14 February 2011 § Leave a comment
Getting used to not having a full cupboard/fridge, or a paycheck yet with which to fill them . Tonight it was French toast with strawberry jam and pineapple. Syrup would have been nice, but it’s pricey. I found a little 250 mL container of maple syrup for $20 the other day. My little tub of strawberry jam cost just over a dollar.
13 February 2011 § Leave a comment
A fun day exploring today. It was one of two consecutive days off. A nice break from training. I decided to go check out one of the close by parks – Tennoji Park. Unfortunately, to access most of the park, there is a fee, but there are also other paths that are fenced off from the park that sort of still go through it. I took a stroll through there, and then we ended up in another shopping district, but I can’t remember the name of it. It was neat. I took pictures. Wandered from there into Den Den, which is Osaka’s electronics/manga/anime district. Not being too much into any of those things (except some really outdated manga and anime), we didn’t wander into many shops, though did accidentally walk into an adult DVD store, thinking it was a regular DVD store. Saw an old man walking a cat on a leash. Walked past a large cemetery and temples.
Finally went out for dinner to a really cool restaurant. I have no idea what it’s called, but everything on the menu costs 299 Yen (and a few Yen on top for tax, of course, but not much!). It was sort of like tapas, I think, though I’ve never actually had tapas. We chose a bunch of items and shared them. Tapas-y, yeah? Anyway, amazing. Had some sushi, gyoza, a couple noodley dishes, little shrimps, edamame, and what we think was little breaded bits of octopus. We will definitely be going back.
We had to wait awhile to get in there because it was so busy, so we had just over an hour to pass beforehand. We wandered around the area and eventually found another really nice restaurant. It was one of those restaurants where you have to take your shoes off, and you sit on the floor on a cushion, and you’re in an enclosed room with sliding doors. The type that you hear about or see in the media somewhere but don’t see around much, at least in Southern Ontario. We all agreed that that was one of the first things that made this feel more like the Japan we all have in our heads. Being in Osaka is sort of like being in any other big city. And even though none of the four of us speak the language, we are all able to get by fine because a lot of Japanese people here can speak a little bit of English.
It was a pretty cool day.
10 February 2011 § 2 Comments
When I went out on my balcony this morning, I realized for the first time that I can see mountains in the distance. I think they are in the east. We had a nice blue sky for the first half of the day, the bluest we’ve seen since we arrived (we = my training group). I’d make some comment about it being chilly, but then I remind myself that when I flew out of Toronto, it was around -20 Celsius. I can’t complain here.
I’ve been trying to learn a few kanji a day. It doesn’t help a lot, but it makes me feel like I understand a little bit. I will turn my focus to katakana eventually, because that’s a realistic system to learn. Today I learned to recognize the symbols for mouth, the “n” sound, and “no” (as a syllable, not like our “no”). Yesterday I learned fruit and juice. The symbol for juice, however, can also mean gravy, syrup, ink, or probably an assortment of other things. This is a fun language!
For the time being, my exploring has been put on hold. I completed my third day of training today. It is tiring. On one hand, it’s sort of nice not having to think of making lesson plans for my job. I get to exercise teaching skills, work with students, and all that, but I don’t have to lesson plan. Instead, the company/school I’m working for has every single one of their lessons already planned out in great detail. Even though we don’t have to do our own lesson planning, we do have to go through this intensive training that makes us feel like we are robots being programmed. There are specific things they want us to say. Specific gestures they want us to use. It’s a lot to remember. We are each expected to present a lesson on Saturday, exactly as though we were teaching a small class. This will determine whether or not each person makes it through to the rest of the training. It’s intimidating and they have articulated very high standards, but it will be fine.
Had okonomiyaki and takoyaki for lunch today. Wikipedia describes the former as a Japanese savoury pancake. I gather that they’re fairly popular in Osaka. Where we bought it, it was pretty much the equivalent of street meat. I have no clue what was in it, but it was really good. Takoyaki is also known as octopus balls. Ball-shaped Japanese dumplings with octopus in the middle. And other things. Anyway, they’re really good. I had them once in Toronto as well.
I haven’t actually eaten at any real restaurants yet, as I’ve been very conservative with my spending. Instead, we’ve been finding cheap deals at street vendors, or buying sushi from the supermarket in the evening after it’s been discounted (a little sketchy? maybe, but still good as far as we’re concerned). We want to go out more, but for now, while we’re just training and without a paycheck, this works for us.
I haven’t been remembering my dreams very much at all, but the first one I remembered since I’ve been in Japan was about being back in St. Catharines. Instead of being at home, at a cafe, or the Merch, though, I was at McDonald’s. Of all places to dream about being back at home! Then again, on my first day here, I went to McDonald’s for lunch. I guess there is some kind of association with the franchise and home, even if it isn’t a place I tend to frequent.