What is Canadian food?

スミス英会話 Canadian Food 1What is Canadian food? A commonly asked question, yet the answer is anything but simple. The easiest and most obvious answer is “anything maple, such as maple syrup, maple cookies, maple sugar” but this is not what Canadians eat, this is what is sold in souvenir shops and at airports. This is the equivalent of saying that Japanese food is “Tokyo Banana” or that Belgian cuisine is chocolate. Try again. The USA is often called a “melting pot society”, while Canada is often referred to as a multicultural land. As such, Canadian cuisine can easily be described as multicultural so that all culture’s foods become Canadian foods. Does this mean that sushi is Canadian food? How about sweet & sour pork? Pizza and pasta? This doesn’t quite ring true, since sushi is definitely Japanese, sweet & sour pork from China, and pizza and pasta are Italian. But there is Canadian sushi, Canadian sweet & sour pork and so on.  There are also ingredients which are truly Canadian, such as buffalo meat, sockeye salmon and of course maple syrup.

Let’s step back and take a look at the history of Canada. Canada was part of Read More »

Chatting with a Kawanishi Local about My Kawanishi English Conversation School, Quebec, Canada and Céline Dion

Last month in Kawanishi, I had a chat in Japanese with a local of about 70 years of age. I told him I was teaching English conversation in Kawanishi at Smith’s School of English Kawanshi, just across the street from Hankyu Kawanishi-Noseguchi Station. He asked me where I was from. I said I was from Quebec, Canada. “Isn’t that where the singer of “Titanic” comes from?”, he asked. “Yes, that’s where Céline Dion is from”, I replied. “She began her career singing in French then later began singing in English too. Now she’s famous internationally.” I enjoy having chats like these with Japanese people.


Cheers great weekend

Have updated the School board again, have also attached a photo of my dinner Sat night, wife was away and told me to cook something for my self. Well i did, a couple of pieces good old Australian meat, (meat marinated in red wine over night). Fried onions and tomato. And of course a glass of red wine or 2. Yum, was so good we had it again the next night. Pat. Nagaokakyo.
Photo07.photo 2

Picnic with Katsura(桂) Students

Kyoto has many good places for picnics. People like to stay by the Kamo river or in one of many beautiful city parks. Students at Smith’s Katsura(スミス英会話 桂) like to have a picnic with some friendly English conversation. Because our school is about having fun both inside and outside the classroom, we sometimes meet and spend more time together.

In April, we decided to have a ”sakura picnic” in the park around the Imperial Palace. The park wasn’t too busy and we found a great place. Soft green grass under a big sakura tree. We had the place just for us. My wife and daughter came too, and I could introduce them to my students. My daughter was so excited to play with so many people. She is still very young and speaks very little, but I asked students to talk to her in English. They could try to use their English conversation skills with a little child. Thank you all for the effort!

We stayed in the park for a couple of hours, but the weather became little colder around 4 pm so we decided to clean up and go home. My family and I had a nice time and I’m looking forward to our next picnic.

Great Food and Great Service

20140701_122029Today I went to Ganko Sushi for lunch.  It is located at Coms Gardens, which is close to Smith’s Eikaiwa in Kyobashi.  The food was delicious and the service was excellent.

I have grown to love the customer service that is given here in Japan.  At many of the business I have been to, I feel like I’m more than just a customer, and that is the same feeling that I like my students to have when they attend classes at Smith’s Eikaiwa.

I always want them to feel that they are more than just a student.

Cityscapes of Kobe Okamoto

Okamoto Tullys White

Tully’s Coffee and White Paver Street near Okamoto Station

Okamoto manhole cover

Fire hydrant covers have an interesting design!

Okamoto, where my English School is located, is known as a fashionable town. There are many upscale shops and the streets are covered in white pavers arranged in interesting patterns. Okamoto denizens take pride in their town and try to keep it clean and lively, holding many festivals throughout the year for the residents and visitors.

Kobe Okamoto is a very lively town having 3 universities within walking distance of the main stations (Hankyu Okamoto Station and JR Settsu-Motoyama Station). Thousands of college students from Konan University, Konan Women’s University and Kobe Pharmaceutical University live in or pass through the streets of Okamoto each day. Combine all those students with thousands of people heading off to their jobs in Osaka, other parts of Kobe and even faraway Kyoto in the morning and returning in the evening and you can understand how hustling and bustling Okamoto is. Taking pictures of streetscapes there while trying to avoid taking pictures of the faces of passersby is quite a challenge! Nevertheless, I still wanted to share a few pictures of the cityscapes of Kobe Okamoto. I hope you will be able to see how pleasant and lively Okamoto is and perhaps you’ll decide to visit sometime and take in its true ambience

Some of the places I chose to photograph are the Tully’s Coffee shop diagonally across from Hankyu Okamoto Station and the street near my school where Shunju Cafe and an elegant florist and flower school are located. The location of Tully’s Coffee used to be  Hagen Daz Ice Cream. I miss the ice cream shop and was very shocked when it closed but the space was soon renovated and occupied by Tully’s Coffee.  Just a piece of trivia about Okamoto: the location across from the Hankyu station used to be a photography shop which was closed and reopened as a bakery shop call Rogen Meyer rents for 800,000 Yen per month (over $8,000/mo.). For that size of space I was told that the rent is higher than a similar space in Kobe Sannomiya which is more centrally located in Kobe! Wow!

okamoto shunju flower shop

Shunju Cafe, Flower School with an interesting door and a dress shop

The picture showing the florist and flower shop which are next to Shunju Cafe is my favorite. I just love the door design of the flower school and florist! If you have not visited Shunju Cafe, you are missing a nice experience! I often go there after passing out some flyers near the station. Their breakfast sets are tasty and really hit the spot! The coffee is excellent too!

Smith’s School of English – Kobe Okamoto (Al Bartle, Owner and Head Teacher)

Kansai Fukui Preliminary Fireworks Schedule

100807_1952~0001Hello dearest readers and summer festival lovers!   It’s Martin Werner Zander of the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen offering the early itinerary of 23 huge summer festival happenings in Kansai and Fukui.

マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー         スミス英会話 甲東園

Most of the major Kyoto fireworks festivals have not yet finalized their dates.  Following is a prelimary list of 2014 Summer Fireworks Festival dates that are confirmed and is the most current information available to help you plan your schedule.  Expect huge crowds this year.


Tsuruga Tohronagashi Hanabi Taikai Aug 16 Saturday – That will be a busy one!  Echizen is much earlier : Sat July 19.  Obama is Fri Aug 1.


Daimonji Fire Festival is Sat Aug 16 , Maizuru is Sun 7/27 ,  Ayabe ** , Miyazu ** , Fukuchiyama ** , Nantan ** , Kameoka * , Uji is smart to move to Mon Aug 11 .  As noted, most dates for Kyoto have not yet been confirmed .


Otsu Biwako – The Big One ! Fri Aug 8 , Nagahama – The other big one : Tue Aug 5 , Hikone **.


PL is Fri Aug 1 because it’s always Aug 1 !  Tenjin is always 7/25 – 26 this time Fri and Sat – very crowded.  Inagawa is Aug 16 Sat , Yodogawa is Sat Aug 9.


Ashiya July 26 Sat , Kobe Minato Sat Aug 2 , Itami Sat Aug 23 , Takarazuka Wed Aug 6

NARA TOHKAE will probably be Aug 5 to Aug 16 plus or minus a day or two, will advise later.

Smith’s School in Kotoen 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuition English Conversation School

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川nice Smith's logo


Amagasaki (Tsukaguchi) and Kawanishi English Conversation School Teacher Loving Japanese Custom

I love how people who find lost things in Japan bring them to a lost and found or kōban, even money. For example, once I forgot my bag in a restroom at the mall Nishinomiya Gardens in Nishinomiya. It had my wallet and money in it. Someone gave it to a nearby shop clerk and it ended up being brought to the security office there which takes care of lost items. I recovered it there. Nothing was missing. Japanese people are great! I’m lucky to be able to teach such kind people at my Amagasaki (Tsukaguchi) English conversation school and also my Kawanishi English conversation school.


Sharing Brilliant Student 1-Points – スミス英会話 甲東園

IMG_2732[1]Hello everybody!

I want to share with you a few interesting 1-Point homework results coming from diligent English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園.  These are a select few chosen from dozens of recent submissions from pre-intermediate students:

I was so impressed when Greece and Japan tied because I thought it was going to be a loss for us.

I was invited to my ex-girlfriend’s wedding but I couldn’t make it because she was my wife’s best friend a long time ago.

I wish I could take more lessons with you because then I could learn faster.

If I were a better English speaker, I would try to get a better job.

Well, how about that!  Simple, truthful sentences that really hit home how people feel!  Each of these probably took no more that five minutes for a pre-intermediate student to compose and should help to encourage beginners to try!

Congratulations to all!  I look forward to the next submissions.

Martin Werner Zander


Smith’s School of English in Kotoen 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuition English Conversation School

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川nice Smith's logo

Ed’s Travel Blog: Thailand Day 5

Longtail ferries, Bangrong Pier, Phuket スミス英会話大津校Today I took the bus from Phuket town to Bangrong Pier, which is about 1 hour north of Phuket town in the north-east part of Phuket island. The day started with half an hour sitting on the curb waiting for the bus, which I was told would come “somewhere around here, sometime”, which it did. Bus drivers who were waiting by their buses were helpfully helping passengers find their buses as well as helping to load luggage onto the roofs of the buses. I was the only non-Thai on the bus, which was quite fun for me. Bangrong pier was also quite a surprise, as it was little more than a concrete pier at the end of a jungle road. There were a couple small buildings with an information booth, taxi stand and toilets (which cost 5 baht to use!). After a simple but delicious lunch, I caught the speed boat ferry to Koh Yao Noi, a small island located 45 minutes by speedboat off the coast of Phuket.

Before I go on, let me explain how I came to be going to such a remote place, and also to illustrate the type of island I was about to  arrive on. Let me further explain a little about where I grew up. My parents live on a small island Read More »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1069 access attempts in the last 7 days.