Friday, December 26, 2008

Life changing event every 5 years?

At the age of 5, I move from Kyoto to Kagoshima and went to kindergarten. At the age of 10, I met a former Chairman of Kyoto Prefecture Council (deceased) and accompanied him to the Diet Building in Tokyo. He bought me the first suitcase when coming to the US in 1988 and I cannot threw it away because of its sentimental value. At the age of 15, my dad's construction company got bankrupted and got to know what yakuza is (no details here!). I owe my high school Japanese teacher (a famous Haiku poet in Nara now) for getting scholarship! At the age of 20, I joined Kyoto Southern Africa Solidarity Committee (a Kyoto branch of the Japan Anti-Apartheid Committee). The leadership I respected at that time is now CAO (Chief Academic Officer) of a university in Japan. At the age of 25, I came to the United States. At the age of 30, I became full-time lecturer at Miami University in Ohio. At the age of 35, I took students to Japan as an international field trip for the first time with a instructor of College of Lake County (CLC). At the age of 40, I became one of the leadership of Alliance of Associations of Teachers of Japanese (national organization of teachers of Japanese in the US). At the age of 45, I received the national "TEACHER AWARD." What do I want to say? I hope that "meeting with GTS" becomes your life changing something!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ema will have her sister!

Those who went to study abroad last summer became Ema's Kerai (家来, servant) without being aware of as every participant knows. Ema became 3 years old today and wants to report to you that she will have her sister in May next year! Ema is planning on participating in the study abroad trip to Japan in summer 2009 just like previous one not only as a queen but also as a Japanese language tutor. Christmas/New Year break has just begun and let's have ephemeral fun with GTS and Ema together! There is no prerequisite for 1102/2202/2252, so that many can have fun together in class as well in January 2009, the year of OX!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fall semester Ended! Grade reported!

With some snow storm, the Fall semester 2008 is ended. Because 1101 Final exam was scheduled for the last slot possible within the exam week, grade calculation took a while and reported to the record office this afternoon. Of 81 original registrants, 18 withdrew and 23 couldn't make it and 37 passed and 3 uncompleted. Of 23 unsuccessful students, 14 disappeared during the semester and could have withdrawn. So 50% of 1101 was somehow survived as predicted at the beginning of the semester. The grade distribution of 37 survivors is: 18 A's, 3 B's, 8 C's, 7 D's and 1 S. Congratulations to survivors! You should feel great even though you barely survived! (Remember, no miracle happened, no bribes worked!) Everyone who didn't disappear in 2201 survived with GTS extra mercifulness. Grade? Let's change the topic! For Waubonsee (WCC) folks, 0f 31 original registrants, only 10 students survived (4 A's, 4 B's 2 C's) and this number is the projected one.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hallelujah!!! I just cannot stop laughing!

GTS is a loyal listener of WBBM780 for AM and 103.5KISS FM. Every morning on the way to COD, I try to get the latest News from WBBM and get ready for that day. Now is the holiday season and every company tries to catch as many customers as possible by making a "Creative Unique Commercial." People in IL knows a carpet company called "LUNA" (I don't get any commission from them unfortunately) made a recent commercial song in this holiday season and it goes: HalleluNA! HalleluNA! (must be the combination of Hallelujah! and LUNA!) To my Japanese ears, it always sounds "HARERUNA(はれるな)" (Prohibit command form of HARERU (clear up:SORA GA HARERU The sky clears up). So in a so cheerful voice, my car radio says "Don't clear up! Don't clear up!" on the slick road on a very snowy or rainy gloomy day. "No wonder gloomy days don't want to go away because "THE GOD" in this 'Christian'-oriented society is indeed so loyal to HIS people" As a Buddhist with little interest protected by 8 million Shinto deities, it is comical and I do enjoy a little secretly! (There is no intention of insulting any religious groups or thoughts as GTS family always knows!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Board Recognition of GTS with students!!!

2008 Teacher Award is presented to GTS by the Board of Trustees of COD tonight and all 2201 students had a chance to share that very moment with GTS at the Board meeting! It was great and memorable! I have also learned that some 2201 students will transfer other institutions like DePaul Univ. and North Central College! I will miss quite a few students in Spring! 2202 will become a small class but we will continue to have fun!

AND we were all on this COD offcial broadcasting record! (December 8 meeting)
GTS and family members are at the almost beginning of

We were all STARs!

Friday, December 5, 2008

20 GTS family members showed up!

Regualr first Friday dinner was really fun with 20 GTS family members. I was glad to see the one from Australia (she returned to the US during her SUMMER break to enjoy cold Chicago!) I remember that I introduced the teacher in Australia that I know and she took her class. Sounds great even though she is struggling with a lot of Kanji! The time when I see all the smiles of my students enjoying the moment here and there around the table is the happiest moment of GTS and I feel so lucky to be their teacher. Some of them will show up at DePaul university in two days to take Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) where we will see with each other. I hope they all pass the test! There was also one student who has applied JET Program (Japanese Governmental Program to dispatch college graduates to assist their English education in local public schools) and I hope I will see him at the interview scheduled in February at Consulate General of Japan at Chicago if he is screened in to become an interviewee. Next dinner will be January 9th (Second Friday of the month)! Oh, I have to make difficult final exams as usual!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

First Friday of December is coming up!

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving little break except for 1102 students struggling with て-form of all the verbs we encountered by now. The first Friday of the month is coming up and the hilarious comedy film begins at 4:00pm and monthly JCC dinner gathering will follow. The information is in JCC website linked through GTS homepage on this blog (upper right corner).The first Sunday of December is the day of official Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) worldwide and several GTS family students will take it at DePaul University on Sunday where GTS is one of the head staff. This Thursday night is the final global classroom project in 1100 Honor Seminar and our focus will be Divorce issues and Elderly care issues. The Honor Seminar will be coming back next fall! GTS Spring Break Field Trip to Japan and Summer Study Abroad Japan are now accepting participants, so contact GTS if interested. These programs are open to anyone in the United States with in-district tuition!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I sincerely hope that every GTS' students had a good time on Turkey Thursday! Japan doesn't have the same tradition but family gathering like Obon (Mid-August) and Oshogatsu (New Year Day) might be the equivalent. I got a huge PORK piece to be cooked for "Yakibuta" piece into Ramen noodle on Wednesday. We all enjoyed special RAMEN! Don't you think its really unique? Well, a big Te-form quiz is waiting for 1101 students after the break. Next weekend is the first Friday so the movie and dinner are coming! There will be the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in DePaul University on Sunday (12/7/2008). GTS is one of the leaderships for this worldwide event with Prof. Chikamatsu and Prof. Matsugu there. Oh! That is the Pearl Harbor Day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Teacher Award was presented to GTS in Orlando!

The National Japanese Teacher Award was presented to GTS on Saturday here in Orlando! Though no money came with the Award, lots of warm words came from many Japanese language teachers across the America as well as Australian and New Zealand! If you want to pursue your Japanese language study anywhere in the US and Oceania regions, you may take advantage of mentioning GTS to make things easier! Sure, I did go to the Magic Kingdom and the Sea World with little EMA who was too excited there! EMA attended the Award Ceremony and got lots of "Kawaii" and got happier as well. I got several nice and new textbooks I may be able to use next academic year, too. Hope to bring some nice stories and warm weather back to Chicago soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Marrying Couple from GTS class!

The invitation (Invitation of the invitation letter) letter came in for the Wedding scheduled in September 2009! This is the second couple (that I know of ). A few years ago, Karen and Preston got married and now blessed by a twin! They met in my Japanese class and raised their love. Preston went to Japan in COD Study Abroad program and stayed the family where Steve stayed this summer. So he loves Japan! GTS actually arranged their honeymoon in JAPAN! Next fall Ashley and Russ will get married somewhere. Ashley attended the Japanese class up to 2202 and good at cooking and knitting so we enjoyed her cake during the class! I am happy to see students getting more proficient and knowledgeable in Japanese. No doubt about that. The event like this, however, 'two students who met in the GTS class getting married and moving to the next stage of their life' makes me even happier!

Friday, November 14, 2008

National Conference in Orlando is coming up!

The Teacher Award will be presented in Orlando this coming Saturday. I will fly over there to get recognized and bring some warm weather back here. Right before leaving here, there will be Chapter 5 test for 1102 to be ready for THE MOST DENSE and CRITICAL Chapter 6. Those who have been surviving through Chapter 5 may prepare themselves to struggle for better future. Chapter 6 main topics include, 'Complete conjugation table for Adjectives,' 'Dictionary form of Adjectives and Verbs,' 'Te-form (connective form) of Adjectives and Verbs,' etc. GOOOOOD LUCK!

Monday, November 10, 2008

COD Board Recognition of GTS!

The good news has just come in from GTS' associate dean of the humanities sub-division of Liberal Arts Division saying that GTS will be recognized as "THE Best College Teacher of Japanese in the US this year"
Here is a quote: "I just wanted to let you know that you will be recognized by the Board of Trustees at their meeting on Monday, December 8. The Board will re-award you the certificate that you receive later this month at ACTFL. A couple days prior to the Board meeting, you will be contacted about your plaque. --Again, congratulations on your award and thank you for your service to Japanese language study."
December JCC dinner will be the celebration with royal students of GTS. This type of recognition will never be possible withOUT GTS students' support! The recognition must be share with GTS students! How? I don't know but I DO know there is no such things like free 'A' grade to any students!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

25 GTS Family members gathered!

While just a handful students enjoyed one of the most hilarious movies, about 25 GTS family members gathered at the regular JCC dinner last night. A half of the entire 2201 classmates showed up with their Japanese friend and 3 current 1101 night class students showed up (though no announcement was made in class! Students will find out by themselves what we are doing if they are really curious, right?). Others are coming from my former classes including Japanese 1100 (Honor Seminar), Elmhurst College, DePaul University, NIU, etc. First 5 people at the dinner was wondering in the large room if enough people would show up! hahaha! Too many and did not fit in! Well, hoping this tradition would continue in a good manner! Join us next time on Friday, 12/5/2008!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Friday of the month is coming up!

This coming Friday is the JCC Dinner day. It will be held at the same location (Kyoto Sushi in Downers Grove) following the Cinema afternoon. The movie of this month can be found at the JCC website linked in this Blog. Since the movie takes only 85 minutes, it will begin at 4:30pm on Friday this time. It is a comedy for everyone! Oooops! I have to grade all the 1101 chapter 4 tests while watching the election news. Those who saw me wearing 2 stickers of 'I voted' today knows how much that vote counting scan tron machine hates GTS! I hope to see all GTS family on Friday night at the dinner even though 2201 test is coming up on Monday next week!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spring Registration Begins at COD

Despite the fact that students will continue to be suffering from harsh educational challenge for acquiring the basic Japanese skill, some students have already registered in the second semester. The morning class will be consolidated into one 11am class and 2 evening classes stay as they are now (even though the printed schedule didn't mention 5pm Tu-Thu class). Two field trips to Japan are still scheduled. Not many days are left for the December trip to register but the March trip is expected to be filled rather quickly. The study abroad program application has just begun and the application form can be picked up from GTS. Early application is the key as the study abroad program is expected to be filled way before the deadline.
1101 class will take Chapter 4 test on Monday tomorrow to further shrink for less survivors!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Came in! Closer to the official

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Japanese Language Teachers, I would like to extend our sincere congratulations on your selection as the winner of the 2008 NCJLT Teacher Award for the College Level. It is our honor to present this prestigious national award to you for your outstanding achievements and contributions to our profession.

The NCJLT Board would like to invite you to the 2008 NCJLT Teacher Awards Ceremony, which will take place during the NCJLT Awards Luncheon in the Northern Hemisphere A2,A3 & A4 at the Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, FL on Saturday, November 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This luncheon will be held in conjunction with the 2008 ACTFL Convention.

We do not have the detailed schedule of the luncheon at this time, but the Awards Ceremony will be after lunch, and you will have about one minute to make an acceptance speech if you so wish. During and after the ceremony, we will take pictures of you for our newsletter and website. I would like to ask you to pose with all the prize sponsors right after the ceremony as well. I would appreciate it very much if you could let us know at your earliest convenience whether or not you will be able to join us for this special occasion. If you can come, please arrive at the aforementioned venue of the luncheon a little before 11:30 a.m. so that I will have a chance to congratulate you in person.

You will be provided with our complementary lunch ticket and registration for the 2008 ACTFL Convention. If you have already paid for them, you will receive reimbursements from the ACTFL office within 8 weeks after the convention is over. For general information on this convention, please go to

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone I look forward to hearing from you, and again, congratulations!


Miko Foard
Teacher Award Director


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Virtual meeting with students in Hiroshima!

JAPAN 1100 Honor Seminar students virtually met Japanese students in Hiroshima first time this semester for self introduction. Each student in Japan introduced themselves in Japanese English and my student did so in American English. Several students brought their family pictures to show them and one student brought a saxophone to play! A student from 2201 introduced herself in 100% Japanese and it was impressive. A student from 1101 tried some as well. There will be 5 more global classroom experience on family and marriage in two cultures. Exciting! Exciting! Exciting! After 3rd test, some 20 students are still keeping up with GTS at 9am 1101 class while only dozen seem to try surviving at 11am 1101. Night class is doing a bit better as expected and as shown in average chapter test score of 80%. Morning class (9am and 11am) average score is 75% as usual though 11am-only class score is slightly higher (78%). In Spring semester, morning is consolidated into one 11am class while night class remains two tracks (Mon/Wed and Tue/Thu). Summer study abroad application is about to be ready and GTS students are encouraged to apply/register at earliest convenience with their Spring semester registration to secure the spot. December and March trips to Japan are also recruiting students now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Workshop after Workshop, Test after Test!

Illinois Association of Teachers of Japanese had its Annual Fall Workshop at Elk Grove High School where some 20 teachers gathered. Teachers were mostly from Chicagoland area but teachers showed up from South Bend in Indiana and Urbana as well. GTS mainly talked about what is gong on about K-16 Japanese education in our area but also assisted the presentation about new development of AP Japanese test for high schoolers. In the officer election (which will be held every two years), GTS was elected as a President (though GTS rather wanted to work behind the curtain!! and did insist that way). Vice-President is from Walter Payton Magnet HS in Chicago CPS, Secretary is from Streamwood HS, and Treasurer is from Andrew Jackson Language Academy in Chicago CPS. GTS likes to be "KUROMAKU (黒幕)" as most GTS lovely students know but GTS can be front in local while being Kuromaku in national level. Ahhh, global classroom (JAPAN 1100) paper from Hiroshima came in, so I have to put them into English by Thursday(10/16). Huh? 2201 Test and Waubonsee Chinese 101 Test is on Monday(10/13) and 1101 Test is on Wednesday (10/15). Ooops! I almost forgot. I am one of organizers of Annual Professional Conference for ICTFL (organization for all foreign language teachers of our state) beginning on Thursday (10/16) through Saturday (10/18). Free time? What, in the world, are you talking about?
Hey! I love MY JOB and MY STUDENTS and MY COLLEAGUES. Just in case you wonder GTS family contribution, I would say Japanese people should never talk about it. GTS is now telling you that a little EMA's sister/brother is coming in May 2009! So GTS will be bankrupted and 'energy-rupted' Life Goes On. mmmmmm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Over 20 gathered in JCC Dinner!

Last Friday was the first friday of the month on which current and former GTS students gathered for monthly cinema and/or dinner at Kyoto Sushi. It was a quite big group this month with those who are/were in GTS class since 6 years ago. I hope the group next month (11/7/08) be as lively as this group! I had a chance to meet with Prof. Kazumi Hatasa, one of the authors of New NAKAMA textbook, and got the useful link for students in JAPAN 1101. (See the Link lists of this blog!) In the same meeting, I also met Prof. Mayumi Oka from Univ. of Michigan, main author of "Tobira" textbook being used for current JAPAN 2251. GTS has to prepare for the fall professional conference for "Illinois Association of Teachers of Japanese (IATJ)" coming up this weekend and another conference for "Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL) next weekend. oooops! Global classroom project of GTS Honor Seminar (under JAPAN 1100) begins soon (10/16/08) so the schedule will become crazy!! But it is exciting for 19 GTS seminar students to vitually meet through webcam conference classroom with 18 students of Hiroshima Jogakuin University!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

GTS as a Winner of National Teacher Award!

National Council of Japanese Language Teachers (NCJLT) has announced that GTS is the recipient of "Japanese Teacher of the Year 2008 of the U.S. Colleges and Universities!" The Award Ceremony will be held in Florida in November during the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) national conference. This is the great news for COD and GTS' students. GTS students can be proud of themselves regardless of their suffering from GTS academic educational "bully" and asked to be responsible for keeping up with their eagerness to learn Japanese. It is the most important to continue the Japanese learning and acquiring endeavor regardless of actual skills of what everyone can do in Japanese. The academic grade is NOT everything but just a tiny part of the life so move forward to the FUTURE. Well, GTS probably should behave better as every Japanese teacher in the U.S. can at least recognize his name. One day, all GTS students can say "I am SHINGO's student. You don't know Shingo? Too bad!" This is just a passing point yet one reaching point 15-year teaching at COD and in 20-year American life! (I should be more humble as a Japanese! Hahaha!)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential Debate Round1

Presidential debate seems to have nothing to do with GTS nor Japanese language/culture. Yet, we all must be responsible for the future generations. According to CBS poll, 51% thought Obama-san performed the better job. There was one interesting conversation exchange about "a mother" who lost her son in Iraq (so about 2 different mothers). McCain quoted as "the mother had told him not to make her son's death meaningless/ wasteful /useless...." Obama quoted as "the mother had told him not to create the similar mothers like her again..." In this exchange, I saw the parallel of "Remember Pearl Harbor" mentality vs. "No More Hiroshima/Nagasaki" mentality. GTS sincerely hopes that every student of GTS' will follow what's going on in the U.S. as well as what's going on in Japanese language/culture class! Both are really IMPORTANT!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Second test creates more mysterious chairs!

Japanese 1101 morning classes had the second test. The average score is about 75%. Most problems are still about Hiragana reading and writing. For those who master Hiragana by now, it must have been "a piece of sushi." Those who are still behind in Hiragana skill, it was just an evil as usual. Night class will have it on Monday night. The average score will probably get to 80%. There will be more ghost students until the mid-term attendance verification day in October. Chapter 2 grammar was just ~はorも~です。Actual ~ますverbs appear in Chapter 3 with those 'headache maker' particles of に、で、へ、を、がetc. and may let GTS' lovely students suffer. May God Bless Them! Next Friday will be JCC cinema and dinner day. Wow! Time flies!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Japanese Delegation visited to COD!

There are 4 college personnel from Yamaguchi Prefectual University came to COD to learn about academic field studies programs as well as interdisciplinary course offering which they are plan to developing. Their English professor (as also a international program coordinator) wrote and spoke perfect Japanese and he played a role of interpreter of his group. They didn't expect too much from us since this visit was just an addition of their departure day, but it turned out to be the best day! Why? Because of GTS, of course! (GTS is too much Americanized and forgot to be modest!) Hopefully future GTS trip to Japan may visit their school and several historical sites around it! JAPAN 2201 first test was over and it was as evil as usual GTS test! Never give up, folks! Future is yours!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blog-site connected to GTS!

Three of GTS students created the GTS TRIO blog which, I hope, is and will be positive and productive and up-lifting for every member of the GTS community. Their blog site does suggest some good links for Japanese learners that I can also recommend. I truly hope that those three cooperatively continue the blog. GTS fan club isn't necessary but rather the community intertwined and positively connected through GTS is really wonderful and ideal. Some are connected through Facebook and/or My Space. GTS certainly plays some unique role in Facebook. Students can connected with former GTS students via Facebook. Let's have fun but be thoughtful as well!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First JCC Dinner passed quickly!

JCC monthly dinner passed quickly! Several folks showed up after a few months silence, some even showed up from rather distant like NIU, UIC, DePaul U, U of Chicago, Loyola U.... There were students who just celebrated her birthday. There were students who tried Tempura ice cream, Gyoza, Edamame, Yakitori, Sukiyaki, Tonkatsu as well as Sushi. Though it was rather small group, tension got as high as it could be. Hopefully everyone comes back again in a month. Oh, yeah! Sometimes money got short but no problem our trust among GTS circle takes care of it! Japanese culture is pretty convenient in such a occasion. What is exactly the Japanese culture? You guess! And must guess right!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Mysterious Chairs" began appearing!

About 10 days have passed since the beginning of the semester and "mysterious chairs" began appearing as expected though each class is still in pretty much full. For 1101, Hiragana memorizing lesson has almost finished and by the mid-next week, Hiragana must be mastered. So another wave of "shaping up the class" will come soon before really getting into the "Language Learning mode." The size of 2201 is just a good size and I really hope everyone be successful in his or her individual goal setting! This is the first week of September so the first Friday event day is coming up and hope to see as many faces as I can on Friday 9/5. Japanese prime minister resigned again a few days ago, and as an overseas Japanese I feel kind of shame of our leaderships' irresponsibility in the important political arena. After the long reign of Premier Koizumi about just 1.5 years ago, 3rd Prime Minister will be elected by just ruling party MPs this month. Where will the boat "JAPAN" be heading? Sigh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

JCC First Friday Activity Approaches!

There will be monthly cinema and dinner on first Friday of each month. September 5th will be the first one of this academic year and the cinema will begin at 4pm and the dinner will begin at about 6:30pm. The cinema of this month is "Face (KAO)" directed by Junji Sakamoto in 2000.
There will be the JCC club meeting prior to the film at about 3:30pm. Those who were in officers position last academic year and still currently in GTS class remain as an officer for various reasons. Those who want to become an officer can be recruited at any time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Academic Year Began!

It is quite difficult for anyone including myself to switch and adjust the living mode from the NON-school environment to the school environment! Fortunately or 'unfortunately' (you know about it!) there were/are overflown students without a seat in all elementary Japanese 1101 classes. Night class began with over 30 students! Intermediate Japanese 2201 also did begin with good number of students including several new faces which is very exciting! 2201 class is composed largely of two different types of student: traditional 2201 students and returnees from Japan in various capacities. Hopefully good interactions among students bring the new horizon and good classroom atmosphere! I just wonder "How many" students will be in class 3 weeks from now? Can you guess? My sincere hope is that "everyone stays in class and no "mysterious chairs" be found! Let's have fun together this new academic year!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fall Semester Begins in a few days!

Elementary Japanese are all full in both COD and WCC. There are still students who are waiting for a "Mysterious Seat." Textbooks for elementary Japanese class are all backordered so it is still uncertain how the situation will turn out to be. Intermediate Japanese class are still open and some new students seem to join and is very exciting!. The link I made last time didn't work and I tried to fix it. I am looking forward to meeting returning students as well as new students!

Friday, August 8, 2008

GTS Elementary Classes Full!

満員御礼!New Fall semester will begin in 12 days. All elementary Japanese classes of GTS got filled! Now several folks are waiting for some "mysterious seats" (不思議な椅子 named by a student). Waubonsee Community College (WCC) elementary Japanese class was also filled. By the way, GTS with his 2-year old daughter attended "summer festival" at Mitsuwa and his comment was quoted into the local paper.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Airline Fuel Surcharge over $500!

As gas price goes up, all the airline companies are adding so-called notorious "Fuel Surcharge" and as of 8/1 for international flight over the Pacific Ocean, this surcharge got to $506! The airport tax and security surcharge are usually about $100 total, so the trip cost will go up again for future. This directly influence GTS Japan Field Study Program and the itinerary of the trip must be modified to fit into the budget again! The December Trip will be re-named as "Christmas in Japan" and main activity sites will be centering around Kyoto, of course. Ooooops, some students forgot paying tution for fall semester and removed from the registration list. As a result, a few seats for Fall Elementary Japanese classes got available! Hurry Up!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"O-Bon" (Summer) Festival held at Mitsuwa

One of the important advantages for those who are studying Japanese in COD area is to have Japanese store complex "Mitsuwa" within the driving distance. Students can taste some Japan-ness at Mitsuwa Market Place for food, groceries, books, DVDs, cosmetics, etc. Every summer several local Japanese-American organizations sponsors its summer festival just like local summer festival in Japan. The festival this year was yesterday! Current and former students, friend teachers, and college alumni of GTS showed up and exchanged smiles. Sure, GTS did not forget continuing networking among key persons for future! Oh, GTS Night Elementary Japanese class (Mon./Wed.) in the fall was filled!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Monthly JCC Dinner Resumed!

Monthly Japanese Culture Club (JCC) Dinner was resumed on Friday, August 1st at Kyoto Sushi (Downers Grove). This JCC dinner tradition began about 10 years ago with a few members of Japanese Culture Club at COD. JCC dinner is held on the first Friday night every month unless otherwise specified at JCC web page. Those who went to study aborad Japan showed up with remaining jet-lag and continued to be excited about it. Some just got up and came to the dinner! (It's You!) Usually 15-20 people gather at the dinner but sometimes over 30 people come and go during the dinner party hours (6:30pm to the restaurant closing time of 10pm). Next dinner will be on Friday, September 5th.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fall Morning Classes got FULL! Wow!

As of 8/1, both 9am and 11am Elementary Japanese classes got full. Past students know that the classroom is small and some are sitting on the floor at the very first class but a few days or a couple of weeks later, it gets more seats than needed. Past students know why! Shhhhh! M/W Night class has a few seats left but will probably get full in a few days. (満員御礼) Honor seminar Japanese 1100 with Sociology 2220 (2 courses must be taken at the same time) got full a few days ago. In the seminar, students will exchange e-mails with students in Hiroshima Jogakuin University and everyone can virtually meet through Internet web cam conference in the last half of the fall semester (mid-Oct through the end of the semester)!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bullet Train trip from Kyoto

Winter Field Trip to Japan has been scheduled from 12/18/08 to 12/30/08 under the Title of Exotic Japan, but for various reasons the trip theme was modified and re-titled as "Bullet Train and Kyoto." The group will base at Kyoto and using Bullet Train as much as possible to reach Hiroshima (Miyajima-island for which monkey living Mt. Misen and floating Torii Gate famous and we plan to visit), Okayama (Korakuen park and Okayama Castle and Museums), Tokushima in Shikoku Island (Naruto for which largest whirlpool in the inland sea is famous), Himeji (White Heron Castle), Nara (Deer Park, World largest wooden structure housing the huge Buddha Image in it), Osaka and Kobe. Kyoto's main spot will certainly included to enjoy the old and the new of Japan. I hope many students and community folks join the trip!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ritsumeikan Univ. Chicago Alumni

Whiling coping with jet lag, I attended the Ritsumeikan University Chicago Alumni Association Summer Dinner at Daruma Restaurant in Schaumburg. There have been annual golf competition among 4 major university alumni association members in Chicagoland area. These 4 universities are Ritsumeikan, Doshisha, Kansai, and Kwansei Gakuin. Since Ritsumeikan and Doshisha are both located in Kyoto, they have been a rival for many years in various fields. I went to the Restaurant with my 2-year old daughter and happened to find my former student as a waitress who went to Kyoto for Study Abroad a few years ago with GTS. What a coincidence! What? Golf? Ritsumeikan lost badly!!

JET Program Sending-off Party

The following late afternoon of the day we returned from Japan, the JET Program (Japan's governmental program to provide English native college graduates to local government and schools) Sending-off Party at a hotel near O'Hare airport. I, serving as an interviewer for JET candidate selection, was invited as a guest. There were quite a few new JETs, I recognized. My table was for some reason Kagoshima Prefecture JETs table (Southern most prefecture in Kyushu) rather than the Kyoto- area table. Since I lived in Kagoshima near the Sakurajima volcano during my kindergarten days and visited my grand parents many times before while they were still alive, I could give appropriate advice to JETs somehow. I was happy to find a sister of my student at COD in the group which were to go to Mie prefecture!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Problemless Return to Chicago!

Students gathered at Kyoto Station Bullet Train Gate at 9am to catch 10am-Bullet Train (Kodama, or Echo) for Central International Airport via Nagoya. Most host families came to the station to see off their students and some students were burst into tears! Unlike the first day of the program, there was no significant problems! Getting to San Francisco was even a little earlier than scheduled and smooth connection this time made everyone reach O'Hare on time. Some students submitted post-program assignments and enjoyed reunion with their family members! All students and friends were invited GTS's Japanese Culture Club monthly dinner on Friday 8/1 at Kyoto Sushi in Downers Grove!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Watermelon Explosion" at the farewell party!

Time really flies! The commencement was held and was followed by the farewell party which many host families attended with students. Every student made a brief speech after "Kanpai (Cheers!)" teachers' speech and host family's speech followed. Then lunch time came and everyone rushed into Japanese Pizza Hut pizzas, Sushi, Okonomiyaki, Fried potatoes, sweets and cake. Three classes of our program made their performance they practiced yesterday. The main event was "Watermelon Explosion." 4 big watermelon were prepared and 2 students and 2 kids from host families were selected to play as a melon hitter/breaker. Each eye-covered hitter used a baseball bat to find a watermelon and hit and break!! They did it! Every attendee enjoyed watermelon as a dessert! The party was ended with big smiles!! They all miss Japan!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heat Wave in the Osaka Castle

A day over 98F contnued today. After lunch 45-min train ride took students from Kyoto-city to Osaka Castle area in Osaka-city, passing several suburb cities between Kyoto and Osaka such as, Yawata, Hirakata, Moriguchi, Neyagawa, Kadoma, etc. From Kyobashi-station in Osaka, students walked from one building to another building through elevated pathways to where the Osaka Castle Donjon(Tower) or "Tenshukaku" became visible. Through bridges of the outer moat and inner moat, students got to the Tower, from which they can the entire Osaka city on the top floor balcony. Leaving the Tower for another side of the castle where Hideyoshi was enshrined. An express train skipped as many station as possible to carry them back to Kyoto-city and final official afternoon excursion ended!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lake Biwa Lunch Cruise!

A couple of students decided to join the lunch cruise in the Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan and 3rd oldest lake in the world. 25-min train ride brought students to the Otsu port in the Lake Biwa. 90-min cruise ride on the top floor let student draw larger map of the area in their mind. It was quite unimaginable for them to realize that Japan's largest lake is just next to Kyoto! Through this program, students could reach almost all the direction from Kyoto as far as they could within one day. Students briefly visited Miidera-temple (or Onjoji-temple), one of the most famous imperial temple in the Western Japan. Tomorrow's Osaka Castle visit will conclude the daily excursion program during the study abroad Japan!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Suntory Beer Factory Tour!

A few students visited Japanese Beer Factory to learn the process of beer making as well as tasting a bit at the end of the tour. This Suntory Beer factory in Kyoto is in charge of producing and shipping beer for the entire western part of Japan. Suntory beer won the world beer tasting contest past three years. The tour lasted about one hour and our group was really large. The factory was very strict and careful about guests' age and how they visit the factory. Minors and drivers were asked to wear the special badge so that everyone knew that they could not be served beer. After a couple of glasses to taste, a shuttle bus and train took students back to the city! Well, the entire cost was only $3.50! It was a really good deal!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Traditional Puppet Theater "Journey to the West"

Today was the first day of the National Traditional Puppet Theater (Bun'raku) of the summer season. It was also the first day of the summer break for school kids. Theater prepares the show for kids as well. "Journey to the West," the title of the show, came from the famous Chinese novella and very popular in Japan so it was very suitable for students with student discount. During the show, students could learn how puppeteers controlled puppets. At the end of the show they took pictures with some puppets. Bun'raku came to Chicago last spring but it was very difficult to obtain a ticket so today's experience really paid off!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Phoenix conforted students after the final exam

Final examination was given to students today. After lunch, students visited the Phoenix Pavilion in Uji-city which has been famous for its Green Tea. 30-min train ride brought them to the Pavilion on which the Phoenix could energize students. The Pavilion is somewhat familiar to everyone here because it has been curved on a 19-yen coin. It was over 95F yesterday and it was a bit cooler today yet more humid. The swift current on the Uji-river seemed to attract students to jump into the water. Next three days are long weekend here in Japan, so some will go to Tokyo, some will enjoy traditional Puppet theater, and some will enjoy themselves in Kyoto this final weekend of the Study Abroad Program.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gion Festival Climax with its floats parade

Last three nights, center of Kyoto city provided so-called "Pedestrian Heaven" in which all the traffic were regulated to only pedestrians. All the floats were moving in the parade. Those floats don't have any steering wheels so they use bamboo trees and water to turn huge floats at each major intersection. Hot and humid day of over 95F re-reminds everyone here of Kyoto Summer. Language School teachers and some students went to a coffee shop to avoid "dehydration" and to re-energize themselves! Students will take final examination tomorrow before visiting the Phoenix Pavilion! Hope everyone do well!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tigers won with the Crazy Foreign Cheer-Brigade

A group of students arrived in Koshien Stadium whose home team is local Osaka Hanshin Tigers leading the Central League way ahead this year. They got some food at the huge supermarket right in front of the Stadium and some students got cheering goods and even Tigers jersey shirts with player's name on it. They took highest bleacher seats and got ready for the game. During the game they became a friend of Japanese Tigers fans around them and began shouting, singing, booing, laughing, on and on. Japanese style of enjoying the professional baseball game in the stadium seemed to really impress them. Tigers won the game and everyone experienced the most excited and craziest moment. The specially packed train brought students back to Osaka (the train compartment wouldn't be able to take any more human in it!) before heading back to Kyoto where Gion Festival Eve were still in celebration mode!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sushi making and Heian Jingu Shrine

Students had a chance to learn how to make sushi rolls today. They made some creative sushi rolls that they may not even try! Hopefully they can try making some after getting back to Chicago next week. After Sushi practice Heian Jingu Shrine was waiting for us. This shrine was built in 1894 as 1100-year anniversary of Kyoto as a capital of Japan (794-1868). Its garden has been one of the most famous Japanese gardens which can be enjoyed throughout a year. After walking through the garden in a hot and humid day, students visited Kyoto Handicraft Center where the official group activity was dismissed. Some went to the Pedestrian Heaven in Shijo area for the Gion Festival, some went to sing songs in Karaoke, etc. Occasional thunder and rain have been hitting Kyoto and festival mood has been watered!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nan'zen'ji Temple through Eikan'do Zen'rin'ji Temple

Kyoto city subway took students to Nan'zenji Temple which is connected with Lake Biwa Canal area. A little rain called "Tohri Ame (or Passing Rain)" began on the way to Eikan'do Zenrinji Temple through Nan'zen'ji Temple. Students were quite lucky to stay in the Main Hall of Eikan'do while first heavy rain fall passed on them. After enjoying inside the Main Hall and its garden and graveyard, students rushed to the bus stop just in time for second heavy rain fall! Some went to the Gion Festival Night Pedestrian Heaven area where they can enjoy some festival floats and PEOPLE from all over Japan! Ahhhhh, only 10 days are left before returning to Chicago! They will continue to maximize their existence in Kyoto now!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Universal Studio and Osaka Modern-yaki

A little cheaper ticket allowed us to visit Universal Studio Japan in Osaka at 3:00pm. Since there was only one GTS loyalist showed up, GTS took care of admission tickets. As soon as being admitted, the out-door acrobat musical began right in front of us. Certainly the content was a lesson about Love, Family, Harmony in Nature, so Japanese narration was a good listening material for students. On the way back home, we stopped by at Hankyu Sanbaigai (underground food town in Umeda) to eat Osaka Special Modern-yaki (Yakisoba, or fried noodle, is sandwiched by Okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancake-like pizza) in one of the most famous restaurant in Osaka called "Boteju" Before thid dinner, we visited the Internet Cafe called "WIP" to see how they were operated. Yes, we all became a member and got a membership card!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Playing with monkeys at Mt.Iwata!

Students climbed up a small mountain called Mt. Iwata in which there was a monkey park on top. On the way to the top, many monkeys were running around students, some even touch them. There is a hut on the top from which people can feed monkeys outside the hut. It seems that monkeys are enjoying humans in the hut. Some monkeys were jumping into the carp pond to cool themselves down. Some even stay in the water with carp as if they were in the hot spring. From the top of the mountain entire city of Kyoto was clearly visible! Nice hot weather day passed very quickly while playing with monkeys!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Buddhist Scriputure Writing with "Sagano-meguri"

Students visited to Daikaku-ji Temple where students had a chance to write/trace a Buddhist scripture "Han'nya Shin'gyo" to pray whatever each student wished for. Daikaku-ji Temple and its famous garden and pond have been used for making movies in Kyoto. On the way from Daikaku-ji back to Randen Train station, students walked along so-called "Sagano-meguri" which was the winding trail road in the bamboo forest in which "Nison-in Temple" and "Nonomiya Shrine" were located. Those temples and shrines were all mentioned in well-known "Tale of Genji" by Lady Murasaki. Kyoto-city is celebrating this year as a 1000 year anniversary for "Tale of Genji." Though hot and humid weather continued, everyone walked over 13000 steps based on a pedometer that one student was equipped with!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kurama Temple in the Mountain and Climbing over it!

After lunch break at the Eizan Train terminal area, 30-minute train ride took students into Mt. Kurama upon which "the great king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth" was believed to be descended from Venus, with the great mission of the salvation of mankind some 6 million years ago. The temple is located in the middle of the mountain to which winding road and tons of steps continue. Beyond the Kurama temple, everyone began climbing the Kurama mountain and went down to another side of the mountain, "Kibune" shrine famous for the deity of Water! 1.5-mile walk took students to the Eizan Train station "Kibune-guchi" from which they return to the city area! Everyone was soaked with his/her own sweat! The Japan Study Abroad program should offer some PE credits!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Zoo-ing in the World of Humidity!

After lunch break in the KIA school area, a city bus took us to the Heian Shrine Area. This area has Heian Shrine, Okazaki baseball ground, Kyoto City Museum, National museum of Modern Art, Kanze-kaikan for Noh Play, and the City Zoo where we visited. Oh, besides that, GTS's condo is located here and students walked through right in front of it! It was exactly the feeding time for all the animals there and students had some chances to see them. The youngest Japan monkey was born in April 27 and she is alsways with her Mom!! GTS loves zoos and holds yearly pass of this zoo as well as the Brookfield Zoo! Lake Biwa Canal Museum is located next to the zoo where students visited to learn a bit about the difficulty to bring drinking water from the Lake Biwa to Kyoto over the mountains! Sweaty humid day continued today. Hopefully everyone gets a little bit cooler experience tomorrow on top of the mountain! How can they get to? Of course, climbing and climbing!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sliver Pavilion to Nyakuoji-shrine via Philosopher's Trail

July 7th is the famous Milky Way festival (Tanabata) on which Orihime and Hikoboshi can meet once a year on this day! Students had a chance to write their own wish on a small paper slip to put on the bamboo tree. 95F humid day challenged us again on the way to get to the Silver Pavilion. Students took the mountain side road to go south from the Silver Pavilion to Nyakuoji-Shrine through the Philosopher's Trail where all the Japanese famous philosophers from Kyoto University used to philosophize though students did nothing but fight against heat and sweat. Students spend exactly half way through in this program, which means that their physical stamina begins declining! Hopefully everyone continues to maximize their Japan's experience!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

10-hour Bus round-trip for Hiroshima!

Summer Study Abroad program schedule was modified because of increasing fuel cost and losing value of dollars. Hiroshima peace study trip was completed with some host family members and KIA teachers and other regular students! The chartered bus left Kyoto at 7am and arrived in Hiroshima peace museum at 1pm just in time for scheduled A-bomb survivor's talk. On the way from Kyoto to Hiroshima, the bus stopped several Oasis for short breaks as well as for quick lunch. Though there was insufficient time for exploring the entire peace park including the actual A-bomb dome and hypo-center, visiting the peace museum itself was quite meaningful and striking for students to think about how they live towards their future which they are certainly in charge. Students were able to visit Miyajima-island by 10-minute ferry boat ride to see the huge Shinto Torii Gate standing/floating in the inland sea of Seto. Lowest tide gave the opportunity for students to actually walk to the Gate before visiting famous Itsukushima Shrine where they bump into the wedding parade! The return trip of 5-hour bus ride back to Kyoto was a little too much for students. Hopefully they can rest and recover on Sunday to be ready for another Hike on Monday, the visit to the Silver Pavilion in front of which GTS was born!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rits dining hall and the Peace Museum!

It has been a while since Rits college cafeteria provided lunch for us. Hot and humid day causes a lot of sweat and took all the energy from students. The Museum person was waiting for us with a nice pamphlet and students began their own peace study which will continue tomorrow to Hiroshima, Museum provided the vast information about WWII, Vietnam War, A-bomb, Japanese citizen's life during the war. After observing the special exhibit of Anti-Vietnam War posters each student took their own way home. GTS with his daughter accompanied two students to visit GTS's uncle's mackerel sushi restaurant and then went to Izakaya for dinner together! It seems that this kind of hot and humid weather (over 95F) continues to the end of our program without much rain according to the weather forecast! Phew!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kimono Show and Sweaty Castle!

The original plan has been changed today based on the weather forecast of rain near the eastern mountain area. After lunch 15-minute walk took students to Kyoto Nishijin Textile Center where they could enjoy Kyoto Kimono Fashion show and some souvenir shopping. Today was the most humid day since our arrival in Kyoto and long walk to the castle after leaving the Textile center had let students got soaked with their own sweat!! This is KYOTO SUMMER! On the way from the Textile center to Nijo Castle, the group stopped by at SEIMEI Shrine being famous for Shinto Exorcism practiced by Abe no Seimei. COD group has been actually quite lucky for not having real rainy days so far. The Hiroshima Trip is coming up this weekend and as a beginning of the peace study, the group will visit the Peace Museum attached to Ritsumeikan University. There have been the special exhibit of "Anti-Vietnam War Posters" there and this visit has been arranged by GTS as a Rits alumni association member from Chicago!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Packed bus took us to greet 1001 Kannon statues!

Though the destination is located in south, the group headed north to get to the Kitaoji bus terminal for lunch break. The terminal is kind of center of northern Kyoto city area where you can find Kyoto city botanic garden as well as department stores and other restaurants. From the terminal a packed bus took us to Sanjusangen-do being famous for its 1001 statues of Kan'non, or Buddha of Mercy (shape of goddess). This temple is located 3 bus stops away from Kyoto Station and right in front of Kyoto National Museum. Over 30 minutes packed bus ride gave every student another opportunity of feeling "No More Bus!!!!" hahaha. Every student seems to need the protection of Mercy goddess!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Soaked with sweat after 1000s of stair steps (Fushimi)

Students had 1-hour lunch break in Demachi-Yanagi Sta. area where two rivers, Takano-river and Kamo-river, joined into one big Kamo-river, the major river in Kyoto city. The Keihan line took us to the Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine being famous for 1000s of mini-Torii gate under which paths and tons of steps continued to reach the top of the Inari-mountain from which the entire Kyoto-city was visible from the South side. Students went over the mountain and came down to another side of the bottom of the mountain where they could find the part of the Higashiyama (East Mountain) Trail Hiking Course along which they could get to Tofuku-ji temple. This trail connects the entire 36 mountains in the eastern side of Kyoto-city. Several students took a wrong way at the beginning of climbing up the Shrine hill and we lost a couple of students on the way down from the hill, though everyone could meet with each other at the end. Because of loss of a little time here and there we unfortunately couldn't enter Tofuku-ji temple.
One of students became 25 years old today and his host family held the birthday dinner and GTS was invited to the party where Sushi and Ayu-fish, etc. were served. Everyone followed how GTS ate and spent a little fun time before their completing the homework!! Beer? Oh, yes!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ten'ryu-ji to Togetsu Bridge through Bamboo forest

We got to Randen train station from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine through narrow alleys which everyone felt to be taken to some mysterious places by GTS. From the east terminal to the west terminal of the Randen train, students got to Arashiyama area where we dismissed for lunch before visiting Ten'ryu-ji temple. We were able to enter the main building as well as its famous garden around "heavenly dragon pond." As soon as exiting from the north gate, another exquisite scene of the bamboo forest welcomed students. Through the bamboo alleys students reaches the hilltop scenic point from which small river boats and sightseeing trains could be seen. Students went down to the Oi river and got to the Arashiyama park through Togetsu Bridge (Across the moon). Hankyu train line took us to the center of the city from which everyone went home. The weather was perfect after the nasty rainy day yesterday!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nishiki-Koji, the Food Avenue!

By now most students learned how to maneuver in the central area of Kyoto, yet not probably the food alley called Nishiki-koji through which GTS and a students walk. On that street, there is a shop owned by GTS's long time friend (over 30 years!) and got some fish-paste products. GTS asked the student to bring some to his host family who is now taking care of 3 students of GTS! GTS got some CDs and a summer cotton kimono "Yukata" for his 2-year old daughter "EMA-lynn" at the underground shopping mall in the Kyoto city hall area from which the student went to his recently-signed up sports gym for work-out. It was quite a yucky weather day today but it should be cleared up tomorrow for another 'HIKE' in a bamboo forest!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Japan's Largest Aquarium in Osaka Bay

Weekends plans for students varies based on their host family's schedule and other pre-planned individual schedules. Those who didn't have special plans gathered at the center of Kyoto city and left for Osaka by Express train. Unlike Kyoto, Osaka has two major commercially lively areas, Kita (North, centering around Umeda) and Minami (South, centering around Namba and Shinsai-bashi). Kita is also famous as a business district and Minami is famous for entertainments including traditional puppet theater (Bunraku). While some went to Shinsai-bashi area, GTS/Little Ema and 5 royal students headed for Osaka Harbor area which holds Japan's largest aquarium called "Kaiyukan (Ocean fun hall)" This huge aquarium is equipped with Temposan Market Place with stores, restaurants, game arcades, live stage, as well as Japan's largest Ferris Wheel. On the way back home, some stopped by the central commercial area in Kyoto for window shopping and cultural exploration before heading back to each host family.
The itinerary was: Shijo Kawaramachi-(Hankyu Line)-Umeda-(Midosuji Line)-Hon'machi-(Chuo Line)-Osaka Harbor (round trip, regularly costs 1320yen, but weekend group rate for 1044yen!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear Deer, Great Buddha and Tears!

All 20 of us were luckily able to get on the same bus for Kyoto Station where students could get about 45-minute lunch time during which GTS obtained bullet train tickets from Kyoto to Nagoya on the we leave on 7/24! (Our special bullet train will leave at 10am on Thursday 7/24 and get to Nagoya around 11am. Everyone can get a coupon for a drink (soft drink or tiny bottle of the wine). While one student tried to get a bottle of drink, we missed a train. In the next train for Nara, GTS got acquainted with a couple college students who might be able to become a good friend of students of our group. Giant Buddha, as usual, waited for us while a couple of students almost missed the opportunity to meet him! Some students fed deer in the park and the temple along the way from Giand Bell, Giant Buddha Hall, February Hall, March Hall, April Hall of Todaiji-temple to Kasuga Grand Shrine via Wakakusa mountain walk. We lost one student right before getting the Kintetsu Nara Station and missed several trains while searching the lost student. After almost 2 hours, we decided to leave for Kyoto. Upon arrival in Kyoto Station, we got a phone call that the student reached the wrong train station (JR) in Nara from which the student must get on the train for Kyoto alone. This is another lesson everyone must call GTS as soon as realizing being lost!!! The weather was perfect, everyone got exhausted as expected!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stage at Kiyomizu-temple!

Not much time for lunch before leaving for Yasaka-shrine. 3 students couldn't make it at the meeting time. The group left those 3 students behind and first got to Yasaka-shrine behind which the Maruyama Park is located. Maruyama Park is famous for its cherry blossoms in spring and most floats for Gion Festival are stored there. The group began walking from Maruyama Park, Kodaiji-temple (the former residence of Hideyoshi's wife, "NENE"), Ryozan Kan'non (Great Image of Buddha of Mercy), two-year slope, three-year slope, Kiyomizu-slope and reached Kiyomizu temple where every student enjoyed the city view from the famous stage of the temple. Return trip from Kiyomizu-temple via tea-bowl slope took us to the Gojozaka bus stop where we dismissed. Though the weather forecast reported the "RAIN" today, no rain showed up!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Monthly Flea Market in front of KIA

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, right in front of KIA, was built to honor Michizane Sugawara and is surrounded by nearly 50 different kinds of over 2,000 plum trees planted for Sugawara, who loved the blossoms. On the 25th of every month, the flea market is held and various vendors show up in and around the shrine. Since COD Summer program ends on 7/24, this is the only day on which students can enjoy eating and shopping as well as traditional games here! The weather was cooperating with us though students have to struggle with packed buses to return to host families! Another Tenmangu Shrine is located in Osaka and becomes the central shrine during the "Tenjin Festival (July 24-25, every year)," a week after Kyoto Gion Festival on 7/17. There are still a few students who can be placed a upper level class beginning tomorrow.
Because Kyoto city hosts "foreign ministers conference among 8 nations" next two days (6/26-27), police officers and riot police members are here and there for maintaining law and order now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Golden Pavilion shines for us in the rainy season!

GTS visited Rits Alumni Association office in the morning to arrange its peace museum visit on 7/4 on which students plans to have a chance to go through "Anti-Vietnam War poster exhibit."
Rits Alumni Association office along with its law school is located at the Nijo Station of JR/City Subway. GTS and his partner are both Rits Alumni and got to know with each other first at Rits Chicago Alumni Assocition Dinner.
Students experienced lunch at another college cafeteria at Rits before heading to the Golden Pavilion. Some students stopped by at the college logo store before meal. 15-minute walk took us to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji temple) which shines and reflects itself on the pond to welcome us to Kyoto. Despite the fact that the rainy season (Tsuyu) began a few days ago, it was quite lucky for us to walk through the temple with sunshine! Visitors threw coins to every possible place as if it gives them some good fortune in their life! That's kind of a bad habit brought from the West, yet certainly makes the temple happy to gain "unexpected" donation from even Japanese visitors! Remember, temples are the tax exempt institutions!!. No wonder the Golden Pavilion keeps itself covered with gold leaves!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

THE FIRST DAY (6/23/2008) The Rock Garden

Two students were late for school because of their disorientation near Kitano Tenmangu Shrine right in front of KIA. This is the superb beginning regardless of our 48-hour fun trip from Chicago to Japan! All ate lunch at one the cafeterias, Ryoyukan, of Ritsumeikan Unuversity (Rits). Some students successfully withdraw Yen from ATM located between KIA and Rits during 10min walk. After cheap delicious college lunch, 5-minute walk took us to the famous Rock Garden (Ryoan-ji). Returning trip home began at the bus stop located right in front of the main gate of Rits. One student missed the designated bus stop (Kitano Tenmangu mae) and went to Kyoto station, the terminal. After struggling to find the way back home, finally reached home 4 hours after we dismissed at Rits!! Though it might be the scary experience but hopefully it was a good experience to know what "NOT HAVING MY PHONE NUMBER" really means!
Who's next?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Extraordinary Experience at the beginning 2 (Japan Program)

All of us got a chance of taking a shower, changing clothes, free breakfast buffet, and free Internet connection for about 6 hours! Some got out from the hotel and took some unexpected pictures, enjoyed unplanned views in CHINA. After taking all advantage of being in China, we left there for Nagoya by China Eastern Airlines with full lunch service. Finally we arrived in Nagoya at 1pm on Saturday 42 hours after we checked in at O'Hare. From Nagoya, the Bullet Train took us to Kyoto and joined staff from Kyoto International Academy where every student was successfully picked up by each host family at 6pm (local) which was almost 2 entire days since the Chicago departure. Though everyone seemed to be exhausted, s/he joined GTS next day on Sunday noon at school to just make sure how to get to school from each host family. Those who decided to join GTS on Sunday got the commuter pass for bus and train and became mentally ready for schooling next day!

Extraordinary Experience at the beginning1 (Japan Program)

Our flight for Nagoya Japan via San Francisco was supposed to take off at 7am but the "usual" mechanical problem caused 4-hour delay. After being stuck in the aircraft for 4 hours in Chicago, finally we left for San Francisco knowing that we would NOT make it for connection there. Students might have in a little panic, yet GTS was so calm. A safe airplane was most important and GTS didn't care anything but safety. Certainly COD Liberal Arts Division was notified the situation by GTS though the revised schedule was still unknown. We had no idea what might be the option at SFO but we safely arrived in SFO at 11:30am (local). Upon arrival on SFO, we learned that all of us had been re-booked for "Jet Airways 209" for Shang-hai, China at 8:45pm (9-hour layover!!). We got $15 meal voucher per person and waited for an "unknown" airline. Actually Jet Airways, which is just 15 years old, is the best airline in India and indeed, all the check-in counter employees were superb in their hospitality. The aircraft we got on was the latest Boeing 777-300ER with wider seats, individual TV monitor with games and movies, and colorful in-room lighting service. We could choose Indian dining service with vegetarian option.
Though we had LONG lay-over, we loved the Jet Airways and were happy except the fact that we had to go to China instead of Japan. We were welcomed by a "United" employee giving us a hotel voucher at the Shang-hai International Airport!!!! (We felt that a "US career" wasn't too bad only at that time!) We got our luggage and went through the Chinese Immigration with embarkation stamp! When we saw the sign "Welcome to Shang-hai" for Japan Study Abroad program, we really felt that we got on the wrong airplane and reached the wrong destination!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Big Earthquake in Japan and Kyoto

There was a breaking news at the almost end of my AP scoring session during which some my fellow AP readers had to leave earlier because of the horrible flood in Ceder Rapids, IA. The breaking news was the EARTHQUAKE in Japan by which over 20 people were killed and about 200 people got injured. Even Bullet trains there were derailed! Its magnitude was 7.2, which is just about the same scale as the Kobe-earthquake in 1995 which killed over 5000 people. Fortunately the area we are going to for the study abroad program (Kyoto) is located at a completely different area, so my students should feel OK at this time. It seems, however, the summer began and the high temperature of each day gets 28C (82F) by the time we get there. I am just excited to go to Japan with bunch of my students and I do inform them now to feel safe even though we probably still hear some after effect of this big earthquake!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Royals vs. Rangers at Kansas City

While scoring AP Japanese tests, I had a little time-off at night and went to the Ball game nearby stadium with my colleague Japanese teacher of Seton Hall University in NJ from which I was graduated. Both teams are at the bottom of the team standing so it was easy to get a nice seat right in front of 3rd baseman. Until one of Japanese pitchers, Yasuhiko Yabuta, showed up at the almost end of the game to save the game, I didn't realize that Royals has a Japanese player. Well, he got one win from Yankees last week but this time he came over to the mound to save but got a few hits and became a losing pitcher instead. Well, it was a good game (6-5). The Texas Rangers won the game from the behind. Two home-runs from Royals, a couple of significant errors from both teams. So the game itself was pretty exciting though we were both extremely exhausted. As a refresher for the in-prison activity like scoring, it was quite meaningful. I am ready to go back to Chicago area now and leave for Japan already. Before going to Japan, I have to work as a voice actor for the Rotary International!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

AP Japanese Scoring

Those who graduated from high school are probably familiar with AP courses in various subjects. Recently (actually last year) AP Japanese test began and this is the second year. Over 2000 students took AP test this year and I am one of the scoring leaders of the AP Japanese test. Scoring is like working in the prison confinement all day long for about 2 weeks. So I am now in Kansas City to complete this assignment. I am not sure if 3rd year Japanese finishers of my class can get AP grade of 3 or above. Especially the writing task and the listening task aren't that easy, which is also the week point of our class at COD. At least we can have a little free time at night so my friend professor from Seton Hall University in NJ (where I earned MA degree) and I will go to Kansas City Royals ball game soon. BTW, Royals is the bottom of their divisional team standing! Since the opponent is Texas Rangers, another weak team, we got a nice seat in front of 3rd base. Well, as soon as returning to Chicago on 6/16, I have to finalize the Study Abroad preparation and get ready to fly out with my students and 2.5-year old little "EMA."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fall 2008 Classes of GTS

There will be 4 Japanese 1101 classes in fall of which 3 classes be entertained by GTS: 2 morning classes Monday through Thursday at 9am and 11am, 1 night class on Monday and Wednesday at 7pm. (1 night class on Tuesday and Thursday at 5pm will be taught by Satoko Kamiya who was trained to teach Japanese at DePaul University teacher program.) There will be a Japanese 2201 class on Monday and Wednesday at 5pm just before 1101 class. Japanese 2251 will be at noon on Tuesday. Those who are interested in the Honor Seminar, can attend our Honor Seminar on Tuesday and Thursday between 6pm and 8:50pm during which students can meet with Japanese students in Hiroshima real time through WebCam and teleconferences. This seminar is conducted as a joint project of Japanese 1100 and Sociology 2220 of Prof. Dean Peterson.
GTS will also take care of classes at Waubonsee Community College for both Japanese and Chinese. GTS will face "Karoshi" (Death caused by excessive work) again this fall. Be nice to GTS!

Conratulations for Survivors at my classes!

After the final exam, 29 students survived at JAPANESE 1102: 8As, 8Bs, 7Cs, 1D, 5Ss. Those who could not survive got letter grades of F, I, and W.
7 survivors from Japanese 2202 are 2As, 1B, 2Cs, 1D, and 1S. 4 survivors from Japanese 2252 are 2As, 1B and 1C. There are 7 survivors at Waubonsee Community College Japanese 102: 2As, 2Bs, 2Cs and 1D. There are more survivors in Japanese 1102 this year than last year. I hope may of 1102 survivors continue to study Japanese at 2201 level in fall. Out of 7 sturvivors of Japanese 2202, 2 students will be transfered to North Central College and Loyola University. 5 survivors may hopefully continue to study at Japanese 2251 in fall. I am looking forward to meeting all survivors in fall again!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Weekends during Study Abroad

Students can enjoy weekends (Sat & Sun) by themselves. Some want to:
*just spend some time alone somewhere.
*explorer alone to extended areas in Kyoto or nearby cities.
*meet people in various places to apply acquired language skills.
*meet with other participants to enjoy day-off together.
Weekend is also good for some distant over-night trips: by bullet trains, long distance bus, by boat, by trains, by bicycle, etc. Students are REQUIRED to report any over-night weekend trips to the Director, GTS.
There are also default plans prepared by the Director and any students are welcomed to participate at their own expense. (Often cheaper as a group!)
During the program 2008, there are 5 weekends:
1st weekend (6/21-22) --- Students should learn rules of the host family and how to commute to KIA. There is a tentative meeting scheduled by the director on Sunday (6/22)
The default plan is: (only happening on Saturdays and TBA on Sundays)
2nd weekend (6/28-29) --- Osaka South Port Area (Japan's largest aquarium, etc)
3rd weekend (7/5-6) --- Universal Studio Japan in Osaka
4th weekend (7/12-13) --- Professional Baseball in Osaka (Tigers vs. Carp)
5th long-weekend (7/19-20-21) --- Lake Biwa Trip in Shiga (7/21 is the national Ocean Day holiday)
Most famous summer festival in Kyoto is 7/14~17: 14th~16th can be enjoyed at night in the city, the big float-parade is on 17th.
Any default plans have not planned any Sundays yet. Student can suggest some ideas and get the director's wise support for it!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Study Abroad Credits Transfer

Students in COD Study Abroad Program must register 2 courses (7 credits). One is the language course, JAPAN 1840, and another is the history/culture course, HIST 1820. JAPAN 1840 has Beginning/Intermediate/Advanced categories which is assigned at the end of the program. Everything about this class is taken care of by KIA and the director gets the final grade from the KIA. HIST 1820 begins during the pre-travel orientation and end with the program. All necessary assignments are specified in the syllabus distributed during the orientation.
Those 7 credits can be tranferred to other institutions in various ways. Each institution requires different things, students are strongly encouraged to consult with the director, GTS, after talking with the person who is in charge at the transerred institution. Historically there have never been problems of credits transfer to any schools that GTS worked with. GTS will make utmost effort to create Win-Win situation! Remember it is GTS!

COD Class Retention (6 semesters)

COD offers the 6-semester sequence of Japanese totalling 22 credits. Of those 4 credits (JAPAN 2202) are so-called IAI compatible though all the credits can be transferred in various ways to other institution. The first semester (1101) begins with over 100 students in 4 sections. The second semester (1102) begins with 50-60 students (2-3 sections). Reasons for non-continuing are: Satisfied with a bit of taste of Japanese, Transferring to another institution, Too difficult to learn (3 different writing systems, completely different grammar structure from English, etc), Too much demand in class (too many quizzes, horribly difficult tests, too much embarrassed in class, etc).
The third semester (2201) begins with 15-25 students (1 section). Main reasons of discontinuing are time conflict (b/c only 1 section), transferring to another institution, no luxury time to spend language learning, etc.
At the end of the fourth semester (2202) which is the last semester for usual students at community college (2 years), about 10 students left. This has been the trend at COD in past 10 years.
Since the creation of 5th and 6th semester courses (2251-2252), there have been 5-8 student attended in every semester (usually once a week).
Besides above-mentioned regular on-campus classes, there are 4 credits offered during the Japan Summer Study Abroad Program. This 4 credits are under JAPAN 1840 (Beginning or Intermediate or advanced) outside the regular course sequence.
Just how much time needed to learn Japanese compare to Spanish, etc. see this page. Four times as long hours needed!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Fuel Cost & Weak Dollar

Recent rapid rise of petroleum cost and weakening dollar's value against other currencies directly impact on the Study Abroad Program. The original plan of orientation/peace study in Hiroshima has been modified and COD group will directly getting to KIA this year. Furthermore, we will be arriving at Chubu Int'l Airport (Nagoya), the newest big airport, and get to Kyoto by Bullet Train.
Hiroshima peace study will still be in place during the program. Early in the morning on July 8th (Tuesday), the charter bus will leave Kyoto for Hiroshima via Sanyo Super High Way for the first time in the history of COD Japan Study Abroad Program. Students can have an opportunity to compare various aspects in highway system between Japan and America. e.g. toll, speed, service facilities, scenery, etc. In addtion, host families and other regular students of KIA will be encouraged to participate. It takes about 4-5 hours between Kyoto and Hiroshima so we will only have 3-4 hours in Hiroshima where we learn from an A-bomb survivor about the life experience.
Hopefully the value of dollars goes up by mid-June so that everyone's life gets a bit easier.

Elementary Class of GTS (Repeaters)

There have been always repeaters of the first or second semester of Elemntary Japanese at COD. Reasons are various: withdrew from the class before, assigned bad letter grade (including F) from the class before, chose the Pass/Fail option before, reviewing before moving on, took the class long time ago, or simply enjoying the class. Repeating the course is one of the luxuary choice allowed at a community college.
COD Japanese courses change textbooks quite often for repeaters to experience the new learning environment. Besides, GTS gets bored if keep using the same textbook over and over. Any instructors are NOT teaching a textbook of any subject but teaching any subject WITH a textbook. So it shouldn't matter which textbook can be used. For Japanese learning, textbooks published in Japan has insufficient information for students in America while textbooks published here in the U.S. contains almost too much trivial information. Either one is good as long as an instructor knows HOW to deal with each textbook.
Repeating is often encouraged since learning speed of students varies. Repeating is good for solidify knowledge and skills as well. Language study requires a lot of time and effort, so don't be discouraged by meaningless frustrations! Continuing study is THE Key for success!
Don't be afraid of repeating the same course (there is no such thing as the same course anyways)! Be proud of striving for self-achievement continuously!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Elementary Class of GTS (Survival)

COD Japanese course begins with 4 sections of JAPAN1101, each of which has 25 students max. Some classes may even begin a little over 25 students causing insufficient number of chairs in class! 2 morning classes (9am and 11am in fall 2008) will be on Monday through Thursday and 2 night classes (5pm and 7pm in fall 2008) will be on either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. Due to the Honor Seminar facilitating schedule for GTS at night on Tuesday and Thursday, one night class (5pm T/Th) will be taken care of by the well-trained part-time instructor (MA in Japanese education in DePaul University).
Morning classes have usually 'traditional' students (18~22years old) and night classes have various kind of students besides 'traditional' students such as, high school students, full-time professionals, retired challengers, etc. GTS's class gives a quiz (sometimes quizzes!) every class! Contents of the quiz is often announced but not always. Because of the nature of the community college, there have been less writing skill training components in COD Japanes programs. (How many students will need Japanese writing skills in future? Probably not too many!) Those who want to transfer to 4-year institutions may need supplementary writing exercises. Most of the time, not necessary.
How many students survive in the first semester Japanese class and go on to the second semester class? Statistically 50~60%! Some transfer to other schools. Some are beamed up to their Spaceship! Some are satisfied with just one course. Some have scheduling conflicts...... 35~40 students (out of original 100+ students) survived at the end of the Elementary Japanese Course. Out of these students, some still fail at the very end! GTS enjoys every class with students but not plays with numbers. GTS, however, strongly believes that there must be the way for every 'diligent' 'studious' student to get a decent grade even if s/he is not a good test taker.
Though GTS does NOT play with numbers, GTS does help students to somehow get their life moving on. SO NOT the end of the World!