Wednesday, December 19, 2007

12/22/07 Christmas Bingo

Recently one of my teachers just pulled the classic "wait until 4:30 to give you a bunch of work I want done the next day" song and dance on me, so I was scrambling around a bit to figure out what I should do. She wanted me to come up with a full 45 minute lesson, which isn't really a big deal, I just needed to be sure that I had enough material to keep everyone occupied. The little lesson that I devised isn't especially ingenious or complicated, but I am pretty happy with how it is working.

First, I passed out some blank bingo boards for everyone to play with. Then I gave a talk about Christmas trees: how we go to a tree farm to pick one, the cool little netting machine that wraps the tree up for transport, decorating, and my favorite part: the throwing of the dead trees next to the street for removal by the city. It makes me feel fuzzy and American inside when I can just throw things away and let industry take care of the consequences.

If I had a tree in Japan that I wanted to throw away, I would probably have to take all the needles off first and put them neatly in a bag, then maybe cut off the branches and stack them according to circumference, then set it outside on an odd-day, before 8 in the morning but not after 5 in the afternoon, on account of the stray animals that come out after night. Shudder.

So I have all the words in hiding, and every time I mention one of the "bingo words" I write it on the board. This way, if they want to play bingo and win the fabulous prizes, they have to at least halfway look in my direction. Genius.

About those fabulous prizes... I have a confession... I didn't buy even a single one of them. They were all free because they have traffic safety and other such government messages on them. The kids were more than happy to get the fun little key-chains, pencils, and rulers, plus now a large group of Japanese children know some important things about life: the legal alcohol limit in Illinois is .08, and only they can prevent forest fires. Luckily most of them are too indifferent to open a dictionary and thus uncover my operation.


Here are a couple little interesting things.

We already drank a bit out of the glass, but a restaurant-ordered glass of Japanese sake is often poured in this manner. A cup inside a cup on a plate is brought empty to the table, then the inner glass is filled until it overflows and fills the square cup. Its worth ordering just for the entertainment value.

The only American flag flying in town that I know of: gracefully fluttering on the side of a gun shop. Real guns being illegal in Japan, this shop is filled mostly with toy pellet guns. I feel really proud and teary-eyed when I see my culture taking root over here, ya know?

I'm leaving in a couple of hours to go pick up Angelica from the airport... exciting!


  1. If it makes you feel any better, Japanese people can freely toss garbage in the streets whereas you'd get fined for it in the U.S. Back home, you can toss big things like a tree without troubling yourself, but, in Japan, people throw little stuff everywhere (bicycle baskets, sidewalks, vacant lots, any raised area near a building) and make it someone else's problem. Back when parking was allowed at local train stations, I'd come home everyday to find discarded drink cans, food wrappers, flyers, and even tissues (ewwww) in my bike basket. You just don't notice it as much here because someone takes care of it before it piles up but there's a lot of random tossing of trash everywhere by inconsiderate and lazy people.

    Just one point about real guns in Japan, they aren't all illegal. Anyone can buy hunting rifles (as a recent murder at a sports club with one illustrated). You just can't have hand guns.

  2. Interesting. I was unaware of the gun law situation. I thought they were all a no-no. Thanks for the enlightenment.