December 19, 2008

Last day of school so eat up!

Wessel, Dylan and Poom

Ryosuke and David

As today was the last day of school before the winter break, the International Department had our year-end lunch with the school Director, Mr. Yohei Fukuda, and the Vice-Principal, Mr. Tadao Kurihara. While we enjoyed an amazing lunch by the school chef Mr. Akakura (calling him just a cook would be too impolite) our conversation centered around how all the international students were adjusting to Japan.

In terms of conversing with Japanese students, the students had some troubles at first communicating since their Japanese is limited, especially the 3 EF boys who arrived in September, but all were getting better. Dylan said he feels in the last few weeks he is finally able to one of the boys and the soccer coaches are treating him less like a guest, probably due to his language skills having improved.

In terms of food, all the boys seem to like any type of noodle, be it ramen, soba or udon. Some students like sushi and sashimi while others don't like raw food. Wessel says he doesn't like 'pig nerves', probably refering to 'horumon-yaki', or broiled pig innards (which is not something Japanese people have everyday and I personally find delicious due to its marinated, barbeque taste).

As we prepare for the new year, when at least 3 more new students will be joining the school, Mr. Fukuda asked the boys where they would like to visit in Japan. It seems everyone would like to get to another part of Japan during their stay here, so I will be arranging a short trip probably around May.

Good food and pleasant discussion always seems to go by too fast, as soon we were finishing our coffee or tea with even little cakes and sweets supplied by Akakura-san, and then the boys were off, Ryosuke and Dylan to their soccer practice and the EF boys to enjoy their winter break.


December 19, 2008

The Art of Shodo

Wessel (L) and David (R) practice their shodo (Japanese calligraphy) skills.

All the students contributed different kanji. The Japanese use a stamp known as a hanko as their signature, and all the Japanese students "signed" their kanji with their small red stamp.

On the bottom row, you can find David, Wessel, and Poom's kanji.
David's, on the bottom right, says 星, hoshi meaning star.
Wessel's, in the centre, says 花, hana meaning flower.
Poom's, on the left, says 寿, kotobuki meaning longevity.

Our three EF international students Wessel, David and Poom have been learning Japanese calligraphy (shodo) once a week from Maruo-Sensei, a master calligrapher. At the final class before the winter break, all the students got to write different kanji together on large pieces of paper for display in the school. Here you can see Wessel and David practicing in the shodo room, as well as the final results, with Maruo-Sensei’s avant-garde style of kanji (and some English!) at the top of each sheet.

December 19, 2008

36th All-Japan National Karate Championships

The 36th Japan Cup Karatedo Kata Champions
Male- Takashi Katada (L)
Female - Nao Morooka (R)

The exciting semi-final match between Ko Matsuhisa (red) and Ryutaro Araga (blue). Matsuhisa went on to claim first place.

Hey everyone, time for a quick review of the 36th All-Japan National Karate Championships that Wessel and I went to recently.

This tournament, compared to the WKF Karate World Championships that we also attended, had a different kind of intensity. The competitors fought with a more “drive-forward” approach than some of the athletes in the WKF Worlds, and as a result of that there were a few more injuries including two knock outs. This also happened because competitors represent their home prefectures and just as everyone wants to win for their country, so too do these people for their own hometown.

The match that was the most exciting for me was the semifinals with Ko Matsuhisa and Ryutaro Araga. The fight started off slow with a few exchanges here and there and Araga making many advances and feints using his front leg, but nothing really exciting happened. Until the halfway point, Araga slowly built up to his 4 point lead over Matsuhisa. Suddenly, Matsuhisa scored an ura-mawashi (reverse roundhouse kick) to score 3 points and close the gap. After that, he scored another point with a kizami zuki (front jab), and tied the score with 10 seconds left. Matsuhisa then managed to get in another kizami zuki at the buzzer to win the nail-biting match. That neither got hurt during the tough fight shows just how much control these top level fighters have.

Another thing I really liked was the men and women’s demos. They got a lot of “ohh”s and “ahh”s from the audience, including us. We filmed both of them entirely and I’ll try and find a way to upload them onto my karate channel on YouTube.

Unfortunately, Wessel and I were so drawn into the matches that we didn’t think of pulling out the camera for those… Shows what good camera men we are. We did manage to get this snapshot of Matsuhisa and Araga though.

- Dave

December 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Wessel!!

Hey everyone, what’s up?

December 17th was my birthday and I turned 18! Wow I’m old. I still remember thinking about how cool and old 18 year old people are when I was still a kid… haha! If I was in Holland right now, I would be an official adult and I actually feel like one!

It has been three months and a half already since I came to Japan. So much has happened so fast and I’m really used to the life here now. Like EF (the exchange program that I’m with) always says, “It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s different”. I totally agree with it. I’m really enjoying my time here, but sometimes it gets really difficult and you just have a bad day. But that happens to everyone everywhere and I just have to accept it.

At the start of this month I moved, together with my home stay family, to a bigger house. Nice, I love bigger houses! I don’t have to share a room with the two brothers anymore, only with the oldest brother. I can also study better at home now, which I think is the best improvement.

Right now I’m focusing on training (karate, karate, karate). It’s winter break now, by the way. We have lots of free time and I’m planning to spend it well. Although it sounds weird, I think I will go to school a lot. At school I can train with the karate club and maybe study at the computer room after. There are a lot of people coming to school during the vacation, so it’s actually pretty common here.

Next to training I also want to do more fun stuff in Tokyo. There are so many cool things to see and do here and I believe I haven’t even seen half of it. But it doesn’t always have to be, like, going to a super big temple or go shopping at an awesome neighborhood. I also like to just relax at a nice coffee shop and just watch the thousands of people that are walking by.

To conclude this somewhat random post, I’d like to say that I’m really glad that I came here. I think this is one of the biggest events in my life so far. I learned so many things about life and people. In Japan everything seems so familiar, but it also has many strange sides. This is what makes it really cool, but once again sometimes difficult as well. Ok! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next post! (Well… I kind of won’t see you but… you know what I mean)

Jaa-na (see you),

(The cool and old 18 year old) Wessel!

December 17, 2008

Returning home to go pro!


Second year Australian international student Jason Davidson received some good news these last few weeks that not only has he been chosen for his country's national under-20 football squad preparing for the 2009 World Cup, but the Melbourne Knights Football Club in his home town has signed him to his first professional contract starting from January.

After 2-1/2 years training in the Seiritsu soccer academy, the school wishes Jason all the best as he pursues his athletic dreams. Definitely the time he spent at the Seiritsu training ground with the coaches, student athletes and support staff has paid off for him.



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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