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Friday

Welcome to the first installment of our Q&A series.

Today we hear from a young woman who received monthly bank transfers over 6 years from an absolute stranger she met over the Internet in exchange for sending him daily diary entries. After breaking off communication with the man, she wonders if she should feel obligated to repay the money back to him even though he hasn't asked her to.

Let's hear what the Internet has to say!



Thursday

This latest link is an incredibly detailed (because it comes from the Japan Seismic Hazard Information Station) map of the true "Danger Zones" in Japan.

On Tuesday we published a map which indicated the strength of vibration of different parts of Japan based on the surface type. However, it was misinterpreted by some as an indication of where quakes were most likely to occur.

In response, this is exactly that.



Wednesday

Japan is famous for all kinds of delicious fruits. Different areas boast some great local varieties. For example, some cities of Nagano prefecture have world-famous apples (Iida city, especially, where local school-children groom the trees which line a beautiful street in town).

Picking seasons for 18 popular fruits below:



Tuesday

The map embedded below shows the areas of Japan most prone to certain degrees of shaking.

A translation and detailed prefectural links lie beneath.



Monday


I admit it. I have a guilty pleasure: I like reading the Japanese version of Yahoo! Answers, or Yahoo! Chiebukuro. Judging from the content quality of its English counterpart, I'm afraid this admission speaks volumes about the level I operate on when using Japanese. It's probably akin to an ESL learner proudly indicating reruns of the Jerry Springer show as her favorite leisure activity.



Sunday

This is another sheet in the vein of my "Would You Like" 3rd grade handout. It involves cutting and sticking and is great for elementary or 1st graders at JHS.



Friday

Back in about 2003 and a few years following, a string of accidents leading to death or injury caused by cars with remote control engine starters incited panic in Japan. The starters, which allow you to turn on your car and allow the engine to warm up from a distance, had been improperly installed on manual transmission cars: Nothing prevented these cars from being started remotely while in gear, causing them to lurch forward suddenly then continue rolling along unmanned.



Wednesday

As anecdotal as it seems, there are some hangover preventative drinks which you can buy in Japan which do actually work to limit your hangover the day after drinking too much. I recommend (though I can't stand the taste of it) ウコンの力 (ukon no chikara):

This is a combination of turmeric and many of the vitamins you lose during a drinking session.



Monday

A beautiful writer, albeit more British than Japanese, is Kazuo Ishiguro.

His masterful character-studies are completely involving. Whether the story is seen through the eyes of a butler (Remains of the Day), or a human Guinea pig (Never Let Me Go), the proceedings are flawlessly executed.



Sunday

Here are two ideas to get you started in making activities for your new 1st grade students in Junior High.

You may find you don't even get asked for any games in your first year teaching, but if you do it can be hard at first to come up with anything original, especially when it's not completely clear at what level you should pitch your activities.

These two sheets are examples of the kind of thing teachers want from you.



Friday

Back in 2008, the Tobacco Industry of Japan discovered, via a shock report, that having cigarette vending machines in the street meant that under-age people could buy them.

Anyway, since that revelation they have introduced the ID-check system of Taspo cards.

In order to buy cigarettes (from Taspo-enabled machines) you must swipe your card over the sensor (or press your wallet against it), and in order to have that card you need to have applied and been approved for one.

Here are the details of how to do that.



Thursday

It's been a long time since we did a roundup of our recent blogs, and as our readership has taken something of a jump since new year, here's a rundown of some of what you may have missed.



Wednesday

As you may have noticed, the Japanese don't generally use the same scale as you may be used to to measure earthquake intensity. Instead of the level of magnitude which we use in the West, they have a system called 震度 "shindo". The main difference is that this scale measures the physical shaking of the surface of the earth at numerous points. This is why the earthquake report maps look like the one to the right (incidentally taken from yesterday's quake), where there is a strength gradient across affected areas.

For a visual representation of what this means, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has this useful graphic (click to enlarge):



Tuesday

Another resource issued by a foreign embassy in Japan. This time not only covering general radiation levels by prefecture, but also featuring detailed analysis of water etc. very useful for calming nerves (and family at home).

We have the good people at KEIO University to thank for translating this one.

Here's the link to the radioactivity reports.



Well, it's well and truly 花見 (hanami/blossom viewing) season again. This coming weekend will see the peak in my town. Check our past entry for the full-bloom sakura dates for your region of Japan.

The trees became nationally iconic in a bid, many years ago, for Japan to distance itself from China (whose national symbol is the plum blossom). In hindsight, they probably should have picked something a bit more different, as the two are often confused by outsiders.


The distinctly white, mildly pink (when in full bloom) blossom which dominates much of Japan belongs to a tree known as 染井吉野 (somei yoshino). This is the "standard tree". There are around 100 other varieties, such as the low hanging, droopy branches of 枝垂れ桜 (shidarezakura). Intensely pink blossoms most likely belong to 関山桜 (kanzanzakura).


Anyway, someone asked me the other day about the different types of cherry trees seen in bloom. So, here's the answer they wanted:



Monday

Kameari is the site of possibly the most famous anime and manga in Japan: こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所 (usually shortened to Kochikame and referred to as Kameari Park Precinct in English). It's the longest running manga series in Japanese history and centres around a police box (koban) outside a small children's park in Kameari.

I went there last week and thought you might like to know about a walk you can do around the (lovely) area. It makes a unique couple of hours to add to your experience in Tokyo.



Sunday

This is a self-explanatory sheet for practicing "Is this/that your...?"



Friday

...couldn't be much easier.



Wednesday

...is with GoLloyds Japan (see below for more options). It's also the cheapest I've seen at 2,000yen a time.



Tuesday

AJET have published an excellent list of ways you can help Japan's current crisis. Unfortunately, volunteer opportunities are still pretty limited. However, there are dozens of donation drives for both money and essential items. Check the list for what you can do, and where, in your prefecture.

Volunteer & Donation Information By Prefecture



Monday

For the last two years, the Nagano Board of Education has listed direct hire ALT positions at high schools across the prefecture. These are cream-of-the-crop jobs, on par with the JET Program in terms of salary and support.

The jobs were first created as Nagano began to pull away from the JET Program, and they are often occupied by 5-year JETs who weren't quite ready to go home. But, the positions are open for anyone to apply.

However, because the package is nice and there is no shortage of applicants each year, the qualifications are steep. For starters, you need to be in Japan and have a valid landing permission for work.



Sunday

Here's a template to print your own money (goes down well), and some ideas for games you can use it with.



Friday

Not just tsunami victims, but all those affected, may be looking for a place to stay for a while. If you can help at all, please go to this link

http://www.earthdaymoney.org/topics_dt.php?id=391



You probably know about the Japan Rail Pass, which allows limited use of the bullet train (and others) to get around during your holidays.

You may also have read our article on the Budget Rail Pass, which is a lot cheaper and more flexible (within given dates).

In other news, there is a very cheap alternative for those willing to travel on night buses. The company is called Willer Express.