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Kumamoto E-Newsletter November 1st 2010

Issue # 1


Editor’s Note Did you know...JAPAN elcome one and all to the very first issue of the Kumamoto E-newsletter! My hope for this little email is to serve as a soundboard for the community where we can share our experiences in Kumamoto, and in Japan, and also as an interesting and maybe even informative read! I want to thank everyone that helped out , submitted, offered proof-reading services and that generally were interested in the production of this project. We truly live in a Ken with some mighty fine folks! The next submission deadline of the E-newsletter will be November 24th. Please get your pens and cameras at the ready! If you wish to submit anything to the newsletter please submit to, we look forward to hearing from you! O Grady Jennifer

Contributors: Sandoval Cassandra Weirich Stephanie Mattar George Miller Jennifer Lapinskas Jon Smith Paul Segura Javier Lloyd Ang Mielke Joe Kolesnyk Yana Crooks Andrew Gore Holly Beltramini Marisa Borba Scott Kinsey Zane (advice and layout! )

Japan is the world’s largest consumer of tropical rainforest timber At McDonalds the hamburgers are the same size as in America, but the drink sizes are one size smaller Kyoto and Nara were consciously spared from bombing during World War 2 because of the cultural significance of their architecture and way of life Japan's literacy rate is almost 100%. There are around 1,500 earthquakes every year in Japan. Tokyo has had 24 recorded instances of people either dying or receiving serious skull fractures while bowing to each other with the traditional Japanese greeting.



Waterwheel 2010 in Amakusa Inside scoop on the shenanigans


KumAJET field day That faithful day...


Between the lines with Lunar Park Enjoy a scare this Hollow's Eve


Falling Down Paul Smith guides us through the world of `Falling Down`




Fine Art Van Gogh, Psychoanalysis and more! Kumamoto through the eyes of a foodie Jen talks food! Receipes for the carnivore to the vegan Travel Hiroshima Take a trip with Joe!


A trip to Doctor Ning Ding Ang gets in a prickly situation..


Are you in the know? Find out here!


Osaka Pride! / KumAJET events The in’s and out’s with Yana

17 18 19 20

The Expendables Macho fun with Paul Learning Japanese Photography Answers to News

4 Issue #1 November 1st 2010

Waterwheel 2010 in Amakusa October was a great month by far for us ALT’s down in Amakusa due to great weather, scenery, and legendary events. On Saturday October 2nd, the Amakusa Gun welcomed over 30 JET’s and fellow friends from Kumamoto and places as far as Sasebo and Nagasaki for Waterwheel 2010. The calamity began with the traditional jumping off of the Waterfall and a dip in the aqua blue lagoon on what turned out to be a perfect Fall day. As night fell, others began to trickle in, the BBQ’s lit up and JET’s and others enjoyed drinking games, great company, and a chill atmosphere in the midst of one of Amakusa’s beautiful isolated retreats.

George Matter


November 1st 2010

KumAJET Sports Day: "Not for the faintfaint-hearted" So as the wise Outkast once said "You can paint a pretty picture, but you can't predict the weather". This was true for the planned KumAJET Sports Day in early October. Preparations had been made, tensions were sky high and many had made their ritual sacrifices to the Gods for good weather. However lightening and rainstorms plagued the skies and many assumed that only the most optimistic, crazy and careless of ALTs would even dare to venture outside their homes during such weather, let alone play sports in it! As the starting time approached, and the harsh weather showed no signs of easing off, the four KumAJET leaders waited optimistically in the park, using the shelter of a big tree to protect them from the fierce rain. Wondering if their optimism had outshone their sense of reason, they contemplated whether or not this was such a good idea after all. And then, one after another, ALTs started to show up from all directions to shade by the big tree. Sports Day would go ahead after all! Luckily for everyone the weather began to show signs of easing up. And so the chaos commenced! We had two teams, and after some short deliberation over choice of name, Team 'Glitter Garbage' and Team 'Demolition Squad' were formed to battle it out head to head. First up was the 'Art Challenge' where teams had to use their creativity to make a team sign. Each team was given a blank canvas and used a combination of paints, pens, grass, and even body hair to create their masterpieces. Teams were then given a few minutes to enlighten judges of the deeper meaning and depth behind their work. "Glitter Garbage" were determined the winners and then it was on to the 'Human Pyramid Challenge'. Teams used nothing but their own bodies to create a variety of structures. After judges had awarded points for each pyramids' aesthetic quality, it was decided that their structural integrity should also be put to the test. And so as each team tried its best to hold their respective structures, the opposing team unleashed a barrage of water balloons and wet sponges in the direction of their rivals. Demolition Squad' managed to steal the win. The next event was an old school sports relay consisting of a dizzy bat and ball run, an egg and spoon race, and a sack race. Judges stipulated that points would be deducted for cracked eggs and split sacks, after all we didn't want thing to get messy now, did we? It was 'Demolition Squad' who managed to seize victory at the finish line. As the storm clouds once again gathered strength, teams moved swiftly onto the 'Tug-ofWar'. However, due to the flimsiness of the rope, and the bear-like strength of each team's chosen competitor, the rope snapped cleanly in two. Just then, the skies opened up, forcing the games to end prematurely. After that, it was off to fill our bellies full of a deliciously hearty Indian curry and hit the bowling alleys to finish off the day. Despite the weather, the event was still a success, thanks to the tenacity of all who attended. And although 'Demolition Squad' were slightly ahead after the games, neither team truly felt like the battle was over. Because of this, KumAJET have decided to hold another sports day for the coming spring. So sharpen up on those skills and watch this space for further all-round, good-hearted fun! Jon Lapinskas and your KumAJET team


Between the Lines with Lunar Park It feels right, and seasonally appropriate, to break in this book review column with a horror novel. That’s right kids, Halloween is right around the corner, so it’s time to get the everloving crap scared right out of you. And so, I suggest to you Lunar Park. This is not just any horror novel—no, this book is not the traditional disposable, Stephen King type fare—this horror novel also happens to be an example of genre bending, convention defying literature. Lunar Park is by Bret Easton Ellis, and if you have read any of Ellis’s other works such as Less Than Zero, American Psycho, or Glamorama, you are well acquainted with the sort of overblown, brutal, often drug fueled misadventures and cultural apathy he chronicles. And like him or not, he is the best in his field. He is an author who has never shied away from stories that fill you with an intense discomfort and knowledge that whatever terrible thing you just read will not be as terrible as something you will read on the next page. However, Lunar Park is quite the departure for Ellis. It is a big mixed bag of autobiography, black comedy, personal condemnation, a discourse on the damage fathers and sons do to one another, and yes, horror. The most remarkable aspect of this novel is how Ellis manages to tie these disparate parts into something that is coherent and truly stunning. In Lunar Park, Bret Easton Ellis is the main character. It begins as an account of his personal downward spiral, complete with drug addiction, lavish spending, Bacchnal like parties, accidental fatherhood, a failed and hilarious book tour, the death of his father, and finally rock bottom. This beginning is all (mostly) true, and it is where much of the book’s comedy is derived. And from there, it veers off into fiction. Bret is given a chance at a second life and redemption by a former girlfriend, who is a famous actress and mother to the aforementioned child. She marries him and brings him home to her mansion in suburbia in order to save his life and hope that he can change once separated from the empty decadence and fame mongering his life had been. So begins the experiment in fatherhood and husband-dom. And this sets the stage for the horror to come. Parts of Lunar Park are genuinely frightening, and so as to not ruin any of it, I will say nothing about specific details. I will say that the possible haunting of the house, the terror it inflicts upon Bret’s family and himself are all expertly rendered, which is not surprising considering Ellis’s formidable talent. What is surprising is how moving the book becomes. Ultimately, it becomes something that is parts beautiful and sad, over the top and quietly devastating. It is about the horrors of a life misspent and the abuse we unintentionally inflict upon others, and in the end, it is about forgiveness. Lunar Park will stay with you. If you’re ready to take the ride, you won’t be disappointed.

Stephanie Weirich


Falling Down Falling Down is a club that has been started in Kumamoto for writers. We are a group of people who get together to talk about writing. We will talk about other things as well, but at times I will try to direct the conversation back towards writing. We talk about our personal writing, other peoples writing, and how to continue our writing everyday. We should become a group of like-minded people, not in thought or content, but alike in our desire to write. We should hope that our writing will change the world, even if that world is just our own. We want to experience the world, because a person cannot write if they have no experience with jumping into the world head first, or feet first (whatever your preference is). Let’s eat (if you can’t eat what I eat, we’ll find you something). Let’s drink (if you don’t drink, I’ll buy you a Coke and a smile. If you don’t like Coke…go to hell.) Let’s wake up early and do tai-chi with the obaasans at Kumamoto Castle, or drink a beer while watching them. Let’s do something different. But, most importantly, let’s make mistakes. Let’s fall down. Haiku is a quick burst of a poem. Easy to write, challenging to easy to understand. Haiku is a poem style native to Japan, but it is easy to use the basic rules to make a poem in English. The rules that I follow tend to be: 17 syllables, seasonal vocabulary (i.e. fall, blossoms, red leaves, summer, etc.), and natural vocabulary (i.e. tree, mountain, dead cat, etc.). You may also follow the 5-7-5 style of Japanese haiku, but I find that too constraining.

The mountains drift slowly, Like boats in a sea of rice. Sea life is lonely. - P.S.

Adrift in onsen. Sakura fall gently. This is boys side Ba-san! - P.S.

Jack Kerouac helped coin the term American Haiku. He believed that American Haikus shouldn’t worry about syllables, “because American speech is […] bursting to pop.” English is too verbose and challenging to be sequestered by only 17 syllaClose your eyesLandlord knocking On the back door - J.Kerouac

Juju beads on the Zen manual My knees are cold - J Kerouac

I would like you, the dear reader, to send me some of your haiku. I would like to publish them in an article for the next newsletter. We will print them anonymously if you so wish. I would like you to write either a Japanese style haiku or an American style haiku. Write something, write anything, and write before you forget it all.

Paul Smith


Kumamoto Contemporary Art Museum This month there are two exhibits showing at Seiichi Furuya: Memoirs the Kumamoto Contemporary Art Museum:

A huge collection of photographs by Seiichi Furuya, a renowned JapaPsychoanalysis Featuring contemporary photography and nese photographer born in 1950. The exhibition focuses on images video by eight artists from Austria, the work from a series of portraits of his wife. explores the subconscious meaning created through our interactions between people Both are open until November 28 and spaces. The work ranges from fantasti- 10am-7:30pm (closed Tuesdays) Kumamoto Contemporary Art Mucal dialogue through video work to images seum, above the Starbucks on Kamicomposed of typographic characters. Many tori, Kumamoto City images challenge viewers with seemingly Andrew Crooks. ambiguous or disorienting imagery. This ef- fect reveals an underlying meaning found through a Freudian examination of the and people around us. art-of-losing-love-pt2-seiichifuruya-and-christine-gossler/

Van Gogh, The Adventure of Becoming an Artist, Exhibition This exhibition was sold out in London, so when I found out that I could see it in Tokyo, I was really happy. I definitely don't regret going, the exhibition was really interesting as it had paintings by artists that influenced Van Gogh, as well as his own work, and really showed how he developed as an artist over the years. What was a little disappointing is that the Sunflowers weren't there (being greedy, are we, National Gallery?), and neither was my favorite painting Starry Night. What made up for it was the Irises in a Vase and the Asylum Garden paintings. I like Van Gogh's more cartoon-like paintings. If you are interested in seeing this exhibition a little closer to home, I have good news for you: it is going to be in Fukuoka from the 1st of January 2011 until the 13th of February, and is then hitting Nagoya between February 22nd and April 10th. Even if you're not a big art fan, this exhibition is definitely worth checking out, if simply for the bragging rights of having seen work by such an exceptional artist! Yana Kolesnyk

Kumamoto Through the Eyes of a Foodie… Welcome to all things food related. Offering up a delectable cornucopia of useful and sometimes extravagant, easy-to-make and sometimes challenging, but always creative and most importantly, delicious dishes for those adventurous chefs-to-be out there. Created and most definitely taste-tested by our own Kumamoto brethren. Sit back, take a sip of that Pinot you’ve got sitting around, and absorb yourself in the delights of cooking. Jen Miller

Veggies with GomaGoma-Lime Sauce by Talia Harris -2 medium potatoes (cut into bight-sized chunks)

-1 small onion (cut into halved rings) -1 pack of mushrooms (shitake or enokitake) (cut) - ½ cup water -1 Tb sesame (goma) paste (can be found near the seaweed/ Japanese beans/ and sesame seeds in almost any grocery store) -1 Tb lime or kabosu juice -1 Tb white miso paste - ½ tsp chili powder -1 Tb hot water Put the potato and water in a non-stick frying pan. Cook on medium heat for about 7 minutes or until the potatoes turn ever so slightly soft. Add more water as needed to keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan. In the meantime, cut the onion and mushrooms. Put to the side. In a small bowl, dissolve the miso paste in the hot water. Add the juice, chili powder, and sesame paste. Stir until the mixture is well-blended. After 7minutes, add the onions, mushrooms, and sesame mixture to the pan. Continue to cook on medium heat until most of the moisture from the sauce has evaporated and it has become thick (about 5-8 minutes). Garnish with a sprinkle of chili powder. Enjoy!

Mushroom Risotto by Shanade James

So I was craving risotto one day but alas had no arborio rice. And then I thought ‘What if I try and make it with Japanese rice?’ and it works! Also, I looove mushrooms and Japan has lots of crazy and wonderful mushrooms so I thought I’d experiment with those too. The butter is optional so this recipe is vegan friendly too

Ingredients 1 tbsp of olive oil Half a chopped onion 1 finely chopped garlic clove 125g of chopped fresh mushrooms of your choice( I like to use button, maitake and shiitake mushrooms) 175g of Japanese white rice 600ml of hot vegetable stock (my mom used to send me veggy stock, but I recently found it in the supermarket!) 75 ml of dry white wine 1 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley 2tbsp of butter (1 tbsp of olive oil if vegan) Salt and ground black pepper to season

How to make Melt the half the butter (1 tbsp of olive oil if vegan) in a saucepan

Heat the olive oil in a big saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Fry on a gentle heat for about 2 or 3 minutes, until soft. Stir in the rice and coat in the oil. The rice will start to look a bit translucent after about a minute. Pour in the wine and simmer, stir it until the liquid has been absorbed. Then add a ladleful of stock and let it simmer on a low heat, stirring again until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock in this way, making sure that the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladleful. This should take about 15-20 minutes. When there’s a couple of ladlefuls of stock left, stir the mushrooms into the risotto along with the parsley, the remaining butter and salt and pepper. Remove from heat, serve, enjoy!

Travelling to Hiroshima:

Where should I stay? Hiroshima is located in the Chugoku region of Japan. I have There are several hotels near the station howgone to Hiroshima from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Naever they are typical Japanese hotel pricing. If gasaki which all required the Shinkansen. you are on a budget, there is a great hostel The easiest, fastest, but more expensive way is to take the just by Hiroshima Station. Kyushu Tsubame (until the Kyushu Shinkansen Sakura is Hana Hostel is a great, helpful, and cheap finished) at either Shin-Yatsushiro or Kumamoto. The applace to stay in Hiroshima. The owners are proximate round-trip ticket puts you at \7,000 from ShinYatsushiro to Hakata Station in Fukuoka. From Hakata friendly, helpful, and proud of their English Station, you switch to the Shinkansen, usually the Nozomi. ability yet enjoy hearing foreigners speak The roundtrip ticket will put you at around 14,000-17,000\ Japanese. Check in is at 3 pm. I would sugthen listen for Hiroshima Station. When you exit Hiroshima gest depositing your luggage in a coin locker Station, you will most likely exit on the Shinkansen side as they do not have anyone watching the front (Shinkansen-Eki Mae). The other side is the regular Hidesk between 11 and 3. Prices range between roshima station which will give you access to most of the sights, restaurants, departments, taxis, and trams. There 2,000\ to 6,000\, website: http:// are buses and overnight buses that go to Hiroshima from Fukuoka. You have to choose which station you will depart Another great hostel is the Hiroshima Trad Jfrom and arrive at in Hiroshima. Hoppers Hostel which is located by the Peace Park. Rooms typical run between 2,300\ to kosoku_hiroshima.html 7,000\ depending on the type of room. Both hostels offer free wifi, vending machines, and clean kitchen. Hana Hostel offers complimenSightseeing in Hiroshima: No trip to Hiroshima is complete without a visit to the tary coffee and tea. I would recommend Hana Peace Museum and Peace Park. The park complex is Hostel for its close location to the Station,

easy to find by taking the last tram at Hiroshima Station to the Ganbaku Domu (Atomic Bomb Dome). Numerous memorials such as the Unknown Victims Memorial, the Children’s Memorial, the Peace Bell and even a Korean memorial can be found resting here. Every year, on August 6th, is the Peace Ceremony which draws individuals from around the world, even if you do not understand Japanese, you can feel the emotion from the speeches. The end of the day is capped by the Toro Nagashi (or floating paper lanterns). These paper lanterns, with peace wishes written on them, are sent floating down the river. Two great locations to visit are the Shukkien Park and the Hiroshima Castle complex, the Shukkien Park is located west of the station and is a 20 minute walk. Tickets are about 500Yen. Hiroshima Castle is another 10-15 minute walk from the garden A tourist destination is Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine. Located 30 minutes by train from Hiroshima, but this island offers everything. Here you can find Itsukushima Shrine which stands off from the shore. The torii gate is off the shore even further where it looks as if it is floating on the water. Much like the ancient capital of Nara, deer can be found roaming free. Usually, tickets run between 800-1,500 \ one way When you arrive in Miyajima, a ferry ride is required. The costs are around the 300-1,000\ range.

“I have been to Hiroshima four times; spanning over two years. Yet every time leaves me awestruck and hungering for a trip back. I always tell people it is one of my most favorite places to visit. No matter how many times I go, I experience the agony and hardship of those days after the war yet I am renewed by the hope and wishes for peace that Hiroshima embellishes; even in every day life” Joe Mielke If you are interested in visiting the Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima on August 6th of next year and then going to Nagasaki on August 9th there are talks of organizing an ALT visit. Email kuma-

Ding's Acupuncture

I close my eyes, as a needle is gently tapped into my right temple. I feel a brief, sharp pain, then tingling. Another needle is skillfully inserted into my left temple, two into the back of my neck, and one directly on the top of my head. I try to lie as still as possible on the hard, white bed...


rerax’, says Dr.Ding. ‘I leave for 20 minutes, then I come back.’ My eyes still closed, I drift off somewhere else for a little while. I see some colours in my mind’s eye. My thoughts subside. I do, in fact, feel quite relaxed. 20 minutes later, Dr. Ding returns. ‘How you feel? Rerax?’. ‘Yes, it feels good, Dr. Ding.’ ‘Good,’ he continues. ‘ Now turn over on front side and I put needles in your back. Lots of stress in back I think. Hmm. It no good.’

I roll over as instructed, and he begins to precisely tap needles into specific points along my shoulders and lower back. ‘How it feel? Rerax?’, Ding enquires again. It feels like that time I shared a Bintang beer with my lover on an empty Bali beach, watching the full moon rise, its reflection dancing on a rippling, watery black mirror. ‘It feels relaxing’, I reply. I’m slipping in and out of awareness, floating somewhere between Bali and Heaven and Earth, and this firm, white bed in Suizenji.

Suddenly my awareness shifts to the clicking sound of a lighter being flicked. A burning, smokey smell. I can feel fairly intense heat on various points on my back. ‘Umm…Dr. Ding? What are you doing?’ I ask, with a hint of concern in my voice. ‘Oh, I just light these and put on you, Makes Qi work fast. Called Moxibustion, old Chinese way. Burn Chinese herbs to help Qi.’ He leans over and holds the ‘Moxibustion’ right next to my face. It looks like a small, smouldering incense coil. ‘See? It’s good way’. I relax once again and close my eyes. The combination of heat and needles is fantastic.

While we wait, Dr.Ding sits next to the bed and tells me his story. ‘My name Ding. Ning Ding. You call me Ning or Ding, anyone ok. I come from Nanjing. Ning Ding from Nanjing. Oh, you think it sound funny? Haha! It is a little funny. You know revolution in China? Revolution was good time, because no school. Just played badminton in street and swam in lake. Every day was party with friends, no class. Good time, revolution. But parents got mad. Not enough study, just play. That why my Engrish is no good. I like talking to foreigner like you. Very friendly and open. Not like Japanese. Japanese so closed. I came here 20 year ago from China. It was difficult. You have boyfriend? You need boyfriend, and rerax and good food and open heart for good life. I have Korean wife. We meet Singapore. She make me happy and good life. You know movie Pretty Woman? Just like that movie, my wife, when we meet. I gave her credit card and she stay in good hotel. We married many year. You meet my wife, and childrens. Ok, now I take out needle.’

He takes out the needles as deftly as he tapped them in. I feel like a very chilled out dartboard. I sit up slowly. Ding smiles. ‘Next appointment, Same time next week ok?’ ‘Next week is fine, Thank you, ’ I reply. I pay him, and amble out of his clinic. I feel in a slight daze, but very much alive. Ding’s Acupuncture, Suizenji, Kumamoto City. Tel: 096-373-8128, open daily 9:15-12:15, 14:00-18:00 (Sat 9:15-13:00). Closed Sundays, holidays and Wed afternoons. Go to for a map. Cost: Y4000 first consultation. With health insurance card Y2000 thereafter (you have to make an application with inkan at a clinic downtown). Ang Lloyd

This Kyushu train line, opening on March 12, 2011, will connect Kagoshima to Fukuoka and reduce travel time. The name of this line is called _____. The US-Japan Open Skies accord, effective this October, is expected to ease restrictions and decrease ticket prices, will begin international flights at _______airport and increase its capacity by 40%. The Japanese Foreign Ministry asked Google to delete the Chinese names of Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea. What are the names of these islands? The number of people coming to Kumamoto castle in 2010 (decreased/ increased) by 420,000. Launched in 2010, the “_____ Smart City Project” is a five-year pilot program to get a piece of the future 171.4 billion global smart grid market. Thanks to help from Distribution Label, Kumamoto international band _______, is now available on iTunes and Amazon. For the last three years, the lack of ______and______ registered as two of the top complaints made by tourists, which plans to boost tourists in Japan from 6.8 million to 10 million by the end of 2010 Ei-ichi Negishi, one of the three recipients of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, urged Japanese youths to go abroad. Japanese researchers going abroad decreased by ____% over the last 10 years. The University of Tokyo, ranked 26th globally in 2010, was the top-ranked institution in Asia but was recently outranked by which Asian university? The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) launched their “Global 30″ initiative, with the purpose to (attract / send abroad) 300,000 students over the next 10 years. Answers on the back page!

Cassandra Sandoval

ade r a P w o b in a R i a s n Ka Well, what can I say? It definitely rained on our parade. With the bad weather came a feeling of gloom and doom that made it seem like gay died and we were attending the funeral. Although there were some party vans blasting classy J-pop and the Soho soundtrack, and some well-dressed individuals (a special mention goes to the semi-naked Pokemon and the couple in a latex catsuits), the lack of enthusiasm made me wonder why we bothered. The fact that we had to stop at pretty much every traffic light didn't help either. Overall, it felt like a Soviet march rather than a gay pride parade. Let's hope they do better next year! The highlight of the weekend was Sunday night's Lady Killer event. Although it too was a funeral party (it was the last ever Lady Killer event), oh what a party it was! I don't think I've ever seen so many lesbians under one roof in a Japanese club, and that's including all the Tokyo events I've been to. There was definitely a lot more variety and the crowd was even better dressed than the Tokyo event I attended the following week. Really makes me sad that it was the last one.

Yana Kolesnyk

November 6th: Kumamoto-Yamaga Bike Ride. Join us for the lovely ride from Kumamoto to Yamaga along the car-free Cycling Road. Meet at the city International Center by 12pm. We will stop at Ueki Onsen for a cheap dip before continuing on to Yamaga or heading back to the city. November 11-12: See us at Mid-Year Seminar! Bring your spare change to buy KumAJET tshirts and homemade baked goods prepared by the best ALT bakers in Kumamoto! November 20: Nihon-Ichi! Tackle the longest set of steps in Japan, located in Misatomachi. Meet in Misato at 10am. Predict your time and if you're the closest you win! (No watches allowed). Costumes highly encouraged! 1,000yen entrance fee for insurance purposes.

We encourage you to join our Facebook group if you have not already done so in order to receive updates not only about KumAJET events, but also things happening in Kumamoto and beyond! Marisa Beltramini

Brotastic! Brodacious! Brogasm! The Expendables was a fun movie. Fun is a word used when describing a movie that doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but, in the end, is a good waste of two hours. The Expendables exemplifies these qualities to a T. The story is pretty standard fare for an action movie. The bad guys are hurting the innocent. They are also growing, producing, and exporting drugs. The Expendables, a mercenary group, are sent in by the government to clean up the situation that the United States can’t fix itself . The movie was had great action sequences and lots of explosions. It was laced with one-liners that made you groan in a Seasame Street “Wakawaka” kind of way. I couldn’t help but notice that the over the top violence and the ham-fisted one-liners were a little lost on the Japanese crowd. I went to the theater with a couple friends from America, who, along with me, laughed uproariously during scenes of rediculous violence. We groaned and rolled our eyes at the crappy oneliners. But, I noticed that there was a dividing line between what we thought was funny and what the Japanese audience found funny. There was a cultural line of understanding that had been drawn in the theatre. I think everybody in the audience came out of the movie with some enjoyment. Even if it was a couple of easy jokes taken at the expense of Arnold. I’d recommend the movie, but only to the most die hard of action fans. I guess there is always going to be room for some cheesy one-liners, especially if there are people that still want this kind of movie. Paul Smith

With the next Japanese Language Proficiency Test little more than a month away, some of you are probably wading your way through long lists of vocabulary and grammar. Good luck with that. I would like to offer a few pointers on the listening section. The listening section, which comprises roughly one third of the test score and time, presents different challenges than the language knowledge and reading sections. This is because you cannot cram for it like you can the language knowledge section, and there are no techniques that can serve as shortcuts like skim-reading in the reading section. Quite simply, the only real technique is to listen and answer. When I took the JLPTs I ran into these challenges and, mistakenly, convinced myself there was nothing I could do in the 1-2 months preceding the test to improve my listening comprehension skills. I spent all my time cramming endless lists of kanji compounds and obscure grammar, and because of this my listening section score was rather poor. Then, at the balding and belly-growing age of 29 years-old, I took the Business Japanese Test (BJT) and realized that I was a silly nincompoop for not tackling the JLPT listening section in a different way. As I worked my way through and finished the BJT listening sections, I realized that there were two things I had inadvertently done which made it easier to answer every single question. The first thing was that I had taken a number of practice tests and in doing so had familiarized myself with all of the possible question formats. You will run into a variety of question formats on the listening section of the JLPT: listen and circle one of four written answers; listen to question and answers then circle corresponding number; listen and answer a series of questions; listen and choose a picture; listen and place pictures in order, etc. It is very easy to lose your concentration during the 30-60 minute listening section. Little distractions, such as being surprised when you flip the page and see only numbers instead of the actual answers, can easily steal your attention away from the listening passage. The second, and more important, thing I did was to take notes while I was listening. In addition to maintaining concentration, the ability to take notes while listening is a necessary skill for those who do any consecutive interpreting, and it is extremely effective on the listening sections of the JLPT and BJT, in which you have to listen to a number of long and complex conversations and descriptions. Of course, this takes practice. I recommend you try it out on the listening sections of some sample tests or by listening to anything (the news, the radio, a movie) which is playing Japanese at a normal conversational speed. Remember, you are taking notes, not writing complete sentences. This means that you abbreviate almost everything. Monday becomes m, economy becomes ec, Japan j, and so on. Use arrows to show increase, decrease or movement. Cross things out instead of writing no or not. Create your own simple system of abbreviations and note taking and it will especially help you out through the more difficult listening section problems that hold you back from getting that higher score. Scott Borba

Javier Segura

The contents of this newsletter are strictly for entertainment purposes. The newsletter can not be held accountable for any action taken as a result of its content. The viewpoints published herein are those of the authors and do not represent or reflect the viewpoints or philosophies of the Kumamoto Board of Education, the JET Programme, CLAIR or any of its affiliates.

How well do you know the news answers! 1.Sakura, 2. Haneda, 3.Senkakyu, 4.decreased, 5.Yokohama, 6.Sinnocular, 7.benches and garbage bins, 8. 49%, 9.The University of Hong Kong, 10.attract

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