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福岡の英会話スクールACE Englishのスタッフブログ
福岡市天神の英会話スクール「ACE English」スタッフが送る、笑えてときどきためになる(かもしれない)ブログ。
A LACK OF DRAMA
今回はIanのブログです

Whatever one may have thought about Mr. Abe, the assassination of a once democratically elected
leader is a tragedy (not so much in a dictatorship, because there is no other way of removing these
people). Much has been said about the supposed lack of protection around Mr. Abe, but I think this
does credit to Japan. It is good to live in a country in which important people feel safe enough not
to have to surround themselves with a small army of bodyguards.

But I don’t want to talk about the event itself - rather its aftermath: the way in which the whole thing
was handled with dignity and without superfluous drama. Can you imagine if this had happened in the
U.S.? There would have been innumerable conspiracy theories 5 minutes after the shooting (‘It was
the Far Right, the Far Left, Russians, Aliens’…you name it). And Hollywood would be planning a movie,
and perhaps a sequel. But that didn’t happen here, and I don’t think it will.

Actually, the U.K. used to be like Japan. I remember watching footage of the funeral of Winston Churchill
(apparently I was there, but I don’t remember). There was no drama, just hundreds of thousands of
people standing quietly in the freezing cold to pay their respects to a man many believed - rightly or
wrongly - had saved their country. It was dignified. No added drama necessary.

I don’t know exactly when this changed, but it certainly had by the time of Diana’s death. This was
also tragic, as the untimely death of any young person is, but the hullabaloo and overblown emotion
in the wake of it was unbelievable; this for a figure - and I have nothing against Diana - far, far less
historically consequential than Churchill. As someone said, we live in an age in which hype completely
overwhelms reality.

Anyway, I think (hope) I have made my point. I admire the way in which you have handled this tragedy.


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Steps on the Path to Oyagi mastery
いつもどや顔でおやじギャグを披露してくれるIan先生。
今日は名人の域に達するまでの道のりを語ってくれました。

I am frequently asked to explain how I have managed to achieve such mastery of the oyagi
gag. I always give the answer that any true maestro (false modesty is not a virtue) surely
would: you must walk before you can run, Rome was not built in a day…that kind of thing.
Basically, in any field there are always steps on the path to greatness. Let’s have a look at
a few of them.

1. Obvious word play
Me: And how did you come to school today, Sara?
Student: Busu de (some students reply to this question in Japanese).
Me: Really? Happy busu de!!!!

This is a rather crude - in the sense of basic - joke. Admittedly it is a bilingual gag, but still
fairly obvious to anyone with the slightest knack for puns. It has been said that the Beatles,
as their music became more and more sophisticated, rejected the relatively cheesy pop songs
they made at the very beginning of their career. I don’t know about that, but as your oyagi
career progresses I see no reason to feel any embarrassment over cheesy jokes such as this.
After all, we all have to start somewhere.

2. Adding Components.
Some years ago I was driving along a very narrow lane deep in the English
countryside with my Japanese wife, our daughter and my in-laws. Suddenly
we came across a deer blocking the road.

Me: This must be a SHIKA michi!!!!!!!

Obviously this is a play on the Japanese words SHIKA (deer) and CHIKA (short). But it is not
just that. There is an extra element here - the road (michi)- and the fact that chika michi
(short cut) could easily be relevant in this situation. This elevates the gag above the simple
word play with SHIKA and CHIKA. Being able to pull off puns such as this is a sign of growing
oyagi maturity.

3. Perfection
I was sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car, with my wife next to me. There was an enormous
bee buzzing on our windscreen and the side windows were open.

My wife: Close the windows. Abunai!!
(I switched on the windscreen wipers, which killed the bee).
Me: ABU!!! NAI!!!!

This is an oyagi master at the very top of his game. One thinks of Diego Maradona in 1986 World Cup
or the Beatles in 1966. It is an Everest of a pun!! The splitting of the word abunai (dangerous) into
Abu (big bee) and Nai (not, or no) was a stroke of genius because it was true!! The bee was no
more! This gag demonstrates the almost intuitive ability to produce great puns that is the hallmark
of a true oyagi master.

To summarize, the process through these steps is rather like getting better at chess. A relative
beginner may play a brilliant move, followed by some very poor ones. This is because he or she
is not yet aware of how their moves fit together into a deeper, long-term strategy. So it is with
oyagis. We may make a brilliant (for a beginner) gag, but it takes years of practice to come up
with puns of the complexity and subtlety of number 3 here.

Anyway, for those on the path, if there is anything I can do to help just let me know. Oh, and
there is no copyright on the above oyagis, so in the unlikely event that you find yourself in
the same situation, feel free to use them!



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I’M IMPRESSED
2月から、教室のレイアウトが変わりました。
気持ちも新たに、皆さんレッスンにお越しくださいね。

今日は、Ianのブログです

Last night I was watching the Coupe de Monde (The World Cup); not the football competition unfortunately,
but a baking contest. Teams from many countries, including Japan, met in France and vied to become
‘world champion’ bakers.

I am not a professional baker, nor can I tell what something tastes like by looking at it, but I thought the cakes
and bread made by the Japanese team looked absolutely wonderful. Japan did not win - it finished second to
China. However, Japan finished ahead of many countries with long traditions of baking (I am ashamed to say
that the U.K, which has been baking for millennia, didn’t even qualify for the finals).

The point I want to make is one that has often occurred to me here in Japan: the way in which Japan masters
foreign art forms, sometimes actually raises the bar, and often brings a Japanese aesthetic to them. One thinks
of whisky making or French cooking (I believe there are Michelin 3 Star French Restaurants in Tokyo). The
seriousness, dedication and attention to detail given to mastering a craft has always impressed me here in Japan.

Of course very occasionally the opposite does occur and the bar is lowered - sometimes by a very substantial
margin. One thinks of hideous plastic churches and the abysmal JPop, especially the utterly infantile offerings
of so-called ‘idols’ (but perhaps this is because in JPop image is more important than the quality of the music?).
Foreigners have also managed to compete and win in Japanese art forms, such as sumo, karate, judo and Go.

That said, in my opinion, Japan generally does a remarkable job of mastering things from other places, be it
classical music, cake making, whisky making and many others. Indeed wine-making countries may be watching
Japan nervously, although I suppose it will be hard to compete on price with the ‘New World’ producers such
as Chile and Argentina. Japan will have to compete at the high end. Anyway, I’m rambling now. All I wanted to
say is that I’m very impressed.



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ブログランキング参加中 ACEはいったい何位
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にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英会話スクール・教室へ
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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

A Win/Win Situation
お正月気分も完全に吹き飛びましたね
今日は、IanのEnglishブログをお楽しみください。

Familiarity breeds contempt. In English this means that when we get used to something or someone,
however good it/he/she may be, we take it for granted; we stop appreciating that object, situation
or person. I don’t know whether there is a similar expression in Japanese. I’m sure there must be,
as this unfortunate trait is, I believe, common to nearly all of us.

For me, this is very much the case with Japan. As we all know, there really are some very good things
about this place (safety, good public services eating good food cheaply), and I am guilty of having become
complacent about them. I take them for granted. I’m aware of doing it, but still do it!

The remedy for this in the past has been regular trips out of Japan, mainly to Australia and the U.K.
The U.K. is especially remedial. Public services (indeed service in general) are not great. It is, for example,
almost impossible to find a public toilet - at least not one that hasn’t been vandalized. It’s also impossible
to find a reasonably priced restaurant that serves good, nutritious food anywhere in the whole country!
I don’t think this combination (reasonable price/nutritious/ tasty) exists! As for safety, let’s just say that
I am more careful when walking around in London (my hometown) than I am in Fukuoka.

Of course I am not saying that there are no benefits to these foreign trips other than restoring my
appreciation for Japan and seeing my family and homeland. It doesn’t work one way. For instance, in
Australia I can walk on pristine beaches that are not covered in garbage, and enjoy beautiful sunsets
without a forest of ugly wires and pylons blocking my view. In the U.K. I don’t have to travel 400 km
to see something old, as one does if you live in Fukuoka. Just 400 meters.

Anyway, like all of us, I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over so I can travel. I can see friends, family
and homeland again, and return with renewed appreciation for the many good things about this country.
It’s a win/win situation!



ACE English はこちら
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ブログランキング参加中 ACEはいったい何位
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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

REFLECTIONS ON SELFISHNESS
早いもので令和3年も残り1ヶ月を切りました。
今年最後のIanブログ、どうぞお楽しみください


Before coming here I read a lot about Japan, especially about Japanese views on ‘westerners’
(a vague term, I know, but I think we both understand what I mean). One recurring theme is
that we are selfish, at least compared to Japanese people. As I said, I hadn’t been here
before, so I wasn’t quite sure what form our selfishness, or your unselfishness takes.

Having now lived here for 21 years, I have had a lot of time to reflect on this question, and
on the surface there does indeed seem to be some truth in this judgement. Company workers
stay behind to help co-workers who have not finished their work yet; the same workers will
not take holiday they are entitled to because they do not want to inconvenience their
colleagues. All very different from the ‘It’s 5 o’clock, I’m going home’ and ‘It’s my holiday and
I have a right to it’ attitude where I come from. In situations like this, and many others,
Japanese people really do appear unselfish, or at least less selfish than people back home.

But as I said…on the surface. The key word here from a western perspective is altruism. I
have on occasion asked students to look up the kanji equivalent of this, and each time they
looked puzzled, which is very interesting. Basically, this concept is more concerned with why
an action is selfish or unselfish. For example, from a western point of view, staying behind to
help a co-worker is not really so unselfish if you do it because social pressure (Japan is a
group culture) forces you to do so. This, for us westerners, is just a kind of coercion. You are
not doing something because you really want to, but because of fear of what others may
think. This invalidates the ‘unselfishness’ to some degree. I’m not saying this perspective on
selfishness and unselfishness is the right way - absolutely not!! However, it is another way
of looking at this issue that many here have not considered.

Also, while it is definitely no bad thing to consider the reaction of others to one’s actions,
Japan’s group culture creates a kind of self-obsession (‘what are they thinking about me?).
The truth is that other people are probably not thinking about me at all. Why? Because they
have their own lives, their own problems, families and so on. As someone very wisely said (I
don’t know who): You wouldn’t worry what people thought about you, if you knew how seldom
they did!


To conclude these observations on selfishness and unselfishness, I should say that I
probably prefer the Japanese way, even if the right things are sometimes done for the wrong
reasons. That said, coming from a country that gave the world the Welfare State and
socialized medicine
, I don’t think we are as selfish as you may think we are.



ACE English はこちら
ご質問・お問い合わせはメールにて大絶賛受付中info@aceenglish1995.com

ブログランキング参加中 ACEはいったい何位
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にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英会話スクール・教室へ
Thanks a lot for your kind support







テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育



プロフィール

ACE English

Author:ACE English
福岡市天神地区の英会話
スクール・ACE English。
たくさんの生徒さんに
支えられて、おかげさまで
今年26歳になりました。

「HPだけじゃ伝えきれない
ACEのウラの顔をタレ込みたい!」
というスタッフの願望から、
スタートしたこのブログ。

日本一おもしろい(?)
スクールブログを目指しています。



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