January in a nutshell.

1 February 2012 § Leave a comment

I keep waiting to feel inspired to update my blog, and it’s not happening. January has been too much fun and I haven’t been able to sit down long enough to give you an adequate update. I find this particularly thrilling as I have a history of not particularly liking January.

Coming back to Japan was hard. I got in late at night, had to lug all my stuff up to the fourth floor of my apartment. Two of my favorite people in Japan hadn’t returned yet from their holiday adventures, so I couldn’t go to them for cheering up. All I had with me were the very fresh memories of all my dear family and friends back home, and they were all suddenly an ocean apart once again. I guess people who are here for awhile get used to that. Or maybe they don’t, but it’s still worth going back to see everyone on occasion. I’m back into the swing of things now, though. I dove into my work, having picked up some overtime, and working a lot at my second job too. Improv practices have started up again for the new year. My friends and I have kept busy in each other’s company.

I recently celebrated my 25th birthday. It was a delightful weekend. Friday, we ventured out to Asuka in Nara. It’s a small village about a 40 minute train ride away, and the location of a lot of ruins, tombs, and temples (including the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, apparently?? I think we at least walked past it, unknowingly…). Right outside the train station there, you can rent bicycles for the day. So we biked around all afternoon. There wasn’t actually anything that impressive, but it was still neat and just a nice way to spend a day off. Saturday night after work began at a yakiniku restaurant with some lovely people, before moving on to an Australian sports bar where my Swedish friend Mats was playing an acoustic set. When I got there, there was a sign up for me, and balloons throughout the place. I was thrilled! He happily met my requests for some ABBA and for John Denver’s “Annie’s Song”. Sunday saw a Skype date with my family, a photo exhibit in the north part of the city, a lovely dinner, karaoke, pineapple champagne, and such thoughtful gifts. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

I finally baked for my first time in Japan. It wasn’t a matter of laziness; it’s not an easy task when oven’s aren’t a common appliance and baking powder is so difficult to find (or is baking soda… I always confused them). It felt like baking for the first time. Not only did I have to wait until I had a friend with an oven (actually, I’ve had access to an oven since October..), but I also had to acquire measuring cups, measuring spoons, a mixing bowl, and a spatula. I picked up both baking soda and baking powder while in Canada. I always forget the existence of differences in how things are quantified around the world. I was worried at first because looking at my friend’s oven, I thought it only went up to 300 degrees fahrenheit. He then suggested that maybe the temperature’s in celsius. And so it was. The banana chocolate chip muffins turned out amazingly.

Lots of strange little, delightful observations over the past while here. Carbonated tomato beverage (gross, right?). Mis-shelved books in the children’s section at the book store (“Balloons over Broadway”, “Emergency!”, “I want my hat back”, and “Flesh & Blood so Cheap“). A brilliant Engrish T-shirt that, I realized tonight as I was staring at it, is stolen from some Jack Johnson lyrics, but not very well – beginning to think that maybe Engrish isn’t so simply just a result of poor translation, but so much more. Even after I display my incompetency at speaking Japanese, people in public prefer to address me instead of my less-Japanese looking friend.

There is more to be written, but I haven’t the time just now. But everything above this has been waiting to be posted for days and days, so this much for now. If I ever go so long again without posting, do comment or e-mail and get on my case. I respond well, albeit begrudgingly, to nagging! (My mom might suggest otherwise… 😉

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it’s April and I’ve been here two months now!

2 April 2011 § Leave a comment

Some days, there are a million things I want to remember to mention on here because I think they are interesting. But then when I actually sit down to write anything, my mind draws a blank. What I find happening sometimes is that I’ll think something’s really cool or interesting, but after even a short amount of time passes, it doesn’t seem as cool or interesting and so why write about it?

I’m keeping busy. Which is good, because I find I get mopey when I’m not busy. My days off are spent running around doing things, even when I sort of just want to chill out in my apartment for a few hours and relax. I am still in that frame of mind where I feel like I need to go see something on every day off. Maybe I’ll get over this. I don’t think it’s my being new here that’s motivating me to always be going to see things so much as the idea that I’ll only be here a year and well, there’s a lot to see.

This past week, I made trips to the Umeda Sky Building and Nara Park. I also tried a nice Thai restaurant (not as good as the one I worked at back home, but it’ll have to do) and a falafel restaurant. The Sky Building was neat for getting a good view of the city. It’s amazing the way it just stretches on and on. I don’t really feel like I saw “city” back in Canada when I see some of the cityscapes here. On one hand they’re breathtaking, but at the same time, they also emphasize the lack of green space. Osaka’s especially concrete and grey. I haven’t been yet, but I hear that Tokyo has a lot of green in it.  Beautiful areas and parks and places full of trees are just a short distance away though. Thankfully.

Nara Park was beautiful. I’ll be going back. We didn’t get there until late in the afternoon.. My day was slow to start. It was mild out, trees are starting to blossom, and it was in the middle of the week and not busy whatsoever. We took our time wandering around, not sure where we were going, but going down whichever way the paths took us.

This weekend and next weekend are viewing times for cherry blossoms (Hanami). I’m going to a couple of get togethers tomorrow, and still figuring out what to do next weekend. I’m excited. This is one of those things I remember learning about when I was 10, and have always always always wanted to see the cherry blossoms in Japan (well, since I learned about them, anyway).

I’ve started my contract for the next year. Started April 1, goes through til March 31, 2012.  I have a full schedule. I have two adult classes (80 minutes long each), four or five kids classes (typically an hour each), and a bunch of those free time lessons (if you don’t know what these are, go back a couple posts!). I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of commuting involved, some days around an hour or more each way. I’m hoping that if I can get enough sleep the night before, I’ll be able to do some reading on the train, but trains and reading both make me sleepy. The combination will likely be brutal.

Speaking of books, I got a library card. The library is maybe a five or ten minute walk up the road and they have a small English section. Some of the bigger libraries of course have a larger English section, and I can have any of those books delivered to my neighborhood library. I doubt I’ll go very often, seeing as I brought quite a few with me (well, quite a few for me is probably not very many for other people.. I’m a slow reader…).

Anyway, it’s nearly 2:30AM here and I need my rest for tomorrow! Thanks for reading! And thanks to those of you who followed the link in the previous post and liked that Facebook page! *^_~*

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