No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

09 November, 2010

かきKaki Persimmon

Persimmons are not a fruit I grew up with in Oregon. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even laid eyes on one until we arrived in Japan. I avoided them through my first year in Japan because they looked strange and I didn't know what to do with them. Then, someone gave me a slice. They are sort of an acquired taste because they aren't super sweet or juicy, at least this variety anyway, but they've grown on me. James took a bite a while back and couldn't stomach it because he expected it to be a tomato (being color blind has it's drawbacks).

I love the starfish-like design on the inside. And the way they hang heavy on all the trees around Tokyo right now. My Japanese teacher plucked a couple off her tree for me this week. Who knew a rose (or kaki) could grow from concrete?

08 November, 2010


Starving for nature, James and I made an overnight trek to Nikko during our Fall Break. Nikko has been the Japanese center for Buddhist and Shinto mountain worship since before 1600. The national park holds hiking trails, onsen, and wild monkeys. But I didn't have the stamina for any of those adventures this time around, so we just ambled among the narrow alleyways and mountain paths enjoying the scenery.

I don't know what this purple berry is, but it's so beautiful against the red shed.

Mossy old trees that beckon you to hug them...

The trees were just beginning to change into their autumn coats.

Beautiful Japanese Maple (もみじ)

"Honey, what should I wear for our weekend in the countryside?"
"I hear all the country folk wear hot pants, stripper boots and a hair weave."

I stealthily took the picture of James above just to get the girl in the hotpants. A nice couple noticed me taking James's picture and offered to take our picture for us. The train station doesn't usually get the tourist love!

05 November, 2010

International Schools

Not my photo of Kobe

Something we rarely talk about on here is our work life and the international-ness of it. I guess it's become the only way we know after nearly 5 years of living overseas and teaching in international schools. After a while, you forget to notice that people are from different cultures, or that you just might stick out a bit.

A few weeks back, my school sent me and 4 co-workers to Kobe for a 3-day language arts conference. Our school uses the International Baccalaureate Organization's Primary Years Programme, a world renown curriculum that focuses on inquiry based instruction and global responsibility. The program is used in hundreds of schools in developing and advanced countries. The conference was a meeting of educators who work in countries across Asia but hail from around the world--New Zealand, China, South Africa, Australia, Canada, America, Holland, Germany, and many more. I didn't think much of it at first, but as the conference progressed, I was struck by the notion that so many people, with vastly different experiences and depths of knowledge, can come together in one room to talk about the best way to educate the world's children.

As the economy has changed around the world, so too, has the makeup of our school. International schools are usually know for diverse populations, but as companies seem to be reducing their number of overseas workers, the enrollment of our schools change. In prosperous times, our school is widely diverse. In times of economic uncertainty, our school accepts greater numbers of Japanese and Korean students to keep the numbers steady. But even with the changing enrollment, my class of 24 students still represents 13 countries including Botswana, Pakistan, India, Finland, Italy, Norway, Germany and South Korea. The girls are amazing in their willingness to accept each other, similarities and differences included, with open arms. One of my little girls wrote recently in her journal about our newest student who arrived from Thailand: "Emmi seemed a bit shy at first. My goal is to make her feel welcome at Seisen. I will talk to her to make her feel comfortable. And I can collect more information about her culture." Was anyone else thinking like this as a seven year old? Wow.

Anyway, that's all I really have to say about that. We feel pretty blown away sometimes.