All I Want for Christmas is a G.P.A. Raise!

So Tokiwagi's 1st and 2nd years have taken their exams, the numbers have been crunched and the results input into the machine. Let's Party!

Yes, its that time of year once again and Tokiwagi kicked off the holiday season with its annual EVERGREEN FANTASY..SY...Sy...sy    sy  sy   .

Here's 2nd year international student Moeko going crazy during a shaker solo! Truly the highlight of the Brass Band's performance. I doubt there's a young lady out there that's lovelier than Moeko; talent, brains, extremely polite and cute as a button!

 O.K. these aren't International girls- they're the Baton Twirling team, but don't they look dynamite!

1st year International dancing queen Minami right before her big routine. The TGH dance club has been moving up the rankings in recent competitions. The smooth mixes of their musical grooves must have something to do with it (cough, cough, Idothemixing, cough).
More Brass Band Action. With three Inter-1 angels peering down from on high.

 Whose that man in the red & white? Zat U Sannty Clauz? Don't ask me about the Fujisaki bag, someone handed it to me and so I carried it around for 5 minutes. Product placement opportunity maybe? 2nd year Inter Girls Akari & Kanna don't seem to mind.
 Those Inter-1 angels again. Full of Christmas Bliss. This shot was taken by our French exchange student Marine. Merci Cherie!
Hey wait a second; what happened to all the Xmas cheer? Oh yeah! It's also time for the 1st year Chorus competition, taken with deadly seriousness (as you can see by their faces) by the girls in inter1. We may be a small class, but the girls have tackled this challenge with ferocity. It's next Friday, so I'll post the results shortly after that. Good Luck Girls!


Faces In Books

Nice news for Facebook users (so basically everyone) that want to know what's going on in the Tokiwagi International Course. We've just opened up a TGH page for you to visit. It's more about the entire program (grades 1, 2 & 3) than just my own homeroom girls' activities.
Here's the link.
You'll find plenty of new pics of the 2nd year girls' homestay visit to the U.S, 3rd year girls goofing around and some nifty shots of our Inter-1 girls that I've filtered through the old ipad. Just like this one:

 But not this one. It's an exclusive to readers who check out this blog. This is a shot of Momoka's goodbye party seconds before the pizza was devoured. I recently got an e-mail from our young lady in London; she's already been asked to perform in the company's spring production, which I've been told is a big deal- so congratulations on that Momo! Don't forget us when you're a worldwide, superstar, prima-ballerina!
Another of our students has had her homestay application to Fiji accepted so we'll be having another teary-eyed pizza party just before Christmas to bid farewell to Manami for one year of studying abroad. Although its our job here to get the girls out into the world and globetrotting their way to adulthood I sure hope some of them stick around Japan, at least until they graduate. The chorus competitions and sports days are going to be tough going with nobody but Yoko & I to fill out the roster!



Well, Tokiwagi's 2nd year International class just returned from their 1-month homestay in the U.S. They spent the first 2 weeks at a language school in Seattle where they met ALOT of new friends from all over the world according to their facebook pages. That's what we're all about here in TGH's International classes so I've been clicking on the "like" button almost non-stop during their status updates, but not so much when they announce their engagements to guys they just met (I kid, of course).
Hey- Arisa's got the same jacket as me. Thank you Uniqlo!

Average weight gained during homestay: 2 kilos each!
(I'm estimating but not joking this time.)

After Seattle they participated in a 2-week homestay in sunny San Mateo, California. The highlight of this was of course Halloween, which happens here in Japan but not quite with the same passion that we display in Western countries. Don't they look lovely? The girl out of costume is Yui- I'll deduct some participation points off of her next class. And who the heck came as Beetlejuice!? I like it but I doubt the wearer of that costume was alive when the movie came out.
Don't forget to bring my omiyage on Monday girls!



Last week the TGH first year International course took to the courts for the 1st Year Ball Games Tournament. The annual event in which the entire grade's classes (minus the music students) compete for Eternal Glory! (and small certificates of achievement)

Here are the girls during the warm-up stretches, gesturing as to our ambitious aims: 2nd place all the way! I guess now is the time to confess that, as coach, I didn't exactly have high hopes before the tournament since International classes have posted notoriously bad results in previous years. But wait!...
Those classes were all lacking in something very much present and accounted for in our small but spunky gang of girls: jocks! Yep, past InterClasses are usually wiped out in the Dodgeball competition but this year, although we didn't place, we hung with the best- going to overtime in a flurry of dodging, ducking, diving and... err... dodging!

On to volleyball- "Hey Narumi, do you know the name of Snoopy's cousin and Buffy's boyfriend?"
Narumi: "Yes. I think they're both named SPIKE!
We made it to the finals in volleyball but lost in the deciding set; not bad!
I thought Basketball would be as painful to watch as it is for me to play since two of our girls are on the TGH Basketball team and therefore banned from this portion of the games (they helped referee instead).  We were down to only 9 players, but one of those players happened to be the diminutive yet feisty Mizuki, who changed her sport from Bball in Junior High School to Track & Field at Tokiwagi. She tore up and down the court like a whirling dervish and had stamina to spare, but of course there is no `I` in `TEAM` and the other girls gave their all as well, supporting and striking when the chances came. We went all the way to the finals again and got even closer than in volleyball. In fact, I would say we were at least equal, if not slightly better than the eventual champions- we just had less luck on our side. Oh well, we'll get `em next year! 


Dancing Out Our Door...

So last time I told you that one of our Inter1 girls has left for Jolly Old England to attend a prestigious ballet school, the name of which has slipped my mind. She's not the only TGH-international-class ballerina to leave for fame and fortune; we have a long line of them who go on to dance on the great stages around the world.  But before she left, she helped our troupe of light-footed young ladies bust a move at the Green Festival.
Here's Kaede trying to "get in the zone" in preparation for the dance.

Backstage, our new French exchange student Marine tells Mizuki to "Get your head in the game!"
Yep. They take they're dancing pretty seriously here. If I can work my video upload I'll show you the performance sometime. Anyways, shortly after that we had a goodbye party for Momoka: many speeches were given, tears were shed and pizza was eaten.

And Momoka has promised us she'll be back for Christmas holidays to help us conquer the 1st Year Chorus competition.


Odyssey Appreciation

Hey folks. Off-line for a long while but now we're back. I've got a lot of stuff to tell you about but today let's focus on a visit from Odessey that happened just before the summer.
Steve and Imase Sensei came by to give us some words of encouragement and check out how the clean-up is going (the clean-up is the main reason I've been gone for so long). All three International classes got together in the Strauss Hall to show our gratitude. Here are some pics:
Our 1st year class leader Nonoka addressing our guests.

The gentlemen from California accepting a small token of our appreciation.

A choral performance by our 3rd year girls.
Ballet dancing from some 2nd year girls...
...and our 1st year girl- Momoka. Isn't she lovely? In early September she pranced off to London town on a ballet-themed homestay. Much tears were shed at her goodbye party and much pizza eaten, but that's a story for next time.


Thrills & ...err more Thrills @t BRITISH HILLS!

Hello folks. The 1st year International class just returned from our school trip to British Hills and a good time was had by all. Check it out here- http://www.british-hills.co.jp/ .
The bus ride was smooth all the way there, with no traffic problems and roads surprisingly free of earthquake-induced cracks and bumps. I was expecting to see some earthquake damage around the grounds but, unlike Sendai, very little seemed to be in need of repairs.
We were greeted by a large majority of the staff upon arrival and the girls went straight to work augmenting their English abilities.

Here's our first night's dinner in the Harry Potteresque Refectory. We were charmed and bewitched by its magic as we sat for a spell; and that's where my wizardy puns stop- promise.

Learning the finer points of Snooker on a beautiful table that cost more yen than I can count. Happy to report no injuries! One girl has possible pool shark potential if she can keep her constant giggle under wraps. 
Doing a very good `60s-girl-group-album-cover` impression.
Everyone was so happy until some weird guy jumped in front and ruined the picture.

Before the trip, I was checking the microseivert level daily and although they're based in Fukushima, the radiation level there has been lower than most major cities. Still, people get scared easily and B.H., like many businesses in the area, is feeling the pinch. Its another one of those 3-11 stories that don't get much press these days- the businesses that are trying to stay afloat but have the cards stacked against them. The first time I came here I thought to myself "What a wild dream made real!"; it didn't take long to realize it was also a top dream, as the goal of British Hills seems quite virtuous to me: a presentation of Britain's unique culture in an environment which seems to be designed to give language development a boost and most importantly- doesn't forget to leave the guests with  unforgettable memories. Thanks British Hills- you're quite the hosts.

...also they have Bass on tap- yippee!


Goodbye MidTerms

We just finished our mid-term exams; they're gone but not forgotten.
Here are a few pics that I've sent through some filters on my ipad.
The first one was taken under Sakara. Noticed how I've trimmed out all those ugly cherry blossoms. 
 Three of our 1st year girls- A ballerina, a maple and a Southern belle.
 My daughter Kaede giving a `Hutton Hug` (copy protected) to one of our best and brightest. This student lives close to where the tsunami hit and her family has had trouble making ends meet, which brings me to my true agenda for today's blog...
Thank you ex-Tokiwagi teachers Toru Takayanagi, Brandi Monts and the Bellevue Badminton Club, Seattle Badminton Club, Yonex USA and Hay exporters for raising $7, 740 dollars for our school. We're all very grateful for your efforts and we also appreciate every single person who chipped in a penny or a buck.  The amount of aid we've recieved from overseas is inspiring.

Well, gotta go now- I've got about 400 exams to mark (hooray!).



Hey worldwidewebfolk. This is Alex- an English teacher at Tokiwagi Gakuen High School in Sendai (yep- that one!), Miyagi, Japan. This blog will be about what's happening in the 1st, 2nd & 3rd year International course at Tokiwagi. This is my first post and never having had any type of blog before, I'm a newbie whose Kanji (japanese characters) knowledge is limited so you may see some gobbledygook, wacky designs/interfaces/overlapping/video-failure and other general goof-ups as I feel my way around.

The International program at TGH started up 15 years ago to increase global understanding and connect our students with others around the world to share culture and knowledge. It's been working pretty well so far, as many of our graduates can attest. I'll be dropping in and posting a few days a week (more if I find out that somebody's actually reading this) and I welcome any questions or comments (that aren't too dodgy) about what's up.
So, here we go