March 2013


Yes, I wanted to steal the bubble wrap.

At the end of February, the earthquake-proofing of the main building of my school began. For the week before the move, the staff room was littered with cardboard boxes and teachers debating just how much of the crap in their desks they needed. Everyone had to take everything out of their desks and lockers, pack it into boxes, label said boxes, and unpack it all again in the temporary building. The number of teachers leaving all this until the last minute was great. ‘But I’m scared I’ll pack something that I’ll need in class’ bemoaned one of my JTEs. I tend to think that’s what lesson planning’s for, but each to their own I guess.

As I’m in my final leg on the JET program and slowly realizing the mammoth task that is upping sticks after 5 years, it somewhat kicked me up the proverbial behind. Going through my own desk and the ‘ALT locker’ had me pulling out text books I’ve never used before and lesson plans from my predecessor’s predecessor(‘s predecessor…). I should probably start  a similar clear-out of my humble abode, and commence some kind of cleaning regime to get it ready for whoever’s coming next. I figured that if I started now, and did a little a time, the giant mountain could, chunk by chunk, be knocked down to a more reasonable size.

Having patted myself on the back for such forward thinking, I grabbed a glass of wine and watched some TV. Apparently I’m not that great at putting plans into action (at least not when it involves cleaning windows in the cold…)

But now it’s March! That means the official (I’m ignoring you Setsubun – whoever thought that Spring started in February in Hyogo at least is a muppet) start of SPRING. Before we know it we’ll be carousing under the cherry blossoms, beer in hand.  As the school year winds down, tearful farewells, joyful notifications of entrance exam results and the realization that I will never go into the main school building again (they’re moving back in November) come to the fore. It’s also quite strange to think that I may only have one class this month, and even that one’s up in the air (last minute post-exam   timetable decisions – always a joy).

So having stopped and calculated how many classes you have this month, on to the rest of the Hyogo Times! We have another packed issue full of daring deeds and tasty treats. Jump off a mountain in Aogaki! Brush up on your Korean cinema! Head off to see the ever-charming Hello Kitty and more! We’re a good bunch in Hyogo, and we get up to some interesting things. It’s only fair to share what we find. And remember if you stumble across a hidden gem, either in country or out, have a go at writing about it and send it my way. Submissions, as always, by the 15th.


Message from the PR

We have finally made it through the coldest part of the year! There are a few things that I look forward to in the coming months. The sun is finally rising earlier, it’s not so painful cycling to school and people tend to become less grumpy.

This being my 2nd year, I was totally prepared for the cold. For some, these few months were long, miserable and ridiculously chilly. I felt exactly like this last year. However, this year I tried to keep myself busy by studying Japanese, making plans with friends to actually force myself out of the house and going on weekend trips to the slopes up north. By keeping occupied, time flies and it will be spring sooner than you know it. Another option could be enjoying the special days that are not celebrated back home.

An event that happens during this transition month is “ひなまつり” or the “Doll Festival”. Around this time, you will see cute Japanese dolls in stores. I was told by a Japanese friend of mine that they put out oriental dolls representing people from the Heian period from February. They then take it all down before the 3rd of March because they believe that leaving the dolls past March 4th will result in a late marriage for any daughters in the household. It is definitely interesting to see all the different displays.

I hope that everyone stays warm as the cold season draws to a close. If you are still grumpy and gloomy, just think of the near future. If you’re in your first year, you’re in for a surprise when the cherry blossoms bloom next month.

– Matt Lim

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