“Hello, my name is Ikemen.”

I’m sorry if you were expecting this to be about hotties, but unless you’re a pedophile, you’re out of luck! No, I thought I’d take some time to write what is essentially all the tweets I would tweet if I didn’t care about being super annoying. Also, these would never meet Twitter’s character limit.

1. Today I ate lunch with 5th graders at probably my favorite elementary. This particular class’s teacher refers to almost all of the male students as “crazy boy” at some point, because they say the most ridiculous things. They’re really sassy too, but I kinda like that. Anyway, after the kids finished eating, I asked their names because I’m a horrible person and forget almost all of them. One of the “crazy boys” from another lunch group came over and said something dumb, so I asked what his name was in English. “僕?ええと。。。My name is Marumaru* Ikemen.”

Really? For those of you wondering, “イケメン” or ikemen, essentially means a attractive guy. Apparently, it also means someone who is cool (attractive inside as well), but every time I hear ikemen, I think of Hana Kimi (花ざかりの君たちへ), and that manga/show is definitely about hot guys.

To continue with the story, Marumaru Ikemen also gestured toward his friend across the room and said, “Naninani* Ikemen.” Then he asked me if I thought they were ikemen. They’re 11. But yea, one day, I’m sure all the girls will love you.

From here on out, they will be the Ikemen Brothers, because I’m sure I’ll have more to say about them.

2. After all this talk of ikemen, of course they asked me the ALT’s favorite question: “彼氏がいるの?/Do you have a boyfriend?” I always start with, “It’s a secret!”, but they always think of another way to ask like, “Do you have a lover?” “Is there anyone you like?” So sometimes I’ll say something like “it doesn’t concern you/it doesn’t matter” or whatever else other teachers have told me works, but I’ve found the best way to escape this is to ask them the same question. Then they all tell each other’s secrets, and I don’t have to think about how lonely I am.

Here’s a random photo to break up the text!

3. First graders like it when you read their names. I like it too, because they don’t know kanji yet so it’s easy for me plus I look cool. However, today I fumbled. One kid’s name is さとうそうた/Satou Souta. What is that? Difficult to say, that’s what.

4. I don’t like that Japan uses a different romanization system than America/the west. I was reading little notes the kids wrote in romaji (the use of Latin letters for Japanese), and I was like, “What is yorosiku? Isn’t it yoroSHIku?” Obviously I looked it up, and I suppose it makes sense for use only in Japan, but it hurts my English brain, and I feel a strong urge to hold private romaji lessons after school for them.

5. On to junior high moments. These kids are finally opening up to me, and my refusal to speak to them in Japanese has paid off. A lot of them will try to talk to me in English now, and even though they always end up speaking Japanese, I’m really proud of them for trying.

A few days ago, some of the 3rd grade boys were hanging out in a hallway during their after-lunch break. This hallway happened to be on my way to the bathroom, and when I passed, they all said “Hello!” like they do. Usually that’s it, but one kid asked me a question! This is how it went:

  • “Do you like SMAP?”
  • “No, not really. Do You?”
  • “Uh, no.”

So it was clearly a pointless conversation, which somehow makes it even better.

The strictness of Japanese junior high.

6. Some kids really like children’s books. And stickers. And games. Watching 15-year-old kids, some of which are very tall and mature-looking, run around and scream that they need a witch card so they can go trick-or-treating for a Winnie the Pooh sticker is definitely something I won’t soon forget.

7. I’m starting to really like the 3rd grade boys. The other day we had these weird, mushy sweet potato fries that we were expected to eat with a spoon. So of course, I dropped one. I guess I made a disappointed sound, because one of the boys got up, found a tissue, removed the sweet potato particle from my tray, and threw it away.

After lunch, the kids move put their chairs on their desks to prepare for cleaning time. The day after the potato incident, I tried to help the kids move their desks and chairs, but the boys I was sitting with refused to let me do that. They also always pull out my chair for me when I’m given a place to sit. I think in America, it’s normal for teachers to take care of the kids, clean up after them, and all that. Here the students seem a lot more helpful and independent at school. And nice. God, they’re nice.

WHOA, that was long. Oh, but I forgot one.

8. I never particularly wanted kids before I came to Japan, but that has changed. These kids are so awesome. And adorable. And fun. Maybe some American kids are like that, but I haven’t met many. Kids here are just different, and I really enjoy the time I spend with them.

I originally intended for this blog to be about Japan and culture and weird things that happen to me, but I always want to write about my students and school. I should write about Halloween next…

*Names changed to protect the children, not that they will ever read this. I just realized I left Satou Souta, but it wouldn’t be the same if I changed that…

Also, there are exceptions to a lot of the things I wrote, but aren’t there always?

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