Goodbyes Galore and the Drinking Gauntlet

I said my goodbyes to the middle schoolers last week. I said my goodbyes to the elementary schoolers on Wednesday. I said my goodbyes to various people, including the owners of a restaurant I used to frequent. And, I’ve said goodbye to my daily life as I’ve known it.

These transition periods are totally, fundamentally different than any other time. I have to focus on goodbyes and giving things away rather than when I’m going to casually hang out with someone. Every meeting might be my last. While I say to myself that I’ll see everyone again someday, more so than any other time in my life, I’m not sure that that’s true. Even most of my college friends stayed in the same place. If I do see these people again, it will take an effort.

With goodbyes also comes drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. Next Monday is a drinking party with my current teachers. Tuesday is a potential drinking / barbeque with friends. Thursday is a drinking party with a former group of English learners. Friday is with a bunch of parents of my now ex-students. Saturday is with a handful of ex-coworkers. The Monday after that is another party with people from the Board of Education.

My liver won’t thank me.

Less than two weeks and I’ll be back home in the states. Surreal. 寂しい。

Writing, Feelings

What do I write?

It’s not that I have nothing to write about. I have half-written posts on bullying and goodbyes and education. I have things to say about my N1 test, but we’ll wait for the results to see how it went (though, I’m not hopeful). But, I find myself stopping halfway through because the posts end up being a little too negative, and I don’t want to be writing about anything overly negative as I leave this town.

I can imagine being back in America, throwing around learning strategies and criticizing things that happened in Japan. Looking at them from a distance. Writing with time and space as allies.

But for now, I want to go out with high feelings, even if that means I’m not able to finish anything I write.

That said, I have been writing a lot. I have 3 goodbye speeches to write to my schools, and while my elementary one isn’t too long, my middle school one became really long. I should chop it down. I have to deliver it next Wednesday, my last day at the middle school, in front of all the students. I hope it’ll go over well. Lord knows I’ve seen enough kids and teachers doze off during other speeches. I’ve given my fair share of yawners too. Hopefully enough peer editors will prevent that.

With that, I bid ya’ll adieu. Hope next week brings a clearer head. And thanks for sticking around during this tougher time.

N1 on Sunday

No post this week. Aside from saying that I have N1 on Sunday and I hope you’ll wish me luck. Also, quitting Final Fantasy Record Keeper was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.

Have a good week! See you later, 鰐.

Tiny Pangs of Sadness

With only about a month until I’m out of this town, and out of Japan, I’ve been feeling more extremely about the small things. None of them really matter much, but they compound. Like encountering a small enemy in Dark Souls, not threatening by itself, but with two or three coming at you from behind, and nowhere to run, you can quickly take a beating.

Hanging up my clothes yesterday, I got a little teary-eyed thinking about how I’ll just use a dryer in the states and laundry will be over in an hour. Weird.

Whenever I encounter my girlfriend’s 10 month old niece, the niece starts to cry. What am I doing wrong? If it were any other baby, I wouldn’t mind, but my girlfriend really loves her.

On the other hand, kids at the preschool that were once scared of me now come up and hug me. How do I tell them that I’m about to disappear from their lives?

I thought I would be the first one to leave, but then the school nurse announces she’ll be taking a break from school in two weeks and probably won’t see me after that. Why is this so hard?

Tomorrow morning, I’m heading with some friends up north to Kesennuma in Northeast Miyagi where we’ll go to an island and camp and have a party for all the people leaving. I’m excited to see people again. I’m sad that it might be the last time I’ll see them. But with all these people, there’s still a chance we’ll meet up again.

In general, I’m happy. Life is pretty good. But, these feelings! Where are they coming from? I feel like a teenager again.

とんとん! Let’s Try Entering the Staff Room!

Another mini-post today. This one about entering the staff room at the elementary school.

Unlike America, the staff room (職員室) is very accessible. Countless times throughout the day, students knock on the door, ask to see a teacher or do something, and then leave. And, like many Japanese things, there’s a process to it.


The fabled door to the staff room. You can see the 職員室 sign to the top left.

On the door are two different papers, each letting people know how to use the door. They’re actually both the same message, but the one on the right is newer. Last year, because of the setup of the staff room, using the left door was more common. This year, with desks in slightly different places, the right door has gotten more use.

Let’s look at the left door.


A translation:

*knock knock* “Excuse me.” (Bow)
“Grade __ , {your name}.”
“I’ve come looking for Mr./Mrs. {teacher’s name}.”
“Excuse me.” (Bow)

The new and updated poster says much the same, but…


It comes with a few more clarifications at the top. Specifically:

  • Put your backpack down.
  • Take off your hat, jacket*, scarf, and gloves.
  • Only the person looking for a teacher comes in.

It’s not too complicated. Most students understand within the first month of being a first grader. The most common mistake is actually saying the wrong grade when a new year starts.

And that’s it. I hope you’ve found this tiny look into Japanese school life valuable.🙂


* = The word used for jacket here is ジャンバー, which is technically incorrect. The correct word is ジャンパー. It’s basically the Japanese equivalent of saying “nip it in the butt” instead of “nip it in the bud”, or “peak one’s interest” instead of “pique one’s interest”. It’s wrong, but so many people say it that you’re kind of a pompous dick for pointing it out.

N1 on the Horizon

On July 3rd, a little over two weeks away, I’ll be taking the JLPT with my compatriots.

準備できましたか? まあ、ね

I’ve been studying for the past week or so in depth, focusing on my weakest areas. Some sections, like selecting the pronunciation for a kanji, or reading comprehension, I haven’t had much in the way of problems. Admittedly, I am a bit slow with reading. Not sure how much I can improve that in the weeks to come.

My weakest section: choosing what grammar is correct. Example (from my practice book):

30) その日、私はホームに入ってきた電車に飛び乗った。ところが、電車は反対方面に走り始めた(   )。私は電車の行き先を確かめなかったことを後悔した。

1 ではない 2 ではないか 3 のではない 4 のではないか

The answer is 2. Actually, I’m not sure I got that one wrong. It seems so obvious. But, well, I’ve already written it. Might as well leave it there. Okay, what about this one?

31) (インタビューで)
A) 「お店で一番気を付けていることは何ですか。」
B) 「衛生管理です。お客さんに食事を(   )、衛生面の管理には、何よりも注意しております。」

1 お出しになり以上 2 お出しになるうえ 3 お出しする以上 4 お出しするうえ

I think the answer is… 3? Could be 4? Or 2? And the answer is… 3!! But I think I remember doing this problem in the past, so maybe that’s why I thought of the answer? I don’t know. The brain is mysterious. I just hope that this exact problem gets on the test, so I’ll know exactly how to answer it.😛

I’ve read so much Japanese at this point that, even if I don’t know the word or grammar exactly, if I read it aloud, a certain answer seems more correct. I suppose that’s a good thing? But there are a lot of grammar bits that I didn’t know. につけ after a verb, とあって meaning something like だから, たとえ as a way to emphasize a future ても・でも. All those いかに and いかにもs are starting to make sense. Lots of little things that are coming to light through study.

I’m not sure that I’m ready. Can’t really be sure until the test is in front of you. But studying this grammar has been very useful. Even just a little bit has made me realize it in normal documents sitting on my desk. I used to just glance over it, infer from meaning. Now, even with the sentence obscured, I have some inkling of what it’s doing. That’s definitely an improvement.

On practice tests, depending on what I’m testing, I’ll get somewhere between a 30% and a 80%. I still have a ways to go, but as long as I do a little bit every day, keep my Memrise streak going (currently 26 day streak), ask another teacher about a weird grammar point, and don’t lose myself to stress, I think I’ll be good.

If you’re also taking the JLPT this July, 一緒に頑張りましょう! If you’re not, but you’ll take it in December, and I fail this one and decide to retake it in December, then… そのとき、頑張りましょう!Never give up! Never surrender!