Thursday, July 20, 2006

Obsessions


Well, I've not posted a blog for quite a while now. Not sure what I've been doing really apart from the usual! I know one thing is that I've been getting even more obsessed with my obsessions, so a good friend of mine VERNON encouraged me to write a blog about them. And another friend EUAN said it was about time I wrote another blog, so this is especially for the both of you.

My 1st obsession is green, more of a khaki green than a bottle green. I have no idea why, but I'm getting to the point that when I go shopping for anything, be it clothes, stationary, furnishings blah de blah de blah it's green. Don't worry the obsession hasn't taken over in the food or make-up department, although I did buy a fair bit of broccoli the other day as I thought the colour of it looked quite appealing, but I suppose that's the pesticides in Japan.

Here is me today in my green poncho! It's rainy season at the moment, and it's turning out to be quite useful. I bought it in Thailand about 4 years ago when I went on some boat trip because 1) it's green 2) it has a lion on it (I'll get to that obsession shortly) 3) I would've got very wet without it. Another thing that inspired me to write this uninteresting blog is that I was reminiscing about that Rainbow Brite phase of the 80's when I was a bit younger. The doll I had was her friend Patty O'Green (my obsession goes a long(ish) way back) and after researching her I realised it kind of summed me up a bit: http://www.rainbowbrite.tv/patty.htm

not all of it though, as I wouldn't regard myself as cute, but maybe some Japanese girls might beg to differ ha ha!! Also I'm pretty sure that last Christmas practically every present I received was green. Even my Dad got me something green and he doesn't even notice if I've had my haircut or lost a tooth.

Ok, obsession number 2. Lions, I love them and consider the fact that maybe I was one in a previous life. A vegetarian one though because of the non-meat thing, or even a pescatarian (yes, there is such a word) as I'm pretty sure that I would've eaten fish. Here is a photo of me a few days ago aboard a lion and another one pretending to be a lion and looking quite scary, I think the hair works well.

Finally obsession number 3 is Tuna onigiri (tuna in rice, molded into a triangle shape with seaweed wrapped around it, yeah weird). Now I used to have a thing about always buying the same chocolate bar whenever that was, but these onigiri things have taken me beyond that. I have on average at least one a day, more often than not TWO - yes, I'm really pushing the boat out. I can't really say they've got an exquisite taste but I seem to crave them. Also I'm getting to the sad point that if they've run out in the shop I get extremely irritable, even though the next covenience store that's probably 10 yards away will have a stock of them. What's even sadder is that all convenience stores sell them but I can tell the difference of which onigiri is sold where, and I particularly like FamilyMart's brand. So now I must include a photo of me with onigiris outside FamilyMart looking excited!!

So, it's not long until I leave Japan, and you're probably thinking it's for the best after reading this blog. I will be jetting off to Australia to see my Aussie pals and doing lots of Aussie things to write about like drinking tinnies with the cast of Home & Away and sticking my head in a crocodile's mouth. I will NOT be trekking though.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Presents!



One reason why Japan is a great place to live - the amount of presents you can get. I'm constantly showered with gifts! Not to the stage yet of receiving Gucci handbags or Chanel dresses, but I don't think it'll be long.



So, gifts received so far in the last 2 weeks - 3 x banners worth of pictures of myself drawn by my kiddy winks (not exactly a gift, but I was very touched by their hard work and the detail they put in of making my hair as yellow as possible). Also the same kindergarten gave me a goody bag full of goodies when I attended their Nen Cho graduation ceremony, this included a box of rice (really it was) a box of red bean cakes and an annual/ book of the Nen Cho year, which featured all the activities they got up to and little snippits on each pupil, plus I featured in it doing my regular weekly clown appearance.


Then the next day I received a bunch of flowers from one of the mothers at another Kindergarten, thanking me for a year of work. At the moment the flowers are living in one of my vodka drinking glasses (no vodka in the water though) was going to buy a vase, but thought maybe someone might give me one as a present!! Vernon & I visited Mos Burger briefly on Sunday night around middnight just for a quick tummy filler, and each given a mirror presented in a lovely Mos Burger box. We were mid conversation when the waitress brought them over and handed them to us, at first I thought it was gift to thank us for eating at the Japanese fast food joint and to welcome us as foriegners. Soon realised she was giving us old Christmas stock that was left over, cute mirrors though.



Yesterday I got 2 lots of presents, one was a box of cakes from a student that's leaving kindergarten. The gift was actually to share between myself and Rie, and we didn't hesitate in doing this once we jumped on the bus after finishing work. The bus hadn't left the stop and Rie had ripped off the decorative paper! All the cakes were sadly gone within 10 minutes, and we made sure we shared them equally as we did come across that hurdle of there being an odd number of them. There was much debate over which one we would need to halve, Rie was very skillful at breaking it evenly so all was OK!
The 2nd of presents was some minature shampoo & conditioners from 'Wants', ideal for travelling. Rie was a little upset as she didn't get any - maybe I was their 23rd customer of the day?!

Right then - on receiving presents must be overly grateful (as might mean more could come my way), and should think about giving out gifts more myself, or give away the gifts I get, to save money! (Know what I mean Vernon!!!)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Productive me

So, since Christmas has been and gone I'm trying to be a bit more productive! For example I've not set foot in The Shack for over a week now, Mac bar also (well I popped in on Saturday night to see if I'd left my scarf there the weekend before - just literally 10 minutes though). I deciced that seeing I've only got 5 months left in Nippon that I should make the most of it by doing more Japanese things, or just more things in general than guzzling down beer (then vodka, followed by tequilla and then a whole sunday in bed).

Last month I spent a weekend in Nagasaki and Fukuoka with Kal before she leaves to go back to Britainia. Boo hoo!! Madoka and I caught the bus at 7:20 am which I almost missed as I was taking a leisurely stroll to the bus station. I talked to Madoka for the full 5 hours, I could see her eyes flittering but I did a good job of keeping her awake! We met Kal at Hakata station and then got the sonic straight to Nagasaki (ooo I've done 2 sonics in one weekend, train and hedgehog (pic below) sorry that's really not phrased right, but if you've not got a dirty mind then you'll know what I mean). A lot of walking was done around Nagasaki, visiting the Peace museum and park, hypocentre and churches. There is a significant amount of Dutch influence as Nagasaki was the main port for immigrants to enter, hence the set up of Christian churches. Also got the chance to witness some guy pissing in full view on the roadside, Kal & I burst out laughing and continued to talk about what we'd just seen for the next 10 minutes!

I discovered that Fukuoka had a Toni & Guy hairdressers. You don't know how pleased I was to find this out. It meant the chance of getting my hair highlighted normally, as after my first visit to a Japanese hairdressers where the guy bleached my whole head I vowed never to step in a Japanese hair salon again. But Toni & Guy restored the faith (not that I actually rate them in England, but the feeling of finding them in Japan I can imagine would be on the same scale as the feeling of finding water in the desert). Anyway the roots have been sorted for now, yay! Will definitely be popping back to Fukuoka for hair therapy, actually I think there's one in Tokyo too. Oh the choices, should make it a worth while trip though - can't really just go there to get my hair done. Maybe I should climb mnt. Fuji after all, and get hair done afterwards as reward for the going up in the first place. If Chloe reads this, then I know she'll understand from my efforts of climbing mnt. Sinai in Israel only to miss the sunrise and also whatever mountain it was in Malaysia only to cry for most of it.

Finally got to meet Sonic the Hedgehog. Kal and I couldn't believe our eyes when seeing him in print club. This picture doesn't give him justice as the spikes on his back were massive! He did a few dance moves for us before he went off to scare some children. It's quite strange to think that Kal will be heading home soon. I can't beileve that this time last year we were roaming around Thailand and then travelling onto Japan together, both excited about what the next year would hold for us. The year has come around very quickly and I know that our experiences have been different but at the same time we share some great memories together and separately. I will miss our weekly phone chats and the catch up of gossip, but no doubt that this will continue but now it'll be from different parts of the globe. Another funny memory for you Kal "can we do anything to help?" when we were bamboo rafting in Chang Mai and got stuck on a rock. Forcing Olly to steer us all the way down stream!

This weekend I spent Friday night filling myself up with buffet food with Australian Emma at Diamond City and almost having to roll into the cinema to watch 'Flight Plan'. Ended up in an Izakaya afterwards for some ginger alcoholic drink. Didn't realise she lived so close to my Friday's kindergarten, I wondered why when we were outside her apartment block that the area looked very familiar. It soon hit me that I actually stand in the same spot every Friday waiting for my bus home.
Saturday, Naoko and I went to Marina Hop. An outlet shopping village by the port. Ate a lot that day too! It was quite a warm day, the kind of day that's almost not coat wearing. We went to a restaurant for omlette rice and had a nice view looking over the marina. Basically when we came out it was bloody cold, so missed the first bit of warmth that I've not seemed to have felt in Japan for which seems like an endless time now. We did a bit of shopping, I bought a lovely top although not sure when I'm going to wear it as have banned myself on big nights out! I'll wear it to Vernon's leaving do. When we got back to Hiroshima we went to Okonomiyaki village and once again stuffed ourselves, looked like I was carrying a small child by the end of the day! Had just the ONE drink in Buddah bar (just as well it was just the one, as when we went to pay it cost almost 8 pound - have no pound sign on this keyboard!)

Sunday morning was an early start, had to get the bus at 8:30am to go snowboarding. I was close to missing this bus too, got a call from Rie at 8:29 wondering where I was. I think I was about a few minutes late, not bad, and was quite awake by the time I boarded so kept Vernon awake too whilst everyone else snoozed. Not surprising with the cups of coffee he kept handing me. I was very impressed with our bus, it had a chandelier - see crap photo taken by crap mobile. Didn't have a toilet though, which was a bit of a downside after having drunk all that coffee.

Snowboarding was great, spent with lovely friends. Madoka and I were trying to do the whole backward turn things, but I was a bit useless. I just found it an accomplishment that I could actually get off the ski lift wearing my snowboard. Well, the reason I started doing this was after many times of carrying my snowboard on and getting off with difficulty, the final time I did it the board got stuck to the seat and I had to jump off without it and just watch it travel off on the seat by itself! Eventually it fell off so had to run part way down the mountain to retrieve it. Oh the humiliation!! Anyway you can see some clips from Vernon's vimeo site
snowbaording skills . There was a bit of a collision between Madoka and Naoko and lots of 'gomen nasai's' being said, but all was ok. I think I could get quite addicted to snowboarding, wish I could get more practice and have more money to do this too.

So this is the longest blog I've ever written, if you've got this far then ... well done. Must buy a digital camera so I can attach some interesting photos. Right, new intention - to stop spending money on drinking and save money for a digital camera that I've been on about getting for the past 12 months.






Monday, February 13, 2006

Say my name, say my name!


Keito
Originally uploaded by Lemon Lion.

I have a new name here in Japan 'Keito', which I quite like. Apparently it translates as 'wool' which I'm not so keen on, especially when I sing "wind the bobbin up" with my students, I'm actually talking about winding myself up! Which can easily be done. Last week one of my students gave me a present for my mobile (see blurred picture). It's a little phone decoration, have no idea what else to call it, but everybody has them (well most people) jingling and jangling from their phones. Well, mine is supposed to be my name (and actually it's not a small decoration at all, as it's longer than my actual phone!). I thought it was really sweet how she'd just changed the katakana into English, I hope she doesn't discover how my name is really spelt, as she looked so proud when she handed it to me. So now it's swinging from my phone - my newly named 'Keito' keitai (keitai translates to mobile for all those unfamiliar with Japanese, which probably includes me too!).

I have just Googled the meaning of my name and it's of Celtic/ Gaelic origin. On the website I looked at, it says it means 'Pure, Virginal' ha ha!! Also there was a survey posted up on the site (which is actually a site if you want help for naming your baby, for unimaginative parents). Out of 1,187 votes, my name gets a whooping 46% for being an excellent name. Now that's a high percentage. I always wanted to be called Roxanne when I was younger, but now I see my name is just as remarkable.

Right, another new focus for me: to behave equivalently to my name 'Virginal Keito'.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Irasshaimase


It's amazing that here in Japan the shop assistants really make an effort to welcome you into their shops. Or maybe it's not really that amazing, it's just that I was brought up in a society where people treat you like your some sort of annoyance when you enter a store. I was having this conversation with another English human being who'd just recently been back for a couple of weeks, and thought it strangely funny how we Brits are extremely rude with the whole customer service thing compared to the Japanese.
I remember my first day here in Hiroshima when I popped over to my 24 hour supermarket to food shop. As soon as I stepped foot into the vicinity I heard an echo of "Irasshaimase's" coming from all areas of the shop floor. I picked up a basket and strolled to the fruit & veg area where I was shocked to see that a melon cost over a fiver. In the same instance I received another "Irasshaimase" from the shop assistant standing right next to me, I turned to smile but she wasn't even looking in my direction. So I meandered round all the fresh food arangements still with an empty basket, and ended up in the 'bread' section. Picking up a loaf of bread (and when I say loaf, it's actually 5 pieces of bread in a bag) I dropped it in the basket and turned to move off when I got another "Irasshaimase" in my face. I was beginning to wonder if I was being spied on?! I decided to go and find the milk, and whilst pondering over what the differences were between all of the milks I sensed a shop assistant standing next to me and was waiting for the sudden outburst. Surprisingly this shop assistant said "may I help you?" as I was turning my head and responding with "no thank you" at the same time, he'd walked off. Now, I thought that was quite weird and stood there for a bit thinking he was going to turn around but he disappeared down an aisle.
I continued to walk around in my own little world, not having any idea what the foods were I was staring at, and every now and again jumping from the "irasshaimase's" coming my way. After about 20 minutes of food shopping (and all I had in the basket was milk, bread & butter. Oh the shame of it!) I headed for the till. There was one till open and one customer paying, so standing waiting for approximately 10 seconds, a shop assistant dashes over and opens up the till beckoning for me to come over. What I can't believe is, you would never get that at Tesco's. More often than not, you've got a trolley load of stuff and a wait of 7 people in front with just as much stuff, and as it gets to your turn to load your shopping on the conveyor belt the till staff stick a bloody sign on it saying "closed".

I'm now leaving the supermarket, stunned, just stepping out of the door and hear an echo of "arigato gozaimashta". The thing is though, I get this everytime I go (and so does everyone else). In all shops, people are genuinely welcoming you. I couldn't tell you if they actually really enjoyed their jobs, if they don't, then they're very good at disguising the fact.
When I was waitressing, I used to roll my eyes if anyone came into the restaurant and make them stand at the door for a bit until I'd finished my conversation with my mate of what happened in EastEnders the night before! Even worse when I worked in a clothes shop, I just used to lean on the clothes stands or pick up a selection of clothes and go to the changing rooms for a trying on session. Avoiding customers as much as I could, and basically try to do as little work as possible.
OK, another new determination: to be more good natured when it comes to work (and I'm talking about working back in England, as I'm working with kids here, so I'm constantly behaving like an imbecile - out of work too when I come to
think of it).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Beware of the cyclist!


FACT: "Bike crashes kill 900 people every year and send another 567,000 to hospital emergency rooms with injuries."
I'm thinking that I could possibly hold a world record of the highest amount of bike accidents a person can achieve in such a short space of time. This week alone I've fallen off a bike 4 times, crashed full on into Vernon's beautiful mountain bike & cycled into a signpost. As a result I probably hold a world record of the biggest bruises a person can receive ... EVER!
I must say, one of the crashes was pretty impressive. I'll set the scene: I was the cyclist (under the influence of 'screwdriver') and my passenger was Dan (under the influence of sho-chu), we turned a corner into a not so busy back street in Hiroshima's china town on our way to a bar. Infront of us to the left was a taxi, to the right was a crowd of people saying their goodbyes to eachother and in between the obstacles was enough room for me to cycle through. But no, I'm riding as fast as I can ringing the little bell on the handle, shouting 'move out the way'. I plough through the crowd who luckily move out of the way before sustaining any injuries, I then swerve to the left and hit the taxi on the bumper. Dan flies off the back and I soon follow. It takes a minute or so to realise what had just happened, I'm being helped up by Dan and then we're looking in astonishment at the chaos we've caused. The crowd have now surrounded the taxi and the driver is annalysing his car, but nobody is looking in our direction, so we sneak off. The thing is, it was hilarious (although it wasn't the next day when I couldn't move). However on a more serious note I may write to the Japanese government suggesting that they pedestrianise bar areas and have some sort of crowd prevention sign (preferably hanging from a building as I might cycle into it), aiding cyclists to get to the bars on time to meet their friends.

Monday, November 21, 2005

DJ in da house

When I spoke to my Dad on the phone last week before he ventured on his slog of a long journey to come and see me in Hiroshima, he asked me if I wanted him to bring anything. Apart from ibuprophen, marmite and The Daily Mail(?!), I also asked if he had any photos of me when I was little. Not sure why I asked, just wanted to remember what happened in my life before Japan. As being here kind of makes you forget about life in the old days (not that I'm very old). So I stumbled across this picture. I had so forgotten about Mr Turtle sitting next me - DJ Kate and MC Turtle - I wonder what happened to him? Probably sold him for 5p at a car boot sale. Sorry Mr Turtle, maybe we'll meet again on friends reunited?
This is a pointless blog - just felt I needed to write something, anything! I'm going to bed.