Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend fun

Summer is a busy time here in Sapporo. It seems like there's something going on every weekend now, and we've been trying to fit in as much as we can into the weekend. Here's what we did this past weekend:

Saturday - Furano
My friend Adrienne and I set out to Furano, a town about 2 1/2 hours from Sapporo, in search of lavender fields. Well, we ended up going on the wrong tour, and didn't get to see the fields, but we did see other really cool stuff. Honestly I enjoyed just getting out of the city with my friend.
The Furano mascot
Beautiful Garden. But alas, not lavender!

Me posing with Anpanman at the "Official" Anpanman Store.

View of the Furano farmland

Sunday - Flower Festival in Odori Park
Sunday was so beautiful, so we decided to head out to the park to enjoy the sunshine. Being in the park in the summer is so great - everyone laying on the grass, some people playing guitars, others playing frisbee or throwing a football(first time I'd seen that in Japan). While walking around we happened upon a flower festival. Block after block of vendors selling all types of flowers. One part must've been some kind of orchid competition, and there was so many different types, I wanted to take pictures of them all.

Band playing in Susukino

It's great living in a big city, where it seems like something is always going on. I don't want to miss a thing!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

188 days to go...

Day 164: Ethan after a haircut and eyebrow-waxing. Maturity not included.

Day 165: Me and the graduate.

Day 166: at the Sapporo Festival. Love the old-timey carnival feel of this motorcycle show.

Day 167: Love the uniforms on these kids. Check out those cute hats!!

Day 168: Bikes have interesting names here.

Day 169: The trash guys taking all the Sumikawa junk away. Years and years of ALT stuff accumulation finally gotten rid of!
Day 170: A beautiful Father's Day in the Botanical Gardens

Day 171: Nathan's Father's Day card and sake set.

Day 172: Ethan on his new bike, a graduation gift.

Day 173: Advertisement on a tissue bag. Read what the cats are saying.

Day 174: Another interesting bike name.

Day 175: The student council cheering during what I can only assume was a pep rally for all the sports teams. They started playing tournaments this weekend.

Day 176: At the Anpanman store in Furano

Day 177: Orchids of all kinds in Odori Park

Monday, June 20, 2011

Movin' Up

Tuesday was Ethan's graduation from 6th grade. It was an exciting moment, seeing Ethan with all his school mates. It made me so grateful that we were able to send Ethan to Hokkaido International School. As his small class of fourteen marched down the steps and sang their songs, I thought of how far Ethan has come since we first moved here almost a year ago.
For one, he's as tall as me now, and we no longer wear the same shoe size. His math skills improved so much this year, which I credit to the fine teaching of Ms. Deelstra, and the fact that all his classmates LOVE math!

It's fun, seeing him grow and figure stuff out. He definitely has his own mind, and is very independent. He's creative and smart - I know everybody says this about their kid, but it's true!

Each 6th grader gave a speech, talking about their best memories, or thanking their favorite teacher. Ms. Deelstra had Ethan give the closing speech.

(There's another video of Ms. Deelstra talking about Ethan, but I can only upload 1 video a week on Vimeo, so I'll put it up on my facebook it you'd like to see it)

In America, there's a graduation for everything - Kindergarten, sometimes 5th grade, then maybe 6th grade, then junior high and finally high school - and I think it take some of the excitement out of it all. But this graduation was special in so many ways: a new school, and new country, and so many new and different experiences. It was definitely a day we'll never forget!

Monday, June 13, 2011

202 days to go...

Day 157: Beautiful lavender bush on the way to school.
Day 158: The Japanese have beautiful gardens here, and make great use of the limited yard space they have, as evidenced here.

Day 159: Nada

Day 160: Yosakoi

Day 161: Picture from a poster on how to plant rice at Hitsujigaoka. I love how they painted over the faces!

Day 162: I had dinner with one of my JTEs from Hokuyo, and she gave me this. Kawaii!!

Day 163: More Yosakoi!

  • With the exception of today, June has been beautifully sunny and pleasant. Sometimes I even have to wear a jacket! Sounds like it's a lot different in the US right now. Keep cool my friends!
  • Ethan has 6th grade graduation today, so I took a day off from work. It's crazy that we've almost been in Japan for a year, and Ethan's going to be in junior high!
  • I've been a little frustrated at work lately. Since returning to Hitsujigaoka JH, with the exception of 2nd grade, the other teachers hardly ever use me. Which means I have LOTS of down time. Imagine only teaching 1 or 2 classes out of 6, and the rest of the time just staying at your desk - no computer, no resources. I study Japanese a lot, but I'm here to help the teachers, and I feel like - as nice as they are - they just don't know what to do with me, or don't want me. It's very frustrating, and I hope things will turn around!
  • My balcony garden is doing great! I transplanted my 2 tomato plants to bigger pots (thanks, Janelda!), and they've just gotten so big, which lots of blooms! My herb garden is also doing quite well, and the lettuce greens I planted from seeds are started to take off. I also planted some zinnias, which I hope will do well. But I'm most excited for tomatoes. Grow, grow, grow, little garden!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Only in Japan: Yosakoi

It's almost summer, and that means festival time in Japan. This week, it was the Yosakoi festival, which has been held in Sapporo for 20 years. Although the festival is not that old, Yosakoi was inspired by an old Japanese ritual of dance in hope for a prosperous fishing season. Now, it's a great excuse for huge groups to wear awesome costumes and dance their hearts out. My Japanese teacher told me that Yosakoi groups from all over Japan come to the festival in Sapporo and that there's about 200 groups every year. And seeing as how there's about 20 or more dancers in each group - well, that's a lot of people, y'all!

Ethan and I went to see some of the dancing on Thursday night, and again Sunday afternoon. A few of our ALT friends were in some of the groups, and maybe next year I'll join in!

Monday, June 6, 2011

209 days to go...

Day 137: "Business cards" given to me by the 5th and 6th grade Yamanote students.

Day 138: Yamanote elementary students.

Day 139: You know I can't resist a flower picture.

Day 140 and 141: Lost days.

Day 142: Ladies' Night!!

Day 143: Progress on the balcony garden...

Day 144: Lost...

Day 145: Tress are blooming!
Day 146: Beaded curtain in front of a restaurant.

Day 147: Calligraphy on the high school floor of Yamanote.

Day 148: Game at the arcade where you flip the table over for points.

Day 149: Hokkaido Pride at the Sapporo Dome.

Day 150: Picture of me drawn by a student at Yamanote.

Day 151: batik-style paper art given to me by the elementary students at Yamanote.

Day 152: Gigantic (and colorful!) computer monitor left in our apartment. I don't know what to do with it, so it lives on the balcony for the time being. Notice at the top they tried to spell "Groovy", but forgot an O.

Day 153: Back at Hitsujigaoka. These are some creepy scarecrows the ni nensei students made for their school trip. They're going to give them to some farmers.

Day 154: Tiniest backpack on the cutest old man.

Day 155: Ethan with his friends, Alex and Saimon, after their school musical performance.

Day 156: Cutest baby ever at the Sapporo University International Day

Yikes, I'm really behind on this photo project. But I'm back and finally up to date with it all, give or take a few days. Here's what's been going on:

  • Back at Hitsujigaoka, and the kids seemed to have missed me, seeing how some of them came up and hugged me when they saw me. I swear some of the boys grew in the month I was away.
  • Ethan performed in his school's original musical, "Griot". It involved all the elementary through high schoolers, and was the most spectacular school show I've ever seen. Puts me to shame! Can't wait to show some pictures soon!
  • We met up with Nathan's Japanese teacher yesterday and went to the Sapporo University International Festival yesterday. Lots of food and music - and it was nice to be on a college campus again. I guess the feel of college is the same wherever you go.
  • The days are getting warmer, and I'm happy to report that I can now commute to work without a jacket. Yippee!! I love spring!