2017: A Round Up


I'll let you into a secret.

I wanted to write an end-of-year "round-up" post last year, but I didn't think I had enough to talk about.

This year there's too much! It's been a busy, brilliant year.

Here's what my students and I got up to in 2017.

I started the year off with a chilly trip to Namayasai, Sussex's very own organic Japanese vegetable farm.

↓ Photo by Shino. Daikon radish by Namayasai.

In March, students and I were invited to the Open Day of the Brighton & Hove Japanese Club.

We tried calligraphy, made kanji name badges, and ate a lot of Japanese sweets.


The first term of 2017 flew by.

In the Easter break we had an impromptu school outing to Hove Park for hanami (cherry-blossoming viewing)...


...and to E-Kagen for noodles and Japanese beer.


May in Brighton brings the Brighton Festival and Fringe Festival.

And this year there were a few Japanese events on!

We saw a show by kick-ass Rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling) performer Katsura Sunshine...

...and enjoyed the sunshine with a trip to the beach.
Students in my new Pre Intermediate class had an end-of-year visit from a special guest.

Haruna came to chat Japanese with students during the Free Talk section of class.

↓ Arigatou Haruna!
In July I also went to the Hyper Japan festival in London for the first time.

That was a frantic day full of shopping, different performances, and Japanese street food.

↓ Domo-kun (NHK mascot) and me at Hyper Japan.
Over the summer I also attended a number of brilliant workshops, as part of Ride the Wave - a business support programme run by the council and the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce.

It was a great opportunity to meet like-minded small business owners!

↓ And I got to wear this red and white badge.
Students and I also went to the Japanese Summer Festival organised by Ohisama Ahaha, a Japanese kids group in Brighton and Hove.




Summer rolled by and I rolled off to Berlin on holiday.

This holiday is significant because its the first trip I've taken (since starting Step Up Japanese) where I put the "out of office" on and didn't check my emails while I was away.

Working hard is important, but we all need time off too.


Many of my students were off on holiday too, including Step Up Japanese student Daniel who spent the whole month of August in Japan.



In August we also had the first Step Up Japanese barbecue! Students brought lots of tasty food to share.


In October I attended the Language Show London for the first time, attending language teaching seminars...
...and Japan Foundation events including a talk from Paralympian Gold Medallist (and fluent Japanese speaker!) Noel Thatcher.


In October half term we had the first Step Up Japanese Origami Night, a relaxed affair in one of my favourite pubs.



In November I went for Japanese Afternoon Tea at Portslade's Café an-an. This was a special event for World Vegan Day.


And before you know it, it's nearly the end of the year!

Students met for noodles and festive fun at the Christmas Party.
Like I said, it's been busy.

I'm really, really looking forward to see what 2018 brings!

Thank you so much to everyone who came to classes, took part in events, and supported me at Step Up Japanese this year.

良いお年を!Have a good new year!

Christmas Party 2017!


Brrrrrrrr, it's cold. Or as they say in Japan, ブルブル "buruburu".

We escaped from the cold snap on Friday night with a Christmas noodle party!


↓ Off to E-Kagen on Sydney Street. Spot the Step Up Japanese students...


We started the night off with a film title quiz: guess the (western) film title from its Japanese translation.

Everybody did well, but there were a few tricky ones in there too.

↓ Intense concentration.



↓ Special thanks to Phil for making an appearance despite having to rush off to host his own event the same night!


It wouldn't be a Christmas party without crackers - these ones had Japan-themed jokes in them too.




I have just realised I didn't take any pictures of the food. I hate food photos. Pictures of people are much nicer, don't you think?

The food was great though! E-Kagen has a real family-style feel, and an open kitchen so you can see your dinner being prepared.


↓ Full bellies. Massive thanks to the owner at E-Kagen for hosting such a big group of us.


↓ Excellent Christmas jumpers.


↓ Off to the pub for a mulled wine. Or as they say in Japan, ホットワイン ("hotto wain").






↓ Impromptu kanji practice. 



Thanks for another great year guys! It's an absolute pleasure to work with such wonderful students.

メリークリスマス (Merry Christmas) - and stay warm!

New Year's Resolutions - 新年の抱負


明けましておめでとうございます!Happy New Year!

新年の抱負はありますか。Have you made any New Year's Resolutions?

My good friend Karli of designosaur (the brilliant people who make all those dinosaur necklaces I wear to class) writes a new year's post every year, and I always find it super inspiring. I don't always make resolutions, but this year I have loads and I'd like to share some of them with you!


1. blog more


This one should be easy. I like writing this blog, but it's always bottom of my to-do list! Karli's suggestion was to make a regular schedule and stick to it, so I'll try that.


2. finish some books


I often tell people that I read a lot of Japanese books, but actually what I do is start reading a lot of Japanese books. Then find a new one, get distracted and start the new one. That's good for variety, but not very satisfying.

I'm going to try and read one book at a time (currently reading マチルダは小さな大天才) and not start any new books until I finish!



3. watch more drama...with my students


I love J-drama and it's a great way to listen to everyday spoken Japanese - especially if the programme is centred around a family or group of friends. This year I'm hoping to use some drama clips in class. I haven't quite worked out the details yet but I think it'll be a lot of fun.

I'm currently watching Beautiful Rain (ビューティフルレイン) which is adorable and very tear-jerky. Have you seen it?

4. have more parties


We had a great time at the first annual Step Up Japanese christmas party, and one of my goals for 2017 is to have more school events like this. I've got a little list in mind, but if you have a suggestion please let me know!


5. be reflective


This one is less of a resolution and more of a humblebrag.

Some days I skip home from class because everything went swimmingly. Other times I'm left thinking how I could have explained something better / given you more chances to speak Japanese / had a good answer to your question on the spot instead of telling you I'll look it up.

My point is, it's good to be reflective - and not just because you won't get knocked off your bike. I really, really want to keep improving and bring you bigger and better things in 2017!


Have you made any New Year's resolutions? I'd love to know what yours are! 今年もよろしくお願いします〜