Monday, November 29, 2004

Another wonderful week

Surprisingly I managed to get to school on time and felt so much better than the night before.

The day blurred by because I was quite expected. I didn't have a hangover, I guess because I had yakked everything up hehe.

I had to record a listening test because my students are having their exams soon. Didn't sound all that bad as I expected, I guess all that hurling action warmed up my vocal chords hahaha =D

This week I've been fully cooking up a storm in my little kitchen. I've always loved cooking, but cooking for one is so much harder and not as much fun I reckon. One night I made roast herb potatoes with chicken stuffed with avocado, camembert cheese (Australian too!), olives, fresh basil, rosemary, totmatoes and rubbed with salt, pepper and garlic powder, lightly fried in a pan of hot oil. I've also found the equivalent to Kantong(?) it's called 'Cook-Do' haha and I bought some packets. I'm planning to try all of them! So another night I made garlic chilli prawns, potatoes, broccoli and spicy tofu with minced meat! *drool* It tasted really good but the prawns were a little tough because I think I cooked them for too long.

On Thursday night I met up with Kelly in Sanners. She'll be in Japan for a while and it was so good to just sit back, chat and laugh with a mate from back home. We went to the Hub for drinks first then I took her to Steak Land for Kobe beef. We also took some 'Purikura' - print club and had a good laugh. Heading back to the station via the toffee strawberry stick vendor guy, we bumped into Phil and then called it a night.

Thanks for meeting up Kel, I had a blast! Hope to catch up with you again before you head home.

love & ohnamiya madness

What a feast! As you can see, the Iron Chef theme ingredient was spring onion garnish Posted by Hello

Chicken & potatoes Posted by Hello

Me & Kelly in Sanners Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 28, 2004

My First Thanksgiving

Being from Australia, I've never celebrated Thanksgiving before. My only perceptions of it were of pilgrims, turkey and Simpson/South Park episodes. Yes, lame - I know.

Anyway I headed to Zack's Thanksgiving get-together at his place. But first I went shopping in Sanners (Sannomiya - ofcourse us Oz folk abbreviate everything we can) and bought 2 trench jackets (1 x black, 1 x beige - I'm one of those people who if I see something really good and if possible, I'll get 2 in different colours. And yes I know it looks pretty much like the other one I recently bought but a girl can never have enough coats..or shoes..or get my drift), fleecey jumper and matching green striped beanie and scarf.

I then met up with my conversation language exchange partner, Yoshi. Seriously everyone you say 'Yoshi' to they're either like,
"Oh yeah, Mario's green dinosaur friend"
or if they go,
"Yosh what? aye?"
You then go..
"You know, Yoshi, as in Mario's green dinosaur friend?"
"Oooooh yeah, I get it"
Yoshi just got back to Japan from living in Boston for 3 years. So he wants to keep up his English and I want to improve my Japanese.

So with my adventure-like directions from Zack's email, we both headed to Zack's place - very detailed directions mind you, fully spot on.

I was very impressed with what everyone made and brought. Yes I was a cop out and just bought dessert because I didn't have time to make anything. There wasn't a turkey but there was plenty of tasty food to go around..several times. Salads, takoyaki, pumpkin pie, chicken, salsa dips, stuffing..etc..

Met up with lots of other JET's and even scored a ride on Clay's cruiser!! It was freezing but so good to just sit back and relax on the bike. Then began the drinking games...*sigh*

It was Roman's game called King's Cup and it was fun and hillarious but then I drew the last King. *dame!* Therefore meaning I had to down the glass of beer, red wine, dregs and what not *eeeks!* I had already had some red wine, but that evil concoction pushed me over the edge, like way over the edge. I got red very quickly (otherwise known as 'Asian fire' hahaha that's what Yoshi taught me) and felt very sleepy. Apparently I fell asleep under the kotatsu for about an hour. I yakked in the toilet, the most I think I've ever yakked in one night (western style toilet thank goodness!). When I woke up I was so confused because everyone had continued playing more games and they were all wearing hats and random things on their heads eg. Zack's shirt turban, Aaron's beer box with a stuffed bear?! It was funny but I felt oh-so-sick.

Luckily some of the guys were heading back my way so they took care of me and we managed to catch the last train home. I thought I had already emptied out the entire contents of my stomach in Zack's toilet but I think the motion of the train made me feel queasy again and thus, I managed to unload one shopping bag's contents into the other shopping bag just in time to throw up on the train in a plastic bag. At that point, I reached a whole new low. It was so embarrassing. I'm NEVER going to live that one down. I had spew splatterings in my hair, on my new scarf which I was wearing, on my jeans and boots - it was just so wrong. Nooice! Very nice impression Christine - good work!

I walked home and managed, in my state, to remember that I had run out of milk. So I stumbled into my local 7 eleven and picked up a carton of milk and some Yakult - I thought it would make me feel better. I got home, had a shower, washed my hair, made a hot cup of tea, set my alarm and crashed.

I have never felt so sick and seedy. But now when I look back on it, it's funny and all but just the smell or thought of it makes me queasy. *shudder* I don't think I'll be forgetting my first thanksgiving in a long while. Alas, I was...the turkey.

love & happy thankgiving


Happy Thanksgiving! Posted by Hello

Trench #1 Posted by Hello

Trench #2 Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004


I met up with Claire and Cheryl today and we headed to Kyoto to see the changing colours of the leaves.

I've been to Kyoto once before when I was on exchange. It was just as I remembered it - simply beautiful. Kyoto is gorgeous. Kyoto is amazing. Kyoto is so culturally rich. Kyoto is breath-taking. Kyoto also has tasty waffles!

We visited various temples and shrines (many national treasures and World Heritage listed I think) and I got my first temple book (a book that you get stamped and written on at each temple you visit). First we headed to 'Sanju-sangen-do' or 'Rengeo-in' temple, where there are 1001 statues of the Buddhist deity, "Juichimen-senju-sengen Kanzeon" aka "Kannon". The statues were made in the 12 and 13th century out of Japanese cypress. The temple also houses the 28 gaurdian deities of Kannon - very impressive.

Next was the famous Kiyomizu Temple. I remember being there in 1997 and the same cobble stoned paths with rows of souvenir shops and eating places. I also bought these awesome shiriken ninja stars. So they're probably touristy ones but who cares - they look kick ass in my house!

The trees and the leaves were so pretty. There were so many people out enjoying the views, drinking hot tea and slurping hot ramen. We took heaps of photos and even saw some girls dressed up as Maiko (apprentice Geisha) taking photos. They were probably from a studio that makes you up totally like a Maiko and you get to walk around and get studio photos taken, because apparently real Maiko only come out after dusk, and Geisha are a dying breed.

And no adventure would be complete without some shopping. We hit the malls and bought these hillarious splited-toe socks (ninja-style) with stereotypical Japanese prints on them. Mind you, my last sock purchase were these cute little ankle socks with alphabet letters and random sayings on them. You could get:
'A' - adpt boy
'J' - jackson
'Q' - question?
'H' - hapipi girls
but I just had to get these ones:
'E' - Erotic Museum
What the?!

Just have to make sure I don't wear them to school because they love trying to read english words and WILL ask me what it means. I need to get some new slip on/off shoes because we have to change into 'indoor' shoes when we're in school. I've been wearing my puma's as my indoor shoes but it kind of looks a bit funny when I decide to wear a suit. But they're so comfy! and my work heels which I brought over especially for work just won't do on the surface, so looks like its shoe shopping for me. Yay!

love & I wanna-be-a-ninja-geisha

Me & Claire in a temple garden Posted by Hello

Kyoto reflections Posted by Hello

"Portal For Individuals" Beam me up Scottie! Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Kiyomizu Temple Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

The Love Stone Posted by Hello

Maiko in the garden Posted by Hello

say what? Posted by Hello

Friday, November 26, 2004

Night tennis

Say what?!?

Exactly what I thought, but I still smiled, nodded my head and said "Sure! Count me in."

Some teachers invited me to join them for some tennis after school today. So after school one of the teachers drove me home to get changed and then we headed to a nearby tennis club. My teacher drives a hell sexy black supra. It was nice, very nice - especially for a teacher's car.

The club was right next to the ocean so it was freezing. I swear it felt like a typhoon was a'brewing. It was so windy that the ball would drift off. But it was really fun. It felt good to get active again and work up a sweat. We took turns and played doubles and then headed to a nearby family restaurant for dinner. It reminded me of Sizzlers. There was a drink bar where it's all you can drink. I had the steak - so good to have a nice slab of meat (it wasn't that big but it was big enough for me).

I was feeling tired all day and was going to bail but I'm glad I ended up going. I got to laugh and chat to the teachers in a more relaxed environment and after the exams we're going to go out for Izakaya - all you can eat and all you can drink!

love & typhoon tennis balls

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Tea Ceremony Club

I had Tea Ceremony Club (chado-bu?) after school today.

I kind of look forward to it as a kind of relaxation and 'zen' time-out time after school. Although now it's getting colder and a lot darker earlier, it doesn't seem as tempting. But as soon as I get into the 'zen' mode, I'm always glad I ended up going.

Today was particularly eventful. Tea-sensei looked gorgeous, as always, in a stunning kimono, perfect hair and gentle smile. She gave me a present! It was a 'fukusa-basami' - a tea purse which you use to carry your 'sensu' (fan), 'fukusa' (silk cloth used in the making of tea) and 'kaishi' (delicate paper used for eating sweets). It was so pretty. Apparently all the tea ceremony girls get one and Tea-sensei made them herself using the cloth from one of her old kimonos! Now that's authentic for you!

I was also taught how to pour and make the tea. I even got to wear the special apron (which was a crossover halterneck-like top - think playboy bunny outfit and that's about it). One of the 3rd year girls taught me while Tea-sensei was teaching one of the 2nd year girls. My tea was green, hot and frothy - yummy! We also had these delicious red bean jelly-like slices to compliment the tea. The setting was perfect, so tranquil and peaceful...that is until the band club started going. The tatami room has beautiful old-skool, Japanese paper sliding doors and when the windows are open you can hear the band club practising in the other building. So there we were making and drinking tea when the silence was broken by the opening bass beats of Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby (too cold! too cold! hahaha). I nearly choked on my tea as I couldn't help but burst out laughing. It turned out to be another song but I swear the opening chords were identical.

I had found out that all the previous ALT's at my school were part of the ESS club and the Tea Ceremony club, so naturally I think it was assumed that I would do the same. Ofcourse ESS, it being the English Speaking Society club, but I first had doubts about Tea Ceremony club. I mean sure, I've done tea ceremony before but I didn't think it was such a big deal. But now after being accepted as one of the club members and learning all the intricate motions and amazing form that is 'the way of tea' - I love it!

I even have a book entitled "English for use in 'the way of tea'" which helps me so much in learning what to do and say. There are so many rules to learn and remember, such as how to enter a room, how to cross the tatami with which foot, how to bow, when to speak, how to speak, how to observe and appreciate the flowers and cups, how to fold the 'fukusa'..etc..

Some education from my book kids (as it's written word for word):

The Way of Tea os one of Japan's cultural traditions.

In Japan, a highly developed spiritual culture has matured through a bowl of powdered green tea.

I will be happy if you are able to feel the heart of chado behind the form or procedure of drinking tea.

The basic principles of chado are expressed in the words harmony, respect, purioty and tranquility.

In chado, spiritual purity is essential.

By learning chado, we seek to obtain an ultimate peace of mind.

The Grand Tea Master* teachers the thought of "Peacefulness through a Bowl of Tea."

Chado is also deeply influenced by Zen thought.

The spirit of chado is universal.

*Speaking of the Grand Tea Master. It reminds me of one music show I watched on TV. It was hillarious! It was a rap, hip-hop group which b-boys breakdancing and guys in ninja outfits and the MC was called Sir Scratch-a-lot! hahaha the DJ behind was on the decks and there was this huge mofo vinyl spinning around projected on the wall and he was pretending to scratch it. Then to finish it, they all got into a line and joined arms to do the electric wave thing. I couldn't stop laughing - it was simply classic.

Okay back to tea.

love & antioxidants

Gift from Tea-sensei

My Tea Purse Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Care packages

Today I got a care package from Mum.

It was so cool to get a nice big box delivered to my front door and having to sign for it. I guess it hit me again that I'm now living in Japan and this is my new home.

Mum sent me over some vitamins (because she's worried about me getting sick all the time), 2 trackie pants, my new drivers licence that I renewed when I was last went back (I have this mega goofy smile d'oh! but at least it's better than my other one. Believe it or not but I've actually had a drivers licence with an okay photo on it, that is before I lost it after Paul van Dyk. But he was so worth it!), curry paste stuff to make wicked curries and Jurlique rose hand cream (thanks SY!) Yay!

After school I also met up with this Japanese English teacher who wanted to practise and keep up his English. It was really random. I met him briefly (very briefly) at the speech contest I went to a few weeks back. He was sitting in front of me and turned around and started talking to me. His student was the one which I had commented on having really random intonation, exaggerated hand gestures and was the epitome of a western stereotype of a Japanese person, eeeks I think maybe he had heard me. Anyway we spoke very briefly and the Monday after I received a call in the staff room.

I never get calls at school. I mean who would call me at school?! I was puzzled and asked "Japanese or English" but was just given the phone. It turned out to be that teacher. He remembered which school I went to and phoned up asking for me. Okay kinda weird. Anyway he asked me if I'd mind meeting up with him for conversation exchange so he could practise his English. Apparently my English is clear and very easy to listen to and understand hahaha

One of the teachers asked me who had called me and if they spoke Japanese or English. So I explained to her what had happened and she told me to be careful because it sounded 'suspicious'. When I continued to tell her about the teacher - blind male teacher from such and such high school who studied in America...yadda turns out that she was in the same seminar as him in university! What a small world! She assured me that 'he was of good character' but nonetheless I had my defences up all the time.

We went to Starbucks for coffee and it turned out to be an okay evening. I don't think I've ever met and properly sat down and talked with someone who's blind before. It was really interesting and it made me realise how much I take for so much! I mean having to be aware of just everything. I had to guide him where to go and it was strange having someone hold my arm and totally depend on me. I was very impressed that in Japan they have a textured surfaced path for blind people to walk on (like braille) so they know where to go.

I don't mean for this to be a bad analogy in poor taste, but the evening really was an eye opener. I'm so fortunate to be able to see amazing sights, to know vibrant colours, to watch movement and enjoy what things look like. I mean how do you describe to someone who can't see..the colours of the rainbow after a storm, the green glimmer shattering the ocean as soon as the sun sets and touches the sea, the warm smiles of children playing and laughing, the water painted sky when the sun rises, the glittery stars twinkling and the beaming full moon peering from a dark velvet night, the love you can see when you look deep into the eyes of someone who cares...?

love & hot green tea

The postman always rings twice

My care package! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Labour Thanksgiving Day

Yay! Another national holiday!

It's so good to sleep in!
I was able to do some Japanese study and laundry this morning. Then I headed to Claire's place for her BBQ. The weather was so nice so I decided to break in my new boots! Was so impressed with Chris' greek salad and Lisa's vietnamese spring rolls!

I then headed to Porto Bazar (again!) to meet up with Noel. My bad for being late - sorry! He's definately one of the most fussiest guy shoppers I've shopped with before. I mean what is your definition of 'street' anyway? hahaha Had coffee and cake (again!) it really is that good!

I was really good and didn't buy anything. Perhaps because I had splurged only 3 days before. Actually I did buy one thing. I bought a new umbrella at Jusco because I left my other one at the Hub on Friday night! D'oh! It was my first time and I'm sure it's not going to be my last. People leave their umbrellas all the time and sometimes by the end of night, you end up taking someone else's random unbrella. Score!

Barbie @ Claire's

Posted by Hello


Oh how I love (& miss) a good barbie! Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Conquering Mt. Hyonosen (or at least trying to)

Today I'd been invited to join some teachers to go hiking up Mt. Hyonosen up northern Hyogo in the Tajima area (where Jon lives). So I got up bright and early (too early!) and quietly got ready while Jon was still sleeping. Being from Canada, Jon so kindly gave me tips on what to do if I encountered any bears while hiking hahaha eeeks!

I gave Jon my spare key last night and told him he could sleep in and make himself at home and then drop the key into my mailbox slot on his way out. One of my teachers lives just down the road from me so I walked to his house and met up with another teacher. It was so cold! I was fully rugged up in a beanie and gloves and scarf and the whole shibang! We drove to a train station and picked up 2 other teachers. Then it was a mega long ride up to the Taj. It took like 3 hours I think, but I was dozing off in the back of the van. We stopped by Max Value (a big supermarket chain) to pick up some supplies and eventually got to Hyonosen.

However due to all the recent typhoons, there have been many landslides and flooding around the area. So halfway driving up to get to the carpark and the starting point of the hiking path, the road was closed because it was covered by landslide debris. So what else would any normal person do in this situation? Well after coming all this way, a landslide wans't going to stop my teachers so we parked the car and climbed over the wreckage and proceeded to walk up the road (for a good hour or so) till we got to the carpark. Seeing our time schedule was now pushed back, we weren't able to hike it all the way to the top. Not to be disappointed, we took shelter in a little wooden hut when it started raining and hailing!! (it was THAT cold up the mountain) and had lunch - Argentinian red wine, camembert cheese, 2 minute noodles and onigiri. They sure know how to have a picnic alright!

Since we couldn't make it up the mountain, we headed to another famous spot to see the waterfalls. They were so nice! I've never really been mountain hiking before, just bush walking back home. So walking through the lush mountain next to trickling streams with fresh crisp air was really relaxing and tranqil. The scenery was stunning, especially the changing colours of the leaves. Highly reccommended.

When I got home I was so tired and pooped! I had a very nice surprise too when I saw my kitchen sink clean and empty. Jon was, as always, a wonderful guest and he even did my dishes before he left! So very impressed! Thanks matey - you rock my nuts...or not! hahahaha

Had a nice, long, hot shower and crashed.
Man my legs are going to ache tomorrow!

Landslide! - but they were determined! Posted by Hello

My teachers Posted by Hello

In our waterproof hiking gear (I borrowed my teacher's), I felt like a Power Ranger cross Teletubbie cross MC Hammer. Posted by Hello

Hot instant noodles Posted by Hello

Our picnic Posted by Hello