Carl / Mass Mail #4

 From: 	        Carl
 To: 	 	Family, Friends, & Some in the Hey! Stack

More Research From Japan

Greetings from your loyal anthropologist in the East of Asia,

Yes, I am still in Japan, posing as a mere Assistant Language Teacher while faithfully observing local customs, society, and behavior in order to provide greater research into the workings of the Japanese mind. Allow me to begin by correcting some my prior observations:

  • I previously stated that Takaoka School for the Deaf does not have Western style toilets. Since then, I've been informed by Ms. C--- (who was kind enough to visit me in the field) that it in fact does have one Western toilet on the girl's side. Furthermore, not only is the toilet Western style, it is a super-advanced Japanese-Western toilet with a heated seat and two kinds of bidets. To date, first hand observation of this toilet has been impossible, but this information is believed to be accurate, since the source is well trusted.
  • I previously stated that the "loose sock" trend was completely replaced by the Playboy bunny sock trend. However, since then I have observed a number of students with loose socks. My colleague in the field, Ms. T--- W---, and I have not been able to assess whether these individuals represent the beginnings of a resurgence of loose sock popularity or the last vestiges of a fading boom.

Unfortunately for science, I will not be able to make any further personal study of these matters from December 23, 2004 until January 9, 2005, since I will be in the United States. However, if those of you living on the east coast would like to swap anecdotal observations in person, this provides a perfect opportunity. Please, contact me by electronic mail at this address or by telephone at my home number. As some of you may be aware, my former cellular telephone number is no longer in service. Or rather, it is in service, but that service is held by a surly Marine. Don't let my brother-in-law intimidate you— I'm sure he'll convey whatever message you have if you ask politely— but it is probably best to refrain from using that number unless it is necessary.

So, with that out of the way, what is the latest news from the land of the rising sun you ask?

  • As mentioned before, I was visited in the field by Ms. C---. During our time during the Thanksgiving season, we were able to make important observations about Japanese people in such natural habits as Osaka Castle, the Silver Pavilion Temple, and local convenience stores. This research data should prove valuable in the future, and I thank Ms. C--- for her assistance. Remember to visit as time permits in order to see the latest research photos, particularly those from the period of Ms. C---'s stay.
  • Among our other observations was that Japanese deaf students are able to assist in the creation of both pumpkin pies (an especially deep debt of thanks goes here to Ms. C---) and brownie-like objects. In addition, they appear to enjoy the consumption of such sweets. Further, they seem to be amused by the performance of plays reenacting the story of the first Thanksgiving. All of which suggests that Japanese deaf students are exactly like American students. More information about data confirming or disconfirming this exciting hypothesis will be provided as it becomes available.
  • In a contrasting bit of researching insight, Japanese high schoolers in the equivalent of 11th grade and otherwise moderately proficient in English not only are unaware of the English word "least," but they also have trouble understanding the need for such a word even when its function is explained to them in Japanese. Apparently, Japanese people just combine the word "most" with a negation of the concept for which least is desired. Thus, the distinction between "least favorite" and "most disliked" is lost forever!
  • The weather in Takaoka has so far been only mid to late autumn cold and not yet full start of winter cold. This confirms my suspicion that Japanese autumn and winter are both delayed and that the serious chill of winter does not arrive until January at the earliest. Though Mt. Tate has been snow capped for a considerable period of time, the shorter mountains ringing my residence are thus far untouched. However, so far the plains have merely been set upon by dismal (but thankfully non-frozen) rains and not the crushing snows that residents promise will come during my absence. Residents speak of snows of two "meters," but what kind of meters, whether gas, electrical, or water, is never explained. It seems, however, that this "meter" is a standard unit of measurement in Japan. As soon as I observe the snows personally, I pledge to report to you the number of feet, inches, and (horsing measuring) hands tall it is. To do any less, would be to betray my duty as an American researcher.
  • Exams took place during the first week of December, and since then the school has been running on an unusual schedule. Instead of my usual average of three classes a day, I have been engaged in things like planning and attending an English camp, a special English lesson for the prospective students now in middle school conducted primarily by the 11th graders, observing classes at Toyama College for Foreign Languages, preparing the students who will be going to England in the spring, and other bric-a-brac.

Well, that about concludes things for now. Remember to schedule an appointment for a face to face meeting if your schedule permits during my December 23 through January 9 return to the United States. Keep well and enjoy the holiday season,


Carl Johnson, Professional Educator