Posts Tagged Yamaha English school
Today I made my second ever appearance as a paid children’s entertainer for Yamaha English school. Apparently my performance as “foreigner Santa” went well enough to get another call.
The event I was working was in nearby Fuji City. Usually when I go to Fuji I take the train, which is comfortable and stress free. Today I got a ride with some of the teachers from Yamaha (all friends of The Penpal). The roads between Numazu and Fuji were narrow and terrifying. The same roads in Canada would have been one way streets or back alleys, but in Japan they were two way streets where we came perilously close to walls or other cars. Even through I have been in Japan for 3 years, part of my brain is still convinced that driving on the left is wrong. This, combined with the narrow roads, made for a scary experience.
We arrived safely and set up for the parties. There were two groups: young kids in the morning and older kids in the afternoon. The Yamaha teachers had a list of activities already prepared, so all I needed to do was speak English, follow the script, and be fun. Highlights included a giant game of rock paper scissors with a line of kids and a ridiculous “Simon Says” type game. Fortunately for everyone involved, I was not required to sing.
By the end I was exhausted, but I had fun and so did the kids. A few of the parents even asked me to pose for pictures with their kids, which I took as a compliment. I’m sure that in a few years nobody will remember why they had a picture with the random Canadian guy.
I wish I had gotten some pictures or video of my work – it would be fun to look back someday and remind myself of what I did for money while I lived in Japan. I did get a video of parts of the scary ride back to Numazu, which I’m sure will make me thankful for the wide, straight roads of Winnipeg when I move home.
All the respect in the world to full time children’s entertainers – it’s hard work!
A few months ago I had a lot of fun being gaijin Santa Claus for Yamaha English School’s Christmas party. The teachers at Yamaha liked my work enough that they asked me to be a part of their summer party. When I moved to Japan I had no thoughts about being a children’s entertainer for hire, but I am trying to pay off student loans and save for a wedding so I happily accepted.
All of the English teachers at Yamaha are Japanese, so having an actual foreign English speaker show up is a rare treat for the students. The Penpal (a former Yamaha teacher) picked me up early and drove me to the small town of Izu Nagaoka, located in beautiful Izu Peninsula. In the morning I helped the Yamaha teachers entertain 47 children aged 2-3. In the afternoon I was the center of attention for 20 kids aged 5-9. I got to help the kids play games organized by the Yamaha teachers, and I got to act out “summer words” like campfire, jellyfish, and beach.
The kids all seemed to have fun, and unlike when I was Santa, nobody cried. I had some fun too, but being a fun, enthusiastic person for a room full of kids is hard work and very tiring. I have nothing but respect for full time children’s entertainers, and have no desire to attempt this as a full time job.
After everything was done, the Penpal and I returned to Numazu where we celebrated a successful day by watching The Blues Brothers, one of my all time favourite movies filled with very non-kid friendly language.
Today was the day I got to be Santa at the Yamaha English school Christmas party!
In the morning The Penpal picked me up and drove me from Numazu to Izu Nagaoka, which is about a half hour south in Izu Peninsula. I met with the Yamaha English teachers and we all helped decorate the room. I was given a script, and took some time to rehearse. As I found out earlier in the week, I was going to be both a children’s entertainer and Santa.
The 5 year old and younger group was in the morning. The Yamaha teachers introduced me and then we all watched a puppet show. Afterwards there were some group activities which I tried to lead as enthusiastically as possible. At this point I told the kids I had to leave, and then I ran backstage to put on the discount store Santa costume that was provided. The costume was not good at all and didn’t have boots, but I did bring a pillow and some extra t-shirts to give myself a nice jolly Santa belly.
The Yamaha teachers had the kids start singing Christmas songs, and then I came out from the back, ho-ho-hoing as loudly as I could in a deep Santa voice. A bunch of the youngest kids cried, while some of the others looked like they were seeing the real Santa. I handed out presents and posed for pictures with the kids.
After the youngest kids cleared out, I got to take a lunch break with the teachers. I also sent The Penpal out to a nearby shoe store to buy black boots for my costume. If I was going to be Santa I was going to be the best Santa possible.
The afternoon show went a lot like the morning show, although a lot of the older kids started to figure out that the funny white guy they saw earlier might just be the guy in the Santa costume. The best part of my day came when one of the kids noticed that unlike every other Santa they had ever seen, I wasn’t Japanese. They said “Waa! Gaikoku no Santa da yo!” (Wow, it’s foreigner Santa!”).
I had a lot of fun being foreigner Santa for the kids. My only regret is not getting any pictures in my costume.
If anyone every asks you to be Santa, especially for young kids, say yes!
(2015 Update) Izu Nagaoka is now part of Izunokuni City.
Last month, I agreed to be Santa for an upcoming Yamaha English school Christmas party. After work today, I went to meet the organizer for Sunday’s Christmas party. Yamaha English school uses Japanese teachers and has a kids English program. The Penpal used to work there and still has some connections with her old coworkers.
My original idea about the party was that I was going to put on a Santa costume for about 20 kids and hand out presents. I learned that I was actually going to double as a children’s entertainer and then Santa twice in the same day. The first show was going to be 60 kids 5 years old and younger. The second show will be 30 kids aged 6 and up.
What have I gotten myself into??
Today The Penpal asked me if I would like to be Santa Claus at an upcoming Yamaha English School Christmas party. How can I say no to that?
The Penpal used to work for Yamaha English School, which uses mostly Japanese teachers to teach English to children. She is still friends with a lot of her old coworkers, so they asked her if I could help. It should be a lot of fun!
Now I just need to gain about 100 pounds in a month and grow a beard…