Vocabulary

Here’s a list of the Japanese, JET particular, and geek words that I use throughout this blog.  This is a work in progress.

ALT Assistant Language Teacher

chourei 朝礼 Sometimes referred to in English as “morning meeting”, or the less alliterative “morning assembly.”  Every morning, the kyoutou-sensei heads a meeting in the teachers’ room to tell all the teachers and staff what’s up for the day, such as special assemblies, schedule changes, or complaints from the neighborhood people about students riding their bikes side by side in the street (I kid you not).  At the beginning, everyone stands up, says “ohayou gozaimasu” and bows to the dudes at the head of the room (at my school, these dudes include the kyoutou-sensei and the kouchou-sensei). At the end, everyone stands, bows again, and says “onegai shimasu.”

Contracting Organization The body that is the JET’s employer. A JET program participant is not an employee of JET; JET is sort of like a middleman that helps place people in schools.  In my case, my contracting organization is the Board of Education of Fukuoka Prefecture.

daikyuu 代休 A day-off given in exchange for having to work on a Saturday or Sunday.

enkai 宴会 A banquet or dinner party, usually held after important events such as taiikusai and graduation. After the enkai there’s usually a nijikai (二次会), or after party.  There can be sanjikai (三次会) as well, though I don’t know how often that happens.  Teachers partying on into the night usually stay at hotels because by the time they’re done getting hammered enjoying the company the trains aren’t running anymore.

first years (ichinensei 一年生) The “first years” are the students who are in their first year at a particular institution.  Since I work in a high school, when I say “first years” I’m talking about the equivalent of American high school sophomores (since Japanese school is divided as: elementary = 6 years, J.H.S. = 3, and H.S. = 3).  I’ve considered just writing “sophomores” for the sake of ease, but, the mentality of these students, even though they are the same age as sophomores, is that of “freshmen,” in other words, of newbies, since they are the fresh blood in the school. By extension, juniors are “second years” (二年生) and seniors are “third years” (三年生).

GACKT Formerly known as Gackt.  A multi-instrumentalist, singer, model, sometimes advice columnist, Gundam fanboy, and the basis and voice actor of Genesis Rhapsodos, to name a few things.  Makes a pretty good cross-dresser, too.

Geeking out Experiencing extreme joy from one’s nerdy hobbies, or pursuing activities which lead to this.

hiragana ひらがな The “cursive” script of Japanese.  If you want to write “hiragana” in kanji (@_@) it’s 平仮名.

inkan 印鑑 One’s personal seal, usually with one’s last name, used instead of signatures on official documents.  Also called hanko.  It seems many ALTs have their first name written in katakana on their inkan, though some do get either kanji used phonetically to sort of make their name, or, as in my case (where my name conveniently becomes an actual Japanese name) an actual name in kanji.  Mine is still a bit strange, because “Eri” is a first name, not a last name.

JET Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.  Also used to refer to a participant in this program.  So, I’m a JET.

jikai 次回 “Next time.”  You’ll see or hear this at the end of TV dramas/anime when they show a preview of the next episode.  I use it to give a teaser about the next post.

JTE Japanese Teacher of English.  In other words, a Japanese national who teaches English.  Not to be confused with JET.

juutaku 住宅 Housing, more specifically, it can mean government housing.  I live in a kyoushokuin juutaku (教職員住宅), which is government housing specifically for school faculty and staff.  I’ve been told that not all prefectures allow the JETs to live in the teachers’ apartments.

kanji 漢字 One of the 3 scripts used to write Japanese, these are Chinese characters.

katakana カタカナ One of the 3 scripts used to write Japanese.  Usually used to emphasize words and write foreign words/names.

kouchou-sensei 校長先生 school principal

kyoutou-sensei 教頭先生 vice principal

My kids This means “my students.” I don’t have any offspring.  It doesn’t seem to be as common in JET as in, say, City Year, to refer to one’s students as “my kids,” but, well, I do, so there!

nenkyuu (年休) Paid vacation days.  How many you get varies by contracting organization.  I get 20 per year.  You can use nenkyuu by the day, half day, or hour.

Sephiroth When I use it, I’m talking about the antagonist of Final Fantasy VII, not the emanations of God the Kabalah talks about. I put my Play Arts Vol. 2 Sephiroth figure in a lot of my photos just for fun.  And yes, that figure was one of the few things I brought with me in my limited luggage.  He’s like…my security blankie.  Don’t laugh, you know you have one, too! ^o^

shokuinshitsu 職員室 teachers’ room Since teachers don’t have their own classrooms (that is, a room with a desk used solely by them where they can perpetually leave their stuff; the students stay in the same room and the teachers of the different subjects go to the homeroom’s classroom), schools in Japan all have a teachers’ room, or shokuin shitsu.  It’s basically a large room with a bunch of rows of desks.  The students can usually go into the teacher’s room whenever they want, just that they have to state their business from the doorway before entering.

orz A person bowing with head to the floor, as if in admiration. It can also be used sarcastically. (The “o” is the head, the “r” is the arms, and the “z” is the legs.)

PCFC Pretty Clear File Collection.  Rather than two-pocket folders, “clear files” are much more common in Japan.  It serves the purpose of a folder (holding your papers), but it’s two pieces of plastic together, closed on two sides.  You can get plain clear files for cheap, or buy more expensive ones with various designs, stock photos, movie stars, anime characters, etc.  I’ve taken up collecting interesting clear files. Yeah, yeah, I know…

prefecture A division, sort of like states in the U.S.

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