Monday, February 28, 2011

Running Tokyo Marathon 2011 part 2

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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

WS: Would You Like? JHS 3rd G

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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Budget Japan Rail Pass - Seishun 18

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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Site Layout

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Driving Test Tips: Position in the Lane

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.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Proper Look at Japanese Face Masks

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!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WS: 1st Grade JHS - Did you...?

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.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Convenience Store Printers: Everything Short of Transforming into Robots

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.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Being an ALT #8: Making Activites

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.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

WS: Braille Puzzle

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.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Calculating Highway Tolls in Japan

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!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Job Spotlight: ALT Spot in Houfu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture

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:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Things To Do: Nagano Prefecture

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 ( in a larger map

PT: Sleeping on Duty

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).

Monday, February 07, 2011

Being an ALT #7: Physical Resources

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.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

WS: 3rd Grade JHS Tongue Twisters and Some Useful Things

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!!!).

Friday, February 04, 2011

Job Spotlight: Gifu City CIR Position

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

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Being an ALT #6: 4 Japanese Teachers You May Have to Work With

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:

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

PT: Matsumoto Castle Ice Festival

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.