Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Izu Life: A Frank Discussion about Mt. Fuji's Impending Explosion

For many ALTs living in Japan (specifically the areas around Mt. Fuji and the Tokai area), it is common knowledge that we are currently overdue for a giant earthquake and the subsequent eruption of Mt. Fuji on a catastrophic scale. Maybe some of you have seen the figures (5,900 people are expected to die). A lot of information is available online about volcanic eruptions in Japan, the anticipation of the Tokai Earthquake, and predictions of what will happen in the event of a major natural disaster in the Tokai area, however, much of it is scattered and in various languages. I would like to try and bring that information together. What are some of the things you should expect when the eruption happens? What steps can you take to ensure your safety and survival? And what are additional resources you can turn to for help? 

Please join me for this special edition of "The Izu Life" to find out...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tops Tuesdays: When to Stand

Living in Japan, you get used to not being able to understand many of the Japanese language signs and labels you encounter in your daily life. So, you begin to rely heavily on the accompanying illustrations to help you understand. Well, take a look at the following picture for a priority seat on Tokyo's subway. Before you read the article, just take a look and try to have a guess about what each picture is alluding to...

Japan's priority seating sign
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Did you guess correctly? Next time you find yourself on the subway and unsure whether you should be giving up your seat, rule of thumb: just stand up. 

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, 25 January 2013

T.G.I.F: Australia Day

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This year, Australia Day falls on a Saturday--this Saturday January 26th in fact! Despite the lack of hot, sunny weather, we will be celebrating with an Australia Day party at the Taproom in Numazu from 12pm until 2pm. The party, of course, will continue after 2pm (2pm is the point where the Taproom opens to the public). So if you are a Shizuoka resident, why not come join us and enjoy some Tim Tams, Vegemite, beer and ANZAC bikkies with your Aussie brethren this weekend? Happy Australia Day!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Travel Log: Roaming in Southeast Asia (Part 5)

This has been a long time coming... Now is time for the final installment of the "Roaming in Southeast Asia" series.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tops Tuesdays: Final Exams

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The school year is winding down for a lot of 3rd years who at my school are only required to attend a half day of school from now on. Last weekend, many students took their final entrance exam for university. Despite the fact that a few have already confirmed their attendance at certain colleges around the country, a large portion of the student body is still relying on the outcome of this exam to shape their future. All the stress of end-of-year exams (which can for some teens drive them to the edge of reason) has finally abated and students are beginning to relax before their first university classes begin in April. 

It also means I have to say goodbye to a great bunch of girls that I have gotten to know over the past couple of years. Every day for the past year, I have eaten my lunch with a small group of 3rd year students who wanted to improve their English speaking ability. These girls will be moving on to bigger and better things after the school year ends. I was able to get to know each of them a little better and I appreciate the small about of insight into the Japanese teenage experience I managed to glean from them. 

Now that this small "lunch club" is breaking up (because the 3rd year students usually leave school before lunch time now), I want to wish all of my students good luck on their final exam result, and to my girls: I hope we will have a chance to meet again one day.

Friday, 18 January 2013

T.G.I.F.: Bonden Festival

Throughout Akita Prefecture, the Bonden Festival is being celebrated with parades of colourful "wands" through local townships. Of particular interest is the celebration at the shrine on Mount Taiheizan near Akita Station. Men race up the mountain to be the first to offer their Bonden prayer at the shrine, often with violent physical altercations resulting from the frenzy to be first, known as "Bonden fighting."

Click the image below to find out more. 

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tops Tuesdays: Dondoyaki

On the weekend nearest January 15th, the people of Japan like to gather around bonfires in rural areas to burn their New Year's decorations (usually constructed of reads, paper and fruit) in a kind of religious sacrifice to welcome in the New Year. This custom is called 'Dondoyaki' and daruma dolls are usually sacrificed to the flames simultaneously as symbols of endurance and luck. Attendees and also permitted to make wishes at the bonfire and partake of amazaki (a kind of sake) and mochi (chewy rice cakes). This ritual marks the end of all New Years celebrations.

This is a picture of the bonfire setup the day before the burning. The red decorations are daruma dolls. My local township set up several of these bonfires along the nearby river. 

Wishing you a happy and productive 2013!
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