Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Jungle Book - after reading: a respected teacher

Mowgli gets a lot of good advice from his teachers. Write about a teacher you respected and why their advice was important for you.

I was learning calligraphy when I was a student. I was not a good student at all. I went to the school because my friends went to. I didn’t go there when it was too cold to go out in winter. As a matter of course, I had bad writing. My friend always told me that they could not read my letter. I was wasting lecture fee.

We have a culture called, Kakizome that we do calligraphy at the beginning of the year, 2nd Jan usually. My calligraphy school was joining a calligraphy association, which constituted of several calligraphy schools in my city, and one day, the association held Kakizome meeting. Students of other calligraphy schools gather city center. We did calligraphy and those teachers taught us how to fix our letters.

I went to the meeting because my teacher recommended. I spent the boring meeting time, and wrote ugly letter like I did calligraphy in my school. In the end of the meeting, one of the teachers gave us speech, and his word hit me in my mind.

He said, “You must not compare your writing with the one of other people. You do calligraphy to face yourself. Calligraphy is not a competition. You must improve your writing from yours yesterday.”

Since then, although my calligraphy was still ugly, my attitude against calligraphy was changed. It was only one time to see him, but he is one of my respecters.

Posted for Yumi

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spring is here - time to dust off your hats

The long and cold winter months are over and we are now well into spring, thank goodness! I was told before arriving in Matsumoto that does get a bit chilly during the winter months, but I was totally unprepared for the bitter cold and especially not the monster snowfall in February! Now it's April and the temperature is hotting up (I would be calling this summer weather if I was still in England!), I'm starting to wonder if my 3 sets of thermal underwear were a wise investment.

To prepare for the warm and sunny spring season some of my students set out on making some hats to keep us nice and cool in the spring sunshine. Nobody likes getting sunburnt. We used paper plates to create the hat itself and decorated them with a spring theme using crayons and templates of flowers (cherry blossoms included of course!), which we coloured, cut out and stuck on. Koutarou came up with the interesting idea of adding blades of grass to his hat.

Busy decorating
We had some, who we hope to be future students, observing/joining in with the class whilst we were making our spring hats. I hope they got a taste of how fun and creative we can be here at Luna and will be joining us soon! Also I wonder if we will be seeing any of these designs at the next Paris Fashion Week!? Maybe we could get Jim sensei to model them and add them to his portfolio.

About the 8th attempt of trying to get a group shot!
We had bags of fun getting imaginative and putting together our spring hats, whilst I on the other hand had a lot less fun trying to get them all to stand still with their hats on so I could take a good group picture.  I have to say though I am slightly jealous that I don't have my own custom spring hat to take home with me. What a cool way of staying cool!

Damian Gowland

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Annual Hanami BBQ - Sunshine, smiles and satisfied stomachs

Where's the meat?

Last Sunday was Luna's annual hanami BBQ party along the Susugi river bank and what a blast it was! The sun was out, the cherry blossoms were almost in full bloom and we got to share the whole experience with a host of our students, families, friends as well as the teachers from Sasabe kindergarten. Even Damian's mum made a flying visit to join in with the festivities! It was great to see some many familiar, and some not so familiar, faces all gathered together to have a great time.

That's more like it!
Lots of our wonderful guests brought along something to share with the rest of the party goers. An excellent effort made by all. Fortunately everybody remembered to bring their appetites with them. It was quite the sight seeing all the different dishes from the classics sausages to Sri Lankan and Moroccan style dishes and of course the imperative Japanese BBQ food: the onigiri and the oinari san. We at Luna however like to take the traditional, let's say British, way of hosting a BBQ. Lots and lots of meat and hold the salad! And boy did we deliver. There was always something on the BBQ from start to finish (a special thanks to all those who helped cook all of the delicious food) and the air was filled with a fantastic aroma all day long. Everybody was left stuffed, satisfied and possibly slightly guilty from devouring such a feast.

Everybody tucking in
Whilst the adults were busy  responsible with BBQ tending and beer drinking duty, the children were enjoying themselves by running around and collecting cherry blossoms, making their own "flower pots" in paper cups and soaking Damian sensei with their water pistols! Luckily for them Damian sensei was far too full from his 20 portions of sausages and drumsticks to waddle after them. Maybe it would be a good idea to bring a lasso next time to round up the mischievous trouble makers.

Many thanks to all our fabulous guests for making this such a joyous and memorable event, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!  We look forward to hosting you all again next year!

Damian Gowland

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

After reading The Murders in the Rue Morgue - who's your favourite author?

Edgar Allan Poe is a famous author of this genre - mystery & horror. 

Write about your favourite author

I love Miyuki Miyabe who is a Japanese famous author of mystery. I read almost all her book as it was very interesting, not let me bored during reading and she describe normal person in normal life.
My recommendation is "Kasha" which means fired vehicle. A detective was asked to find a woman who is the fiancĂ©e of his relative. Her name is Shoko and she ran away with her decision. While he investigates her deeply, he found “Shoko” does not exist actually and she is another woman with the complicated back ground…

I like it because the fact is disclosed slowly and deeply with the natural story. The detective just tried to find out one ordinal person at first, but he found a big and deep back ground of her. These pieces of story is unimaginable and I enjoy the gap of the story and my imagine of her book.

Posted for Reiko

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Postcard from... Guam (they're like London buses!)

Dear Jim,

As you know, I am now in Guam. It is very hot here, compared to Matsumoto, but I'm getting used to to it. I might not be able to survive in Matsumoto's freezing climate.

Today I went wake boarding. The wind felt very good. The sea water was so clear that you could see the bottom.

See you soon.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Postcard from...Guam

Hi Jim,

I'm in Guam.

I bought a lot of things, for example watch, wallet, and for my friends souvenier. I also went to the beach, did the 'wake board'. It was hard to take balance. I am going to have more fun!!


Friday, 11 April 2014

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Imagine you are the Canterville Ghost. Write a letter to the Otis family compaining about them & their behaviour!

Dear Otis family,

Welcome to my house. I tried to frighten your family, but you could not be afraid of me... Please, please surprise me!! Because it's my job, that's why I'm here for over three hundred years. My heart was broken. Don't say kind words for me. Don't hurt me.. Especially your twins. They are pickle. I believe parents have a responsibility to nurture your children. Imagine, twins are in school, they do many tricks. It may hurt other kids or things in the school. And when they grow up, are there any woman to marry with your kids if they cannot stop doing to me.
Fortunately, your girl, Virginia is lovely girl. Please rise your twins like Virginia. They will be good boys.

I have a request for you. Please visit Garden of Death once a year if you can. At that time, please tell me your story what is happen in your life. I'm really happy to hear that because your family were very kind for me.

I hope you can live happy!

Posted for Miyuki

Monday, 7 April 2014

Creepy Crawly Coloured Caterpillar - platefuls of fun!

Cover of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
Cover of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
I have very fond memories of reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" (in Japanese!) from a young age, and I have been looking for a way to incorporate and share one of my childhood memories with my students in a functional and constructive way. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the book so I had to come up with an alternative method. After having a little think and brainstorming some ideas I settled on something that I thought would capture the interest of my students as well as providing a bit of variety in the classroom. So I would like to present to you my most recent classroom project: the "Coloured Caterpillar"!

Our new classroom friend
The idea revolves around making a caterpillar using either coloured card or painted paper plates which are in turn used to make up the different segments of the caterpillar. You then cut out an assortment of shapes, numbers, letters or whatever else you think would suit the activity, from coloured card which the students have to sort into the corresponding coloured segments of your "Coloured Caterpillar". You can stick the caterpillar to a table or even on the wall or your whiteboard/blackboard! If you are planning to stick your caterpillar to the wall/board you're also going to need a way for sticking your shapes/numbers/letters too.

Fun with paints!
You may be thinking that making the caterpillar is going to be a major investment of time and effort, but this is where your students come to the rescue. Rather than make the caterpillar myself, I decided that for this activity to become a success the more hands on approach the students had the better. I also didn't fancy spending an evening painting paper plates on my own. So I roped them into caterpillar making duty. What better way to engage the students by using resources that they have helped make themselves!

In the "zone"
I have to admit thought that I was a little hesitant before launching into this project, especially as I had planned for my youngest students to shoulder the responsibility of painting the paper plates. I had a bad feeling the students would become more preoccupied in painting anything but the paper plates! However, when I broke out the paint and paintbrushes my fears were laid to rest. The students took to the activity like a charm, they were the most focused and well behaved I had ever seen them. It was like magic. Unfortunately due to paint needing to dry, we weren't able to put out caterpillar to use immediately so the students had to wait patiently for their next lesson before they had a chance to admire their work.

Showing off
A job well done

Shapes to sort
So one week came and went and it was time for the big reveal. The long wait was over and the students were finally able to see their painted paper plates come to life in the form of a colourful caterpillar. As you could imagine the students were terribly excited, and once we had stuck down our caterpillar they dived into the tray of cut out shapes and started sorting at break neck speeds! The first time we used our "Coloured Caterpillar" we used shapes cut out from coloured card, and we have since moved onto using numbers and letters as well. I have used the
Diving in
"Coloured Caterpillar in several of my other younger classes too, one of them even making the connection to "Harapeko Aomushi" ("The Very Hungry Caterpillar" in Japanese) which I was delighted by! By using the "Coloured Caterpillar" my students have become more adept at recognising shapes, numbers and letters and can sort by each category. I think it's safe to say this project was a success!

If you decide to create your own "Coloured Caterpillar" for your classroom please share your pictures and any feedback you have! 

Damian Gowland
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Thursday, 3 April 2014

We're cool - shades & ABCs!

Hiro cracked me up yesterday (for once not belting me in the gonads) with his super cool Korean dictator look, clinging to his cell phone throughout class. The girls are always cool anyway, and have lovely singing voices as you can hear. You can hear lots more Fotobabble creations we have created in classes at

We'd love to know what you think - leave us a comment below?!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A look back at classroom smiles through March 2014

What a wild month March was! Snow that we thought would never end and our carpets still wet after the thaw. Business as usual nevertheless in the learning zone, with some big paint jobs taking place in Damian's classroom. We planted a mystery garden (now showing signs of life in all but one planter) and said goodbye to long-term students - going to miss you guys!

Success rewarded as well, with certificates arriving for YLE, KET & CAE passes - well done you!

April is going to be a busy month, and apologies in advance for the state we might be in at the end of the month. Join us, meantime, April 13th from noon onwards for our Cherry Blossom Party (details oin our Facebook page). Have a superb April - we will!