Wednesday, March 29, 2006


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.