18 October 2011 § Leave a comment

Some days are still sort of hot here, at least enough for some people to complain about. I think they’re nice, when I’m not wearing all black and walking at a brisk pace in direct sunlight.

Summer went by quickly, painful as it was. It took awhile to get used to, though. It began with small talk about how everyone was trying to hold back on using their air conditioning. That seemed to be a big deal. How long could people tolerate the increasing temperature and humidity before they caved? Given this kind of talk, I figured I could wait awhile. I mean, wow, it must be pretty expensive for people to be waiting like that, right? And so I put myself through torture. I sat in my apartment, with the light s off, the curtains closed, no air conditioning, drenched in sweat. It was gross. I developed a routine of  having a quick, cold shower right before work. If I wanted to wear my hair down, I would put a towel around my neck to prevent sweat from getting my hair wet. At night, I sometimes slept on the floor, hoping it would be that much cooler than lying on my bed (I didn’t actually use my sheets between June and early September.

Then I bought a  fan. That was probably the best idea I had all summer. And during the day, I would blast my air conditioner. It was a little pricey, but I’d also started my second job. At night, I kept the fan on. I started sleeping on my bed again. My routine for work consisted of leaving my house wearing dress pants, flip-flops, and an old t-shirt or tank top. In my bag, I would have a neatly ironed dress shirt and my work shoes ready to change into. Every day, multiple comments from people I passed by or encountered, all the same: “Atsui, ne?” (It’s so hot, ‘eh?).

Autumn is here. The leaves here are still green, but not a couple hours south, they’re changing. People seem generally more happy now. While a lot of girls still go around wearing little shorts and t-shirts, a lot of people are embracing the new season with jeans, boots, sweaters, and scarves. I’ve seen a lot of pumpkin flavoured things, and people are anticipating the mikan (satsuma – you know that really popular scent from the Body Shop??). September and October are also the time for Danjiri Matsuri – cart-pulling festivals held throughout Japan. People are looking forward to enjoying the changing momiji (Japanese maple leaves) in Kyoto and Nara. At work, we are more than half way through the school year.

Christmas seems just around the corner. I’ll be spending it in Canada with my family and friends. Knowing that I’ll be home, every time I’m out and about, I’m thinking about what all I can bring back for people, or even for myself. I should’ve done more of this kind of shopping for people when I first got here, when it was all so novel. At the hundred yen shop (equivalent to the dollar store, but better, really), they’ve already started selling little Christmas lights. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do for a tree. I like the idea of getting a of twig like thing, akin to that in A Charlie Brown Christmas.


a small world. humidity.

23 June 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes, being here makes the world seem small. Or maybe,  it makes the world seem more connected (sounds better, I think).

I went to an acquaintance’s apartment tonight after work with a few people that I know. Eventually, someone showed up who I’d seen a couple times before, who didn’t know me. And I’d had some idea of his existence before I even came to Japan. I’ve vaguely alluded to this before on my blog, but a friend of mine who’s into improv had mentioned this improv group in Osaka to me sometime back, maybe last summer. And this guy who was there tonight was part of that group. I had probably seen pictures of him on their website almost a year ago, a half year before I came to Japan, and I hung out with him tonight.

Sometimes I’ll be talking with students and find out that they’ve been to Niagara Falls. I’ll ask where they went while there and sometimes, they mention Toronto. These people, in Osaka and surrounding cities, have been a mere five minutes from my house, as they drove on the highway between Niagara Falls and Toronto. Maybe that’s not too surprising, living so close to a highway that connects to major Canadian cities. But I still find it amazing.

In other news, the humidity is unbearable, and it’s only late June. I am typing right now, dripping with sweat. Actually dripping. I have my handkerchief beside me to wipe off the drips, but it doesn’t help much. This is all normal to people who have lived in Japan for a while (not the same as tolerable, though), if not their whole lives. Part of the rhythm of the seasons. It’s strange for me to not have any sense of this rhythm. I know what to expect in Niagara, in Ontario. When I think of the end of June, I think of distinct weather patterns and the anticipation of certain crops of fruit (cherries soon, and peaches shortly after…). I’ve seen people here looking like they’ve spent a day at the beach (a beach towel over their shoulder, or a red glow about them) and then I remember that we are into summer. Otherwise, I often forget. “The end of June” in the context of Japan means nothing to me.


dish detergent, kindergarten visit, rain.

11 May 2011 § 1 Comment

One of the items that I acquired from the girl across the hall is some dish detergent.

As I was washing dishes about ten minutes ago, though, I realized that I don’t actually know if it’s dish detergent. It is in a small bottle that sort of looks like other detergent bottles I’ve seen here in Japan and it’s orange scented, like a lot of dish detergents, but there is nothing in English on there and nothing in katakana that helps me know if it’s actually detergent. It occurred to me that it could just as easily be a small bottle of shampoo. I looked for any kanji that I might understand, and saw one that I recognized. Unfortunately, I always mix up the kanji for hand and the kanji for hair. I figured if it was the one for hand, then it was detergent.

Anyway, I just looked it up. It is dish detergent. (I think).

My first kindergarten visit went well yesterday. I could easily complain about the fact that it was only a half hour visit and it takes me over a half hour for one way of transportation to get there. But it is in this lovely little rural area where there is water and trees and grass and no tall, grey, concrete, awful buildings. Once I get to the train station, the kindergarten is about a fifteen minute walk away, and it is a lovely walk. The kids were adorable. There were maybe around twenty of them (a small class, from what I hear). They were all very attentive and smiley and eager. We sang a few songs, I taught a few words. In the next year, I’m supposed to visit that particular class nine more times. I’m looking forward to it!

It’s been a rainy and humid past couple days. A suggestion of what rainy season might be like. I’m not sure when rainy season is though, or how long it lasts. Regardless, I’m not looking forward to it. Umbrellas don’t help much.

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