Summer 2019

Summer 2019
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reality Check

Yesterday, I had a reality check. I was attending an English teachers' meeting and discovered something very disappointing. Teachers lie! I had set the ethical standards for being a teacher very high. Let me be more specific. I had set the ethical and moral standards for being a JAPANESE teacher very high. I was under the impression that I was living in a country that viewed education as a priority. I had thought that education in Japan was something to be respected and the educators were the ones holding the torch and leading the way. I believe that the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss” comes into play here. I was ignorant and I was bliss when I attended these English teachers' meetings.

The meetings occur about five times a year. Only Japanese is spoken. I find that kind of ironic to have only Japanese spoken at an English teachers' meeting. Well anyway, I would sit in the meetings and thumb through the materials that were given. I didn’t have a clue as to what was being said. I nodded when everyone nodded. I smiled when everyone smiled. Most of the time my mind was a million miles away figuring out a woodworking project or something else along those lines. What made the meeting, I attended yesterday, different was that I had an interpreter.

The teachers I work with rattled on about how they did the lesson plans and led the class. That would be great if it were true. I do the lesson plans and lead the class for every school except one. These teachers were lying in front of the Board of Education and sadly, in front of me. As they continued to boast about their imaginary achievements, I smiled to myself. Here’s another saying that appropriately applies, “The proof is in the pudding”. The school district continues to see very little improvement in English education. It’s no wonder. The teachers lie to protect themselves and cheat the students out of a proper education they deserve. Those are rather strong accusations to be making against someone you can’t communicate with. Perhaps, but I witnessed it with my own eyes and ears.

When I shared this experience with Erika she said that I should have voiced out at the meeting. I’m afraid that wouldn’t have helped matters. My interpreter is Japanese and she wouldn’t have translated what I had to say. It would have been considered “inappropriate”. If I had said something, I would have created tremendous friction between the teachers and me. I’m as guilty as the Japanese teachers. We are both protecting our jobs. Of course, the ones who are suffering from the consequences of our actions are the children.

Erika reminded me that some of the teachers in America are just as corrupt. I told her that I agree and that was what troubled me the most. I left America to leave that sort of behavior behind. Sure, I understand that in business and in government, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, corrupt behavior exists and it’s a fact of life. My reality check was to find that this kind of behavior exists in education…Japanese education.   George

Monday, June 16, 2014

Another View

I was looking at some pictures I had taken last year and discovered that I had not posted these photos. These are photos of what I call, the “back side” of Mt. Yufu. Tsukahara is located on the opposite side of these views. I find it interesting to compare the stark scenic contrast between the Tsukahara side verses the Yufuin side. Actually, this is the view that a hiker would likely see before attempting to climb the volcano. The climb normally takes about 90 minutes. Our excuse for not climbing Mt. Yufu is that dogs would have a hard time with the sharp rocks and boulders along the trail. We only go where the dogs can go!
This side of the volcano is strewn with boulders that I assume are the remnants of a previous eruption. I read somewhere that Mt. Yufu erupted about 2000 years ago. The volcano is considered active as well as its neighbor, Mt. Tsurumi. A three month alert was given of a possible eruption immediately after the disasters of 2011.    George

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Buyo the Ninja Bug

I’m quickly learning that Japan has all kinds of creatures that can cause harm and discomfort. My newest revelation is called “Buyo”. I was bitten a few times last year and once this year…so far. Buyo is tiny so it’s impossible to detect when it lands on your skin. Buyo has a numbing agent in its saliva which means it can bite and you can’t feel it. The saliva also has an anticoagulant which allows the insect to suck on your blood at its leisure. I call this lovely little monster “Ninja Bug” because you don’t know that it attacked you until it’s all over. The little critter leaves a nasty bite mark that turns red. The bite area becomes painfully swollen over the next few hours. My lower calf area enlarged by a third. As if that isn’t bad enough…an itch develops. Not just any itch, but an itch that can drive you crazy. I have been averaging about ten days of discomfort before the symptoms subside. I use insect repellants that contain DEET, but this doesn’t stop them. The best defense is to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, and to stay indoors when they are most likely to be “hunting”. Here’s a link with some graphic pictures of the Ninja Bug.     George