The Neon Strip
Well, after the end of the school year it was time to take Dave out for a bit of a celebration. We finally had a full day with no teaching so we (Ritsuko, Dave and I) all headed out to Osaka for the day. We first went to Osaka Castle... Then the famous Ramen Shop in Shinsaibashi... The Apple Store... Through a few Shopping Arcades... Afternoon tea at a nice cafe... The very special shopping arcade which sells supplies to restaurants... Checking out the neon lights of Dotonburi (pictured)... Finishing off with a traditional Osakan dinner of Okonomiyaki
, washed down with some Asahi
Yep it was a great day and evening out on the town in Osaka.
The School Year Ends
Well, after nine months of teaching kindergarten it was time to say goodbye to the classes of 5-6 year olds who would be graduating. It was a day of handing out certificates and saying farewells to the older children. For the younger children in the 4-5 year olds classes, it was a case of "see you in May" as the English classes go it into recess because the Kindergarten is busy with the annual Musical, then Graduations, and Enrolments.
It was a great nine months and it was sad to farewell the older children. I was joined for the last classes by Dave who was staying with us at the time. After the classes Dave and I were each presented with a drawing that the children had made of us (top right).
During the three months between the lessons, I spent a lot of time making a new workbook for the 2010-2011 school year for the older class. During the break in February to April 2011 I'm planning to make a new workbook for the younger class and update the older class workbook again!
13/11/2010: Had an extremely busy October and Early November with Tax Returns, Weather related rearranging of class schedules, Sports Carnival, and my youngest sister visiting. I'm now banning myself from reading photography gear related sites, so I can concentrate on posting more to my pbase galleries... Hopefully it works!
On the first Saturday Dave was with us, we didn't have any classes scheduled so I took the opportunity to show Dave around Kyoto a bit. Especially the area around the crossing of Kawaramachi Dori and Shijo Dori and up Shijo Diro into Gion. One of the highlights of this outing was a visit to Yasaka Shrine where we got to watch some of a traditional Japanese wedding.
Yasaka Shrine isn't exactly the most prettiest of Shinto Shrines in Kyoto, but it certainly is one that is a hub of a lot activity. Sometimes even Geisha come to Yasaka to be blessed. Going there is an interesting insight into the Japanese culture, but it might be a shock for some expecting something tranquil and/or religious. Coming to Yasaka you might get the idea that Shinto is one of the most hedonistic and commercialised religions in the world, but then I would say try looking at some other Shinto Shrines to see a different view. Japan is certainly a place where you can expect the unexpected.
Back in September of 2009, I received an email from a guy who we knew from our church back in Australia enquiring if we could use his services on the mission field. He had received a 21st birthday present of a two week mission trip to Asia. Well, we are always happy to have some visitors from overseas to come and share in the work here with church and the English teaching, so we said we'd be more than happy to have him stay for a while.
It turned out that the best time for him to come was going to be right bang in the middle of winter here and thus on the 13th of January 2010 David Blair (Dave) arrived in Japan. The day he arrived he helped us out with the classes at Bambio and the very next day he was helping me teach at Megumi Kindergarten. Dave is such a likeable fellow that he was an instant big hit with the students both young and old as well as with our little congregation up here.
Actually in terms of marketing our English teaching Dave's visit is one of the best things that had ever happened up here. Even though he only stayed with us for a short time (which actually ended up to be about 4 weeks in Japan) we got a number of new enrolments of people who met Dave.
So thank you Dave for the blessing of your visit, which still continues due to the increased student numbers this year, plus all the memories of the things we did together here (more BLOG entries on that to come).
New Microwave and Rice Cooker
In preparation for the visitors we had coming on mission trips, we upgraded the Microwave and Rice Cooker. We were able to do so thanks to some generous Christmas gifts from friends in Australia, so I want to thank you again for your support.
The old Microwave (approximately 1987 vintage) which was barely working, too small for the larger bento meals, and probably unsafe, was thrown away in October 2009. We had gone without a microwave for three months. We decided to get a microwave that also has an convection oven and grill since our house lacks an oven and grill, we only had a gas stove top.
The case with the rice cooker: the one which someone had given us when we arrived was pretty old and would oft burn the rice, especially if you tried to cook more than a cup of rice. So with young men coming to serve, we decided to get one that would handle a bigger amount.
Note 18/09/2010: A lot has happened since I last posted in July. There was a visit back to Perth and all of the preparations that went with it. Once I got back here (to Japan), I had a busy few weeks and have been pretty much booked out for the last two weeks. I've now got a bit of a lull in the bookings for the next three weeks (however things could change), I'm trying to catch up on some my admin work and Japanese study while I can. Hopefully I can get a few more of these Mission Japan entries up, over the next few weeks. In a months time my youngest sister is coming for a visit and I'm pretty excited about that, looking forward to introducing her to the students and church friends. I know this PBLOG is still in January, but I want to keep it going like this (and not jump forward) as a testimony to the work that God has done here in our lives and the lives of some our friends. - James