I remember when I first came to Japan and
heard stories of wild and crazy things that would happen to JETs; unexpected
adventures that would happen or strange gifts that they were given just for the
fact that they were one of the sole representatives of a different nation in
their town. They were the kinds of stories that were hard to believe because
they sounded so extreme, so they must be rare or non-existent.
My name is Lee Anne Ledwell and, as I’m sure most of you are aware, I was the Ehime AJET President from 2018-2019. Together with the current president, Laura Beardslee, we were able to rejuvenate Ehime AJET into the blossoming organization you know today. I wanted to take the time to write out this article explaining everything that has happened with Ehime AJET from its resurrection to what our council has accomplished this year to where I hope future councils will lead us.
For a cloudy day in January, it is strikingly warm in Matsuyama city. Matsuyama is the largest city on Shikoku, Japan’s smallest main island. Usually the coldest month of the year, Matsuyama is today enjoying a very mild 14 degrees C.
The warmer winter days are only one sign of the increasing grasp of climate change in south Japan. Regional typhoon patterns are also changing, and the combination of rising temperatures and increasing typhoon damage poses new threats to the region.
For this article, I tried to thing of an interesting perspective I could provide here. In the past, I’ve talked with some first year Primary or Junior High ALTs who didn’t know much about the Senior High School (SHS) system. I figured I might be able to help out by giving everyone an idea about how SHS work, and what teaching at a SHS is like, at least in my experience.
I woke up this Christmas Eve with a new anticipation. Instead of performing the traditional caroling and cookie decorating with my family, back in America, I would be traveling to Matsuyama Castle as a Samurai.
On an empty train station platform in rural Japan, there is a poster pasted on the wall with a message in imposing red letters: “Stop Karoshi!” Karoshi is a phrase meaning ‘death by overworking’, and the concept has become so normalised that it has entered the Japanese lexicon. The phenomenon, despite efforts to counter it, appears set to stay.
At first glance, the Japanese government appears to be working hard to battle the nation’s unhealthy working hours, but its current approach is at best superficial and at worst a purposeful avoidance of the problem.
Last December I went to VR Zone Shinjuku, a virtual reality park in Tokyo, for the second time. It opened in July 2017 and will be closing in March of this year, but another location, VR Zone Osaka, opened last year on floors 8 and 9 of the Umeda HEP Five building. These theme parks are a part of “VR ZONE Project i Can” which is an initiative headed by game/toy company Bandai Namco to popularize virtual reality. It all started with a pop-up VR park that ran from April to October 2016 in Tokyo’s Odaiba district, near the famous giant Gundam statue.
What’s in a name? Or, in the case of Japan, what on earth is the name in the first place? I found out the hard way just how tricky a Japanese name can be.
Names are important. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have never forgotten a person’s name, even of those who he only ever met once. I assume the reporters meant twice, as with those he met only once, there’s no way to tell. I can tell two things for certain from this: Lincoln understood the power of names, and Lincoln never had to learn the names of Japanese school children.
Jen uses some colorful language in this month’s post, so if you find swearing offensive, look away now.
I named her Pig, as a joke. I bought her almost a year ago, even going through the pain of raising my credit limit to get her. She is beautiful, in her own way, though I wish she were bigger. Her shiny black coat catches the last of daylight.
The weather is better now, so I can take her out for rides more often. I sweep the dust and spider webs off her. This is the part that I hate the most. My throat dries out and my awareness sharpens. I hope that I don’t find any arachnids hiding near the engine, under the splashguards, or in the wires that connect to the handles. God forbid that one crawls on my bare hands when I’m going almost twice the speed limit and there’s another car less than three feet to my right. As I continue inspecting, I have a flashback to last summer when I found a spider larger than my palm hiding in the cup holder. I peek in, my goose bumps feeling as though they are bulging, and see only an old leaf that fell last winter.