Archive for June, 2015

July 1, 2005 – Feeling old on Canada Day

Canada Flag

Happy Canada Day!

I celebrated by going to a farewell party for a student at Mishima NOVA who is moving to Canada to seek her fortune. The party went all night, but I only stayed out until 2:00am. I must be getting old.

(2015 Update) Due to NOVA’s policy prohibiting interaction with students outside of the classroom, my original post 10 years ago mentioned a farewell party for a friend instead of a student. Calling Yuki a friend is not incorrect – I had been out for beer, sushi, and karaoke several times with her, Azeroth, and the regular group of people a few times. I am also still Facebook friends with her to this day.

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June 26, 2005 – Birthday karaoke (not mine)

Tonight I went out for birthday karaoke (not mine) with Azeroth and some of his friends, most of whom are students. I didn’t think there was such a think as too much karaoke, but by the end my voice gave out and all I could do was squeak into the microphone.

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June 24, 2005 – My weight in beef

I had the day off today as part of working Monday on a shift swap. I didn’t do much in the daytime, but in the evening I went to Gyu-kaku with the Penpal where I ate my weight in beef.

Mmmmm meat sweats!

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June 23, 2005 – Missing: the good kid

I spend a lot of time complaining about teaching English to children on this blog, but don’t get the wrong idea: there are some really good kids in the classes. I was even lucky enough to have a good group when I worked at Kawasaki NOVA.

Today, one of my favourite NOVA kids students didn’t show up for class. Why is it that the good ones miss class, but the difficult ones always show up?

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June 22, 2005 – Dangerous new deals at the izakaya

Holy crap – my favourite izakaya now has 1000 yen all you can drink for 90 minutes. 100 yen beer nights have the potential to be dangerous, but all you can drink on a timer is just asking for trouble. Unlike some of my friends, I took it VERY easy on the all you can drink both because I have to work tomorrow and because I ate a huge dinner and was still full.

If you can’t get drunk for cheap in Japan, you are drinking in the wrong places.

Only 64 lessons left until my vacation!

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June 21, 2005 – Pizza and Super Mario Brothers


I have two days off every week. Usually on one of them The Penpal comes over to visit after work. Typically we hang out for a bit, go out for dinner, and generally do typical boyfriend / girlfriend stuff.

Today when she showed up, she asked if we could stay in, order some pizza, and play Super Mario Brothers.


It’s official, I have the best girlfriend ever!

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June 20, 2005 – Shift swap scrooges

Today I worked at Numazu school as part of a shift swap with another teacher. One of the best parts about working for NOVA is the ability to trade shifts. In order to support lessons 7 days a week, teachers have a variety of different days off. Being able to trade is very convenient for teachers.

Since I have frequently benefited from shift swaps, I try to be as generous as possible in trading with other teachers when I am asked. I am hoping that people will remember how generous I am when I ask them for one of their days off. There are some teachers who jealously guard their days off and refuse to trade, even if they have no plans on their day off. It’s their choice and they have every right to refuse a shift swap, however it’s everyone else’s right to think they are jerks 🙂

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June 19, 2005 – Team teach

I teach several group kids classes, and one of my classes is a problem. Fortunately NOVA sent out an experienced kids teacher to do a team teach with me today. I got to see what a class should look like, and learned a few new techniques for classroom management. They have asked me to try out the new techniques next week and see if I can manage on my own, and if not they will try to reassign the class.

School teachers back home often get training days where they learn new techniques and exchange ideas. I think that would be a great idea in the conversational English school world as well. However, teachers in training are not teaching lessons, which means they are not making money for the school. Given that teachers usually stay for a year and then return home, I can understand why they don’t invest more time in training, although as a teacher it would be really great if they did!

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June 17, 2005 – Making out in the park

I work an early shift on Friday, so usually after work I meet up with The Penpal and we hang out at one of the parks near Mishima station. Her office is conveniently about half way between my workplace and her house, and only takes a few minutes by bicycle.

Our usual hangout spot was taken, so we went to a nearby park for the first time. Unlike a typical “park” in Tokyo, which usually consists of a tree and a bench, this one was a reasonable size. The park was laid out around a large pond filled with fish, with a tree lined path around the outside and several benches to sit and enjoy the view.

On one side of the path, just off to our left, we saw two high school kids sitting on another bench. They were far enough away that we couldn’t see exactly what they were doing, but they were close enough to get the general idea. I understand that there aren’t a lot of private places in Japan, especially ones accessible to high school kids, but a public park during is not the best place to get “friendly” when it’s still bright outside.

The fun stopped temporarily when an old lady walking her dog came across the students. She glared at them with what I assume was an evil look (her back was to us) until they stopped what they were doing and sat up. This brief pause lasted about as long as it took for the lady to angrily walk by, at which time they enthusiastically started up again.

Spending time with The Penpal after work is always fun. Today however, the students were enjoying the park much more than The Penpal and I were.

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June 16, 2005 – Farewell party for Kasparov

(This is an unpublished entry from my original travel blog when I was teaching English in Japan)

Recently one of my coworkers quit in spectacular fashion, getting his work visa changed and then sending his resignation by fax before a busy weekend. Kasparov was already not very popular with the other teachers, and the way he quit and made the rest of our schedules much busier did not help at all.

Angie let me know that there was going to be a small farewell party for Kasparov after work. Not a lot of people were interested in attending, but Angie wanted at least a few of us to show up. Since I rarely turn down a post work drink (especially when asked by a woman with a Scottish accent), I agreed and was part of the 4-5 teachers who showed up.

We met at a small izakaya near Mishima NOVA that I hadn’t been to before. It was nice, but didn’t have the same familiar character that I had learned to love at Ryoba. Kasparov was ordering sake, and when it arrived, it was poured in a way I had never seen before.

Kasparov was presented with a small sake cup inside a wooden box. The waiter poured sake into the glass, and it overflowed filling the box as well. To drink this requires you to drain the glass, then drink from the box while trying to spill as little as possible. I was intrigued, but after a few too many rough experiences with sake, I decided to stick with beer.

After a few sake glasses / boxes, Kasparov and his girlfriend started laughing about how he quit, and he was so happy about screwing the company over. Most of the effect of his sudden departure was actually felt by the teachers and students, so we didn’t feel the same satisfaction that he did. Usually farewell parties start at an izakaya, and end with late night karaoke. This one ended after a couple hours in the izakaya.

If you are upset with your employer, try not to screw over your coworkers on the way out.

(2015 Update) Apparently overflowing the glass into a box is a traditional thing. Read more about it here.

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