Gaijin Housewife in Japan

Bringing you every day life in Japan to your part of the world.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

New tactics by door to door sales people?

There are lots of people in Japan whose job it is to sell door to door. Newspapers, educational materials and insurance to name some of the kinds of people who ring my door bell so often.

I am lucky that I have a door camera so I can see who is downstairs outside the door, without having to go/sneak all the way down to check through the peep hole.

I usually only open the door to the post office man or any courier that I am expecting if I have ordered something online. So when I look at my door camera screen I expect to see someone there holding a package.

Yesterday I was expecting a courier to deliver something and sure enough the door bell went. I looked at the screen to see a man holding a box. Something was odd about it though since I also had the window open and should have been able to hear the truck/car/motorbike drive up.
My husband looked out the window and said there was no delivery vehicle there so I didn't answer the door.
So I think I had a narrow escape from a educational material sales person, or was he perhaps some other kind of salesperson being sneaky and trying to lure me to the door by making me think it was a courier?

The newspaper salesman in this area is particularly persistant and intrusive. Our apartment was built a few months ago, so it became one of his prime targets. Almost every night he would come round repeatedly ringing the bell, banging on the door and even yelling through the letterbox!
Talk about feeling harrassed in your own home!

So you probably think I should grow a back bone and go and confront Mr Newspaper man and tell him we don't want any. However I have suffered my fair share of pushy newspaper salesmen in the past who didn't seem to think that a lack of Japanese language ability (whether real or put on) was any hindrance to buying a subscription. That is how badly they need to sell you one.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

How come the stars get all the prizes?

Japan has a mass of game shows which are all colourful, noisy and fun. A recent article I read on the Japan Today website reminded me of something that used to frustrate me when I first got to Japan and then forgot about.

Japanese games shows almost always feature the talento I mentioned in an earlier blog.
These talento play for big money prizes, overseas trips and other nice things. Do they play of behalf of a viewer at home? Not very often. They keep the prizes for themselves mostly I guess. I'm not sure if or what they get paid to appear on the show, but really, what about us folks at home?

There are very few chances for "regular" people to appear on these game shows, though one game show called Tokyo Friend Park, lets viewers send in a post card which they then draw out one from a box full of what looks like about a million post cards. Then that person may have a slight chance of winning something, provided the talento can hit a spinning wheel with a dart, and the dart doesnt go into "out" areas. Woo hoo.

Does anyone know what the going rate is for someone to make an appearance on one of these shows by chance?

One of my favourite quiz shows is 世界ふしぎ発見、a show about curious things around the world. Each week they go to a different country and show you something interesting and there are a whole 3 questions the panel has to get right in order to win an all expenses paid trip to said country.
Now this show has a regular called Tetsuko Kuroyanagi (see photo), who wins more often than she loses. This drives my husband wild as he is sure that she knows all the answers in advance. I think that she is just well traveled, so does she really NEED all those trips to Bolivia, Egypt etc? When would she have time to take them all? Is she allowed to give them away? If so, how do I become mates with her? ;)

Does anyone else find this unusual or slightly annoying?

Hair Obsessed Japanese Men

Nobody wants to lose their hair. But for many men, this is a fact of life they can expect. Personally I think that men losing their hair is only fair since women have to suffer so many hardships which I need not list here. Right girls?:)
However, in Japan the terror of losing one's hair seems quite out of proportion to me. My husband (who shall here forth be known as "K"), is as terrified as all the other Japanese men out there and from the looks of his father, he can probably expect to loose most of his hair in the next 20 years.

I said that when it gets obvious that he is seriously losing hair, I will buy a pair of clippers and it will be a number 2 all over. K was horrified by this as he said it would make him look like an elementary school student with a bad case of lice or a junior high school student who belongs to the baseball team. These are just some of the stereotypes involving hair that are alive and well in Japan.
I think it would be better no to look like he was in denial of his hair loss.

We often see these "in denial men". K and I often play "Spot the toupee" when we are out at restaurants, which is so easy as they are so bad that they surely make the situation worse.
Then there is the "bar code" as it is known in Japanese, or the comb over as it is known in English.

I saw somewhere that men tend to keep the hairstyle that they had during the best period of their lives. I've been trying to convince my husband to try a new style. After noticing a picture of him during his university days where he has almost the same style as now, I decided to put this theory to the test. Sure enough, without prompting from me, he reckons that his university days were the best period of his life. I'm not sure if I should be offended by this or not. So I guess I will have to live with current hair style until we get to aforementioned balding situation.

Now someone who seems to have ample hair is Takuya Kimura, who is also affectionately known at Kimutaku. Now recently he has grown his hair out. That's not so odd. But yesterday I saw him at a PR event for his new film with such a women's hair-do I was quite shocked.

Then again today I saw him with his hair up in a french roll whilst he was performing at a concert! If anyone has a url to a photo of that, please post it.
For anyone that doesn't know Kimutaku, he is a huge star and heart throb in Japan, and I am exceedingly jealous that both hairstyles look so much better on him that they ever would on me.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Battle of the Washing

I'm in competition with my neighbours. They don't know it though. The house across the street does their washing pretty much every day and I am always trying to beat them to have my washing hung out before them. So far the earliest I have managed to get the washing out is 8am, but theirs was already there. Even if I do my washing on the "speedy cycle" which takes less than 30 minutes, I still can't get it out before them. I suppose my neighbours downstairs and directly through the wall are pleased that I don't turn on my washing machine at 6am like the people across the way must do.

I'm still kind of in German mode. In Germany, one is not allowed to make noise on a Sunday all day, or between 1-3pm weekdays and after 8pm at night. If you live in an apartment this can severely restrict the times when you can run noisy appliances like a dishwasher or a washing machine or even take a shower if your neighbour is a real stickler for the peace and quiet laws. And they are laws, you can even be taken to court if you insist on washing your car or mowing your lawns on a Sunday. Sometimes I catch myself thinking "Oh its too late/too early/Sunday/lunchtime to turn on the washing machine or do the vacuuming".

Anyway, back to the washing.
Hanging out the washing is serious business. I mentioned about the weather report telling you if your washing will dry out, not just in the whole prefecture but in each sub area. Go to the 100 yen shop ($2 store) and there is a whole aisle devoted to things to help you hang out your washing. Since most people (like us) don't have a garden with a decent area to put a washing line, it has to be done on the balcony. For this you need a pole and a multi peg hanger type thing.
There are also special clips for when you air out your futon so you can secure it to the balcony amongst other gadgets. Nobody likes their washing getting wet, but in Japan "rain" is considered to be "dirty" and should in no uncertain terms come anywhere near your freshly washed clothes. This is also why people in Japan love umbrellas more than any other country in the world.

When you hang out your washing you do need to be careful. Careful not to display your bra and nickers. This will make you a potential target of underwear thieves. These thieves, who as far as I personally know are only an urban myth, will climb onto a balcony to get a pair of nickers which can be sold as "used nickers", for goodness knows what! ;)
I am terrified of underwear thieves as quite frankly, if I was to lose any of my underwear I would have to get more sent over to me from NZ. Japanese bras are so uncomfortable, if I can find one that is big enough and not padded to the hilt. Undies aren't much better.
So my underwear is like "gold" to me. So next time you decide to go and buy some new underwear, I hope you appreciate it. I have to wait till Christmas for any new stuff.

BTW has anyone ever been hit by an underwear thief?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Are we being too "ketchi"?

Ketchi is Japanese for stingy. There is also another word "setsuyaku" which means "economical". Setsuyaku seems to be the catch phrase at the moment in Japan, as more and more people are making an effort to be economical, but I think many people seem to be bordering on being a little too ketchi.

When I worked at a junior high school, it always used to amaze me how often the school would find ways to part me from my hard earned money. Perhaps some other teacher got married, had a relative die, built a new house. This would mean that I (who probably rarely even spoke to the person) had to shell out between 3,000- to 20,000 yen depending on the occasion - even if I secretly despised the person.
Then there was my compulsory 4000 yen monthly membership to the schools teachers' club. This money was used to fund our tea and coffee supplies, drinking parties and monetary gifts as mentioned above in addition to our personal gifts. Along with the 350 yen PTA membership fee!! Oh and there was also the Gakunen club. Each teacher belonged to a gakunen (grade) and taught the students in that grade. I belonged to the 2nd grade and every month I paid 3,000 yen to the 2nd grade teachers' club fund, for our own drinking parties, monetary gifts for people who got married or what not who belonged to our grade and for our end of year "bonding trip".
Don't even get me started on the coffee club! ARGH!!
What also surprised me was how the other teachers thought this was completely "atarimae", or acceptable/normal practice. I don't work there anymore but I wonder if they have toned down their money wasting activities in the financial crisis.
My poor husband was most annoyed by this as it was completely foreign to him. He is not a teacher and works at a publicly owned company.
The financial crisis is even going to affect the government employees as they have to take a hit on their bonus (I'm not sure why they get a bonus at all as they don't seem to contribute to the profitability of anything!) , as the government seems to want them to feel the pain that the rest of us are all feeling.

In response to the tougher economic conditions that are seeing people losing their jobs or having to take cuts in their pay, housewives are going into "economic mode". Some housewives have always done this but now that many are seeing a 20% drop in their husbands' incomes they are reacting very quickly to make sure that no money is wasted. This means shopping for bargains, buying cheaper food (like mung beans - 20yen for a bag instead of broccoli 198 yen a head).
Cutting down on their hobbies (like my expensive flower arranging course), which is affecting the industry I work in - English conversation schools. Children's English classes are perhaps the least affected as parents still wish for Junior to become a "Native English Speaker", this puts a lot of pressure on us teachers to get results, that I must say are often impossible. The TV is constantly showing us housewives how to reduce our food costs, energy costs and what not. I think this is great, but when we all get too carried away with being economical, isn't that A) going to make the whole problem worse and B) make life just that little bit less nice? You might be wondering why these housewives don't just go out and get a job. Well thanks to a serious lack of day care options that is almost impossible for many women. If they can find a spot in day care for their child, then they need to be able to get a job that pays enough to make it worth while. Jobs for women returning to the work force after having children tend to be underpaid and contract or part time.

As for my own economical measures, I have been going to the hair dresser less regularly, my husband and I are living with only one car instead of the required two that most people have where I live, riding my bike to the supermarket when possible, shopping at the Don Quixote Mega Mart - but only when I am on the way home from flower arranging class so as not to waste petrol, we now go to the library every 2 weeks instead of buying books from Amazon and only have lunch out once every other weekend or so. Is that too ketchi?

Some ueber ketchi housewives I have seen on telly, refuse to buy anything that is not already marked down in the supermarket! eek!

If we are all too ketchi, won't it come and bite us on the proverbial bottom by further job losses and pay cuts? For this reason, the Japanese government has given a cash pay out to every person who was living in Japan on the 1st of Feb (?) (not us we hadn't moved back yet) to help the economy go round. Today I saw an advertisement on telly reminding us to spend the money rather than save it!

So if you are affected by the financial crisis, what are you all doing to be more economical?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Cringe Factor of Public Love Declarations

I have a low tolerance for embarrassment. Not mine in particular but watching other people embarrass themselves is rather painful for me.
In Japan there is the 告白- a confession of love or interest in someone. This usually goes along the lines of "I like you. Will you go out with me?". People often have the brilliant idea of doing this on TV - which is where I come in.

Yesterday I watched an episode of 探偵ナイトスクープ, a show where viewers write in ask for help with something like meeting a long lost friend or even weird stuff like, can you help me find out why honey is dripping down my walls? (it turned out their was a giant bees nest in the roof). So this show is usually hilarious and even moving at times. But yesterday someone wanted to "confess" to a good looking guy she sat next to on the train once. All she knew about him was that one of his friends worked at a certain bar.

So to cut a long story short, they found the guy. And I think she "confessed" to him, I'm not sure because at this point I had blocked both my ears and was shielding my eyes - much like small children do (or used to) during the scary bits of a movie or when one animal eats another in a nature documentary. My husband let me know when it was OK to look again. The girl didn't look very happy so of course he had said no...on national TV. When asked how she felt, she replied すっきり-cleansed. I guess she just had to get that off her chest and now she can move on.

What's wrong with sending a text or an email? Much less confrontational. When the other person says no, the next time you see them you can always say: me? no I never sent that text - must have been so and so playing a joke on you with my phone. Sorry dude, but you're not really my type. Oh how I wish cell phones had been mainstream when I was a young whipper snapper.

Monday, 25 May 2009

A bit of trauma at the curry house: A country bumpkin goes to the big smoke

I always have trouble deciding what to eat when I somewhere new or unfamiliar. On my trip to Tokyo last week, I had the same problem as always. I walked past plenty of nice restaurants, but of course couldn't decide until I got to the point where I was completely starving and starting to get stressed out. So the first place I came across at that point was CoCos. Where I live, CoCos is a "FamiResu" or a Family Restaurant. This means that you can always get something fairly edible, quickly and at a reasonable price. What I didn't take note of was the "Curry House" part of the sign. I just thought: "Oh great, here is a restaurant where I can sit at a table and get something to eat quickly, without being completely shafted by Tokyo's expensive prices". So I wandered on in, to find that this "restaurant" was actually a counter with stools where a series of business men shoveled curry and rice into their mouth as fast as they could before racing back to the office.
Once I got settled on my perch, squeezed in between two business men and looked at the menu, I was sadly disappointed to see that at a Curry House, the only thing on the menu is various kinds of curry and rice with fried things added to it. I should have just pretended to get a phone call from a friend and then left in a hurry - I am such a wimp I can't just walk out of a restaurant, the only time I have done this was when my husband and I mistakenly sat down in an incredibly over priced Italian restaurant in Vienna only to find we couldn't even afford the starters. So we waited til the waiter wasn't looking and we ran off - we hadn't actually ordered anything yet, don't worry we are not fugitives from the Austrian police.
Anyway, since I was already atop my stool I decided just to suck it up and have lunch there. So I settled for a Chikenkatsu curry with rice, not the healthiest option but at least something I would like. Another bad point about this kind of restaurant is that you can actually see the food being made.
There are various positive aspects about open kitchens in restaurants, for example: the chefs can't throw a nancy every time something goes wrong which is inclined to happen when they are hidden behind a door, it is also supposed to encourage cleanliness as the customers can see their food being prepared. I was not at all thrilled at having a front row seat to view the deep fryer and the rather overused looking fat in it (I used to work in a F&C shop), and how the various types of curry are made. It turns out that there is one kind of curry cooked in a giant pot, which the cook then transfers the correct amount to a smaller one, then adds whatever it was you ordered- be it seafood or whatever. So by the time my meal arrived - about a bazillion weight watchers points - a massive heaping plate of a meal- I was not really hungry anymore if you know what I mean.
The two business men on either side of me were inhaling their lunch as fast as possible and I wondered if sitting next to a foreign woman (the only female in the entire place - really I should have noticed this before I sat down) had anything to do with their speed of light eating. So I just decided to get on with it and try to enjoy my lunch whilst balanced on a stool and clenching my handbag between my knees to stop if falling on the floor (another good reason why there were no other women in the shop).
Sitting on a stool at a counter, with nothing to do but watch the mayhem in the kitchen and pretend that the sweaty businessmen I was rubbing elbows with were not there, I also inhaled my lunch so I could get out of there as fast as possible.

That night I had some kind of nightmare about curry, so I think it is safe to say I was somewhat traumatised by the whole thing.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Back to those damn Caramels again

By now you are probably very sick of reading my rantings and ravings about Hanabatake Bokujo or Flower Field Farm's (FFF) soft caramels.

I went to Tokyo for a couple of days and decided to stop by the new cafe that was opened only a month or so ago. I was prepared in the case of a long line to just turn around and walk away but Friday afternoon at 4pm on a very windy day is obviously not prime caramel and ice cream time.
When we got to the store, they were doing a brisk trade but there was certainly no line outside.
At the entrance were a couple of staff members, recognisable in their bright pink uniforms - like the inside of the shop. They told us that there were just the right amount of customers in the shop so would we mind waiting on the foot path in the designated waiting area for a minute or two. Whilst we stood there, one of the staff kindly explained about the whole 2 kinds of ice cream we could buy: Vanilla with chocolate sauce or Vanilla with caramel sauce and that we could order at the cashier when we paid for our caramels.

After about 30 seconds someone left so we were allowed inside. There was a bit of a battle going on at the caramel section, some people were being a bit grabby and hogging the space. It's just caramels people! But my friend and I only wanted one box just to try so we got Yubari Melon flavour. If those damn melons cost so much then I'm going to get my 850yens worth by getting melon flavoured caramels. Then we paid and ordered our ice creams and our caramels were wrapped in a special space bag complete with mini cooling pack so they didn't warm up and melt away on the way home.

I have to say that the ice cream was yum. If you put a Macky Ds caramel sundae on the scale of 1 -10 it would be a 3 and FFF's ones would be a 9.5. The chocolate was also nice but I am a caramel girl from way back.
A nice pink staff member offered to take our photo for us, and who wouldn't want to remember the day they shelled out $40 for two scoops of ice cream and a box of caramels!
I will endeavour to put this photo up when I get it from my friend.
So the whole experience left me feeling like I had been on a pleasant mini trip to disneyland - plenty of mollycoddling, smiles and expensive things to waste your money on!

Surviving the Summer

Here is my latest posting on the Gaijin Pot website.

I have been away in Tokyo the last two days so I promise to update you all with my adventures down in the big smoke as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Mollycoddled by the weather report

Every country seems to have a proliferation of warning signs and warning labels plastered on everything. On a recent trip to New York I felt particularly harassed by announcements and even people, whose job it was to warn us of the dangers of every little thing. I guess this is one of the things that societies, where suing someone is a way life, must put up with.

Japan also has a lot of these warnings. But also warnings for things that only the most idiotic of people would do, and I think is just putting stupid ideas in people's heads. For example: when we bought our Gas hob for the kitchen, it came with a ridiculous instruction book full of stupid things not to do. For example: Do not use hairspray near the gas burner...
Also there was a nice page devoted on how to use the fish grill with handy tips like: When grilling only one fish, place it in the middle of the grill....really? Well knock me down with a feather.

So my recent pet peeve is the weather report. I actually do love to watch the weather report (I like to know if it is going to be 30 degrees tomorrow or a blizzard so I can prepared accordingly). But recently I started to get irked by all the advice the weather girl gives you. They have the "Washing Report", which tells you the likelihood that your washing will get dry if you hang it out. This is quite useful, but then she will tell you if you can go out and leave the washing on the line, or if you should be careful to make sure it doesn't blow away in the wind, whether it is a good day to hang out your futon to air. Then there is the UV report, telling you how strong the UV will be, and then there is just the other advice like: you had better take a folding umbrella with you tomorrow, don't forget to water your plants, drink enough water, protect your plants from frost, watch out for high waves. So I'm wondering when is it going to stop. Next week will I be told to eat enough fibre and brush my teeth facing east due to the favourable atmospheric conditions in that direction?

The weather report is quite normal, but a lot of time and effort is devoted to making these cute little presentations with cartoons to represent drying washing, hanging out your futon etc. ie. for idiots.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Poor Talent

In Japan, the people you see on TV are called "Talento". I find this strange as very many of them are in fact talentless.
I mentioned in my blog about the Kano Sisters, that there are many breast talent women on TV. Recently a new kind of talento has become popular. This is the "Poor Talent" as in no money poor.

First it started with the "Homeless Junior High School Student", Hiroshi Tamura. A comedian who became homeless when he was 14. He wrote a book about it and got a lot of mileage out of talking about his experiences living by himself in a slide shaped like a giant dog turd and munching on cardboard boxes when times got really tough.

Then came Utsunomiya Maki. She is famous for being able to eat extraodinarily large amouts of food. I have no idea how her family used to feed her, but she is seems to be making a living for herself as a "Big Eater" talento.

A more recent new talento is Miyu Uehara. I find her story fascinating. She is famous for being poor, extremely pretty and has rather large boobs for someone so skinny. She has 9 brothers and sisters. This is a large family by any countries' standards and particularly in Japan where 0.79 children is the national average (or something like that).
She reckons that growing up on their birthdays their mother would go out with a slingshot and hunt stray chickens to make fried chicken for dinner. Her mother nearly gave birth to her in a Pachinko parlor, after 9 children they seem to just slide right on out apparently!
There were only 7 pairs of undies to share between 4 girls so when one set were in the wash, the last one up had to go pantyless to school, on the way home from school they collected various flowers that would end up being part of their dinner. They didn't have any money to pay for water in the house so her father and older brother dug a well, when it rained they used umbrellas inside. Luckily they lived down in the most tropical part of Japan in Kagoshima prefecture, so at least it wouldn't be too cold in winter. She says her dream is make it big on TV so she can buy her parents a new house.

At the moment Miyu is having a good run. It seems that once you get on one TV show, then all the other TV shows want you too. So I hope she is well on her way to getting a new house for her parents. She is a regular on my lunch time TV show now and I saw her the other day tastetesting something. The idea was to have one mouthful and say "YUMMY!" and then leave it, but Miyu just kept on eating. This reminded me of my Dad, who was also brought up in a family that didn't have much money, so when there was food he ate it...all of it. This didn't stop when he got older and was well aware that there was enough money for food. As a result, we (the rest of my family) always had to make sure we got in first before Dad would come along and eat the lot - this was especially so with chocolate biscuits...not so much with boring food like brussel sprouts. That is something I now have trouble with. I know that my husband is not going to eat all the chockie bickies but I still don't seem to be able to not eat them all in one go!

Giant Bugs

I come from a place where there are very few insects. There are no ants or fleas, flies are quite small, the odd daddy long legs and moths are about the biggest creepy crawlies one would encounter.
Since Japan has a very tropical summer all the bugs here are on serious steroids.
Summer is on the way as when I go out bike riding or walking I am forever trying not to run over the multitude of insects also out for their daily constitutional. One particular type I have seen a lot of recently is this giant fat fluffy caterpillar type thing. There are heaps of them going from one side of the road to the other and they are quite large. They look kind of cute I guess but I sure wouldn't touch one with a barge pole. This is according to a website I just found, a muslin moth larvae - that is going to be one hell of a moth!

Soon we will all be tortured by the cicadas. Millions of them screech non-stop all day. They are massive things about the size of a 50 cent piece (the old ones) and I was almost blinded by one once when cycling home from work and it decided to fly into my face. One particular supermarket takes great pleasure in playing a recording of cicadas in the shop so you just when you think you've escaped, you are bombarded by this noise again.
Since I now live in the semi-countryside, I can imagine that things are going to be even louder this year. But I am thankful that the nearest rice field is quite a way away as that is the home of toads and frogs that also make huge amounts of noise ribbiting away all day and night.
Then you also have to be careful when cooking vegetables as you might find a dreaded mukade (centipede) in your broccoli, or just dropping down on you from the ceiling. These things are to be avoided at all costs cause if they bite you it apparently hurts like hell. You can't go outside without become fair game for the mosquitoes, who also somehow manage to get inside and bite me (never my husband) whilst I sleep. There are also stink bugs and giant bugs that kids get a kick out of keeping as pets.

My husband's family lives in the sticks, obviously the closer to nature you live, the more insects and bugs there are around. My husband told me that when he was a kid, geckos used to climb all over the outside of the windows- sounds like something out of a horror movie to me. One time when we were there I saw 4 different huge black spiders in one day, inside the house. They still have fireflies there though which is nice as they are hard to find nowadays.

There is one kind of insect I don't mind too much and that's crickets. They start to chirp at night, but they also herald the end of summer which for me is always such a relief.

Monday, 18 May 2009

You know its a recession when....Part 2

In one of my previous blogs I talked about fake beer sales going up due to the recession. Today I saw an example of complete idiocy being somewhat brought under control by the recession.

This time it has to do with rock melons.

Fruit is always expensive in Japan, but it is always really good. Most kids here tend to think of fruit as a kind of treat - in the same category as ice-cream and chocolate. When you go to the supermarket, the prices you see are not usually by the kilo but by the piece. I recently paid 40yen for a single kiwifruit....bananas are cheap though, since they come from the Philippines, which is good since pretty much the whole country is doing the "morning banana diet" - but that's a story for another day.

Yubari is in Hokkaido and for some reason, the rock melons they grow there are sold for absolutely stupid prices.
Last year, before the world economy went down the dripper, a set of two melons sold for 2,500,000 yen (NZ$45,000 EUR 19,500)...that's how much a car costs!
This year they only managed to fetch 500,000 yen (NZ$9,000, EUR4,000)...only...for two melons... My father in law grows melons practically identical to these ones - I wish he could sell his melons for 250,000 yen a piece, but he lives in the wrong place.

Normal rock melons in the supermarket start at about 400 yen each for the not so good ones. A whole watermelon can easily cost more than 3,000 yen. Because fruit is expensive, it is often given as a gift. So if a Japanese person brings you some fruit, don't for a minute think that it is a cheap gift and where's my bottle of wine, because the fruit probably cost as much if not more than a good bottle of plonk.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Japan, land of annoying noise

Everyone warns you when you come to Japan, about the crowds and how everything is miniature sized. What they don't warn you about is the noise.

This morning is a good example.

I was sleeping peacefully at about 6:30am when there were three loud BANGS! It sounded like someone firing a cannon from over the back fence. I nearly had a heart attack again (see here for the last time I nearly had a heart attack) and was quickly told by my husband not to worry about it an go back to sleep.
This time however, I knew what it was that had caused what sounded like we were under attack from the evil Kitachosen (North Korea).
It's sports day season you see.
Now you might be wondering what sports days and cannon fire at 6:30 in the morning have to do with each other. Well letting off extremely loud fireworks is the chosen way to let everyone know that sports day will be going ahead, this is because everyone involved in sports day lives within cannon fire hearing range. If you don't hear any fireworks it means you have to go to school instead (even though its a Saturday). Sports days are always held on the weekend to give parents a chance to attend. Then the kids get Monday off school instead.
At my last apartment there were several schools and kindergartens in the neighbourhood so we quite often got woken up in this way during early summer and early autumn. Here I think there are two schools so that should mean only one more set of fireworks sometime in the next year.

Another annoying noise is the people who drive round in cars with megaphones strapped to the roof blasting messages, propaganda and sales pitches to the neighbourhood.
It can be particularly frustrating before an election with all candidates doing this. Makes me want to stand on the side of the road and biff rotten eggs at them as they drive by, that's how loud and annoying they are. Then there is the baked potato truck who comes round blaring a really winy song that goes baaaaaked potatooooeeeesss, baaaaaaked potatoooooeeeess something something something. The fire department drives around urging fire safety in the winter, or you might hear a guy banging two blocks of wood together...this means be fire safe. There are also the junk buyers and bamboo pole sellers who use this form of torture. Watch this Youtube clip to hear the baked potato song.

Once you leave the safety of your own house, you are going into jingle hell territory. It is assumed that all public spaces, except the library, should have some kind of perpetual noise. This is particularly so in supermarkets and electronics shops. They are also played so loudly, that it is hard to hear what the shop assistants are saying. Walking through the vegetable section of a supermarket you may be blasted by the mushroom song (press the play button under the cartoon mushrooms to hear it), coming from the mushroom section, a kind of fisherman's song coming from the fish section and then various announcements about low prices etc from all the other major food groups. Add to this the staff of the shops who when they see a customer approaching yell out "Irrashaimase!!!!"or welcome, FYI you don't need to respond to this greeting in any way. Just try to ignore them. Everyone else does.

It seems that the accepted may to manage this noise is to ignore it, not call the police as I tend to want to do. I can only imagine how many shop workers are driven mental on a daily basis by the inane noise they have to put up with, whilst working for pathetic wages.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

My favourite rubbish day

I'm very excited today because it is paper day! YAY!
Paper day comes but once a month, when the nice rubbish truck men come along and take away all our paper and cardboard for recycling. In the mean time between paper days it's amazing how much paper one accumulates.

We also have the following rubbish days:
Burnable rubbish day, for all your food scraps etc which is on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Recyclable plastic day, every Thursday.
Every second Monday is plastic bottles, cans and glass
Once a month there is a day for non-recyclable stuff and a day for metallic objects and small household appliances
Twice a year there is used battery day.
It's all very confusing so we have a rubbish calendar to tell you what to put out and when and also HOW. Now if you get the how wrong your rubbish will not be taken away, it will be left behind with a BIG sticker on it saying something like: Are you such an imbecile that you cannot figure out our very easy to understand system, you twit! .
No, actually there are a variety of stickers, sometimes they say "This should be burnable rubbish", or "This is a non-regulation rubbish bag" or something like that .

There are also a lot of rules about rubbish etiquette. No rubbish is to be put out the night before esp burnable rubbish as it will be attacked by all manner of creatures especially the giant crows which are not afraid of people - very creepy and scary.
If you live in an apartment complex with a rubbish Nazi in residence you might get a knock on your door and a bag of rubbish thrust in your face that was incorrectly put out. My first apartment had one such old woman whose job seemed to be lurking around the rubbish collection point to make sure you were following the rules. I hadn't been in Japan long and it was paper day so put out my paper and later on the old woman came to return my paper rubbish to me as it was put out in a PLASTIC bag, which is a big no no. She also tried to give me a bunch of other people's rubbish but at least I knew enough Japanese at that time to tell her that it wasn't mine.

I'm hoping the weather will be fine tomorrow for paper day because if it rains, they won't come and we have to wait until next Saturday.
See this is another reason why there are so many housewives in Japan - look how much time we have to spend trying to figure out how to throw away/recycle our rubbish!

Friday, 15 May 2009

A Japanese Housewife's Dream Gadgets

A survey of Japanese housewives was carried out to find out what would be their dream household appliances to have.
The results are as follows:
1) Self cleaning toilet
2) Self cleaning air conditioning unit (do they need to be cleaned?!?!?)
3) Self cleaning bath tub

The "self cleaning" seems to be the key word here.

So Panasonic have gone ahead and created a self cleaning toilet. One only has to put some detergent into a special tank you can see on the side. The toilet can be colour co-ordinated to match the interior and you can choose to have the version with mood lighting or an ipod connection to play music. I feel sorry for anyone who needs to spend long enough on the toilet to warrant those extras. Click here for an interactive 3D look at it. Prices range from 200-300,000 yen (1500-2300 Euros, NZ$3500-5303). For that price I think I will be cleaning the toilet for a while yet.

The self cleaning aircon is not so exciting to look at, but Toshiba is selling them for about 200,000 yen, roughly double the price of a normal one I think.

The self cleaning bath involves a sprinkler type system in the plug hole that sprays cleaner all round the bath tub and prices start at a mere 918,750 yen, 7,000 Euros, NZ$16,000. So no hope for me in the bathroom department either.

There is one more invention that I found most morbid.
It's called an ipot. In Japan, gas is the main way for boiling water for hot drinks but since this takes a long time the electric pot was invented (see picture). This little puppy keeps the water at a certain temperature so you can have instant hot water for tea or coffee. The latest model, of which I can't find a picture on the internet, is called an ipot because in addition to keeping the water ready for tea, it also sends text messages when it is used. This idea was developed as more and more elderly people are living on their own now. In the past they would have lived with their oldest child's family but that system is becoming less and less popular. So this ipot tells family members who might be far away if the elderly person is using the pot= they are still alive. Apparently elderly people are very regular about their cups of tea and coffee so if the pot use suddenly stops or becomes erratic, the family will know that something is up. This is a regular "pot" ->

If I could have my dream home appliance I think it would have to be a bathroom that cleans itself. Japanese bathrooms are a whole waterproof room devoted to washing yourself so all the walls, floor, bath, door everything needs to be scrubbed and hosed down. See why there are so many housewives in Japan - there is so much house work to do!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Back to Ikebana

After almost 3 years of barely touching a flower, I started back at Ikebana(Japanese flower arrangement) today. Thanks to my husband's transfer to Germany I had to put my training to be a master of Ikebana on hold. I tried to do it a bit whilst we were in Germany but I had some difficulties 1) with finding flowers other than tulips, roses and lillies 2) with finding a flower shop that would sell me flowers by the piece. Also, every time I displayed my flowers, I also succeded in inadvertantly inviting the local ant colony to parade through my house. Yuck. So now we are back in Japan, with lovely fly screens covering all the windows, I can get back to my hobby.

Did I mention that hobbies are taken very seriously in Japan. It usually involves practicing an awful lot and paying a lot of money.
In the case of ikebana, I have to pay my teacher a monthly fee that is set by the local chapter - so even if she wanted to charge me less she can't, a yearly fee to join the local chapter, a fee to take part in the monthly test in order to progress to the next level, a fee to get a certificate to say that I have progressed to the next level. The higher up the levels you go the more each certificate costs - I'm talking 30-40,000 yen here and more. Luckily the higher up you go, the longer it takes to move on to the next level, during which time you can save up your money to pay for the next certificate. The important thing about these certificates is that they are also "a license to teach", so I am not wasting the money as such as perhaps one day I will be able to generate some income from it...maybe. But I personally think that one should not have to break the bank just to stick a few flowers together. Oh I forgot to mention that you still have to pay for the flowers, this is usally under $20 each time, oh and the tests are held on Sunday mornings at 10am! So you can see you really do have to have a lot of motivation to want to keep doing it.

So I went to my teacher's house today and was lucky enough to have her all to myself as the other student that usually comes at that time is busy with her wedding that is happening this weekend. Since it was my first time back I got to do an easy style but with slightly complicated "ingredients".
I was surprised how easily it all came flooding back once I picked up the snips. I'm not much of a perfectionist in any sense of the word but arranging flowers puts me "in the zone" and half an hour can fly by. My teacher said she was "moved", when I put some particular flower in a particular place at a particular angle (probably relieved that I hadn't forgotten everything she taught me). Who would have thought arranging flowers could be such an emotional experience! You can see the offending flower circled in red =>
Click on the photo to see a bigger version.
If you are struggling to appreciate the beauty of this arrangement, remember that Ikebana means "living flowers" so the idea is to try and present them in a natural way, as you might find them in the garden.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

My own little "Before and After"

I have just come back from my first Japanese hair cut in 3 years and first hair cut for 6 months. What a great experience it was too.

I have been visiting this salon ever since I was brave enough to get a hair cut in Japan. I went there on the recommendation of one of my Japanese co-workers and I have been truly faithful to them my entire time in Japan. I hadn't been to them for 3 years because we were living in Germany. Now imagine my horror when I called up yesterday to find that my usual stylist had "retired" (that was the word they used), I think he actually quit, so I said I guess it didn't matter who it was. After I hung up I thought "Oh crap, I bet they give me the guy who used to only be allowed to dry people's hair. Sure enough when I rolled up there today he was there, quaking in his boots. He has been at this salon for as long as I have been going there(7 years) and was obviously doing his time as an apprentice, and now he is allowed to actually cut the customer's hair. So I just smiled and tried to tell myself, surely there is no way in hell he would be allowed to cut my hair if he was crap right? (Remember I am in Japan, this would never be allowed to happen)


From the moment I walked in the door, people practically fell all over each other trying to help me with my coat, store my handbag, they even suggested I might like to take my phone with me as being separated from it for more than an hour would surely be impossible!

First I was shown to the "consulting chair", where with a mix of bad Japanese and even worse English, pointing at various haircuts in a magazine, I think he pretty much understood what I wanted and was handed over to the next person who was in charge of hair washing. Once seated, a fluffy towel was placed overy my legs for warmth or what I don't know. Then after being tipped back, a piece of gauze is placed over your face. This stops the water from ruining your makeup if it happens to splash up and I think this should be mandatory in all hair salons everywhere.
After a good 10 minutes of having my head scrubbed to within an inch of its life (bloody great it was too), I was then handed back to my stylist.
He then proceeded to cut my hair, quite slowly and it was like an angel was touching my hair because he was so gentle! It took a good half an hour for that, then some blow drying, then a bit more cutting whilst it was dryish. Then when all was in order, I was sent back to hair washing girl again who rinsed my hair out to get rid of all the cut out pieces. She put me back in the styling chair and then proceeded to give me a shoulder massage for about 5 minutes . Then my stylist came back and it was a team effort to dry my hair, then he styled it for me.
So an hour and half later I left, and was given a great send off by the guy who is in charge of brushing any stray hairs from the customers as they leave and my stylist, looking much better than when I went in and pleasantly surprised too.

Now all of this cost me 3600 yen, $60 NZD, 27 Euro. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Kano Sisters

I have been fascinated by these two women for a while now, and I finally decided to find out more about them. They pop up on various TV shows and commercials regularly, always attired as if they are off to...well I'm not exactly sure, where do you go dressed like this.At first I was rather appalled by the constant show of flesh as even I, who am similarly "endowed", can't keep my eyes off their cleavage. There are a lot of "Breast talent" women on TV here, in that I mean, quite possibly the only reason they are on TV is that they have quite large breasts. These women's breasts (since they are on TV) are pretty much deemed public property, in that anyone can talk about them as if they were some kind of separate entity, cameras do close ups on them for no apparent reason...makes me real mad.

Anyway, these two seem to manage the negative male attention very well. They are always extremely polite on screen, even when everyone else is being somewhat disgusting or trying to demean them.
Personally I think the point they are trying to make, is that one should make the most of what one has. They were (allegedly) born with the genes for fantastic breasts, curvy bodies and long legs so why should they try to conform to the stick figure type ideal in Japan when that is completely impossible for them? Here! Here!

As I watched them more, and heard what they have to say, I have to admit, I became somewhat of a fan.
Well, for one thing, they have endless amounts of self esteem, which one would need a lot of if one wants to do what they do. OK so they produce coffee table type books of collections of mostly nude photos of themselves. Which are apparently mostly bought by... women.

They seem to have a huge female fan base, who love them for their individuality and frank sexuality - also VERY thin on the ground here.
These women were greeted by screaming female fans on the last show I saw them on and have the second most popular blog on Amoeba (major Japanese blogging site). Now that I find interesting as I would have assumed that women would be very negative about them.

But the thing is they don't seem to pander to men as such. One sleazy TV show host I saw got a look of complete "incomprehension" from one of them when he started being base, which I thought was quite an effective way to shut him down, rather than being outraged or indignant.
They have an ever changing entourage of young good looking foreign guys who they discard/retire (?) like yesterday's dress. They encourage women to be themselves, not just a wife. I'm sure it's as they say, that most Japanese men are extremely intimidated by them.

Kano Sisters Books, DVDs and other goodies (Affiliate link).

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Best Hambagu Ever: Update

Yes I have spelt that correctly. Those of you who have lived in Japan will know what a Hambagu is. It is kind of a big mince pattie but actually tastes much better than your average mince pattie.
The Hambagu is a staple in every good Japanese housewife's repertoire. Recently I found out how one can make a fantastic Hambagu and I'm going to share it with you all.

A frying pan with a lid
1 onion
400g of Mince (70% Beef, 30% Pork mix is recommended)
1 egg
salt and pepper and nutmeg for seasoning
5grams of "Ofu" (お麩)see picture of small white round things
40 grams of milk
butter for frying
oil for frying
1 carrot and 1 potato, peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm thick slices

Finely dice the onions and then fry in a pan for about 10 minutes or until brownish.
Soak the Ofu in the milk and leave the Ofu to soak up the milk for a good 10 minutes at least
In a bowl add the mince, egg and seasoning. Then using your hand "whip" the mince for 2 minutes. This will make the mixture turn a lighter colour and look creamy.
Add the onions and the and Ofu/milk mix to the mince and whip for another 1 minute
Divide the mix into about 4 and shape into round flat patties about 1.5cms thick
Warm the frying pan on a medium heat for 1 minute then add oil
Cook the patties on a high heat for 1.5 minutes on each side.
Take the patties out of the pan and clean it. Put the slices of carrot and potato on the bottom of the pan, then sit the patties on top of the vegetable slices. Put enough water in the pan to come just over half way up the slices of carrot and potato. Put the lid on the pan and then cook on a med to low heat for 8minutes, checking to make sure the water doesn't dry up.

This probably sounds like a very convoluted way to make a pattie, but they really do taste much better than your average one. You can also add different herbs etc to make it a bit more "tasty".

Now here is a recipe for a quick demiglas sauce to have with your hambagu

Using the juice left in the pan from the hambagu (not too much probably about 50-100mls)
fry up 1T ketchup, 1T of BBQ sauce, 1t of Brandy (or other alcohol) and 1.5t of mustard until it looks like a sauce.

You might be wondering what Ofu is. Ofu is kind of like a rusk made from wheat that is usually put into miso soup. Recently it has found uses as a much better replacement for bread crumbs and I have even wrapped them in slices of pork to make fake "big pieces of pork" for sweet and sour pork. Ofu sucks up the juices really well so you don't realised its not meat!
I don't have a picture of the hambagu I made as it got eaten before I had a chance, but I promise to put one up next time I make it.

Update: Here is as promised my latest attempt at hambagu. This time I pulverised the onions in a blender which was not a good idea. My intention was just to chop them but they ended up liquidated...kind of made the taste a bit sour. oops. Also presentation is a bit so so.

Labels: ,

The Sweets Guys

A new phenomenon in Japan is the スイーツ男, suitsu otoko = Sweets Guys. These men are a bunch of hip new age guys who like cakes and other sweets.
So by now you may be aware that men eating sweet food is not so popular/normal in Japan.

We have just come back from several years in Germany, a country that also takes pride in its cakes and pastries. Much to my husband's amazement, it was quite normal to see men hoeing into a giant piece of cake (they tend to be giant) or a big bowl of ice cream. Not something you would be very likely to see in Japan, without snickering from other customers in the restaurant.

I have had male Japanese co-workers who refused to go to a cake shop alone as that would be "embarrassing"...
My own husband is particularly revolted by anything that even has a hint of sugar. He prefers bitter to sweet and likes alcohol - many adults in Japan don't drink because they get completely sloshed on one can of beer. There seems to be some kind of correlation between a liking for alcohol and a dislike of sweet food. Though I am told by a fellow housewife (with about 50 years of experience) that once the men get older, they go off alcohol and start to like sweet food more.

So these Sweets Guys are particularly interested in cakes. This guy even writes his own blog about eating cake. Now if you have ever been to a cake shop in Japan you will know that there is always a fantastic array of beautifully presented cakes, or should I say pieces of cake, so that one can try several if one felt like it.
Some are even going to cooking classes to learn how to make cakes themselves. These are not classes learning how to slap a banana cake together, they are learning how to make very difficult flans, layered and decorated cakes. They seem to be doing it quite well too.

Personally I think its great that Japanese men are getting into eating sweet food. But it is also great that my husband doesn't like it, so we don't tend to order desert when we go out or have lots of fattening sweet food at home...just fattening salty food.

Labels: , ,

Friday, 8 May 2009

Low Calorie Baked Cheese Cake...kind of

Here is a recipe I recently discovered that is a very liberal interpretation of a Baked Cheesecake.
For all you perpetual dieters out there craving something slightly sweet, here is an interesting recipe for you.
First of all, remember that stuff called Ofu (お麩)that I mentioned in my posting about "The Best Hambagu Ever"
Well you will need some of that. Here is the recipe.

20g of Ofu
1 egg
150 cc of milk
1 T of sugar
2 T of lemon juice
Icing sugar if you want to decorate

Place everything except Ofu in zip lock bag, mix well.
Then add Ofu, leave to sit for 20 minutes so that it has a chance to absorb the liquid
Arrange the Ofu in a baking dish, pref one you might use for a pie (I don't have one so used a casserole dish)
Bake for 10 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius.
The end result is something like mini french toast...I even sprinkled cinamon and sugar on mine.
I think the idea is to use big Ofu, rather than the small ones I used.

Labels: ,

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Why are there no good looking guys on day time tv?

You can read my latest post on Gaijinpot here.
P.s. don't forget to rate it. Its easy just click on the appropriate number :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Sunglasses- what is wrong with wearing them in Japan?

Hi! Welcome to my blog about life in Japan and this post about Sunglasses. I'm Jayne, the Gaijin Housewife and you can read more about me on my introduction page.
I love Sunglasses, in fact I have several pairs of very nice ones that I like to wear as much as possible...

Why don't Japanese people wear sunglasses?

In Japan, wearing sunglasses is usually for 2 reasons, a fashion statement or you want to show you are up to something dodgy, give off an air of coolness or badassness.
So as you can imagine the only people you see walking round on the streets wearing sunglasses where I live are people who are probably up to something dodgy and myself, the lone gaijin.

Sunglasses as a fashion statement or trademark

Thanks to Victoria Beckham and other western "fashion leader" type celebrities, sunglasses are slowly becoming popular in Japan. I haven't been to Tokyo for a while but I imagine there are a lot more big dark sun glass wearing people there than here in Fukushima.

Occasionally I see people wearing sunglasses as a fashion item. You can tell this because they are wearing them inside. You will also see various TV personalities who wear sunglasses all the time because that is their trademark. Masahiro Chouno the pro wrestler, Atsushi from EXILE and the every classy GACKT are just 3 that come to mind.

Why do you wear sunglasses?

Well, growing up in the southern hemisphere where the sun is more dangerous than anywhere else on the planet, sunglasses are a encouraged by the "sun safety authorities" if you don't want to get eye cancer...and it is rather uncomfortable walking around in the glare without them. Squinting also leads to wrinkles and the UV rays that enter through your eyes can lead to cataracts. Large sunglasses can also protect the skin reducing crows feet.

The weak eye argument

Many Japanese people seem to think that we foreigners to wear sunglasses because we have weak eyes.
This I find odd as a very high percentage of people in Japan wear glasses or contact who has weak eyes?

In the mean time I will continue to wear sunglasses and be stared at mostly because squinting in the glare annoys the hell out of me.

What do you think? Have you also heard the "weak eye" argument? Do you wear sunglasses in Japan?

Check out my recent posts:
Start jogging: How I went from couch to 5k
Healthy Tonkatsu recipe: Cook Japanese food anywhere in the world
Ikebana: How did you get started?


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Some relief for people in Japan with "Big Feet"

"Big Feet" is such a relative term, outside of Japan my feet are "normal".
I have Japanese size 25.5-26 feet. When I was living in NZ and Germany I never had any trouble getting shoes. Here in Japan, shoes that fit foreign women's feet are very hard to come by especially if your feet are bigger than a size 24 (whats that like a European 39 or 38). If you do find some Japanese shoes that are long enough, the chances are that they won't be WIDE enough. My husband who is Japanese has size 28.5-29 (European 45 or so) feet. He can't find shoes either.
So the only options used to be: Wait until you go home on a trip and buy your shoe supply for the next year or two (which is what I normally do) or buy shoes online from overseas and pay through the nose to get them sent here.

I recently found this site which seems to sell shoes for women and men and some are overseas brands so chances are you already own a pair of Sketchers, or Merrels and you know your size. This website is actually selling shoes for women with feet bigger than a size 25. The range is not the best but beggars can't be choosers!
Other good points include free shipping and free returns within 30 days of purchase (as long as the shoes are still in a new condition) - always good when buying shoes.
So check out this site (Beware all in Japanese)
Shoes for people with larger feet (That's not the name of the store, don't worry)

Labels: , ,

Monday, 4 May 2009

Electronic money makes me want to scream

Japan is still a very much cash based society. Recently some efforts have been made to bring in electronic ways of paying in shops. You can use your credit card in more shops than before or you can sometimes pay with your cell phone or "electronic money".
Many Japanese cell phones are equipped with a some kind of technology so that it can store money on the phone. You just go to a store that accepts this kind of payment, place your phone on a pad, then there is chiming sound and the price is deducted from your pre-charged total on your phone, no Pin number needed. This also works with various cards called electronic money. What makes me want to scream is that all the different big chains have their own systems. So you can't always use your card at every store so one must have a multitude of these cards. There is no such thing as a "cash card" like in other countries that can be used in shops. If you ask me that pretty much takes all the "convenience" out of the electronic money.
Thankfully Japan is still reasonably safe, and people think nothing of carrying 30-40,000 yen (250 -300 Euro, 6-700 NZD) around with them...or more. These electric money cards only let you charge up to 20,000 so they are just a way for paying for snacks from the convenience store, groceries or train tickets and don't require a pin number either.
Whilst I am on the topic of safety when it comes to money, wouldn't you like to know that in Japan, nobody checks to see if your signature and the card matches, they give you back the card before you've even signed. Also, some supermarkets just swipe your card and that's it, all paid for, not even a pin as you can see, the idea of "safety" is somewhat warped here - but no bank account linked cash cards that can be used to buy things in a store, now that would be dangerous!!!

Labels: , ,

Golden Week Madness

Well it is now the middle of Golden Week here in Japan. Today we thought we would treat ourselves to some fresh sashimi from the port, about a half an hour drive from where we live. Between the port and our house is a long shopping road, so we stopped off at various places and even had lunch somewhere (thanks to one of my "Must eat NOW!" low blood sugar attacks). We got to the port about 1pm and then found that half of Northern Japan was also there. In our minds, nobody would travel 200kms or more to come to our port, although in recent years, now that I think about it, it seems to have spruced itself up a bit. There is a nice big aquarium and a big fish market, along with various seafood restaurants. But looking at the number plates of the cars you could see that people had actually driven from Sendai, Yamagata, Fukushima and even Okayama (that's 1,200km away) to go to our little port...damn those 1000 yen highway charges. So our trip to the port was thwarted by multitudes of sightseers and we just drove right on by as we couldn't bare sitting in the line for the car park just to get some fish we could get at any supermarket - maybe a little less fresh though. So much for our outing to the port, ruined by tourists! ;) We did get some sashimi from the supermarket though so we will be having sashimi for dinner anyway.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Golf gives you blisters

This is a picture of a blister I have on my thumb.
I have a blister on my thumb because I went to golf practice today for the first time in two years. Needless to say, I was not a "golfer" two years ago so after two years of not even touching a golf club you can imagine I am back to square one.
Today was a busy day at the driving range. Not a great day to roll up there as probably the first foreigner (apart from myself two years ago) to ever go there...who is totally crap and has no natural talent for golf whatsoever.
My husband (who is actually a very patient golf teacher and refrained from laughing most of the time) and I found what looked to be a quiet part of the range and started practicing. Unfortunately the guy a few spaces away was there with his family, who showed up later from their pro-lessons, which included 3 miniature Tiger Woods in the making. So the 8 year old in the space next to me was smashing balls the length of the range and I was having trouble even getting the club to make contact with the ball. Not very encouraging.
So next time I go, I will look out for a space near other fellow ability challenged golfers, then at least we can make each other feel a little bit less crap.

Labels: , ,