Showing posts from September, 2009

10 things that make me smile Sunday

Here goes...

* kittens letting me sleep in until 10am!
* 30 degree days at the end of September (where is Autumn?)
* skyping with sis until the wee hours last night
* the smell of freshly cleaned towels
* riding my bicycle in the afternoon breeze
* hot green tea
* one of my private students telling me that I know an incredible amount of English vocabulary!
* having no plans at all on a Sunday off
* huge Japanese nashi pears
* the new season of Californication - love it

Kushikatsu and Denzel Washington

Well not exactly, but I did two things last night - ate Kushikatsu, and watched a movie starring Denzel Washington.

Kushikatsu (串カツ) is a simple kind of kebab I suppose. Take a small piece of food (usually meat or veges but anything is ok really), dip it in a mixture of egg and flour, then coat it in breadcrumbs, and then deep fry it in vegetable oil.

We had an all-you-can-eat Kushikatsu course, and were able to cook everything at our table. We ate chicken, pork, beef, small sausages, green peppers, pumpkin, onion slices, smoked cheese, mashed potato balls, shrimp wontons, and even taiyaki (sweet cakes shaped like fish and filled with red bean paste).

Yummy! We were stuffed!

After dinner we watched a movie called "Subway 123" in Japanese. I think the English title is "The taking of Phelam 123" and is a kind of action / hostage / terror / police movie. Actually, although I don't like action movies, this one was pretty cool. It stars John Travolta (as the bad guy) an…

Silver Week シルバーウィーク

I have to mention briefly the reason I have all these days off! 5 in fact! A real rarity in Japan (like once in a blue moon - and the next one won`t be untul 2015, and after that, in 2026!)

This wee holiday is called Silver week.I have heard various theories regarding the name: one friend told me that because Monday is `Respect for the elders day`, Silver week refers to the color of old people`s hair. Another friend told me that Silver week is 2nd only to Golden week in terms of length.

There are 3 national holidays which occur during Silver week;

September 21st – Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro no hi)
A relatively new national holiday in Japan, designated as such in 1966, there are no long standing customs associated with the day but with the rapidly “silvering” or aging of the Japanese population it is likely that the holiday will gain significance over time.

September 22nd – Citizen`s Day (Kokumin no kyujitsu)
Part of the Happy Monday system that automatically makes the day that falls …

New Baby

Congratulations Taka and Kyoko!!!!!!

Yoshi`s little brother Taka and his wife Kyoko (they got married last September) had their first baby, a boy named Sou, yesterday at around 5pm!!

He is adorable (I`ve only seen him in pictures but he looks just like his dad) and although he was born 21 days early, mum and baby are both fine and genki!


10 things that make me smile Sunday

Inspired by some fellow bloggers who post a `Things I love Thursday` and by my little sister who just this morning reminded me that every cloud has a silver lining, I have decided to write a regular post every Sunday, full of things that make me smile.

* waking up next to the boy I love
* clear blue summer sky
* the feeling of the sun warming my skin through my clothes
* cute little Japanese kids waving me to me on the street like I`m some kind of super-gaijin
* cream cheese on crackers
* understanding enough Japanese to renew my video rental card
* finding cute baby clothes and having friends with babies to buy them for
* my kittens` purrs
* receiving a postcard from my dadin England
* skyping with my little sister in New Zealand

Here`s hoping that this post will help me focus more on the great things in my life rather than complaining about the things that I just can`t change.

Hanshin Department Store and their great desserts!

This is the 2nd time I have recommended Rappopo (らっぽぽ)I think; they have the most mouth-watering fruit and vegetable pies! This month, their special pie is a sweet potato and chestnut custard pie.

Looks so good.

I almost bought it, and then something else caught my eye!

This one.

Made by Morozoff (モロゾフ), it is a Green Tea and Azuki Bean Rare Cheesecake!!!!!

I`m going to take it round to Yoshi`s family home this evening... can`t wait for dessert!

Cat pics update

It has been forever since I uploaded some decent pics of my kitty-kats, so here goes;

They are brother and sister, so their markings are very alike - although their coloring is quite different. They are about 13 months old, although we don`t really know the exact date they were born. They have 3 other siblings, who currently live with Yoshi`s mum.

Here is Daisy (the girl)...

And here is Azuki (the big brother)...

They both had so much fun playing on my bed, and the light in my room was great, hence all the pics. Enjoy ♥

Sleeping beauty

Just about to head out the door to Yoshi`s house for dinner, and who do I find sleeping in my handbag? It is Daisy ちゃん (one of my kittens!).

She does have very good taste. This particular handbag might possibly the most expensive place in the dining/kitchen she could have chosen to sleep ;)

Kagome `Herb-In`

Oooh, I tried another yummy vegetable juice today. And this one was only 78yen! I think it was on special at the supermarket, so I bought 2 little boxes!

Kagome Herb in Vegetable Juice 100 Rose-Hip (Herb in 野菜生活100ローズヒップ) has a very long name and a lot of ingredients! It contains 8 kinds of fruit (including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, lemons and apples) and 18 kinds of vegetables (including sweet potato, carrot, purple cabbage, green cabbage, red and green peppers, asparagus, celery, kale, lettuce, watercress, pumpkin, beets and spinach) and also has rose hip and cassis.

The makers say that rose-hip and cassis have a good amount of `sourness` and that this, combined with fruit and vegetables leads to a feeling of `serenity`.Well I don`t know about the serenity, but it was pretty tasty!

I love vegi (アイ ラブ ベジ)

I am sitting in my classroom before the kids arrive to terrorise my day, and I have to write a little post about Suntory's new drink - I love vegi.

Some of the vegetable juice drinks in Japan (and there are a LOT), are very rich and a bit too heavy to start the day. This particular drink contains 8 kinds of vegetable juice (carrot, tomato, spinach, cabbage, celery, lettuce, broccoli and something called molokheiya - an egyptian spinach?) and 6 kinds of fruit juice (orange, apple, grape, banana, peach and lemon) and the slogan says that it has a mellow, sweet taste.

This one, I have to say, is very nice!I only bought it because there were about 1000 cartons of it in the convenience store this morning. I suppose Suntory paid extra for more shelf space to advertise their product, but seriously, it took up most of the juice section.

It is a little bit more expensive than the other juices but the carton looks a little bigger. I shall have to compare more closely next time.

As with all new …


Surprise surprise, we are all still here, and unless the world ends in the next 2 hours, I think we are pretty safe.

Another prediction - that the world would end on the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the new millenium - has been proven wrong.

Some doomsayers said that if you turn the date upside-down it resembles 666, therefore, it is highly unlucky. Other people warned of an outbreak of killer swine flu. Others that the world would be sucked into a black hole created by something called `the Cern particle collider` in Switzerland.Over the past few weeks, web chatrooms devoted to alien conspiracies, doomsday cults and numerology - the belief that numbers have mystical significance - have been buzzing with talk of 09/09/09.
Check out these interesting facts ... September 9, 2009, is the 252nd day of the year, 252 adds to 9, and 09-09-09 = 27 (and 2+7=9).
09-09-09 is also the last of the single-digits dates for quite a while - 92 years to be precise. The day itself falls on…

Radio Taiso = ラジオ体操

Radio Taiso (ラジオ体操) is the broadcast of a simple exercise program over the radio (at 6:30am every morning).

It became popular in Japan just after World War II and is still used among students and workers in companies to help raise morale and form group unity. The exercises reflect the general role of exercise in Japanese culture: to serve as a symbol of unity and cooperation among the Japanese, as well as to raise energy levels and encourage good health.

The kindergarten where I work will hold its annual sports day in October, and perform the radio taiso exercises to all the parents. The sports day is still 5 weeks away and the exercises are incredibly simple, but we have to practice them every day at 9am to make sure that all the kids are in-sync.

The purpose of the exercises is not to encourage students to become athletes but to push themselves and develop unity with their classmates.

An interesting statistic = Currently, 20 percent of the entire population, or around 27 million people,…

What is your hobby?

I suppose that one of the questions that Japanese Junior High School students studying English learn is...

`What is your hobby`

Along with the robotic greeting `How are you?` combined with the painful `Fine thank you, and you?` it is definitely one of the most common questions I get in Japan.

The worst thing is that I don`t really have an answer. Where I come from (and correct me if I am wrong please), adults would usually ask each other `How was your weekend?` or `What did you get up to last night?` I think that the only people who have regulated free time to partake in hobbies are kids and old people (and maybe housewives and the unemployed?)

The other thing is that when I imagine a hobby, I imagine something like model-building, stamp-collecting, knitting etc ... and really, who has the time or money to do these kinds of things at all?

When I ask the question back, the most typical answers are as follows;

For Girls: shopping, sleeping, going to este (beauty salons), eating, drinking tea/…

Reasons not to leave kittens unattended overnight - reason #3249

I honestly thought that I had put away everything that could cause mess or trouble, but my 1 year old cats (kittens?) obviously outsmarted me.

They somehow managed to do the following things during an 8 hour period...

- open a kitchen drawer (HOW?) about 20cm (you can see in the front of the photo maybe).
- pull out all the contents of said drawer - including all plastic rubbish bags and a pack of paper napkins.
- rip said plastic rubbish bags and paper napkins to shreds.
- knock a large tin into the sink (from the shelves above the sink).
- once said tin had been knocked into the sink, remove the kitty-snacks from inside and eat all of them!

Phew! They were certainly busy, and don`t seem any more tired this morning from all their late night activity.

It is a hot day today, so maybe that will make them a bit sleepier (fingers and toes crossed)!

They sleep :)

After a sleepless night of crying kitties, they are finally asleep, cute and cuddly!

Even though their cage is useless (doesn`t have a door), they love sleeping in there with all the blankets and a big zebra-shaped pillow.


... blond moment

Me: So my new passport should arrive next week, and I can finally book my trip back home!

Yoshi: What about all your visas and re-entry permits and stuff?

Me: Huh? (followed by blank look)

Yoshi: All your visas are in your old passport, right?

Me: Yeah, but I am sure that the lady at the Passport office in New Zealand will just cut them out and stick them into my new passport with some official glue, or tape, right?

Yoshi: Ummmm... (followed by disapproving, `Are you really my girlfriend?` looks)

... anyway, to cut a long story short, they certainly did NOT attach my Japanese visa to my new passport, so I will have to find some time to go to the Osaka Immigration Bureau and have them transfer all the information. I hope there is no time limit on such procedures, because I won`t have a weekday off until the middle of October (some `replacement` holiday because we will hold our kindergarten Sports Day on a Sunday).

p.s. I was also a little disappointed that my new passport was not decorated w…

Bicycles RULE, oh, and new bicycle rules

As of quite recently, the laws regarding bicycles changed in Japan. There is probably little chance that you will get stopped - especially if you live in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka with millions of other people - but if you tend to stick out (as many blond haired blue eyed foreigners do), please read the following rules, and be careful!

New Rules for Riding Bicycles

1.It’s now illegal to ride bicycles or motor cycles holding a mobile
phone, an umbrella or anything which may block
your view or disturb your attention.You are subject to pay a fine
up to 50,000 yen.
2.It’s now legal to have 2 children on your bicycle under the
following conditions:i.the driver must be over 16 years oldii. both children in the back or front seat seats must be less than 6 years oldiii.the bicycle must pass safety tests, be approved by Bicycle
Association (Japan), Japanese
Industrial Standards Committee
or Consumer Product Safety
Association and have a sticker
from one of the following; BAA, JIS, or SG.