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  • Our 1st Blog
    of 2011
  • Japanese Culture
    School Lunches
  • Japanese Culture
  • My Car
    A Punk
  • Great Food
  • Top 10
  • Top 10
  • Japan
  • Small
  • Top 10
  • Top 10
    Japanese Athletes
  • Volunteering

  • Volunteer
  • Names

  • Charity
  • James's
  • New Game
  • Charity Concert
    Live Streaming
  • Charity Concert
  • Come to
  • Kids
    Summer Fun
  • Busy
  • Interview
  • Bilingual
  • Yukari
  • Naomi Ohba
  • Mutsumi Yabe
  • Halloween
  • Yuu Sasaki
  • Post Halloween
  • Fun, Fun, Fun
  • Chiharu Kaneko
  • Christmas
  • Christmas
  • Hatsumi Senju
  • Christmas Joy
January 23, 2011

I hope your New Year is off to a good start. I have enjoyed the beginning of 2011. The family had a relaxing holiday and I was able to get some school projects done. There has been lots of snow here in Nikaho. Our son has enjoyed playing in it. We are looking forward to 2011. I hope you are feeling the same as us.

Starting next week James will have a four week series writing about his experiences teaching at Japanese elementary schools. It will be fun reading about his cultural experiences, so please visit the site and interact with us. Until then, leave us a message on the recorder and tell us how your new year is going. We hope to hear from you all soon, if not this week.

January 30, 2011

When I eat lunch with elementary kids, this is what happens:  First, I sit at a desk which is too small and my knees don’t fit under it.  Next, I am complimented on how I use chopsticks.  “You are very good with your chopsticks” the sensei says.  Fortunately Canada has many sushi restaurants so I have had many years of practice.  Not all Canadians can use chopsticks though.  Next I empty my Kinoko salad on top of my rice.  I don’t like to eat just plain rice.  “Oh my goodness” everybody says.  “What are you doing?” everybody asks.  As the students discuss this with each-other, sensei comes over and tells me not to worry.  Now I realize you don’t mix rice with other foods in Japan.  Lastly, I wash out my milk drinking box.  You rinse this three times.  I put it on a tray upside down so the water drains.  “No, the students say, not there James”.  I learn a new lesson.  My milk-box goes in the milk-box drying rack for boys.  I had just put mine in the drying rack for girls!  There are so many things to learn about eating lunch with elementary kids in Japan.  Fortunately, I like all my school lunches in Japan.  They’re tasty.  They beat a sandwich any day!    


    1. What is uncomfortable about the desk?
    2. Why does James know how to use chopsticks?
    3. What is the first culture-mistake that James makes?
    4. What is the second culture mistake that James makes?
    5. What does “this beats a sandwich” mean?


    1. It’s a little bit small.
    2. Chopsticks are popular for the younger generation in Canada.
    3. His first mistake is that he mixes his rice with another food.
    4. His second mistake is that he put his milk-box in the wrong place.
    5. This means that Japanese school-lunches are better than eating a sandwich for lunch.  In a competition Japanese school-lunches would win.  Sandwiches would lose.  This is why the verb “beat” is used.  It means to win.

February 6, 2011

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

  Footwear or shoes is a very important part of Japan.  Americans and Canadians notice that there are different kinds of shoes in Japan.  Sometimes you have to take your shoes off, and sometime you have to put your shoes on.  I have to be careful not to make any mistakes.  DO NOT go inside someone’s house with shoes on.  Also, DO NOT use slippers on tatami mats. Finally DO NOT wear dress shoes in a school.  These are some of the rules.  Last Saturday I broke one of these rules but everyone was very polite to me still.  In America teachers would never wear running shoes but in Japan every teacher wears running shoes.  Guess what kind of shoes teachers wear in Canada?  The answer is starred * in the list below.
Are you good at shoe vocabulary?  Try this activity:

Match the shoe with the vocabulary word.

  1. Flip Flops
  2. Slippers
  3. High-heel
  4. Sandals
  5. moccasins
  6. Platform shoes
  7. rubber boots
  8. hiking shoes
  9. Running shoe (sneaker)
  10. army boot
  11. cowboy boot
  12. moccasin boots
  13. Dress shoes*

February 13, 2011


My Punk!

Last week I had a problem with my car.  I was driving and I hit something with my tire.  I got out of the car and listened.  Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.  I got a flat tire!  What should I do?  I changed the tire easily because I was not on a busy street.  Then I took my flat tire to the gas station.  They said they can’t fix it.  “Why not?” I asked.  The hole in my tire was on the side.  “We can’t fix this kind of problem,” they said.  That’s too bad!  “How much for a new tire?” I asked.  “About ¥9000” they said.  In Japanese you call this a punku.  In English most people call this a flat, but some people may say a puncture.  I learned my lesson.  Be careful.  Don’t drive too fast!  Signs in America and Japan are different.  Here are some examples.  Match the signs with the box on the right. The answers are at the bottom, scroll down. Bye for now.

February 20, 2011     



 Ramen is popular.  It is even popular outside of Japan.  Vancouver, where I lived for 5 years, has a few ramen shops.  Sushi, however, is extremely popular.  Vancouver claims to have over 200 sushi shops!  In Japan, I think ramen is the most popular Japanese lunch.  You can buy a bowl of ramen for about ¥600.  I have tried two Ramen shops so far.  One delivered to Sloan's English School, so convenient. The other was very cozy and close to the train station.  How do you feel when you sit down to eat a bowl of Ramen?  I feel happy.  I can relax.  Almost every day I feel quite busy.  It’s nice to have a chance to concentrate on the big soup bowl in front of me.  It’s hot.  It’s steaming.  It’s full, and I’m hungry. 

- Let’s eat! -

  As my bowl of ramen steams into the air, I begin to eat.  I try not to let the spoon fall into the bowl.  I pull the noodles out and let them cool a bit.  Then I eat them and suck in air to help cool them down.  Westerners call this slurping and it’s bad-manners.  In Japan, it’s okay.  Finally my bowl of ramen is finished.  I’m full!  That was delicious! I don’t like to pay for electricity but I don’t mind paying for ramen.

Questions: (answers below)

      • What is more popular outside of Japan, ramen or sushi?
      • What is more popular inside Japan?
      • What city had the 2010 Winter Olympics?
      • How many sushi shops are in Vancouver?
      • What is “Let’s eat” in Japanese?
      • How often do you get ramen delivered?
      • What’s your favorite ramen shop?
      • What do you call the noise you make while eating noodles?
      • What do you say in Japanese when you’re finished eating?  What can you say in English?
      • What do you call “ramen” in English?



  • Sushi is more popular.
  • Ramen is more popular, I think.
  • Vancouver held the 2010 winter Olympics.
  • There are about 200.
  • Itadakimasu!
  • ?your personal answer?
  • ?your personal answer?
  • The noise is called slurping.
  • Gochisosamadeshita! That was delicious or I’m full.
  • “Ramen” is called noodles.

February 27, 2011

Japan's Top Ten Places

Hello everyone,

  Did you enjoy James’ four week blog series? I sure did. For the next four weeks I will be choosing different subjects concerning Japan. This week we will be talking about the ten most popular tourist spots in Japan for foreign tourists. Can you guess where or what these places are? Make a list of your top ten places and see if we agree. I will tell you the top ten places with an audio crossword. Here is how you begin. Click the crossword’s “play button” above, and then click one of the sentences on the right-hand side of the crossword to listen to the hint. Then type in your answer. There are no spaces between a two-word answer. You can check your answers by clicking the “solve button”. You only have ten minutes to finish the game. Good luck and we hope you enjoy it!

March 6, 2011

Japan's Top Ten Movies

  I’m back again this week with our second audio crossword puzzle. This week’s topic is the top 10 Japanese movies. Can you think of any Japanese movies that should be in the top 10? I was surfing the internet the other day and found a list of top 10 Japanese movies. There are many sites that rank different movies in their top 10. I personally have some of my own favorite movies which are not on this list? For example, I think the movie “Departures” should be on the list. It is a wonderful movie that is heart-warming and full of human emotions. It is a movie that transcends borders and cultures. And at the same time it reveals the Japanese culture so beautifully.

   How about you? Tell us your top 10 movies and why you think a particular movie should be in the top 10. We would love to hear from you. To open the crossword puzzle, just click the play button in the picture above. Once the crossword is open, click the hints to listen to the audio. Hope you have fun!

March 27, 2011

Japan in Need

   It’s more than two weeks since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, but the recue work is far from over. Thousands of professionals and recue workers are still working around the clock to help the people, thank you. There are many brave people still risking their lives to contain the radiation in the nuclear reactors, thank you. Millions have given time and money, thank you.

The suffering is overwhelming!

Much more support will be necessary, please don’t forget.

The pain is great!

There will be more opportunities to help, please don’t forget.

You can help someway.

You can take a small step…



April 2, 2011

Small Steps

  It has been just over 3 weeks since Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and a tragic tsunami. Things are basically back to normal on our side of the country. Of course there are still food shortages and a good percentage of work has still not recovered from the effects of the disaster.

  I have talked with several people in our city and have asked if there are any opportunities to provide very simple, but practical assistance other than donating money. Many of us don’t have much money to give, but have time to help in other ways.

  It looks like there is one person who is driving over to the disaster area regularly and giving practical help. In the weeks to come I will use a small portion of our blog to provide information and volunteer opportunities for those interested in helping. I am not sure what it will look like, but be sure to visit us in the next few weeks to see what we are doing. 

  Next week I will also be back with the normal blog. We will continue the last two weeks of the audio crossword blogs. We hope you will join us for the fun. Until then, may you have a safe and rewarding week.

April 9, 2011

  Top 10 Healthiest Japanese Foods

We are back with our four week audio crossword series. This week you can test your English skills and knowledge with the topic of Japanese foods. Just click the play button above and start playing. You might be surprised with a few of the choices. Let us know if you think there are other Japanese foods that should be in the top 10. Tell us the reason for your choice. You can leave us a message on the recorder.

April 16, 2011

Top 10 Japanese Athletes

This is our last week of our four week audio crossword series. We picked Japanese athletes as our topic. We only used one name for each person. Sometimes we used their last names while for others we used their first names. If you are having a difficult time doing this crossword puzzle, please look at the list of names by clicking "here". The list will give you the name of the athletes that we did not use in the crossword. Click the play button above to start game four. Good luck!

May 1, 2011

It’s “Golden Week” here in Japan, but it is not a normal one because of the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. It is usually a time to travel or do something fun as a family. However, many people have canceled their trips to the Tohoku area and most families here are not going on long trips. I will be traveling to the tsunami hit area to volunteer for three days from the fifth to the seventh of May. Through Paul Yoo’s inspiration, I too, will be taking fruit to those in the disaster area. Many friends have given me fruit or money donations to take a load of fruit in my van. I will be doing the volunteer work through an organization called AG (Amazing Grace) network. I’m not sure what I will be doing, but I will do whatever is needed. I will inform you more on their situation after my trip.

On June twenty-four we will hold a charity concert here at school to raise money needed for programs in the relief area. We will let you know about the details in a later blog.

Below is an update written by Mr. Sato who has been working with the AG network. Sorry it is only in Japanese.

災害支援レポート、No 5













象潟キリスト教会 佐藤祐明

May 8, 2011

I was one of the 180,000 volunteers who went to the Tsunami disaster area in Northeast, Japan during Golden Week. I spent only two days helping the AG network. Most of the volunteers I met spent 5 days to a week there.

I loaded the fresh apples and other fruit that were donated by our students and friends into my van last Wednesday night. I left around 5:00am the following morning. It took three and a half hours to get to a church in Tsukidate City. Once I arrived, I helped sort clothes by sizes. After that we loaded the boxes of clothes in various cars and headed off to Kesennuma City. We took the fruit and clothes to a local Baptist church that was handing out free food and clothing to anyone coming by.

After a short time there we visited some home owners who had lost their houses in the tsunami. Volunteers were separating the rubble into various piles depending on the materials. Concrete, wood, wires and glass were among the various categories. We offered the remaining fruit and clothes to the neighbors to distribute them to those who could use them.

Hiroaki (the team leader and local pastor), Kenji (a fellow volunteer) and I left the other volunteers and went to the hardest hit area, Ishinomaki City. We loaded rubble and trash in a local neighborhood and took it to the dump. One neighbor provided us with a very special dinner in appreciation for our help. We traveled back to the church and day one was finished.

The next morning we headed back to Ishinomaki City and continue to load trash, rubble and straw into the truck and made many trips to the dump. Once the dump closed, Hiroaki took us to the worst hit area in Ishinomaki. I was in shock! It has been almost two months since the tsunami hit, but as you can see from some of the photos, it looks like the tsunami was only yesterday. It will take years to rebuild. My hope is that our school can help out on a regular basis in small ways.

I did not take many photos of the work because I felt it was inappropriate to be taking pictures. I was there to use my two hands and to do what was asked of me, nothing more and nothing less. It was a humbling experience, sometimes sad, but at other times I was grateful to see so many people helping each other.

May 15, 2011


I find names hard to remember. Japanese names are even harder to remember than American or Canadian names. Maybe it’s because I had never seen or heard Japanese names before until I came to Japan. I also find it challenging to know if a Japanese name is a male or female name. Below is a list of American names. Do you know which are male and female names? The answers are below the list of names.










May 22, 2011

Charity Concert

  We have been working really hard to organize a charity concert for the Tohoku relief effort. We have a fantastic classical and jazz guitarist, Mr. Hiroto Ito as our featured musician. You can go directly to his music site by clicking on his photo which is above. We will also have a couple of local groups performing, the “Windy Boys” which play folk music and the ladies chorus group, “Clover”. The ladies have beautiful voices. All the ticket and beverage proceeds will be donated to a relief organization. It should be a lot of fun, so come and join us. Please look at either the English or Japanese flyer to read the necessary information. The tickets are being sold in advance. If you are interested in attending, please call us or stop by to purchase your tickets. We look forward to seeing you and the family.









May 29, 2011

James is a Canadian, sometimes feels American, and is trying to become more and more Japanese.  Read more below and try the Canada, American, and Japan quiz:

“Even though I am a Canadian I often say ‘this is the American way’.  This is because America [Canadians call it the USA] and Canada are so close.  I have the same accent of English as the current ALT Neil Fanning and the former ALT Kristin Clumpner - Americans.  Canada is even in the same sports leagues as America.  We watch mostly the same TV shows and movies too.  Canada and Japan are not that similar, but we do have some things we share.  Canadians love sushi.   Also, origami is popular in schools! Oh, I forgot to tell you that Karate dojos are in almost every small town in Canada.  Yes, our countries do like many things about each other.”

Try my Canadian, American, and Japanese, quiz!


1. Who has more kilometers of roads, Canada or Japan?
2. Who has the tallest mountain?
3. Whose largest city has 5 million people?
4. Whose major cities can get as cold as -45 degrees Celsius?
5. Who won the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in Judo?
6. Can you name a Canadian baseball team?
7. Which city has the most sushi restaurants: Akita City, Vancouver, or Los Angeles?
8. Who has the top-ranked figure skaters?
9. What countries does Canada export to the most?
10. What are the major products that Canada exports to Japan?


1. Answer: Japan. It has 1,196,999 km; Canada has 1,042,300 km.

2. Answer: America 6194m, then Canada 5956m, then Japan. Mt.        Fuji as you know is 3776m.

3. Answer: Canada. The name of the city is Toronto.

4. Answer: Canada. Japan’s coldest temperature recorded in Hokkaido was -29 degrees.

5. Answer: Japanese Isao Inokuma won the gold and Canadian Doug Rogers the silver in 80kg.

6. Answer: The Toronto Blue Jays - World Series Champions in 1992 and 1993.

7. Answer: Vancouver has over 200 but Los Angeles wins with 276.

8. Answer: Japan. It has the best female figure skaters (Miki Ando, Mao Asada) and Canada has one of the best male figure skaters: Patrick Chan.

9. Answer: USA is #1; Japan is #3

10. Answer: 1. Coal 2. Canola (nanahana oil) 3. Lumber and woodpulp 4. Pork 5. Copper 6. Soya Beans 7. Wheat










June 5, 2011

  Earlier this spring James and I finished another game page for the kid’s game center. It’s the 3rd game page for level 2. The page is titled, “Days of the Week”. We have included a “Days of the Week” song from YouTube as well as the kid’s favorite games in the “Let’s Play” section. In the “Let’s Spell” section, we added audio to the picture hints in the “Wordscramble” game. It’s pretty cool. James wrote his version of the Momotaro for one story and in the other story wrote about a little boy going to see a baseball game. The stories are more difficult for the kids, but it seems to keep their interest. We use the stories for various purposes. Some kids take the challenge to try to read it faster than James, while others will practice writing questions for the story and asking their friends about the story.

  In the “Let’s Talk” section we have four activities that are great for listening and speaking practice. Even adults can enjoy this section. If you have any free time, try playing the games or doing the activities yourself. We are always trying to improve the game pages, so if you have any suggestions, please email us and let us know what you think. Click “HERE” to go to the new game page now. Hope you like it.

June 19, 2011

I missed my blog entry last week. I had lots of deadlines to meet for this week’s charity concert. We finally finished the upstairs loft, so people will be able to enjoy the concert from the second floor as well as the first floor.  You can watch the concert at USTREAM, if you can’t come. Here is the link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ses-english-class .


“Charity Concert a Success”

Friday June 24th! What a great night!
90 adults!
Teenagers came, too.
Children played and talked.
Naomi ran.
Micah surprised us with perfect hospitality.
Snacks eaten!
Beer servers were gentlemen.
Beer drank!
Great music!
Windy Boys played good old songs!
Clover Chorus sang like angels from heaven!
Hiroto was just amazing. He awed us all.
We had live streaming on Ustream.
Nijikai (the second party) until 1:00am
Sloan exhausted, but grateful.
James was tipsy, but on cloud nine.
We all slept well that night.

Thank you everyone for helping us raise 135, 060 yen for the Smile Kids Japan organization which works in the devastated region in Tohoku, Japan to help kids overcome the trauma and begin a regular life again.

You can see the concert again by clicking, “here”. The videos should automatically play. They play in reverse order of the performance.

Leave us a message and tell us what you thought of the evening. Until next time…



If you have been reading the blog recently it is evident to you that we have a busy summer with a few different programs. We are providing a three week “Talk-Time” program for adults, four times a week with each session being two hours long. For the elementary school children we have two “Summer Fun” mini camps at the school in the afternoons. Besides the special programs we will be busy with our regular classes for both adults and children. So as you can see we have a busy, but fun summer schedule.

   Therefore, we have decided to take a break from blogging this summer and we will be back in September. We hope everyone has a good summer, gets refreshed and does something enjoyable for a change of pace. We will look forward to blogging with you in the fall. Until then...

Well, I am back blogging this week. It was an extremely busy, but enjoyable summer of events and activities for our students. Both James and I took short family vacations. Another reason for enjoying the summer was that some former students came and visited us at the school. It is always fun learning what they are doing and how it is going for them.

Today I am interviewing a college student, Masanari Shibuya. He is from our city, Nikaho and his family lives in the Kisakata area. Masanari took English classes at our school for a year during high school. We had not seen him much until last year. Around the first part of October he came and asked to take private lessons for a few months. I asked, “Why?” He said, he was going to go and study abroad in the U.S. So today’s interview is about his time abroad. Below are some of the questions used in the interview. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the button above - “Listen to the blog”.

Masanari, welcome and thank you for coming and doing the interview with me.

Why are you studying English?

Why did you choose America to study abroad?

Where in America are you living?

When you first got to Washington, what was your housing arrangement?

How was that experience?

What was difficult in that experience?

What is your living arrangement now?

Tell us about your first week or two in the U.S.?

Have you made some good friends?

What do you think about going to a community college?

What is your dream for the future as it relates to the English language and your life?

Would you like to tell our listeners something else that you think they might enjoy that we have not talked about?

Masanari, thank you for taking the time and letting me have an interview with you. It is great to see you. Make sure you come back and see us, when you are visiting your parents again.


Working towards being Bilingual

I still remember meeting a man about 20 years ago. I can’t remember his name. It was during my first visit to Japan. He was Japanese. Of course, he spoke in his native language perfectly. Realizing that my Japanese was awful, he quickly changed to English with an impeccable American accent. He was truly BILINGUAL! I could swear he was American by listening to him.  What a wonderful gift!

Most of us want to be bilingual, however very few of us achieve it. I have been in Japan for 15 years and my journey towards being bilingual has been very slow. As a small English school owner in a small town, it has been a difficult journey towards providing a school for students who wish to be bilingual. We have had some success stories, and we are very happy about them, but they are few in number.

I would like to strive towards providing a school that gives students the opportunity to become bilingual in their future. I would like to accomplish this in the next ten years. Since that is my passion, I would like to interview several people in the weeks ahead who are bilingual or almost bilingual and ask them about their journey with the English language. We will talk about their hardships, frustrations and successes along their journey towards becoming bilingual. We hope you will join us on this journey. If you know anyone who might be interested in being interviewed, then please email us. I look forward to the weeks to come.


Yukari Sakamoto

  Today I interviewed, Yukari Sakamoto. She is a cheerful lady who is always bubbling over with enthusiasm and kindness. In the interview we talk about her journey towards becoming bilingual. Interestingly, she had never thought she was bilingual until after the interview.  I will let you decide for yourself, whether she is bilingual or nearly bilingual. Most of us would love to have her language ability; I know I would desire that talent.

  She has nurtured an enjoyment for English for many years.  Therefore, it has been possible to become fluent in English. Let’s go and watch her interview. Click "here” and the link will take you to Ustream and her interview.



Naomi Ohba

  This week’s interview is with Naomi Ohba. She is a wonderful lady with many talents. I have known her for almost 14 years. Our paths have cross over the years for one reason or another. We had a delightful interview which was over 30 minutes. Therefore, I have edited the original interview to less than 20 minutes. There are a few awkward transitions, but I think you can still enjoy what Naomi has to tell us about her journey towards being bilingual.

Let’s go and watch her interview. Click "here” and the link will take you to Ustream and her interview.



Mutsumi Yabe

  This is the third week in our Bilingual interview series. I found out that Mutsumi Yabe was back in Kisakata visiting her family and I wanted to interview her for our blog readers. The day I was going to contact her, she called me. I was extremely happy to talk with her. I gathered enough courage to ask her for an interview. She gracefully accepted the request and came to my office the next day. We enjoyed catching up with each other and then proceeded with the interview. Like always, it was a pleasure to talk with her. Click “here” to listen to her interview. We hope you like it.



  We will take a break from our bilingual interview series this week.  Next week, we will be back to interview another local person. 


SES (Sloan English School) wants to alert you to this month’s Halloween parties for the adults and children.  We will be putting in a lot of time, energy, and creativity to make them the best Halloween parties we’ve ever had.  So be sure to come and join the fun.  Sloan and I already have our Halloween costumes.

For the Kid’s Party, many of the kids are looking forward to some of the same games.  However, we will surprise them with a few new games. Excitement is in the air!

For the Adult Party, we will be wild and crazy.  Remember, you don’t need to speak English to join in all the fun.  You may ask: What will we do besides dress up in costumes?  Well, that is a secret!  Come and find out.  All are welcome.  For more information on the parties, click the buttons here Kid’s Party or Adult Party.



This week we will continue with our bilingual interview series. Next week, we will be back to tell you how the Halloween parties went, if I am not too tired. Well, let's begin this week's interview on bilingualism.

Yuu Sasaki

Yuu Sasaki is our interviewee this week. She is a special lady with many talents. Yuu is currently working for the planning department at city hall. A good portion of her time is working on the various exchange programs with our sister-cities. Please click “here” to learn more about her journey towards being bilingual.



2011 Adult Halloween Party

On Friday, October 29th we celebrated Halloween with over 20 people at Sloan’s English School.  This was our second Halloween party in our beautiful new building.

There were many nice costumes.  Lots of people carved pumpkins.  Nice pumpkin designs, everyone!  We took some pictures with the jack-o-lanterns.  You can see them in the slide show. Just click “” or click the button above. There were two very handsome cowboys at the party.  There were many beautiful [and evil] witches.  There was a bear in attendance, watch out!  Don’t worry, it wasn’t a real bear.  There was beer at the party.  It was real beer, the best in town, thanks to Daiki.  Mrs. Igarashi used a gun – be careful that she doesn’t shoot you!  A famous character from One Piece, Luffy came to the party.  Good job everyone on your costumes!  We dressed up and we had a great time.  Don’t forget to memorize the Halloween jokes. You can use them to make your English-speaking-friends laugh.   

Finally, I was amazed that even the adults could play like children and have so much fun. Life is hard at times, but everyone proved that laughter, joy and fun is important, too. Thanks everyone for making this our best Halloween party yet. We hope you like the slide show.

Next week, I will tell about the kids’ Halloween party. In two weeks we will be back interviewing people in our bilingual series. Hope you have a good week and until then …

* You can download any of your photos from the Halloween page after it is uploaded. For privacy issues only those who attended the party will be able to enter the page. If you do not have a computer, you can come to SES and I will give you the photos.



2011 Kids' Halloween Party

What a blast! The kids’ Halloween party this year was three hours of super fun! You might ask why? Well, we had 29 outstanding volunteers helping to make Halloween an enjoyable event for more than 80 children. If you participated in the event, you can click “here to see the photos. For privacy issues a user name and password are necessary.

We started preparing four weeks before the event. James made our annual Halloween belts for each child. This year the boys received a Spiderman belt and the girls received a witch belt. James also designed 15 Halloween bookmarks. Many of the volunteers helped in either making decorations, putting up decorations or helping with other tasks like translating and etc.

We started the fun with Neil leading us in the Halloween song. He was the perfect one for this. After that we had our yearly Halloween stations with two volunteers leading their group in an activity or game. The kids were in groups of 14 and rotated to 4 of the 6 stations after 20 minutes of excitement. We tried several new activities this year and were surprised with the success. At one station Masahiro and James had the kids racing around a track with a “Halloween Tiddly Wink Race”. Wow, that was wild and crazy! Mikiko and Andy had an old fashioned target shoot as the kids knocked down Halloween creatures with dart guns at another station. Neil and Toshifumi were in charge of the Halloween storytelling station where they read the story, “Go away Big Green Monster”. They also had the kids guess the number of candy in a jar with the winners pulling out as much candy as possible with one hand. Tamaki, Sakura and Stephanie helped the kids make Halloween creatures using shrink film. The kids picked a Halloween clipart and traced, and colored it before putting it in the toaster oven to shrink it. At the other two stations we had our usual “bite-the-dangling-apple” game and “ring-a-drink” game. I think there was something fun for everyone this year. We ended the night with the traditional “Trick-or-Treating” around the neighborhood. This year we had 7 households participating in the fun. I talked with the neighbors and they all enjoyed seeing the kids in bright costumes and everyone said they would do it again next year. We did not announce the Halloween costume winners at the party, but the vote is in and we have five happy winners. Great job, kids! Each winner received a 500 yen gift certificate.

We also added a couple of other activities at each station for the groups that finished early. So while a group was waiting for the other groups to finish, there was a Halloween quiz in both English and Japanese. It was a big hit. Kids received a ticket for a correct answer and it was later traded in for a treat. Another nice little activity was looking for the mystery creature which was hidden at each station. The kids that found the mystery creature were also given special treats. You can probably imagine the excitement and expectation that this created among the kids. Many of the children were trying to answer all the questions or looking for a given creature before the volunteer had even shown them what the creature looked liked.

Besides the station volunteers, we had 5 wonderful angels working to make the caramel apples and hot dogs. Every year many of the kids are always asking me if we are going to have hot dogs and caramel apples, and I always say, “Yes”. Well, we didn’t disappoint them this year. Both the caramel apples and hot dogs were delicious.
Finally, let me give a special thanks to Jinko Sato for taking all the wonderful photos during our Halloween fun. The parents and children will have much enjoyment in seeing their child in photos from our Halloween web page.
The 2011 Halloween party was a big success because of our special volunteers. We could not have done it without your help. After more than 150 hours of hard (but fun) work, I can say great job everyone! Thank you, thank you, and thank you all…

Mikiko Ishida
Ryoga Harata
Andy Sirkis
Yvonne Edel
Akemi Ito
Naomi Ohba
Yumiko Miyajima
Mrs. Sasaki
Hideaki Sasaki
Neil Fanning
Toshifumi Sasaki
Stephanie Sanders
Tamaki Ito
Chiharu Yabe
Sakura Yabe
Hitomi Carlson
Akane Wada
Mr. Igarashi
Mrs. Igarashi
Jinko Sato
Kimiko Ito
Mrs. Satouchi
Sasaki Family
Kasaya Liquor Store
Harata Family
Mashima Family
Mori Family
Mrs. Kimura
Sasaki Family (Lumber mill)





Today we will continue the Bilingual series. I am interviewing a former student of mine, Chiharu. She started classes here at SES when she was in high school. There was no high school class at the time, so Chiharu joined an adult class. The class was extremely difficult for her, but she never quit. Through today’s interview you can meet a girl who at first hardly spoke a word of English, but through time slowly improved her speaking and listening ability through hard work. She went on to study a year in Tokyo and then three years at a university in New York. She is currently working for an airline company in the states. Please click “here” to watch the interview. I was not able to interview Chiharu in person like the previous interviewees. We used Skype and had a video chat. I captured the conversation from my desktop using video capture software. Therefore, the video and sound is not the best quality; however I think it is acceptable. We hope you enjoy it.

Christmas Cards

This year we will be doing a special Christmas activity here. The activity is for all ages. As you know there are still many families struggling to live in the earthquake/tsunami struck Tohoku areas. Many still have no way to make a living. There has been little new construction. They still have many needs.

So, we will be making home-made Christmas cards. Besides writing a short message, we will be putting a gift certificate inside each card. We are looking for “Christmas card sponsors”. If you would like to give a gift certificate donation between 500 yen and 3,000 yen, then please contact us. A local pastor will deliver the cards to individual families before Christmas.

We will be making the cards here at the school on Dec. 17. I will give detail information later next week.


Christmas Parties
Kid's Party
Adult Party

Living in the States

I had the opportunity to interview Hatsumi Senju this week. Like always, it was a delightful time. Hatsumi wants to encourage the young people who are studying English here at the schools in Nikaho City. She said, “Anybody from a small town like Kisakata can become good at English. You just have to have a strong will to accomplish it.” She also said, “English is just a tool to do something. Once you master the language, doors will just open up for you and there are unlimited possibilities waiting for you to experience. When I was in junior high school, mastering English was my goal but once I got to the point where I could feel comfortable using it, there was another direction for me to go. Nowadays, I'm taking many workshops that I'm interested in (most of them are about energy/healing) in English and teaching them to Japanese people in Japanese. I am actually being a bridge between two worlds using two languages. It is just fantastic!”

Well, let’s listen to the Hatsumi and see what she thinks about her English journey. You may click “here” to watch the interview. We hope you enjoy it.

A Special Christmas Party

   We had a wonderful Christmas party this year. We played a Christmas version of “paper, rock and scissors and then started making home-made Christmas cards for families in the earthquake and tsunami areas. We made 50 very cute cards and put gift certificates inside each one with a simple message of hope. The kids worked for one and a half hours along with mothers and other adult friends. Great job everyone! We were also able to give a small donation for the relief efforts through everyone’s generosity.

   After lots of creativity with the Christmas cards, the kids played several fun Christmas games and ended the party smiling and full of joy. Everyone went home with some special Christmas cookies donated from the local cake shop in town. Thanks everyone for making this Christmas party so special.