Friday, June 29, 2012

Yesterday we left Nara for a day in Kyoto.  We had completed 2 more school visits and then a visit to the University with a tour from some of the students.  The first school, Koutou Jr. High, was up in the mountains, so we had a very short visit to Enjo-Ji Temple before arriving.

The students greeted us at the door - they also have a very small number of students, only 40.  Then we attended different groups for activities in:  Judo, Calligraphy, and Koto - a musical instrument of Japan. I attended Koto and learned how to play the instrument. It was very difficult to learn, but beautiful to listen to.  After this we learned some Japanese manners of how to bow and serve tea!

 At Tonan Jr. High we learned about their recycling program and roof garden that grows cucumbers to help shade the windows from the sun.

In Kyoto, I was able to see many of the sights and did so much walking.  It is a very large city with a lot of history - it was also a capital of Japan at one time!

Now I am back in Tokyo fro the joint conference with US and Japanese teachers.  We will be discussing what we learned and projects we hope to complete on sustainable development.

Question:  What project would you like to work on with Japanese schools?  Areas we are looking at are: the enviroment, human impact, culture, world heritage, peace, and students' responsibility.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Visited the Nara City Education Center yesterday - a state of the art center for teacher training and resources.  They even have a planetarium - quite impressive.  Nara does quite a lot with World Heritage as they have many areas that are designated as a World Heritage sight.

Then we visited Ichijo Municipal High School and got to participate in an English Class with the students.  They had to ask us questions in English - very fun!  Afterwards we observed the students cleaning the school.  Students take pride in their schools and all Japanese students clean their schools.  Then it we observed several afternoon afterschool activities - one was a really amazing dance program.

Some of the activities we saw were: dance, fencing, baseball, soccer, swimming, volleyball, judo, band, handball, and badminton. Students are often at school till 7pm.

Question:  What after-school activity would you like to participate in, if it was offered at our school?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Been a busy couple of days - I'm now in Nara which is fairly close to Kyoto and Osaka. We did a tour of Nara Park yesterday - had an amazing lunch and then visited Nara National Museum. Next it was onto a tour of Todaiji Temple -which is  surrounded by deer. Also just completed my homestay with a very nice family in a mountainous area about an hour from Nara - very beautiful. More schools tomorrow!

Question:  Why are there so many deer in Nara? (go online to find your answer) -  Answer in the comment area below.  

Friday, June 22, 2012


Visited 2 amazing schools yesterday - Ochanomizu University Elementary and Jiyu Gakuen.  Lots of activities with the students.  In Jiyu we even helped to build a bench!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Have been in Tokyo for a day now - this is a city of 30 million people in the city and surrounding area. It is very densely populated so there are many high rises for all of the people.  The hotel I am in, Keio Plaza hotel, has 2 towers with the tallest tower having 47 floors! Here is the view outside my hotel window.

We then had a few meetings an incredible Japanese lunch - I had pork and noodle lunch and had to eat the whole thing with chopsticks!  I actually did it without spilling a thing!

Then it was off on a bus tour of the city.  We went to a Buddhist shrine called Asakusa - very elaborate and beautiful.  There was also a incredibly large shopping area nearby - with hundreds of little shops from food, to trinket, to clothing. Then we went to the Imperial Palace - Japan still has an emperor (it is its 125 one and they all are descended from the same family).  The Palace was so beautiful with lakes and green trees throughout the grounds.  Finally we ended up at an area called Ginza - which is suppose to be the most expensive shopping area in the world!  Incredible amount of stores and people. We ended up having to take the Japanese subway back to the hotel - quite an experience!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Itinerary

I fly to San Francisco and meet up with the other U.S. teachers on Tuesday at the airport.  We leave for Japan at 1:30 pm and arrive in Tokyo at 4:15 pm the next day!  We'll be in Tokyo till Friday, June 24th and then fly to our host cities - one group will fly to Hiroshima and the other group to Nara.  I am in the Nara group.

In Nara I will be completing a home-stay with a family from the town.  Then we will spend 5 days in the town. Nara was once the capital of Japan and is known for its ancient temples and shrines as well as the deer! Go here for more information on Nara.  Nara is located near Kyoto and Osaka.

After Nara, we head to Kyoto for a day of sight-seeing.  This was also once the capital of Japan and has a great number of beautiful temples!

Then it's back to Tokyo via the bullet train for a wrap-up conference with all the teachers from both the U.S. and Japan!  I leave Tokyo on July 2nd at 4pm and arrive in Phoenix at 3:30 on July 2nd!!

Question of the day: If you had this opportunity, what would you like to see or do in Tokyo? (hint go to this link to learn more about the city).  Write your answers in the comment section. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Japanese Art

I leave for Japan in only 4 days on June 19th!  This week I have been at school for our summer school program and students are learning about Japanese art and culture.  We explored two main areas of Japanese art - Kirigami and Origami.  They are somewhat related, but Kirigami involves not just folding, but cutting as well.  In Japanese, Kiru means to cut, Ori means to fold and kami refers to paper.

For resources on both Kirigami and Origami click on the links here and here.

Students completed a friendship tree from the Kirigami and Origami art they created for the students of Japan

Konnichiwa from Howard Gray School 

What was your favorite part about the Japanese art that you learned about this week? (Write your reponse in the comment section).