Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Conversations with My Students: Despondent Teenager

I have one kid who sometimes is a pain but can be pretty hilarious if he's in a good mood.

Like many other kids his age, or really half of Japan, he's obsessed with One Piece. I asked him about his weekly schedule and he told me he always watches the anime on the weekends.

Me: On Sunday you watch One Piece?
DT: Yes.
Me: *Writes ONE PIECE on the board*
Me: This is how you spell One Piece, DT.
DT: No no no no... *Gets whiteboard marker* *Writes ONE PEASE* Wait what... what???? EH???
Me: OMG.
DT: *Double checks all his One Piece merchandise but can't find the name anywhere*
DT: EH??? *Flips open his cell phone, fiddles for a good 2 minutes* Ah, ok One Piece. OK I.
Me: OMG. Sit down and open your textbook.

And that was one of his better days.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Childhood on a Phone Strap

Browsing around Village Vanguard the other night, I came across an interesting capsule machine. I usually find great capsule machines at Bic Camera (they have aisles of them) or in Odaiba Decks, and given what I'm used to seeing I shouldn't have even noticed the pathetic little one VV had. But at the very bottom was something I never thought I'd find in Japan:


I've been looking for a new and unique phone strap to keep on my keitai. I used to have all kinds of random crap on it, gifts and free stuff off soda bottles, and I'd only had a little sea snake charm from the Sunshine City Aquarium. But now? OMG REN AND STIMPY.

I used to watch this show quite a bit when I was younger, much to my mother's dismay and disgust. Watching old episodes now as an adult I can kind of see why, but I was too young to catch on to most of the bad jokes. Still, THIS IS GREAT.

Dusty table.

I PUT POWDERED TOAST MAN ON MY KEITAI. He even stands on his own and everything! Ren is on my door handle chilling with all my other retired phone straps.

I'm gonna have to go back and raid that machine a few more times, even if it is 300yen a pop. I need the LOG phone strap in my life~

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monjayaki with Chef~

A few nights ago I had the pleasure of meeting and dining with one of my Japanese Twitter friends, Tmkwon The Chef. Like many Japanese, he doesn't put his real name on the internetz or even show his entire face on profile photos. But I don't have Photoshop on my Vaio so I had to get creative in Paint. Sorry, Chef!

We met up in Tsukishima and ate the local specialty, monjayaki. It's kind of like okonomiyaki - vegetables and meat in a batter cooked on a griddle - though it has the consistency of melted cheese. It isn't much to look at, but it was actually quite good. Chef lived up to his Twitter handle and made both of our monjayaki; he is obviously a pro:

Double-fisting spatula skillz~

When you make monjayaki you grill the veggies and meat first, and then create a crazy ingredient fortress and pour the batter in the middle. When the batter starts to get sticky, you mix it all up and nom nom nom.

Special Monjayaki - all kinds of veggies, seafood, and meat.

Garlic Monjayaki - delicious, but smelly.

This is the first time I ventured off to meet someone I knew only from social networking. I told Chef he was taller than I'd expected him to be, and he told me I was shorter and louder than he imagined me to be. I'll admit to both of those charges.

We got along great and basically turned all of our Twitter exchanges into real-life, face-to-face conversations. We talked about music, politics, culture, language, life in general. He apologized for not being good-looking, which is so Japanese of him and completely unnecessary! I bet if he posted on an English language exchange community on Mixi he'd have his pick of cute girls.

I would've dragged him to purikura but we weren't near a game center! He also paid for the bill while I was in the restroom, sneaky guy. I'll get you one day, Chef.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Conversations with My Students: Boob jokes

Recently, I've been trying to teach some of the older boys the kinds of things my brothers used to pull on me when I was their age. One of them being UP HIGH, DOWN LOW, TOO SLOW - you offer your hand as a high five, complete said high five, subsequently offer a low five, but move your hand away before your partner can actually make contact with your hand.

I may be an IRL troll, but it's hilarious to watch.

Teaching English is even harder.

I was trying to teach one of my favorite classes this timeless prank:

Me:  I should teach you guys something! Hey #1 (the older boy in class, 12 years old) high five - UP HIGH!
#1: *Completes high five*
Me: *Moves hand* OK DOWN LOW!
#1: *Looks confused* What?
Me: Gimme five! Come on!
#1: *Attempts low five*
Me: *Pulls away hand* TOO SLOW! HAHA. You get it? Try it with #2 (younger boy, 11 years old). Make like you're gonna do a high five. GREAT. Now you say "UP HIGH!"
#1: Up high! *Completes high five* Down low! *Moves hand away* AHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Me: You have to say TOO SLOW #1! Nevermind. Okay, #2, you try!
#2: Up high!
#1: Oppai (boobs)??? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
Me: NOT OPPAI! UP HIGH! UP HIGH! Gaaah you two...

These two also call Super Mario Brothers the Super Mario Brassiere, because "brothers" (bu-ra-za) and "brassiere" (bu-ra-jyaa) sound similar when katakana-ized.

I love being an English teacher.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conversations with My Students: Wedding Cakes

*I don't want to talk about WORK necessarily, but I think it would be fine for me to share some of the funnier things my students tell me. It's sometimes very enlightening!*

My grandmother student is one of my favorites. I showed her an article about superstitions related to food, like making wishes on birthday cakes and how it's bad luck to spill salt. At one point the article talked about how couples in America sometimes take the top tier of the wedding cake home, freeze it, and eat it on their first anniversary for good luck.

Google Search is so great.

Grandma recalled going to a wedding some years ago at a hotel. "The hotel server cut a very small piece of the base of the cake for each person and you could eat that. The rest of the cake was fake, only to look at!"


"Maybe you can take pictures of the bride and groom cutting the cake. It's only for entertainment."

I told her the cake is almost as important as the dress to some people (it certainly will be for me om nom nom). People spend a lot of time and money on the cake's design and flavors, and many couples hire specific bakeries to make them.

"You hire bakers? Wow, so amazing. Sometimes the bride and groom make the cake themselves!"


"At weddings maybe there are better desserts. You don't have to only eat the cake."

I can't imagine.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sing in Japanese

I picked up an actual CD at a Tower Records recently. We still have those in Japan - people who buy physical CDs, that is.

Given my shameless love of a number of JE boys, you may be surprised to find out I purchased a cover album by an American group doing Japanese punk songs! Allow me to present to you Me First and the Gimme Gimmes: Sing in Japanese~

Japanese language covers of 6 songs!

They traded their signature tacky aloha shirts for yukatas. Classy.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are like the cheap, cheesy, fairly obscure punk version of S.K.I.N. Kind of. Each member has his own group, the most recognizable one probably being Fat Mike of NOFX, and they come together for this kitschy side project every now and then. They've done a number of albums and I'm sure most people can find a song or two they know in the Me First catalog.

In one of my adult classes, I brought in an article from the Japan Times about their recent Tokyo show. I have to start paying attention to who comes to do shows here since NO ONE EVER GOES TO HAWAII. My two students had heard of half the artists they covered and we all recognized "Linda Linda."

Start to finish the whole CD isn't even 20 minutes but it's fantastic and magical and just what I'd want out of this band. I'm sure some people will come to the inevitable conclusion that they butchered these classics, but since I don't know the originals I LOVED it. And I have to say, Spike's Japanese was much better than expected. I listened to Andrew WK's version of  "Kiseki" by GReeeeN and was disappointed at the fairly awkward English lyrics, so I'm glad Me First did it right and stuck to Japanese.

I bought the last copy at the Sakuragicho Tower Records, so go somewhere else and buy it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mini-post: You look different, Pikachu!

One of these Pokemon isn't like the others, one of these Pokemon is unbelievably lulzy and almost made me spend 1200yen.

Can you tell who doesn't belong???



I almost bought it, but I didn't wanna carry him around. I wonder how many kids in that store understood what was going on with this one...