<   2010年 12月 ( 8 )   > この月の画像一覧   

Winter, winter   

Finally winter came! But where are snowdrifts? I was promised by
friends that Sapporo becomes full of snow during winter... Also, it
gets much lighter in the city in nights when streets are full of snow.
Hopefully after Christmas, around New Year's eve we will get some.
Odori Park is so beautiful now. Color illumunations cheers me up
during dark winter months. Today I climbed the Sapporo TV tower for
the first time. The night view is magnificent! Now eagarly waiting for
Sapporo Snow festival to enjoy masterpieces of show architects :)

Vitaly (Russia)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-23 22:56 | 札幌 英会話 サークル

Czech traditional Christmas sweets   

This time I would like to continue the Christmas topic, and tell you something about Czech traditional Christmas sweets. I think every country has some special Christmas sweets, as I learned yesterday in Italy “Panettone”, in Germany “Stollen”, in Japan Christmas Cakes, etc.

In Czech it is Christmas cookies. Various little sweets we use to prepare before Christmas. There are thousands of recipes of various cookies, and thousands of various flavors, shapes and designs for each of them, which have also very curious names. The most popular are probably vanilla rolls, ginger bread in shapes of animals, hearts or stars, coconut, cacao, almond cookies, home-made chocolate, etc. Some are with dry fruits, some with chocolate and cream, some with jam, some are even with rum or other liqueur.

I think that each family has a little different ones, but there is something Christmas cookies have all in common. They belong to the important symbols of Christmas as a family event. The cookies recipes we used to hand over from one generation to another, it is kind of family inheritance.

I used to make them even here in Japan, actually this year is first I couldn’t manage it. Well, I do not bake them, so at least I choose to write about them.

Ivona (Czech Republic)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-22 15:16 | 子供 英会話 札幌

Trip to the Noboribetsu Hot Spring   

Two weeks ago I went to stay at a hotel in Noboribetsu. I forget the name of the hotel, but what I do remember about it is that it was awesome.
I rented a Japanese style room that came furnished with a TV and had hardwood floors. The best thing about this particular hotel was that the food was really good. For dinner the first night and breakfast the next morning, it was all you can eat and drink (alcohol excluded, unfortunately.)
The quality of the food seemed pretty high. They had chefs assigned to oversee different food categories so that they could replenish the supplies that were perpetually diminishing. They had curry, soba, tempura, steak, clams, etc.. However, some food types, like the rare cheese pudding, wasn't all you could eat.
I'm a pudding fanatic, so much to my dismay, once they refilled it the 2nd time or so, that was it. So sad. Pretty much all the food categories were covered, so I
was very pleased with the variety. I'm sure they had something there to suit everyone's tastes.

The hot sping was nice too, although it did smell a little bit like rotten eggs. I only went twice, and spent roughly 20 to 30 minutes each time. Right after entering
I'd hop right into the nearest open spot. After leaving I found out something terrible, though. If you go farther into the hot spring it opens up into the outside, where
you could sit in the hot water while it's snowing on you. I guess I'm gonna have to go a little farther in next time.

Hans (USA)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-21 17:32 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

My fist three months in Japan   

Isn’t it amazing how time flies by? It feels that I have only just arrived and suddenly, Christmas comes along! This makes me an the one hand a little bit nostalgic as Christmas is one of the most important family events in the year and on the other hand it makes me think about what I have already experienced during the time I have been here.

My first three months in Japan have been the most exciting three months of my life so far. When I arrived in September 2010 to spend one year at Otaru University of Commerce as an exchange student, I did not really know what to expect. By now I have learned a lot and there is still so much to know! I have been able to try Japanese culture like tea ceremony, Ikebana or rice cake making. I have taken part in some trainings of the Yosakoi club of this University which has been really fun but also quite demanding. I am looking forward to see the Yosakoi festival in June!

Shortly after my arrival, I also joined the Karate club of Otaru University, a sport that I really enjoy. I will give my best to continue it. I have gotten to know so many amazing people from all around the world and talking to them has really changed some views of mine. I hope my stay in Japan will continue to be full of remarkable experiences and people. I am very much looking forward to another nine months here!

Next week at the beginning of the Christmas holidays, I will take part in a skiing course organized by the University. I am very much looking forward to finally trying out Hokkaidos slopes! Winter sports are one of the reasons why I chose this University, so I can't wait! Until now, the amount of snow has really amazed me. We do have snow in Austria during the wintertime but I have never experienced that much snowfall at once. Let's see how much I can improve my skiing during this stay :-)

I wish everyone a beautiful Christmas and hope to see you in the New Year!

Cheers,
Anna-Sophie (Austria)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-18 17:53 | 札幌 英会話 サークル

Christmas   

Wow, Christmas is coming pretty soon and this is the first time, I will be separated from my family in Austria. For me, Christmas is the most important festival during the year. Even though I am not really Catholic (as most Austrians are), I really enjoy this quiet time during the end of the year. Being together with your family, sitting under the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, giving lots of presents and, of course, eating delicious Christmas cookies, those are the things I connect with Christmas. It is always the time, when everything is more relaxed, you visit your relatives and relax a bit from the stress of the year.

Luckily, I can spent this time with all the other international students from the Otaru University of Commerce. We are going on a skiing trip between the 23rd and the 25th of December. As these people are more and more becoming my family for this year, I am really looking forward to spending the time with them at the skiing resort of Asarigawa. We are planning to prepare all the different Christmas food by ourselves, as we are staying in a hut which is equipped with a kitchen. If we can organize it, I'd really love to have our own Christmas tree in our hut. Let's see, if we can achieve that. So I hope, or better I am pretty sure, that this first Christmas away from my family will be a good one.

Lukas (Austria)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-17 17:38 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

Winter break   

My winter break starts on the 18th and I haven't decided what I will do yet. I feel like I should go somewhere, but I have no idea where. I want to ride the train to somewhere outside Hokkaido, perhaps Tokushima or Hiroshima. You can use the Seishun 18 ticket between December 10th-January 20th. It's a very good deal, I just hope I can stay awake to make all of the transfers between trains.

My friend from Canada is convincing me to come to Tokyo since that is where he will be on the winter break. I've been in Tokyo for 8 months though, so I really want to try somewhere else.

I hope every has a good winter break, cheers!

Jeff

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-10 15:54 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン

Advent   

Hello everyone. It is incredible, but it is true – the Christmas season is here! Even here in Japan, as we all can notice when passing Sapporo station, with the many Santa Claus posters and Christmas decorations, or passing Odori with the annual Christmas market. Anyway, this time I don’t want to write about the commercial side of Christmas (which is of course present not just in Japan, but also in Christian countries), but rather about the traditional, Christian aspect of this special season. I guess most of you have heard about advent calendars, advent wreaths or advent candles.

Well this time I would like to speak a little bit about the meaning of advent. The origin of the word is the Latin “adventus”, which means “coming”. In the Christian world it means the time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25th and it lasts until Christmas Eve. I guess the most famous symbol of Advent is the advent wreath with 4 candles symbolizing the four advent Sundays or the advent calendar full of chocolate, which is enjoyed by every kid in Czech.

Traditionally, advent was the time of fasting and quiet contemplation. It seems to me that now it is a rather busy time for preparations, shopping and parties – it is difficult to calm down and light the next candle on the advent wreath, but it is definitely worth trying!
I wish you a calm and holy advent!

Ivona (Czech Republic)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-09 18:17 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

JLPT Level 1   

Hi everyone, Jack here!

I'm going to tell you a little bit about my experience with the JLPT. (That's the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or 日本語能力試験 for people who don't know.) I took level two back in 2008, and I thought it was about time I took the plunge and tried to take level one. Level two uses mostly everyday words, but sometimes with a few difficult words thrown in. I remember "妥当" ("appropriate" or "fitting") was the most difficult word in level two when I took it, and I had no idea what it meant. For level two, you also need to be able to read 1000 kanji.

Anyway, I took the level one exam on Sunday. Even though I had two years between level two and level one, level one was much more difficult. There were lots of specialized words, and lots of kanji - they say you need to know about 2000. There were lots of words in there that I didn't know and I don't remember now, so I don't know if I passed or not. But I think I gave it a good try, at least, and I could understand enough to answer the questions well. The funny thing is that I never really revised for it.

So how did I get good enough to take level one without studying very much? I think the answer is my reading. I've always been an enthusiastic reader. I read "Mathilda" nine times when I was a child. Now that I'm older I can't read the same book over and over again, but I'm always reading books and news on the internet, and since I came to Japan I've been reading books in Japanese as well. I started off by reading manga, and even that wasn't so easy to understand - and I knew quite a lot of Japanese already. But slowly, I got used to it, and reading in Japanese became a habit. In fact, almost the only revision I did for the JLPT level two in 2008 was reading manga. I was reading manga for the entire year of 2008 on the train to work. People often make light of manga and say that it's not really reading, but I learned a lot of useful words from it. For example, back in 2007 I learned the word "疑う" (suspect) from reading Death Note, and more recently I learned "錯覚" ("optical illusion" or "delusion") from reading Bleach - and those are only the ones that I can remember. (And yes, 錯覚 came up in the exam on Sunday.)

But also, since last year, I've started to read slightly more difficult things. I started by reading trashy Japanese novels - the kind you can look at on your mobile phone (although I bought the book version). I then moved on to Star Wars novels translated into Japanese, and now I'm reading a detective novel - Tokyo Eki Satsujin Jiken by Kyotaro Nishimura. I've also been reading manga at the same time as reading these novels. For example, last April I read all 60 books of One Piece. Apart from all this reading, all I've been doing to study Japanese is talking with the other teachers at the school where I work and talking with my Japanese friends. But there's no way I could learn words like "錯覚" by doing that. I'm sure it's my reading that has been the most benefit for me on the JLPT.

However, whether I passed the test or not is another question. I think I have a 50-50 chance. But whatever the chance, I'll have to wait until the middle of February to find out. Fingers crossed!

Jack (UK)

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by chitchatcafe | 2010-12-07 14:53 | 英会話 スクール 札幌