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Well, 2011 marathon is over now. I ran it (yesterday, in fact), so here's a walk-through of the race-day process for those of you looking for detailed information in the coming years. Unless the world ends in 2012.

You may also be interested in part one of this guide, which goes over the application procedure and offers some details of the course.


This is a worksheet designed for use in the early days of third grade (Chapter 2, Do It Talk of New Crown).

It's a simple idea I've used several times for other grammar points, too. It's very easy, but still fun for good classes.


You've probably heard of the Japan Rail Pass in the guise of the bullet-train option. It's a good deal, but only if you travel around a LOT on your trip to Japan.

For those of us that live here, or that want a more relaxed vacation, there are various other options.

One such is the JR Seishun 18 (or "Seishun juuhachi kippu" to give it's full name). The map to the right shows the coverage of this ticket.


50,000 hits later we decided not to use the default template anymore.


To a Japanese driving test proctor, it's not enough to just drive in the correct lane. You need to drive in the correct part of the correct lane in order to impress them with your driving safety. Yes, this is absurd. And yes, it is necessary to do this to pass the driving test. At the Shiojiri licensing center, I witnessed nine people (myself included) who were told they'd failed the test primarily on this point.


One of the things many people associate with Japanese people is the face mask.

People who have asked me about this generally think it's something to do with not being subjected to other people's germs, but also that they are largely ineffective.

This blog will give you the full facts!!!!!!!!!!!


Junior High students start using the past tense towards the end of the first grade, and here's a fun activity to do using "did you... yesterday?"

This one's all about you, so you can change it any way you want to best suit you and your activities.


I love the all-in-one copiers in Japanese convenience stores. It's great to have access to a copier any time of the day or night for those of us who are bastions of non-procrastination and deadline management. But not only that, I love these all-in-one copiers because of all the other amazing things they do for me.

Here are five features that, if you haven't already tried them, you need to check out on your local convenience store* printer:

(7-11 happens to be the closest convenience store to my home, and so far they have the most extensive feature set I've encountered among convenience store copiers. Some features and images I post here pertain specifically to the all-in-one machines kept at most 7-11s in Japan, so keep that in mind if you want to try this out.)


Although some ALTs get by without making any, I am always asked to make worksheets, games and activities.

Sometimes it's a real headache coming up with original ideas, and although we covered some places you can find TEFL worksheets in part 4 you will sometimes find yourself totally on your own.

Remember these tips for those times.


Japan's propensity towards weird sexual perversions was semi-covered in an earlier post about pornography; but we failed to mention the obsession with hanging out in the company of schoolgirls.

And today is Valentine's Day, so what better way for you lonely people out there to enjoy your day than fantasising about expensive dates with hot, underage Japanese schoolgirls? Hell, you could even call one up and do it!


The last chapter of the 3rd grade textbook is about signing, and deaf actors.

This worksheet is in conjunction with that and/or learning about communication through Braille.

The students must first solve the English puzzle, then write their own message in Braille for their partner to translate.


Driving on the highway can be expensive (though ETC cards cut that cost dramatically, as do changes made in 2011).

Here's how to calculate exactly how expensive your planned trip is going to be.

It's simple really, there's a website which tells you. The only problem is the lack of English options.

Never fear!


Last year around this time, Houfu City in Yamaguchi Prefecture advertised two direct-hire ALT positions with a competitive remuneration package.

If you're looking for specific figures about ALT working conditions, or if you're looking for a direct-hire gig around Yamaguchi to apply for, here's the lowdown and the link to watch over the next couple weeks:


This map is an on-going project. If you have any suggestions, please let us know in the comments.

We have included a couple of locations/sights just outside the border of Nagano-ken. It seemed like the right thing to do.

View Things to do in Nagano-ken (www.accessj.com) in a larger map

I'll admit I have fallen asleep at my desk on occasion (I used to do it on the heated toilet seat when I got tired, but I got sick of falling off). These things happen. But the teacher opposite me manages to pull it off every single day.

She's the "special class" teacher, too. I've walked past that classroom and seen her asleep at the front of the class, asleep in a student's chair, and asleep in there alone with the Down's Syndrome girl (also asleep).


This week we'll cover some of the objects you can use in your lessons.

The 100 yen store is your friend for this one, but some things are also best bought in bulk from the internet.

Read on.


Quite a light-weight entry this week, but useful none the less.

Here's a sheet I made for third graders (15-16 years old) this week. The learn "The House That Jack Built" and "Peter Piper" towards the end of the year in New Crown, and this was a suppliment to that, but could also be used just for fun.

After that, I've got some lined sheets for you (HOORAY!!!).


Gifu City is hiring for a contract Coordinator of International Relations (CIR, 国際交流員) position beginning April, 2011. The application window begins soon. Judging by the compensation package, this job is tailored for someone who is already in the Gifu area and looking for part time work. If that sounds like you, take a gander:

Application Deadline: Feb. 28, 2011


A typical Japanese school staff room.
I'm sure all of these people are lovely.
Thanks to Japan's system of workplace transfers, every new year of work here is like a co-worker lottery. The grand prize is a team of socially adept, caring, hard workers with whom you'll spend a smooth year of work. The grand un-prize is a year-full of people you can't stand and an all-you-can-eat buffet of frustration and despair.

Here are some bread-and-butter stereotypes that may or may not be remotely accurate of the kinds of Japanese English teachers you may work alongside as an ALT:


I couldn't find what I wanted this week, so instead of a thrilling installment about Japanese cars and related blog posts, here's a picture of the beautiful Matsumoto castle. I went there last weekend and witnessed the "ICE FESTIVAL!!" they had there (festival is a bit of a strong word, but it was a nice day trip).

Matsumoto (in Nagano prefecture), like pretty much all cities in Japan, has a lot of events year round. If you're in the area be sure to check out the Matsumoto tourism site to see what's going on.

Update: Here are some more photos of Matsumoto castle and the ice. Click for a bigger picture.