You are browsing the archive for 2007 March.

Sakiio Oysters

March 31, 2007 in engrish, Japanese Mix, Oishii, spazarific

You know you’ve lost your “New in Japan” smell when participating in the following conversation has no effect:

Liv: So what is something you can do in Sakiio?

Student: You can … go Kanikamayama Temple.

Liv: Cool! What else can you do?

Student: You can eat … octopus balls.

Liv [without missing a beat, ladies and gentlemen]: Oh, I love takoyaki! That is a great thing to try in Sakiio!

Student: Yes. They are … ver’ delicious.

It wasn’t until I was 2 blocks away from school that my inner 12 year-old stirred and after sniggering like Muttley, hung her head in shame.

Sumo – Denied!

March 27, 2007 in Uncategorized

Apparently, one must stand in line from 6 am if one expects to get tickets to the last day of a sumo match.  Fortunately, I am the easily consoled type – a shot like this does much to assuage my disappointment.


A Typical Conversation Between Myself and Sean

March 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

Me: Wanna see something cool?

Him: What?

Me: It’s … my American passport!

Him: Oh, sweet Jaysus, heaven aboov. Would you put dat hideous t’ing away?

Me: Ahem. Ohhhhh say can you seeeeeeeee ….!

Him: Why don’t you just get your European citizenship already? Then you can burn dat hideous t’ing.

Me: What are you chattering about now – potatoes? Again?

As it is.

Protected: South Park

March 17, 2007 in engrish

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A Natural

March 15, 2007 in Uncategorized

At this tender point in my tenure with my school, I have only a few regular shifts. Every once in a while, when, I suppose, there is a surplus of substitute teachers, I have been called in to do something out of the norm. Today was one of those days.

I received a call from the principal last night I was helping some other idle teachers glue together signs. He asked me if I would come in today at 11 to help the research department with some vocal recordings. I enjoy teaching plenty but certainly don’t mind a break in the routine – plus, the idea of helping with vocal research intrigued me. It also gave me yet another opportunity to torture Sean, my Irish neighbor, about the superiority of the American dialect. After all, why else would they have chosen me, a North American, to speak into a microphone and help the company perform research on the spoken language? Obviously, I, an American, was chosen for the even, steadied mellifluency of my accent, the pinnacle of the English tongue’s evolution …

Little pleasures, folks. Little pleasures.

The actual research was kinda fun – along with Pat, another American (natch!!!!), I was asked to read phrases from a sheet of paper. Every once in a while we were asked to repeat ourselves because we had pronounced a “t” too sharply or weren’t “genki (lively!).”

After 2 hours, we were released. The staff congratulated me on my readings and Pat, a speech pathologist in his former life, told me that I had a great presence and was “a natural.” Afterwards, I helped the principal staple 250 copies of the dress code booklet together and then folded brochures for the remainder of my shift.

All in a day’s work, folks. All in a day’s work.

Weird Al

March 15, 2007 in engrish

At my school, the staff encourages the students to keep journals in English. Between classes, the English teachers are asked to check out and proofread said journals. This is a request that appeals strongly to me – not only do I get to brandish my editing skills from my former life but my love of Engrish will never be sated. The students are always earnest and the content of their journals varies greatly. When TG was in town and we were planning a day trip to Kyoto, Tomoko’s neatly written journal on that very city’s historical landmarks definitely came in handy. Some students write about their day; others write about things they study in school. My favorite journal by far, however, belongs to a young woman whose nickname is “Weird Al.” She was one of the first adults I taught back in my first week and her sly, cheeky humor and impressive yet still developing grasp of English made that lesson one of my favorites to date.

“Weird Al” doesn’t write about things she learned in school or her days working at a “Sweet shop.” She writes about her nightly dreams and draws cartoons along with her entries and especially seems to like drawing pictures of pastries that people keep giving her family.

Sometimes I reread her journal several times in a shift, particularly the first entry entitled “Five Toed Socks.” I have often wanted to transcribe it to my own notebook but simply cannot do so for decency’s sake but I have read it enough times by now to remember the gist. One day, Weird Al finished her class and wandered into the shopping mall because she wanted to buy five-toed socks. Five toed socks, she wrote, were her favorite because they were so comfortable. That particular day, she wanted to buy striped five-toed socks but the store was out so she bought black ones instead.

“I love five-toed socks!” she wrote. “What about you? Five-toed socks!”

What about me, indeed!! After my shift ended today, I wandered into a 100 yen store and after sifting through household items and lipgloss I didn’t need, my eyes lit upon a rather comfy-looking pair of beige and cocoa-colored striped five-toed socks. One just can’t go wrong for 100 yen! I snatched up the pair and will try them tonight as I freeze for the first part of the evening in a room I can’t bring myself to heat while the enormous bouquet of birthday flowers from my parents still sits on my desk.

I haven’t seen Weird Al since that first week I taught – we spent a mere 40 minutes together, discussing cough medicines and shampoo – but I somehow have a feeling I will soon be indebted to her advice of wearing five-toed socks.

i love engrish

March 14, 2007 in Uncategorized


things i am being called lately

March 6, 2007 in Uncategorized

  • ribu-sensei*
  • da ‘ittle one*
  • shouku-chan*
  • blissfully naive
  • weirdo

*personal favorites


March 6, 2007 in Uncategorized

… how staff members refer to me when telling parents that I will be taking over such-and-such other teacher’s class.

Yesterday, in one of my children’s classes, my lesson plan focused on the vocabulary for “moon,” “star,” “planet,” etc and the staff suggested I do this arts and crafts project to make it more fun: create “telescopes” made out of toilet paper rolls so that we could go “stargazing” (staring at posters in the room with moons, stars and planets on them). Not one to argue, I agreed. When I arrived at my school the staff members told me that the toilet paper rolls were already set up and in the class room. God, I love this school, I thought and went into the room to take a peek. To my dismay, I discovered that one the staff girls had misunderstood the directions in the principal’s craft description – on the counter, along with packets of crayons, rubber bands and colorful cellophane origami paper, were 6 full rolls of toilet paper. I broke into peals of laughter (I imagined the parents peering into the classroom and seeing their kids peering into fluffy white rolls of toilet paper) and set about to pushing the cardboard rolls out of the paper and after some time had 6 perfect cardboard rolls, fit for telescope-making, and six squashed mounds of toilet paper.

During class, after the decorating and the origami-papering, the kids began to peer at each other through their new telescopes. Takeshi and Kazuki peeked at each other and then Takeshi turned his telescope to me.

“Mitte sensei!! (Look at sensei!)” he said.

bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay

March 6, 2007 in Uncategorized

… in other news, bowing is fun.