Sunday, 29 August 2010

Have you been to Shimamura lately?

Today DH and I ventured out shopping. We went to Uniqlo first and I got some neat tops that were on special - all ready for autumn ;) and a funky merino wool cardigan that I have wanted for ages (had a similar one before and accidentally destroyed it) also on special!


Then we went to Shimamura.
We were looking for a jinbe for my brother-in-law to be. We found they only had 3 left and one of them was just what we were looking for. At 900 yen it was a steal. Then we found the Yakuza shirt section. My husband would never be seen wearing a shirt that has designs of a dragon, carp etc on it as he thinks it looks "dodgy". Of course these t-shirts make great souvenirs or presents to take home for people. We found heaps of quite cool looking ones for 450-700 yen each. They even have a "Big Size" section which is an option for those who are a tad bigger. So if you have people coming to visit or heading back to your own country and need some presents Shimamura might be the place to  get cool t-shirts.







A rude awakening

We have had a very noisy weekend here in Gaijin Housewife Land.


It turns out that the local shrine in having a festival yesterday and today. This means that there is the obligatory fireworks that sound like cannon fire both days at Way Too Early O'clock in the morning.


I really do not get the whole cannon fire thing.
Why not have it announced peacefully over the local radio? Those people who are involved or care can listen in and the rest of us can sleep on peacefully.
It especially annoys me that the cannon fire is used when it is quite obvious that the day's events are going to go ahead. It's a beautiful sunny day. Why would the festival be canceled?
And why do they need to fire 2 rounds? The first round is 4 explosions: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and then about 20 seconds pause and then another 4: BOOM!BOOM!BOOM!BOOM!
I would think that most people would be awake by the 2nd BOOM if they were still asleep. We don't need 8. This also sends all the dogs in the neighbourhood into a barking frenzy = more noise.

Then this morning the local "Children's Clubs" which all families must join (it's one of those compulsory volunteer things) are doing their little mikoshi thing (carrying a portable shrine) around the neighbourhood. So we have had a lot of banging of drums and whistles whistling as different groups have gone past with their shrines. This happened at 8:30am.

In the era of texting, emails, tweets and what not, you would think that would be easier (and cheaper) to use this technology than to get up at sparrow's fart and go trapsing down to the event area to let off fire works.
When I worked at the Junior High School, that job was always given to the most macho male teachers. A kind of reward for being a twat, I thought.
Sorry if any reader's husbands are on the fireworks letting off committee somewhere.
I guess this tradition will continue as long as the men can get together and light fire works that make a huge booming sound.





Friday, 27 August 2010

The first cockroach of the season: Part 2

Warning: This post contains references to cockroaches and their general disgustingness. If you have an intense dislike for them (who doesn't), maybe not such a good idea to read on.

So that cockroach that I wrote about a few days ago. DH had the great idea that spraying it and then putting the can of bug spray on top of it and thought that leaving it would mean that it would die.

Apparently not.

A couple of days ago I lifted the can up, expecting to find a dead cockroach. Nope. It was still very much alive and although it was still able to try and escape it wasn't moving at full speed. So I managed to put the can back on top with the intention of making DH deal with again.

So this morning it's trash day. Perfect time to get rid of it. So 5 days after it's first spraying and imprisonment I lift up the can and spray it, it runs away but slow enough for me to spray it. I managed to catch it and just as I pick it up (in a giant wad of kitchen towels) I hear this horrible screetching sound.


Holy crap! This cockroach now screeches?


Then I realise the screeching coming from the gas leak monitor machine. I must have sprayed to close to it.


So cockroach goes in the trash which is immediately taken outside to be taken away not long afterwards.


I really hope that is the last I see of that particular cockroach.


Lesson learned:  Cockroaches can survive for 5 days with no food or water even after being sprayed by copious amounts of bug spray.

Gross.



Wednesday, 25 August 2010

My amazing cup pasta lunch

I usually eat lunch by myself. Most times I find it difficult to be motivated to actually make something so if there aren't any left overs I just have a boring old sandwich.


I discovered these "Cup Pasta" thingees a while ago, so far I have tasted the carbonara,  the bolognaise and today the cheese and mushroom flavoured one.


I think they turn out really well considering what they are. Even DH was impressed.


Today I decided to flash mine up a bit.


First I went out to my teeny weeny garden I have going on my balcony and picked some fresh salad greens. They were a bit wilted as it is so hot so I put them in some warm water to rehydrate
That brown dead looking thing is a dead tree :( But it keeps the spiders happy and the bugs off my basil!
Poor little greens re-hydrating
Then I finely shredded some extra cabbage to add to the freeze dried stuff that came with the pasta.

After the pasta had "cooked" I added some salmon flakes I have in the fridge for rice ball emergencies, some grated cheese and finally some of the salad greens from my garden.
It was the tastiest pasta I have had for ages. I especially loved the salad greens on top and the different consistencies (look at me talking all Japanese like about the consistency of food).

The "cup" part that you pour the boiling water into are now acting as pots for my mini vege garden! They are cute yellow on the outside so they look quite neat!

My love hate relationship with FB


I love FB as it keeps me in contact with people who I want to hear from so easily.
I also hate FB as occasionally and sometimes more than I would like, it gives me a kick in the proverbial IF nads.


Like today. I just open my FB page and there is a picture of someone I know posted by her sister with what looks distinctly like a baby bump I didn't know she had. Normal people would be excited to accidentally come across such a picture. I.F. people get heart palpitations and become abnormally fixated on said photo. This particular friend is not a big FB person, has not announced her pregnancy herself or anything. But I couldn't help but go to her page and my suspicions were confirmed with lots of congratulatory messages that other people had posted. So even if this friend had not wanted to post her pregnancy on FB it was done for her unwittingly by other people. Just something to be aware of in the future. You might have your "news" blasted places you didn't really want it. This is a slightly different problem for IF people who struggle with constant posts  and photos of their friends pregnancies and babies. Fine if you want to post them yourself for the world to see. I can always "hide" them if it gets too much for my sad little self.
But no matter how careful you are personally, other people can still post stuff about you whether you like it or not.

Despite this, I am still not willing to totally give up my FB page. I live in a small city where foreigners are few and far between - and not necessarily people you should be friends with just because you both speak English. My nearest good venting to friends are in order of approximate distance from here Tasmania, Auckland, Stuttgart, Wellington.
FB makes me feel a little less lonely.

Now all I need is one more pregnancy announcement so the next group of 3 (they also come in 3s) will be over and done with.

And finally a LOLCAT to cheer me up.
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

This week's Ikebana

Ikebana classes started again yesterday after a few weeks off for summer vacation.

This week we used some branches with red leaves and some roses to make an nagere arrangement (all stems are balance precariously inside the vase).

I enjoyed making this one but it is a little difficult to get the branches to co-operate.

Here is what I did:
 

Here is what my teacher did:
 

Here is what we had for afternoon tea:
 
 
Tiramisu ice  cream and iced coffee which were both yummy.

.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The first cockroach of the season

Well last night I saw my first cockroach of the summer. It was about the size of my thumb. I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and out of the corner of my eye I saw it go scuttling and hide. I grabbed a can of bug spray and yelled at DH to come to the dirty work.
He and the cockroach were engaged in a drawn out battle but in the end DH won.
I have patience for all the animals and insects, except cockroaches and mosquitoes and anything else that wants to bite me or suck my blood. I have a gang of spiders who live on my balcony that keep out of site during the day but if you go out on the balcony at night you will see over 20 of them tending to their webs. I think it's great since they catch some of the trillions of bugs that try to get into my apartment every night through the window screen.

I thought I had been doing really well with my cockroach prevention scheme. I make sure that all drains are covered and all windows are sprayed with bug spray. But last night's one could have pushed the front door open and strolled on in by himself. At least this one had the decency to look chagrined and go and hide when I came in, unlike the one I had last year (which I found dead next to the fridge a while later) that just stood there looking at me like I was the intruder and if it could talk, would probably have asked me for a glass of water.

Recently I have started educating myself on training methods for dogs in preparation for our bundle of fluff that we will be adopting in October. I have become quite enamored with "clicker training". I have had a hand in using "traditional" methods to train a dog and now I am not really keen to use force, punishment or fear to train a dog as it seems totally unnecessary if you use this new style of training. What's more it looks like such fun not only for the trainer but for the dog too. The best thing about it is you can start from day one, no waiting for puppy school.

So currently I am reading this book, which is terribly hard to put down. It's not so much about training dogs as training different kind of animals. The author has trained all manner of animals such as dolphins, a wolf, horses, a hermit crab and even a fish. The book also has a web page where you can go and see different videos (look under the heading "Chapters") of the training of different animals which is really neat, especially after you have read all about it in the book.


Today I am off to a breeder to look at some miniature Schnauzer puppies. We want to see the different colours, observe their tempraments and see what the mother of the puppies is like as we might get one from her next litter.
Dear Lord, please give me the strength not to take them all home with me today but the patience to wait another few months until we are installed in our new abode.







Friday, 20 August 2010

Some disturbances in the force: Update

It's a bit late to be posting and twice in one day for that. But I have had a few too many caffeinated drinks today so I probably won't be getting any sleep any time soon this evening.


Today was the most fun I have had in a while. It was so nice to catch up and speak normal English for a whole afternoon.


First stop was sushi at a well known conveyor belt sushi. Then it was off to Karaoke at Manekineko. Am now a big fan of this place. You can BYO food and beverages!!! What a great system. On Weekdays you pay 10 yen per person for the room hire and you only have to purchase one drink (prices vary depending on where the shop is, in bigger cities it looks like its 50 yen).


There were two under 5 year olds with us who were very vocal about what they wanted to sing.
We sang となりのトトロ(Tonari no Totoro) and the アンパンマンマーチ (Anpanman march) about 5 times each. I guess that I should be learning these songs for the future. Right? Right? It turned out to be an excellent opportunity to try and teach them about sharing and taking turns. Lesson was not well received. Oh well!

DH took the avo off and came along. There were a few heart melting moments when DH was showing the kids how to pick up grasshoppers outside whilst we waited for a room to become available. And it wasn't even our child he was playing with. Lord help me when it is!!!

So a fun day was had by all.
Looking forward to another reunion next year!






Thursday, 19 August 2010

Some disturbances in the force

Today is a big day in Gaijin Housewife in Japan Land.


Today you might notice some disturbances in the force. That's because "The Dark Side" will be coming together again in their homeland for a day of fun!


WTF?!?! I hear you think.


So approximately 8 years ago, some newbies arrived in a small town in Tohoku from various parts of the world. It was pure coincidence that we ended up here. Some of us were none too happy about it either. We started our new jobs at "The Corporation", and we were none too happy about our jobs. It didn't help that our more experienced/senior co-workers were not very welcoming to new people either.
So we formed a secret alliance which we christened "The Dark Side".

After a while, our need for the secret alliance petered out as the Dark Side had a hand in bringing down the crappy management team in our school and some of us left for bigger and brighter things.  But those first months in Japan were a rather big bonding experience and now 3 original members will be back together again today on our home turf for a day of fun. Some of us will have partners and children in tow. We might not be dancing on the tables at Karaoke anymore and singing kiddie songs instead, but it's gonna be a great day!

Hoping you have a great day too and may the force be with you.



Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fuming

I am currently sitting in Moss Burger,fuming quietly whilst I treat myself to a burger after another spectacularly disappointing visit to my dr today.

I think I mentioned earlier that I had been avoiding going there because I was feeling jaded andlets face it. I didn't want to take any more crazy pills, also known as Clomid.

I had also secretly been hoping that NOT going to dr would be just what I needed and that my excellent knowledge of my own body and fine tuned BT chart reading skills would be enough.

Well it turns out that ovaries didnt get the memo that we were "on our own" this time and a stellar performance was expected from all parties involved.

Honest to God, this time the ultrasound picture of my right ovary looked like a smiley face. I kid you not. The several under developed foliacles lined up to look like two eyes and a big wicked grin laughing at me!

So I get the message. I can expect zero co-operation from egg development and release department.
What I would like to know is how I went from someone who at least ovulated to not being able to manage even that.

Perhaps they are protesting the use of hormones on them.

So now I feel like having a good cry or kicking something. So will just sit here a while longer until the homicidal urges pass so I can drive home safely.

So "K",I think I will still be up for a black ship session by the time you get here, though I hope you wont be.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The spirits are gone

So yesterday was the last day of Obon, and the spirits were gently sent on their way again. DH's family goes down to the beach at midnight and digs a hole in the sand and they decorate it with candles and food, then they say a prayer and send the spirits off over the sea. If you don't live near the beach, it is usual to float a lantern down the nearest river.


DH often goes on about how summer is practically over by the end of Obon. That the weather will start getting cooler...well yesterday was the last day of Obon and was a hot muggy and still day and even worse, night. This morning it was over 30 degrees by 8:30, so am hibernating until I go to work later on.


My summer holiday is already over.

One last event on the Summer Holiday Event calendar was the Bon Dance.  We took one of DH's German colleagues to the 回転やくら or rotating tower not far from the centre of the city. They had a taiko demonstration, which I LOVED. One of the great things about live taiko drumming is the vibrations you feel when you stand close enough. Then they started the dancing on the stage of the tower. Soon lots of people joined in and you can see a white line on the ground in front of the drummers which is the dancing line you should follow as you dance around the tower. We didn't stay much longer as we were HOT and we wanted something to eat, somewhere cool so we left the dancing and went back into town and hit the pub. Boy was I wishing I had abstained last night when I couldn't get to sleep cause my feet felt like they were on fire. This always happens in Summer and is worse when I drink. So no more drinkies for me until the weather gets cooler.

Here is a picture of the drummers with the rotating tower in the back ground
Here is a blurry picture of the rotating tower and people dancing the Bon Dance on top
DH took a video with his cell phone, held it up the wrong way and now I can't change it so you will have to turn your head to the side to watch this short video. Beware, sound quality is terrible.

video

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A little adventure in my own city

Yesterday DH and I set off to an onsen town that is part of our city. I used to work as contract teacher (the lowest form of life in the Japanese teaching world), not an ALT, I repeat, not an ALT - in this town. It has been ages since I went there so it was nice to go back again after such a long time away. I was very well known in that town as I taught at the main Junior High School and the two primary schools so I couldn't go anywhere without running into the kids or their parents or grandparents who all knew me. It's been 4 years since I left so I went about un-noticed yesterday. What a relief!
First stop was to park the car and have a foot bath. Yes, it was 30 degrees outside and we were putting our feet into near boiling water.
In front of the station is a free foot bath with onsen water. You are probably thinking "ew", right? Well lets just say, that no bacteria could survive in there at the temperature they have the water. When we got there, there were already about 7 or 8 people there. So I sat down, stuck my foot in, only to find that the water was boiling, whipped it out and said "Atsu! atsu! atsu!"(hot! hot! hot!), whilst the people who were already there had a good old laugh.
At first I thought they were laughing at me, but then I realised they had all done exactly the same thing when they arrived and now I had joined their little gang and we all laughed at the next person who came along and did exactly what I had just done 3 minutes earlier.

In Japan, warning signs are ubiquitous, and there are some that are such an overkill, but yesterday I did not see one single sign saying, "watch out, water is so hot you will cook your feet if not careful". Well to be exact it was 59 degrees, a super hot bath is about 42. We gave up after a few more minutes and after I had dried my feet I noticed that they felt fantastic! My perpetual summer foot puffiness was gone and they felt refreshed. So next time I'm in the area I'm going back.

Then we headed off to the real reason why we had come. We were visiting a dog lady who has a grooming shop and sources dogs from reputable breeders. She interviewed us to find out what our lifestyle was like and asked us what breeds we were interested in.
She then told us all the important pros and cons of each dog. Before we went in I had wanted a miniature schnauzer and DH wanted a pug. During the meeting I almost switched to a pug and DH decided that we should definitely get a schnauzer.
So it looks like we are getting a miniature schnauzer. We still have to wait about 2 months but by that time we will be settled in our new house just waiting for it to be destroyed by a little puppy!
I really liked the way this woman does business. She doesn't have any puppies on display in glass cases in her shop because she thinks its cruel and I agree. She said she likes to use breeders who keep the puppies with their mother for as long as possible which I also know from past experience is hugely positive for the dog. So I'm sure she will find a really good one for us.
Last night we had more discussions over what we would call him -it's going to be a him. DH decided that he liked the name Shultz...I kind of vetoed that cause all I could think of was the character from Hogan's Heroes. So the discussions/negotiations continue.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Don't leave home without checking the internet

For those of you living in Japan, you may be aware that there are lots of bargains and discounts to be had by checking the internet before you go out somewhere.


Last night was a good example. I had planned to meet some friends at a restaurant called "Steak Mia" so before I went I looked at their home page. They, like many big chains have a whole page devoted to coupons. I printed off one that was 10% off your meal if you spend 5,000 yen, or you could choose to get a free drink bar for 4 people, saving ourselves 600 yen or more.

We had also planned to go to Karaoke at Shidax, so I checked the website and printed off a 20% discount voucher. They also had info about ladies day on Wednesday which is 2 hours free room rental, you only have to buy a drink and be a member of their "club" - which is free to join and takes about 2 minutes.

Here is MacD's coupon page

Here is Lotteria's.

Obviously these coupons are meant to attract you to the shop, especially when you weren't planning to go there. But, if you are planning on going somewhere, make sure to check the website before you leave the house, you could save yourself a lot of money by making it a habit :)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Gaijin Housewife is A.W.O.L

from the lady bits doctor.


Theoretically I should have gone to see him after our latest let down to get some pain medication and let him know we were back to square one again. This time it was the weekend and then I just decided to suck it up and didn't end up needing the pills anyway.

So if my dr has realised that I haven't been in for a while, he may be under the impression that we did have some success after all....You're probably thinking that my dr wouldn't have time to remember to realise that I haven't been in for ages. Well without blowing my own trumpet too much, I have to say I am definitely his most memorable and probably most unresponsive patient (to his treatments I mean). I do also have my own soundtrack that they play when I go in: The New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra, so the Dr always knows when I am in the building.
Only in Japan.

Now I am kind of dreading going back there.
Or am I....
I do have fantasies about defiantly waving by basal temperature chart and saying "See! It didn't bloody work! Let's get some action here!"

I also should have gone in a few days ago around CD14 to have the "magic wand"and find out what is going on. But this month I just didn't want to go. So I didn't. Now I am just monitoring my chart for the temp increase and then I will go see him....

What should I tell him? That I needed "space" or "to just be on my own for a while".
Now I sound like a character in Dawsons Creek/Gossip Girl.
I'm sick of bad news, of eggs that don't ripen like they should, when they should.
I was also sick of spending my free time sitting in the waiting room surrounded by pregnancy magazines and maternity clothes catalogues.

Tonight I am off to meet some friends and their two adorable children. I am looking forward to a snuggle with the baby who is only a few months old. Hopefully it will stimulate whatever hormones it is that make eggs grow.

Where did the time go?

So almost exactly 8 years ago I came to Japan. I think the exact date was August 7th. I remember getting off the train and it being Tanabata and wondering what the hell was going on. Tried to go into a supermarket and walked straight into the sliding doors - they only open when you press the "open" button. Great for keeping small children from escaping the store, but a trap for newly arrived foreigners.
Got to my apartment, cried my eyes out at the dump I was going to be living in with a hot water heater left over from the dark ages: crank the handle, twist and hold down the knob and pray.
My co-workers were too busy being in the midst of their own little war to notice or care that there was a new person that needed to at least be shown around. On my 3rd day I cried down the phone to my dad who told me to get a grip.


And 8 years later I am still here.


Thing obviously couldn't get much worse than they were those first few weeks, but for me they were rather traumatic, or why else would I still remember it all 8 years later.


When I came to this little town, I never imagined I would find the love of my life amongst the slim pickings of good looking, youngish male students (by youngish I mean over 25 and under 50). But my life in Japan got steadily better once I met my DH.

Now I am an old biddy in the foreigner circles. I have little patience for the new people, like myself 8 years ago, who have just arrived and party like it's 1999. I've given up professional drinking and taken up flower arranging and my idea of a great time is a good bit of cake at a sempai* housewife friend's house.

I don't pine for NZ food that much any more and I mostly prefer Japanese food now. I do still enjoy the odd treat from home though. 

Of all my foreigner friends that arrived in Japan about the same time I did, I am the only one left. Happily though, this year several of my old drinking buddies/partners in crime will be back here sometime this summer/autumn.  It will be great to catch up, and remember "the old days" when we were a bit younger and a lot stupider.



*Sempai: older more experienced person than yourself, could be an "upperclassman/woman?" at school or a colleague at work or in my case someone who has been a housewife longer than me.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Thank yous

So today on my little blog I would like to say thanks to all the people out there who read my blog regularly. Some of you have to read it, what with being related to me or my BFF IRL.
Others of you do it voluntarily and it never ceases to amaze me that other people might enjoy reading what I have written.


This blog started out as way to curb my boredom and to keep my mental health. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would get to know so many interesting people from all corners of the globe and from so many walks of life.


Now I am going to say a special thanks to those who have specifically mentioned my blog on theirs or somewhere.

First is 1000 Things About Japan.
This blog is a very interesting and honest look at things the author will and will not miss when she leaves Japan.

Second is Le Franco Phoney
An Australian girl living  in France and writing about the things she comes across in her every day life.

If there is anyone else who has mentioned my blog but I didn't realise, I do apologise, these are the ones I have actually seen with my very own eyes. If you have, make sure to leave me a comment : )

And lastly, thanks to all the people who have my blog on their blog roll!

Now I would like to introduce a blog that is fairly new to the blogosphere:
Living as an Ex-pat in Germany
I still have a large soft spot for Stuttgart, my home for 3 years, which is where the author has just moved to.

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Things that make you go grrrr

Tonight I have been out "working". So much for my 5 days of uninterrupted time off. Not that "working" was terribly strenuous - all I had to do was sit at a desk and answer the phone which didn't ring and greet people who showed up for a class. It was actually much more social than being at home by myself all day long. DH just got home at after 10pm. No day off for him tomorrow either.

On my way home at 9pm I stopped in at the supermarket.

Would you believe they were totally sold out of the 20 yen bags of moyashi(beansprouts)? They only had 40 yen bags which is paying double for the exact same amount. No way.
The reason for this is because all the other vegetables are ridiculously expensive at the moment. 200 yen for a lettuce in the country side. I think not.

Then I started getting really huge electric shocks from every single piece of metal that I touched as I made my way round the supermarket. By the time I got to my car, I was practically cowering every time I reached out for something. Damn you pre-typhoon weather!

I also almost died of fright in the pork section. There was this sudden burst of really really loud static noise that made me almost pee my pants and for a second, then I thought the meat was attempting to take off... then this voice started talking ...it was just another of the annoying announcements that are dotted around the supermarket, the static noise was supposed to be pork sizzling in a pan.


Then I went to the drug store area to buy some rather expensive body soap for sensitive skin - the only kind I can use. I was waiting for a double points day since it costs nearly 2,000 yen. When I went to pay I handed over my credit card only to be told that I couldn't pay with that because it was after 9pm....
On what planet do credit card transaction machines no longer work or can't be used after 9pm?
I should have told the shop assistant (who was also the shop manager) where to stick it but luckily I had enough cash to pay for it, though I wanted to get my miles/points by paying for it with a credit card.

I regularly find going to the supermarket an annoying experience, but tonight was something special!

Update: It turns out bird poop is not lucky afterall

Well, it looks like bird poop is not so lucky after all.


DH and I checked our "Summer Jumbo" lottery tickets yesterday, but no luck.
So DH is going to work today as usual. I guess summering in Tuscany/Santorini/Ibiza will have to wait til the next lottery.

Obon: a time to remember and pay respects your ancestors, starts officially on Friday.
Most people will be heading to their hometowns for 3 days.
During these 3 days, the ancestor's spirits visit the family home, so special lanterns are put out or small fires are lit to guide the spirits inside to the shrine in the family's house. Whilst the spirits are in residence, they are offered meals and prayed to. People also visit the family's grave and clean it, light incense, decorate it with flowers and food. Relatives call around to visit and usually bring a "summer gift", these are usually some kind of laundry powder gift set, cans of beer set out nicely in a special box or even bottles of cooking oil. Sometimes there might be cakes or ham too.

In my city the Jangara will be visiting families where someone has died in the last year.  I have found some video for you all this time.

This will be all I hear pretty much all day on Friday until midnight. But that's ok, I think it's cool.
So happy Obon vacation people, remember to stay out of the water on the 15th or you might find yourself being taken back to the spirit world!!!



Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Summer Vacation Here I Come

My Summer vacation started 1 hour ago! Woohoo!

This year I get a whole......

wait for it......

five days off!!!

In a row too!

My work is not terribly stressful, nor does it take up my entire life, but it is nice to not have to do any work for a few days in a row.

Unfortunately DH will be working through his 7 days of holidays, not all day but I think he will be going into work pretty much every day.

So, what have I got planned for my 5 whole days off? Well, I am planning to watch the typhoon that is supposed to be heading our way from the comfort of our house. I am also planning to spend a lot of time looking at puppies on the internet and I might even get to catch up with the odd old friend who is passing through.

Hardly exciting, but builders of a new house can't be going on overseas vacations to exotic destinations. Luckily, this summer lots of people are coming to me for a change.

What have you all got planned for your summer vacation??

Monday, 9 August 2010

Things to do in Summer

  • See a fireworks display - CHECK
  • Go to a festival purely to eat the food - CHECK
  • Watch large amounts of people doing the same dance - CHECK
  • Get pooped on by a bird - CHECK
Last night was a big night in my town. The end of the festival of the stars, also called Tanabata and the local dance festival all on one night. The whole centre of town was closed off and people thronged the streets, some wearing summer kimonos and some wearing the costumes of their dance team.
A kid's group getting ready to dance
The newbies of this company are made to dance the first year they start work.

One of the places I work happens to be on the main street and was having an open evening so DH and his co-worker from Germany came with me and we sat outside on our nice comfy chairs and watched the dancing and people going by. It was a really nice way to see the festival. Standing up for ages is not as good as having a comfy seat, a good supply of beer in the fridge and snacks.
Here is a video, bad sound quality and up the wrong way, sorry.
video

Last year DH and I went to the same festival and DH got pooped on by a bird. There are lots of trees on the main street and at night they become home to swarms of bird that fly in packs of like 200 and then congregate in the trees at night. Sorry not sure what kind of bird they are exactly. This year it was my turn to get pooped on. Luckily it landed on my shoulder and I was wearing a strapy sundress so I wiped it off quickly.  Today they are announcing the results of the big summer lottery, so I hope last night's poop pays off! 





Sunday, 8 August 2010

Mountain Girls

Uh oh.
Japanese women seem to be discovering hiking in droves.


We have seen the Golfing Boom.


The Farming Boom.

And now the Mountain Girls.


The first and most important thing to become a Mountain Girl is, of course, to have the right fashion.

There seems to be a general increase in interest in outdoor activities in Japan with the economic down turn. The economic down turn does not however women spending money on clothes for their new hobby. The "Must have item" appears to be the "Yama suka-to" or the Mountain skirt...and a pair of brightly coloured and patterned tights or leggings.

I grew up in areas synonymous with hiking and mountain climbing. I have all the gear (I think I asked for a 80L backpack for my 17th birthday and a -20 degree down sleeping bag for Christmas). None of it matches anything else and I would never have been caught dead wearing a skirt in the bush. 

I hope that the girls of Japan don't discover camping....








Saturday, 7 August 2010

Moving and getting a bargain

As you are all aware, we will be moving to our new house in a month or two. Today we have been "interviewing" moving companies.


I have moved house MANY MANY MANY times. Being an old hand at this, and having often moved without the services of a moving company, I was hoping we could just ask all our friends to give us a hand with the big stuff and rent a small truck. We can't do that unfortunately as to get our sofa into the house when we moved in it had to be hoisted up to the second floor balcony and the sliding doors taken off just to get it in. So we can't move on our own.


My experience with using a moving company in NZ is some guy showing up in his overalls with his clipboard and a 5 minute look round and then another 5 minutes to discuss how much.


Today we learnt that the moving industry in Japan is cut throat and there are deals to be had for those who have the patience and even half a ball. We went from the first offer of over 80,000 to a final offer of less than 60,000.

DH had the first company's representative come round whilst I was out today. I don't know exactly what happened but DH said that a young (still green) guy turned up on a BICYCLE. Not only that, all together he had already (or so he alleges)cycled to a list of places that add up to about 40kms that day (In over 30 degree heat) by the time he got to our place. I find that shocking. Give the poor bugger a scooter at the very least. Shame on you moving company that starts with S. That might work in Tokyo where there is often nowhere to park and each client is probably a hell of a lot closer together than here, but this is Tohoku. This company is handing out bags of rice too just for letting them give you a quote. DH almost signed up on the spot cause he felt bad for the poor guy who has to get round on a bicycle. The he thought it is probably a ploy to make you feel sorry for the sales person and as he later found out, their quote was not that cheap anyway, despite all the money they seem to save from having their employees ride around on bicycles. Great for the environment but cruel.

The second company's representatives arrive at 6:30pm and FINALLY left at 8pm.
The representatives from the second moving company (2 of them) arrived (in a car) in their suits, gave us their business cards and bowed profusely whilst introducing themselves. They spent a few minutes viewing everything we want them to move.  Then they showed us pamphlets of what you get for your money. They are very interested to hear what other companies have offered and after about 45 minutes of discussions they finally came up with a price. There are some catches. We can get it heaps cheaper if we go with the "afternoon plan". They come to us after finishing their first job in the morning - fine by us - we are only moving across town and don't have that much stuff. We also got signed up to NHK (by the moving company, they must get some kind of bonus from NHK for that I'm sure) which I am relieved about. Here in our apartment we are relatively anonymous and therefore ignore the NHK man when he comes round, but when we move to our house that is all going to disappear. I don't want to pay for a TV station I rarely if ever watch, so I guess I am mostly paying so that the guy doesn't come banging on my door every evening. They have also made it a lot cheaper if you pay for the whole year in one go. Check out their website if you want to check the differences in price.

So all in all the whole experience has left us with rather a bitter taste in our mouths. Neither of us like to see employees being bullied by their companies and in the moving industry that looks to be very much the case, and that's not even the guys who have to carry the heavy stuff!.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Flasher

Yesterday was really hot again and I spent most of it doing some social research on the behavioural norms and environmental influences on privileged teenagers living in Manhattan....

ok, so I was watching Gossip Girl.

I kind of missed that "trend" what with being stuck here in Japan but a student mentioned it to me the other day so I thought I would try and episode to see what I thought.
I was quite appalled by the story line and therefore couldn't help but watch more. Since when did 15-6 year olds wear La Perla and spend 90% of their waking hours drunk? Obviously I don't know anyone who grew up in this "world" as they call it, but if even a smidgen of it is true it makes me feel very very worried for the human race. But I still continue to watch it out with fascinated horror....

Anyway.

So yesterday I was confined to the living room for most of the day, being the only cool room in the house. About 6pm I decided to get ready to go out for a walk since it was finally cool enough to consider going outside voluntarily.
I was getting changed in the living room just about to put on my sports bra and listening to my ipod - in my own little world.
Suddenly the door to the living room bursts open and DH is standing there, home from work super early to be greeted by his wife flashing him!

I was so shocked cause I hadn't heard him come in, nor had I heard him coming pounding up the stairs as he usually does. I guess I had Timbaland blaring in my ears a tad too loud and so I got a huge fright, he got a huge fright too, for obvious reasons. We then proceeded to pee our pants laughing. DH initially thought I had done it on purpose - who me? Never! So it just made it funnier that he was "lucky" enough to walk in at that particular moment. I'm pretty sure I inadvertently made his day ;P






Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Yay for Muji

Muji or Mujirushi (A No brand, brand).


Many of my fellow foreign friends are big fans of Muji. I generally find their stuff to be a bit over priced except for the cosmetics, stationary and their food section.


I love their food section.


Recently I was killing time waiting for DH and was having a squiz at the food section.


I came across a lot of stuff that one just can't find in your average Japanese (countryside) supermarket.


I found Shishkebab mix. which I used last night and thought it was yummy, almost like eating a real kebab.


I also found Tandoori Chicken mix, and ready to eat  Butter chicken.

There was heaps of other stuff that might interest other people but those three things were the dishes I most want to cook in my house but didn't have the ingredients.

So if you haven't been to Muji in a while, pop in and have a look in their food section. They seem to be putting a real effort into coming up with new food products.





Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Infamous in the Inaka (countryside)

Well that might be a tad over the top...perhaps just famous.


Sometimes being a foreigner or gaijin (as in Gaijin Housewife) is annoying. as I would usually prefer to blend in with the crowd and go about my business relatively unnoticed.


That is of course not possible here in Japan and particularly so in the countryside where foreigners are few and far between and therefore a novelty.


Today however, something good actually came out of it.


I went to work, came home to find that the courier had already been.
Damn! I thought, now I will have to get them to come back again.
Then I heard the truck outside. Surely that can't be my delivery, they were just here 2 hours ago....
Pin Pon! (That's the sound a Japanese door bell makes)
Oh it is for me....odd that.


So I open the door to see my regular courier standing there with the box of watermelons I was expecting.


" I saw you getting off the bus so I came by again", he said.


The bus stop is a good 200 metres or so from my apartment, but he knew it  was me (even though I was wearing sunglasses and dressed for work instead of pjs). Obviously I am one of his best and easiest to remember customers.








Sunday, 1 August 2010

Feeling a little too lucky.

Does anyone else out there get scared when things are going really well?


Aside from feeling a bit sorry for myself yesterday, recently I have been feeling extremely lucky and even blessed for all the things I have that are going right in my life now.


Good job, nice bosses, good DH, all my dearly loved family and friends are healthy and happy and a new house under construction, which is coming along nicely.


I am appreciating all of this, but one part of me feels guilty for all the good stuff that is going on.
I'm dreading something bad happening, that the universe is going to somehow punish us for doing something daring like building a house.

Today DH and I visited our house for the very first time EVER! We had a meeting with the house makers on site to see how it all looks and decide on the exact placement of stuff like light switches and what not.
One week ago, our "house" was a concrete slab. Now its got walls, a roof, windows, floors, a door - they put it together in 2 days! That is Japan for you!
So it was a very bizarre experience actually going to see the real thing after months of looking at it in on paper. At the time I think I must have been in shock as I kept feeling like an impostor, masquerading as a the future owner of the house. DH said the something similar. I guess part of it is that we are going from renters to owners and we are kind of wondering when we suddenly became so grown up! Also, how on earth did WE decide on what to build? What the hell do we know about building a house? What if we got it wrong?!?!
Our visit today was very educational. We have a much better idea of the size of everything now. Even though it's hard to feel like you are "home" when your house to be is still a construction site, I think we are going to love living there.

This is the nail I helped to hammer in