Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cooking Lessons in School... mmm...

It's now Spring Vacation... even though it's still randomly snowing outside!!!! brrr....

I am busy prepping 5 students for the Hokkaido English Challenge (English Conversation Competition) in the afternoons but my mornings have been free. The Home Ec teacher was kind enough to invite me and a few other teachers to learn how to cook a few Japanese dishes. The first dish we cooked was Sakura Mochi. (or cherry blossom sweet rice cakes) YUM!!!!

Sweet bean paste is put in the middle of the sugary mochi (rice ball) and then a salty pickled cherry blossom leaf is wrapped around the outside. You can only get these leaves during the cherry blossum season... so you see Sakura Mochi in almost every supermarket and convenient store now. It was surprisingly easy to make! and the salty leaf/sweet bean combo was deeeelish!

Then a few days later we learned how to cook Oyako Donburi which is a bowl of rice with a chicken/egg/onion concoction which you pour on top. YUM!!!

It was also surprisingly easy to cook. You just use this mini nabe funky style pan and fry up some onion, herbs, soy sauce, mirin and then add in the chicken... once its cooked you crack an egg over top and cover it for a minute before carefully pouring it on top of the rice.

We had a mini lunch party and ate our Oyako Donburi with some seaweed soup. YUM!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Brass Band Concert

Friday night I went to my school's brass band concert.

The first half of the concert they were in school uniform and played some beautiful pieces. They sure did sound professional - I guess it's because in Japan the club activities such as brass band practice for hours EVERYDAY!!!! even on school holidays!!!!!!

After intermission the lights dimmed down and they re-entered but when the lights came on - everyone was dressed in funky neon costumes!!!!!! some of the guys were wearing bridal veils, the trombonists were wearing big b-day cakes on their head, the conductor was a clown, others were in funky neon clothes with flowers, rad shades, frog heads and more!!! They even had little dances and kick steps they did during the songs! hahahaha....

They also acted out some of the pieces such as Harry Potter and a story about kids getting in trouble at school. It was very entertaining!!!!! Can't wait for the next show!

I can't post pics of me with my students cause of the privacy rules... but I thought I could at least show you a small video clip of the group playing from afar. ;-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Should I sell my soul to Yosakoi?????

Should I sell my soul to Yosakoi????? That was the question.

Yosakoi is a unique Japanese dance style which is energetic (SUPA-GENKI!!!!), flamboyant, over the top and full of awesomeness!!!!! Every June in Sapporo they hold a huge Yosakoi Soran festival which takes place over 4 days in Odori Park and around. http://www.yosanet.com/yosakoi/

When I heard about Yosakoi I knew I had to join!!!!!! One of my Japanese friends used to dance with a Yosakoi team at Hokkaido University so he took me to one of their practices with another JET. They happily welcomed us to their team and we instantly were HOOKED... The group was so fun, friendly and energetic AND it was good exercise. Every Tuesday and Thursday we went to practice from 5:30 - 8pm.

At 8pm everyone piles outside to chat and/or go to dinner.

We also went to a few enkais (parties) with the group... They have bi-monthly b-day parties and also smaller group parties. Our group had a make your own okonomiyaki party! mmmm...

It was all fun and games until we received the official 20 page Yosakoi team contract!!!!! woah. I had heard rumors of how serious and crazy these teams were in terms of practice and rules... but woah!!!! I had no idea. Starting at the end of March practices would be every week: Tuesday, Wed. and Thursday from 6-9pm and then on every Saturday AND Sunday!!!! Not only that but they have Sunday night open practice and also on Mondays... AND they have a 5 day camp which is mandatory where they go out to eastern Hokkaido to do some hardcore practicing from morning til evening and then party at night!

Even despite this rigourous practice schedule I was still determined to join! Our group is 130 members and everyone is soooo fun and friendly... but was I willing to sell my soul to Yosakoi?!?!?! That was the lurking question.

But then i got a message from the yosakoi boss:
"we are very very very very very serious. you must dye your hair black. but we want to dance with you."

oh crap.

the funny thing is that I actually thought it over and STILL wanted to join but then once reality struck me and I realized that it would take me probably 2 years and lots of bleach and frizzy hair to get back to a somewhat normal blonde color.

So in the end I decided to sadly say sayonara to Yosakoi. Although they insist that we join their parties and practices every once in awhile...(YEAH!!!) and since we already know most of the dance - after the big festival in June we can join the group and perform in the smaller festivals around Hokkaido for fun!!! whoo hoooo!!!!

But now I'm still searching for a less serious and more laid back Yosakoi group to join where I can dance as a genki blonde. ;-)

Student Recommendations

One of the teachers assigned the students to write an essay about ANY recommendations they had for me to see/do/listen to... Here's what they recommended!

TV Shows:
Drama- A White Tall Tower
Osama- about Japan and its history
Moya Moya Summers about a comedian who visits places in Tokyo

Okuribito - about a mortician
Mama Mia
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Saw - "It is a grotesque movie, but it is interesting"
Uchoten Hotel - comedy
Hoshi ni natta shonen - "is the story that a boy become an elephant tamer."

Oni-Gokko (pretend devil)
Zero (Fatal Frame)- a horror video game "According to a questionnaire, it is the second most dreadful video game all over the world."

Janne Da Arc - rock/ballade/pop group
Dreams Come True
Fukuyama Masaharu

Cartoonist- Saori Oguri who is married to an American and draws about their comical daily life
Cartoonist- Osamu Tezuka

Vegetable cake shop: Sweet Little Jane across from Sapporo Factory
Moms onigiri
Green tea parfait
Cheesecake from Shatoraze
Rice Burger at Mos Burger
Kinako-mochi (soybean powder and sugar with mochi)
Oshiruko - mochi soup with azuki
Macaroon "Many girls likes it because it is usually pastel colors. Its shape is cute."
Okonomiyaki- "A meat and vegetable pancake"
Natto- fermented soybeans
Ageimo- "made from potato and only fried. Some people add a piece of batter to."
Celery - "when you eat it, you become more healthy."
Dorayaki- "ann (bean paste) sandwiched between bakeries. Please try them at Sapporo Dora in Misono."
Ramen Salad
Taiyaki - "It is Japanese baked. It is formed like fish and has anko in the body."

Places to go:
Toya-ko Lake
Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kyoto - Yakushiji Temple "Thre is some bonzes and they preach us for free. Their preach is worse listening because it is very funny. It will change your impression of preach."
Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa
Hiroshima - Atomic Bomb Dome
Tokyo Disney Resort "Please go there and have a dreamy time."
Nara to experience a "Bonzes Sekkyou"
JR Tower - Movie theater on Thursdays
Gato-Kingdom - free shuttle every hour from Sapporo Station. It has a pool, spa, hotel, restaurant and sweet shop
Book off - used book store

Sunday, March 22, 2009

husband = prisoner

another fun mistake I made in Japanese was when I asked one of my friends how her husband was.... but I accidentally said: "shuujin" instead of "shujin".... I guess that one extra 'u' sound turns husband into PRISONER!!!!!! hahaha.... but she insists that it is the wives who become prisoners in a relationship. ;-)

you also have to be careful when talking to your aunt... aunt = oba... but if you add one extra 'a' making it obaa which means grandmother...

watch your vowels!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mmmm.... Butter corn kit kats!

mmmmm...... the Japanese are ingenious!!!!!

who would have ever thought to come up with such appetizing and delicious flavors for kit kats such as smashed edamame beans, buttered corn, green tea, or buttered baked potato?!?!?!??!

back in the U. S. of A. I only remember having original and maybe if they were feeling crazy some dark or white chocolate, or peanut butter.....

In Japan they kicked our creative socks off and have over 80 flavors!!!!! Here are just a sampling of the other flavors of Kit Kats you can get in Japan:

- Kit Kat Original
- Kit Kat Cacao 61%
- Kit Kat Sakura (Cherry blossom)
- Kit Kat Cacao 72%
- Kit Kat White
- Kit Kat Iced Tea
- Kit Kat Caramel and Salt
- Kit Kat Kinako (soybean flour)
- Kit Kat Wa Guri (Chestnut flavour)
- Kit Kat Green Tea
- Kit Kat Apple
- Kit Kat Orange
- Kit Kat Café Latte with Hokkaidō Milk
- Kit Kat Kiwifruit
- Kit Kat Strawberry
- Kit Kat Peach
- Kit Kat Gold
- Kit Kat Cantaloupe
- Kit Kat Triple Berry
- Kit Kat Mango
- Kit Kat Sweet Potato
- Kit Kat Azuki (Red Bean)
- Kit Kat Green Grape Muscat
- Kit Kat Caramel Macchiato
- Kit Kat Zunda - mashed edamame beans (only in Yamagata prefecture)
- Kit Kat Hascapp - Hokkaido blueberry (only in Hokkaido prefecture)

To read more on this hype of Kit Kats visit my friend Crystal's blog: http://thiessentwosomejapan.blogspot.com/2009/02/kit-kat-kingdom.html

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peace Corps Home Page

Some of my Peace Corps friends wrote to tell me that a picture of me and my students was on the Peace Corps home page.... oh deary me!!!! awww.... makes me miss Kenya.

8/2008 - 12/2008 Work Report

I haven't written many posts about my actual work at school, so I decided to post part of my work report for those of you who are interested to see what kinds of things I've been doing at one of my schools... but because I'm not allowed to mention my school or teacher's names, I had to do quite a bit of cutting. ;-) This work report is for my non-base school which I work at every Wednesday and Thursday.

Callie Sorensen ALT Work Report 8/2008 – 12/2008

Typical Class Schedule

Wednesdays: 2nd period- meeting with JTE, 4th period- 3rd year Optional English Class, 5th period- 2nd year Reading, 6th period- 2nd year (2-4) Writing

Thursdays: 1st period- 2nd year (2-7) Reading, 3rd period- 2nd year (2-3) Reading, 4th period- 2nd year (2-2) Reading, 6th period- 2nd year (2-6) Writing

3rd year Optional English Class

Every Wednesday I team teach in the 3rd year Optional English Class. Each week we select a different topic to talk to the students about. Some of the topics included: idioms, the differences between British English and American English, the origins of surnames, etc. We have also held holiday parties (Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas) to teach the students about American Holidays. The JTE and I have conversations and I lead the class in Listening quizzes each week to improve the students’ listening skills.

2nd year Reading and Writing Classes
In my 2nd year classes, I am given the first 10 minutes to prepare an activity for each class. In order to build a friendship with the students and to get them out of their seats, I have used this time to teach them many interactive English games. Some of these games include: Category Relay, Simon Says, Hangman, 20 Questions, Boggle and more. During the rest of the period I do model readings, vocabulary building, and add my own anecdotes.

Foreign Exchange Student

During September and October there was a Canadian foreign exchange student at our High School. I met with her for a period everyday to talk about her adjustment into Japanese life. We discussed cultural differences, homesickness and many other things. I also was invited for dinner at her home stay family’s house.

Japanese Study

During my free periods I have made time to study Japanese. I took the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in December. Learning Japanese has enabled me to communicate better with both the students and teachers at school. When I first arrived, the students were afraid to speak English to me because they did not want to make mistakes. Now, the students see me trying to speak Japanese (and making many mistakes) so they are less afraid to make mistakes in English.

After School/Lunchtime English Tutoring

During lunch and after school I helped students prepare for the STEP Test (Eiken) English exam. I also held mock interviews for 3rd year students who had upcoming English University Entrance Interviews. This helped them gain confidence and improve their English speaking ability.

I also met with a 1st year student, who was preparing to do an exchange with a family in Canada. I helped her practice some English conversations that she could use at her home stay. We also talked about some of the cultural differences between Japan and Canada/U.S.

Lunchtime English Conversation

When I am not busy with tutoring, I go to the 3rd year students’ classroom to eat lunch. We speak in both English and Japanese and talk about differences between America and Japan.

Callie’s English Corner

In early November I received permission from the Vice Principal to start Callie’s English Corner. I have a bulletin board in the hallway next to the teacher’s room. Every 1-2 weeks I change topics. I post various news articles, photographs, stories, cartoons, lessons on American Sign Language and more. Some of the topics I have done include: Obama, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

HEC (Hokkaido English Contest)

In early December I started advertising for the Hokkaido English Contest. I am recruiting 1st year students to take part in the annual English Contest which will be held in March 2009.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MFB enkai (parrrrtay!)

My hip hop group, MFB, decided to throw a party after our performances.... so I offered my house up for a sleepover/dance party!!!!! ;-)

TOMOPP is a chef so he brought along his big german knives and cooked us up a feast!!!! mmm... I made up some good ole American food for them and another girl brought subway for me! haha...

We stayed up til about 5am eating, chatting, eating, playing pictionary, and then my living room became a disco dance floor!!!! Those pics I better not show on here ;-)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another MFB Hip Hop performance!

We had our second performance at Maruyama Koen in Sapporo last Saturday. It was a smaller more chill event than the last... so it was a lot of fun!!!

There were a wide variety of performances such as cheerleaders, poppers, a crazy awesome singer/actor, and more...

This video is of the Butchers cheerleading squad. 2 of the girls in Butchers are also in MFB - our hip hop group. I asked them if they perform at sports events and they said they cheer for American Football!?!?! Hrmmm.... I didn't know American Football even existed in Hokkaido!

Also... here's video clips of our performance. We had taken a 3 week holiday off from dancin and then only met twice before the performance so we were a bit rusty. haha...

And then the highlight of the evening for me was this amazing one man act!!!!! Hahah... it gets better and better so keep watching. What style! What moves! What passion! What grace!!!! I think I met my soulmate ;-)

Japanese Graduation

Last Sunday, March 1st was the national day for high school graduation in Japan.

The ceremony itself wasn't so different from the US graduations, but the one thing I loved about Japanese graduation was that it was SUPER efficient. There were 360 students graduating from my high school and the ceremony was only an hour and a half!!!!! (oh yeah... and the Principal was decked out in a penguin split tail pin striped suit!)

Instead of having each student walk on stage to receive their diploma, they had a fast name call and the students stood at their seat and yelled out: "HAI!" (yes!) After the names were called from each homeroom class (total of 9) one representative went on stage to receive a diploma from the Principal.

Everyone wore little pink flower pins which had the kanji for Graduation and Congratulations. Also, each homeroom class had different Hawaiian looking flowers which they put in their hair or pinned on their uniform. Some of the class clowns brought reindeer antlers and other little props as they entered the gym.

At the end of the graduation ceremony the senior students turned around and sang to the Junior students. The song is known as Hotaru no Hikari. 蛍の光 and the lyrics of the first verse are: "We studied hard using the glow of fireflies in summer and by the light reflected through the window by the snow in winter. Now the days have passed and it is a time to say goodbye." At which point the students started crying. Awww... The 'window' in the song is used as a symbol of their school days because it reminds people about the activities that went on inside and outside of the windows during their school years. Along the same lines, same-year graduates of a school are called: Dousousei 同窓生 - Dou同= same Sou窓 = window 生Sei= student - which means students who studied together beside the same windows.

But it was sad saying goodbye to the students. A few introduced me to their parents and grandparents... One of my student's grandmother gave me deepest and longest bow I have ever seen. She was so sweet!!! I was invited to many houses for dinner. :-)

I became very close to some of the senior students. They came everyday to my desk at lunch time and after school to have me mark their English compositions and more importantly to chat!!! They were my closest friends at the school and it will be so different next year without 'em. :-(

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is that a poo hat I see????? (next to maid outfits of course!)


I am never ceased to amaze what treasures I will find while shopping in Japan!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hina Matsuri (Hina Doll Festival)

Hina Matsuri is an event for those who have young daughters. It falls on March 3 (Tue.) and before this day, parents display beautiful hina dolls at home to pray for their daughter’s good health and happiness. Hina dolls traditionally consist of 15 dolls, including an emperor and empress. All dolls wear beautiful ancient costumes. Usually they are displayed with special snacks (hina-arare), unique sake (shiro-zake), special sweets (uguisu-mochi and sakura-mochi), and flowers (momo and nanohana), which are all featured during hina-matusuri.

For more on the Hina Matsuri: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinamatsuri

When my mom and I visited one of my student's houses, they put their Hina Doll display up early for us! They sure did put America's lil G.I.Joes to shame. ;-)

Callie and Mama in Sapporo

We had fun while in Sapporo too! It was my mom's Bday while she was in Japan so a few of my Japanese friends came over and we threw her a surprise Bday party!!!!! We also gave them some root beer to try - it was hilarious watching them try to drink it since root beer here in Japan tastes just like their medicine! hahah...

We also visited a few teachers and students' houses for dinner but sadly I'm not allowed to post pictures of students or teachers anymore. :-( sniff....

We had a few snow storms while in Sapporo... One morning we had to jam the door open thru the snow to get out! Isn't my snow shovel amazing???? Now I understand why they make them like mini wheel barrows.

Here's also a picture of the snow pile up and crazy icicles outside of my window!

We spent most of our time in Sapporo shopping in the millions and millions of crazy shops, eating, and going to the fun neon arcades!!!

We did manage to squeeze in a few tourist sights such as the clock tower and Akarenga - the government office building.

Bye mamacita!!!!!!

It was fun!!!!!!!! I'll miss ya!!!!!! xoxo

Callie and Mama in Otaru with Marimo and Sushi

The day before my mom left we headed out to Otaru - a cute little port town which is a 30 minute train ride from Sapporo.

We strolled along the snowy canal...

This seagull was trying so hard to catch this artist's attention by posing for him... but he sadly took no notice. Poor gull.

No trip to Otaru would be complete without some sushi... so I took my mom to her first kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi shop! mmmm.... I luuuuuv kaiten sushi...

the prices of the sushi depends on the color of the plates... ranging from $1 - $5 per plate.

To keep warm we popped in and out of the 100's of glass blowing shops, fish markets and souvenir shops...

We found this awesome shop while strolling around. Who wouldn't want to enter this place which had um... i think a half naked woman in the shape of the island of Hokkaido!?!?!?! hahaha... ahhhh Japan!!! classic.

Also... below the Miss Hokkaido was none other than my best friend - MARIMO!!!!!! yeaaaaah!!!