Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let the goodbyes begin...

With just a little over two weeks to go before we finish up at school I said goodbye to the first of my nine schools today.

With just 13 kids at this school I have had so many more opportunities to interact with this group of kids than I have had at any of my other schools and so saying goodbye was actually pretty hard.

It was mighty strange at the end of each lesson saying "see you" but having to leave off the "next time"... the kids still said it (bless them!)

The final photo with all 13 students at the school

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders clutching the cards I made them

You have no idea how excited I was to finally be able to eat my entire school lunch... the kids at this school think I am the world's fussiest eater because school lunch was always particularly bad on the days I would visit this school!

The two 2nd graders posing for a photo with their prized cucumbers and one tomato that they had grown as part of their science class.

I felt chuffed but really bad when they gave me their cucumbers as a present... they also made me an origami frog!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We're back!

It seems we have completley neglected our blog over the last month and have only managed a couple of entries!! I could blame it on the soccer world cup as that has taken up a lot of my non work time but in all honesty there just hasn't been much to write home about! June is the start of summer and it's already 30degrees everyday and as sticky as a marshmallow! The humidity only just lets up over night but by sun up it's back! Things are about to get much worse too. June is also the rainy season so it rains pretty much everyday, although the last two have been stunning! These things combined with the fact we are in mega save mode has meant no extreme adventures. Time is winding down very fast and we only have 4 weeks of classes left. Then 2 weeks sitting at our desks over summer holidays and then it's all over! A month of traveling after that and then we arrive back in the mighty ChCh on Aug 28th! Wow time flies!

Some of the fields in Yamaga....lots of work!

Jichan driving the planter and bachan in the background on her wee get-a-round scooter

Last weekend was a break from the norm and quite an exciting one at that - rice planting! Slowly but surely ever rice field in Japan will be filling up, most already completed. We went to Jo's and checked out how it's all done.

The machine delicately placing a few roots into the mud - incredible.

Driving off into the sunset

Cos he's a guy

I'd like to say I played a key role in the process but in all honesty I did virtually nothing and was problem more of a pain in bum than anything else! But when there is a photo opportunity I'm not far behind! After flooding the fields for a few weeks (using an amazing system of diverting water from the creeks) the fields are covered in calf deep mud and prime for planting. A fantastic machine with thin metal wheels chugs through the mud and somehow delicately puts a few rice plants in the ground, all in perfect rows at a perfect distance apart! Where the machine can't do humans take over and plug the gaps. Watch out for the snails, frogs and snakes!

Making more of a mess than anything else....this patch won't end up growing....sorry Tomooka family.

Back in the day it used to all be done by hand and apparently the whole community would turn up, plant the field, then move onto the next one, eventually doing everyone's!
It was really cool to see how it works and another example of how hard the farmers here work.

I couldn't wait until lunch

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


School life is super exciting at the moment with my main class, who are easily my favorite group of students and have wonderful English, off to NZ on saturday for a 10 day school trip! Beppu is a sister city with Rotorua and my school is a sister school with Western Heights HS. I've been doing weekly presentations on NZ covering topics like; food, maori culture, sports, school life, Rotorua and Auckland. The students are buzzing with excitment and I can't wait for them to see NZ first hand! I hope they handle the drop in temperature...30deg to snow in a day...hmmmm.

Another thing I do at school is a WORLD ENGLISH BOARD. It's updated every month and features world news, local news, sports news, a country in focus section and a competetion. Each article is bilingual. I don't actually know if anyone ever looks at it but it gives me something to do on quieter days!

With the socccer world cup only days away (oh yea!!!) I've adapted it a little. Now I have a valid excuse to peruse the internet for scores!

Our ESS club has also been busy making roast chicken! The ovens in the cooking room are a real novelty (can you believe I've only used an oven twice in a year!) Man I miss roast chicken!

No school day would be complete without something 'unusual' happening...Japanese culture always has some interesting twist around the corner. Here 3rd grade students present their "marching" to the whole school. A very interesting display in how group culture rules society.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bits and pieces...

Osashi buri! Long time no see!

It's 7.15pm, all the windows and doors are open, we're wearing as little clothing as possible, it's still about 25deg and the great NZ soundtrack is cranking out of our speakers. This all means one thing!.......SUMMER is here! Oh yea! 1st June officially signals the start of summer in Japan and the weather is certainly on cue. Lets hope the rainy season (June) doesn't show up this year??!

Things have been a bit busy lately and time is whizzing by, we only have 6 weeks left of school and only 3 months until we are back in Aotearoa! The to do list is growing everyday but over the last few weeks we have ticked a few of those boxes. Here's a look at them:

Baseball! The only pro team anywhere near us is in Fukuoka so a few weeks back we visited the Yahoo dome to watch the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks play the Saitama Seibu Lions. We lost (badly) but it was heaps of fun! We're still cricket fans though!

Summer time camping. Yes Rob we have used the t
ent! A group of JETS headed into Miyazaki prefecture (area of the foot and mouth outbreak!!) for a weekend of fun in the sun! The water was super warm, the sun didn't stop shinning (megs sunburn to prove it), and many laughs teaching the Americans how to play cricket!

Mukade! These dangerous centipedes have a habit of finding their way into peoples homes during summer....we are no exception! NOT COOL. But easily killed with my trusty bamboo tramping stick hahahahaha.

Fireflies. How the hell they make their bums glow I don't know but man it's cool! Just imagine a lot of little tinkerbells everywhere. This is what a 5min exposure will get you.