Sarah’s Blog Post 15: December 17, 2015


I really enjoy being part of the International Club because we get to do a lot of different activities. Sometimes we make food or play games or watch movies. This week, we had a Christmas party where we made decorations and ate cake. Last week I said that we don’t have the KFC Christmas meal in the United States. Another tradition that is popular in Japan, but not in the United States, is eating Christmas cake. Sometimes we will have Buche de Noel, which is a French roll cake decorated to look like a tree log. I tried making Buche de Noel once, but I failed and the cake wasn’t soft enough to roll. It crumbled apart and was really messy. I would like to try to make Buche de Noel again, but I am always so busy around the holidays. The holiday season is fun, but I think it is always a very busy time as well. I hope everyone has a great time over the holidays and I am looking forward to third term!

Disney Sea!

Last week I went to Disney Sea for the first time and it was great! I’ve been to Disney Land in California and I was curious to see if Disney Sea would be different. I was surprised at how many things were in English, from the announcements on the loud speakers to the signs indicating locations and the dos and don’ts of the park. Even the workers were very skilled English speakers. I guess this makes sense due to the amount of foreigners that must visit the theme park. It was fun to see the shows that required speaking because it was all in Japanese. I really enjoyed the Little Mermaid performance, the stage and setup of the room made it feel as if I were actually under the sea. The Crush act was also fun to watch and I was happy that I knew enough Japanese to understand most of the jokes. I stayed from open to closing and by the end of the day, I was super exhausted but it was worth it.



- Yaya Campbell


Cookies for Everyone!

It’s finals week, which means that everyone is busy with either preparing or studying for exams. Since there are no clubs the week before final exams, the international club teachers wanted to do something nice for the students, so we decided to make Christmas cookies for everyone. It took us a few hours, but we made a ton of cookies, maybe even more than a hundred of them. We had the students come into the kitchen a few at a time to grab a cookie and tried to interact in as much English as we could. The students seemed to like the chocolate chip cookies and were a bit hesitant to try the rice crispy treats, which in my opinion would have been a delicious foreign snack to try. Overall, it was a fun afternoon of baking and talking to students.


- Yaya Campbell


Sarah’s Blog Post 14: December 11, 2015


This winter break, I am going all the way back home for the holidays. I am sad that I will not be able to get a special KFC holiday meal. In the United States we usually eat ham, turkey, or a roast for Christmas dinner, so the KFC holiday meal is unique to Japan.


I have been shopping for Christmas gifts and it is very difficult. California has a lot of Japanese influence just like Tokyo has a lot of American influence. Finding presents can be hard because my friends and family have already tasted things like manjuu, mochi, and senbei. One thing that we don’t have much in the United States is yuzu. It is getting popular in big cities, but it is still very difficult to find. I love yuzu, so I want to bring yuzu flavored things back to my family.



Speeches and Pronunciation

This week we had a lot of our students doing speeches for the end of the term. I always enjoy going around the classroom and helping students practice their speech. Things like pronunciation and timing are very tricky if English is not your native language, so lots of practice is helpful for them. I genuinely enjoy hearing what they have to say and I want them to have fun with their speeches.


- Yaya Campbell



Sarah’s Blog Post 13: December 3, 2015


I love to go to karaoke in Japan. It is especially fun because it is more popular in Japan than it is in the United States. You can go with many friends and have your own party in the karaoke room. In the United States, none of the places for karaoke have private rooms. There is one stage at the front of the room and only a few people can go up to the stage at a time. In the United States, everyone hears you sing. Shy people would not enjoy going to karaoke places in the United States.

Yaya-sensei and I went to sing karaoke last night. It was so much fun! We are not very good at singing Japanese songs because the words on the screen appear too fast for us. Luckily, most karaoke places in Japan have long lists of English songs. Since American musicians like Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift are popular in Japan, I was not surprised to find their songs. However, I was surprised to find so many other artists that I like. Some of the music I like is old and from the 1990s, but I still found many of those songs. I wish the United States had more karaoke places like Japan does!



Happy Thanksgiving

This week in America, there is a national holiday called Thanksgiving. It is a time to be thankful and eat lots of delicious food with your family and friends. In class we talked about this holiday a little at the start of each class on Thursday (Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday of November) and I got to talk about it a little more with some of the first-year students. It was mostly made up of pictures of Thanksgiving food, like Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie.. lots of pie. With each photo the students oohed and aahed at how delicious the food looked.  I was surprised that none of them have ever eaten turkey before but then again, turkey is hard to come by in Japan. I hope that one day, some of the students will get to enjoy the delicious food of Thanksgiving.



- Yaya Campbell



Sarah’s Blog Post 12: November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving is a major holiday in the United States. Usually, families come together on Thanksgiving Day and eat a very big dinner. In the United States, Thanksgiving happens every year on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, it is on November 26th. Many people believe that the first Thanksgiving in the United States was celebrated in 1621 before the United States was even a country. Pilgrims left England and traveled to the United States in order to be able to practice their own religion. They were not allowed to do this in England. When they came to the United States, they couldn’t grow any food. The Native Americans helped them. This is why we celebrate Thanksgiving with a big dinner.


Traditional Thanksgiving Day foods are turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. There are many other dishes that families often make like yams, cranberry sauce, and green beans, but turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie are the most common. Many people watch football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television as well. I miss my family a lot and wish I could eat all of the delicious Thanksgiving Day foods.








Sarah’s Blog Post 11: November 18, 2015


Many JET teachers look forward to learning traditional Japanese customs the most when they move to Japan. Different schools have different clubs, so some JET teachers learn things like aikido or kyudo. At this school, we have igo club, kadobu, judo, and sadobu. I joined kadobu, but I was afraid to join sadobu because sitting seiza is very painful. I know that I would be very bad at doing tea ceremonies. I can sit seiza for a little while, so I can watch the students perform tea ceremonies. However, I can’t stand up after sitting seiza for a long time, so I can’t perform tea ceremonies myself.


Today, Jitsuishi-sensei invited us to learn how to make the tea for a tea ceremony with her class. I felt less embarrassed because most of the other students also didn’t know very much about tea ceremony. It was difficult because I am left-handed and you have to stir the tea with your right hand. I tried very hard, but I couldn’t move my right hand fast enough and I couldn’t make bubbles appear in the tea. Jane-sensei is very good at sitting seiza. It is a good experience to learn things with students instead of teaching them. We had a lot of fun and I hope to do more activities like this in the future.

Tea Ceremony

A few days ago, I got to sit in on a tea ceremony class.  It was very interesting to watch how the tea is prepared. Even though everything was in Japanese, I could understand the main gist of it. It was fun to mix the tea on my own and learn from the ladies who were so knowledgeable about this tradition. Additionally, this was the longest I have had to sit in seiza for a while. It was nice to see that I was not the only one whose legs fell asleep. Overall, I really enjoyed this opportunity and I hope to experience more of Japanese culture.


- Yaya Campbell


Sound of Music

This week the students and staff got to watch the Sound of Music as a play. It was very fun to watch and I enjoyed it very much. The actors were so talented, especially the children. It was interesting to hear how the songs were translated from English to Japanese. The most significant change was a song called Do-Re-Mi. This song uses the sounds “do re mi fa so la ti do” and in English, these sounds match up with certain words. However, in Japanese, these sounds match up with different words. It was interesting to hear how to song changed to fit the language and I was glad that I could understand most of it. Overall, this was a great language learning moment and a fun event.


- Yaya Campbell


Sarah’s Blog Post 10: November 12, 2015

“The Sound of Music” is a very popular movie in the United States. Many people love Maria, who is played by Julie Andrews. It was very nostalgic because I watched Julie Andrews in many movies when I was a child. I have never seen “The Sound of Music” before, so it was a new story for me. I loved being able to watch it in Japanese because I was able to practice my understanding of Japanese. Since I didn’t know the story in English, I was able to get a better idea of how much Japanese I understood.


I loved the costumes and the actors had beautiful voices, but my favorite part of the musical was seeing the beautiful sets on stage. I was amazed by how they could change all of the scenery in such a short time. The Von Trapp mansion had beautiful architecture that reminded me of my favorite art styles. I have never seen a stage musical in the United States, but now I want to go to one.




Sarah’s Blog Post 9: November 11, 2015


This week, Kawano-sensei asked Yaya and me some questions about our school and job experiences. I was excited to be able to talk to the first year high school students about preparing for their futures. Being a high school student is very difficult because you have so many different career paths to choose from. The students will face so many new challenges over the next few years. They will also have the opportunities and confidence to do so many new things over those years as well. My best advice for students is to never lose confidence in yourself. It is okay to question your plans for the future, but never lose confidence in your ability to make the right decision. This will help keep you from becoming depressed.

I want to thank Kawano-sensei and Ozaki-sensei for all of their help preparing for the interview. I also want to thank all of the other first year high school teachers for allowing me to speak to the first year students. It was so much fun and I hope some students decide to study abroad.


Halloween in Japan

This past week was Halloween! It was very interesting to see what Halloween is like in Japan. In the International Club, we had a Halloween party to celebrate. We talked about what Halloween in America is like and how it may differ from other countries like Japan and Mexico. We spent the rest of the time making masks and eating some candy while listening to Halloween music in the background. It was fun to see the variety of masks the students made and learn about their experience with Halloween.


- Yaya Campbell



Sarah’s Blog Post 8: November 4, 2015

Halloween is a very popular holiday in the United States. I was very interested to see how it is celebrated in Japan because I have heard that it is not as big of a holiday here. However, as I have been walking through all of the stores and streets around Kichijoji and the rest of Tokyo, I noticed many Halloween decorations. I was looking forward to the actual day. From what I have been told, Halloween has been getting much more popular in Tokyo over the past few years.


This year, I went to Shibuya because I heard that there would be many people. There were so many people that it was very difficult to walk along the streets. My favorite thing about Halloween in Shibuya was being able to see all of the creative costumes that people were wearing. People in the United States also think of many creative costumes, but it was fun to see the differences with popular costumes. I think that Japanese people like to make scarier costumes than people in the United States. In the United States it might be common to dress up as a police officer, but in Japan it seemed common to make many costumes into zombie versions. So I saw many zombie police officers in Shibuya.



Sarah’s Blog Post 7: October 27, 2015


Last weekend I went hiking in Nikko. It took me about three hours to get there by train. I live near San Francisco in California so I am used to living in the city, but I still spent a lot of time in the town where I grew up. Pleasanton, my hometown, is a suburb so it is close to places with a lot of nice nature scenery. Sometimes when I am in Tokyo, I miss being able to go on hikes.

Nikko is in Tochigi, so it isn’t as crowded as Tokyo. When I got there, it looked like some people were having a wedding ceremony on the Shinkyo Bridge. I really enjoyed being able to see some of the small shrines in the mountains. Japan has many more lakes and rivers than California as well, so it was nice to see such beautiful things that I don’t get the chance to see in California. Nikko is famous for the 三猿, but I didn’t get to see them. I saw a bonsai show instead and ate hashiyaki and black sesame ice cream. There are still many lakes, waterfalls, shrines, and shops that I didn’t get to see this time. Nikko is a world heritage site, so I would definitely like to go to Nikko again.

Favorite Seasons

   This week in classes, we are having some of the students prepare speeches about their favorite seasons. While I am familiar with some characteristics of the seasons in Japan, like the red leaves of autumn or making snowmen in the winter, it is interesting to learn about how the culture differs from the United States with the changing months. I got to ask the students questions about different festivals they like and what kinds of activities they enjoy during their favorite season. I also learned about what foods they eat at different times of the year, like nabe, kakigori, and many more. I enjoyed learning more about each students’ interests and helping them with their speeches.


- Yaya Campbell




Sarah’s Blog Post 6: October 23, 2015

One of the most difficult and most important skills to learn when traveling abroad is how to understand food labels. Whether you are eating in restaurants or cooking for yourself at home, knowing food words is important. Kanji makes this difficult for a non-native Japanese speaker. I know that 鳥肉 means “chicken”, but I didn’t know that was also the same as “chicken”. I think it is probably the same in English, because we have two words for chicken meat as well. You can call it “chicken” or “poultry”.

Japan has many more different kinds of fish than the United States. For example, mackerel, or , is a very common type of fish to eat and buy in Japan. In the United States, you mostly only find mackerel in Japanese restaurants. The most common types of fish to eat in the United States are tuna/, salmon/, tilapia/ティラピア, catfish/, and cod/. Since the kanji for many types of fish start with the radical , it is difficult to remember which fish is which. If I had to give Japanese travelers any advice about visiting a foreign country, the most useful types of words to learn are food words and direction words (方向の言葉).


The Fujimura Field Performance

 After weeks of hearing about the students practicing for the Engihappyoukai, the big day had finally arrived. This was my first exposure to an engihappyoukai and to me, it seemed most similar to a well-orchestrated field show performance. It was amazing to see how skilled the students were and the precision it took to complete their routines. My favorite part of the performance was when students did the wave with their arms linked together. It was very mesmerizing as they moved in unison, creating a sea of fans and pink cloth material. It was clear that all their hard work had paid off.


- Yaya Campbell



      School assemblies were always exciting for me when I was a student. We didn’t have many when I was in high school because our school had more than 2,400 students and it was difficult to organize all of them. However, when I was in middle school we had a professional football player come speak to us because one of the students at our school was the son of a football coach. You can’t avoid becoming excited when someone famous comes to your school. I hope that the students were as excited to have the opportunity to meet Kanako Domori. She has had the chance to compete in the Paralympics in London and Beijing. From the little Japanese that I can understand, her experiences sounded incredible. It was very inspiring to hear her speak and to watch her play. It was even more inspiring to see Tomimoto-sensei, Mii-sensei, and the students play against her.
By Sarah



     I have heard from other teachers that the “engi happyoukai” is special to Fujimura High School. That made it very interesting to watch. The rain delayed it by almost a full month, but the weather on the thirteenth was beautiful. It was exciting to see Ooi Stadium as well. I have never been to that part of the city. The view from the monorail was very nice. I have been on the monorail toward Odaiba as well, and I think that the views from the monorail are the best. When we were walking across the bridge, I saw many fish jumping from the water. The “mass games” were amazing. I liked being able to watch the whole school working together to present something to their families and loved ones. It was also good to see all of the students since I work mostly with the second year senior high school students. I’m sure that the students were exhausted afterwards, but they seemed to enjoy the time that they spent with each other.
by Sarah



        I was so excited to be able to attend my first Japanese school festival!  In America, we don’t have school festivals in high school like in Japan. Sometimes towns will have fall festivals, but they aren’t run by students. Festival food is very fun to eat. I enjoyed the “takonashiyaki” because I like mochi and cheese better than octopus. It was also great to see the club performances.  Yaya and I do not get to see some of the clubs that practice every day because they are always very busy. At the school festival, I think everyone was very happy to see the results of each student’s practice and preparation. I want to thank all of the students for doing such a good job.
                                                                                                                                  by Sarah

My First School Festival

A few weeks ago I went to my very first School Festival. I was impressed by the amount of work the students and teachers put into making this event happen. I enjoyed watching the sports and club performances such as gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and dance. It was a great opportunity to see my students interacting outside of the classroom and doing something they love. After eating curry rice for lunch, I got to explore the various classrooms throughout the school. In some rooms, students were selling food, like fries and desserts. I myself had some brownies that were very tasty. Other rooms were dedicated to the students and had pictures of various activities they had done together. As a new teacher at this school, it was neat to see what the students had been up to throughout the year. I had a great time at the School Festival and I am excited to see what other school events are like.


- Yaya Campbell



    One of the things that surprised me the most about Tokyo was the weather. I come from a state called California in the United States of America, and the weather is always very dry. Tokyo summers are not as hot as California summers, but they feel hotter because it is humid too. I also didn’t know that typhoons happen regularly in Japan. I have never experienced a typhoon before, so I was surprised by how much rain fell.
     California is known for having earthquakes as well. Many of my friends who come from other parts of the United States are sometimes scared when they feel their first earthquake in California. I have lived in California for my whole life though, so I am used to earthquakes. It almost makes me feel like I am at home when I feel earthquakes like the one on the morning of September 12th. I can’t wait for when the snow begins to fall in the winter. It will be another new experience for me.
By Sarah



     Hello, my name is Sarah Kawaguchi, and I am a new assistant English language teacher from the United States of America. I feel very lucky to be teaching at Fujimura this year. I am very impressed by how hard the teachers work and how much they do for their students. It is never easy to start a new job, but the teachers and students of Fujimura always make me feel welcomed.
     I am also very impressed by how hard the students work. In America, club activities are not as important as they are in Japan. Students in America spend much less time in clubs and do not organize activities by themselves. I have seen many of the students working hard to plan for Bunkasai. We do not have Bunkasai in America, so I am very excited to see all of the students’ hard work and preparation.
By Sarah


Working at Fujimura

     When I found out that I would be working at an all-girls Junior and Senior High school, I was not sure what to expect, but I was happily surprised with what I have encountered so far. From the teachers to the students, people have been very genki in our first interactions. I work with mostly Junior High School students with another ALT who leads the class. I actually really enjoy having two people in the classroom, it makes it easier to bounce ideas off each other and interact with the students in a variety of ways. While not all of the students enjoy speaking English in the classroom, I find that they are always eager to say hello in the hallways. I am excited to interact with them more and hope to see their interest in the English language increase.
By Yaya


Welcome Ceremony

       On the first day of school, I was excited and a bit nervous to see what working at Fujimura would be like. The teachers and the students seemed to be very friendly as we made our way to the welcome ceremony. Some of the students even waved to us as they sat with their classmates, waiting for the introductions to begin. We stood on stage and introduced ourselves, then the students sat us down near the center of the gym as a group of them performed a dance. They were very skilled, I felt like this was a welcome for a governor rather than an assistant language teacher. Since then, I have gotten more familiar with the students in my classes and I hope to get to know them even better.
By  Yaya