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Tuesday, April 22, 2003


Books for Burma, anime tours and abusive teachers

Books for Burma

John Bayles of Alishan Pty. Ltd in Saitama ( www.alishan-organiccenter.com ) and Julian Bamford in Kanagawa, both have the same information for Bill of Yokohama (Lifelines; March 25) who was wondering what to do with used English textbooks.

Books for Burma is an appeal being made by the teachers of Myanmar. Organizer Alan McKenzie, who is also JALT National Director of Programmes and lives in Kawasaki, says the education system in Burma has been eroded over the past 20 years to the point where it is almost nonfunctioning. Resources are near nonexistent and English teachers in particular have almost no knowledge of modern texts and methods and very little access to printed texts of any kind.

"This year, as part of the Volunteer Education Network's (VEN) activities, I'm seeking the help of teachers in Japan to provide English language texts, teacher resources and reading material for Burmese teachers and students."

To date Alan has collected some 3,000 titles, and the Yangon College of Education in Myanmar is ready to distribute them. The problem right now is shipping costs. "BB is a shoestring grassroots operation, so I'm looking for sponsorship," says Alan. "Can any organization or company help?"

Contact Alan on (044) 949 6690 or e-mail asm@typhoon.co.jp

Kutani ware

Martin Swist does not have specific leads in Japan for Diane Pitt, who was seeking replacement Kutani design Noritake china (Lifelines; March 25). But she can register with the company e-dish ( and let them know what pattern(s) she is looking for.

"We are registered for Kutani crane and do hear from them occasionally," Martin says. "In the meantime, I would appreciate hearing about any interesting leads in the Tokyo area. My wife and I are looking for Kutani crane soup bowls."

On the same topic, Nancy Kroonenberg suggests a source in the U.K.: www.replacements.com/webquote/WW_KUC.htm

Anime tours

After visiting his wife's family in Hakodate, Andrew Jacobson is hoping to take a few days off in the Tokyo area in early August.

"My daughter is a devoted fan of Japanese anime in general, and YuGi-Oh! in particular. Are there any anime production houses open for tours?"

Not exactly. Being Japan, it has gone one better, with the Mitakano Mori Ghibli Ghibli Museum at 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013.

This museum, close-by Inokashira Park, is dedicated to the work of Hayao Miyazaki, whose full-length anime, "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away) recently won an Oscar in Hollywood. Visitors can see all the production processes, and more. Checkout the Web site on www.ghiblimuseum.jp/welcome.html

Naturally enough -- and especially since the Academy Awards -- the museum is very popular, so reservations are essential. Tickets up to three months ahead are on sale from the first of every month.

Japan Travel Bureau organizes tours to this museum from abroad. (Just search JTB, click "anime fairs" and take it from there.) Also think about a four-day tour for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government-organized Tokyo International Anime Fair, usually held in March. For information on this, check out: www.taf.metro.tokyo.jp/index.html

If you need help in reserving tickets, ask Tokyo's Tourist Information Center on (03) 3201 3331. Have a great time.

Abusive teacher

A reader in Kyushu and his Japanese wife (name and address withheld) have a 6-year-old daughter. Last year she became very moody and didn't want to go to kindergarten. She said her teacher had "bad (angry) days" when she would be verbally abused.

"We tried to pursue the matter but met a blank wall of silence and denial," writes her father. "We were told privately that other parents had complained of similar behavior by this teacher. Similarly they got nowhere."

The most worrying factor was that there seemed to be no established procedure to deal with complaints, and that the children's welfare was of such little concern to the very authorities responsible for their care.

"I think all parents of children (be they dual nationality and bilingual or not) should be able to demand and expect answers, and that there are clearly written rules of procedure in cases of allegations of misconduct by staff."

Most of all the reader and his wife want to find out the truth of the matter. "The way the Welfare Department treated us has left a very bitter taste in our mouths."

This is a classic case of a system closing ranks to protects its own. It happens everywhere, unfortunately. If other readers have similar experiences, we would like to hear from you.

This family needs to know it is not alone.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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