January 24, 2007

Living the dream...

International student Michael Fitzgerald sends in his thoughts since his return from visiting home in New Zealand over the winter break.

The start of a new year in Japan has come so quickly I can’t believe it...I have so many new goals for the year, but so little time as it seems. I am coming to the last year of my scholarship at Seiritsu and I’m thinking where did my first 2 years go??? I think this is credit to the school and the soccer level here, being fully involved day in, day out, with studies and training. It has been (and still is) an experience of a life time.


I must admit it wasn’t easy at first having to learn the language and adapting to a new culture, even a new playing style for soccer, but I can definitely now call Japan a home away from home. For sure I am truly enjoying the soccer.

Michael with Togashi Sensei at the Great Buddha in Kamakura during his first year at Seiritsu.

My second school year is coming to an end this March, with one more year to go, but I was back in New Zealand over the winter break recently. For sure it was awesome to be home, nothing like mum’s cooking and having talks with dad about how Manchester United is going to beat Tottenham, plus playing soccer with my brother, just joking around. Back in Japan I’m living the dream of getting to play soccer everyday on immaculate grounds and who knows, maybe the chance to even go pro. I’m looking forward to seeing what this last year holds for me. I can only see achievement ahead of me and I’m looking at heading for it at full speed.

Michael Fitzgerald

January 24, 2007

Seiritsu's Entrance Exam Week


They arrived looking nervous and a little sleepy. As they entered the school yard, they quietly offered a polite bow towards all the teachers lined up outside. Each listened closely as a teacher told them which classroom they were to enter. And with that, the school’s entrance exams for junior high school students wanting to enter Seiritsu began.

These annual entrance exams were held Monday and Tuesday, January 22 and 23 this week. Third year junior high school students who had previously been to the school for consultations with teachers as to which program they should apply for, were back for the required math, English and science level check exams. Afterwards, many students had interviews with teachers in the departments they wish to enter.


At the main gate, Richard Sensei & Saijo Sensei offer their fighting spirit for support while Kakiya Sensei displays his sweeter side.

Everywhere in Japan this month, junior high school students take entrance exams at one to several high schools they would like to enter. When high school students are in their last year, they will take university entrance exams, which are famous even abroad for being extremely difficult at the top universities. Upon graduation from university, most graduates are required to take entrance tests to the company they would like to enter as well. The whole process may have started with level check entrance tests for elementary school for some students.

Junior high school students concetrating hard on their entrance exam in the school's main hall.

After two days, around 1000 junior high school students took our entrance tests. Several after-school private study tutors even met their charges early at the gate to give them a small present of candy or food for energy, plus a pat on the back for support. A few parents also walked them to gate, several being the typical ‘salaryman’, each who looked a little concerned to make sure their child was alright while I suspect also being in an extra rush from not having taken the normal train route to work.

And when all was said and done at around in the early afternoon, a local grandmother who works as a crossing guard for the elementary school down the street called out to each student as they left to go home, ‘Gokaku yo, gokaku!’, meaning ‘You’ll pass, you’ll pass!’


January 22, 2007

Girl's Karate Team Qualifies for Nationals!


Left to right: Sari, Eri, Hitomi, Misuzu, Sayaka

Congratulations to the Girl's Team Kumite squad for qualifying for the All-Japan National High School Championships yesterday! Representing the school's co-ed karate club, the girl's squad placed Best 8 at the recent Kanto Regional High School Karate Championships by winning their first round, 4 matches out of 5, against Ichikawa High School from Yamanashi prefecture. The top 8 teams from each region will meet from March 24-27 in Wakayama City in Wakayama Prefecture for the Nationals this year.

Team Kumite is made up of 5 members fighting another team one member at a time, with the winning team achieving 3 or more wins. Each fight is 2 minutes long, the winner decided by who has the most points when time runs out, or the match is stopped short if someone reaches 8 points. Referees carefully watch the match and a center referee stops it every time a technique is scored to a award a point, or if there is an infraction to give a penalty.

The rules for athletes under 18 in Japan are slightly revised from the regular World Karate Federation (WKF) competition rules, because WKF rules state the winning athlete has to get 8 points ahead of the opponent's total points to stop the match early, not just eight points period. Due to this slight change, matches at Japanese high school tournaments are very fast and intense.

This is the first time our girl's kumite team has qualified for Nationals from the school, and only the second time for someone from the girl's squad (Sakurako Motohashi qualified for individual-only kumite 2 years ago). Since female students have only been accepted into the school for the last 3 years, this is a big accomplishment for our karate club!

The school wishes the girl's best of luck at Nationals, in Japanese zenkoku (全国)! For sure they will bring back a great result, plus Japanese oranges (mikan) and sour plums (umeboshi) as souvenirs, Wakayama’s popular food...


January 15, 2007

Junior Tokyo Spalding Tennis Championship Champions!


One of our two, new tennis champions, Miho Tanabe.

2nd year students Hiroshi Wakabayashi & Miho Tanabe both won their respective male and female tennis divisions at the Junior Spalding Tennis Championships on December 27, 2006 during the winter break. Not a bad way to celebrate the tennis club’s 70th anniversary. Congratulations!



about Seiritsu

Seiritsu Gakuen is a private co-educational high school created in 1925 and it is located in Tokyo, Japan.

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