Hey, guys! Two weeks sure passed by fast. It’s that time of year when work picks up, the weather cools down, and absolutely everyone wants to get together and Do Things. I’ve been going on adventures in my area and struggling with a big Will I or Won’t I question–will I take the JLPT this December?
Want to read something that goes from adorable to tragic to horrifying, then back to unbearably cute in a matter of sentences? ドッグカフェワンノアール by Syo Ishida ( 石田祥) might be for you.
Set in Kyoto, the tale follows the story of a young woman named Rin Morigawa (森川凛), a part-time worker at a Dog Cafe. Rin’s life is pretty typical; she shares an apartment with a roommate to make ends meet and goes to work. Oh, and she can see and talk to ghosts.
More on that later.
One day while going to work, she sees a box with four puppies in it. It’s too late for all but one of them, a little girl with a heart-shaped mark on her forehead. Rin rescues this pup, named Silvie, and from there her adventures begin.
Some of her adventures are run of the mill–friends dealing with dog allergies, people at the cafe hitting on her–but others are much more supernatural. Many of her customers at the Dog Cafe end up bringing in their histories, including ghosts of loved ones. These ghosts, upon realizing Rin can see them, lead her to clues to solve the mysteries behind their own deaths. Some take longer than others. From a young boy who was terrified of being alone, to a kind worker who worried about the cafe he worked in, Rin deals with several situations with the help of Silvie (who can also sense ghosts), Sasao, her boss, and a local policeman named Maki (真木) who tries very hard to help out while not giving away what a huge crush he has on the oblivious Rin.
Rin is a fun character to follow; she’s stubborn once she sets her mind on something (like keeping her new pet dog), and despite being terrified in some cases she pushes through to solve the mysteries she’s dragged into. And she is wonderfully oblivious to people attempting to flirt with her, which makes you cringe and laugh.
This is the first book in a series. Despite some sad themes, there are plenty of charming moments. More importantly, whatever happens in book 1, Silvie the dog is safe. As a dog-lover, I don’t like books or movies that show them getting hurt or killed; I’d like to reassure you that in this book, at least, Silvie always ends up fine.
This book is in all Japanese, but it doesn’t use a lot of technical terms nor are the plots overly complicated, so it’s a great opportunity to practice reading everyday vocabulary. Furigana is not often used, unless it’s to help you with the reading of a character’s name, so make sure you’ve got a dictionary handy if kanji is not your strong suit.
Have you read anything good lately?
I’ve been in the teaching game since 2011. My experience is mainly teaching Japanese students, along with a smattering of Chinese and Korean folks who are based in Japan. Several times now, I’ve come across the belief that “Native English teachers shouldn’t be able to speak the learner’s first language. It’s better that way, because then the learner will be forced to communicate only through the target language.”
Not “teachers shouldn’t speak the learner’s L1.” They “shouldn’t have the ability” to do so.
I find this to be a very strange distinction, because of course the goal is to get the learner to use the target language as much as humanly possible in a given lesson. This means if the learner straight-up asks me, “How do you say 海外 in English?” I answer with, “Can you explain the word to me?” The learner then comes up with something like, “Well, not in Japan. In other countries.” At that point I can say, “Oh! Abroad!” and that’s the end of that. The learner has not only learned the word, they have “earned” it by explaining in the target language what they wanted to say.
And surely, a teacher is capable of doing that regardless of whether they can or cannot speak the student’s L1, aren’t they?
Maybe this is a cultural thing purely rooted in Japan, but let me ask you: have you come across this belief yourself, or do you believe it? What are the benefits on either side?
My trip to Sun Moon Lake took two days in total. While I wish we’d squeezed a third day in as a breather, it was still enough time to take in everything we wanted to: the boat rides, the hikes, the pagodas, the temples, the tea eggs, the sun rise… and then… Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village.