April 21, 2007

Canadian Karate Champion trains with us!

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In the month of March this year, Canadian Junior National Karate Team member Sarah Lee came for a two week visit to Japan for the first time. During the first week she worked out with our co-ed karate club. The students were very happy to get some exposure to a different style of karate kumite movement, more circular and fluid than the straight on Japanese dive-in style.


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Everyone seemed to get along well, and a trip to Mos Burger on the last day was included so Sarah could try a messier (perhaps more delicious than MacDonalds) hamburger.

April 20, 2007

New Zealand’s students visit Seiritsu!

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From the beautiful land of kiwis, Seiritsu was visited by 7 students and their teacher on April 15th and 16th. The group was from Cambridge High School in Cambridge, New Zealand, their ages ranged from 14 to 17, and they were at the tail end of their tour around Japan.


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The students introduce themselves to a regular homeroom class.


The students were being excellently guided by their own Japanese teacher, Kimi Sensei, who has been teaching them Japanese several times a week at Cambridge.


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New Zealand student practicing Japanese 'shodo'.


On Sunday, April 15 the students arrived at the school in the morning to meet several Seiritsu students and their families who would be hosting them for 2 nights in their homes.


After the meet and greet, the New Zealand students enjoyed the day with their Japanese hosts and they then came to school on the Monday for a variety of special activities.

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The student's show off their best shodo, standing together with Kimi Sensei and Maruo Sensei.


Monday started off early with everyone trying their hand holding a brush to make simple Japanese calligraphy (shodo). This was followed by the chance to interview Seiritsu’s foreign students and International Section staff to learn about living in Japan. A special Japanese and Chinese style lunch was then prepared by our lively school cook.


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The afternoon started with a simple Japanese conversation lesson to give them a chance to use the Japanese they had learned in school plus on their trip.


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The Seiritsu Kendo Sensei gives a lesson in how to hold 'shinai'.


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The last activity was a unique lesson about the intricacies of the Japanese tea ceremony.


Around 4pm the students left with their home stay ‘brothers & sisters’ for one more overnight stay with their host families. Then Tuesday morning at school they were back to for a final, slightly tearful, farewell. All and all, a short, but sweet visit and we hope to see our new Cambridge friends again someday.

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This short 2 day program put together by the school was really a snapshot of what our Japan Experience cultural immersion homestay program will be from July 28-August 12.


RM

April 14, 2007

New English Math & Science Teacher!

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In an effort to offer a wider range of academic courses in English for our foreign students, the school has hired a full-time Math and Science teacher. We warmly welcome Cathy O'Shea, who comes to us from England. Below Cathy fills us in on who she is and why she decided to come to Japan.


Where are you from?

West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom


What university did you go to?

Manchester Metropolitan University


What was your major?

My degree was Biological Sciences and I specialized in Biochemistry for four years


Did you always want to be a teacher?

No. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was younger.


Where did you work in England?

In Manchester and in Huddersfield


What is interesting about where you are from?

I lived in the countryside in West Yorkshire in a historic town called York. This had a cathedral called York Minster which was built around 1200 AD. It is a beautiful walled city and many people from all over the World visit it. The Vikings invaded York and you can visit very old sites which still show traces of the Vikings and you can see how they may have lived.


When did you first come to Japan and why?

In 2005. I came to work in an International school in Yokohama. My main reason was to study aikido as I had done it for many years in the United Kingdom (UK) and had always wanted to train in Japan. I like ancient history and so I like to visit cultures with a rich history. I also love castles!


What is similar about English and Japanese cultures?

Difficult question as we are losing our identity a little bit. In essence, I think many people generally have a deep respect for each other and are polite and unassuming.


What is different?

There is a much better work ethic here and people appear to be conscientious and hard working. Maybe too much hard work as their personal lives are affected I feel. There appear to be different priorities here with respect to work, home life and leisure. People tend to return home much later than in the UK and the emphasis is on a team rather than individual needs. Staff socializing makes a coherent group. There is less of this in the UK and many people just go straight home when their working day is over.


What do you want Japanese people to know about England?

In places it is a beautiful country, especially Yorkshire, though…I am biased! There grass is very green and there are many open spaces in the countryside. There is a wealth of historical buildings and in many cities the old architecture can be quite beautiful. The Lake District National Park is particularly beautiful and you can walk for many hours in the fells (hills). I have walked up the highest mountain in England.


What do you want English people to know about Japan?

The people are very polite and helpful. There are many temples and shrines to see and you can walk in the hills in the countryside also. There is a wealth of good restaurants offering food from around the world and your taste buds would never be bored! The cherry blossoms are amazing, the colour of the pastel pink flowers against the dark bark offers a stark contrast …..it reminded me of a light dusting of snow on the branches. Also, when the flowers fall it is quite an amazing feeling walking under such a `flower shower`! The transport system is easy to follow once you get the hang of it although some stations show no English on their boards which can be a bit disconcerting……people will help you if you look lost! I think it is a great country and I am so happy I returned. It was difficult to leave!


What are your hobbies, sports, etc?

I play the flute although it has been a little while since I picked it up as I have been so busy. I practice aikido and have done so for many years in the UK. I also have a great interest in ancient languages and can read some but not so well I think!


Do you have any big plans in Japan, like places you want to see, things you want to learn, etc?

I want to be able to read, write and speak Japanese but maybe that is a tall order! There are many parts of the country I want to see and I am sure many good experiences awaiting me.


Anything extra you would like to add?

Japan is a great place to live. It may be a little frustrating at first until you get your head round the difference in culture, social etiquette, transport systems, getting your first mobile and setting up bank accounts etc but once that is done your confidence increases and you can wander around quite happily and really enjoy yourself. The country offers a feast for the eyes and your stomach and all my experiences have been very positive. I really don`t want to leave again….but who knows what the future holds! Coming to Japan has certainly been the best decision of my life!

April 14, 2007

Karate Girls at the All-Japan High School Nationals!

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The girl’s team kumite squad from our co-ed karate club competed at the All-Japan High School Nationals March 26 in Wakayama City. Wakayama is in Wakayama Prefecture, about 1 hour from Osaka.


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Kakiya Sensei coaching.


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The teams face off!

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The team!


The girl’s put up a valiant effort in the first round taking on the number one team from the Kanto area (this region is the large flat plain that wraps around Tokyo and it includes the 7 prefectures surrounding it), losing 4 matches to 1. But each match lost had a really close score and several times it looked like we might actually win the first round. So the coaches are very happy with the squad’s performance, being their first time at Nationals, and we are looking forward to the up-coming spring high school tournaments on April 22nd (individual events) and April 29th (team events).


See the all five matches on YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tjay9y8p-k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeoGcWPhkwI


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The event site was called Wakayama Big Whale Arena.

April 14, 2007

New School Year Entrance Ceremony!

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Wearing their brand new school uniforms, 383 new first year students entered the school on Saturday, April 7. The school’s cherry blossoms had softly laid a carpet of petals at the main gate, creating quite a poetic setting (the beloved ‘sakura’ has been a favorite subject of poetry here for thousands of years.)


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A new student having her picture taken beside the 'New Student Ceremony' entrance sign.


With parents in tow, most new students arrived up to an hour early to find their assigned seats in the main hall and quietly wait for the ceremony to begin. The formal speeches by the principal and staff were moving, especially from the student council president who spoke of the new cherry blossoms blooming to symbolize the new beginning for all the students at the school.


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Parents lined up at the back of the first homeroom for one class of 1st year students.


After the ceremony, each class went to their new homeroom to meet all as a group with their homeroom teacher for the first time (while their parents crowded at the back of the room to watch).


The high school homeroom teacher in Japan is one the key adults in a students life during their high school days, as the homeroom teacher wears the many hats of teacher/counselor/disciplinarian/surrogate parent. Also, the friends one makes in high school are some of the key friendships they will maintain their whole life. So both these bonds are very important and many students remain in touch with their high school homeroom teachers for years after they graduate.


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Principal Fukuda with the 1st year student's teachers.


As the students returned home with their parents at midday, 2nd and 3rd year students from the different clubs lined the walkway to the main gate to hand out flyers promoting their clubs. Clubs are also another key aspect of high school life.


So the new school year has started, the weather is getting warmer day by day and the sakura are gone, replaced by new green shoots on the school’s cherry trees. The buzz at the school is that the soccer club is especially strong this year and they might win the Tokyo championships again in the fall like they did two years ago. Which of these new 1st year students will make the A squad has yet to be seen. With this buzz seeming to start right from day one, truly the new school year has begun!

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The Seiritsu Tiara's put on a show for everyone!

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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