Culture Talk: No Time to Soak 異文化の話: つかる暇がない

Hello Tabunka Kyoto blog readers! I’m Gavyn, the Seika Town CIR, and in this article I would touch upon the differences in bathing habits between Americans and Japanese people.


read more ~ 続き

文化の壁を打ち砕き、永遠の絆を築く Breaking Cultural Barriers and Building Lifelong Connections

This past March, I accompanied a group of American high school students and chaperones on a visit to Seika Minami Junior High School. The purpose of this visit was to provide the Japanese students with a chance to communicate and connect with peers from overseas.


The event was kicked off in the school gymnasium with a self-introduction by the 12 students and 4 teacher-chaperones from Peoria Christian School, a private school located in Illinois. After a short presentation where they told the Seika Minami students about their school and the surrounding area, everyone broke into groups for game time.


Students from Peoria Christian School lining up to introduce themselves

The first two games tasked students with getting to know one another. Using a worksheet, they asked each other questions in both English and Japanese, such as their favorite color or school subject. The language barrier was difficult to overcome, but, through a liberal use of gestures and simple words, it was eventually conquered as small whispers turned into lively conversations.


Getting to know each other using prepared phrases in Japanese and English

After getting to know each other, they separated into boy groups and girl groups to play “Human Knot” and “Through the Hoop.” The groups used both their best English and Japanese words to help untangle themselves out of a messy knot, and be the group with the most passes through a hula hoop.


The Human Knot game proved to be quite a challenge for some groups!

Following game time, the Seika Minami students sang two classic Japanese songs for their new American friends; their wonderful performance was met with roaring cheers and applause. The event was brought to a close after a few words of thanks from a Seika Minami student representative, and a short question and answer session.


A student conductor from Seika Minami Junior High leads the class in a song

I was initially worried that the students would have a hard time connecting with each other due to a 4-5 year age difference between the American students (who were older) and the Japanese students (who were younger). That uncertainty was wiped away after seeing both groups thoroughly enjoy their time together from start to finish. I hope this experience becomes a cherished memory for everyone involved and an impetus for the students of both schools to build lifelong international friendships.


A picture perfect end!

クリスマス気分を保育所にもたらす Bringing Christmas Magic to Local Preschools

In an effort to keep the dream of Santa alive and spread Christmas cheer, I visited two local preschools in Seika Town as Santa. Thankfully, as I do not own my own Santa costume, the preschools prepared a Santa suit for me to use.


One of the teachers introducing Santa (me)

On both visits, after quickly changing into the Santa suit and taking a short stop at the infant class to pass out gifts and take pictures, I was led to the play hall to greet the rest of the preschool children aged 1-5.


At each preschool, the children had some interesting questions prepared to ask Santa that I myself had never thought of asking, like “what colored roof do you like” or “what is your favorite book?” I told them Santa likes orange-colored roofs, as they’re the color of the sun and Santa, as a resident of the North Pole, doesn’t get to see the sun often. I imagine Santa as a sun-loving kind of a guy.


The teachers also prepared gifts for Santa (me) to pass out to every child in attendance, which I found quite thoughtful. I don’t remember getting a gift from Santa when I was in preschool. I don’t even think he visited my preschool!


Santa (me) passing out presents prepared by the teachers to the kids

At the end of each visit, the 4~5 year old children sang songs as a thank you to Santa. One preschool sang “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer” in Japanese and the other sang “Awatenbo Santa Claus,” a popular children’s Christmas song in Japan that I had never heard before. It brought me great joy to see them singing their hearts out for Santa. I hope my visit as Santa made their Christmas a memorable one!


小中学校でハワイ異文化講座 Hawaii Lectures at Elementary and Junior High Schools


My name is Gavyn Guigui and I am the new Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Seika Town starting August 2018. Although I am new to Seika, I am not new to the CIR position as I was previously the CIR for Kizugawa City (a neighboring municipality) for two years before coming to Seika. For a more detailed self-introduction, please check out my introduction page!



There are a number of events coming up in Seika Town that I would like to report in the coming days, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I would like to talk about some school visits I made towards the end of my tenure at Kizugawa City.



My stage for the day at Saganaka Elementary School

In my last month as the CIR for Kizugawa, I visited a few elementary schools and one of the city’s junior high schools to present about some interesting things from my hometown Hawaii such as the food, sights, and its cultural differences with Japan. Since the grade levels for which I asked to present to were so disparate, I decided to make two different presentations, one for the elementary schools and another for the junior high schools.


For the elementary school presentation, I talked about basic information regarding Hawaii like how many islands there are in the main island chain, and the delicious foods you can eat only in Hawaii. The children were enthusiastic in their reaction and were very interested in hearing things they didn’t know about Hawaii. Some classes prepared questions to ask at the end of my presentation, and a few of them even asked in English!


The middle school presentation consisted of similar topics, but I added a few slides about the differences between American and Japanese schools. The topics that surprised them the most were perhaps the quality of American school lunches and the lack of cleaning time allotted in the school day. Lastly, I taught them about the Hawaiian alphabet, vocabulary, and how to do a short self-introduction in Hawaiian.


IMG_9074Visiting the schools was a great learning experience on how to tailor educational content for different audiences of varying ages that keeps them interested and engaged. Also, since I don’t teach at schools on a daily basis, it was interesting to see the Japanese student and teacher dynamic in real time. I hope I get to visit many more schools during my time as Seika Town’s CIR!


Goodbye from Jake, CIR in Seika 精華町国際交流員ジェーク氏の退任の挨拶

Hey everyone!  I’m Jake, the CIR in Seika Town and this will be my final post on the Tabunka blog.

Jake last2Over the past two years I have met new people, tried new things and learned stuff about myself that I wouldn’t have if I had worked anywhere else.  I had a great time working in Seika and I am excited for the CIR who will be coming in August to take my place.

Seika is a beautiful town with warm, friendly people.  In the mornings when I walked to work, I would be greeted by all the little old ladies walking their dogs calling out “Good morning!” and in the evenings I would get a “Welcome home!” from the people tending their gardens and rice fields.  Sometimes, the kids from the nearby elementary school and junior high school would walk back with me or if they were feeling really brave try calling out to me in English.  It really made me feel like part of the community these past two years.

Jake last4Working as a CIR was also a wonderful experience and I had the opportunity to make some great friends and do some things that I never would have expected to do.  I remember barely even being there a month and been asked to visit Kameoka to dance in front of kids!  Every day I was doing something new and thanks to all of that I believe that I really grew as a person.

For the next couple of years, I plan to live here in Japan so I am sure I will be back to visit often, but even if I move away from Japan I know that I will always be able to come back to Seika!

Thanks for reading everyone! And make sure to watch for articles from my successor!


Jake lastこの2年間、私は新しい人と出会って、やったことないことをいっぱいやってみて、そして他の職場だとわからなかったであろう自分のことについて分かりました。私は精華町で働くのをとても楽しんでいて、次の国際交流員のが精華町がその同じことを経験できるのをとても嬉しく思っています。


Jake last3国際交流員として働くのもとてもいい経験で、いい友達もたくさんいっぱいできて、いつもやらないと思っていたことをいきなり仕事で体験しました。そうといえば任期の一カ月もたってなかった時に亀岡市に行って子どもの前で踊るイベントに参加したことを思い出します!毎日は新しいことをやっていたからそのおかげで本当に成長したと思います。



Goodbye from Brian, the CIR in Kizugawa 木津川市国際交流員ブライアン氏からの退任の挨拶

July marks the season where a lot of JET Programme participants are leaving and new ones coming. 3 CIRs participating in this blog will be leaving at the end of this month: the CIRs in Kizugawa (Brian), in Seika (Jake) and at the Kyoto Prefectural International Center (Alice).

Here are a few words from Brian.




Wow how time flies. Three years have passed since I made my debut on this blog. Through the summer heat and winter chills, I have had a wonderful time living in such a pretty place like Kizugawa in Kyoto.


Through the Kyoto CIRs’ efforts, I hope more international residents can call Kyoto their comfortable home. And also I hope more natives all over Kyoto will be interested in traveling and experiencing different cultures, and become global citizens of the world. From understanding and interacting, make the world a better place. Thank you, Kyoto. See you around!



A Spring Dance Party – 親子deレッツ・ダンス~春のダンス・パーティ~

Hi guys! It’s Brian, the CIR of Kizugawa.

To enhance the international exchange of the three municipalities of Kansai Science City in Kyoto, Polly (Kyotanabe CIR), Jake (Seika CIR), and I hold 2 to 3 joint events together every year. And this time, we had a spring dance party.


In recent years only few dance fads have made it to Japan. We wanted to share some of the popular dances in the US with the locals, and we asked our participants to come with their family to dance together at this event.


Our Spring Dance Party took place on March 26. First we talked briefly about the dance culture in the US and the UK. There are school dances in both countries, and also people dance at weddings and other ceremonies. Then we started with the simple and old-school. We did the Macarena. It was easy so we played with the speed of the song and had all of us either rushing or in super slow-motion. The kids really liked it.




Next we introduced the Cha-cha Slide. After we went through the surprise moves like the Charlie Brown and Hands-On-Your-Knees, we had a great time doing the listen-and-move (watch-and-move for us at this event) number.


Body Transformers

Body Transformers ボディ・トランスフォーマー

We then played Body Transformers, which is simply team charades. We challenged the participating families with difficult questions such as conveyor belt sushi and electric fan. We were very impressed with the creativity we saw, and had a good time joining the children in charades.


We finished the event with Watch Me, the song and accompanying dance that went viral in 2015. The moves were confusing at first. After a couple of rounds, everybody was doing the whip, the nae-nae, and the stanky leg perfectly.


Brian dance (3)As our last 3-municipality joint event, I had a great time. Dance is a way of expression, and has long been a tool of social exchange. Plus, it is a lot of fun! With the popularity of SNS such as Youtube and Twitter, hopefully more fun dances will emerge around the world. I hope I can see you on the dance floor someday!