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  • Happy New Year
  • Blog from James
  • Week 11
  • Week 12
  • Cooking Day
  • Week 13
  • Our New Staff
  • Mioki Wada

We took a very long journey this past December. Of course, our journey was not on foot. Instead it was by plane, train, and car. We went from Calgary to Osaka (through Narita), Nara, Tokyo, Morioka, and then to Akita. It was a bit like Basho's northern journey though much faster and easier, though he did not have two small kids to bring along. We felt like reaching Akita-ken was like coming home. We stayed with Tamaki and Yoshi and were so happy that we could see all our Nikaho/Kisakata friends. Celebrating during the Emperor's birthday and having a Christmas party so close to the end of the year gave us an opportunity to spend time with many of you. Wow! It was a wonderful time of good conversations, good food, and lots of smiles and well-wishes. Thank you everyone connected with this school! I'm back to work now teaching immigrants in our city who do not read and write English. I always love it when a Japanese student enters my classroom - though this is rare. I hope I can visit your country again - or at least make friends with Japanese students in my city, which will have to do for now!

Take care, 

James (and family)

p.s. Please enjoy some photos of our trip.

We will continue using confusing vocabulary in short stories to help you understand the differences in a story context. This week Jae is using except and accept. We hope you enjoy the anecdote. After you read and listen to it, please try to write your own anecdote using except and accept. If you are using internet explorer, you can record it on our online recorder. If you would like more examples of confusing vocabulary, please check out some of our 2013 blogs.

Living in Kisakata is a very interesting experience. Many people are curious about me, and I often get invited out for dinner. I always try to accept these invitations, except for when I have other plans or work to do.

These days I'm very busy, except the weekends where I try to relax. Except for days when I am tired and want to relax alone, I often go exploring and try to meet new people. The community has been very friendy so far and has hopefully accepted me as a member.

I enjoy most food here in Japan. Yakiniku and ramen are probably my favorites, but mostly anything is okay – except for shellfish, cooked fish and anything slimy (natto, for example). I hear that Kisakata has famous oysters. I would try them, except I have an allergy, and every time I try to eat shellfish I get sick. I need to accept that I cannot eat shellfish, even if it is delicious.

Around seven weeks ago, I moved into my new house in Kisakata. I really like it! There is a lot of lovely nature around my house. I have a small, round garden where I will try to grow some vegetables next year.

There are some problems about living in the country. There are a lot of insects around. There are also some really big, round beetles that always fly through my window. It can also be difficult to sleep with mosquitoes buzzing round my head.

Just around the corner is a really good restaurant called Hifumi. There are many other interesting places to eat around Kisakata. I really enjoy living here and hope that I can live somewhere around here in the future.

Hello everyone. Wow, what a cold winter this has been. Everyone always tells me that Kisakata is the California of Akita, but this is the coldest I've ever been!

Last weekend I was invited to a local event in Kisakata. Every year community members and some foreigners from different countries get together and cook (and then eat!) delicious foreign food.

This year we had a woman from China, a teacher from New Zealand and myself from South Africa.
The Chinese woman made delicious gyoza, the teacher from New Zealand made stuffed potatoes and spaghetti bolognaise. We also had Neil from America who entertained the children while we cooked.

I made two South African dishes. One is called Chakalaka. This is a spicy stew with onions. It can take a lot of time to prepare, but it's quite delicious. The other is called soesoutjie (su-so-tea), it's a stir fry made with tomato, onions and sliced pork sasauges. My recipes are a bit different to the original African recipes since they use Japanese ingredients, but are tasty and easy to make. Unfortunately the stew got a little burned, but the stir fry was okay.

Many people also asked me for recipes and so I've added them to the end of this blog.

After everything was prepared, we all gathered in the main room. Some of us introduced our countries and then we ate! There were a lot of people, but there was more than enough food for everyone.

Finally, some of us went for coffee in Konoura and chatted a bit. Overall it was a lot of fun. I got to meet some new people and share my culture with the community. I also had many chances to practice my Japanese. I had a great time cooking and look forward to doing it again next year.


Soesoutjie (serves 3-4)

3 large onions
500g pork sausage
3 eggplants
1 can tomato paste
Tomato sauce
3 green peppers


  1. Peel and lightly stir-fry onions in a large pan while slicing sausages.
  2. Add sausages and fry with onions until browned.
  3. Slice and add eggplant. Stir-fry until eggplant is soft and cooked.
  4. Add tomato paste and continue to stir-fry until cooked.
  5. Slice and add green peppers for color.
  6. Add ketchup if you prefer a sweeter taste.
  7. Salt and pepper as needed.


Chakalaka (serves 3-4)

3 large onions
3 eggplants
3 negi
500g beef mince
Beef roux
Peri Peri sauce (or chilli powder)
3-4 large potatoes
2 packs of mushrooms
3 large carrots.
1 can pineapple.
500ml water
About 3 tablespoons of flour.
Red wine or beer.


  1. Fry onions and mincemeat at bottom of pot until browned.
  2. Wash and chop potatoes and carrots. Add to pot.
  3. Add roux and about 250ml of red wine or beer, and about 250ml of water.
  4. Slice and add eggplant and mushrooms.
  5. Cook at a moderate temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until potatoes are starting to melt.
  6. Add 3 tablespoons flour, salt, pepper and peri/chilli to taste.
  7. Slice and add the leeks.
  8. Cook until leeks are soft and enough water has evaporated to make a thick stew.
  9. Add pineapple slices and leave to cool.

    10) Serve over bread or rice.


One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get in shape. There are two things I will need to do. One is to spend less time relaxing and exercise more. The other is that I need to eat less unhealthy food and fewer big meals at night.

When I was in Africa I was quite fit. I went to the gym a few times every week and ate fewer take out meals and sweets than I do in Japan.

When I lived in Noshiro, I became quite unhealthy. I ate less fruit and vegetables and went to the gym fewer times than I did in Africa. Noshiro had a lot of takeout restaurants too!

Nikaho is much better. There are very few take out restaurants and so I will probably eat less junk food. There are also fewer shops that sell foreign sweets and chocolates.

I definitely want to start jogging again, but I think I need to wait until there is less snow and fewer storms. By the end of 2014, I want to weigh at least 5kg less than I do now!

Hello everyone,

      It has been a while since I last had a blog entry. I have been busy getting ready for our new staff person. She finally arrived last Sunday and is meeting the students at SES this week. Therefore, I want to take this time to let her introduce herself. I think you will really like meeting her. You will find her self-introduction below in both English and Japanese.

      My name is Mioki Wada. I was born and raised in Ehime.  Before coming to Akita, I lived in Matsuyama, Ehime. I’m originally from a small city and moved to Matsuyama when I entered college. I love travelling. I have visited Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Canada, America, and Mexico.  I like to learn different cultures. I have only been to the west coast and New York City in America. I would like to visit other places in the future. I went to a community college in Seattle, Washington. It was a great experience for me to live in a different country. I also lived in L.A., California for two and a half years. Seattle and L.A. are very different, but I love both places. I enjoy cooking, listening to music, watching movies and hula dancing. I started to learn hula dancing when I was in L.A. Hawaiian music is so beautiful and relaxing. I learned a lot and also got to know many wonderful people through hula dancing. This is my first time in Akita and I’m so excited to get to learn about Akita. I hope to visit all the nice places in your city and look forward to living here. I would like to learn Akita’s dialect, culture, and traditional dishes.



Hello everyone,

It’s me again.

It’s been about 2 weeks since I came to Nikaho. The first thing I was surprised at was Mt. Chokai because I’ve never seen high mountains close to a town. I was also very surprised that the Sea of Japan is so calm. My image of the Sea of Japan is of it being rough and having high waves all the time. I love the beautiful scenery in Nikaho. Cherry blossoms in my hometown were already finished when I arrived here. However, in Nikaho, they were in full bloom. I feel so fortunate to have enjoyed cherry blossoms twice this year.

I have been able to meet the wonderful SES students. We had a picnic together last weekend. The weather was not perfect. We had a little rain, but we had a good time eating lunch together and talking. Everyone is friendly and very nice. I’m excited to meet more people in the near future.