here is a decoded policy message from a ken-level public board of education about these transfers for your enjoyment (...?) and to help us all understand the Japanese reasoning behind this revolving workplace employment.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Learning Japanese: Common Pronoun Mistakes

A long time ago I read an article about pronouns in Japanese written by the Yale Anime Society.
Fortunately, a quick Google search taught me that today there are many better resources about pronoun usage in the Japanese language (Wikipedia and Wa-pedia for starters).

But, when I read that Yale article, it really stuck with me. I thought it was the definitive guide to pronouns in Japanese and even made detailed flashcards for myself to remember who says what pronoun when. I'd taken the article completely out of its intended context (anime) and thought I'd meet people in real life using sessha or atai. Fortunately, observation of Japanese friends over time let me realize that what I'd been taught was horribly incomplete. I generally agree with the content of the Wikipedia and Wa-pedia articles linked above, but it's still, really, a long list of words from which only a handful are ever realistically used. For what it's worth, here are a few of my observations about Japanese pronouns.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Weird School Lunches

A couple months ago, "school lunch" was all the rage on Japanese TV. A guy named Hideo Makuuchi published a book called "Weird School Lunches," which featured terrible food combinations served up to elementary and junior high school students in different parts of Japan. (School lunch in Japan is mandatory in most public schools; kids cannot choose what they eat or bring their own lunch from home.)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

WS: All-Purpose "Anything OK" Escape-Method #2: Ultra Snail Salt Chopstick Attack

As a follow-up to the fantastic Typhoon Game which I published a little while ago, here's a very similar game which can be used when you feel typhooned out but still need a filler game.

I recommend you try the Typhoon, or at least read its description first to help you better understand this post.

It's basically the same game but with chopsticks instead of cards, snails instead of houses, and only one word per chopstick. Because there's only one word, students can be very creative, but you must also make sure you get the aim of the class clear at the start.

Again, it can last from 15-20 minutes up to the entire class. Here's how to make it:

Friday, October 01, 2010