Gaijin Housewife in Japan

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

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Having a few "Senior Moments"

Not me. But my DH. He's only 38.

My mother likes to call those moments when you do something that only "old people" stereotypically do: "Senior Moments".

Today I met K in town after work and we went to go and get in the car. But he couldn't remember where he parked it. Now, this parking area isn't so big that it should be a problem to remember. So just as K was saying "I think I parked it over here" and wondering off in one direction, I went in the opposite direction towards where we normally park when we go to this particular place. Sure enough. There was our car. At least I am aware that K is a creature of habit.

When we got home tonight, a friend sent him a text. He felt obliged to write a reply so started tapping away, followed by shaking the phone and getting frustrated with it cause he couldn't do it smoothly...I can text in Japanese faster than he can....

Not to mention, K who is into his beer and very careful about wasting money went and bought, not only the wrong kind of beer (a kind he doesn't like) but the wrong size cans too. How could you not notice you brought giant cans of beer? Now he is dutifully drinking it, but I guess this is one "Senior Moment" he won't repeat ever.

In addition, he has suddenly started saying: "I wish we had a tatami room". This is mainly so he can lie on the floor after dinner especially. I don't want/need a tatami room cause I prefer to sit on the couch.

Poor K. At least he has a chipper young wife to help him find his car, text for him and buy the appropriate alcoholic beverages.

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Am I really making a difference?

I should really be going to bed, but I just had a rather wonderful experience so I am a bit too psyched up to go to sleep right now.

I teach a lot of people English. Some of them I love to teach. Some of them I loath teaching for various reasons. Tonight, I had my usual Friday night nightmare student. He doesn't say anything much, is way out of his depth with the text at times (Unfortunately I can't do anything about this) and generally uncommunicative. This happens every Friday night and leaves me (literally) tearing my hair out with frustration sometimes.

But tonight! My God! It was like he had had some happy pills or something, maybe he got lucky. He was chatty, spoke fluently and appeared to have prepared for the lesson even! We had a lovely positive lesson and I was amazed at how quickly the time went instead of sitting there thinking I would rather be having a root canal done right now.

So now I am wondering what on Earth happened? Did my superior teaching techniques hit home or did I finally win him over with my stellar personality? or did he just get lucky?...or maybe *whispers* he was high....not very likely in Japan but these days even supposedly squeaky clean entertainers are getting done for possession.

Which leads me to wonder if I am really making a difference at what I do....Is anyone really learning anything from taking my English lessons? It's probably too late to be worrying about this heavy question since I have to get up fairly early tomorrow to dance, sing and jump around whilst trying to impart the wisdom of "It's a cat/dog/rabbit/etc" to a 3 year old.
But I do actually like English teaching, especially when you have a mini-win like tonight, though not so much the dancing and singing.

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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Today's Ikebana : Updated

My teacher put up a picture of her wreath today.
Today's ikebana lesson was distinctly Christmassy. We made wreaths from some really nice thin red branches. We ended up covering all the branches with ribbon but even without ribbon they would have made a very festive and rustic wreath.

We each set about making our own design and mine turned out to look like this (that brown thing on top is a walnut BTW):

We decided that it had an "Grown Up Christmas" look to it.

My classmate slaved away for ages making her wreath, if you look carefully you can see that she bound each branch a different colour, I was lazy and bound them together.

I decided hers was an "Italian Christmas"wreath .

I forgot to take a picture of my teacher's one, but if she puts it on her blog I will post a link. I decided hers was "Country style Christmas".
Here is promised photo:

Afternoon tea was apple pie and hot ginger drink which went down a treat after wrestling with sticks, ribbons and bits of wire for an hour or so.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Please don't throw me away

 I think my husband is a little worried. He read the results of a survey recently that went something along the lines of:

If you could go back in time, would you get married to the same person again or not?

The most alarming answers came from Japanese people in their 50's.
60 something % of men answered that they would marry the same woman again, whilst only 30 something % of women said they would marry the same man again.

Anyway, that survey seems to have put the wind up K as he is a little frightened that I might perhaps want to "throw him away" in the future. So, so as not be thrown away K decided that since I had been working yesterday while he had the day off, he would......*fanfare sound*

wash the dishes....

kind of.

I really do appreciate any attempts at house work by K, but when I wash the dishes I tend to keep the water in the sink, not all over the kitchen and I wash ALL the dishes, not just the ones I feel like washing. I also dry them, put them away and then wipe up any stray water and dry the sink to make it as unpleasant as possible for any cockroaches who might be inhabiting my kitchen.
So in the end it was a team effort with K washing the dishes and inadvertently most of the kitchen and me drying the dishes and mopping up the puddles etc. It was actually nice to do a boring task with someone rather than just by myself.
Maybe I will encourage more "team housework" and just say, "Well you don't want me to throw you away, do you?", when there is any complaints from K in the future. : )

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Monday, 23 November 2009

What have YOU been up to this weekend?

A question I always ask my students is "What have you been up to recently/this weekend/since I last saw you?"*que confused faces* "Been UP to????.....?".  I am still waiting for a student to pop out this phrase to me, but one day it might happen and that will be a very happy day for me.

So what have I been up to? Well. Since you asked.

Yesterday K and I went on a mammoth trip into the depths of Miyagi, to see if we couldn't win ourselves a cheap house (I mentioned this in an earlier post). The housing company that is running the competition put on tour buses and so we were all driven all the way to their factory and education centre place to be witness to the miracle that is how they make their houses. They make them pod by pod, that are then shipped to the site and put together, which I guess is kind of good in that they have way more control over the quality of their buildings.
One of the highlights of the trip was the earthquake simulator where we got to experience the same kinds of earthquakes that hit Kobe and Niigata. It was pretty terrifying stuff. We also got to experience a "crappily insulated house when it's 0 degrees outisde" - reminded me of my first apartment in Japan which was not insulated at all and it was often warmer outside in winter - and a "well insulated house"- which wasn't too different to where we currently live. Also we did actually learn a lot about how to tell if high quality products have been used on the building. Mostly you should just look for a sticker or stamp with up to 4 stars on it. 4 being the best. So we came home and checked our double glazed windows. They only have 3 stars on them.

Other highlights included watching one of the frames they use for the houses being dropped by a crane from a height of 5 metres. That was fun, it made a loud bang but it did fit back on it's blocks perfectly afterwards.
Oh and we got given lunch - quite nice lunch boxes, tea, coffee, sweets and of course a "souvenir" to take home which is puzzlingly, a box of large fruit flavoured soaps with Snoopy on them...

Lastly we had to fill out a simple questionaire about the day. I had some excellent ideas for the comment box but K wouldn't let me write them: Next time please provide 2 kinds of can coffee not just black (ie: one with milk and one without).  Oh and we were all expecting to get Miyagi bentos, so next time lets get some "Cow's Tounge bentos" so we can all have the "specialty" of Miyagi  instead of regular ones from our own town. Next time rent a bus with a toilet on board and also please provide an alternative to the "cream bread" that was served for afternoon tea. My husband would like "Sausage bread". Thank you.

That's not too demanding is it? ; )

Oh and we didn't win the house.

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Am I there yet? How long does it take to become an Super Housewife?

Yesterday at Ikebana class there was our teacher, M and myself. We are all housewives to some extent and of varying levels of "experience". Our teacher has been a housewife for 25 years and so is our "Dai Sempai" - or Experienced Older Colleague to translate it rather badly. Then there is me who has been married for 5 years, though the last 3 have seen me in forced unemployment in Germany (so I went back to Uni and learnt German), and then M who is almost completely new to the whole "housewifing" business having lived at home until she got married earlier this year.

So yesterday's topic of conversation was supermarket shopping and cooking meals. Both of these things drive me crazy as I really really dislike having to chose what to eat. Sometimes I cook exactly what I feel like eating and DH comes home and although he eats my dinner with no complaints I get the feeling it wasn't what he felt like eating. Then there is the whole planning a weeks worth of meals and going shopping for the ingredients. I have not yet managed this ever. Mostly because I don't like to think about food when I'm not hungry and when I am hungry I don't necesarily want to eat any of the things that are on the menu for the week.
So my dinner preparation involves opening up the fridge, seeing whats there and concocting something from that- hardly in the running for housewife of the year.

M said she has the same problem and I guess when you have been struggling with cooking and shopping for years (since I was 19 in my case) it is still easier than struggling with it for the first time.

Now my teacher says that she has it all planned out in her mind what to cook, what she will need at the supermarket and if you have seen any of the food on her blog, you will know that she is pretty damn good at it. So I am wondering exactly HOW long this takes before even plebs like me can start to do this.... Oh yeah and see what she made for her entrance this week! My entrance has a stinky canister of kerosene, multiple pairs of shoes, umbrellas, 2 sets of golf clubs, a tool box etc to greet my guests when they arrive at Chateau Shufuinjapan. Just as well that guests are very few and far between at my house!

Anyway, today is the 20th and every good housewife who lives near Tsuruha Drug knows that today is 5% off day. So must get off to the drug store and get a few things.

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

This week's Ikebana

We had a break from Ikebana class last week due to our test. I had 3 lots of the same arrangement in my house for a couple of weeks because the chrysanthemums last such a long time and so do sticks.

Today we had a go at the arrangement for the final test of the year which involves daffodils. "Daffodils! How lovely!", I hear you say.
No sir. Daffodils strike fear into the hearts of young players in the big Ikebana game.
When we use daffodils in Ohara style Ikebana, they need to be disected and reassembled to look nicer. This is done by pulling of the white skirt or "hakama" at the bottom of the flower and then straightening out the leaves and realigning them to the appropriate length, replacing the flower and attempting to slide the skirt back up over the whole lot. Loads of fun, made even more fun by having to do all that and the rest of the arrangement in 45 minutes.

Today it took us way longer as it has been ages since we have done daffodils so we needed to start from the beginning. Luckily I didn't break any of my daffodil skirts so it all went fairly smoothly. Unfortunately none of my daffodils were flowering today, I hope they will flower soon though.

This is what my classmate made:

The green stuff is supposed to be "moss", and is painstakingly placed in tiny bushell by tiny bushell.

This is what we had for afternoon tea, which was fabulous as always.

Hot chocolate with giant marshmallows and a lovely cake with a name I can't spell but is lots of crepes layered with cream between each layer. YUMMY.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Now don't go getting any funny ideas

That I might have one in the oven or anything cause I don't. But I have recently started following this website because, well, it appears that almost everyone I know is successfully procreating and some people are even going back for more by getting on to have their second baby. So as you can see I am kind of surrounded by an ever increasing number of babies! Which means almost constantly being in search of "Congratulations Presents".

I don't mind looking for baby presents at all as particularly here in Japan there is a stupendous range of super cute and I mean cuteness on steroids cute stuff here. But I love this website cause it is really is so cute it's scary.

Some of my personal favourites are:

The Produced Locally coverall (Is that what those things are? I'm not quite up with the Mummy lingo). I especially like the little story about "jumping on the bed".

These super cute Owls are a hoot! (I know sorry, its late).

What baby wouldn't want to drink out of one of these bottles? Heck, I'm thinking about getting one for me! Only it would dispense iced coffee. I wouldn't even have to interrupt my lying down whilst reading to drink.

And this one goes out to my friend who loves elephants: Cute baby in Elephant hat.

OK that's enough cuteness for one day. 

Friday, 13 November 2009

More Tricks from Japan: Cold Hands and Feet?

So now I am all on a "share my latest tricks" thing, today I turn on my lunch time TV show and they just happen to be starting right then a segment on one of my biggest annoyances which is "Cold Hands and Feet".

I get terribly cold feet especially at night when I have to sit at my desk for long periods of time and then go to bed and have to warm them up on K, who is always toastie and is very galant and lets me touch him with my blocks of ice feet.

Now apparently there are two kinds of "Coldness" problems, the most widely known is "Cold Hands and Feet", the other is "Cold Internal Organs". To figure out if you have either of these, touch you tummy with your hand. If your tummy feels cold and your hand feels warm you have the later problem. The other way around is the "Cold Hands and Feet". No noticeable difference means you have neither.

If you have cold hands and feet they recommeded eating ......

cucumber. Also similar vegetables like Goya or bitter melon and some other kind of vegetable melon looking thing I don't know what it's called. Apparently something in these kinds of vegetables help to widen your veins enough to get the blood flowing more easily to your extremities.

For those with "Cold Internal Organs", they recommended eating......
rhubarb. Rhubarb isn't very popular here in Japan and on the show they actually started chewing on raw stalks of rhubarb!!!!! I have only ever eaten it cooked, with lots of sugar -yum!

For those of you with access to "hokairo", those heat pads you buy that you stick on your clothes and magically stay warm for 12 hours or so. For cold hands, slap one on your back between your shoulder blades below your neck. For cold feet or "internal organs", put on on your lower back.

And the piece de resistance (I know bad spelling), is the "Miso Foot Bath!!!!"
2L of warm water with 20g of miso disolved into it is supposed to be more effective than just using hot water. Pop your feet in for 10-15 minutes.
A full body miso bath is not recommended because of the whole "mould" thing....eew.

So tonight I used goya to make goya champuru which was really good and I did feel my feet were warmer than they have been all day.... or I could just be imagining it. : )

Things I have learnt this week

It's been a while since I have done a housewifey post. Not that I have been doing much in the way of housewifing recently but I have learnt a couple of tricks, thanks to my faithful friend the telly. One thing I have to say is that if you want to get the best tips, you need to watch day time television, which also means being subjected to the commercials. It appears that apart from myself, the only people who watch lunch time tv are "old people". The advertisements are all for: health supplements, adult diapers, wigs and health insurance for the elderly...but also for that face wash stuff "Proactive" that is for people with bad skin ?!? bizarre...
Anyway, here is a brief summary of my latest tricks.

Trick #1: Making floppy green vegies fresh again.
You know how lettuce or other leafy vegetables can get floppy if you don't get around to using them fast enough, submerging them in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes or so will make them crispish again.

Trick #2: Making your bath more effective
Keep all those orange/mandarin peels, put them in one of laundry netting bags and chuck it in the bath. The oil from the skins makes your body temperature rise more during the bath and then stays that way longer after the bath. Good in winter. In summer you can put some baking soda in the bath (well people in Japan take baths in summer though people in other countries probably don't so much) which makes you feel cooler after you get out. I personally like these ideas as I can't use bath salts because my skin is very sensitive.

Trick #3:
Get bike chain oil stains out of your trouser leg by using .....oil! Cooking oil that is. Rub some on the stain, followed by some dish washing detergent soap it up and then rinse the stained area with warm water, followed washing in the washing machine.
I had an incident the other day when I went to work on my bike and on the way home forgot to stick my trouser leg into my sock and it ended up getting caught in the chain. Thankfully trousers were black so not so noticeable but the cooking oil trick did seem to get most of it out.

Trick #4:
Cooking pasta on a gas range costs lots of money, esp when you use lots of water. If you are cooking spaghetti, use a large frying pan that has a lid, you can save a lot of time, gas, water and money by doing it this way. Also boiling the water in an electric kettle first will cut your overall energy bill (sorry this relates to Japan - I am assuming energy prices are similar throughout the country), once the pasta is bubbling away in pan, cover with a lid and turn off the gas, leave it for same amount of time as stated on the instructions, it might need a minute or two longer but actually you don't need to boil pasta for the entire cooking time. If you are cooking pasta in a pot as usual, the same idea applies. I imagine this also works well on an electric range since they retain some heat even after turning the element off.

Anyway gotta go or I will miss today's tips. If you have heard any great housewifey tips recently, let's hear'em!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Really Funny Story Show

Today was an awful day weather wise here. It rained non-stop all day and it rained quite hard. I was again thankful that I didn't have any plans outside of my house today so I let K take the car to work instead of dropping him off and was therefore a kind of prisoner for a day. So I decided to give myself the day off. As in the day off from house work. Instead, I spent a while watching TV, got bored with the repitition of two particular news broadcasts that were replayed over and over on every channel. So I decided to watch a show that K recommended I watch when I had some time called 松本ひとしのすべらない話。Basically a bunch of comedians sit around a table and roll a dice with their names on it. The name that comes up is the person who has to tell the next funny story. Very simple kind of show. I usually can't really follow what they are on about as they talk so fast and use a lot of manly Japanese and Kansai Japanese, but today when I put on the subtitles and I could understand 80% of what was said! *pats self on the back*
Have a watch here before it disappears:
For those of you who don't speak Japanese, have a look and see if you can guess what the first guy is talking about...:) I will post a short summary tomorrow.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My boring Tuesday

Gosh, how did it get to be Tuesday all of a sudden? and Tuesday is nearly over! I am feeling rather chuffed that I have enough to keep me occupied these days that it means I sometimes have other things to do rather than sit in front of my computer and think about something to post on my blog, which was pretty much my life for my first few months back in Japan.

Today was fantastic weather so I decided to bike the 6 km into town and back for work instead of doing my regular park the car at a supermarket and walk. Since I wasn't sure how long it would take me I left 10 minutes earlier than I needed to and got there in less than 25 minutes which is quite good considering one does occasionally have to stop at traffic lights. When I got to work I discovered that my boss hadn't showed up yet to unlock the office and so I sat outside and looked a bit like a homeless gaijin, sitting on the edge of planter box (so not the done thing, but benches in public spaces are nowhere to be seen here) and got stared at by passers by for about 20 minutes until she finally showed up.
After work I rode home again and managed not to get stopped by the police though they looked like they were up to something that may have involved our local pachinko palour, and nobody knocked me off my bike going down our main road which is so narrow that barely 2 cars can pass each other, which is still a lot wider than the actual street we live on where 2 cars definitely can't pass each other at all. So it was a great day all round really!
That is until this evening, when I developed a raging fever of 37.1 (ok, not really that raging as far as fevers go but I did feel like I was temporarily on fire) so now I am sitting here with one of those fever reducing patches stuck on my forehead, looking like a right prat, but feeling cooler. Perhaps I breathed in too many airborne bugs on my super athletic outing. Damn exercise!

Other good news for today was that the police have finally caught that guy who has been on the run for almost the last 3 years after a female British English teacher was found murdered in his apartment. I won't go into how mortifying it was that he escaped in the first place, but at least he is now in custody, despite having had plastic surgery several times, the most recent probably being his downfall.

Sorry for boring post! Sleep well!Have a good day!(depending on your time zone)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A competition we are terrified of winning

Last night K was on the internet and found this house building company that is having a competition. So we entered it.
If you are "lucky" enough to be chosen, you get to buy one of their model houses for a mere 7,400,000 yen (Usually they cost upwards of about 20,000,000), so if you are in the market to buy a new house it is a very good deal. Especially as they are fitted out with lots of great stuff including huge amounts of solar pannels on the roof which are fairly expensive to buy yourself, and you could actually make money by selling your extra electricity to power companies.

The thing is, we don't really need a house why did we enter this stupid competition? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...AND we did win a 1,000 yen meal gift certificate...which is kind of not very much when you consider we could be up for 7,400,000 for the house if we win. I also should have considered more carefully that I tend to win stuff I really don't want.
K and I visited an expo on Italy when we were in Germany and I entered the draw and won!....two tickets to some water park/aquarium in Rimini in Italy - no hotels, no flights or anything so we would have been out of pocket by about 1,000 Euros by the time we went there and back to use our "FREE TICKETS"...*sigh*
I have also won a giant sun umbrella with some brewery's name on it, in my attempt to win an all expenses paid trip to Berlin oh and I also got a bright red t-shirt saying "Berlin Berlin, Wir fahren nach Berlin" - Berlin Berlin, we're going to Berlin....
So the chances of us winning this fabulous house that will only cost us 7,400,000 yen are quite high really.
Personally I want the house, but don't want to have to pay 7,400,000 to get it....So if I do actually want it, maybe we won't win after all. In any case I have carefully studied which one I would want if I did win it...just in case. : )

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Been to the Big City

Today was super weather when we got up and since I had been doing a lot of scheming these last few days, K agreed to take me on a trip to the big city which is about an hr and a half from here. My goals were to go to all those international chain stores that I mentioned the other day (Body Shop, Starbucks) as well as NEXT again and an import food store.

So here is a picture of my spoils.

As you can see, there is no raspberry liquorice but I did find some black stuff which will keep me going for a while. I haven't had any yet but do you think it's possible that the packet is in fact sending out subliminal messages to me saying "EAT ME!!" ? I can't seem to stop thinking about it....but its nearly dinner time....don't want to ruin dinner which is going to be in the shape of the large bottle of creamy vodka pasta sauce....with pasta, of course.

We stoped at a 道の駅- a kind of roadside rest area on the way. I luuuuuv these places as they always sell lots of interesting and unusual local produce. Today I got stopped in the store by the guy hawking fruit alcohol stuff. I got to try all 3 types and ended up buying a bottle of the 梅-japanese plum. It has fruit pulpy stuff in it so it's not as sweet or syrupy as 梅酒 the regular Japanese plum liqour and not as strong either.

Today was my day for being influenced by salespeople as we went to The Body Shop and I was going to buy some almond handcream but changed to the cranberry one which is so lush just cause the shop assistant encouraged me to try it. It is yummy though.
Finally we went to Starbucks because the highlight of my coffee drinking year is of course their Christmas themed drinks. I had their "Caramel Eclair Latte" or whatever it's called which was yummy but kind of just a caramel latte that you can get any time of the year. There were some sprinkley things on it but the baristar was a bit stingy with them and the couple I did get it was kind of like someone accidentally dropped some crumbs in rather than something that should have been there. So will definitely go for ginger bread next time.

So that was my day of blantant consumerism. Back to spending no money again tomorrow.

Friday, 6 November 2009

It's winter now because...

  • It was cold enough the other day to prompt me to turn on my heated toilet seat and now sitting on it is lovely. One of things I least like about winter is having to dash to the loo - which is always freezing cold - but the seat is lovely and warm so at least you don't get a cold bottom.
  • My house is now permeated with the stench of kerosene. Oh to have central heating/underfloor heating/a fireplace - I would happily make a fire every day of the week if I didn't have to have kerosene fumes wafting through the air...Though I do like just pushing the "on" button and having the heater pump out toxic air heat.
  • I want to eat soup every day...I don't even really like soup that much - my mouth has trouble with the whole liquid mixed with bits of food thing and sometimes it takes several seconds before I get it down - especially miso soup.
  • Our meals often consist of a large steaming pot of meat and veggies in the middle of the table that everyone eats out of. Also known as Nabe.
  •  I'm actually happy to see the sun, as opposed to in summer when I pray for cloudy, rainy days. 
  • The giant insects that torment me in the warmer months have almost all gone, no longer queing up to throw themselves at my window nets and cark it on my balcony! Hooray!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Today's Ikebana

Hello all.

Today was Ikebana day again. I was super organised and managed to even go to the doctor before class to get my prescription refilled. Today I said to the doc: " Um, actually, you know you have only prescribed one teeny little buscopan and sometimes that just doesn't cut the mustard". To which he answered: Increasing the buscopan is not the answer! You run the risk of getting dizzy (bring it on!), a dry throat (for sissies!) and constipation which can lead to peritonitis (oh, ok). So here is his supper suggestion to combat the pain I should rub my hands together and then place them on my stomach........I really wish there was some way that males could experience horrible period pain - or at least the ones in the medical profession who are going to be administering the drugs to people like me. Then we will see who only needs one little buscopan!!

Anyway, today's Ikebana once again resembles last weeks as we are still practicing for our test which is on Monday.
Here is what I made: This time we used dahlias with eucalyptus and pussy willow (I think).

For afternoontea we had cheesecake that was really really really yummy! It was a moussy type of cheesecake and was so soft and over oh so quickly! We also had a kind of hot vitamin C drink with collagen added - good for the old face.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What I wouldn't do for some ...

raspberry liquorice

Yesterday at work one of my fellow NZ co-workers brought some candy/lollies/sweets in to work. I don't know how he managed it as we don't know each other that well yet as to know each other's favourite NZ sweets but he brought in probably my top two favourites of all time.

Raspberry Liquorice and a Mini Crunchy!!!  Needless to say I was seriously stoked to get them, so stoked that they lasted about 2 minutes before I devoured both....but there was a happy, sugary rushy type ending. This had led me to start making elaborate plans how I can go somewhere with a decent sized import food store where I might be able to get some more....unless any of my friends in NZ happen to be reading this and feel sorry for me and ship me a whole box and could it possibly arrive, like, tomorrow? Yeah cause I kind of need it now....

Damn you NZ co-worker for re-awakening the red liquorice addict in me!!!
Actually just writing this post is rather stress full so I think I will have to go and "detox" with some carrot sticks or something.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

How to entertain yourself in rural Japan on weekends:

So I may have mentioned in a previous post the lack of temptations to spend your money on near where I live, even though I live in what is called a "city" - a city that has no Starbucks or Body Shop, which I how I personally gague if somewhere is a city or not. I could of course drive more than one hour through the mountains to get to a bigger city that has 2 starbucks, one at each end of the station - in fact you can see one starbucks from the other and the bullet train to Tokyo even passes through there.

Anyway, today was another lovely autumn day here and so we decided to go and see the highlight of living in this particular area which is the annual swan gathering. For some reason large numbers of swans come here to spend the winter (having spent the summer in fricken SIBERIA would you believe it) - personally I wouldn't have thought here was a particularly nice place to spend the winter but if you are a swan it seems that this is Club Med.
So today we rode our bikes down to the river where they hang out in the afternoon and saw about 60 or so doing nothing much. In the morning they go to the rice fields and have a feed of the new shoots that pop up there and come back to the river in the afternoon where activities include, sleeping, standing on one leg, wading and digging around in the water, honking/groaning at each other and staring at the people who have come to stare at them. Pretty wild stuff!

There was a sign with a running tally and it seems that there have been up to 800 birds at one time in the past. Another useless piece of trivia is that if you regularly go and feed them(although not encourage), wearing the same clothes each time, they will remember you!