It’s been many months since my last post on this topic, so let’s see if I can’t dig up some more stories to share with you all!
If you didn’t know, Chris is my name. It’s also a name that none of the students can ever spell correctly, even when I try to tell them that it’s spelled the same as the beginning of “Christmas”. But then, most of them probably don’t know how to spell Christmas either, so in writing my name is often something like “Curis”.
Anyways, for one of my first year classes (1st year JHS would be grade 7 in Canada) we were playing a game with the class. They were divided up into groups. I bestowed one of the groups the title of “Team Canada”, something I often do (and then I’ll root for them with clear bias throughout the game).
Well, all of the groups ended up choosing names after that. “Team Canada” became “Team Super Canada”, and there were a bunch of others like “Team Biden”, “Team Macaroni Black Hole”, “Team Yonglish (ﾖnglish)“, “Team Saudi Arabia”, and other wacky names that they tend to come up with.
This time around, Team Super Canada managed to win the game.
And so I bestowed upon the winning team a picture of me from high school.
After the entire class gathered around to gawk at the picture, they pinned it on the blackboard on the side of the room (the class’ daily schedule is written on this board). And my photo has remained there to this day, which makes me laugh when I see it. We recently played another game and I had them guess what year I was born, and it made me laugh to see them flock to the photo to try and somehow discern my age from it.
“Don’t Read This”
In September, one of the teachers I was working with, who I’m still friends with and we see each other every so often, retired (we just recently went to play pachinko, so I’ll write about that sometime). His replacement is a much younger female, and this is her first time teaching.
One of the things that she’s been having her third year students do is write more. Before, the only real writing they’d do was just writing vocabulary words over and over, but now she’s trying to get them to actually answer questions and whatnot in their notebooks.
I help her go over their entries when the grammar gets real shaky and needs to be deciphered into something proper. And one of the students, who wants to go to an international school for high school, mentioned me in one of his notebook entries.
So after fixing the spelling / grammar, I responded to his message. He asked me if I liked katsudon and katsuteishoku, and offered to buy me katsuteishoku someday. I responded that I liked both, and that I would we should go for katsuteishoku sometime.
Well, because I responded to that, he decided to do something funny with his next entry. He basically wrote that the other English teacher, the young woman, had to not read it. Then he proceeded to ask me what I thought about her, and mentioned that he thought she was really pretty. A bold move by him! Of course, I made sure that she didn’t read it at the time, and wrote my response to him.
But there’s no guarantee that she didn’t read our little conversation later out of curiosity, haha!
I’ve mentioned the twins before, but to recap, at one of my schools (JHS) there are two twin girls. One of them is the “story girl” I wrote about in my last teaching in Japan post, although she hasn’t written any stories since. She did actually get elected to the student council recently though, I couldn’t read the kanji but I think she’s going to be the treasurer or a position along those lines. She’s also the one who gave a speech in English at the cultural festival. A really motivated student.
I don’t really have any story about them in particular, just that I think these two are great. Story girl’s twin sister doesn’t seem to step up to the same degree, but I’ve marked her notebook before and she writes just like her sister.
They both want to go to the United States to play basketball, together, after high school. So I guess they want to go to a college that’s geared towards that. I don’t know how popular women’s basketball is in the US, but I think it’s really cool for them to have a goal like that.
My Phone Number…
This one is a recurring joke I like to use before tests. One class in particular, first years, I’ve used it several times now. Basically, at the end of the last English class prior to a test day, I’ll tell the students “For the test, if you don’t know the answers, my phone number is…” in Japanese and I’ll begin writing a phone number on the board, which usually gets some laughs.
After offering my phone number twice, I was in charge of giving speaking tests to these first years, so they would have to read something and respond to my questions, and then I would mark them based on how they did. And right before that, we usually give them a little prep talk “Eye contact, clear voice, don’t be nervous, et cetera”. It was also a perfect time for me to offer my phone number, in case they didn’t know the answer to one of my questions during the test!
This is the same class that has a picture of my high school self pinned to a board in their classroom. They’re a great class.
Halloween in Shibuya
In one of my third year classes, we had the class break up into groups and they had to describe a certain yearly event / holiday, which they drew from a pile. One group got Halloween. And instead of writing anything at all about candy, trick or treating, ghosts, or any of that, they opted to write about Halloween in Shibuya.
But not partying in Shibuya, or the costumes, or any of that. Instead, their entire paper was about “throwing down a truck”, because apparently in 2018 and 2019, a kei truck was flipped in the Shibuya area during the Halloween festivities. Honestly I found the wording hilarious, because “throw down” is the English they managed to come across in their dictionaries.
So THAT is really what Halloween is all about. You throw down a truck in Shibuya! They also wrote that it was a gathering of crazy people. Sounds like an awesome holiday, right?
Japanese Folk Tales
Since coming to Japan, I’ve learned about two folk stories featuring dangerous women.
First is Kushisake-onna, or “Slit-Mouthed Woman”.
The tale is that a woman wearing a mask walks up to you in the middle of the night and asks you if she is pretty. If you say “no”, she will kill you, as she wields a knife. If you say “yes”, she will take her mask off, revealing that the sides of her mouth are slit, extending all the way to her ears. She then asks you again if you think she is pretty, saying something like: “even now?”. If you say “no”, she will kill you. If you say “yes” again, she will slit your mouth to resemble her own.
Sounds pretty scary, but then there’s one other scary woman.
Her name is Hachishaku-sama, or “Eight Feet Tall”.
She’s an eight foot tall woman wearing a white dress and hat that has a very deep voice and preys on children. She’s tall enough to peer sometimes peer into their bedroom windows, and makes a sound wherever she goes, which is “po-po-po”. Seems kind of funny sounding from an English perspective, but I guess it isn’t for the Japanese. I guess if her voice is REALLY deep, it could sound pretty creepy. She’s a type of phantom and can even mimic the voices of family members in order to lure children out and abduct them.
Both are pretty cool stories, but anyways, I asked one of my classes which was more dangerous, and they unanimously told me that Hachishaku-sama is more dangerous. That’s my tie-in to teaching, haha. You should look up pictures of her, because there’s some pretty good art of her online. Just make sure no children are around when you do, I guess!
And that does it for this edition of teaching in Japan stories.
Just like with the scenery, it’s become hard for me to pick out what’s interesting and what isn’t, because I’ve gotten used to it all to a degree. So it’s hard to think of stories that you might enjoy reading.
That said, if you have any questions feel free to ask.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.