Hi, I’m Sarah. Welcome to The Daily English Show.
Today’s guest is Derek. He is from Canada but he has lived in Japan for quite a while doing many things including coaching wresting, teaching English and selling real estate.
The first question I asked Derek was:
When did you first come to Japan?
I first came to Japan about ten years ago, I came to Niseko to be a snowboard and ... backcountry guide.
And you’ve been here ever since?
Um, on and off, I went back home two times to Canada. And, ah, other than that I’ve been in Japan the whole time. Not only in Niseko, but in different places in Japan.
Kia Ora, in Stick News today a haunted house in New Zealand which was used in a Peter Jackson film is on the market.
The Frighteners is a 1996 comedy/horror film directed by Peter Jackson about a psychic private detective who stands in the way of a murderous Grim Reaper-like creature.
Part of the movie was filmed in a house near Wellington.
That house is now for sale.
The house features chandeliers, a gym, a cellar and a five-car garage.
And that was Stick News for Monday the 19th of May.
conversations with sarah
#449 Whereabouts are you from?
Step 1: Repeat Sarah’s lines.
Step 2: Read Sarah’s lines and talk to Derek.
Sarah Whereabouts are you from?
Derek I’m from Canada. I’m originally from just outside of Toronto. But the last place I lived, I lived in Whistler for five years before I came over to Niseko.
Sarah How does Niseko compare to Whistler?
Derek Ah, the million dollar question. Um, the difference is I think is that in Niseko, because of the snow ... in terms of the mountain, they don’t compare. Whistler is a real extreme sports mountain.
But, if you come here for a week, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get powder and good snow. Whereas if you come to Whistler for a week you might get two days of rain, one day of fog ... Over a season, the days in Whistler are better, but for consistency and for powder, Niseko’s the best.
Sarah What are you doing now?
Derek Um, right now, I’m, ah, I own a gym and I, ah, sell real estate for Niseko Property, one of the companies in town.
Sarah What kind of fighting do you do?
Derek Um, I do ah mixed martial arts fighting. Um, the kind like UFC, out of the, out of the gym, I’m a wrestler ... when I first ... another job I’ve done in Japan, I was a wrestling coach for two years on a small island in Shimane Ken, which is way down south. But I was a wrestler for years and years growing up and it’s always been my background and my sport. So, yeah, I just continued on from that. It’s a way to keep in shape in the summer before the ski season starts.
Sarah Do you enjoy selling property?
Derek Ah, I do. I, ah, I like um the challenges of it, I like, sort of, the ah, the, the different parts of um, having to sell in Niseko and selling to foreigners and being a sort of liason between the two.
Um, it gets a little, sometimes during the winter when it gets pretty busy you’re kind of looking out the window and wishing you were up the mountain. But, there’s always ... the great thing about here is because the, the ski slopes are open til 9 o’clock, you can always get in a couple of hours, you can always get your, your riding and your turns in, it’s just a matter of making your priorities.
Sarah Who’s buying most of the property?
Derek Um, we’ve seen a shift. There probably was I’d say mostly in the beginning ... was Australians. But now we’ve got from all over Asia, and ah, sort of pan pacific, Singapore, Hong Kong. Um, now we’re seeing people from England, from Europe coming over. Um, as European ski resorts have gone down in their snow quality, more and more people are coming here and um, just looking to invest into the area. Because it’s still - compared to world markets, for this size and this quality of a ski resort - it’s still very undervalued.
Sarah How much has Niseko changed since you first came here?
Derek Well, back in the old days, you can talk about the old days, every, every foreigner knew each other, there was eight foreigners who lived here year round. And, ah, you’d sort of stop someone in the street and talk to them about who they were and where they were from.
And ah, it used to take, when you did Strawberry Fields, on the hill, it would probably take three or four runs before you could get over to the mushrooms.
Because nobody had to go and you had to sort of beat the bath and make your way down. And this year, when I came back it turns into a race course pretty quickly. So it’s a completely, completely different feeling.
But, at the same time, ten years ago, I used to pick potatoes in the fall and, ah, there was, sort of, anything you could do for a job, whereas now because of the growth there’s opportunities, there’s chances for people to do what they love instead of sort of fight their way along. So ... and there’s still lots and lots of powder.
Sarah What do you think it’ll be like in five years time?
Derek I think it’s going to continue to grow, I think more and more big resorts are going to come in.
Hopefully I’d like to see the place round out more. I mean I love summer here in Niseko. I probably love summer in Niseko more than winter and I hope that over the years it will start to develop into a four seasons resort and we’ll get more and more people coming in for all four seasons.
Sarah Have you ever taught English?
Derek I have. I, ah, actually I used to own and English school in Kutchan.
I owned the English school in Kutchan about eight years ago and I sold it to a guy before I left. And, um, I’ve taught down in ah ... I was a JET, Japanese exchange program. Um, that’s what I was doing the coaching on, but I also taught at a elementary school and a primary school for three years.
Sarah Do you enjoy teaching?
Derek I do enjoy teaching, I enjoy, ah, I enjoy teaching in a classroom. I enjoy the freedom of teaching a classroom, I enjoy teaching kids.
So, ah, yeah, it’s always something I like to do. I have my teaching degree as well, so it’s something I always, I hope to go back to some day.
Sarah How did you learn Japanese?
Derek Ah, the first time, the first time I learnt Japanese was I came here with no Japanese and the company that I was working for told me that I would be able to – oh, there’s lots of foreigners, you’ll have lots of experience – but I didn’t have many lessons and guiding in English, so what was happening was I would have to go home at night and study my little Japanese phrase book and learn like stop (tomaru) and, you know, dangerous (abunai) and then the next day on the mountain I’d have to try and remember these terms.
So it was really good in the fact that instead of going to a big city and learning, or teaching English and not learning a lot of Japanese, I very quickly became immersed in the culture.
And then when I went to the, I lived on a very small island called Okinoshima down in Shimane and I was coaching wrestling. And there was two thousand people on the island and I was the only foreigner and the only foreigner that had lived there for eight years. So I had this real ... no, very few people spoke English so I had a ... and I was having to coach every day. So it was a real sort of ... hands in the fire, kind of, baptism by fire, kind of learning Japanese. So, I still, my reading and my, my writing’s OK, my reading’s not so good, but I have a very casual Japanese style. I speak Osaka-ben too.
Sarah Do you have any advice for people who are studying English?
Derek Um, I think, for me I think it works really well to immerse yourself. I think it’s a good opportunity to become involved in it ... to, to learn English passively to read a book and then to try and you know use it as a passive it’s very difficult to remember. As much as you can interact with people, it’s their native language. Um, Niseko’s a great place to do it because there’s so many foreigners here and ah, anywhere you can use it on a daily basis.
Just force yourself to do it, same way as I learnt Japanese. Throw yourself into it, kind of, the first few days are going to be rough, but keep going, keep going and it gets easier. And it’s more enjoyable that way too.
the million dollar question is an idiom. A few people said what they think it means here.
... if you can guess the right solution to the "million dollar question", you have solved one of life's unsolvable problems ...
I'm not exactly sure how he is using it here. Maybe he means: "that's a very hard question to answer". Or: "that's a question everyone asks/is thinking about/wants to find the answer to".
Pan Pacific I don't know what he means by this. Pan Pacific in Wikipedia is a hotel or a swimming competition. "Pan" means "including all of something" - so maybe Pan Pacific means "all of the countries connected to the Pacific ocean?
Strawberry Fields is the name of a course in Hirafu.