To Cram

cram verb (FIT A LOT IN) ​ [T usually + adv/prep ] informal:

to force a lot of things into a small space

For example: Eight children were crammed into the back of the car. The room was packed and we were crammed against the door.

Tests are upon us today. How well did you prepare? This morning I saw many students on the train with their face in their textbooks. Were you… cramming? Cramming means to study a lot at the last minute in order to pass a test. While you may pass the test, the knowledge soon leaves your brain.

Don’t just study to remember. Instead, study to understand. Understanding, doing, and reviewing is the way to long term knowledge. Cramming only serves you for today.

Good luck in the next week everyone.

Black Friday

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was a holiday, and I enjoyed going shopping with my son. However, when I got to the mall it was crazy! There were so many people I had had trouble finding a place to park. When I went inside I saw signs for a special sale, a “Black Friday” sale.

I can’t believe Black Friday is now in Japan. Do you understand the meaning? Usually “Black” means something is bad. For example, the “Black Plague” was a disease that killed many people in Europe long ago. However, in business, when you are “in the black” it means you are making money. (Being “in the red” means you are losing money).

For people in America and Canada, Black Friday is a chance to get good prices for Christmas presents. In America, the Thursday before is “Thanksgiving Day”, a holiday, so the Friday is a good Christmas shopping day. Many people wait outside stores all night to be the first ones to get inside to get a good deal. In this way, businesses make lots of money and go “in the black”. Black Friday.

Some people get crazy when the doors open, and dash for the best items. Every year on the news they show videos of people running, pushing, and falling. I don’t think I saw any of that at the mall yesterday, we have to wait for New Year’s Day happy bags for that!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, see you Monday.

Tobitate Japan 2018

Hello everyone,

This morning all the students went to the gym to get awards, and to listen to a presentation. We have SO MANY girls doing great things these days. The Karuta team, photo club, science club, and English recitation pair are just some of the students who were recognized today.

After the awards ceremony, Miss Konishi, who is in grade 2 of high school, gave a presentation about her trip to America. She was chosen for the Tobitate Japan program, and went to Boston. While she was there, she used the English she has been studying at school while volunteering at a food bank.

A food bank provides food for people who need it, and works because people donate food to it. It is a common idea in Canada and America but, as Miss Konishi talked about, is not as well known in Wakayama. She hopes to change that.

She must have been nervous taling in front of the whole school, but Miss Konishi did a great job! pachi pachi!

Christmas Tree 2018

The school’s Christmas tree now has lights and is ready to shine! I hope it lifts your spirits when you leave school each day.

Final tests are coming soon. Get ready, get organized, and do your best!

Is this a message?

Hello everyone,

Take a look at this picture. What do you see?

I was walking to the studio today, and looked down at the roof by the teachers’ bicycles. There is a fish on our roof! That is definately an ocean fish, and it is too big to be put there by a cat, so where did it come from?

Flying fish?

No, it is not the Mario flying fish. I talked with Horie-sensei, a biology teacher, and he said it looked like an ocean fish. That means it is not from Wakayama Castle. So… a bird carried this fish all the way from the ocean, and then dropped it on our school.

Maybe this is a message from God about the cats living around our school. Or… maybe this was just a nice drop from the bird. Either way, I think I will start using an umbrella even on sunny days.

What happens if there are a few loaves of bread there tomorrow…

Yamanakadani Hiking

Hello everyone!

Last week I was happy because my mother visited me from Canada. One thing we enjoy doing both in Canada and Japan is going hiking. A few years ago in Canada we hiked up the Enderby Cliffs, and enjoyed an amazing view of the farmland below.

Last weekend we went hiking in the Kisen Alps, which are the mountains between Osaka and Wakayama. They are really beautiful because at the first lookout, you can see all of Senshu from Misaki to Kansai Airport. Then, on the other side, you can see all of Wakayama City.

I have been doing the Kisen Alps hike for many years, but this was the first time I had gone since the big typhoon in September. Looking around the forest now, many things are different. Hundreds of trees have been blown down, and their roots were in the air. The trail was covered in leaves and branches from the storm. It made me feel a little bit sad to see those old trees down, but that is part of a forest’s life cycle.

Winter is coming! Get out and enjoy some nice weather and nature before it gets too cold. See you next week,


What a game!

On Saturday, after the open lesson, M1 to H2 headed over to the prefectural gym to watch the finals of the girls volleyball tournament in Wakayama. Earlier in the year, our girls had lost to Kaichi in the inter-high tournament, and now it was time for revenge.

Our team looked to be the stronger one except for one problem, Kaichi no.4. She had incredible power on her spikes and always seemed to find holes in the defense. However, when she was not on the floor, our team took command.

The third set was a heart-breaker as we had glorious chances to go up 2 sets to 1. However, the Kaichi team was strong and held firm, taking the lead themselves.

By the fifth set you could see both teams’ legs were getting tired, but still they hammered the ball. Down 13-10, things looked grim, but the last five minutes were magic as we outscored the other team 6-1 for the 16-14 full set victory.

The players were crying, the coaches were jumping, and the crowd was in a frenzy. It was everything sports is supposed to be. Powerful, dramatic, heart-wrenching.

Congratulations to the Shin-ai girls for reaching the national tournament. We will all be  cheering for you in January!

Happy Halloween -> Merry Christmas

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was Halloween, and maybe some of you found me afterschool and said “trick or treat!” Halloween is getting more and more popular in Japan. When I first came to Japan, there were some small events in Osaka, but not many shops decorated their stores. This year I walked through Burakuri-cho and saw many decorations. This morning on the train I saw many people in costumes coming home from their Halloween night in Osaka.

After I got off the train, I went to the convenience store to buy some tea and I saw something strange…

Really? Christmas cakes? It is November 1st! Halloween had only been over for 6 hours when I saw this!

I understand that holidays are fun, especially Halloween, but they should be more than just a chance to make money. Holidays are also important and have deeper meaning. We know the real story of Christmas because we are at a Catholic school. The meaning of Christmas is not cake…

This goes for more than Christmas. In Japan, New Years is a nice holiday to spend time with family. Of course some people go shopping, and that is fun, but balance is important. Anyway, just something to think about the next time you see “Christmas cakes” in November…

Grumpy old-man Allen signing off.