Here is something that I wrote down in my last year on JET and finally got around to putting up on my blog.Top 10 Memorable Moments in Kawaguchi
9. Meeting my former students with their parents at the various places near Warabi Station. In 2005, I had my family out in Japan for our wedding and took them to a nearby school that I just finished working at. On the walk home, a group of kids were calling out, “Daniel Sensei!!” That is something that my dad still talks about to this day. “Most people run away from their teachers when they see them outside of school, but they run to Daniel!”
Also, seeing former students at places like Kappa Sushi, Baskin Robbins 31 flavors and the little boys playing in the courtyard of Shibazono Heights across from Your Sports Club. Also the kids who were playing in the bottom level of building 15 of the danchi in the summer. The one time when my mother-in-law, wife and I were on the train from Nishi Kawaguchi Station and the students called out, “Daniel Sensei!!” and crowding around was a feeling second to none. My mother-in-law later commented, “Daniel ha kau ga hiroi desu ne.” Daniel is very well known. The students were from a school that I last visted the previous year. At the end of my three years in Kawaguchi, I found myself going out in incognito with my wife since she didn’t like being the source of attention at the Ario Shopping Mall near Kawaguchi Station or Diamond City in Maekawa. We made the mistake of going there on a Sunday when the students were out in full force since they had a test earlier that day.
8. Eating lunch with the elementary students while sitting in a chair about 6 inches off the ground and having my knees up to my ears. The children with their short arms waved furiously as they ate lunch’s main dish, Nattou (fermented soybeans), and inadvertently waved the awful smell inches away from my nose.
7. Exchanging CDs and MDs with my students. I was able to learn about J-Pop and inform my students about classic American rock when Bon Jovi did their Japan Tour in 2006.
6. Talking to the students at Motogo and Ryoke JHS during lunch as they worked as DJs.
5. Going to one of my student’s father’s izakaya (Japanese-style bar) in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo with my wife on our 8-year anniversary.
4. My morning walks from the Motogo 1-chome bus stop to Ryoke JHS and talking to my students along the way. I`ll never forget those conversations with these students. Have a girl give me some homemade chocolates on Valentine’s Day was pretty cool. Also, on the days I would make the 30-minute bike ride to Ryoke and would have to walk my bike in the tunnel below Kawaguchi Station and then ride down those narrow roads. I really appreciate the row of vending machines near the school in the middle of nowhere that allowed me to load up on the 150 yen drinks to get me through the day. Also, on the days that I would take the train to the Kawaguchi Station area, the worker at the convienence store (Newdays, East Exit) who was so diligent at the cash register. He would bow at least three times per customer. Once when the customer came to the register, again when the customer gave him the money and lastly when the customer left the counter. This all happened in less than 30 seconds. He makes the workers at the well respected fast food chain, Chick-fil-A look like they are moving in slow motion. The ultimate example of Japanese customer service.
3. Going to enkais with Jason and the Shiba ES teachers. The young and attractive teacher with good English asking us in an innocent voice, “Please give me English lessons in exchange for….” Did her wink mean what I thought it meant?
2. Singing the Beatles’ song, “Hello, Goodbye” with the Tozuka and Shiba ES students. Only in Japan can a white man sing a 40-year-old song and have gestures along with the words and get a crowd to follow instead of laughing at him. Let’s not forget Huey Lewis and News’ “I Know What I Like” for the “I Like” lesson.
1. Sachinami JHS- Hearing the brass band perform moments after my first introduction speech in 2004 nearly moved me to tears. Playing basketball with the boys and girls team. Although I wasn’t there for my third year for whatever the reason, I was with you in spirit. I never made it to the temple across the way from the school but spent enough time gazing at it from the third floor. Also, the bike rides home from Sachinami through the notorious Nishi Kawaguchi Station area. On my granny bike I would dodge those creepy guys wearing leather trench coats holding signs in front of those soapland bars and the yakuza types standing next to their black Lexus; and the young girls in their school uniforms handing out flyers were quite memorable then and now.
Most importantly, the time spent working with Kashiwabara Sensei. Due to his guidance and leadership, I was able to be a better ambassador-of-goodwill as well as a language and cultural advisor. I really appreciate him for using me effectively and making me feel important when I was at Sachinami. In all honesty, if all of the teachers were like him, they would not need guys like me.
Daniel J. Stone