Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Konnichiwa. Ron Howard desu.

Greg managed to get two days off in a row for once, so we took a trip to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf, Japan

The journey was hardly epic. In our continuing quest to see garish American culture through the eyes of the Japanese we ended up at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. They had a whole mini San Francisco land that had the various signs and outward appearences of San Francisco landmarks but none of the substance. Or the homeless people. Here's "The Haight." I guess the Japanese think hippies are half sea horse?

The Haight, Japan

They did however have a mega-sized Mel's Diner. The menu was limited to basic burger, fries, and a shake combos, although they were all scaled down to a quarter of the size of their American counterparts. I think my Dad would have cried at the sight of the size-of-a-redbull-can milkshakes. Not to mention that the combos were going for $17. Ahhh, Japan.

Mel's diner in Japan

I think Universal Studios Japan just inherited rides that were no longer popular in America and dubbed them into Japanese. What's hilarious about this was how manly they made everybodyl seem. Ron Howard sounded like he would kick your ass in a dark alley. The only exception was the Terminator 2 ride. Arnold sounded more human than ever.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm not a pervert. I'm just a person who can understand your shirt.

Japanese camera phones have the unfortunate feature that you can't turn off the extremely loud fake camera shutter sound effect. I say this is unfortunate not because I want perverts to take up-skirt shots of me on the train (which is why the feature is required), but because it prevents me from serendipitously photographing the amazing t-shirts I see on a daily basis. My recent favorite was a teenage girl at summer camp whose shirt boldly declared "Let's be hippies! MARIJUANA," but this was replaced today by a woman's shirt bearing the words "Now that the kids are older, let's talk about duilding a new addition onto the house" in the spot American girls reserve for tramp stamps. Yes, I know that's a d.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let's understanding

After you've been at the English teaching game in this country for a while, a certain cynicism inevitably sets in. Whether it's bored, unmotivated students, unhelpful co-workers, or burnout from teaching dozens of different classes the same old thing every week, grousing about respective work situations is a frequent topic of conversation whenever ALTs and/or eikaiwa folk get together.

Beyond that, though, I think a lot of people would agree that the worst aspect of teaching English in Japan is often the teaching materials you're supplied with. It's filled with ridiculous, cheesy songs and completely unrealistic spoken dialogue sequences, often with bizarre, non-standard English that no native speaker could even dream up. I mean, I remember dumb stuff like this when I took French in high school, but the Japanese have practically turned it into an art form, all the while not noticing how completely ineffective it is, not to mention despised by teachers and students alike.

So it's with that in mind that I, and probably every other person who has taught English in Japan, found the following video completely hilarious. Someone took the audio CDs from Eigo Noto (English Note, the standard middle school English textbook) and created a video around them, which... well, just watch. You might not appreciate it as much as someone who's had to actually use materials like these, but it's funny nonetheless.