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Amparo Bertram

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08:59 am: Campus Tour: Day 2
Before I start the tour, I thought I would comment on something from yesterday. My family had sent me a package of chocolate, so I decided to share some with the school. I filled a bunny-decorated basket with chocolate and left it on the front desk of the faculty office with a note saying "Happy Easter."

I'm pretty far away from the front desk, so I didn't hear many comments about it, but one was loud enough to reach me.

Student: What's "Happy Eater"?

Teacher: That's EASTer.

Student: ...What's Easter?

Easter as a holiday is almost completely unknown here. I doubt this is because it is a religious holiday--Christmas and St. Valentine's Day are practically Japanese traditions now (and are both considered approximately equivalent to each other). Halloween is gaining ground as well, probably due to the wild popularity of Nightmare Before Christmas on top of a decade of JET ALTs teaching their classes about it.

I'm pretty sure that Easter's obscurity is related to its timing. When it comes early, it's in the middle of spring break, so ALTs have no way to teach classes about it. (This year, for example, classes don't start until Thursday, by which time Easter has been over for days.) When it comes late in April, it's right before the week-long string of national holidays making up Golden Week, so not only does it pale in comparison, teachers are scrambling to get some kind of actual teaching done before the students lose concentration entirely and don't have time to spend on a just-for-fun topic.

Whatever the cause, 99% of students have never heard of it. (The remaining 1% would be those from the appropriate religious backgrounds.) I think it's a shame, because Easter can be a really fun holiday, but oh well.

Anyway, on with the tour. Today I will concentrate on the gymnasium.

The big concern about the gym is keeping the floor clean. The main entrance on the ground floor has an area for visitors to remove their outdoor shoes, plus shoe lockers for students to change into gym shoes. However, the second floor entrance does not have such an area. Therefore, the second floor entrance will be considered off-limits for most purposes.

The ground floor of the gym has practice rooms for various clubs. The first is the kendo room. This school has a very strong kendo club. The next is the judo room. The rubber mats on the floor have been molded to look like tatami (closeup). Finally, there is an all-purpose fitness room with stationary bikes, treadmills, weights, and other exercise equipment.

The restrooms in the gym are supplied with several sets of bathroom slippers. This is to keep "bathroom germs" out of the rest of the gym.

The second floor of the gym has the basketball court area. The far end of the court is the stage. This is where all school assemblies are held. Note that there are no bleachers. All students and faculty either stand or sit on the floor. (Folding chairs are supplied on occasions where parents/guardians are present, such as for graduation.) I have never seen bleachers at any Japanese school.

The third floor of the gym is just a balcony that circles around the edge of the court. I believe it can be used as a track for running practice.

Outside the gym is the ground for more sports practice. In the foreground of the photo is the tennis area, with a soccer area in the background. There is a further sports area beyond the range of the photo, where groups such as the baton-twirling club can practice. Note again that there are still no bleachers for spectators.

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[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:April 10th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
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This is an amazing campus. It's very impressive. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures. I am so glad you are getting the chance to work in this environment, and I'm really interested in finding out if, as the year progresses, there is a noticeable effect from this enhanced learning environment. Keep us informed if you notice anything from your students that would reflect a positive change in their learning.
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