Rachel in Tokyo

This is a blog about an American law school student studying in Tokyo for the semester.

Friday, February 24, 2006


When I first got here, I knew I needed to work. I applied for about 20 different internships here at school (which was approximately 90% of all of the available paid internships - basically every one that did not require Japanese language proficiency). Realizing that my phone was not ringing off of the hook with offers for paid legal work, I started looking for work online teaching English. I applied to all of the websites I could here in Tokyo after completing a Google search for english-teaching positions in Tokyo. Within a few days a family in Kameido emailed me expressing their interest in me tutoring them twice a week. Kameido is about 45 minutes away from where I live in Tokyo. It is considered a suburb of Tokyo, but is just on the outskirts of the main metro map. It is a quaint little town with cobble-stone streets. I enjoy my time in Kameido with this family. Actually, I am tutoring 1 "extended" family. 2 Japanese women who married 2 Pakistani brothers. I tutor a mother and her daughter on Tuesdays, and then on Fridays, her sister-in-law comes over with her son and daughter as well. At the request of the family, I will show pictures, but am associating "American-English" names to the children, rather than their true Japanese names.

Here is Alisha. She is, of course, half Japanese and half Pakistani. As you can see, it's a great combination! She is as bright as she is beautiful. She's quite the bundle of energy, too! She is 5 years old, and has will be enrolling in school for the first time this year. Already, she knows the Japanese and English Alphabets, can count, read (at what we consider a first-grade level), and write. She will be enrolled at an International School, and will be educated in English. This will enevitably teach her both English and Japanese skills from a native beginning.

Alisha likes to take funny pictures of me with my camera phone. She's quite good at it! I've taught her many funny faces. I'm sure her mother is very proud that she has learned these funny faces from me. She probably wants to ring my neck.

Here is Nick and Amy. Alisha's two cousins. They, too are half Japanese and half Pakistani. I highly recommend this combination for any of you who are interested. Not only are the children highly intelligent, but they are real lookers. Nick, actually is teaching me KANJI. Once we finish our lessons on Friday nights, Nick and I sit down to practice Kanji. He shows me how to draw the Kanji, while I show him how to write the word in English. Invariably, he gets the English word right, while I suffer through the Kanji that always ends up incredibly wrong. This stuff is hard!!!

Alisha likes to clown around, too. Here she's "lovin it" with the Mcdonald's french fries. Kids love Mcdonalds here in Tokyo, too. There are certain things that remain unchanged even across international borders.

Here is mother and daughter. On Tuesday nights, I split my session between Alisha and her mother. When I first started, her mother seemed quite hesitant to speak English. But now, I have noticed an incredible improvement. We carry on regular conversations. I have been teaching her difficult concepts in American culture, and she has been explaining religious, historical and cultural aspects of Japanese, Chinese and even Indian culture.

She is also very kind to me every Tuesday and Friday nights. For after the lesson, she feeds me dinner. She is quite the cook and very generous, too. For example, this past Tuesday, we had crabs! They were delicious! The Japanese eat crabs differently than we do in the states. They use chopstix to help get the meat out, and scissors to cut the shell. A very typical japanese cuisine is shabu (or shobu?), where there is a big pot of flavored water boiling in the middle of the table, and lots of goodies inside. Almost like a fondue-concept, only the food is better for you. They put cabbage, oysters, and anything else they can find in the fridge. It's very good, actually.

Tutoring this family in Kameido is one of the main highlights of my trip here in Tokyo. I am fortunate to have this opportunity to get to know a family so closely. We have exchanged cultural ideas, conversations, experiences and much, much more. I have probably learned more about Japan through them, than through my classes or even exploring the sites.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same here. I Want you to Delete Alisha's picture.

1:41 AM  

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