Wednesday, 18 May 2011

2011 Tōhoku Earthquake : The week leading up to the earthquake.

So I sat down to write my experiences from the March 11th Earthquake and I found I had all these stories from before the earthquake that I wanted to write down, so that I never forget them EVER. I hope you don't mind this might be a long post... hehe

When Matthew came to stay with us back at christmas I had told him that there might be a possibility of a small earthquake whilst he was staying with us as there hadn't been one for over 3 weeks... obviously with my little to no knowledge on earthquakes (why they happen etc.) I was only going off our personal experiences and I knew that we felt a slight tremor on average twice a month. If I thought I felt an earthquake, I would always check on the Japan Meteorological Agency's website which would show where the epicenter of the tremor was, the time it happend and the strength. Too be completely honest, I was a little obsessed with it... feeling the earth move is an incredible thing and I wanted to know exactly what I was feeling. When Matt stayed with us, there were no earthquakes at all.

In February I spoke to a couple of my Japanese friends about it and asked them whether it was normal that there had been no earthquakes for nearly 2 months. They said it was strange and that they could worry about it... but they weren't going to! One of the ladies told me she had lived in Japan all her life and had NEVER experienced a big earthquake, only small tremors - she was very scared of them, even the small ones she hated. The other lady told me when she was 14 years old she had been in a big one when she lived in Kyoto but didn't speak about it in too much detail.

The week prior to the earthquake, me and Fran had decided that we were definitely going to try to stay in Japan for another year. We both LOVED our jobs, the lives we were living and obviously with Uncle Dave, KT and now Mona, we had family there. Fran knew that he would be able to get a working visa pretty easily because he has a degree but we knew that because I dont have a degree getting a working visa for Japan would be a lot of work for both me and my boss. We had also just agreed to moving into a flat closer to both our works meaning I could cycle to work and Fran was only a 6 minute train ride from his. Everything seemed great and like it was all fitting into place.

My birthday had been the weekend before and for some reason I remember putting my small compact camera in my bag that I took to work, for no particular reason other than it was somewhere to put it. When I got to work on the Tuesday I saw my camera and decided to take it to the classroom with me, I wanted to get some photos of the kids playing and stuff, but I had no real plan of what photos I would take. I had worked full time at the kindergarten for just over 3 weeks and my morning class were just fantastic, I loved teaching them. We had alot of fun and their characters had grown so much by the last week! They are the cutest kids!!! (In order: Mio, Kizuna, Hinano, Shota, Issei and Sho, I had one other student in that class called Soy, unfortunately she had been away so I didn't get any photos of her)

Also just a couple of photos of our kids lunches... ahhh... the art of being a Japanese housewife and mother...

The last lesson I did with my advanced class was EXTREMELY memorable (I want to write it down so I can remember it forever) I had been working with them for a couple of months wanting them to express their imagination in English. This was a little hard for them as I dont think they quite understand what 'imagination' was when I first spoke to them about it. I had given them all a sheet with OBSERD things on that would NEVER ever happen. Like a drawing of a dog flying in the sky using his ears as wings. They didn't understand why I wanted them to write "the dog is flying in the sky" they asked Why do we have to write it when it would never happen? We worked hard and they began to enjoy saying silly things (which they should do they are all around 8 years old - they should be saying silly things! It's fun! hehe)
So the last lesson I did with them was a HUGE break through...

We made up a fictional planet, they found it hard to start off with so I asked them questions to get them started and as they told me things about this planet I (tried to) draw them on the board.
What shape will our planet be? round
What colour will the sky be? blue
I stopped them right there... choose a different colour I said, they looked annoyed but I kept going,
What colour will the sky be? hehe, green! hehe
Honestly, I was so shocked that that answer had even come out of one of their mouths it was amazing!
What will the name of our planet be? this took some time for them to come up with... and they choose it because it sounded "English", The planet is called Irman, and the houses will be round with a triangle roof.
What will we eat on Irman? the trees and flowers, and the flowers will be as big as the trees and taste like candy. (here comes one of my favourite bit) ow, ow, and it will rain candy and we will all have upside-down umbrellas and catch all the candy and eat them for dinner!
The ground will be uneven but its ok because it is like a trampoline and you can jump everywhere.
Fish have legs and dont need to be in water (random but great!)
Ok, so right now what is making the classroom bright so we can see each other? sunshine
Which comes from the... SUN!
Ok good! well what are we going to have INSTEAD of the sun? EARTH!!!! (at this point I just let them speak and as much as I could draw it on the board) Earth will be bright all the time it will never be night time and we will never need to sleep because we are never tired. Also you can hear AKB48 (one of the top J-pop girl bands in Japan) singing ALL the time from earth and when its your birthday they fly to Irman to perform for you!

(Please excuse my drawing... if I had known I was going to post this on the blog I would have concentrated on my drawing skills - haha)

In a previous lesson we had learned how to write a friendly letter - date at the top, dear so and so , questions, tell them things you've done, then finish with Love From your name! Eeeeerrrrrr love why do we have to write love YUCK! Er LOVE I'm not writing that. Then I told them we write xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx at the end and each one of them means a kiss ER YUCK! thats disgusting hehe, I explained that is what we do to our family and friends who we love very much. Hehe, they are funny. After making up planet Irman I asked them to each write a letter to a friend who you want to go and live with you on planet Irman. I was lucky enough to get an invite to go with each of them to Irman so I took photos of the letters... I felt very special!!!!!

I miss working at the kindergarten/school in Japan EVERY DAY and I miss and love those kids so much and I always will. I had such an amazing time teaching there and it was all thanks to my amazing boss Mie, I couldn't of done many of the things I did in Japan without her, she was firstly my boss and secondly my friend, she believed in me, helped me and I worked hard to become the person and teacher I wanted to be. Going to Japan changed me for the better, Before I went I was scared to even go on the train and now I have over come all my fears and I know that I can do whatever I want to do! I really can't express how much I love Japan, its people, the culture, the language, the nature, the job I had... everything - It is a very special place for me.

I have alot more to write about the actually earthquake and the aftermath later and then I can write more about the above... our reasons for staying in England and not going back to Japan ect. but I think this is a long enough post for now and I feel a huge weight lifted just writing this. And I love that I have sat here writing this for a couple of hours and it has forced me to think about how amazing my job was and my students were!!!!! Loved every second of it! It was amazing :-D I'm very lucky for getting the opportunity!


Sunday, 6 March 2011


(written after March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami)

Just going to say a short something... We had a such a wonderful time in Kamakura and it  is definitely one of the nicest/best places we have been to in Japan, but due to circumstances, I'm only going to show photos, I hope it show what a nice place this is. This was our first trip out with both of our cameras.
a wonderful day... and a wonderful memory...

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Vicki's Birthday Day

I had to work in the morning until half 2... which was fine, It was a easy day, all the kids behaved well and did there work with no fuss! I got a lovely card from everyone at school with some really special messages in... I really get on well with everyone at song especially the Japanese ladies there! They are so lovely, supportive and encouraging! Also, I had a Happy Birthday message from one of my 5 year old students called Mariya, her handwriting is just so far beyond her age I was so happy ^_^

Anyway, after I finished work I met Fran and we headed to Ebisu to see KT and baby, we stopped off at Krispy Kremes for a birthday doughnut treat . Spring is just around the corner and the flowers are beginning to bloom and everywhere is starting to look all pretty again!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

New School Uniform

Trying on the new school uniform for the pre-school! EXCITING! (the first couple of photos the kids are 2-4 and the last couple of my 2 confident 5 year olds!) I have the cutest students EVER!!!! (the girl with the bunches who doesn't smile in these photos - her mum said... she doesn't smile in photographs... I got a sneeky one of her smiling I'll be able to post it soon ^_^)