FuJET Tokyo Sumo Tournament 2014

FuJET Tokyo Sumo Tournament 2014

sumo2014WHAT: SUMO!!!!
WHEN: January 25th 2014
WHERE: Tokyo
PRICE: 5, 500 YEN
LIMIT: 30 people! PLACES GO QUICK!!!!
DEADLINE: December the 4th
HOW TO SIGN UP: Email <fujetcouncil@gmail.com> to reserve your spot. We are accepting emails from NOW until Dec. 4!

Every year, FuJET buys a bunch of tickets for the big Sumo match held in Tokyo every year. Sumo wrestling is probably the most exciting and fascinating fighting sports there is. This remarkable kind of Japanese wrestling match has been in existence for hundreds of years, so why don’t you come and watch it with some friends?!
We buy the tickets for you, so we can all sit together!

HOWEVER – these tickets sell out especially fast – especially as this is the second to last day of the tournament. But fear not! I will put anyone past the first 30 on a special list, and try to get you guys tickets. It depends every year how many we can get, so the faster you sign up, the better chance you have!

We will ask EVERYONE to pay in advance for your tickets via furikomi the full amount. The sooner you get your payments in, the sooner we can get the tickets! So we are asking you send us your money by the 4th of December!

(For more information about furikomi, check out our wiki – http://wiki.fujet.org/wiki/index.php?title=Furikomi)

However it is going to be up to YOU to organize your own transportation and accommodation for that night. We are not going to be sorting that out for you.

You can spend as long, or as little time as you want watching the matches. We will post the schedule of the fights once we have it. Usually people arrive from around midday and then watch the matches.

That night, usually a bunch of people go clubbing or out to dinner – so ask around, and find out what everyone is up to!

Remember – if you want to go, you need to RSVP to fujetcouncil@gmail.com ASAP! We are accepting emails from NOW until Dec. 4.

Sumo is an amazing part of Japanese culture, so why not watch it with us!

2013 FuJET Nagano Soccer Tournament Recap

2013 FuJET Nagano Soccer Tournament Recap

Twice a year, ALTs from across Japan gather to compete in the All Japan ALT Soccer Tournament. The eastern division of the tournament is held at Sania Sports Park in Sugadaira, Nagano. This year’s autumn tournament was held on October 5th and 6th across verdant pitches nestled in between the mountains: there was more than just soccer drawing people out.

Every year, Fukushima attends the autumn tournament, where our reputation precedes us. While the Lucky Islanders aren’t always the strongest team on the field, Teams Akabeko and Akabekette are always the champions of the cheering and partying divisions of the tournament. This year, team Fukushima converged in Aizu to form a massive football convoy down to Nagano, eventually arriving at the hotel with enough time to grab at least a bit of sleep before the heated competition.

On Saturday, each team played three or four games (fifteen minute halves) in a league style tournament. On Sunday morning, the teams played their remaining competitors, after which the teams were ranked and entered into a knock-out cup competition.

This is my third time playing on team Akabekette (and first time co-captaining with the gorgeous Duchess, Madame Katherine Middleton) and while the tournament sounds fairly simple and straightforward it is anything but. Not only are you playing against your opponent, but you’re playing against your own bodily limits, pushing yourself to make just one more sprint to the ball. On Saturday, the Akabekettes only had one sub and fought each game as though it was the last. And, when we weren’t playing, half of the team would have to be refereeing for the other teams. It was a full-on day but our efforts were rewarded: the Akabekettes walked away without a loss on Saturday (one tie) and placed fairly high in the team rankings.

Unfortunately, do to reffing obligations, I was unable to personally witness most the glory that was team Akabeko, I did manage to watch half of one of their games. I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with the Akabeko’s teamwork, led by veteran captain and Scotsman, Mister Alan Inkster. The ten minutes of the game that I watched was invigorating and I was able to watch FuJET co-president, Rokan, impeccably set up the ball for our fiery-soccer-loving-coastie-first-year, Mister Tony Villa to score an impressive goal (I do believe that the goal made the opposing keeper cry). The games that I didn’t get to witness were relayed to be in full dramatic detail by the rest of the boys’ team in full, gory detail.

This soccer tournament isn’t completely dedicated to your footie prowess. In the evening, after dinner, there is a pub quiz in the lobby. Fukushima formed two teams- Team Sempai and Team Kohai. Not surprisingly (read: surprisingly), Team Sempai won first place after a nail-biting tie breaking question, foreshadowing tomorrow’s competition. After the trivia, the dance party started and Fukushima kept with tradition: we were the first on the dance floor and the last off.

Sunday morning comes and everyone trudged to their respective pitches, a little slower than they had the day before. The Akabekettes fought hard and won against the last teams before the play-offs. Blessedly, we had 2 subs to lead us into the second day of the tournament. When the points were all added up, we were ecstatic (and mortified: we were tired) to discover that Team Akabekette was in first place and would play the Saitama Psychoborgs for the first place trophy! Last year, Akabekettes went home with a third place trophy. Could we actually go home with first?

Long story short, after a gruelling game filled with janken-ing, arguments, heckling/cheering from the sidelines, the game boiled down to penalty kicks. My heart was in my throat as I watched my teammates line up to take their kicks (hey, I was co-captain for my genki and janken-ing skills, I never claimed that I am worth anything actually on the pitch. I left that up to the Duchess!) I swear that the Akabekettes had their legs replaced with cannons and that our fabulous goalies have robot hands because seriously– the entire team rocked it all weekend long. Rachel, Emi, Kylie, Kath, Judy, Xan, Michelle– we all kicked some serious tail ladies! The guys, they were something else too. It’s a bit of highway robbery that team Akabeko ONLY walked away with third place in the men’s division. Seriously though, did the guys’ team completely rock it or what? Oh yeah– one last thing– did I mention that our girls totally kicked ass, blew away the Psychoborgs at the penalty kicks, and we walked away with a case of Chu-Hai, a trophy, and the first Fukushima championship victory (men’s OR women’s) in the 13-year tournament history? Yeah, we are pretty fabulous. FUKU! SHIMA!

I would love to give a special shout-out to Saitama and all the other teams that competed over the course of this unforgettable weekend, Chris and the tournament organisers, and most importantly to Rokan and FuJET for organising this whole affair for us!

FuJET- An Inside Look to the 2014 Hokkaido Trip, Part 2- Sapporo Sightseeing Spots

FuJET- An Inside Look to the 2014 Hokkaido Trip, Part 2- Sapporo Sightseeing Spots

So, there’s a snow festival in Sapporo. Big whoop. What ELSE is there to do while I’m there? Sapporo was originally established as a trading post with the Ainu people in 1821 by the Tokugawa shogunate. The growth of the city was exceptionally well planned, resulting in actual city blocks and streets that make… well.. sense! In our second instalment of our Hokkaido Inside Look, we’ll take a look at some of the sights to see in Sapporo itself, as well as provide you with resources.  

Sapporo Maruyama Zoo

Polar bear twins born at the park in December 2012.
Polar bear twins born at the park in December 2012.

Located 2.5km from our hotel, the Maruyama zoo is one of the most famous zoos in all of Japan. The first zoo in Hokkaido, Maruyama was established in 1951. It houses over 1,000 animals which represent over 200 species. The park has daily shows where you can check out the meals of a different park citizen (and the animal!) up close. There is also the ‘Birds of Prey Free Flight’ experience where you can learn about what it takes to handle birds of prey…oh yeah, and maybe even hold one of these majestic hunters. The park includes a family of polar bears, a monkey mountain, a petting area, tigers, otters, lions, timber wolves, snow leopards and more. I’m going to have to stop myself here because I could go on all day about how excited I am about visiting this place.

Snow Leopard=Instant Majesty
Snow Leopard=Instant Majesty

Hours/Cost/Access:

February Hours: 9:00-17:00, Cost: 600 yen

To get to the zoo, you can easily walk directly from our hotel and be there in under 30 minutes. Or, from the Maruyama koen Subway Station (Tozai Line[T06]), take the Dobutsuen sen JR Hokkaido Bus to the Dobutsuen mae bus stop, or walk 15 minutes from Maruyama koen Subway Station (Tozai Line[T06]).

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Fukushima Book Club 4th Meeting–The Princess Bride

Last month was the fourth meeting of the Fuku Book Club! Attendees met over coffee and cocoa at Cafe Pronto in Aizu-Wakamatsu to discuss the original print version of perennial cult classic The Princess Bride. Everyone braved both heavy rain and well-earned Halloween SHINE hangovers in order to come, regular members and relative newcomers alike, but a good time was had by all!

The book chosen was already familiar to most of the people who came, mainly because of its well-known film adaptation, which turned out to have been quite faithful in its rendition. Still, there were a number of differences worth discussion (most notably the ending), and since some members had never seen the movie at all it was really interesting to hear what everyone had to say.

Members take turns choosing five potential book candidates and then putting it to the club for discussion and voting before a novel is finally decided upon. This past month’s novel was selected by Erika and Erica. The next meeting will be held on December 1 (to be confirmed) and will take the Book Club back to its usual haunt, Don Jalapenos in Koriyama. Merran is in charge of choices this time – the list is on the Facebook event page if you would like to vote! As always anyone is welcome, so come one, come all!

Iwaki English Immersion Camp

by Michael Cowan
Edited by Xan Wetherall

On October 12th and 13th, Iwaki held its first ever English immersion camp at the Yotsukura Nature Center for student council presidents and students going to America on exchange this year. In order to help prepare them for America (and just to help their English in general), the 2-day camp was ENGLISH ONLY! There were 42 students in attendance from all over Iwaki, and 16 ALTs, with Xan and myself leading the camp.

Day one began with workshops revolving around meeting the ALTs and making new friends. Students learned about the countries represented by the ALTs, while also getting to know their groups. When they finished, it was lunchtime! Meals were also English-only, but students and ALTs were able to converse more freely in this relaxed situation. However, the relaxation caused students to occasionally slip into Japanese, earning them a penalty game, such as a tongue twister, or a silly pose.

The next workshop dealt with helping the students to speak English more naturally. In order to practice their newfound abilities, students were given a number of topics to choose from, and then given free time to talk with ALTs and friends. It was great to see how much their English proficiency had increased from that morning alone.
The final workshop for day one was to use all the techniques they had learned in order to prepare a presentation about Japan, which they would present as the final workshop the next day. Topics included Japanese etiquette, school life in Japan and famous places in Japan.

With the day’s workshops finally finished, it was dinnertime! ALTs and students alike were able to once again relax and enjoy themselves. Everyone was laughing together, having fun and making mischief: we even had some pranks in the form of one student’s juice continually being ‘enhanced’ with soy sauce. Luckily, Tahi was there to drink it down for the hapless students every time!

Day two started bright and early at 6am for English games and sports! Unfortunately, due to unnaturally sharp grass, the balloon volleyball didn’t last as long as intended. Thanks to some quick thinking, other games, such as skipping question time and English shiritori freeze tag, were organized. Back at breakfast, you could tell that the students were really relaxing around us ALTs – one student even decided to ask me for advice on chatting up women…terrible idea, kid.

After lunch we did some situational training, to get kids comfortable and familiar with real-life English usage. Situations dealt with included shopping, restaurant etiquette, and natural speech. The next workshop was a bit more relaxed, starting with a “Who am I?” game, a variant on “Twenty questions”, with each ALT as a secret pop culture character. The students had to move around in their groups and ask yes or no questions to the ALTs, and try and work out who they were. The aim of the game was not just to find out the secret identity, but for the students to ask as many questions as possible. The second part of this workshop was to use all the techniques and skills learned over the course of the weekend, and re-do the topic talk from the previous day. However, this time the students were a lot more confident with their English, and it showed.

The final workshop of day two was the presentations. As each group presented their topic, it was clear that they had put a good deal of care, dedication, and thought into their final product, even though they’d only had 3 hours total to brainstorm, create, and practice. Their use of printed materials, pictures, gestures, and body language to illustrate their points made the student’s presentations very natural, some even honestly hilarious, causing English and Japanese speakers alike to laugh out loud.

The students spent two full days speaking English, and the increase in fluency and confidence was substantial. In the end, we asked that the students carry the feeling of confidence they gained at English camp into every English class in the future, and to not forget how proud and happy they felt with their new skills. I have never been so proud to be a teacher as I was while watching these students grow so much in such a short time. The two days at this English immersion camp was the best teaching experience that I have ever had, and I am pleased to say that the student’s reviews show a similar feeling. In the words of one student, “I had a wonderful time!” Everyone helped make this an amazing experience for both ALTs and students alike, and now I can’t wait for next time!