Friday, December 16, 2005

a typical fun-packed friday

This is Uchi-san cooking a mean sukiyaki for the weekly college outreach dinner. oishisou

Here is my Friday English conversation class for Chiba University students. We conducted another pass-along story, but this week I gave each student two words (those little white slips of paper) to use in their contribution. Words ranged from "dolphin" to "sinister" to "Michael Jackson." Of course, most students first consulted their English-Japanese dictionaries which they always carry around. I need to get one too, if I ever hope to learn kanji.

Left to right: Uchida-san, a prospective pastor on my team. I always get into interesting conversations about music with him - the cultural and religious roots of jazz and rock, for instance. James, my "mentor." Neither of us have quite figured out what a "mentor" is yet. Regardless, we share a lot of projects together. James is teaching the class in this picture. Or at least touching his face. Hisa is a high school sannensei. Sannensei = senior in the U.S. The two of us met while barbecueing at a social function - we took turns pointing to the various charred vegetables we were grilling and naming them in our respective languages. I'm a beginner in Japanese and he's a beginner in English, so we make it a point to swap vocab words whenever we see each other.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

asleep at the shutter

(Please click on the pictures if you want a close-up)
On Fridays I spend all day in or around Chiba University (11a-11p). I eat lunch with college students at a cafeteria and afterwards socialize in the sunshine (see picture). Takashi is pretending to skateboard. At right is Nagata-san, the college outreach leader and guitar virtuoso, and the fat middle shadow is me.

At 4:30 I give a small, informal English conversation class at a nearby church. We discuss sports, travel, and the ups and downs of college life. I often let the conversation take its own course as long as everyone is involved. Last week, however, I started a pass-a-long story around the room. Each student added an additional sentence to a cliffhanger story about Leonard the Egyptologist - an instant hit with everyone. Will our hero escape the mummy's curse and find his way out of the pyramid to safety? To be continued...

here is Soneda-san, my Japanese teacher. ah, ee, u, eh, oh.

my Monday lunch: rice, nori, tofu, and soybeans. Very simple, super quick, but quite tasty and very filling.

The Iversons (my next door neighbors/boarding family) are having new floors installed, so everyone camped out in my little house for dinner tonight. The cast, starting left, continuing clockwise:

Dave Abear: an ex-Chiba team member who now works with MTW in the US. He's visiting on a short term trip and is helping the team with some construction work. As soon as you meet this guy you wish he was your uncle.
Kimiko: a very nice Japanese lady who came for dinner.
Dan Iverson: team leader, pastor... all of the above
Steve: a short termer from Boseman who arrived with Dave.
Carol Iverson: Dan's wife, KCS teacher, a very hospitable lady who helped me settle in and is always happy to give me tips on Japanese cooking
Micah Iverson: one of my 6th grade students with a melodramatic flair - always fun to hang around with
Hannah Iverson: 9th grade student, enjoying my kotatsu table
Mark Iverson: 11th grade student, cool, collected, addicted to Starcraft
Seth Iverson: the youngest Iverson, concealed by the kotatsu blanket in this picture

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Soneda-san gave me my first official Japanese class today! I'm very excited - previously I've just been learning hiragana and picking up phrases from my peers. I really appreciate Soneda-san's style: she teaches Japanese in Japanese. It keeps me on my toes.

I had coffee at a Starbucks near the Chiba train station today. I don't normally frequent Starbucks in the US, but today it reminded me a little of the Pacific Northwest. Except I don't remember Starbucks providing complimentary ashtrays in Seattle. And there's also a towering, hot pink Christmas tree covered with strobe lights.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the glove compartment is inaccurately named

Monday is my day off. I have been sleeping intermittently.

For the second week in a row I will be the sole teacher of my American students in the Keiyo Christian School - the other teacher is currently in the States. This is an exciting challenge, but it's also very difficult keeping track of 5 kids in grades 6-11. My respect for school teachers has increased over the past month - I would never have thought that they do more homework than they assign! Good times...

As of today I can sort of read hiragana. Yay. Driving by a restaurant, I read the letters "" Click. Hey, it's a ramen shop! Now I just need to learn katakana and oh...2,000 or so kanji.

Monday, November 21, 2005

an excursion into udon

This simple udon noodle soup was my first home cooked meal in Japan. My culinary skills are pretty much nonexistent (cup noodles and cold cereal), but I've recently discovered that I enjoy cooking things and plan to take advantage of the exciting Japanese seafood and produce during my stay here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

fresh salmon and a shot of downtown chiba

I really need to buy some of this.

Vending machines are everywhere - shopping malls, small neighborhoods, even backcountry roads! They're filled with Coke, espresso, Pocari Sweat, green tea (hot and cold), beer, and cigarettes.

a neighborhood view

My neighborhood, although technically within Chiba city limits, has not been built up like the areas immediately surrounding it. Traditional Japanese houses still exist, although there are also more modern apartments like the ones behind this small farm. If I had taken the snapshot 45 degrees to the right, you would have seen a horizon peppered with highrises and billboards. I would have thought that such different lifestyles could not coexist; Japan surprises me every day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Hi Everybody,

This is my blog while I'm in Japan. As you can see, it's still under construction, and prolly will be for awhile. This is my first blog ever, and any web publishing skills I ever had have long atrophied - please be patient. I'll hopefully post some cool pics sometime soon.