Note: I want to point out that I updated my previous post with pictures from Kyoto! Check 'em out! And on with the show...
I was asked by a friend of mine who is also a fellow JET ALT to be "Mr. October," as she put it. This entails being the interviewee of a few fun questions and writing an article for a publication that will be read by junior high students and teachers across Miyagi Prefecture. At the end of this post, I will paste my article. I wrote it very quickly, and didn't even bother editing it, so I apologize for its first-draft-iness. Also, you've already read about the various things I discuss because I included them in a previous post. It's about the differences I've observed between Japan and the U.S. So I apologize for lack of originality, too. But I guess it's my own work, so technically, it's original; just a rehash. Anyway...
I'm contemplating putting my answers to the interview here or not. It's kind of silly, but I put a lot of time into some of my answers. Alright sure, I'll post the interview up as well after this post. Interview first, article second.
This past week since I got back from Kyoto has been interesting. First of all, my school schedule has been crazy because of national holidays and a school event. So I've had the past two Mondays off. And I had last Thursday off as well. On Wednesday night, some elementary school teachers and I went out to Sendai (or nearby) for some fun food and drinks. I must say, they can sure drink! We went to two locations; the first was a very nice restaurant with unique and delicious food. It was so good that Shoe and I decided to go back a few nights later! That, and so he could see the cute waitress again, haha. The other place we went to was a small bar; it had a "California" theme, so there was a lot of beach merchandise there hanging on the walls.
When Shoe and I went to that first location this past weekend, I discovered a new drink that I like. It's called カシス. I looked it up, and found out that it's a vermouth made from a fruit called cassis, or blackcurrant as it's called in English. Yum.
On Friday, I went out with some guys from the town hall. We went bowling! Ahh, good times. I still suck, though. On Saturday, there was a huge inter-school sports fest between my town's junior high school, and three neighboring town's junior high schools. I'm really proud of my students; we won quite a few major events! First, we won the tennis match (girls), then we won the soccer game (boys), and finally, we won the baseball game! I also got to watch kendo, judo, and ping pong, which my students did fairly well at an individual level. (One of the girls got second place in kendo! I'm not too sure how the girls did in judo, but the only girls who do judo around here are from my school anyway, and there are only three of them. Lastly, I saw one of the girls on the ping pong team get 2nd place in the finals. Great!)
Because the teachers had to attend the various events (cheering and some coaching), and almost all of the students were participating (all 1st and 2nd years, 3rd years came to watch), school was closed on Monday. So yeah! Busy week!
It has also gotten annoyingly colder lately. Ugh, I wish the weather would go back up to 75 and just STAY THERE. It hasn't been 75 for a few weeks now. And because it has gotten colder, I decided to buy something which will assist me in keeping warm while jogging outside: a track suit! Now I can join all the other teachers in Japan, hahaha. For some reason, everyone wears a track suit...
So yeah, those are the updates so far. Nothing too crazy. The next thing I have to figure out is how to get a credit card here. I keep getting denied because it was apparently common for foreigners to get a credit card, buy something big with it, then return to their home country without paying for it. Damn thieves! Because of them, I can't get a credit card! ::grumble grumble::
Word of the day: 質問 「しつもん」 "shitsumon," which means "question."
How long have you lived there? I’ve lived here for just two months!
Something that’s famous in your town: Kappa
How many schools do you work with? Four
Is this your first time in Japan? Yes, unless you include the 2-hour layover at Narita a few years ago, but I don’t. :-)
In Japan, where have you traveled? So far, I have been to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Sendai.
Have you traveled outside of Japan? Yes! I love to travel. I was born in the Philippines, and I’ve been to a few countries in Europe, including France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Great Britain.
Where would you like to travel (inside and outside Japan)? I want to explore Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaido. I want to see famous sites and see all of the main islands. I want to visit many countries, including South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and many others.
Aside from Japanese, have you ever studied another language? Yes, I’ve studied Spanish for four years, in junior and senior high school.
What was your favorite subject in junior high school? In junior high, my favorite subject was probably algebra.
What was your favorite subject in high school? In high school, my favorite subject was chemistry.
What was your major in college? My major was chemistry, and my minor was Japanese.
What kind of jobs did you have before joining the JET Program? I’ve held various office positions, including administrative assistant and administrative support. I worked in the educational division of a large medical center. I have also worked at a fast-food sandwich restaurant and even a seasonal plant nursery (garden).
What do you want to be when you grow up? Eventually, I want to be a doctor.
What’s your favorite thing about yourself? (I left this blank; didn't want to seem narcissistic.)
What’s your least favorite thing about yourself? (I also left this blank; too many to pick from! Haha)
What qualities do you like in a significant other? As much beauty on the inside as on the outside.
Do you have a cell phone? Yes
If you do, what company and color is it? It is offered by SoftBank, and it is black.
Which do you prefer?
Bed / futon: Bed
Bath/ shower: Shower
Rice / bread: Rice
Pen / pencil: Pencil
City / Countryside: City
Train / Car: Car
Ice cream flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Drink: Milk Tea
Place: the video game arcade (or specific location? Hawaii)
Activity: playing video games
Manga: Hajime no Ippo and Naruto
Movie: The Matrix and The Truman Show
Type of music: Rock
Musician(s)/group: Linkin Park, Weezer
Book: The Da Vinci Code (I haven't read a novel in a while; this and Angels & Demons are the latest two that I read, and I liked this one better)
Magazine: EGM (Electronic Gaming Monthly)
Children’s story: The Dragonslayers by Bruce Coville
JHS textbook lesson: (I've only gone through two so far, haha.)
English word: (couldn't think of any; I do say "awesome" an awful lot...perhaps too much)
J-word: 風林火山 「ふうりんかざん」 “fuurinkazan." From Wikipedia: Fūrinkazan (風林火山), literally "Wind, Forest, Fire and Mountain", was the battle standard used by the Sengoku period daimyo Takeda Shingen, quoting chapter 7 of Sun Tzu's The Art of War: "Move as swift as a wind, stay as silent as forest, attack as fierce as fire, undefeatable defense like a mountain."
Kana/Kanji: 時 「とき」 "toki" which means "time." (I chose this for a few reasons. I enjoy writing it; it's fun. It's very similar to samurai, which is 侍. The common radical is 寺 which means temple. And in the writing of temple, you can see earth in the top section [earth is my element, though I speculate that I might have some water as well]. Time is something that I enjoy having; I always take my time in doing things; and I feel like I'm always chasing after it. Perhaps time is my favorite word or concept.)
Flower/plant: Rosa andeli, also known as “Double Delight”
Snack: Pillows (a Filipino snack)
Piece of clothing: A nice, button-down shirt
Sushi: Toro (Fatty Tuna)
Common questions: (feel free to add and answer your own)
Can you use hashi? Yes! (Hashi is chopsticks)
Do you like sushi/sashimi? Absolutely!
Can you eat natto? Um...I tried...
Can you speak Japanese? Some.
Can you read kana/kanji? I can read hiragana, katakana, and about 450 kanji...theoretically.
Are you a strong drinker? Unfortunately, no! I get sleepy very quickly, haha!
Are your meals bigger in your home country? It depends on the meal. I’ve actually had many meals in Japan that I almost couldn’t finish!
You must love meat...? That is correct. I love beef and pork!
Did you eat rice before coming to Japan? Lots of it!
What do you have for breakfast? It depends on the day. Sometimes cereal and milk, sometimes toast with eggs and sausage or bacon, or sometimes a rice dish.
Name at least two things you dislike/hate about Japan. This summer was super humid, and the cold weather arrived too soon! I wish there were screens on all of my windows. I also miss central air heating and cooling.
Name at least two things you like/love about Japan. The food here is wonderful, and the people are very nice. I also love the combination of Japan’s rich history and culture with its leadership in modern technology. I also love the Shinkansen! It is wonderful to be able to travel from one side of the country to the other in just a
few hours without having to get on an airplane.
Name at least two things you dislike/hate about your home country. There are always political arguments on TV and other media (radio, internet, etc.). The vehicles there are too big; like SUVs. I hate SUVs. Also, people can be very mean or rude sometimes; clerks are not as polite as those in Japan.
Name at least two things you like/love about your home country. I enjoy the freedom in everything, from product choices to job choices. I also like how diverse the US is, including the people and the locations: California is very different from New York; they are so far away and quite different, but both places are very
Tell us about your family/family members. My mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, and grandparents all live in Pennsylvania. My mother is a biology professor at a university and my father is a nurse. My brother is older than me, so I learned many things from him while we were growing up, and we have very similar interests, like movies and video games.
Anything else? :-) I was born in the Philippines, and both of my parents are Filipino. But people have often mistaken me for being Japanese. This occurred in the US, in the Philippines, and even in Japan; I was surprised that Japanese people thought I was Japanese! It makes me wonder, how many Filipinos are in Japan? Also, I
studied many styles of martial arts in the US, including Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and American styles. I would like to study more martial arts here and compare the differences in styles, especially comparing how Japanese martial arts are taught in Japan versus in America.
Differences Between Japan and the United States
Since arriving in Japan, I have noticed quite a few things that surprised me which are different than the United States. On my first night here, I went to dinner with other ALTs at a Japanese-style restaurant in Shinjuku. The five of us were taken to a table that had tatami seats and space beneath the table for our legs. My friend was about to step into the seating area, but he was quickly yelled at by the waiter and told to take off his shoes. We all took off our shoes and sat down at our seats. This surprised me a little, because in the U.S., we never take off our shoes at a restaurant, especially a nice one. In fact, we are not allowed to take off our shoes at some restaurants! There is a saying that is common in restaurants: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
I also noticed that smoking is very common in Japan, both outside and inside of buildings. I was surprised by this at the video game arcade. In the U.S., it is rare that a video game arcade allows smoking inside because there are so many kids there (and kids are not allowed to buy tobacco).
Another interesting difference is driving. In the U.S., we drive on the right side of the road, but in Japan, people drive on the left side of the road. This means that the steering wheel is also on the opposite side (left side in the U.S., right side in Japan). But that’s not all! When people park in Japan, they put their car in reverse, and they back-up into their parking spot. That way, in the parking lot, the cars face away from each other. But in the U.S., everyone always pulls into their parking spot head-first! That makes the cars in the parking lot face each other!
When you eat at a restaurant in Japan, you only have to pay for the price of the meal. But in the U.S., if you eat at a restaurant where you are served by a waiter/waitress, you are expected to also pay a tip to the waiter/waitress! This is because waiters/waitresses have a different payment system in the U.S.; most of their money comes from tips rather than salary/wage. This forces the servers in the U.S. to be more polite, because then they will make more money! But in Japan, servers are always polite no matter what, which is very nice.
When I first got to my apartment, I noticed many differences in the household. The first thing I noticed was that there was a faucet on the back of my toilet! Toilets in the U.S. don’t have a faucet. Instead, there is always a sink in the bathroom. I also noticed that the shower room is a separate room from the toilet, which is also separate from the sink. In an American-style bathroom, if there is a bathtub, there is also a toilet and a sink in the bathroom. Another difference I noticed right away was that the shower area was separate from the bath. Usually, people in the U.S. shower right in the bathtub, which is usually twice the length as Japanese bathtubs. This is because people in the U.S. like to lie down in the bathtub. They also clean themselves while taking a bath (or afterwards), rather than showering first, then entering the bath like in Japan.
Another thing I noticed was that I don’t have a dryer. In Japan, we hang our clothes to dry after washing. In the U.S., we throw our clothes into the dryer to dry them, and then we fold them after taking them out. People usually put fabric softener into the dryer to make the clothes soft. They also use the dryer to remove lint from clothing.
The trash system is similar to the U.S., but is a little more complicated. People in the U.S. usually just throw the entire PET bottle (just called a plastic bottle) into the recycling bin. Sometimes, they will remove the cap and throw it in the trash. There is no separate プラ container for wrappers and such. Most of that stuff usually gets thrown into the trash. People also don’t usually burn trash in the U.S.; it is taken to a garbage facility and is taken care of there (by being crushed, burned, or allowed to decay). The things that are recycled in the U.S. are still recycled the same way, like newspapers, glass bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, paper, and things like that.
These are just a few interesting differences. I’m sure I’ll find more during my stay here in Japan!