November Highlights

I’m partially lazy and partially prefer this method of highlighting things that happened in November. This month went by SO fast! It’s so much cooler outside and it’s harder to get up in the morning because my bed is so warm and cozy. The sun rises much later and also sets much earlier which is not helping with the feeling of wanting to enter hibernation.

November 2 – 4 : Road trip to Kumamoto with Tori

On Saturday, November 2nd, Tori and I drove from where we live all the way to Kumamoto which took about 3 hours. Our goal is to visit all the Kyushu prefectures. If you haven’t already watched it. Here’s us being us.

Image result for kyushu prefectures map
This is a map of Kyushu. We live in Oita prefecture. So far, in addition to Oita prefecture we have now visited a small portion of Kumamoto prefecture.

November 5 : Finally started running again

Going to be completely honest, I’ve been SO lazy these past 4 months relative to my lifestyle back in Toronto. My goal has always been to run a half-marathon with a good time. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do a full-marathon (but one can dream). I tried running in August but with the humidity I really did not enjoy it. The weather now is much cooler, the only downside being that sunrise is at 6:30 AM and I personally do not like running in the dark. Over the past few weeks I’ve found some decent running routes!

November 6 : Asked my English teacher if he knew where I could play community volleyball

So many of the students at my schools are involved in sports. I miss playing sports and being active. Running is fun and all but it’s a different kind of enjoyment for me. I knew that my english teacher’s daughters played volleyball and he’s lived here forever so I figured he would know of some sort of community volleyball team that I could join. This was a huge step out of my comfort zone because a) I can’t speak Japanese and it was unlikely that the team members could speak English and b) The last time I played volleyball was like Gr.8 and I was kind of terrible.

November 8 : Played with his sister’s team and continued to play every Tuesday/Friday after

Turns out, his elder sister played for a community team. They practice twice a week at some of the local elementary school gyms. Most of the players were parents of my students or had children that were my age. They were super welcoming and even with our limited Japanese-English abilities, volleyball is a team sport after all and everything is teachable through actions and monkey see, monkey do. I’ve been having so much fun playing with them! They’re all so nice and helpful 🙂

November 8 : Started reading Pachinko (on Kindle)

“Pachinko is the second novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan, it is the first novel written for an adult, English-speaking audience about Japanese–Korean culture” – Wikipedia

November 11 : Started reading Sapiens (paperback)

“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book by Yuval Noah Harari, first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011 and in English in 2014. The book surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on Homo sapiens.” – Wikipedia

This is what I’ve been reading when I have some time between classes

November 14 : ALT training in Oita City

Usually ALT training is 2 days, but thankfully they squeezed everything into 1 day. All ALTs (from JET) in Oita came with their English Teachers to this training. It was mostly centred around the theme of having a global mindset in the classroom. We participated in a workshop where we were randomly mixed with other english teachers and ALTs to create a lesson plan, taking into consideration a global mindset. Afterwards, we had to present our ideas to each other. At the end, we had a keynote speaker present to us about how to encourage student participation and different classroom teaching methods.

Note taking during the keynote speech

November 16 : Taketa Bamboo Lantern Chiriraku

On Saturday, November 16, Tori, Kayla and I drove about an hour to Taketa. We parked further away from the main streets and took a shuttle bus over for 200 yen. I joked that there were more people in attendance than people that lived in our town. Tori and I brought back 80 mikan for 780 yen!

November 17 : One of the ladies from volleyball took me to Saiki to an open street market with her 7 year old son

The day before (November 16), one of the ladies from volleyball invited me to this street market with her in Saiki. I had no idea what this was but it turned out pretty cool. She has children that are around my age, along with her 7 year old son, but they currently live further away in bigger cities. I was a little bit intimidated because I wasn’t sure what her level of English would be. I’m really self-conscious about going out with Japanese people by myself because my knowledge of Japanese is super low and basic. Turns out, her English is really good! Her son kept trying to talk to me about Pokemon, which I would have loved to chat about but his mom didn’t know enough about Pokemon to translate. We ate samples of food on the streets and had some spicy curry for lunch. It was really funny watching her son eat the curry since it was much spicier than most Japanese food and he had to drink lots of water.

November 22 : Hiked with 1st and 3rd year students

The 2nd year students had gone to Kyoto and Nara. On Friday the school let them have the day off because they had a really tiring day. While the 2nd year students were at home sleeping, the 1st and 3rd year students hiked Mt. Hikodake and my English teacher asked if I wanted to join them. I said “Hell YEAH!” (Well not really) But, who wants to stay at school anyways. The students had to bike 4km to the start, hike 11km up, 11km down and then bike 4km back. It was a paved road all the way up, but some sections did get steep. The first year students were super excited and were running a lot of the way up, while the third year students were constantly complaining that they were tired. I had the opportunity to hike with different groups of students since some of them sped up or lagged behind. They asked me a lot of questions they learned in class like “What’s your favourite___.” Some of them sang their favourite songs for me and we even played the classic kick the pinecone/rock down the path. It was a cold day and the teachers were worried that we’d get rained out so we hiked half way up and then half way down. So in total, the students biked 8 km and hiked 11km.

November 23 : Went to a local traditional festival

One of the elementary school english teachers invited us to a local festival that apparently has been happening for a very long time. I can’t recall how long but it’s a traditional festival that involves Tengu and another creature who’s name slips my mind. The elementary school students participated by playing the taiko (Japanese drums), playing the flute and other activities. One of my first grade students put in so much effort to talk to us for over an hour! We were so impressed with his ability to hold a conversation despite it being difficult for him. You go Ryuki!!

November 25 : Nikola arrived in Tsukumi

We made sushi rolls for dinner and ate them before I could take any photos. A trend has begun to occur where we eat before we take photos.

November 26 : My Birthday

We made a cake! Too much cake… and then proceeded to eat it before we actually got a decent photo.

Happy Birthday - 誕生日おめでとう - Tanjōbiomedetō

November 27 : Très français

Attempted to make crepes and macarons. Très français. Maybe 3 out of 30 macaron turned out looking pretty. For the next attempt I need to add more food colouring gel, somehow dry them out more (it’s hard with the humidity in the air) and get a bigger oven (not possible). The crepes were fine though!

November 28: Tori’s Birthday

Happy Birthday x 2 - 誕生日おめでとう x 2 - Tanjōbiomedetō x 2

Tori’s English Teacher gave us cake… it was super delicious. We also drove way too far in the dark for Indian food but it was worth it.

November 29 – December 1: Fukuoka

Nikola and I went to Fukuoka for the weekend. This will end up being its own blog post or maybe video. Stay tuned for that 🙂

In conclusion, overall November felt like it went by so quick. It’s December now! Happy December! We can play Christmas music all day every day! I’ve lived in Japan for just about 4 months so far and it’s been pretty awesome. 10/10 would recommend.

Lots of love and cake always,


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