Huw’s Flashcards of the World

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Today was the last day of work for some of us in the office, and to commemorate this occasion I am posting Huw’s “Countries of the World” flashcards. The flashcards are appropriate for elementary school level students, however, the spoofs are obviously not meant for anything other than entertainment value.
If you are easily offended by inflated stereotypes about countries, then you might not want to waste of your time looking at these. However, if you have ever taught English in Japan and have an irreverent sense of humor, I think you might be able to appreciate these. Huw sincerely hopes that he has done everything that he could to offend everyone equally… Enjoy!

Country Flashcards
Australia Australia (spoof)
Canada Canada (spoof)
China China (spoof)
France France (spoof)
Germany Germany (spoof)
Ireland Ireland (spoof)
Japan Japan (spoof)
New Zealand New Zealand (spoof)
South Korea South Korea (spoof)
United Kingdom United Kingdom (spoof)
United States of America United States of America (spoof)

Know your Japanese Mythological Beasts (part 1)

Question 1
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What has the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, the legs of a tiger, and the tail of a snake?
Hint #1: Eating it is thought to cure the hiccups (I wonder what it tastes like and how it is prepared. I imagine it would make a decent miso-based nabe…).
Hint #2: Miyamoto Musashi supposedly killed one of these with a lance.

answer
Question 2
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This mythical creature is native to mountain passes in Kumamoto. What is it?
Hint #1: They have a potato-like head (or a stone one), and a straw covered body.
Hint #2: Monks who stole oil are said to have been punished by being transformed into one of these.

answer
Question 3
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This monster is a humanoid with blackish-green skin, luminescent eyes, and a pointed beard. It is rarely seen by man because it lives in an underwater kingdom.
Hint #1: Combine the kanji for “shark” and “person” to make this.
answer
Question 4
What is the Japanese Will ‘o the Wisp?
Hint #1: A possible explanation for these phenomena is methane gas rising from the graves of decomposing corpses.
Hint #2: Combine the kanji for “ball” and “person”.

answer
Question 5
What mythological creature resembles a snake, can speak to humans (but often lies), enjoys alcoholic beverages, can leap 1 meter, and has never been captured in spite of many reported sightings?

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Hint #1: It appeared in Doraemon, where it was reported to be about 60cm in length.
Hint #2: The kanji for earth and child are used to write its name.

answer

Crane Technique

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In Umeda, demolition and construction are an ongoning process, like birth and death. Cranes stretch towards the skyline like a pod of brotosaurus on the plains of our primordial Earth. Come to think of it, the planes flying towards Osaka airport kind of look like archeopteri…

Genki Drinks

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Taro bought me an assortment of energy drinks/vitamin elixers. I’m thinking of drinking them all in one go…
I used to think that mixing energy drinks and spirits would be a good idea, but this is not true. Though it often makes for nights charged full of fun and great stories, the events of a night involving this combination usually involve life-threatening situations or temporary loss of memory. The synergetic results are not a good idea under the best of circumstances.
Genki drinks by themselves can do wonders though. One time, I was sick with diarrhea and vomiting while riding the bus up to Hiroshima to go snowboarding with a bunch of friends. I woke up exhausted and deeply disappointed, questioning my ability to snowboard that day.
I crawled out of the bus and bought 3 genki drinks, downing them in quick succession, followed by a tuna mayo onigiri. Thanks to this combination I regained my strength and was able to board with no problem all day.
So what will I do with these genki drinks? I don’t know just yet, but I plan on using them in a medicinal context. Sometimes not having interesting stories is a good thing.

Leaving Japan/Going to California

Work finishes on Friday! Most people seem a bit more cheerful in the office now that the end is near, and this weekend should be a good time to celebrate this milestone with a party under the cherry blossoms. I may decide to go out even if it rains (a hanami party in the rain is truly underrated).
I’ve been in Japan for so long that I feel as comfortable over here as I did back at home. In spite of this, I’ve decided to return to Southern California. It will be nice to connect with old friends and relatives, and I am in dire need of a tan. The Japanese winter makes one pastier than a Canadian!
I wouldn’t mind living in Japan, and in fact, it’s still an option. However, if I were to do so, I wouldn’t want to continue being an ALT. Should I choose this path, I would first get my masters and then teach at a university.
As far as I can tell, the eikaiwa market (along with contracts for ALTs in the public school system) is slowly but steadily declining in regards to the quality of services provided and salary and benefits offered. If you are on the JET program, you are doing much better comparatively than those who came before you. If you are teaching in Japan and planning on staying, I highly recommend applying for JET (best-case scenario) so you don’t have to go through the hassle of working for a company (better-case scenario), a private or corporate eikaiwa company (worse-case scenario), or one of those notorious companies that have a high turnover rate of gaijin fresh off the plane (the worst-case scenario).
I’m planning on leaving on the 18th of April, but before that I will be taking a week long trip with my father around Kyushu. It will be nice to visit southern Japan again, the place that I consider my home away from home.
It will be nice to see everyone when I get back. See you soon!