May 31, 2006

Word o' the day

二日酔い: futsukayoi, hangover. Literally "second day drunkeness" or similar. Dunno, made me chuckle for some reason.


May 28, 2006


Hello all, sorry for the lack of recent updates, I have not really been doing much of note and have been very busy with study. The course is certainly intensive; we are ploughing through the textbook at a fair old clip and it is quite hard to take everything in, and even harder to force your brain to use the stuff you've learned in any kind of practical sense. We seem to have a test of some kind every other week. I definitely seem to be getting better (slowly), it's just frustrating how much effort saying even the simplest things takes.

Last Sunday I went to Inuyama (literally, "dog mountain") with a couple of friends to do some sightseeing and such. It's about an hour away on the regular train and features Japan's oldest standing castle, built in the 1500s. It is also well known for the Inuyama festival, which takes place in April and in which huge, 3-story floats, bedecked in lamps and mechanical puppets are wheeled around the streets (by hand) to flute and drum music. The highlight of the trip for me was the incredibly beautiful Uraku-en tea ceremony garden, originally built in the 1600s. Members of the public are allowed to walk round the garden and I think they occasionally hold actual tea ceremonies which you can take part in. There weren't any going on when we were there, which is probably for the better as they are very involved and time-consuming and require study and practice, even on the part of the guests.

So yeah, largely uneventful few weeks really. Today I went for a bit of a walk, ended up looking around a second-hand clothes shop on the other side of town that I quite like. The in-store music was interesting, and they played Mr. Roboto by Styx: good to see the Japanese have a sense of humor. Weather has been changeable, it's either brilliant sunshine or it's raining. Don't have any plans at the moment but will (try!) and continue to keep you all updated as to how things are going...


May 17, 2006

頭が痛い :(

The classes appear to be getting ever more difficult. I am coping but am growing ever more frustrated at being unable to express myself properly. Hopefully I just need to give it time.

Have not quite been sleeping properly recently and at lunchtime today I realised that I was going to need bad, carbohydrate-heavy food if I was going to make it through the afternoon, so I took myself for my first McDonalds since coming here. Thanks to the joys of corporate branding, the Maccy Ds in Japan are much the same as anywhere else in the world, even with the same slogan (except it's usually pronounced "I'm rubbing it!" here, natch). The choice of food and drink is slightly different - for instance they have recently brought out the Ebipuri, which is a kind of filet-o-shrimp. In typically hypocritical fashion, the advertising for the Ebipuri features doe-eyed fashion model Yuri Ebihara - she is slim, gorgeous and has perfect skin and teeth; obviously a great representation of your average McDonalds customer then!! 8-) Of course she could also be construed as a good choice as her surname has "ebi" (shrimp) in it, but still.


May 14, 2006


Excuse the lack of updates - been busy studying and not much of note happened this week.

Finally got the courage up to go and get my hair cut today, as I hadn't had one in several months and it was getting a bit Bob Dylan-esque. Went to a nice little place called Mitsui, in the middle of a residental area. Many hand gestures later and I was under the scissors, and even managed a very basic conversation with my barber about the weather, where I was from etc. Relaxing experience all in all.

Yesterday evening yet to the Zigzag (the campus bar run by Declan, the head of the international office: he is Irish/Australian and as such enjoys the odd drink or two) and wound up watching the FA Cup final. Made me feel a bit homesick. Very surreal watching English football with Japanese commentary. Saturday did nothing in particular, had a test on Friday, think it went OK, but you never know really.

After the test I went with my class to a Brazillian pizza restaurant (one of my class is Brazillian and she works there). Had a great time, didn't quite know what to expect from Brazilian pizza but it was incredibly nice. Okazaki seems to have a large Brazillian population which is several generations deep; I have no idea why.

Well, that's been pretty much it really. Must get back to studying my verb conjugation. I'm going to try and go to City Hall tomorrow to pick up my alien registration card (the name of this document is the gaikokujin tourokushomeishou: nice and easy to remember, then). I've been there once before but this will be my first time going alone, so I am slightly nervous and anticipate many hand gestures.


May 7, 2006

Here comes the rain (doo-n-doo-doo)

It's Sunday afternoon and I've just woken up (well an hour or two ago, anyway), and the weather has gone from blazing sunshine (Fri) to warm but overcast (Sat) to well and truly raining it's ass off (today). Of course, being British I am somewhat accustomed to this kind of thing. I don't know when the rainy/monsoon season is supposed to start, so maybe this is it.

Didn't go to Kyoto yesterday in the end (hopefully I'll go at some point in the future - I really want to see Ryoan-ji in particular), so I've had a very restful Golden week all in all. Back to the grindstone tomorrow though.


May 5, 2006

Kodomo no Hi (Children's Day)

Hooray for Japan and their crazy public holidays! Today was the last day of the aforementioned Golden Week, and the TV news has been replete with stories of holiday traffic and 100km tailbacks. Weds I had to go to school, Thurs I slept and studied, so today, as the weather was very nice I thought I'd have a walk across town to Okazaki Castle, as I hadn't been there before, and it's about the only place in Okazaki worth visitng...(just kidding, Okazaki, I love you really)

So yeah...had a wander about...very scenic...took some pictures. The place is well-known as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a 16th-century shogun. Didn't go inside the actual castle building (I think there's a museum in there) as my feet hurt and the walk back home was a good 45 mins-1 hr...but there's always the future. You can see all my photos on my Flickr page.

Anyway, my feet are blistered and I appear to be sunburnt in several places, but regardless I'm off on another day trip tomorrow, to Kyoto...which, naturally, I can ill-afford but it's long been the one place in Japan I've really wanted to see. So no doubt I'll take lots of photos and there will be another lengthy blog update on Sunday...or maybe not, do you people even read this thing any more? Feel free to leave comments and such...


May 1, 2006

Here comes the sun (doo-n-doo-doo)

It's only been May for one day and already it feels like summer - the weather today has been similar to what would probably qualify back home as a nice summer's day. Not too bad so far, but it's gonna get a lot worse - apparently May is usually hot, June is rainy and July and August are very hot and humid. Argh.

Went to the north side of Okazaki for the first time on Sunday. It seems to be lot more exciting than the south bit - more interesting shops and restaurants and so forth. We had dim-sum at this Chinese restaurant, which was very nice. Also it was my first time getting the bus here, which is slightly different - you get on at the back, take a ticket, and a display tells you the charge, which increases the further you go. When you get to where you're going, you put the ticket and the appropriate change into a machine next to the driver. The drivers (like the police, train staff, traffic attendants and pretty much every other public servant I've encountered thus far) are immaculately turned out and seem very friendly. Makes a nice change from the surly middle-aged blokes you get back home who growl at you if you ask them the simplest question (I'm generalising but you know what I mean).

So yes, that's been about the only excitement recently. However, I've made discoveries in the arena of wacky Japanese soft drinks. The Japanese seem to prefer to receive their vitamin intake in drink form, and lemon flavored, vitamin-C enriched drinks seem to be all the rage. I'm quite partial to C.C. Lemon (Vitamin C - 1400mg! boasts the label) and I've had the irritating song from the commercial running through my head for several days now ("Sank yuu Shi Shi Remon! SHI SHI REMON!" I think you can watch it on this page).

Also good is Pokka Lemon (see left), which claims that it will maintain you in "SARA SARA condition" (Sara-sara, according to my dictionary, is the sound or proess of things running smoothly). On top of the 1350mg of Vit C you'll receive, Pokka Lemon has recently started selling with little free gifts attached to the bottle. What did I get? Why, a miniature tape measure, of course!

I've also found Nobi King, which I can only describe as tasting like sweet fruity watery milk. I only bought it for the comedy name (as you can see from the photo of the label (right), the first "I" is printed quite small, leading me at first glance to think that it was called something completely different altogether).

I've added some of Leonard's pics of Osaka to my Flickr page, so check em.


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