It’s been a busy couple of weeks settling into Tokyo and getting ready for the first week of school. I’m teaching at the Canadian International School in Shinagawa, and it’s a fantastic community of amazing learners, teachers, and staff. I’m really enjoying it so far!
That said, there are a lot of differences from the teaching I’m used to! For one, the school is spread out over three buildings, which means I have to walk my students about two blocks to another building to get to their music class. I actually don’t mind most days — it’s nice to get out for a walk — but it’s an interesting experience you wouldn’t have in Canada. For another, I go up and down the stairs a LOT.
This is the entrance I go up every morning to get to my classroom on the second floor. The washrooms, photocopier, gym, all of that is spread out among different floors. Like most buildings in Tokyo, the school is built up instead of out, due to the lack of space.
Another thing I had to get used to? Earthquake drills! Whereas in Canada we prepare for fires and lockdowns — and we do that here, too — in Tokyo, there’s always the possibility of a serious earthquake, and if that happens, we have to be ready to evacuate and get our students to safety.
Generally, though, teaching has been great. We are an IB school and so I’ve been learning about the PYP program in all of its glory (apologies to non-teachers. I’ll get back to the fun Japan stuff in just a moment, I promise)! I have an amazing class of fifteen energetic learners from lots of different backgrounds. I have students from Saudi Arabia, Korea, Hong Kong, and Brazil. They come from different cultures, different languages, different faiths. It’s a fascinating and often humbling experience to stand among them each day.
The Fun Stuff
But don’t worry, I’ve found lots of time to explore Tokyo! Here’s some of the cool stuff we’ve gotten up to over the last few weeks.
1. Geeking Out
Of course we’ve found time to do all the fun geeky things Tokyo has to offer! What else would we do? I’ve spent way too much money on Attack on Titan themed merchandise, and we had a great time prowling around Akihabara the other day. We went there a few weeks ago and during our visit to Yodobashi Camera, I found this terrifying half-sized army ready to come to life and take over at any instant. They even positioned the heads to stare at you. Creepy.
Japan is, of course, anime central, so I’ve been finding some fun new animation to watch. I started watching Gakkou Gurashi, which was a really cool story with a twist, but I have stopped. Without giving too many spoilers, I realized a death was forthcoming that I did not want to see.
Skip the next sentence if you don’t want a spoiler. You have been warned.
The dog dies. I don’t watch anything where the dog dies.
Welcome back, spoiler skippers!
We also had time to visit Artnia and eat Final Fantasy themed pancakes!
2. Shopping. Too much Shopping.
Did you know you can buy really cool things in Tokyo? Like all the cool things. If it’s cool, you can find it here.
In other words, I’m going to run out of money.
I mean, look at this thing. It’s a boston terrier (or possibly a french bulldog, but I’m pretending it’s a boston) on a towel that says you and buttocks. Who could not buy this?
We bought lots of other things too. Like a sword. An iaito, to be specific. And a ceremonial tea set. And an antique kimono. And lots of other items with boston terriers on them. And of course, cats in armor.
Yup — we discovered a series of models featuring cats in armor at Tokyu Hands. My husband posted a step by step detailing as he assembled the first one. You can see it here, if you’re interested. Or you can check out the box below.
3. Just exploring Japan
We’ve also been having a great time just going places and doing things! We recently checked out Asakusa and the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. Huge lantern gates flank the streets leading to the temple, which is a cool sight on its own (and of course, there’s even more shopping once you get there).
We have also been studying iaido, which we are enjoying a lot. We got to attend a demonstration last week of many practitioners from all over the world, and also enjoy a very cool display of taiko drumming.
And, maybe somewhat strangely, we tried out the Brazilian martial art capoeira. It looks cool in ways I can’t even describe and it would be even harder to describe how bad I was at it. I will not be going back, but my husband has been. You can see some of the instruments used in this amazing blend of rhythm, dance, and martial arts below.
Yup, I’ve tucked this down here at the bottom because there’s not too much to announce at the moment! Sanctuary is still available for purchase and I hope you’ll read and love it! I’m finished most of the edits on the sequel due out next summer, and I’ve started work on a brand new project that I’m very excited about. More on that later.
In the meantime, keep reading, traveling, living life!
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