Friday, 28 January 2011

This Week's Ikebana

This week's Ikebana was tricky. We were practicing for my test. Usually we are told the  materials, the type of vase and then two ways the flowers can be arranged. I usually do one way and everyone else at the test does the other way. This happens every time. It makes me a little bit crazy sometimes as I think I must have it wrong or something, but for some reason I , lone gaijin at the test, am in more ways than one, always the odd one out. My teacher always assures me that my arrangement was fine. But for once I would like to magically do the same arrangement as everyone else. Just once.


So this week we used red sticks and nanohana which seems to have the unfortunate name of "rape blossom" in English according to a random site on the internet.

So here is what I did, what my classmate did and what my teacher did  in that order, on my teacher's blog as my computer is not co-operating and I can't upload my photos for now.

After class I went to the big shopping area nearby and bought some bread at the bakery that sells bread imported from Germany and baked fresh each day - yummy. Can't seem to get enough bread these days. Mmm Bread. No. Must. Not. Go. To. Kitchen. And. Make. Toast....

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A good day

Today was a good day. To start off with it is my "free day" where I don't have anything to do until I start work at 7pm. So often my free day involves taking it easy. Today was beautiful weather. I sat outside on my patio for a while whilst Sebastian ran around and sniffed things. Sebastian out did himself today in the good behaviour book by taking himself to use his toilet - a kind of miracle. Then things got even better when my new giant underwear from NZ arrived in the mail. Thank heavens for that. Things were getting seriously squished with my usual bras. Attempts to find some that didn't cost the earth and fitted well in Japan were very unproductive. But the ones I found on sale at Womama were an almost perfect fit which is pretty good for something bought online and cheaper than anything I have found in Japan, great quality and look beautiful - kind of amazing for a maternity bra. After having bras that fitted well it has been awful having to wear them when they don't anymore Going braless is a major social fauxpas (even wearing an unlined/unpadded one and showing nippleage is shocking) here no matter how tiny one's cleavage is, which mine certainly is not.

Anyway so have new bras that fit well and all is right with the world again.

Finished reading Eat Pray Love today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Have just checked out the author's web site and was pleased to see that there is a sequel called "Committed", soon to be released in paperback! Goody. Must read now, as everyone tells me there will be no time for such frivolous activities once baby is here.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Being "Up the Duff" in Japan.

Well, I am officially half way today at 20 weeks. That is kind of fast. Feeling good. No complaints. Went to baby dr yesterday and got all clear. Not getting too fat or puffy and baby on track and looking good. Yay.

I have a new fav go to pregnancy text, which is a fabulous book written for Australians and New Zealanders, called "Up the Duff"- hooray a book that isn't full of scary stuff  or at least the scary stuff sounds way less scary, makes me feel like I am not the most hopeless, ill informed and don't forget "fat" pregnant person in the world. I will be eternally grateful to P for sending it to me. Not only is it informative but also hilarious. Last night I was reading it and laughing. DH started laughing because I was laughing and then I was laughing so hard I was crying and couldn't stop, which made DH laugh at me even more. I think I almost gave myself a hernia.  So do I recommend this book? Yes. If you are not from "down under", then you might not find it so funny or relevant. A word of caution. Do not take this book out in public. Everyone will be staring at you when you can't stop giggling/snickering and there is a  danger that you may even wet your pants.

So far we haven't had too many things that have made me wonder what on earth I am doing having a baby in Japan. I imagine this is not going to be so for much longer. Yesterday, my friend P asked me what my birth plan was. If I was in NZ I would at least get to make one with the dr/midwife whereas here, in my city you just have to be grateful that there will be some medical professional there to catch the baby when it pops out due to a hideous shortage of obstetricians. I also have to pay more than 100,000 yen out of my own pocket to cover what is not covered by the government payment, even though I have health insurance here. So I was starting to wonder why I didn't use the extra money we have to fork out to buy a business class ticket back to NZ and give birth there for free and get my epidural if that's what I want and make my own mum take care of me instead of roughing it here on my own with just DH. However, Japan being Japan, DH wouldn't be able to make it to NZ for the birth and therefore would miss out and I am equally intent on him doing the "support work" oh yeah and being able to hold his child as soon as possible/bond, important stuff like that. And then there is Sebastian. What would he do without me for 2-3 months? So I am staying put. As I said to my friend yesterday, maybe, once it is all over, I will be grateful for not having had a choice and just have to suck it up and get on with it and it will turn out to be a good thing. Positive thinking here!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

This Week's Ikebana

This post should be called "Last Week's Ikebana" as it did in fact happen last week but then I never got round to downloading the photos from my mobile. So finally tonight, here it is, one week late:

Yesterday was my first Ikebana class of the year. My teacher organised flowers for making my favourite kind of arrangement. The inline style. When I opened up the newspaper the flowers were wrapped in, they were such beautiful colours and looked so cheerful I suddenly felt much more cheerful myself.
So I decided to make use of every single flower (often we don't end up using all the flowers provided as often "less is more" ) and make it as loud and bright as possible.

So here is what I made:

Here is what my classmate made:
And here is what my teacher did for New Years.

See the little rabbit in the front on the left! This year is the year of the rabbit, if you weren't aware. Rabbit everything is very popular these days. Having a pet rabbit, too. I am quite pleased that this baby will also be a "rabbit". I am a sheep, DH is a wild boar I think.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Tiger Mask Strikes Again

Japanese news for the last few days has given a lot of time to the new phenomenon of the "Tiger Mask".

Tiger mask is a comic book hero who has come to life all over Japan recently. My DH loved Tiger mask when he was young, but I think he was more interested in the pro-wrestlers who used the name and costume than the comic book hero.

Tiger mask - whose real name in the comic is Naoto Date has been donating things to schools and homes for children who are unable to live with their parents. One of the most popular item is the Randoseru, or back pack that children are gifted by their grandparents or parents when they start elementary school. The randoseru is a peculiar item and for a long time I could not figure out why every single child had this particular kind of back pack, traditionally black for boys and red for girls but now available in a variety of snazzy colours. They are also rather pricey costing about 30-40,000 yen, though they supposedly last for the entire 6 years of elementary school. Let's just say that I have only ever seen one child using another kind of back pack, and that would have been because that particular child had no-one who cared about him enough to save up the money for this rite of passage item.

Anyway, so this fictional figure has been donating back packs, school supplies, food and cash all over Japan. Obviously it is the work of kind hearted people, who leave a note saying it is from Naoto Date, which does add a bit of mystery and excitement to the whole thing. It seems to be quite a trend now, with copy cat donations happening more and more every day. Though these people have their heart in the right place, these children's homes need volunteer staff to help out and people to give love and attention to the children a lot more than a bunch of overpriced back packs.  I hope this will not be just another passing trend either.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

When is your dog day?

That's what I got asked yesterday at work by one of my students when I told her I was into my 5th month.

戌の日 or inu no hi, day of the dog is a traditional piece of wisdom or old wives tale, (depending on whether you believe or not) in Japan. It is the first lucky day in your 5th month of pregnancy when you are supposed to go a shrine and pray for an easy birth and then wrap your tummy in a tight bandage called a haramaki. The idea behind the dog thing is so that you will have an easy birth like a dog apparently does.

This is all news to me and to my husband, so we looked it up on the internet, place of wisdom even for Japanese traditions and found the above information, also that one should pay 5-10,000 yen at the shrine to ensure such an easy birth. Japanese pregnancy ipod applications come with such handy information included.

I missed my first day of the dog, which was the 7th of January, the next one is the 19th. Will I go to the shrine and wrap my tummy up?  Probably not. But a trip to the shrine at some point  probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

End of the New Year Vacation

Today is the last day of our New Year vacation. DH has to go back to work tomorrow and I have to start work again tonight. :(

We have had the nicest weather possible for this time of year almost everyday, which is really fantastic. Great for getting out for a walk. Sebastian is really coming along well with his walking now. Before he would stop every 10 paces and refuse to walk. Now he rarely stops for no apparent reason, only to sniff things. I am very proud of his progress. :)

Last night we had a New Year party with our friends who have a 5 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. The kids were very concerned that Sebastian had been left at home and that he had to sleep by himself. They also kept us very entertained with their games and showing us their toys. One of them had a special super hero belt that was all the rage this Christmas. DH had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to use these new fangled toys that kids have nowadays.They were also told off a bit for playing rough near me and their mother explained that they had to be careful of my stomach because there was a baby in there. So they were most intrigued at this and came over to have a closer look. The little boy says to me: "Is there a baby in there?". "Yes there is", I replied. "You can rub my tummy gently if you like". So the little boy rubs my tummy. The little girl is sitting on top of the beanbag  I was leaning against and says from her position: "Is there a baby in there?" and points to one of my breasts. I had to laugh. They are quite large by Japanese standards and the envy of many so I am told, anyway being pregnant has made them even bigger so I guess you might think there was a baby in there... But I pointed her in the right direction and she came over a couple more times to check if there really was a baby in there and to touch my tummy. It was very cute and heartwarming. My tummy was putting on a good show too, sticking out quite a bit - I think it was gas more than baby.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The first post of the new year

Akimashite Omedetou Everyone!, which is Happy New Year or as the youngins say Aki Ome. Why bother with all those other syllables!

Yesterday I had a short nap in the afternoon so I might be able to get through to midnight and see in the new year....It probably didn't help that DH insisted on watching some kind of big pro-wresting event on TV which quickly had me snoring my head off on the couch at about 10pm. So I went up to bed about 11:30 and DH woke me up when he came to bed by saying Happy New Year. Oh well.

We woke up this morning to a rattle and roll - a bit of an earthquake. Thankfully it was not a very big one. Then we turned on the news to find out that DH's hometown is under 40cms of snow and 1000 cars got stuck on the road last night. We are very thankful that DH's family all appears to have been safe at home and that we didn't decide to travel down there this year. We would have been lucky to get there at all.

Today we put Sebastian in his cage and took him with us to our old neighbourhood on the other side of town. It was kind of strange to go back there but I can say it doesn't feel like my neighbourhood anymore. Sebastian was quite nervous when we took him out of the car and did not seem to be enjoying his trip to the countryside much until we found somewhere he could do some sniffing. We went to our little old shrine and were surprised to find some other people there. Wishes were made and then we set off to the supermarket to get supplies for today's feasts. DH had a craving for sushi. We came home and DH had sushi for lunch with beer. He is now snoring head off in Japanese room - a typical afternoon pass time on New Year's day in Japan - rather like after a big Christmas lunch. Tonight we are having Japanese style BBQ cooked on our dining table with a special hotplate. Should be good!

I hope you all are having a pleasant start to 2011, too.