Tall Guy, Small Town: An ALT in Tokushima-ken

My life as an ALT with the JET Programme living and working in Mino-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima-ken.

My Photos

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


... 2 days of 100% pure joy. (May 14th - 16th 2009)
Booked through Fujiyama Travel in Awa-Ikeda, I embarked on a solo magical adventure of childhood innocence to Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea in mid-May. I had the good sense to plan on a Friday and a Saturday, in hopes of avoiding crowds, and it worked in my favour. Friday at Disneyland was far from busy, with loads of schoolgroups but lacking in lineups. I also made it 1 week before the Mickey Mouse Revue closed it's doors forever to be replaced with a new attraction.
I had the chance to ride everything once, and some attractions twice, except for the new Monster's Inc. ride which had ridiculous lines all day and night and Space Mountain which was under renovations. I felt like I was back in the 1st grade on Snow White's Adventures, didn't cry in the Haunted Mansion this time but LOVED it, and laughed and giggled through the amazing Pooh's Hunny Hunt (possibly one of the best rides ever). Meals at the Blue Bayou Restaurant and the Queen of Hearts Banquet hall were reasonable and delicious. 14 hours later, I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
DisneySea was another experience entirely. Now on a weekend, I was greeted to hordes of people first thing in the morning. Not a big deal really, and the gateway to the park accommodates the masses well. DisneySea was a whole new world to me. The Mysterious Island was amazing developed, and the rides in it equally astounding. Journey to the Centre of the earth really blew me away, even in line, with the attention to detail, and then on the ride with the shocks, twists and drops.
The Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast were picture perfect, and the Sinbad ride was a pleasant surprise that, due to no line-up early in the day, I rode through twice.
Then something magical happened. While entering the lines for Indiana Jones and Raging Spirits I saw the single rider line. Single rider? That's me! A two hour wait was reduced to, for Raging Spirits, 5 minutes, and for Indy I walked right down and on. It pays to travel alone sometimes... thank you Disney Sea! And the Tower of Terror, my last attraction before dashing out to catch my flight, had me screaming like a little girl, or so I thought, but was proven wrong by the little 9 year old girl beside me who wasn't screaming but laughing at me screaming... ^_T Due to time, I couldn't explore the Mediterranean Harbor, but have an excuse to go back someday now.
I had a blast at both parks, but Disneyland really brought a day-long smile to my face. Great times at good prices, and an easy flight from Takamatsu to Haneda.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I forgot to mention, the temperature has dropped significantly.

and my house is not insulated.

most mornings, downstairs, the temp is between 9' and 12' C.

also, its been grey and rainy for the better part of two weeks, but today is warm and sunny at last.

and........ watch "Koi ...mil gaya". It is a wonderfully silly Bollywood movie that deserves to be viewed by you.

more November stuffs

There's been lots of Kagawa this month.
I had to go to Takamatsu to get my re-entry permit for my VISA. This allows me to leave the country and return, and without it there would be huge problems at the airport (basically, they would not let me back into Japan and would send me back on the next plane to Canada). So, I have my permit.

I was in Takamatsu on the 17th, and as a birthday treat stayed at the Hotel Clement. The hotel is fairly new, and the rooms were beautiful. I watched the sunset over the city from my 16th floor suite, had a long, luxurious bath, and drank at the sky bar with Evan, Angelina and Megan. Evan and I wandered about the city a bit, earlier, and I was introduced to the 390Yen shop. The GREATEST SHOP in the history of the universe. From vintage clothes, to knick-knacks, to housewares, they have it all. It's funky, it's fresh and it's really really cheap (390Yen=$3.90CAD roughly).
The next day...
I went to Naoshima with a bunch of Kagawa-ken ALTs as part of "Naoshima meets the world", a half day internationalization celebration at the Naoshima shougakko. I worked with the 6-nensei, and had a blast doing activies, playing games, and listening to their prepared presentations. The morning ended with everyone having a big disco dance party in the gym. Strange, but wonderful.
The afternoon was filled with art... art.. and more art. The Benesse group put loads of cash into funding the fine arts on Naoshima, and as such they have a formidable
arts scene. With two modern art museums, boasting small but prestigious collections, random outdoor installations all over the island, and the Art House project (where commissioned artists were given free reign over whole buildings, inside and out), Naoshima was a dream come true.

Then it was back to Mino-cho.

The following weekend was my birthday. On the Wednesday my eikaiwa had a big party for me at "Zexy", an izikaiya in Mikamo-cho. There was food, and far too many presents. Fujimoto-sensei and Julie also joined the festivities, and drunken kareoke. Oh, and they had a killer selection of songs, with more bad Cher songs than any other Japanese kareoke establishment I've been to.
Friday I was back in Takamatsu for birthday bliss with Angelina. I was treated to dinner at Sea-Dragon with Ang and Megan, where the happy hour wine was 250Yen a glass. Happy birthday indeed. Then we headed back to Angelina's place in Higashi-Kagawa for the night, where we watched ridiculous things on youtube, drank odd healthy tea and crashed.
The next day was back to Takamatsu for shopping and the Kagawa-RFilmFestival. We met up with Dustin, Grant and Ben for lunch, and then checked out the festival's selected shorts. P-lica
chan was the best showing by far. Smitha, Julie and Ashley came up in the evening, and we all had Indian, then Ang headed home and I went out clubbing with the girls. We had a blast.
Smitha and I crashed in Ashley's car and took the very early train home in the morning.

On the 27th, Fujimoto-sensei and I had a demonstration lesson to present. We used class 2-A and presented on comparative forms of adjectives. The class went fairly well, and we received some great positive and constructive feedback. I was so nervous going up to it, but 5 minutes into the class I fell into routine and it was a lot of fun.
and that was November.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

November is pretty.... pretty NICE ! ha ha ah ah oh boy

November.... so much in so little time

aside from the Tokyo bitterness...

This has been a month of poverty, pleasure and PRESENTS!!!!

I've almost finished paying off my car, which has been sucking up alot of my money. December will be the last payment. OSAP payments kick into effect this month, but they're much lower than those on the car. Ahh OSAP, I will finally feel your cruel burn which I've heard so much about.

At the start of the month I was in an art show in Kamiyama from Nov 8th to 12th as part of KAIR (Kamiyama Artist in Residence). I was invited to participate by Chalice and Joe, two other alts who are artists. My showing was small, and relatively mediocre due to limited time and resources (I know.. excuses excuses) but I've already started preparing things to show in the spring, and I have no excuse for not making mind-blowing works by then. Regardless, the show was a lot of fun, had a great turn out, and it was a great chance to go see Kamiyama, a small town nestled in the mountains. On the way home from installing my pieces on the 8th, Julie and I stopped in a deserted spot, layed out on the hood of the car, drank chocolate milk and looked at the stars. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was breathtaking, with the dark sillouhettes of mountains all around a twinkling lights in the huge night sky. Sugoi.

... and i'm heading home for the day.. more on tuesday.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

seeing sites, spooky nights

In the past few weeks, travelling has occured!
I made the trip up to Kyoto to visit Jess and Jo-el, who I met in Tokyo. We did some temple site-seeing, went up the Kyoto tower for the killer view, shopped, and partied it up Saturday night. One of the local alts was celebrating her 30th birthday, so copious amounts of karaoke, drinking and obnoxious behaviour were bound to follow. The following day was spent in Otsu, just outside Kyoto, enjoying the lake and re-hydrating.
Last weekend was the big Osaka trip. Julie (from Mikamo), Christina and Lisa (from Tokushima-shi) and I all banded together to get some hotel rooms and see the city. Before leaving, we had a "conference", aka exploiting the foreigners on the weekend for a really nice and new school's open house day. The event wasn't terrible, but the real reason for having us there was pretty transparent. Regardless, we met a bunch of great kids and had fun.
After that, we headed to downtown Tokushima to catch the bus to Osaka.
Upon arriving, we dined Mexican style and checked into the (very nice) hotel. After some pre-drinking, we hit the streets for a night of clubbing and terrifyingly memorable cabaret shows. The following day we met up with Angelina and her friend for a bit, shopped, rode the Hep Five ferris wheel, shopped, ate, shopped shopped shopped and headed back. My wallet is a little lighter, but the memories are more than worth it. Interesting fact, Osaka is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Its a shame, because it would be a wonderful place to live.

In other random news, I was invited to a woman's house in Ka... Ka..., some city near Tokushima where Eric and Louise live, last week for dinner and to meet some new people. Sounds harmless enough, but an hour and a half drive there led me into a trecherous plot to exploit my being in Japan. The woman runs a private cram school out of her home, and I arrived to a house full of children waiting for me to teach them English. The woman had the nerve to tell them all that I would be coming twice a month to teach them too! Arrrrgh. Awful. Apparently, I'm not the first person this has happened to, as the woman has a reputation with the local English teachers (which explains why she began looking so far from her city for fresh meat....). Oy vey. But again, I met some great kids, who I will never see again.

Here in Mino, I've been doing mad Halloween lessons, and the chugakko ichinensei have been making paper-mache halloween decorations for the party we're having on Tuesday. Many a crossword, spooky story, and historical Halloween fact have been shared with every class from shogakko 1 through chugakko 3. God I love this season. My adult night class is also enjoying the Halloween vibe, and together with Julie's Mikamo class and Sally's Miyoshi class, we'll be having a nighttime costume party on the 31st. Should be a blast, and pics will follow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Much ado in the past week or two...

Right, now the first month of teaching has passed.

I'm really into the groove of this thing, although elementary classes continue to be a new adventure every time.
In JH, my one class of first years (re. grade 6 in Canadian years) are so damn quiet still. They know how to speak but just don't. So frustrating. Ahhh well

Sports day (えんどかい) at the JH and 1 elementary school was lots of fun. I got to get to know the students out of class and had fun playing with them. (pics in my photos) Although I did get a horrid sunburn, I'm so glad I was ever so sporty for two days of the year. I'm also learning that I'm a lot better at volleyball than I originally thought. Curious..........

In adventure news, Jill came down to visit (see My Photos) for the long weekend, and we did some serious Tokushima siteseeing. We went all over Mino - to Takiji the waterfall temple, the Forest of Health and Contact, Sunkus and my house.. ohhhhhahhh. Then we went to see the Zorb in Ikeda, Kazurabashi no hashi in Nishiiya and dinner and karaoke with the Miyoshi-gun English teachers. We also finally found Kamo no Otsu, the 1000 year old camphor tree in Mikamo, the town next to mine. It was beautiful, and the obaachan who looks after it told us some stories while we were there. Woo hoo. It was nice to catch up with Jill first driving in the mountains experience. As I'm sure Jill can attest, I get a little crusty when I'm scared and driving.

I still haven't entirely figured out how to use my oven.... and as you know Saori's birthday was this month. I tried to make her a cake, but instead of cooking my oven decided to beep angrily at me instead.... so I went to Julie's house in Mikamo and we cake-baked together. Bliss. They were so cute, and tasty, and Saori really liked them. again, pics are in myphotos

Yukino's getting big, and I discovered the secret to calming her down - watching tv. If I do anything in the house she want to play EXCEPT when I sit in one specific chair to watch tv. She curls up on my lap and falls asleep on me as soon as I sit there. Its like magic.

I also got my DVD player. I'm so happy! Yay for Hong Kong region-free imports. I watched copious amounts of Golden Girls last night, and I'm bringing the player to English conversation class (eikaiwa) tonite so we can watch so shows or a movie.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wet week

1 week of junior high school classes is down.
Teaching isn't so tough! I think I really like it. My first class was a little brutal, as I was nervous and they are the quietest class in the school, but after that it was smooth sailing! The kids are energetic and well-behaved, and generally genuinely interested in learning English. Lucky!

My first adult class was Wednesday and first elementary calss was Thursday. The adults are REALLY keen and a lot of fun, and serious mayhem was had with the sausage game. That thing is dangerous and way too funny. The elementary kids were a hoot too, not really understanding much, but just being generally excited to see a foreigner. Their self intros were pretty impressive however.

Our school festival was last week as well, and sports day was supposed to be on Sunday but we got rained out. The festival was the coolest school event I've ever been to. To start, each class sang as a choir in competition against each other. All but one class were pretty impressive. Then summer science projects were up in the gym so there was time assigned to check them all out. Next was the crazy marketplace they had set-up, complete with yakitori (bbq-ed chicken), takoyaki (octopus balls, the tastiest!), icecream, slushies, frenchfries, corn on the cob, udon, games and a store with really cheap stuff for your home and for school. This wicked part of the day was followed by a variety show with the brass band, two speech contest participants (English and Japanese speech contests), a pop idol impersonation, Awa Odori (which I went on stage to dance in) and a play. All in all a full and VERY fun day.

In less happy news, Saturday night I woke up to ... A MUKADE ON MY FOOT WHILE I WAS IN BED! It was the biggest one yet, and I freaked out but managed to gas the thing with almost a whole can of bug spray and put it in a bag and then in the freezer to make sure it was good and dead. I didn't sleep until 4am. But happily, 1 bug bomb later, no mukade.

On Sunday, Smitha, Julie, Andrew and I went to Fumi's for dinner, and afterwards Andrew split and the rest of us did some karaoke. A horendous rendition of Deeper and Deeper was performed by me, Julie and I rocked out on Kandy Pop and Smitha stung sweetly into our hearts with a beautiful Sting song. The trailerpark-esque karaoke establishment turned out to be quite cozy, and my favorite karaoke place yet!

Yukino is getting bigger and feistier, and it was Saori's birthday on Monday so we had a party at Julie's house Tuesday night (pics in the flickr account + school festival too!). Jordan, Justin, Julie, Smitha and Chalice were all in attendance.

The best thing is, I am now officially driving in Japan. I have my car and I've been on the roads. Its a little terrifying adjusting to the other side of the car and the road, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it, as this is day 3 of my driving adventures. I'm still a little nervous to venture any further than Mikamo, but maybe by the weekend I'll be a little more balsy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It begins...

Ahhh 9am on Tuesday morning. My first earthquake drill is in 10 minutes, so I had best make this quick.

Today is my first day of teaching. Class with 1st year junior high school students starts in just over an hour and I'm terrified. I'm super prepared, with too much to do in a short time, but I still can shake the feeling I'm just going to have a class of blank faces.......... ahhhhhhh

All my intro speeches however, have gone over wonderfully, and everyone keeps telling me how wonderful my broken Japanese is. I know I still suck, but in one month I've made huge leaps and I'm really proud of that *pats self on the back smugly*

My elementary students seem really geared up to go, and not at all afraid of me. Many have come up between classes or after school to talk, usually in groups as there is strength in numbers. They all speak Japanese sooooo damn fast, but are incredibley cute so it is worth the effort to get them to slow down and to try to say as much as I can. I met one student in the grocery store with his mom last night (from Shibo elementary). He was so inquisitive, and kindly suggested I buy a different pizza because the one I had wasn't good (but my choice of french fries won me huge points).

Time to get ready for earthquake drills. Wish me luck with class ...o_O!!!!