Monday, January 31, 2011

Yutaka with the Finnish students

We had a small farewell dinner to our Finnish students tonight. They were here for only a semester and time went by way too fast.

Happy Birthday!

It's hard to believe my baby brother is turning 40 today! Parabéns, Má and welcome to the 40's.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Maki is back from Hungary

Maki arrived at Narita Aiport this morning after spending a semester at Budapest Business School as our first exchange student.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Visit to Keiai Gakuen

I went to Keiai Gakuen in Inage today to meet the Principal and Vice-Principal and talk about the program in which six JIU students took part in the other day. One of my former students is now teaching there and he organized this "cultural exchange activity." Six of our international students of six different nationalities interacted with the high school students who will be going to England for a year later this year. I'm sure it was a good opportunity for both parties as our students had an opportunity to meet high school students and actually visit the facilities, and the high school students had the opportunity to meet people from Spain, France, Hungary, the US, China and Norway. The more encounters there are the more opportunities people have to open up their minds and hearts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Japan Foundation

We met with all students going abroad with the support of the Japan Foundation. They will be assisting the Japanese language programs at some of our sister universities in Norway (University of Oslo), Hungary (Budapest Business School), Korea (Tozai University), the Philippines (Ateneo de Manila University) and China (Xian University) from the end of this month.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Szent István University at JIU

It was a big pleasure to receive Dr. Lászlo Villányi, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Dr. Lászlo Guth and Dr. Laszlo Vasa and their spouses in Togane today. Coincidentally they all have the same first name! We first met when I was in Hungary in November, 2009 and after that they came to Togane once. This was their second visit in one year and that's a sign that our sister university relationship has become a strong one. We had dinner together and at that time Dr. Villányi mentioned that in the future he would like to receive Kobe beef as a souvenir from Japan. I had to tell him that what he was eating tonight was Japanese beef but not Kobe beef.... He was polite and said it was good anyway (photo). They are great people and great professionals and our students are lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them and on their campus in Godollo. Twelve of our students will be departing Japan in February and will be taking part in a special course with a focus on environmental issues at Szent István University. (I don't usually wear a cap to dinner--this white cap was a gift from the Dean.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Strawberries with Yoshika

I bought some "桃いちご" for the first time today (photo with Pasmo card). Look at how big and beautiful they are. If you have a chance and love the fruit, please go strawberry picking this season. There are great places in Togane and Naruto for that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Yesterday was the last day of our intensive TOEIC course and today is the test day. Good luck, everybody!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I had dinner at the restaurant in Togane where my seminar student Dan-san works. I'm trying to lose weight so I'm showing you the photo of the healthy grilled vegetables I had, but that doesn't mean that's all I ate....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Last Seminar Meeting

Today we had our final seminar with the 4th-year students. We had a pot-luck lunch and enjoyed good homemade food. We had all kinds of dishes including crab dip, tuna dip, chiffon cake, cheese cake, curry, sandwiches, Japanese "nimono", potato salad, Boston baked beans, cheese and Brazilian fruit salad. We ate way too much but had the opportunity to burn some calories bowling in the room. We also exchanged gifts.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First "soba" of the year

Last night I had my first sushi of the year in Oami, and tonight I had my first "soba" at the local restaurant where I'm a regular customer. My favorite food there is their "tsukune" (photo). This place is really close to campus and if you haven't been there yet, I should say it's worth checking it out.

All the Disney returnees at JIU

The students returning from the internship program at UC Riverside and Disney World met with Dean Tokoku this afternoon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Disney group is back

Despite the complications with the flight to LA, our students were able to arrive at Narita Airport tonight. Some of us went out for dinner. Naho said she felt like eating ramen, so we went to Yutaka--my third time this week....

Disney Internship

The students who participated in the Disney Internship were not able to fly to Narita two days ago, but they are arriving today. Here's a photo of them at LAX a little bit before departure.

Snow in Togane

It was snowing when I started my car at 7 AM today and when I reached Togane it was snowing even more here. Like my neighbors, I wasn't expecting any rain or snow today, but I wasn't as optimistic as they were and didn't hang any laundry outside (photo). It's very rare for us to see snow in Togane so I hope that is a sign of good luck to all the students taking exams today--another long day for all of them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Center 入試

Today and tomorrow are big days for the 55o,ooo Japanese students who are taking the national entrance exams this year. It's two days of exams from morning to evening all over Japan. More than one thousand are taking the exam here at JIU. Luckily for them, despite the cold weather here, it's not raining nor snowing as it is in most parts of the country. Good luck, everyone!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dinner with the students from Ateneo

I was finally able to invite the students from Ateneo de Manila University for dinner tonight. It ended up being a farewell dinner as they'll be leaving on Wednesday already.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year Greetings at the Namekis

Look at the cute rabbits on the tea cups that were especially made for Mr. Nameki--he was born the year of the rabbit. (I found out tonight that he and my father are both turning 72 this year.) We went to his place for greetings in the afternoon and ended up having a superb meal with them. Tama, one of the cute cats, had a good time, too, after "stealing" half of my fish!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Presentations by International Students

Approximately 80 of our international students gave presentations today as a final project on their studies of Japanese at JIU. I wasn't able to be present the whole time, but I'm planning to watch the whole video this weekend. I'm sorry so many students will be leaving Japan already later this month. Here's a photo of some of them singing the JIU song on stage.


We started our intensive TOEIC prep course today. There are 20 students registered and we are going to study hard to improve our scores by at least 50 points. The test is going to be next Saturday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A pleasant surprise from Florida

Today I received a gift from the students who are working and studying at Disney World in Florida. Thank you, everyone! I can't believe you're already returning to Japan this weekend.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coming-of-Age with Yamada-sensei

I had the pleasure of finally having a great meal with Yamada-sensei and his wife at the restaurant that opened recently at the Hoki Museum here in Toke. We live so close to each other, but unfortunately hardly ever get to spend time together.

I'd like to congratulate all students who are turning twenty this year and are probably now back in their hometown. May you all have a bright future!

Friday, January 7, 2011


We did not have a chance to have an end-of-year party in December, but some faculty members from the Center for Language Education and from the Department of International Exchange Studies were able to get together tonight. It was our first day of classes this year, so it was a good day to meet. It seems like our resolutions are all related to our health and I do hope we'll all have a healthy and productive 2011 with time to read good books that will help and inspire us to be better educators.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Los Angeles

I decided to come to Los Angeles last minute for a very short three-day trip. The day I arrived it felt colder here than in Chiba and it was raining! The sky was finally blue yesterday, but I'm already at the JAL lounge almost ready to board. I hardly ever go on unplanned trips like this, but it was not bad at all.