Wednesday Wonders:Mr. G the Gingerbread Man Goes to Japan Part 2

Standard

When we last saw Mr. G on his trip, he discovered that people drive on the left in the island nation just before he enjoyed an apple–or rather he watched while the human ate the apple.

Today, I report on the rest of his adventures as told by tour guide Marci Kobayashi-Smith. These adventures took several days for our intrepid Mr. G.

Day 1

We went out for breakfast with the Gingerbread Man.

(They went to Denny’s in Japan!)

He looked over every page of the breakfast menu carefully.

Then we had fun taking pictures while we waited for the food to arrive.

He looked at both options first and then decided to share with Akira. You can see Akira is trying to teach him how to use chopsticks.

(Akira Kobayahi is tour guide Marci’s husband.)

15303904_10211897342936027_1010000561_o15328129_10211897343216034_377416940_n15355912_10211897344056055_1146264739_n

After breakfast Akira paid the bill and let the Gingerbread Man keep the change. He said he’s going to bring it back with him so Q can see how Japanese coins look.

15301146_10211897360296461_352336464_n

15292727_10211897360056455_1349974557_o

We took walk after breakfast and met someone very interesting but I’ll save that for later. Right now we’re driving to the nursing home to see Akira’s mom. Akira is helping the Gingerbread Man drive.

15310630_10211898690889725_1982571702_n

Day 2

We have a lot to report today! First, I want to share some pics from yesterday. The Gingerbread Man (we’ve nicknamed him Mr. G) found some interesting things.

First, he found a big building just for karaoke. Inside there are many small rooms and people of all ages go in and rent the rooms and have fun singing. We told him it’s not so unusual. There are karaoke buildings like this all over Japan.

15328341_10211909997132374_2141628411_n

Mr. G. also noticed there are a lot of poles and wires. You can see them here in this picture.

15301245_10211909999532434_10276592_n

In Japan, most of the telephone and electric wires are above ground. Mr. G said that in Puyallup most of the wires are underground. Is that true??

Even though there are many wires, there are still some beautiful streets. This street is lined with Gingko trees.

It was so pretty so we decided to take a walk. And we weren’t the only ones. Many people were out walking…

15300552_10211910027973145_534586312_n

We also found a flower shop, a grocery store with many bicycles parked out front and a Pizza Hut!!

Mr. G said he thinks there might be a Pizza Hut in Puyallup but he doesn’t eat pizza so he’s not sure. Have you seen delivery scooters like this in Puyallup?
Mr. G was really into the yellow leaves. He asked us to take many pictures…

15356875_10211910056693863_1198492597_n

He saved a few leaves. You’ve probably seen Gingko trees before but just in case he’s going to bring back a couple of leaves to show you. Here is one.

15300758_10211910069334179_1629351495_n

15310266_10211910070534209_632315552_n

15356874_10211910080174450_821123302_n

So you are probably getting tired of the yellow leaves, right? Well, on the way back home, we met someone really interesting. And, I’m not talking about the snowman. Take a look at this next picture. Can you guess what it is?

15320265_10211910100494958_897507648_n

Well how about this next picture? Look carefully and I bet you can figure it out!

15300503_10211910103655037_1690866494_n

Did you figure it out? He is a police officer! The little corner office where he works is called a “koban” and in English everyone calls it a police box. It’s like a mini police station. Every neighborhood in Japan has one.

Usually there is only one or maybe two officers working at the Police Box. Sometimes you can see them out patrolling on their bicycles.
And one last view from our walk yesterday…

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the laundromat we visited. And, guess what? Mr. G. went out for sushi!

Day 3

Today Mr. G stayed home but I still haven’t shared some of the pics from yesterday…We went out for sushi. Instead of taking sushi that came around on the conveyor belt we ordered from the digital menu. A few minutes later it arrived on another conveyor belt right to our table. Then, Mr. G got really excited when we put the plates down the shoot. Every 5 plates we get a chance to win a prize and this time WE WON!!!

 

15327674_10211920596717357_227192_n

15328176_10211920597957388_399239823_n

 

But, after all that raw fish Mr. G wanted something different so we ordered grilled eel, tenpura and french fries! Yum!

15387567_10211920623118017_570858945_o

The french fries and plate prizes were a fantastic selling points for Quinton, too! He says he’d rather go on Mr.G’s trip than to Disneyland!

And that concludes the tour. Mr. G is somewhere on his way across the Pacific back to the Puyallup elementary school and Quinton’s class.

Wishing you peace and french fries for this holiday season,

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 6.57.01 AM

Wednesday Wonders: Mr. G the Gingerbread Man Goes to Japan Part 1

Standard

Do you remember Flat Stanley? The cut out that kids sent to their friends and family around the world?

My son’s kindergarten teacher gave his class a gingerbread man to send instead of Stanley. Quinton’s cut out is making his way around Tokyo with my friend from high school who came to visit us this past summer.

13689450_10210513149452055_88397633_n

Summer fun in Sumner, WA

(Quinton loved Marci Kobayashi-Smith so much that he decided to go there as soon as possible. On a boat. I should drop him off and come back for him the next day.)

So today, I present to you the adventures of Mr. G as told by Marci with pictures and text. Enjoy!

15050053_10153818792687084_385045129_n

Mr. G leaves the U.S. from my kitchen table. 

For this first night, we are enjoying a quiet night at home watching TV. There is a show about a neighborhood police officer on TV right now. I’m sure you can see him in the background.

15320374_10211877339555955_1120235665_n

 

First we took a walk along the bike path next to the river and saw some egrets. Sometimes we can see blue herons there, too but not today.

15310492_10211888518155413_259366407_n

The Gingerbread Man discovered that stop signs look different here in Japan. They are triangles!

15281159_10211888521235490_266918959_n

Then we came up to a very busy street and he noticed something else–people drive on the left side of the road!

15280954_10211888531435745_358780544_n

Now we are back home and having a snack. Even though many things are different, somethings are the same. For example, we are enjoying a big red apple for a snack.

15301288_10211888550756228_558444209_n

Actually, he let me eat most of it. 🙂

And that’s all for part one! Stay tuned to see what Mr. G gets up to next week. Meanwhile, you can find more about his tour guide Marci by going to her blog and website.

May you find great adventures of your own this week and maybe even eat an apple-

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 6.57.01 AM

Postscript: After I posted this, I remembered today is the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. 

A part of me questions the wisdom of whimsy on such a day. 

The best part of me thinks a kindergarten gingerbread man free to travel to Japan somehow fits. I pray for more whimsy and far fewer moments of tragedy in all our lives. 

Mother Tongue Tuesday: Japanese

Standard

Japanese road sign

Last month I listened to Reverend Kakihara from the Tacoma Buddhist Temple speak at a Lenten series in my church. The minister, born in Japan, described his faith beautifully and I learned many things about Buddhism, especially about Jodo Shinshu Nishi Hongwanji Buddhism which he practices.

At the same time, watching his mannerisms and listening to his speech patterns felt like a step back to an earlier time of my life. My career in English as a second language began with hundreds of Japanese students who came to Western Washington University in the early 1990’s in the Asian University America Program (AUAP).

I assisted in ESL classrooms as a university student,. After classes, my conversation partners made me sashimi and served me green tea in a formal ceremony. I learned about the three writing systems of the language, the alphabet sounds and even managed a limited vocabulary with words like really, you’re welcome and thank you (not too hard since “Domo Origato, Mr. Roboto” was popular not too long before my college days).

green tea

The green tea I drank was not from a bag like this. It was a powder and my friend prepared it with what looked like a mortar of the mortar and pestle variety.

sashimi

Sashimi was one of my first food adventures.

Most of all, I got the chance to see Japanese young people experiencing a radically new language and culture, something I better appreciated when I went on my own brief adventures.

Japanese Tidbits from the UCLA Language Project 

  • Japanese is a language isolate, meaning it is not easily related to any other language
  • Japanese uses three writing systems: kanji, katagana, and hiragana. Kanji is based on the Chinese writing system and has thousands of characters. The other two systems are more similar to the English alphabet (although not related in the slightest) because there are limited letters that represent specific sounds that can be rearranged to create words.

kanji rice

  • Japanese is a subject-object-verb language rather than the subject-verb-object order of English. “I give money” would translate to “I money give” in Japanese.
  • Japanese marks the adjectives as past or non-past similar to the way it works with verbs.
  • Japanese does not mark nouns as singular or plural.
  • Matsuo Basho was one of the innumerable famous Japanese poets.

I don’t have any Japanese students today but I’m lucky to still have a few connections with my former students and friends. And as hard as the language is to learn for English speakers, it can be done.

Here’s a video with English subtitles of a college friend from the days when I worked with AUAP students. Marci went on to master the language, is now living in Japan, and convincing students like Noriko to come to America to study. (Marci starts at 00:51.)

http://vimeo.com/91907492