Archive for August, 2011

August 15, 2011

Summer of Festivals

Let’s festival! I know it’s summer here because 1. it is hot and 2. festivals (matsuri |祭り|まつり)  everywhere. In Japan in July and August, there are usually many festivals going on.  Some of the summer festivals feature fireworks, music, dancing, flowers, stars, warriors, and/or…floats! I kid you not, I was awoken at 7am Sunday morning by the sound of beating taiko drums and children pulling a float while shouting “Ya-ya-do~!” over and over…and over…

I went to my first summer festival when I stayed with my host family in 2005. We went to a Tanabata matsuri near Ueno (Tokyo), because my host sister and brother’s dance team was participating in the parade. Their type of dancing was (and still is) Awa-odori, a type of dance that comes from Tokushima… where two of my close friends now live, incidentally. I recently stumbled upon pictures from my first festival, so I figured I might share a few I really liked.
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Now… About Neputa!

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August 1, 2011

Japanese Office Adventures, Part I

I work in a Japanese office, at the Central Education Office under my city’s Board of Education (BOE).

Immediately I begin to notice the differences between my office here in Japan and my previous office in America. I took a few classes at Lewis and Clark where we examined the Japanese office culture, which I am now beginning to experience first-hand! It has only just begun. (I am an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), but I work mainly in the office during the summer while school is not in session.)

First of all, my office is inside a larger office building that hosts other prefectural offices. There is no central air or heating, so the windows are open and floor fans are keeping air circulating. I can tell there will be no taking-off of jackets this winter. There are three rooms, one leading to the next. The copy/office supply room is more like a corridor with one copier, a supply cabinet, and a set of lockers for each employee. It is situated between the big main room and the Big Boss’ office.

The Big Boss is called Shocho | 所長 in Japanese. I don’t see him too often, except when he is leaving or entering, or coming to call someone into his office. Since he is the highest-up, everyone uses their best manners with him. He has a kind face and a nice smile. He made an effort to come talk to me about Hirosaki and The Tale of Genji, since he had heard I had read it. I hope he likes me, because if anything, it would be good to have the shocho like me.

Office view

View from the corner

In the main room, there are no cubicles. There are only rectangular desks lined up lengthwise next to one another. The layout is very Japanese, with the Number Two boss and two managers situated at the head of the staff desks. It’s all about the hierarchy and I am most definitely at the bottom of the food chain.

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