Day 3 – Japan

This morning we went to Tohoku Gakuin School to visit with staff and students. It is a private school for boys in junior high and high school that was founded by an Episcopalian missionary 129 years ago. There are about 1,600 students there, and about 60% of them bicycle to school daily. The bike parking area had hundreds and hundreds of bikes.
When we entered the school, we stopped in the foyer to take off our shoes and put on slippers. We went to a very nice conference room and met with the principal and assistant principal. After they spoke, we each introduced ourselves (in Japanese of course) and then we gave them gifts we had brought from our schools. We then broke into small groups and observed two different classrooms. I observed an English class and an Algebra II class. Both classes had about 40 students, and though the rooms were clean and neat, they were both fairly crowded. In Japan, teachers have workspaces outside of the classroom. The classrooms are not personalized in any way. The school schedules the classes, and teachers and students meet for class in the room assigned. Teachers carry the things they need for the class in a small basket. I was really impressed with the English class. The students were learning grammar and verb tense structures that are no longer taught in our schools.
After the observations, we ate lunch with a selected group of students. Each table had four boys and two teachers from our group. The boys’ English was certainly better than our Japanese, but conversation was halting and difficult. The boys were very polite, but they were reluctant to try to speak much.
After lunch, we were taken on a tour of the school. It’s a huge school with awesome amenities. The architecture is modern, and there are many windows. There is a huge gymnasium, but there are also many other very large rooms for judo, kendo (fencing), and gymnastics. There are separate rooms for each department of the school for department meetings. I can’t imagine how it would feel to work in such a nice facility.
After the visit, we went back to the Sendai station and got on the Komachi bullet train to return to Tokyo. After checking back in to the Royal Park Shiodome Hotel, we went to eat another Izakaya style dinner at Satodori Sankei Pedi restaurant. As I have grown accustomed to, we stopped after entering the building to surrender our shoes. This restaurant’s specialty is chicken which, for me, was a welcome change from fish. I ate more than I have for dinner lately, but there were some things I passed on. The first dish looked to me like raw chicken. I was told that the chickens were specially raised and that the meat had been marinated and very lightly smoked. But I’m not an adventurous eater, and I couldn’t bring myself to try it! Several other courses included cooked chicken and I really enjoyed it. Tofu is a common item in these dinners, and I try it when it’s served, but I don’t really care for it. The presentation of the food was really nice. Although I’m getting used to taking my shoes off to eat, it’s still weird to see the servers come in to the table wearing socks. And in these restaurants, guests are seated on the floor so the servers have to get on their knees to put things on the table. That must be difficult!

Street scene in Sendai

Street scene in Sendai

vending machines for water, drinks, and snacks are on the sidewalks throughout Sendai

vending machines for water, drinks, and snacks are on the sidewalks throughout Sendai

EvaSan showing us the Japanese words for (top to bottom) principal, assistant orincipal, and teacher.

EvaSan showing us the Japanese words for (top to bottom) principal, assistant orincipal, and teacher.

Slippers we wore during our school visit

Slippers we wore during our school visit

My first encounter with a squat toilet! Luckily, the school bathroom had two Standard toilets as well.

My first encounter with a squat toilet! Luckily, the school bathroom had two Standard toilets as well.

As I understand it, you place your feet on either side of it...

As I understand it, you place your feet on either side of it…

Every morning at the school begins with services here. They call it a chapel, but it's huge.

Every morning at the school begins with services here. They call it a chapel, but it’s huge.

Our guide showing us the reading for the morning (from the book of Matthew) and the hymn selection. Notice the beautiful stained glass behind him.

Our guide showing us the reading for the morning (from the book of Matthew) and the hymn selection. Notice the beautiful stained glass behind him.

School's motto set in tile. All of the school's walls were concrete, I suppose to withstand earthquakes. The school buildings sustained very little damage during the 2011 terrible earthquake although it created many cracks and gaps in the ground that had to be fixed.

School’s motto set in tile. All of the school’s walls were concrete, I suppose to withstand earthquakes. The school buildings sustained very little damage during the 2011 terrible earthquake although it created many cracks and gaps in the ground that had to be fixed.

The judo room

The judo room

Room for gymnastics training

Room for gymnastics training

Library

Library

View of front of school's campus. The white structure on the left is the gym. It's gigantic and contains four full size basketball courts.

View of front of school’s campus. The white structure on the left is the gym. It’s gigantic and contains four full size basketball courts.

First course of chicken at tonight's Izakaya meal.

First course of chicken at tonight’s Izakaya meal.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Jun 18, 2015 @ 10:08:51

    Three full days and still not a single picture with you in it?!

    Reply

  2. karen
    Jun 19, 2015 @ 07:38:51

    That school sounds fabulous. Hope you get to see a public school too. The chicken did look raw! I found the food in China more appetizing.

    Reply

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