Outside-the-box thinking gets a thumbs-up from teacher.
Japanese Twitter user @gude_chichi has a seven-year-old daughter, and that daughter had a problem. She’s currently in the first grade, and the other day her teacher gave the class an assignment to write an essay about any kind of personal experience they’d recently had.
So the kids started writing…except for @gude_chichi’s daughter, who immediately ran into writer’s block, and a case so severe that she even titled her essay “What Should I Do?”
▼ Page 1 of her essay
But even if she wasn’t sure what to write, @gude_chichi’s daughter let that agitation flow straight onto the paper, starting off with:
With just a few minutes left, the girl kicked her writing into high gear, filling a second page, and then most of a third, with her inner monologue.
She wraps things up with:
Cosplayer conversation in junior high text features cameos by World Warriors.
One of the challenges in teaching English to kids in Japan is holding their attention. It’s a huge help if textbooks can add anything fun or interesting to keep kids’ eyes, and minds, on the lesson, and so it was a smart move by publisher Sanseido to reach out to Taro Minoboshi to do illustrations for its New Crown series of junior high English texts.
Minoboshi is best known for his work as character designer for the popular Love Plus video game series, and his art can also be seen in franchises such as God Wars, Root Letter, and Exist Archive.
▼ Some of Minoboshi’s illustration work for New Crown
Another key point to keeping kids engaged is framing sample conversations around topics that they can relate to or are interested in. To that end, one of New Crown’s characters is a girl from China named Jing who likes anime and video games…and who in one lesson cosplays as Street Fighter’s Chun-Li!
In her dialogue about her summer vacation, Jing says she attended France’s Japan Expo pop culture celebration, where “Lots of people wore costumes of their favorite characters. I did, too.”
That’s not a suspiciously-close-but-for-copyright-reasons-not-really-Chun-Li, either, as the Minoboshi’s illustration, which also shows fellow fighters Ryu and Sakura, has the official approval of Street Fighter developer Capcom.
It’s worth noting that Minoboshi has no previous professional connection to Capcom or the Street Fighter franchise. When New Crown’s authors …continue reading
Roads? Where this car is going, they don’t need roads…
For years large palm trees stood at the entrance to Tanabe Technical High School in Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture. However, in 2016 they suffered irreparable damage from pests and needed to be removed.
▼ Tanabe Tech in 2013
▼ Tanabe Tech in 2017
The principal of the school decided to replace these plants with something more permanent. For this he tasked the head of the mechanical department, Masato Takai, with erecting a monument that would greet visitors as a symbol of what Tanabe Tech was all about.
After consulting with his students, Takai and the kids decided to start with an automobile body and work from there. Shortly after, inspiration struck the department head. He figured; why just make any old car when they could make a vehicle that has stood for years as a symbol of both raw industrial arts and hope for the future?
And so, work began on the creation of a life-sized DeLorean time machine from scratch.
▼ A 2017 news report on the early stages of the time machine constructed from sheets of aluminum and steel
It was a heavy job, and required more work than a single school year could allow. So, the students passed on the work from year to year, each class picking up where their seniors left off. By the time the car was ready for installation some 500 students had put work into it.
In the meantime, Takai sought permission from Universal to use the likeness of the car as well as the unforgettable musical score to the Back to the Future movies. That’s because this monument was designed to not only stand in front of Tanabe Tech, but light up, rotate, and play music as well.
▼ A look at the progress the car made by 2019, after …continue reading
It all started with an apple in a Japanese class journal.
As we get older, the memories of our school years may begin to slowly fade, but our favourite teachers remain ingrained in our minds forever. In Japan, the lasting impact of one kind teacher recently made news after coloured pencil artist Yuichiro Abe shared this tweet online.
The image on the left above shows a sketch drawn by Abe in his class journal when he was a third-year junior high school student. The class journal, which is handed over to the homeroom teacher for periodical checks, has sections for writing notes and reminders, and in the section for messages, Abe wrote “らくがき”, which translates to “graffiti” or “scribble“.
▼ The image that appears here is far from a scribble, though–it’s a beautifully sketched, perfectly proportioned illustration of an apple.
The red circles around the apple are the markings of the teacher, and in Japan–where circles indicate good work, akin to a tick signifying a correct answer in the West–the more circles there are, the better the work, which means Abe’s self-described “scribble” received recognition equivalent to a gold star.
That’s not the only acknowledgement Abe received, though, as the teacher drew an arrow towards the image with this heartwarming note for the student:
This touching message obviously meant a lot to Abe, who shared the image on Twitter, saying:
As proof, the now-19-year-old, who’s currently a first-year beauty school student, shared this more recent photo alongside his junior high school drawing.
<img …continue reading
Dress code check has people in Japan upset.
A number of Japanese school rules have been under increasing criticism over the last year for being outdated or illogical, and the one getting the most attention these days involves students’ underwear. As part of their dress codes, a number of schools have regulations in place that say students must wear white underwear.
However, school uniforms are, obviously, already designed so as not to show students’ underwear. Unfortunately, rather than take it on faith that the unseen underwear conforms with the rule, some schools exercise their authority in performing spot tests. One method is to have a teacher can check the color of bra straps pulled up through a student’s collar, but one school in Fukuoka Prefecture has used an even more shocking method.
According to a student who was interviewed by the Fukuoka Bar Association as part of a study of school rules in the prefecture, girls at the school were told to line up in a school hallway, standing side-to-side. They were then told to unbutton and open their shirts while a teacher came by and inspected their bras to make sure they were solid white.
Though you couldn’t really call the situation better if the students’ panties were checked as well, the fact that the underwear check apparently only involved their bras strongly implies that it was only girls who were checked to see if they were in compliance with the dress code. The semi-logical reason would be that boys’ uniforms, by nature of having pants, mean that their underwear would never be seen anyway, but then the same should at least be true for girls’ bras, which are always covered by their uniforms’ blouses.
▼ Honestly, that seems like something professional educators should be able to understand.
<img src="https://soranews24.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/04/BC-2-1.jpg?w=640" alt="" width="640" height="426" …continue reading
A trend a century and a half in the making.
April is the beginning of the school year in Japan, and it’s a time when many young students strap on their boxy leather (or often simulated leather) randoseru backpacks for the first time. Even without living in Japan, you may have seen these sturdy but expensive carriers in anime, film, or one of our many articles about them.
But why does Japan of all countries use these distinctly old-fashioned western designs?
It all started around the end of the Edo era in the middle of the 19th century. After Japan was opened up to trade with other countries, western culture and fashions became a craze.
▼ Suit jackets and samurai swords weren’t exactly made for each other, but these guys made it work.
This was true for military technology at the time as well, and the concept of using backpacks to free up soldiers hands was adopted. Early on they were given the Japanese name of “haino” but in keeping with the western wave of influence, the Dutch word “ransel” was also adopted into Japanese as “ranseru” or “ranuseru.”
It’s a bit of a mystery how a “do” was added to the middle of the word. One theory is that the Dutch “ransel” was conflated with the German “landser” which refers “foot soldier.” Logically it makes a lot of sense, but according to German dictionaries “landser” gained prominence during WWII. Its origins could be traced back to the late 19th century, but that would mean it was a brand new term even in German when it first appeared in Japanese.
▼ These Japanese soldiers in the 1890s probably weren’t concerned with Dutch and German linguistics …continue reading
Source: Japanese Language Blog
When you hear “Japan,” what do you think first? Anime? Sushi? Some may think of “high tech” (ハイテクhaiteku) first. But sadly, the Fukushima incident and COVID-19 have revealed that Japan was a pretty low-tech (ローテクro-teku) country.
Photo taken and used with permission from Dalton Waldock.
Japan has been famous for (〜で有名な de yuumeina) robots for factory automation and entertainment (娯楽goraku). But none of their technologies worked when the Fukushima Nuclear incidents happened. Almost none of their robots were usable in the highly radioactive and highly technology-unfriendly environment, and the first robots that entered the facility were donated by iRobot of the US.
But we had the toilet that cleansed you with just the appropriate temperature and force of your choice. And we had a brilliant toy dog from Sony to keep you company. And who could live without Nintendo and PlayStation? I believe Japanese technologies focused on comfort and fun, instead of risk management.
When the tsunami attacked the Fukushima nuclear facilities in 2011, the emergency electric power system stored in the basement (地下chika) was submerged in water and became inoperable. The facilities are close to the ocean. Didn’t they think it was not really a great idea to have the emergency system in the basement?
This reminded me of the technology that a Japanese consumer electronics company marketed in the 1990s when I was a high-tech analyst. There was a new video deck that you could program to record your favorite TV programs up to 365 days ahead…. OK, was it practical (実用的 jitsuyoteki)?? Did we know our favorite TV programs would be still produced then?
I have to think that something has been missing in the Japanese high-tech industry from these two examples – lack of risk management and lack of reality. However, I …continue reading
Veteran player wants to bring less-experienced players up to the top ranks.
Super Smash Brothers, the smash hit video game franchise where a plethora of Nintendo’s finest come together and duke it out, is still going strong despite its first release being over 20 years ago. To this day, tournaments are being held and players all over the world come together to battle it out.
▼ The trailer for the latest instalment, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Souther (@souther_snake on Twitter) is a Japanese Smash Bros. player and is currently ranked 122nd in Japan. After withdrawing from the spotlight for a while, last month he resurfaced by announcing his plans to open a Smash Bros. Prep School for both beginners of the game and those who want to get better.
▼ The school even has its own logo, as seen in the first picture.
Souther describes the school (which doesn’t seem to have a physical location) with:
Of course, courses for pro gamers are nothing new, but Souther is keen to convey that what he is offering is not a course, but actual, personalised lessons on how to become a better Smash Bros. player. What’s the difference between a course and lessons, you ask? Souther explains in further tweets —
Having trouble coming up with or recalling an idea? Try writing it down.
Electronics can do pretty much anything for us nowadays, including organizing our schedules, taking notes, and even meeting a bunch of virtual crabs.
But have you ever wondered if physically writing something down is better for you in the end?
The University of Tokyo and NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting published a study on March 19 saying that handwriting actually increases brain activity more than you would if you used a smartphone or tablet.
▼ Brain stimulation in progress?
In the experiment, researchers divided 48 participants between the ages of 18 and 29 into three groups — one for handwritten notes, one for smartphones, and one for tablets — and asked them to write down plans for the next two months based on a sample text. They were then quizzed on what they wrote down an hour after the exercise while researchers measured their brain activity via functional MRI.
The study found that while there wasn’t much of a difference in the number of correct answers that each of the three groups gave, the handwritten group’s brains showed more activity in areas of the brain that process memories and language.
Associate professor Kuniyoshi Sakai, who participated in the study, claims this is because your brain better remembers the sensation and location of where you physically write letters on a piece of paper. So while electronics like smartphones and tablets take up less space and are great for looking things up, Sakai argues that handwriting can be better for thinking or creativity-based exercises.
Japanese netizens were fascinated with the study and offered their own thoughts on handwriting versus typing.
When the Ministry of Education said “pass the baton,” some folks threw it in the trash instead.
When it comes to hiring the best person for the job in a capitalistic society, typically the course of action is to provide better wages than competing companies or great benefits as incentives to attract the most talented and driven individuals in the field. However, when it comes to recruiting more teachers for schools, Japan’s Ministry of Education has chosen a different route instead: a social media campaign.
▼ Translation below
Titled as the “#passthebaton Project,” Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, MEXT from hereon, has jumpstarted a Twitter hashtag campaign to coax more young folks into the teaching profession. The campaign calls for current teachers to tweet about their experiences on with “#passthebaton,” and thus inspire the next generation of educators in Japan.
At first glance, the concept seems like a great opportunity for teachers on duty to relay their stories to incoming educators, except the campaign has backfired spectacularly. While some folks took the chance to offer encouraging words or nuanced thought-pieces, a majority of posters have taken the moment to share their tough experiences on the job as well as understandable grievances against the current education system.
▼ “Instead of making your work conditions better, let’s try to recruit more people through social media!” is the last thing anyone wants …continue reading