Konnichiwa (hello) everyone! Welcome to the first Trev Report
from Japan in over 3 years! This one is a little late since the
move to Japan has been hectic to say the least. There is a lot
to cover so on with the show!
The move for us was pretty trying, but we made it through A-OK.
We are still working on adjusting to life in a new house, a new
town, and a new country, but with the help of our new friends
in the area we are adapting.
Singe has made a website of her very own now, it is
http://www.signerose.org/ and there is a lot of stuff about our
new life in Japan on it, so check it out!
About 1 week before I quit my job at RedOctane something quite
odd happened. I was on my way to work at RedOctane (I take the
train and bus) and in the middle of my commute at the bus transfer
station, I saw someone that looked a lot like my wife. ..and she
was waving at me. I just kept walking, but it actually was my
wife and Warner Young and Robert Loo! They had come to kidnap
me from work to go to Disneyland! I was way confused. When they
got me in the car I called my boss, but he wasn't in yet. So we
kept on driving. 9:00 am rolled around and I called my boss and
told him the story. He knew! Then I called my coworker, EJ, and
he was in on it as well. They had been planning this for months
and I had no idea at all.
Actually, the day we were leaving there was a JET event
(non-mandatory) and I wanted to go to it, but my wife told me
that I couldn't, so I wanted to know why. She told me that the
No-Name guys were taking me out to dinner, but not to tell them
and spoil the surprise. So when that morning came by Robert Loo
called us and I answered. He talked to Signe for a little bit
and I was all giddy because I thought Signe forgot about the
dinner tonight, but she thought that I knew about the whole thing,
which I didn't.
So anyway, we were driving down to LA when and we are passing
the 10, which should be where you get off to go to Disneyland
and I say, shouldn't we take the 10?" That is when Robert says,
"we might as well tell him now," and hands me a card that says
on the front "You're going to Disneyland!" But when I opened it,
it said "But screw Disneyland, dude! You're going to San Diego!"
I was in double shock! All the guys signed the card and they gave
us a couple hundred dollars and a hotel room for the weekend.
Going to San Diego wouldn't seem like a big deal, but that weekend
was San Diego ComicCon, the largest comic book convention the
world. We were going to have a honeymoon on Thursday and Friday
and Saturday go to the con. It was a pretty awesome surprise!
Well, we got there Wed. afternoon and the guys and I went to have
a quick look around the HUGE exhibit hall since it was open for
a little bit that day. The thing was huge, about 1 mile long and
about 75 yards wide. We also found the "Megatokyo" booth and all
bought copies of Fred's comic with a little sketch by him in it.
After that we met up with Signe, who was doing some shopping
around town, and one of Warner and Robert's friends and we all
went out to dinner at this Brazilian place that was really fun.
The waiters came around and served you all these different types
of meat and there was a big salad bar. We had a great time.
That night, Signe and I decided what we were going to do on
Thursday. Signe saw a brochure for a horseback riding place by
the ocean, so we planned on that.
We got up bright and early and took the train towards Mexico.
The horseback riding place was pretty close to the border, and
fortunately, they were not completely booked up!
We ate some donuts when we were almost there and finished our
journey by taking a bus to close to where the place was.
That actually took most of the morning, but that was alright with
us. We finally got our horses and we were off! We went on the
long ride that went through some beautiful forest areas before
we arrived at the beach. When we were on the beach we were allowed
to go fast on the horses, and that was an amazing experience,
the beach was beautiful and the wind rushing through your hair
is a great feeling. This was a beach that was off limits to anyone
without a horse too, so it was wonderfully untouched looking.
After we returned from horseback riding it was pretty late, but
the guys wanted to see if we wanted to get together for dinner,
so we decided on this really nice place in a rather fancy hotel.
It was their buffet night, and it was wonderfully high class,
but a little pricey.
Signe and I decided to go to Sea World on Friday. We woke up early
and took the train north to the bus that took you to Sea World.
A lot of people were going that day, which surprised me, since
the comic convention was in town. When we got to Sea World we
decided to buy back stage passes, which turned out to be great.
It entitled us to a behind the scenes tour of the park where we
learned a lot of the history of the park (it was founded as a
themed restaurant by four frat boys!) and got to pet some baby
After the tour we went all around the park, and saw all kinds
of cool animals, we even got to pet dolphins! That was really
cool. We also got special sets to the big Shamu dolphin show later
in the day. We ate lunch at the park and bought some cool stickers
for me to give to my students in Japan and then we headed back
to the hotel for some rest.
It was a wonderful two days and I am really glad that the guys
helped us make a real honeymoon happen for us, since we never
got the chance to take one ourselves.
Trev's San Diego ComicCon experience
On Saturday, Signe and I met up with the guys and we headed off
to the convention. The first thing we did there was give blood,
well I gave blood, and Signe watched (her iron levels were just
a little too low). I like giving blood, but it always hurts a
After that we decided to go into the "big" room, number 20, where
all the cool huge events were happening, because we wanted to
see Kevin Smith speak. The line was long, so we got in it early
and ended up getting into the room at the end of the last panel,
which was the Tomb Raider panel with Angelina Jolie.
We actually saw Judy and Kelly, of "One Ring Circus"
(http://www.stitchinbabes.com/orcindex.html), who are some of
our good friends. They were waiting for the panel after Kevin
Smith, the Lord of the Rings panel.
Signe and I found some good seats and settled in to watch Kevin
Smith, who was just as funny live as he was on his DVD, "An Evening
with Kevin Smith."
Afterwards, Signe stayed there to watch the Lord of the Rings
panel, and I took off to look through the huge exhibit hall. I
didn't actually buy anything until the last minute. I bought a
print supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which helps
protect artists and proprietors from unjust rightist attacks,
and I bought a sketch of Harley Quinn (from Batman) from a fan
artist who was drawing at his booth.
That night the big masquerade was happening. That was the reason
we picked Saturday to go to the convention. We wanted to see Judy
and Kelly compete in the show. We got in line real early, so we
ended up with great seats. The pre-show stuff was fun, including
a fan-made Batman short that was really well-done.
The show was hosted by the man that plays Freddy in the Friday
the 13th movies.
Over all the show was pretty good, I think that there were a
higher amount of costumers that were there to show off their work
instead of planning skits like you see in anime conventions.
"One Ring Circus" was the 15th act and they totally cleaned house.
They came in best in show, they were well rehearsed and the
costumes were outstanding, so it was no surprise, but we were
really happy for our friends. Afterwards, we went and
congratulated them with the rest of the fans and press.
On Sunday we had a light breakfast and headed back home. All in
all it was a great experience. I am glad that I was able to attend
the SDCC at least once before I left America. We had a great time.
Trev's Last Couple Weeks In America
My last two weeks in America were a lot of parties with various
groups of friends: friends from Intel, friends from No-Name,
friends from college, friends from FanimeCon, friends from
RedOctane, family, and more. It was great fun. The guys from
RedOctane even gave me a GameBoy Advance for a going away present.
Both Signe and I have been playing it a lot, we have Golden Sun
and Advanced Wars 2 for it right now.
At RedOctane I spent my time training E.J. in the art of good
customer service, but he didn't need much training, the man rocks
at his job and from the reports that I am hearing, he is doing
an amazing job over there.
We moved out of our apartment on the 31st of July after a couple
of problems shipping our things to Signe's parent's house.
Fortunately, Airborne Express came through for us when UPS
didn't and with the help of Matt Conner we got it all sent off
With only a couple days left until we take of to Japan, we moved
into Danielle and Johan's place for 2 days of fun and games.
On the day we were to fly out, my Dad came and took us out to
breakfast and then the airport and we said our last goodbyes.
A few hours later we were on a jet with a lot of JETs (oh, that's
bad) on our way to Japan.
Trev's Tokyo Orientation Adventures
When Signe and I got to Tokyo there were lots of staff to guide
us and help us along so we didn't get lost at all, which was really
nice, since the last time I came to Japan I was pretty much all
We got settled in and paid for Signe's part of the hotel and food
and got all of my paperwork and stuff I needed for the orientation.
Once we were settled in we decided to go out for dinner. Our hotel
was in the center of Shinjuku, which is a pretty active part of
Tokyo, so it was easy to find a good place to eat.
The next day the orientation started and I got to meet all the
net JETs going to Shimane-ken with me along with our Tokyo
Orientation Assistant, Stacey, and our Assistant Language
Teacher Prefectural Advisor, Marcie.
There were panels all day hosted by AJET, the Association for
JETs (it's like an all-Japan JET club), where we learned about
a lot of interesting stuff. That night there was a big enkai (or
formal party) to greet all of us and afterwards all the
Shimane-ken JETs when out to a restaurant in Shinjuku where we
had some drinks and a random magician came by our table and
performed for us. It was really fun.
The next day was the day for the official (a.k.a. mandatory)
panels. Everyone had to attend three throughout the day, as well
as an example of team-teaching performed by an actual Assistant
Language Teacher (ALT, my job), and a Japanese Teacher of
Language (JTL). We were also shown a horribly cheesy short film
about an ALT "Gary" and his average life at school. It was made
probably 10 years ago and it shows, but it is great to make fun
of. I attended the "Living as a Rural JET" panel, the "Japanese
Pop Culture" panel, and the "Intermediate Japanese" panel. The
Rural one was great. I learned a lot about living out here that
I didn't know before, like the unattended vegetable stands out
in the country where you just put 100 yen (about $0.80) in a box
and take whatever you like. The pop culture panel was really cool,
there were a couple of us at the panel that knew more about pop
culture than the person presenting the panel. The Japanese panel
was useful as well; it was talking about the various Japanese
tests you can take, like the J-Test and the Japanese Language
Proficiency Test (JLPT). The JLPT has four levels from 4 (basic
understanding) to 1 (can do on-the-fly translation). I want to
be able to pass at least level 3 before I leave here. You can
start to get translation jobs with level 2, but I'm not ready
for that yet I don't think.
That night I went out and bought some DVDs, my first ever Ghibli
movies: "Only Yesterday" and my favorite one "Whisper of the
Heart." I plan on buying all of them eventually.
The next day we all headed off to our own prefectures. For us
Shimane-ken JETs we had to fly. This was my first time taking
a flight within Japan, and it was pretty cool. The security is
way less that it is in America and the flight when really great.
Trev's Matsue Orientation Adventures
The capital city of Shimane-ken (a ken is a prefecture, by the
way, and a prefecture is like a state) is Matsue. We arrived there
and got shuttled to a local hotel where Signe's affairs were all
taken care of as well, we didn't have to worry about anything
thanks the Rachael Borer (our predecessor) working out all the
That first night we had a big party for all the new JETs and some
of the returning JETs were there too. In fact, two of the Shimane
JETs attended Kansai Gaidai in Osaka the same time I did in
1999-2000. It is quite a small world out here. I was pretty
pleased to discover that some other people came back too.
The next day was our official orientation. They talked about "The
Black Taxi," which is the Shimane-ken monthly JET newsletter,
and "The Shimanean" which is a quarterly publication written
mostly by Shimane-ken JETs.
We also got a very useful packet full of important information
about Shimane-ken and the JETs in our area. There was also
another team-teaching demonstration and some of the returning
JETs talked about how to survive the summers (which are humid
and hot) and the winters (which are blisteringly cold) among
Later that day we broke into groups of people in the different
regions of Shimane. Our town, Akagi-chou (chou means town) is
in Iishi-gun (gun means county), which is in the Unnan Region.
So all of us in the Unnan region got together and chatted. It
seems that up in the mountains we get over a meter of snow in
the winter, which should be interesting to say the least.
That night, unbeknownst to me, we met our supervisors for the
very first time at an enkai for all the new Shimane-ken JETs.
I was a little embarrassed because I wasn't dressed up, but it
went OK. My supervisor's name is Mr. Osaka (The kanji for Osaka
is slightly different from the kanji for the city Osaka, kanji
are Chinese characters used in Japanese). Mr. Osaka is a great
person and I think that we get along pretty well, even though
my Japanese isn't too great and he doesn't know much Japanese.
The next day Mr. Osaka drove us out to Akagi-chou and we settled
in to the house that we will be living in for the next 1-3 years.
Trev's New Life In Japan
We have been here in Akagi for about one month now and we are
pretty settled in. I won't cover everything we have done since
we have arrived, but I can give a few highlights.
The house is great! Signe has some pictures of it up on her
website at http://www.signerose.org/, so go check them out. It
is two stories and the bathroom is huge. We sleep on the second
floor in a double bed. Downstairs there is a spare bedroom, a
kitchen/living area, and a bathroom. Signe is working on the
backyard and plans to have a garden out there when she is done.
We have gotten to know our neighbors pretty well, and they
certainly know us. In fact we have been on the local cable station
multiple times, including my self-introduction in Japanese
which I delivered horribly. I was quite nervous and I don't think
it went too well, but it was passable, and I wrote it myself.
I also write a monthly column in the Akagi newsletter that is
mailed out to everybody in the town. I just finished my first
one which was another self-introduction. I also wrote a
self-introduction for the Jr. High School (Akagi Chuugakkou,
Akagi Chuu for short) newsletter too that is mailed out to all
the schools in the area.
Trev's Fun Town Events
One of the first events I went to was the coming of age ceremony
which happens every year for everyone in the town that turned
twenty that year. It was pretty touching.
Later on in the month Signe and I went to the town Obon Festival,
an Obon Festival is a festival held every year in the summer where
you sing and dance the very simple Obon dance, drink beer and
get prizes. We had a great time and were even invited to pick
numbers for the prizes, which was good, but we had to sit with
our legs underneath us for quite some time, which, if you are
not used to it, can be quite painful.
We were also planning on going to the Akana (Akana is a section
of the town of Akagi) sports festival, but it was rained out,
so we all got together and ate, drank, and were marry for an
afternoon instead. Speaking of sports festivals, the sports
festival for the Jr. High School is tomorrow, I am looking
forward to that.
There was also an event in the summer vacation time where some
elementary school kids from Kochi-ken came to visit Akagi and
we did a lot of fun stuff together at the Shimane Mountainous
Region Research Center, which is in Akagi.
There was also an enkai for Signe and I that all the principals
and vice-principals of all the schools I will be visiting
attended (I will be working at 1 Jr. High 3 days a week, and I
will be rotated to 4 different elementary schools, 3 different
nursery schools, and the old person's home on the other working
days). We had a really good time there, drinking with them is
always fun, we also played "Ground Golf" which is a bit like
croquet, but different.
A couple weekends ago Signe and I went up to Kashima, which is
about 90 minutes north of us, to go river rafting with some
elementary kids up there and a bunch of other JETs. It was great
fun and afterward some of us went to the beach and played in the
beautiful blue ocean for a few hours. I got sunburned, but it
was very worth it. Signe even got to ride on a jet ski!
There has been more stuff too, of course, but those are the big
Trev's Jr. High School
Akagi Chuu is fantastic. I work with the two English teachers
there, who are both new to Akagi. Suyama-sensei (sensei means
teacher) has taught before, and spent some time in California.
Her English is very good. Kawashima-sensei just graduated from
college and this is her first teaching job, but her English is
also very good. I have made friends with a lot of the teachers
at the school, everyone is very friendly and open, which makes
for a great working environment. Moriyama-sensei, the Japanese
language teacher) is especially funny, and loves to talk in
English with me.
I help teach all the classes, 1 7th grade class, 2 8th grade
classes, and 1 9th grade class. I am currently working on
memorizing everyone's names so I can get to know them better.
The students that stand out in class or are really good in English
are easy to remember, but the quiet ones are a little tougher
to recall. I am doing my best though.
Mr. Osaka gave me a daily diary to take notes in and I have been
writing in it everyday I have work. I was inspired by one of my
9th grade students, Yukiko Abe, who wrote in her diary in English
every day in summer vacation. I was so impressed, I started doing
In my free time I study Japanese and work on remembering
student's names. I am coming along well, and some of my Japanese
is coming back to me, but I am still a long way from even being
fluent enough to hold a decent conversation in Japanese. I will
continue to work hard at it though.
I love teaching with the English teachers. It is really fun and
rewarding to be helping out. I really want to show my teachers
Azumanga Daioh, which is an anime about teachers and students
and is really funny.
Lately I have been watching Azumanga Daioh, and I plan on
starting Chobits sometime soon. I am also watching Zentrix on
TV, which is a Hong Kong all CG animation dubbed in English, and
it is surprisingly good. There are a couple other shows I like
to watch, but I never get to see the same ones every week,
although I do tend to catch "Tomorrow's Nadja" a lot, which is
a pretty cute girl's anime.
I am also reading the Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 manga that one of
my students, Gaku Fujihara, which is pretty cool. I'm buffing
up on my Gundam knowledge.
I am also planning on getting all the Ghibli films eventually
too, but not until our cash levels start to normalize. Moving
to a new place and getting a new job is always a little bumpy
It took about half a month, but we got all the papers taken care
of for our car, so we can now drive around. We have a 1996
Mitsubishi Mirage J. It is a pretty good car. Driving on the other
side of the road and shifting with the left hand took a bit of
getting used to, but I think that we are doing fine now. It is
nice to be able to drive around and get places, since there is
no trains that go through our town, and the bus only comes once
an hour, it is a nice freedom.
trv no go
I have been invited to attend the local go club, but all the old
men there are around 3 dan, and I am only about 15 kyu, so I have
a long way to go before I feel comfortable playing with them,
since it is a bit rude to play with someone that is so much higher
Trev's Other Stuff
Hopefully, pretty soon, Signe and I will be taking music lessons
from one of the local music teachers, since I always regretted
not learning music while I was younger.
I haven't been reading much lately, but I think that I should
really set some time aside to read for fun, to keep me sane and
We have been getting along great with the other local JETs, and
have even taught some of the Settlers of Catan, one of our
As you can tell, we are settling in pretty well here and are
looking forward to many more great memories in the future!
That's about it for this very long, very late edition of the Trev
Report. The next one should be more on time now that we are all
set in our new place.
If you have a moment, drop us a line, we always enjoy hearing
Until next time,
Trevor Lalish-Menagh, http://www.trevreport.org/
Oaza Shimoakana 830
Akagi Town, Iishi-gun, Shimane-ken 690-3513 JAPAN
0854-76-3021 (00181-854-76-3021 from US)