Healthy diet Japanese style

June 5, 2009

I have always lived under the impression that I eat a healthy diet. However on closer inspection earlier this year I realised that I was falling well short in the fruit and vegetable department. Since then I have made a concerted effort to step up my fruit and vegetable consumption.

A purchase I made a couple of months ago has really helped. I bought a fruit and vegetable juicer from Rakuten for the bargain price of 31,000 yen. Pretty damn expensive but it is a top juicer that allows me to make my own fresh fruit and veg juice any time I get the urge.

For my breakfast I am having a pint of carrot, orange and ginger juice daily. This gives me five servings of fruit and veg before I’ve even left the house as part of an alkaline breakfast.

It kind of disappoints me to see so much imported fruit from as far away as places like Florida. That said, the oranges are very juicy! On the vegetable frontier though there are plenty of fresh greens available down the local farmers’ market.

To be honest I can hardly remember eating spinach at all when I lived back in the U.K. Now though, it is a regular feature in my diet.

Another great thing about living in Japan is that it’s easy to eat plenty of fish which has a knock on effect of reducing meat consumption. I still love a good yaki-niku but now have no problem going without meat for days.

Increasing the amount of fruit and veg we eat helps us combat the ill effects the typical Western acid diet has on our health. Living in the East I aim to be a healthier me!


2009 academic year – week one

April 13, 2009

Last week was the first week of the 2009/2010 academic school year. For the last four years I had worked at Nishi junior high school only 2 minutes walk from my house. So I had become very accustomed to leaving my house at 7.50 and arriving to work for an 8 o’clock start.

This year though my working schedule has changed completely. I now visit four different schools, two elementary schools and two junior high schools. Not only that, but the schools I visit are the furthest away from the center of Susono.

On a practical level, this means that I am getting up much earlier than when I worked at nishi. Definitely not an issue at the moment as the weather is getting warmer and the mornings much lighter. Until November, the ALT lifestyle is very comfortable! BUT…I know it is going to be horrible when the temperature drops and the mornings are dark at the end of the year.

On the upside, moving schools has been a good thing for me. I think I was getting too comfortable at nishi. Changing this up is keeping me on my toes, e.g. giving speeches introducing myself to teachers and students.

Also moving schools within a town the size of Susono has meant that I now have colleagues who I have worked with at other schools; who I have met outside work, e.g. neighbours; whose childern I have taught, etc. Moving schools is great for getting to know more people within the community.

ALT Holidays

April 1, 2009

The ALT lifestyle in Susono is fairly easy going. There are three ain holiday periods. Typically graduation is in the latter half of March. After that is the spring holiday which lasts for about two weeks. During this time as an ALT we have most of the time off. This year I had a 1 hour meeting with the Board of Education; went in for the teacher leaving ceremony at school – 離任式(りにんしき)(ri-nin shiki) – for half a day and then went in for a day and a half at my new schools prior to the students coming back to meet the teachers.

The summer holidays last for about four weeks. Pretty much we get the whole of August off. Sometimes we are asked to go to school for things like speech contest practice. The Board of Education also arranges meetings and training days, approximately 3 days. Other than that we have the whole month off.

Compared to back home, the holidays around the Christmas and New Year period seem quite short. Usually the winter vacation is just a bit less than two weeks. The good news is that we aren’t really expected to show up to school at all during this time.

There are about 15 public holidays that fall outside the above school holidays. During “Golden Week”, from the end of April through the beginning of May, there is a series of 4 days off. The rest are spread throughout the year.

On top of the above holidays we have 20 days off to choose at our leisure. The catch, if there is one, is that sick daysa count as a day off and taking omre than 2 days off in a row during term time is frowned upon.

All told though the holiday entitlement of a Susono ALT is pretty good. In total we get about 3 months off a year!