Jul 31, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 12

Now, returning to my trip home from Miyagi Gakuin U, I saw another of our decorative buses.
Between Yaotome subway station and home is a bus depot. This is the parking lot with the bus washing machine in the rear center.
Next to the bus depot is the new fire station that I showed you in an earlier post. This is from the other side and shows the practice tower.
After the fire station, I passed over the bridge, the railings in the picture. Going in this direction, you can see the local Buddhist temple. The local Shinto shrine adjoins it to the rear.

Jul 30, 2010

Tuesday night soccer game 03

A little after half time a full moon rose over the stadium. Right over the heads of the fanatic fans.
As I said, the game ended in a 1 to 1 tie, leaving Vegalta one point out of the relegation zone. After the game I walked home, finding this view of the moon over the houses in the neighborhood.
I got this view as I walked under the torii that forms the main entrance to the local shrine, the one we visit for New Years and where Tomone was introduced to the gods.
As I left the road and started down the riverside path, I was greeted with this view.
I was tempted to walk to the riverside park and find a place to sit and enjoy the moon. However, this was the second late night in a row. The night before I had gone to the Sendai Book Club. Consider that the next day I had three classes followed by a day with another two classes, I decided that it would be wiser to go home and get to bed.

Jul 29, 2010

Tuesday night soccer game 02

This is a display of Vegalta team goods. The sale of these things helps support the costs of running the team. I do not know how they do it but they almost always lose money during a season. Someone must be covering the red ink in some way, but I have no idea who or how. By the way, the young women on the end saw that I was taking a picture and she started waving the flag for me.This is the beer stand where I used to buy beer and wine during the games. I have completely stopped drinking since I started meditating a year and a half ago, so now I only buy soft drinks and tea from the owner. We used to give him so much business that at the end of one season, he gave each of us a bottle of pretty good wine.
This is just before the start of the game. The home team, Vegalta is on the left in their usual yellow uniforms. The team mascot is on the extreme left and is dressed in the same uniform. The row of kids in white in front of the team are local soccer players from children's teams.
This is typical of the game - the ball nowhere near the goal. Vegalta scored but later the opponents tied the game when a Vegalta player put the ball in the Vegalta goal while he was trying to clear it. The game ended in a 1 - 1 tie.

Jul 28, 2010

Tuesday night soccer game

I am interrupting the series about my classes to show you the soccer game that I went to on Tuesday evening after I finished my last class for the semester at the Izumi Campus of Tohoku Gakuin U. The stadium is only about a 10 minute walk from my apartment, but I got there by taking a bus from school to the Izumi Chuo Subway station, which is only about 500 meters north of the stadium - my place is to the east. This first picture shows the entrance.Outside the stadium is a large statue of the team mascot. People use it as a meeting place so there is always a large number of people hanging around it.
Our seat were so-so. The were behind the goal but we had a fairly good view of the whole pitch and we were high enough that we could see most of the action at the other goal.
The fans hang signs all over the stadium. I particularly like this one, which they have been using for a few years.
The team has a squad of cheerleaders and one came over and performed right in front of our seats.

Jul 27, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 11

On Thursday mornings, I only have a single class - Speaking, for the second year English majors. The class is in a small corner room with no other classrooms nearby, which is good because the students get very noisy sometimes. I told the students that I was going to take a picture for my blog, and you can see the reaction. The students on the right want to be in the picture, while those on the left are hiding. Back in the days of open reel tape recorders, this room was the place where they kept the tapes for the LL, which is next door and now a computer lab. The things on the wall that look like books are actually reels of tape. They are so old now that they would probably fall apart if you tried to use them, but they are on the university's books so they can not be thrown away. Most universities have many rooms full of such equipment, unusable but also undiscardable.
These are the controls for the room's environment - light switches, PA system control, on/off switches for fans that I do not believe are there, controls for the air conditioner, and two thermometers. The air conditioner is set to start working at 28 degrees (they have since lowered it to 26) and you can see that it is very close to that already, even though it was before 10 a.m. when I took the picture.
I finished class and had a cup of coffee in the teachers' room and then went back out to the bus stop. I was just in time to see a bus arrive at the stop on the other side of the road - the stop I had used a couple of hours earlier.
After the bus, I took the subway and then walked home from Yaotome station, arriving about 11:30 a.m. Between the station and my apartment I pass the store. It is rather strange. The main store, advertised on the blue sign, sells bottled water of various kinds. The window contains colorful bottles as samples and is quite pretty. The black sign is for a completely different kind of store, however. It sells balls of rice wrapped in paper thin slices of beef. The sign advertises it as a "B Class Gourmet Store". I should add that they only sell takeout.

Jul 26, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 10

The view out the windows of the teachers' room is quite nice. In the foreground is a landscaped garden with pine trees that are trimmed twice a year. The tower in the center is actually the steeple on the chapel and in front of it is a pool with carp. The pool is shaped like a piano so it is naturally called the piano pool. It was raining this day but on a sunny day beyond the buildings you can see the mountains.Turning away from the windows, I check the mail box to see if by any chance there is mail for me. About the only thing I ever get here are publisher's catalogs.
The cardboard box under the mail boxes has a handwritten sign on it asking teachers to put any mail they do not want into the box and the administrative staff will take care of disposing of it. This is where the infrequent mail that I get here usually ends up.
This semester I almost always have a chat with Elaine Gilmore, a Scottish teacher who was full time but is returning to Scotland during the summer break. She remained on, teaching part time to fill in for a teacher who is on sabbatical but who will return for the semester starting in September. I have known Elaine for many years and it is always pleasant to chat with her.

Jul 25, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 09

After I dropped my books and computer in the teachers' room, I went back out into the hall to take a couple of more pictures. The first is a notice board for the students and, beside it on the left, a place for the school to leave papers for the students. Each student in the English Dept has a slot that they are supposed to check daily.
The next picture is a typical classroom. Most of the rooms are like this and I have one class a week in this room. For my listening and speaking classes with only 20 students, I found a small room in the corner of the building on a little used hallway and specifically request it. The rooms like those in this picture have seats for about 80 students and the wooden desks are so close together that it is extremely difficult for the teacher to move around the room. Of course, it is assumed that the teacher would never think of leaving the platform that is under the green board at the front.
After taking the two pictures I returned to the teachers' room and got a cup of iced coffee. This machine is set so that all the drinks are free. If it were on the street, each drink would be at least 150 yen. Actually there are two teachers' rooms. There is another just down the hall that is a smoking room, and that room has another machine almost like this one. I checked them both out after this one was up graded last year and found that the one in the no smoking room has a wider variety of drinks.

The coffee is brewed separately for each cup, so while that was happening I went over and put my stamp in the book. Miyagi Gakuin University's logbook shows a single pay period (about a month) for each teacher - dates along the top and names at the left. The teacher can use a formal hanko, an informal stamp like I use, or just sign or initial with a pen.

Jul 24, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 08

This is the main hall in the building. On the left is a student lounge area with a small store that sells food at the far end. On the wall on the right are oil paintings. Some are quite nice and some were probably put up because of connections to the person who painted them. The elevator is in another hall that goes off to the right.This is the teachers room on the 5th floor. Actually I do not work for this department but one of my oldest and best friends is in the department, so I have a mailbox and a storage area here. In my department there are no facilities for leaving anything at school.
This is the hallway on the 4th floor and the rooms are all classrooms.
This is the part time teacher's room, where we sign in. It is one of the few air conditioned rooms, so I spend a lot of time here.

Jul 23, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 07

The road from the front gate to the first university buildings is quite pleasant - a tree-lined avenue in essence. The writing in the road says "STOP", by the way. The building that you can see contains classrooms and faculty offices, as well as the room for part-time teachers.When you arrive at the T-intersection in front of the classroom building, you find on your right a two story building that contains the administrative offices. The buildings are almost all red brick, which is unusual in this land of earthquakes. However, the bricks are not load bearing and last year they reinforced all of the buildings so they can now stand a really large quake.

The entrance to the classroom building is at the rear and to reach it there is an arcade like passageway that is lined with notice boards for the students.
At the end there is a roofed passage to the next building. The buildings are also connected above ground with passages between the third and fourth floors of the buildings - the first five floors and the second six.

Jul 22, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 06

As soon as you get off the bus, there is an entrance to an underground passage. There are no crosswalks in either direction for at least half a kilometer, so it is the only way to get to the campus, which is on the other side, the north side, of the road.The passage is quite wide and well lit, which is good since it is mainly women and girls who use it. One interesting thing about this passage is that one of the university cleaners sweeps, mops, and dusts everyday, so it is very clean. I started to take a picture of him but he gave me a real dirty look so I stopped.
The stairs lead up to the street level, right in front of the campus.
This is the entrance to the campus. The small building on the left, houses the guard force and the large building behind it is the gym, which is shared by the junior high school, the high school and the university. They are all women only and the campus has a history of about 100 years, which is old for a Japanese school. I should add that it is nominally a Christian school, but the only one who is required to be a Christian is the president. The faculty, students, and administrators have no religious requirement. They do have a Christian service in the chapel every day at noon, but the students are not required to go. You might have wondered about the red boxes on the right. Those are mailboxes.

Jul 21, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 05

As I was waiting for my bus, I realized that the Sendai buses might be different from the buses where you are. First of all, we have two bus companies. One is run by Sendai city and the other by Miyagi prefecture. The fares are the same and you can use the same prepaid cards on both, plus the subway. Basically the city buses are green with some blue decoration and the prefectural buses are white with some red decoration. The bus in the picture is a city bus but it is unusual because it runs on natural gas, rather than the normal diesel engine. The large bump on the roof is the container for the gas.
In order to increase revenue, some buses have been painted as billboards. It is a little confusing because they do not look like a bus, at least not the buses that we are used to. The bus in the next picture is decorated with cartoon characters. I do not remember what they were advertising but whatever it was, it was aimed at kids.
One nice thing about the Sendai transportation system - it is now smoke free. The white sign with the two red characters reads from top to bottom "prohibit smoking", so it means NO SMOKING.
My bus finally arrived, actually it was right on time, I was early. When you get on the bus at the door in the middle, you either take a ticket from the dispenser on the left or you insert your prepaid card into the machine on the right.
There were not too many riders because it was early in the morning (the first bus going to Miyagi Gakuin University, actually) and there were only a few students, who were mostly at the back of the bus. Over the windshield there is an electronic sign that shows the fares based on the stop at which you got on and below that is a fare box and a prepaid card reader. The fare box looks just like what I remember in Brockton, MA, 60 years ago. The yellow upright posts are a new addition, less than a year old. The posts used to be all silver, but someone with bad eyes complained that they were hard to see, so both bus companies changed them to yellow. They either added a plastic sleeve or painted them.

Jul 20, 2010

Thursday mornings at Miyagi Gakuin University 04

Passing the ticket machines, you exit the subway station through the tunnel on the right. The door in the middle is an elevator that takes you to the street level. There is also a flight of stairs, just out of the picture on the left.I stopped in the toilet on my way to the bus terminal and realized that some of you will not have seen a traditional Japanese toilet. When I first came here, this is all there was, but now almost all (99% at least) new toilets are western style.
After climbing a flight of stairs, I entered the waiting area of the bus depot. Although it was not crowded when I arrived, an hour or two earlier and the entire place would have been full of students, junior high, senior high, college, and a few grade schoolers. The front of the station is to the left.
I walked over to the front of the depot and took this picture. The trees are in the park that Ian and I walk in and the subway station is beneath the road. Recently Sendai increased the maximum number of taxis and now there are too many. Every station has a line of them waiting for customers. It is convenient but the drivers and companies have found their income falling. To add to the problems, one company has found a way around the standard pricing and offers rides that are almost 50% below the regular companies.