Category Archives: General

Japanese Hospitality

I just wanted to write a quick post to update everyone. We’ve organized an apartment and I’m typing this out on my first ever brand new cell phone, an iPhone 4! We are staying in a hotel tonight and tomorrow move into our new pad. We would not have done it without our most helpful and hospitable supervisors. The Japanese really are as hospitable and friendly as everybody says. Till later!

Some Pics

I’m sure everyone is interested to know how things are going, and I can tell you it’s very busy with speeches, dinners, workshops and meeting people from all over the world. JET lag has left us limp legged, so I’m only going to post some pictures and get a good rest for tomorrow.

The time difference between Johannesburg and Hong Kong is 6 hours, between Tokyo and Johannesburg is 7.

The Japanese flag waves hello while we eat breakfast at the hotel

Arrival in Japan

Time seems to blur as we sit cramped on planes, dash through airports or strain our ears to hear the in-flight movie. But this is all part of travel, and it’s exciting and emotionally draining. I’m writing this at what is 1:15 PM on Sunday the 24th in South Africa, but 8:15 PM in Japan. Looking out from what must be the 23rd floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel I see tall buildings and the lights of our first evening in Japan. There is much to tell, but I’ll save that all for another day, right now, Julia and I are savouring finally being in Japan, after so much hoping, praying and waiting: we are finally here.

Furniture Sale Extravaganza

If you’re in Pretoria and you’re looking for some furniture, let me know, we’re selling some of our stuff and it needs to go quick quick.

We also have 2 x beds, a long couch and a microwave of awesomeness for sale. Contact me for more info here or via email/facebook if you have those details.

Everything is sold and we’ve moved all our furniture out, thanks everyone.

Hello, Hi, Hoezit, Konnichiwa

You have to love the power of email and Facebook. Before even getting on a plane, let alone reaching Japan, I’ve been in contact with future colleagues and, dare I say, friends. I’ve chatted to people in Japan, Ireland, the USA and New Zealand and explored our future home town through the power of digital photography. I’ve never really fully comprehended the connective power until now, realising that without current technologies communication would be so much slower and less effective.

Mind Map of Madness Minification 

To help remember everyone I’ll be meeting and dealing with I’m making a mind map to record basic information about each person, including their name, location and other facts. I won’t post the mind map here (that would be a privacy no-no), but I will say that, since my mind is a sieve when it comes to names, I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Yay for birthdays

I’m really lucky to have celebrated my birthday before we head out. I’ve received a mass of clothing, including two suits, three smart shirts, chinos and some much needed thermal underwear (I shall no longer be freezing my backside off this winter). Everything helps while we’re packing for the big move, and getting clothes has really put my mind at ease in a big way.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!

Site of the Day probably has nothing to do with Japan, unless you consider that they sell nappies made of bamboo. As far as I’ve heard, bamboo is very echo friendly and seems to have more uses than a modern day Swiss Army Knife (although I have no idea what Swiss Army Knives have to do with Japan).

The staff of Trendy Tushies are very friendly and knowledgeable and I highly recommend them, especially if you want a money saving and environmentally friendly nappy option for your baby.

Word of the Day

Not a word, but a phrase really. “So desu ne” can be translates as “that’s so, isn’t it.” The word “so” is exactly like our own word “so”, while “desu” (pronounced des) is like “is” and “ne” means “do you agree”. You’ll use the sentence to affirm what someone else is saying.  

Take the Survey

If we had goblin spies, we’d send them out to go gather some juicy intel for us. But, as a completely Lawful Good company, we don’t deal with goblins, that’s just not on. Instead, we use our web wiles to find out what you, the reader, are interested in. Please take a moment to complete our survey here. An information we get ultimately helps us develop a better product, which in the end benefits you and the hobby in general. Specifically, if you’ve played one of my modules, The LHC, The Lair of Veo Oqum Ucendi, It Takes One To Gnoll One or Storm of Souls, let us know what you thought by sending us a message from our contact page.


Prayers Answered

News at last! I finally got an email from my supervisor, and it’s the news we’ve been hoping for. Both of us will be working in the city of Shibukawa! It also looks like we’ll get a place somewhere between our two main schools, within walking distance for both of us. Between Julz and I we will be covering at least 3 of the 4 high schools in Shibukawa!

Shibukawa is known as the belly button of Japan, because it’s smack dab in the centre of Japan. It is in the centre of Gunma prefecture and around 120 km from Tokyo. It has a population of 84,160 and an area of 240.42 km2, compared to Pretoria, where we are from, with a population of 2,345,908 and an area of 1,644 km2. Most of Shibukawa is covered in farmland or forest.

You can find out more about Shibukawa here.

Word for the Day

Kora: a very important word to remember, especially for those who enjoy the black and bubbly. Kora means cola, so you could order a coke by saying: “Kora onegaishimasu,” or “kora o kudasai.” The katakana for kora is ??? (Thanks SR).

Site of the Day

The site of the day has to be Google Translate. If only I could download it to my laptop. 

Excitement and Nerves

(written 26 June 2011)

I’m sitting on our warm South African stoep (porch) on a cold Sunday Morning, after a sleepless night. Cappchino was probably not a good idea before bed, being a none-coffee drinker, but the real reason for my restlessness is that I’m just so excited. Less than a month till Japan and yesterday we had a Q&A session at the Embassy of Japan in preparation for the trip, so it’s all feeling very real now. In less than a month we’ll be living and working in Japan.

Culture Shock Already?

After dinner with Julia’s folks we went book shopping and I picked up a copy of the Lonely Planet’s Discover Japan. Flipping through the pictures just brings home how different it is in Japan compared to SA. Obviously, the publishers will choose pictures that are striking, but Japan truly is as far removed as east from west. That, and fully appreciating that communication, both visually and verbally, is going to be so different, is feeling quite daunting. Is it possible to expriance culture shock before arriving in a new country? We’re in for a big change, and that’s starting to dawn on me.


Adding to all of this is the stress of  the unknown, such as where we’ll be placed and will we be staying together, as well as what age group we’ll be teaching. Also, the long to do list of things we need to sort out looms over us like a dark tower. These all fray the nerves a little, and the only solution is to get to work clearing the list and trusting in God for the rest. We’re jumping into ice cold water here, and all we can do is hold our breath and leap.

Winning the Battle of the Mind

The trick, as we figure it, is to channel all our excitement and nervous energy into preparing. Can’t sleep? Figure out your packing list. Fed up? Stuff some clothes into boxes. Just keep that ball rolling.

We also need to keep a positive attitude, something that will be even more critically in Japan. Understanding that our attitude colours our perception will help us deal with culture shock, and makes all the difference in how much we enjoy the experience. In my opinion, we’re going over to work, but it’s still a holiday, every moment an opportunity for adventure and experiences. After all, a change is as good as a holiday.

Lastly, I really believe in setting goals and staying focused on them. Easily achievable goals are rewarding and let you implement a long term plan. Going to Japan is the result of such goals.

I’ve decided to write down twelve goals for Japan, sort of an objectives list. I’ll change it as I go along, because I believe goals need to be adaptable and reflect changes in your own life. Still, this list of goals does reflect why I want to go to Japan. They are in no particular order:

1. Get my shodan (1st rank) in Iaido.
2. Get a certification in Japanese.
3. Write for 20 minutes every day.
4. Train at Esaka Dojo.
5. Meet the head of Esaka dojo.
6. Meet with Iaido sensei’s from Japan.
7. Meet friends from the Japanese embassy who are now in Japan.
8. Visit Mt. Fuji.
9. Meet with friends who are already on the JET program.
10. Learn more about Musashi and visit some related sites.
11. Take a hike.
12. Be active in the local Christian community.

Flag of Gunma Prefecture

Yata! (Yay!)

It’s so exciting that we’re heading to Japan, and despite all the stress, we’re just getting more and more amped for the trip over.

Word of the Day

Hashi: You’ll know them as chopsticks. These are eating utensils, commonly made of wood or plastic. Like western cutlery, etiquette when using hashi is very important, for example, you don’t pass food between hashi, as this is how bones are passed in Japanese funeral rites.

Site of the Day

Today’s site is our very own kanjiFlipper. This site uses flash cards to help you learn hiragana, katakana and kanji. While it’s still a work in progress, it’s already quite useful, and new updates are being made on a weekly basis. Check it out here: