My students wrote some sort of self-introduction paper with their self-drawn portraits. They included names, likes, dislikes and a message with their “nigao-e” (portrait). I got three students in one section say that I look like a certain Maeda Atsuko. Who the hell is that, I wondered, and searched.


It turned out that she’s a former AKB girl (pic taken from her twitter). I dunno.. I don’t think look like her at all!!!!

Another section produced surprising “dislikes”. Three students wrote they don’t like “Iwao Teacher” , which is obviously a direct translation to “Iwao Sensei” . So there must be someone who is  called Teacher Iwao in the school, I wondered who he/she is..


I asked the teacher sitting next to me about the identity of this Iwao-sensei, who looked at the seating arrangement list (all in Kanji, which of course I cannot read mostly) and then told me that there is no one named Iwao in the faculty.

A week later, after finishing writing my messages back to the students, I returned the intro papers back to the head teacher. I asked her about Iwao-teacher’s identity. The teacher said it is a nickname, after a Japanese comedian.

So I Google it: “Japanese comedian Iwao”. I found a name, Nozomu Iwao, that produced these images.


I laughed out loud because there is no mistaking which teacher they are referring to, the teacher sitting somewhere behind me. I’m really surprised at how fitting the nickname is.

I told my husband about it when he got home and he confirmed that Iwao is indeed a famous comedian in Japan. One of those famous people for being “busaiku” (ugly). So, is the teacher indeed busaiku? he asked. He must know that he is being called to as Iwao behind his back, after all.

I told him it is mean for Japanese people to make fun of him (of the teacher) when he’s not incredibly ugly as compared to the general population anyway. In the school, all my co-teachers are busaiku except for one female. So while I find it funny that the students are so spot-on in their observation, I feel bad that they  1) are disrespectful to their teacher and being tolerated by the school 2) attempt to insult him by giving him a nickname after someone who is successful and who made money out of his ugliness, as if no amount of success or hardwork can ever compensate your looks!

But I am getting ahead of myself. I don’t even know for sure if Iwao comedian is that successful or hardworking.

Still, if the kids are so spot-on with their observation about Iwao and the teacher, I can’t help wonder if I do indeed look like Maeda Atsuko from a Japanese perspective?

You should be flattered, my hubby says.