Showing posts from June, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

"He had the extraordinary effrontery to call himself
the King of Pop,
but that's actually what he was, and for a long, long time."

Phil Sutcliffe, from Mojo Magazine

Japan loves anime

Where else in the world could you find this?

An 18-meter-tall Gundam statue stands in Shiokaze Park in Tokyo’s Odaiba to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first broadcast of the “Mobile Suit Gundam” animated television series. The statue will be on display through Aug 31.

I have to admit that I really don't know who/what Gundam is... I can almost hear a unanimous "eh?" sound resonating throughout Japan, because I may be the only one.

So... I thought I would find out. And thanks to Wikipedia, I can bring you this;

Mobile Suit Gundam(機動戦士ガンダム,Kidō Senshi Gandamu, lit. Mobile Soldier Gundam) is a televised anime series, created by Sunrise. Written and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, it premiered in Japan on Nagoya Broadcasting Network between April 7, 1979 and January 26, 1980, spanning 43 episodes. It was the very first Gundam series, which has subsequently been adapted into numerous sequels and spin-offs.

The plot seems a little complicated and very sci-fi (yawn!);

Set in …

Melon Season

A serious lack of space in Japan has led entrepreneurs (and in this case, entrepreneurial farmers) to come up with some awesome things...

Image above = Workers at an agricultural cooperative in Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture, are checking square-shaped watermelons for quality.

This cooperative will ship 600 of the watermelons, with a price tag of about 14,000 yen (US$140) each! The melons are grown this way by being put into cubes of translucent plastic while still on the vine. The idea is to make it easier for them to fit into refrigerators and on the shelves of grocery stores.

Upon researching this topic a little more, I came across the following product on (a huge Japanese online store)...

This particular heart shaped melon (ハートスイカ) came with a price tag of 63,000yen (US$630) ~!

ビリー (aka Billy Blanks)

Billy Blanks, as far as I know, is an averagely famous guy. I ashamedly bought his first series of workout videos (Taebo) when I was 16 or 17 years old, and I know that he sold millions of copies of his latest DVD; Billys Boot Camp.

In Japan, Billy Blanks is a VERY famous guy. A survey done in 2008 showed that more Japanese women knew about ビリー than the Apple iPhone!

He recently married a Japanese woman (Tomoko), had a baby (Angelika), and they are now living in Osaka together.

Earlier this month, he made a guest appearance at my school`s little festival! And for a pretty famous guy, he seemed very down to earth, agreeing to take countless photos with very excited children (MOTHERS!)... signing autographs for excited children (MOTHERS!)...

... and walking around looking at the stalls we had set up around the school grounds.

He also performed a 40-minute workout and most of the festival attendees took part. It was weird and funny and very entertaining.My school has a policy that we cannot p…

The greatest tea ever!

One of the best things about living in Japan is the variety of tea available. I am not a big coffee drinker and love that I can buy bottled tea (hot and cold) from convenience stores and vending machines any time of the day or night.

For the last year or so, my absolute favorite kind of tea is soukenbi-cha, and although I often try new varieties of tea when they are released, I always come back to it.

Soukenbi-cha is a blend of 15 kinds of tea, flowers and other things. It includes azuki beans (rich in zinc and polyphenols), chicory (rich in iron and zinc), and unpolished genmai rice (high in B vitamins).

Jun Hasegawa is one of the Japanese `talent` (celebrities) who appear in TV commercials for soukenbi-cha...

Yutaka Takenouchi is another...

Soukenbi-cha is written in Japanese kanji characters on the labels.

There are 4 kanji characters that look like this...

爽 - SOU means fresh.
健 - KEN means healthy.
美 - BI means beautiful.
茶 - CHA means tea.

So good!

My mama-chari

btw: The name mama-chari comes from the word 'mama' (mother) and 'charinko' (slang for bicycle).

So in an effort to save money and to keep a relatively constant level of fitness, I am riding my bicycle to and from work every day.

In Japan, almost every person (man, woman and child) owns a bicycle and they are almost all the same. The basic models cost about 10,000yen ($100US) and upwards.

Mothers use them to carry children to school and to carry groceries from the supermarket ...

(I don't know this cute child, but this picture shows a child in a seat on the front of a bicycle)

... fathers use them to get to the train stations every morning before work

... high school students use them to meet friends and gather in social places.

The bicycles don't have gears, and every bicycle is fitted with a light and a basket on the front!

Of course because almost everyone in Japan has a bicycle, parking can be a bit of a nightmare, but most train stations have huge parking lots…


Does it ever make you nervous to think that bad things might be getting better?

For the past 6 months or so, I've only been able to see the boy about once a week (and that's only Thursday evenings). This week I saw him 3 times!I don't want to get excited and say that things will continue be like this, but it does encourage me.

I realised something important recently. Waiting and being patient are two very different things. The boy keeps telling me that he can't move forward in our relationship (moving in together for example) because he's too busy, and because of money things. "Please just wait Fran" he keeps saying and I've been getting more and more frustrated because I am so bad at just doing nothing.

I hate waiting.
I am never late, and I am very organised... waiting doesn't suit me.

So I decided that if I want to spend more time with him, then I have to make more of an effort. So on Saturday, I'm going to bake something delicious and take it …

Twenty minute Simple Skirt Tutorial AND GIVEAWAY!!!!

Twenty minute Simple Skirt Tutorial AND GIVEAWAY!!!!

Click the above link ...

These cute skirts are handmade and apparently it only takes 20minutes to make one! It is at times like these I wish I had some kind of creative talent... and a sewing machine.

If you have either (time or talent), check out the link.

Twenty Something Bloggers

I have recently become a member of a blog group called Twenty Something Bloggers. This site is a great place to find blogs on all kinds of topics written by people in their 20's.

What a great idea!

Check it out here if you are interested -->

Tokyo Fashion

For anyone who is reading this blog outside of Japan (and even some of the people in Japan), here is a cute way to look at some of the most recent street fashion trends in Japan. The site shows short videos of young people all over Japan trying on some of the clothes from UNIQLO and then passing them on to the next person.

The site is made by UNIQLO, a cheap clothing store found all over Japan...

Check it out, it is very cute.


Quite possibly the strangest name for a store, but just have to tell you about Rapoppo (らぽっぽ) a fantastically delicious food shop which I found in Hanshin Department Store in Umeda (and is also located in many other places I have since learned).

Their website is at

They advertise all their food to be both delicious and healthy, and one of the ingredients they use a lot of is sweet potato. One of their most famous dishes is a sweet potato apple pie (see above)!

The above picture shows their special for June. It is a kind of blueberry cheesecake pie and is only 980yen. I bought one for the boy and his family and we ate it last night after dinner. It was soooo good ♥ I just had to tell you all about it today.

If you have a chance, please buy one and eat some as soon as you can.

You will not be disappointed!

Date night

So because of a serious lack of time, and conflicting schedules, I can only see the boy on Thursday nights. It sucks, and it is like being in a long distance relationship (despite the fact that we live only 15 minutes apart).

So last night (Thursday night) we had as much fun as we could in a very small time.

First of all, we visited his sister's new shop. She has started selling imported stationery, bric-a-brac, accessoriries etc, and it is very cute! I'll post some pics and a link when I can.

Then we ate. As you may know, eating is my absolute favorite part of any date, and in Japan, I can honestly say that I've never been disappointed with a restaurant. Last night was no exception...

We went to a shabu shabu restaurant named Kin No Buta (Gold Pig;, and chose a tabe-houdai (all-you-can-eat) course for less than 3000yen. It included veges, salad, tofu, pork and dessert.

One interesting thing about this shabu shabu restaurant was the sauce an…


things I absolutely must do this week...

★clear out the drawers in my kitchen (after getting an overdue notice on my cell-phone bill and realising that there were several unpaid bills in said drawers... ooops).

★ figure out a way to pay my city taxes and not go broke (just got the dreaded bill in the mail asking me to pay over NZ$5000 to the city of Higashi Osaka).

★get around to sending all the stuff I have been gathering up to my lil sis back home.

★pick up my new gaijin card from the ward office before june 11th.

★ sleep... this one is probably the most difficult to achieve since my cats have recently decided that 4am is a perfectly respectable hour to wake up in the morning... oh dear.

Japanese breakfast of champions (in 2 minutes or less)

My breakfast this morning ... in a big rush ...

Chocola BB =

A tiny energy drink which contains so many good things including B vitamins (important for energy), royal jelly, amino acids, taurine (for nutrition replenishment?) ... all with only 7.3 calories!

Asahi power bar

These bars are advertised to help people who work overtime. They come in 2 flavors (chocolate and banana) and are very soft, like a cookie. They help to satisfy hunger as well as supplying all of the necessary vitamins and minerals to help people function in a stressful working environment (vitamin B1, B2, B6, vitamin E, etc...)

So much yummy goodness for less than 500yen, and less than 200 calories!