Wednesday, November 28, 2007

serious teaching skillz & urban mermaids

I just found out the 6 or so 3nenseis I had been coaching for their english interview tests at the local prestigious HS all passed! woooo hoooooo! actually, 1 failed, but he's a 2nensei, and was just taking the test on sort of a whim, because he's kind of a genius, and only showed up to 1 of my practice sessions. better luck next year! I am thrilled for the kids, and look forward to working with some of them again in what one of my JTE's has organized as "sophie-sensei's special english composition class" or something. Basically, I've come up with a bunch of composition topics which some of the self-selected english-savvy 3nenseis will write on their own time and I will correct. Can't wait to read them.

Wow, I've had a record number of posts this month. I'll go with explaining it through the fact that I've had little actual classtime for the past few weeks. Take this week - in the past 3 days, I've had one class, mostly because mid-term exams were Monday and Tuesday. My free time at work has allowed me to advance ahead of schedule in both of my japanese textbooks, and create a "best of japan" digital photo album which I may or may not incorporate onto this site as a slideshow. I've also begun looking into what I'd like to see in Thailand, where I'll be spending Christmas. Recommendations? Also, ideas for work projects that will keep me busy at school?

A few weeks ago when making one of my frequent pilgrimages to the 100yen store, I heard a catchy song blasting through their speakers. Now, normally I am not into japanese pop music (or j-pop, as it's called), I get my fill of it at school, where it's played during lunch. Personally, I'd prefer it if they just played the school song over and over again during lunch, which is quite lovely, almosts sounds like opera. Anyway, this song from 100yen stuck in my head for the rest of the evening, and as I had been on the lookout for a japanese song to be able to sing at karaoke, so I looked it up. Here it is, Urban Mermaid by Yuna Ito. It struck me because for some reason I thought that with the english lyrics "I'm a beautiful mermaid..." and the army of professional- looking women in the video, the song might have some sort of progressive, feminist-y message about (urban) japanese women today being successful, independent etc., the mermaid being some sort of icon for such women. I then looked for a translation of the lyrics and was disappointed. Basically, the message is, if you truly feel sad/angry/frustrated or any other negative emotion, you should cover it up with a smile, because expressing negative emotions in un-ladylike. (ok, i'm elaborating here a little, but still utterly disappointing). ick.

What redeemed my faith in the idea of the japanese (urban) independent woman was an article a friend sent me, interestingly enough, about men's fashion. According to the International Herald Tribune, hip young japanese men strive to be skinny and cute, delicate and pretty, and look to be protected and nurtured by their significant others. The idea of this reversal of gender roles was pleasing to me, although not necessarily to my personal taste. I must say the fashion part of it is definitely true, I've seen plenty of young men around here in cute, tight, clothes, barrettes in their hair, eyebrows plucked.

I leave you with the reason I'm a little down this week - three of my bestest friends are having a visit in london right now. Kampai, guys, wish I could be prancing around londontown with you!


christina piluso said...

You should go to Chiang Mai where you can hook up a trip to the Elephant Nature Park (, where they rehabilitate abused elephants. It's absolutely incredible. My sister and I went there for a day, and then she returned to volunteer for a week after I had to come back to NYC.
I can't rave enough about how wonderful it was.

Natalie said...

I think you should choose not to sing the mermaid song for ethical reasons. Although the video is quite nice and it would be easy note-wise to sing.