The school year is ending in Japan. I am excited to see my first graduation ceremony at Yakumo Junior High School next Friday. Now I will tell you about graduation ceremonies in America.
The school year in America is from September to June. Then, students have a three-month summer vacation. American schools are also different because only high schools and colleges have graduation ceremonies.
Here is a picture of my college graduation. Students wear gowns, and the hat is called a mortarboard. Each student walks onto the stage, shakes hands with the principal with their right hand and receives their diploma in their left hand.
At the end of the graduation, everyone throws their hat into the air to celebrate!
I am enjoying school lunch at the junior high schools in Yakumo. I have eaten in every classroom! Here are some photos of my lunches:
My favorite school lunch foods are curry and rice, ramen, tempura, and yakisoba. I also like dessert like the chocolate pudding we had on Valentine’s Day or lemon ice. Here is a picture of my students at Nodaoi Junior High School.
In America, school lunches are becoming healthier. But students usually eat hamburgers, chicken, pizza, or tacos for school lunch. Here is a picture of pizza, corn, a pretzel, chocolate milk, and mixed fruits.
I went to the Sapporo Snow Festival on February 9th. I was surprised by the size of the snow sculptures. Some were huge! My favorites were the temple from Thailand, and the sculpture from Portland, Oregon, USA in the international competition of a gorilla, duck, and beaver on a sled.
I also watched the skiing performances and ate delicious food like oden, takoyaki, and grilled corn. At the corn food stand, there was a prize drawing for tickets to a yosakoi performance. We won free tickets! Then, we watched a yosakoi performance in a theater.
I went with my husband and met my friend, an ALT from Aomori, who went to college with me in Minnesota. We ate at Ramen Alley for the first time. I tried miso ramen!
One week ago was Valentine's Day! In Kumaishi, we celebrated with a special Valentine's Day lesson. I tought vocabulary words like romance, heart, box of chocolates, jewelry, and more. We played BINGO and a drawing game!
I enjoyed teaching about traditions in America. Valentine's Day is a day for couples and romance. Usually, the boy gives a gift to the girl.
I also learned about Valentine's traditions in Japan, including White Day. But, there is no White Day in America.
Christmas and the New Year holidays are very busy times in America, and they are busy in Japan too.
In America, we spend Christmas with family, giving presents, singing Christmas carols, eating dinner, and watching American football games on TV. We celebrate New Year's Eve with friends, watching the giant ball drop in New York's Times Square on TV.
This year, I traveled to Kansai and celebrated New Year's Eve in Osaka on the top of the Umeda Sky Building's Floating Garden Observatory.
On January 1st, I went to Kyoto, visited temples and shrines, and ate a lot of takoyaki and yakisoba. There were many people there.
When I returned home to Yakumo, I was excited to find a couple of New Year's cards in my mailbox! In America, we send Christmas cards to family and friends too.
I learned about New Years culture and traditions in Japan. I enjoyed making rice balls with Otoshibe Junior High School a couple weeks ago too. It was hard work, but they were delicious!
I wish everyone the best in 2013. Happy New Year!
Thanksgiving is an American holiday on the 4th Thursday of November each year. This year, Thanksgiving is on November 22nd: today!
The story is that Thanksgiving began in 1621 when the pilgrims and indians had a three-day feast together. They shared food, including corn and turkey. Today, famlies eat dinner together and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and American NFL football on TV. It is a day to give thanks for family, food, and happiness.
For my Thanksgiving lesson at Nodaoi Junior High School, students tried cranberry sauce for the first time. Cranberry sauce is a sour food (like jelly) that we eat during our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Delicious!
Halloween is a famous holiday in the United States on October 31st. The most popular traditions are carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and children trick or treating in costumes for candy. People also have Halloween parties where people tell scary stories, watch scary movies, or bob for apples. Here are two photos of my Halloween costumes when I was a child:
I celebrated Halloween at two schools in Yakumo: Nodaoi and Kumaishi dai ichi. At Kumaishi, students carved pumpkins and wrapped each other in toilet paper to make mummies!
At Nodaoi, there was also a mummy contest and pumpkin carving! I enjoyed the trick-or-treating and the Halloween party with delicious pumpkin pie! Yum!
And if two Halloween parties wasn't enough, I also enjoyed a fantastic party with Yakumo's English Circle! There was delicious food, we played fun games, and listened to beautiful flute-playing. Halloween is a great holiday. Next up: Thanksgiving!
I always look forward to the Yakumo English Circle. We have fun playing games, doing English activities, and having relaxed conversations. At the last meeting, a traveler named Ushi visited us. He brought his guitar and together we sang, "Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles.
This is the only picture I have so far, but I was surprised when one member brought a car license plate he found - from Minnesota, my home state in America!
Between the letters and numbers you see the shape of Minnesota state. At the bottom, you see "10000 lakes": Minnesota is called, "the land of ten thousand lakes," but we really have 11,842 lakes.
The Yakumo English Circle will meet this week on Wednesday, October 17th from 7:00-8:30pm at Silver Plaza. This week's topic is music. We will listen to "Imagine" by John Lennon, play an American song quiz game, and have a conversation about music. I hope to see you there!
In the last few weeks I have been exploring Hokkaido. First, I visited Noboribetsu. I stayed at my first ryokan and wore my first yukata. Although the town had an interesting smell, I liked the onsen very much.
Next my husband and I took the ropeway up Mt. Usu and viewed Showashinzan.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice fireworks show over Lake Toya and the next morning had a delicious Japanese breakfast.
Finally, last weekend we went to Hakodate. First, we climbed Mt. Hakodate to see the view in the morning. Then, we took the ropeway at night to see the famous night view.
We went to Sports Cha and I even saw some students from Yakumo Junior High School. We also ate at Lucky Pierrot and I really like the bacon and egg burger. My husband got the Hakodate snow burger. They were the best hamburgers we have eaten in Japan.
In the morning we went to Asa Ichi Morning Market. We had breakfast there, ate some melon slices, and I discovered that I really like salmon roe!
Where should I go next?
September was a busy month in Yakumo. I celebrated my 25th birthday on September 6th. On that day, I went to Yakumo Elementary School where I gave a short self-introduction to many classes, who sang "Happy Birthday" to me. It was a wonderful gift.
I have visited all of the Junior High Schools in Yakumo and given many self-introductions. Here is a photo from Nodaoi Junior High School:
I enjoyed Yakumo's Matsuri Festival. I liked the elementary school brass band, taiko drumming, and the junior high school orchestra. The food was also delicious and it was a beautiful day.
I watched my first sumo tournament on TV and learned about the different ranks and techniques. I was cheering for Harumafuji and was surprised that he became yokozuna!
I was also able to see kendo for the first time. I was fascinated and impressed by the big voices, the speed, grace, and accuracy of the participants. Kendo is really cool, but I still have a lot to learn before I can really understand it.
After two months in Japan, I understand much more about Japanese culture! Every day brings a new lesson about life in Japan, and I always enjoy learning more.