Kobe Days

34.6911° N, 135.1973° E

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JET 20 Questions

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and since I found this on a fellow JET’s blog, I thought I’d answer them and see if there are any further changes when I actually leave the programme 😉

Name: Ryn

Prefecture Placement: Kobe City

Prefecture Requests: Suburb, no specific requests
If you’re kaypoh enough to want to know more…


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47 prefectures update

Recently I’ve been thinking of a way to chronicle my attempt to visit all 47 prefectures in a more comprehensive way than my current method of recounting my trips. WordPress doesn’t make it easy to upload my photographs, arrange them in order, and write my posts, so I decided to try a new site and chronicle my travels by prefectures instead.

I’ve started writing some posts and have linked them back to my 47 prefectures page here, but if you’re interested in reading them all in one place, feel free to visit my new travel blog site ‘47 Prefectures‘ (original, ain’t I?).

I’ve only got a few places from my most current travels up now, but hopefully I’ll manage to get everything done there and not let all my pictures languish in the depths of my computer. XD

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Recap: Kyushu Day 2~3 Kumamoto

After a crazy loud reunion in Singlish late the night before, we headed out early the next morning to pick up our car. LQ and LC both had licences, so this trip we didn’t have to be at the mercy of public transportation. Yay!

So we headed off on our adventure towards Kumamoto. The plan was to head for the castle first. It was a nice, sunny day, and the park around the castle was filled with families. LC came upon a group of older men practising some kind of top-spinning, and they were happy to show us what they were doing. Sorry to say the pics will not be posted as they have our faces in them.




We walked up to the gate and took some pictures, but chose not to go in because 1) we were working on a tight schedule (and I mean TIGHT), and 2) having been in Japan for close to a year now, most of us had enough of castles.

One thing we learnt though – just because a Japanese person has a hugeass professional-looking camera does not mean that he knows how to take good pictures. Best way to take a picture the way you like it? Take one the way you like it first, then show the person you’re asking. Japanese pictures tend to focus too much on the face and not enough on the scenery.

Clickie for more piccies.


Recap: Kyushu Day 0~1 Yamaguchi/Fukuoka

As I’m trying to write this post I realized why I stopped putting up my travel posts. How do I write all my posts when it takes forever to upload my photos?!


So I think it might be time to do some recap on my travel adventures. It’s been way too long, hasn’t it? Well. It’s a cliche, but better late than never, eh?

Anyway, the trip to Kyushu, which took place in Golden Week 2013 (I know, thank you very much), was planned between 5 Singaporeans from 5 different places – Hiroshima (WT), Hokkaido (LJ), Ishikawa (LQ), Miyagi (LC) and myself, Kobe. Just that alone would give you an idea of how difficult it was to plan, even with modern technology. Still, we managed it somehow. I was going to join them for the first part of the trip, then break off to do my own thing since they wanted to go to Oita, where I had already been. We arranged to meet at Fukuoka to kickstart our trip.

WT and myself planned to take landed transport to our destination. She was going to take a bus in the morning and I would take a overnight ferry. The other 3 would meet up at KIX and take a Peach flight down later in the day. With that planned, I set off to the ferry terminal for my first experience on the ferry.

As usual, click for piccies.

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About Englishes

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learnt since coming on JET (during the spare moments not spent Cumberbatch-ed…). Mostly inspired by the new group of JETs, I thought about what I’d learnt over my years here, and this little thought came to me one day during English class. So in typical narcissistic fashion, here it is.

Dear newbie Singaporean JETs,

If there’s one tip I can give you now, specifically for you, this is it: be aware of the way you speak English. Throughout the CELTA course I did, the 2 years I’ve spent teaching in Japan, I’ve learnt so much about the way I speak English that I had never known while living in Singapore.

Now, I want to point out that there is nothing wrong with the way we speak English. (And I mean English, NOT Singlish, all right?) Many Singaporeans can express themselves in grammatically correct English, albeit with a Singaporean accent, and that’s perfectly fine. And Singaporean English, like British English or American English, has its own set of lexicon which is unique to the region.

But unlike British/American/Australian accents, which most of the non-English-speaking world usually have some access to thanks to their great TV shows, singers, etc, Singaporean English is not as often heard. As a result, many people, even native speakers of English, can’t understand what we say.

And it’s not their fault, neither is it ours. It’s just a lack of exposure. So how do you deal with it?

When you come here, you’ll find native speakers begging your pardon over and over again. You may get Japanese teachers questioning your pronunciation. You’ll be asked to slow down (we really do speak fast), or you may find yourself needing to change your accents or stresses or slur your ‘t’s to be understood (twenty versus twenny). You may find your identity as a native speaker questioned in rare cases (just shrug it off).

In the classroom, you’ll need to think about pronunciation (and spelling, of course). Some of our pronuncation is influenced by our more British background. Vase (Br) versus vase (Am), for example. Can’t (Br) versus can’t (Am). Our pronunciation is shaped by our heritage and the English our teachers had used, as well as the English we hear in the media (not always accurate, as you may well know). To relate a story, I still pronounce ‘academic’ as sounding similar to ‘academy’, thanks to years of listening to teachers talking about ‘the aCAREdemic year’. It’s one of the few words that I really need to think about before saying.

Other things I’ve noticed I occasionally lapse into include forgetting my ‘th’ (teeth/without), shortening my vowels (book), dropping verbs and replying to my teacher’s question of ‘Can you…’ with ‘Can!’ >< None of this would be a problem in normal life, but when you're teaching and hoping that students will follow your pronunciation/use of English, you need to note what you say to them.

If you're teaching higher levels, you'll need to revise grammar rules, because as likely as not, you'll have teachers or keen students asking you to explain why a certain form isn't right. I don't know how grammar education in Singapore has changed while you were a student, but I was well-drilled in grammar, so I found it a fascinating experience answering such questions. If you aren't a grammar aficionado, though, you probably won't enjoy it as much.

So as you plan for your year(s) ahead, worrying about packing all the Prima Taste mixes in your luggage without going overweight or what omiyage you need to buy, a note to remember: in our unique position as the only "non-native" native English teachers on the JET programme, it is as much a learning experience for us as it is for them. So try to learn about teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language, teach them about our experiences learning English as both a first and second language, and help your students avoid making the same mistakes we learnt studying English growing up.

It's an experience to be savored. (See what I did there? ;p)

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Just like Hokkien and Singlish, Kansai-ben has reached a very special place in my heart. I think it really hit hard these couple of weeks when I (finally) sat down to watch Hanzawa Naoki, otherwise known as the greatest drama hit of 2013. The first half was set in Kansai, and while the scenery (shots of Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka in abundance) was lovely, the fluent Kansai-ben made me laugh out loud more than once. Following that with catching up my reading of Hankyu Densha and re-watching the movie made me realise just how much I love it.

Almost everyone around me use it. My teachers use it to speak to their students. My students use it to speak to me. The fact that I’m beginning to comprehend so much more of it after three years makes me proud to consider myself as becoming more of a 関西人.

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Doesn’t mean I can speak it though. 😛

PS: Sakai Masato is so attractive. I wish I knew who he was earlier.

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In which I got extremely well-acquainted with 筋肉痛

I’ll admit that I’ve had very little interaction with snow. I’ve lived my whole life in a sunny tropical island and had never visited anywhere that was covered with white. (I suspect that’s because my dad hates that stuff.) Even in Japan, both my previous home and current home are situated in warm places.

So when Peach had a sale and we ended up heading to Sapporo for a March snowboard getaway, I found myself somewhere between excitement and dread. Lots of snow! Freezing temperatures! And snowboarding…something I have no idea if I actually can do without injuring myself. (It didn’t help that an acquaintance broke her wrist while snowboarding a couple of weeks before my own attempt.)

Our trip up north started on the Thursday before school actually ended, which meant I had to miss my ES graduation. I was gutted, but consoled myself with a message to be placed on their congratulations board. I knew I would still see most of them (minus those heading for private junior high schools), but they would no longer be “my” kids…and I really loved them.

Ah, well. しょうがない。 Back to the main story.

Click to read long yarn…