Friday, September 30, 2011

Jonas in September

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

Hello, Jonas here.
First of all, sorry for the delay of my first blog post!

It has been almost a month since I came to Saitama now, and it's been really busy ever since I arrived. Not having trained karate for around 14 years, you can pretty much say I am a total beginner. Right now I have just barely memorized Pinan Nidan and Shodan. So trying to catch up with all the black belts in the dojo is quite tough.

On top of that teaching English to small kids in Japan for the first time in my life is not the easiest task I have undertaken I must say. Definitely a learning experience!

Just the other week Shiramizu dojo had a visit from Paul who lives in Thailand. It was a lot of fun to meet him, and learn about what living in Thailand is like. A great guy!

Before leaving for Thailand Arakawa Sensei took Paul to Nikko, and I was lucky enough to be able to go with them.
Nikko is a really beautiful place and I hope I can go there again sometime.

Unfortunately we were not very lucky with the weather there though. It was pouring down to say the least! But in my opinion this actually added to the atmosphere of the place. Arakawa Sensei said that normally Nikko is crowded with tourists, but because of the weather, we were pretty much alone there, which was very cool.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interview with Jonas!

Richard here,

Here's a short interview with the current intern, Jonas.

Where are you from exactly?

I'm from a small town called Krylbo in Dalarna county of Sweden. Dalarna is a quiet place with lots of forests and lakes, and with very few big cities.

When and how did you first get interested in Japan?
I got interested in Japan when I was still very young, maybe around 6 or 7 years old? I remember seeing stuff like Starzinger and Tottoro on kids TV in Sweden. Even though the dialogue was dubbed to Swedish, the theme songs were still kept in original Japanese, and I found the sound of the language very beautiful. Some time later I saw The Karate Kid and decided that I wanted to start learning karate. Also I must admit that Nintendo was also a big influence, as 10-something years old I remember thinking that working at Nintendo in Japan must be like the best job ever.

What was your first impression of Japan?

Before coming here I always thought of Japan as a very spiritual and mystical country.

When did you first come to Japan?

I think it was around 2009.

So after your first visit, how has your impression of Japan changed?

It's more noisy and busy than I expected. (both in bad and good ways). Also, after staying here for some time now, things that I used to think of as very strange and foreign has become normal to me and this has made me realize that wherever you go in the world people are still people. "Sekai wa hitotsu"

How many times have you been to Japan now? What have you done each time?

Counting this time, I've been here 4 times already! The first time I came to travel, I bought a 2 week JR Rail Pass and visited lots of different parts of Japan. Second time I stayed at a guesthouse in Ikebukuro and studied Japanese. Third time I went to Sapporo Tokai University as an exchange student through my university in Sweden. And now I'm in Saitama as a karate intern!

After you graduate from your university, what do you hope to do?

I want to live and work in Japan. If possible I hope to get a job working with music, since it is my biggest interest.

How is learning karate again?
It's hard! My body aches and my head hurts from trying to remember everything. But it is really interesting to see how karate is taught in its motherland.

Is there anything similar or different to how you did karate before?

Yes, when I was young I practiced Shotokan karate and I can definitely notice some stylistic differences. Also in Japanese there seems to be more weight on small details when training than I remember in Sweden.

While being an intern, do you have any challenges for yourself?

I was told that if I do my best I might be able to get a to the level of green belt. That would be really sweet!

Every intern so far has tried to add something new or improve on something for the internship position? Do you have anything you would like to do to enhance it?
Hard to say now, since it's only been 2 weeks since I arrived here... but I will do my best!

How are the people at Shiramizu?

Very friendly and helping. I was quiet nervous when I first came here, but as soon as I had met everybody I felt like I was in a very good community.

Any advice you have for other people in the future planning to apply for the internship or just come to Japan on their own?
Be prepared for cultural differences and be open to changes and I think you will have a great time.


Monday, September 5, 2011

New Intern! Welcome Jonas!

From today Shiramizu warmly welcomes Jonas Holm as our 10th Shiramizu Karate Intern to date! Jonas is from Sweden and he is a Japanese studies specialist now on his 4th long-term visit to Japan.

He initially become interested in Nippon when he began learning Shotokan karate as an elementary student and since then, his Japanophile passion as grown to the point he has now passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 2, which is quite an achievement. Probably his Japanese ability can surpass some of the high school and university students in the club!

Jonas speaks fluent, native level English, and he has worked with children leading language and music classes as he is also a musician who plays the guitar. I'm sure the English classes will look forward to having some guitar fun.

Later on this week we will interview Jonas to find out what makes him tick, and if he is a lover or a hater of umeboshi and natto.

Jonas will be completing the remaining months on the 2011-2012 internship position that runs until March 2012.

We will be accepting applications for the next internship position 2012 to 2013 from next month.

Every time each intern comes to Shiramizu, a new atmosphere is always created. Since Peter is still kicking around here too, and he's a silky piano playing jazz singer in his spare time, perhaps the two will form a band specifically for Shiramizu party performances...


Intern termination and new hire

The intern hired for this year, Erica Jones, had her internship contract terminated completely on September 2.

Due to the requirement to find a new intern immediately since the various English classes are starting up again after the summer break, we were successful to find a suitable candidate to start from today who has the right qualifications and karate experience, plus who is already in Japan.

For any unresolved issues related to the previous intern, please contact the Shiramizu office manager directly.

The new intern will complete the remaining six months of this year's contract ending in March 2012.

The application and selection period for next year's intern (2012-2013) will begin in October. For those interested, please check this internship blog then. Thank you.