the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Friday, March 23, 2007

If You're into Frequent Flyer Miles...

JAL recently joined the Oneworld Air Alliance.

But the other major carrier in Japan (ANA) has been a Star Alliance member for years.

Choose. But choose wisely.

I've been trying to get an account now for about a month.
The form told me I was putting in my personal information wrong. As it
turns out...

I needed to get rid of the space between my first and last names in
katakana! argh! I feel stupid. :(

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tough Learning

Today I had a meeting with O-sensei - perhaps the most productive
meeting I have had yet in Japan. We talked about ways we can get the
university track students thinking critically, and debating right away.

Nothing huge, just get them to talk about the pros and cons of pass
times, TV shows, etc. It will be good, but challenging for the students.
I think O-sensei really wishes he had been challenged like this when he
started learning English.

I'm excited to start next year!

B's Visit

My friend B from high school came to visit this week. Although she is a savy traveler in Europe, she's just okay in Asia. :) It was a little γŸγ„γΈγ‚“, but I enjoyed it. I got to translate for her a lot, and it really improved my Japanese.

I was surprised at how curious she was. She really enjoyed Japan. She even found historical and tourist places in town that I'd never heard of.

Here's the just of the trip:

Cheap sushi and Japanese friends. From left to right, B, M-chan and A-chan. M-chan drove us around town. She was really great. She even invited us to dinner with her family - it was my first time meeting her family too!

M-chan took us to I-temple - one of my favorite outdoor places. And then we went to an onsen (hot springs bath). B(DE) is a German exchange student, and he had never been to an onsen, so we invited him too.

"This is like, a scene from an epic movie or something," B(DE) said. There was also a ceremony of some kind being performed when we came. We watched from outside, but it was even the first time for M-chan. She didn't really know what was happening either.

And B(EN) speaks German, so she and B(DE) talked. Three languages can be confusing!

Later I gave B to J, another German exchange student, because I couldn't put up with all her energy anymore. Although we did a lot with J, I don't have any pictures of her. :( Sorry.

And of course we went to see the castle.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Snowy Mountain Shrine

This weekend I rode my bike to a mountain shrine, by myself. The weather was okay, well, a little cold. But it's been winter so I was itchy to get out. And it's a good thing I did. There was a blizzard on Monday.

To save time I went to PR for lunch. Here's the desert E-chan made me. Isn't it beautiful?

For more pictures of my journey, see my flicker page.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Along with a bunch of new photos here are the highlights from this weekend's tour of the Tachi-neputa museum with O-sensei and M-sensei.

Along time ago, the nobles and rich merchants in this part of the country used to flaunt their money and power by having a big festival called Tachi-neputa. Every year they would construct paper lanterns of mythical figures that were more than four stories tall - so the museum is five stories tall. People here still make them every year. The lanterns are assembled on the street during the actual festival, then paraded around town. This is me next to a sample head at the museum.

<- This is O-sensei posing next to a sample hand.

Me playing the hand cymbals in a "Hands On" performance. ->

And the other big lanterns:

How's that for photos? Now that tests are over, hopefully I'll have some more time for blogging. And I'll be doing stuff as soon as the snow melts! B. comes next week! Stay tuned for more photos!

Where is Mario Now?

Ever heard of the Mario Brothers? Donkey Kong? Star Fox?

Shigeru Miyamoto who designed the characters that dominated most of our video game free time as children has recently issued a statement on more "positive emotion...a sense of satisfaction, glee" in video games rather than a "lust for gore and realism".

Gamers wear their name tag with pride. And many of today's titles are actually marketed to the teen or twenty something crowd. And it's true, we were the first generation to grow up with video games, but perhaps we've outgrown our video games.

At a time when video games are being blamed for many of the world's problems, Nintendo is taking a responsible and Miyazaki-like stance. With the introduction of the Wii Nintendo stated that they wanted to create "an inexpensive console that is fun for everyone." And everyone I've talked to loves the Wii - a side from a few spranes (remember to read the safety manual). I think it's time to give the video games back to the kids.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The History of Mister Donut

Mister Donut used to be in America, but it was bought out by Dunkin'
Donuts. For the full story, look here:

America, you're missing out.

Monday, March 05, 2007

News and Comment

A recent comment by a new friend: "Japan is a youth culture country run
by grumpy old men."

Case in point:

(more personal posts pending)