Showing posts from July, 2009

Fast cars and long nights...

Is this not the sexiest car you have ever seen?

This is an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish (アストンマーチン・V12 ヴァンキッシュ) and is worth over $200,000! and you may have possibly seen one just like it in the James Bond film "Die another Day".

Well I certainly fell in love with it when I saw it on Friday night! We took it from Osaka to Tokyo to deliver it to one of his wealthy customers very early on Saturday morning (1am!!).

Unfortunately, although the car is cool, sophisticated, eye-catching, very fast and very very very expensive, this is how we drove to Tokyo...

We drove the whole way in an Isuzu Elf truck (いすゞ エルフトラック) at his customer's request not to add any extra mileage to the car.

It rained the whole way and took 10 bumpy hours to drive about 500 km. A sleepless night, but nice to be in the company of greatness (the car I mean) for almost a whole day!

Solar Eclipse

On Wednesday, 2009 July 22 (that was today!!), a total eclipse of the Sun was visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses half of Earth.

The path of the Moon's umbral shadow began in India and crossed through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. After leaving mainland Asia, the path crossed Japan's Ryukyu Islands and curved southeast through the Pacific Ocean where the maximum duration of totality reached 6 min 39 s.

* This map shows how the eclipse was seen in different parts of Japan - although in Osaka it was very cloudy and overcast, so we couldn't really see anything :(

Most of the hotels near Japan's Ryukyu Islands have been fully booked for months, and elementary schools in the region even opened their school sports fields for campers!

I hope that I will be able to post some more pictures later!

Momo Gari = 桃狩り

Last week, me and the boy went out of the city for the afternoon. We drove for about an hour and a half, and followed the in-car navigation system right into the middle of nowhere...

all in the name of momo gari (or peach picking).

We each paid 1100yen and were able to pick and eat as many peaches as we could. All the trees were bursting with fruit, and it was easy to find peaches that were ready to eat.

My eyes were opened to yet another cultural difference (at least between my hometown in New Zealand and Japanese people in general) as my boyfriend, and all the other peach-pickers around us started peeling their peaches with knives before eating them. As I have done all my life, I washed the peach in water, wiped it on a cloth to remove excess fuzz, and then bit right in!

I guess I was the strange one, as people turned to stare (hehe).

The farm that we went to was called Aguri Park ( and they offer fruit picking most of the year (the fruit differs depending…

Kids sure have it easier these days...

Japanese beer for children = kodomo no nomimono

When the pressures of life in Japan get children down, now, they can reach for a beer! Advertised with the slogan of ..

Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink

.. this beer and other related drinks are really popular, especially at family gatherings and parties.

Don`t worry, this particular kind of beer is not alcoholic. It tastes a bit like fizzy apple juice, and comes in bottles, cans (even 6-packs).

There are other versions of this non-alcoholic children`s alcohol such as champagne and cocktails, and it can even be bought at toy stores!!

Village of Happiness (しあわせの村)

Despite having a slightly creepy name, there was nothing too strange about `The Village of Happiness`, except maybe the snakes!

The Village of Happiness is HUGE and there are heaps of things to do there. If you live near Kobe it may be a nice natural way to spend a summery day - (they have an English page too -

The kindergarten where I work now had a one-night camping trip in the mountains of Kobe last Thursday.

We took a whole bus-load of 4 and 5-year-olds and a few teachers to a very cool playground, the camp site, the sento and the forest (where we took a discovery nature hike).

Teaching kids in Japan is so different from back home. In most western countries (or so I have heard), teachers have a very strict `hands off` policy to protect children from sexual abuse / and to protect teachers from accusations of such abuse. In Japan, the exact opposite seems to be true - during my or…

I went to Korea ~!

It was my second trip to Korea, and my second trip to Seoul, so I didn`t spend my time doing touristy things really.I visited a friend (who I met and worked with in Japan and who now lives in Korea with her husband and her new puppy Garro!)

This time, I left Japan on Saturday around lunchtime...

Arrived in Seoul at about 3... and then got to my hotel at around 6pm...

The Eastgate Tower Hotel was only completed a few months ago. It is so new that even the taxi driver didn`t know it existed, and we spent 30 minutes driving around aimlessly looking for it (grrrr!). It is gorgeous, spacious and in a really good location - built right on top of a shopping mall in downtown Seoul.

by day ~
by night ~

We visited a really cool gay bar called Queen (Itaewon, Seoul) because my friend knows the owner (and most of the customers!) and drank and danced the night away.

And of course, we spent the rest of the weekend eat eat eating...

* korean bbq (yakiniku)

* korean rice porridge

* korean noodles and …

better late than never!

So I finally got (from the boy`s sister-in-law) a photo of me on my birthday which was waaaaaay back in April this year when my dad came to visit.

This is kind of big news because I didn`t know that any photos which contained both me and my dad in the same frame existed. Tres exciting, and I had to share it with all.

To be honest, it is not really a wonderful photo of either of us, but hey, at least we are both smiley and happy!

oh nooooo!

Here is part of a very disturbing newspaper article I found today...

'Herbivorous' men changing Japan's consumer societyTOKYO —"" Japan’s most newly powerful consumer is likely to be in his 20s to 30s, favors cosmetics and sundries over deluxe cars and enjoys eating sweets with his parents at home rather than treating girlfriends to fancy restaurants.

These men are called ‘‘soshokukei danshi’’ or ‘‘herbivorous men.’’ The phrase is generally applicable to men who are friendly and home-oriented but are not aggressive toward women, love and marriage. Its antonym is ‘‘nikushokukei joshi,’’ or ‘‘carnivorous women,’’ who are in pursuit of an active lifestyle.

Another article states...

Blurring the boundariesTOKYO —""...Likewise, they tend to have little interest in reproducing, often even being too physically tired to have sex, let alone start a family, according to Ushikubo. The young men's tendency not to have real sex — appa…

Ponyo ... too cute

`Ponyo, ponyo, ponyo, sakana no ko...` (ポニョ、ポニョ、ポニョ、さかなのこ...) these lyrics (and the rest of the song) can be recited automatically by almost every Japanese child that I have ever met.

The theme song for the Japanese Ponyo movie was sung by a pretty famous Japanese duo (Fujimaki Fujioka), and an eight-year-old child (Nozomi Ohashi).

I have watched the trailer for the English Ponyo movie and the catchy theme song doesn`t seem to be as important ... guess we will have to wait and see.

Here is the trailer for the movie (in English);

and again (in Japanese);

The US poster for the movie...

Ponyo on the cliff by the sea will be released in theatres in the US on August 14th 2009.

The Japanese poster for the movie...

崖の上のポニョ, (Gake no Ue no Ponyo) was released in theatres in Japan on July 19th 2008. It was recently made available on DVD.

I watched it last night (in Japanese) and understood it, which means my Japanese ability must have improved to the level of a 3-year-old!! yay? It was really lovely. …

Omiyage (Japanese souvenirs)

One of the really interesting things about Japanese customs is the obligation to give people "souvenirs" (omiyage).

When I imagined souvenirs (before I came to Japan), I imagined tacky tee-shirts, stuffed animals and other cheap goodies found at airport souvenir stores when returning from long trips abroad.

In Japan, the concept is VERY different. From the shortest domestic business trip to the honeymoons in Hawaii, to the short weekend getaways, Japanese people bring "souvenirs" back to their families, friends, coworkers and anyone else who may ask "How was your trip?".

Gift-giving is something of an art in Japan, where a gift, omiyage in Japanese, successfully given honors the recipient, starting with the quality of the presentation. Gifts are traditionally carried in beautiful printed squares of fabric called furoshiki. ... As with the high-tech goods for which Japan has become renowned, quality and attention to detail are hallmarks of a well-chosen omiya…

Happy Tanabata 7/7/2009

Happy Tanabata (star festival)

Today is the 7th of July so Japanese people are celebrating the Tanabata festival (see explanation in the previous blog)...

I found the cutest sneakers online today that were made by Adidas to celebrate Tanabata.

"In 2008 Adidas released a special Top Ten Hi in recognition of the Japanese festival called Tanabata. It features two different comics of Mikeran and Tanabata on the right and left tongue and an all-over print that is similar to the tradition of writing wishes on small pieces of colored paper."

Tanabata = たなばた (one of the cutest festivals in Japan)

Tanabata (the star festival) happens on the 7th day of the 7th month every year.Tanabata celebrates the meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair). A river (the milky way), separates the two lovers, and they are permitted only to meet on this very special night (the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunisolar calendar).

What do people do during Tanabata?

One popular custom is for people to write their hopes and wishes on small strips of colored paper and hand them from specially erected bamboo plants.

The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight or on the next day.There is also a traditional Tanabata song: Sasa no ha sara-sara (笹の葉 さらさら)
Nokiba ni yureru (軒端にゆれる)
Ohoshi-sama kira-kira (お星様 キラキラ)
Kingin sunago (金銀砂子) English: The bamboo leaves rustle, rustle,
shaking away in the eaves.
The stars go twinkle, twinkle;
Gold and silver grains of sand. Large-scale Tanabata festivals are held in many places in Japan, mainly along shop…