Posts about daily life in Nanae, Japan

How to Use a Japanese ATM

By Ben Mirin, CIR

Every Japanese bank operates its ATMs on a specific schedule.  Located in the Nanae Yakuba (town office), this Hakodate Shinyou Kinko ATM closes at 6pm every day, and imposes a surcharge for withdrawals during the weekend.  Despite the occasional inconvenience these schedules might cause, Japanese ATMs are excellent tools for managing finances.

(Special thanks goes to Emi Kimura for her invaluable assistance in making this video.  An apology is also due for my ridiculous sunglasses.)

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10 Things I Didn’t Think I Would Need in Nanae, Japan (Part 1)

By Ben Mirin, CIR

1. A guitar

I was sad to leave my guitars behind when I left the States, but I did not think that my work for Nanae would require the use of an instrument.

I attended my first meeting of the Nanae High School English Club on Tuesday.  At the last minute the Club’s faculty adviser had to take off to attend to one of her children, who had developed a fever at school that day.  With 30 minutes before the Club meeting, I needed to make a new lesson plan.  Somehow, I was able to borrow an acoustic guitar from my boss’s brother.  The instrument hadn’t been tuned in a while, and the high E string was missing, but that was enough; I know a few songs that only use the bottom 5 strings.  Scrambling, I printed out 5 copies of the lyrics to “Time of Your Life” by Green Day, cut them into strips of individual lines, and stuffed them into 5 envelopes.  I figured I could play the song while teams of students listened and raced to piece together the lyrics.  With help from several staff, I turned my section of the Town Office from International Relations into Arts and Crafts, and managed to make it to the high school with a few minutes to spare.

In the car I wondered, should I have picked a simpler song?  Are Green Day’s metaphors about life’s mysteries and the inevitable passage of time comprehensible in translation when they’re coming from a guy who hasn’t even sung their tune in 5 years?

Apparently, yes.  The students had little difficulty piecing the lyrics together, and with one and a half run-throughs of the song we had a winning team.  The victors got first pick from the Concord-themed gifts I had brought as prizes, but eventually all 17 girls had their choice among an array of Paul Revere and Minuteman key chains, Concord militia ribbons, and Walden Pond magnets.

I’m not sure if I’ll need a guitar again for English Club, but I wouldn’t be surprised.   Even if I cannot play one in my apartment for fear of offending my neighbors, I expect it will come in handy for future events at the high school, in my community English classes at the Onuma Seminar House, or in my classes at various nursery and elementary schools that start in January.

…To be continued…

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