Every year, the JET program organises a nation wide contest to the thousands of assistant language teachers in Japan. There are 24 selected winners which have the privilege of having their pictures in the year JET calendar. I was lucky to have been selected two years in a row; in 2009 for the desktop calendar and in 2010 for the wall calendar. Here are some clichés that were submitted including the two that were selected.
Selected for the desktop calendar of 2009
"Pedaling into the Vanishing Point"
Selected for the 2010 wall calendar.
This small 14 sq.km. island in the Seto inland sea off the coast of Kagawa prefecture is an artist/architect paradise where the Benesse Museum, the Chuuchi Museum and the few built - and sometimes weird - galleries make your jaw drop. The island is bicycle friendly, doable in a day and makes for the perfect weekend get-away. Gorgeous paths, magnificent views and very seductive island.
Shanghai: The City
After the Shanghai World Expo continuous excitement, to visit this enormous city was a challenge. I went to tranquil environments and small neighbourhoods where my 'coup de coeur' came about: Tianzifang. This small quarter is (a) sinusoidal street(s) with charming store fronts, warm restaurants and chill out ambiance. Overall, the development of architecture is extreme in Shanghai so there is something for everybody.
Shanghai: World Expo 2010
World expo 2010, under the theme "Better city, better life" covered more than 5 sq.km. and was represented by more than 200 countries. According to Wikipedia, more than 73 million visitors passed through during the 6 month span and set a record attendance for a single day: 1.03 million people! A world expo is a trip around the world in itself. Like being in a museum 8 hours a day for three non-stop days, my senses were stimulated by hours of continuous impetus from which I needed a vacation afterwards! My favourite pavilion was probably England's "Hairy ball".
England Pavilion: Inside
England Pavilion: Inside close-up
Stores & Restaurants building
This city, with its markets, traditions and long history was an eye-opener for me. From the high school girls who could speak English - I was teaching at that level in Japan at that time and Japanese kids were (are) no where near the same level - to people drinking snake bile & blood, from helpful people in the street to the graphic design store called Betelnut I discovered along my long walks, Taipei was very charming. It's only a pity that I didn't go to the Taipei National Museum because it holds more that 4000 oracle bones on which the first Chinese characters were written during the Shang Dynasty more than 3000 years ago. My interest in kanji hadn't reached that level of interest at the time due to the fact that I'd only been in Japan for 4 months.