Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


It's snowing in Tokyo.

Looks very pretty from my apartment.

I've not left the place yet, so I have nothing else to say about it!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

First Tokyo All Nighter

On the way to a small dinner party yesterday, I was on the train, trying to text that I was going to be late (why am I ALWAYS late for everything these days?) when this voice next to me asks me, in English, what time the rush hour was on the train. I responded it's pretty much always rush hour ... anyway, it's a Chinese Canadian student. The Chinese-ness wouldn't be relevant to this story if it weren't for what came a bit later. So, anyway, she's a bit fed up that she's in Tokyo to visit relatives and they haven't broken up yet and, well, she's not happy trying to get around Tokyo by herself and can't find people to help her. I said, in amazement, that Tokyo-ites are SO helpful and friendly I was really surprised. She said, well, they don't speak English, do they? I asked her where she was heading, to change the subject, and she said she didn't know but she'd recognise the Kanji when she got there. I was a little surprised but asked her if she could read Kanji, to which she replied, with great indignation, of course she could, she was Chinese.

Well, excuse me, miss canada 2004.

Chinese friends I've had in the UK certainly couldn't.


No wonder she's disliking Japan so much. GAH! I wonder if she's whingeing the head off her relatives too? She said she was thinking about maybe coming to teach English here when she graduated. Now, that I'd like to see!

Anyway, enough of her. I had a wonderful evening. Two other teachers, one of the receptionists and I joined one of our bosses for the evening. She lives in a truely awesome apartment. It was massive and sooooo beautiful, with a huuuuge balcony running the whole length of the the living room and bedroom and underfloor heating. Yummy! The decor was wonderful, the whole place spacey -- oh I want something like that. Not that it's ever likely to happen, of course, but I can dream. We ate, drank and played silly games for a few hours, then toddled off to do some Karaoke and more drinking for an hour an a half. Except we ended up extending and extending and spent about five hours there. We were in our own little room, so it was pretty cosy. Although the video selection was quite amusing. There were about six different videos that were shown in the background to every song and, naturally over five hours we got through a fair few songs and drinks! Previously I'd hated singing alone, but if anyone else was singing I'd be fine. I'm cured. Now the thing is, I love singing BUT cannot sing to save my life! I know this. I don't care! Oh, oh, oh and there was a tambourine in the room too! Very funny! And you could order your drinks using the same remote control you used to punch in the songs!

These toilets also had baskets of sanitary towels. Now this totally highlights one of the main differences between the UK and Japan. In the UK, one person would just swipe the lot and walk off. And I'm still to find a toilet here without toilet paper! Next to the basins were more baskets with cotton swabs, toothpicks, etc and little tubs of 'Love Catch'. Picture the little 14ml individual milk/cream pots to know what I'm talking about. Now, we did wonder what sort of enticing liquid was in there to help you catch love, but boringly our Japanese friends told us it was mouth wash.

After going back to our friends apartment for a bit, I toddled off home. Getting in a VERY bad mood with the ticket machine that wouldn't take my 5000 yen note, even though it said it would. I tried it in every direction before a Japanese lady said something to me and I figured out she was trying to say it wouldn't take the new notes. I'd heard about this at some stage, but it was ridiculously early in the morning and I was drunk and tired. I tried and swore at a few more machines before eventually finding one that accepted it. Somehow managed to not sleep through my stations (I had to change) and finally crashed at 07:15.

Brilliant fun. I have a sore throat though. Guess that's not too surprising after all that singing and shouting!!!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Money, money, money

Did anyone ever notice that Sainsbury's (supermarket in the UK) chocolate coins come in the most strange currencies. I mean, it doesn't make them taste any less yummy or anything, but I just wondered.

Oh and I've decided I have to find a new Japanese teacher. Her habit of telling me how hard things are is doing my head right in. And today she was talking about one tense being past and the other being not past. I asked her whether she meant the other tense was present or future and she said no. And then told me it was difficult. GAH! I'm sure I sit there with a look of total bewilderment on my face, and she doesn't notice. I asked her to teach me some very simple grammar today, for example, and my head nearly blew. I explained I wanted to know how to say things like: 'to buy', 'I would like to buy', 'I bought', 'I will buy'. I told her I wasn't interested, at this point, in second or third person, I just wanted to start being able to communicate.

She grabbed a grammar book and started going into technicalites, after telling me verbs weren't important and should wait until we get further through the book. I had to explain to her that without verbs you couldn't communicate. I'm not sure she agreed. I felt drained by the end of the hour, and had to come home for a nap!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Right, so that's it for another year then.

Yay! Christmas is all over until, maybe October? Of course, if I were in England still, it would be all over until next August, when with the last flickering of the summer heat still being (with any luck) still some weeks away, all the Christmas decorations and cards would appear in the shops and Christmas promotions would begin. And you'd always get those smug bastards that would gloat as they told you that by October ALL their shopping had been done and they already ordered the biggest tree in the world. Or whatever. Bah!

Christmas and I have, for many reasons, always had a very mixed relationship, and generally my favourite Christmases have been those I've been able to spend alone without feeling any pressure to conform or join in other people's family's day. This has been especially true when I've had a house to myself in what's normally a shared house. I'm not saying I've not enjoyed sharing them or anything, but pressure and all that.

Yesterday, however, was great fun. My neighbour and I were invited downstairs to another neighbours apartment (all teachers) for Xmas lunch. Well, by 'lunch' we were there from 4pm to about 2am-ish. Had a lovely lovely lunch. Neighbour downstairs has a microwave oven (the flats all come equipped with a toaster oven and a single ring) so we had a REAL roast meal. SOOOO nice. And, naturally, charades and Monopoly (Star Wars version - very hard to tell the pieces apart as they're all silver and stand up) and lots and lots of red wine. We had a blast! And even watched 'Jingle All The Way' at one stage. What a TERRIBLE movie! But we enjoyed the spirit of things (or maybe that was also the red wine?).

Christmas Day is a normal working day in Japan, and some poor little guy driving his van around our apartments looked a little bit shocked at us all out on the balcony, with wine, and wearing silly hats, and shouting 'merry xmas' to him. In English. Poor love!!!

I then had my first asthma attack in about 11 years. Actually, I remember the last one I had - it was when I was playing on a huge pile of raw cotton on a Kibbutz. That was my first. I had one a couple of days later when in the Kibbutz garden with a huge huge amount of pollen visibly flying around. I've never had another one. Ever. Sure, from time to time, like if I've had flu or something, I've had to use the inhaler for wheezing but I'm diagnosed with 'mild asthma', always carry an inhaler 'in case' and generally never have any problems. Hell, if it weren't for asthma I wouldn't have been able to get so much money together for Japan: I took part in some paid asthma trials earlier this year.

Anyway, I have no idea what triggered this one off. There was a lot of smoking, but it was in a different room, and even with it drifting through, I'd be really suprised if that had caused it. Nothing else I'm diagnosed as allergic to was present (cats and tree pollen), and food has never caused it before. So, I'm baffled.

I overdid the Ventolin a bit as it just wouldn't calm down, and woke up several times through the night. With breathing exercises, an antihistamine and more puffs I managed to calm it down eventually, but had a pretty crap sleep. And this morning, my chest hurts :(

Another thing I love about Japan: today is Sunday. Boxing Day Sunday. And at midday the postman came knocking with a package for me - containing a Xmas Pudding, Jelly, Custard, shortbread biscuits, a packet of Colman's Chip Shop Curry mix (!) and a little microphone key ring that had a message recorded on it. Apparantly. Oops. I played with it and rubbed off whatever was on it before seeing a note saying it had a message for me. Sorry! Supercool pressie anyway :D


UPDATE: I've eaten the Xmas pudding (it was a little one: perfect size!) and half the packet of custard. YUMMY!!!

Now, if my neighbour who has gone back to the UK for the holidays, remembers my mince pies, I'll be one very happy chick!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Holiday Greetings

I just want to wish happy holidays, good presents, well deserved rests and little hangovers to everyone. Don't eat too much!

My present to you is my badly re-written version of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Japanese style):

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
A Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Three Sumo Wrestlers
Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the fourth day of Christmasmy true love sent to me:
Four Samurai Warriors
Three Sumo Wrestlers
Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Five Chihuahuas
Four Samurai Warriors
Three Sumo Wrestlers
Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Six Goths a Dancing
Five Chihuahuas
Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers
Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Seven Pairs of Chopsticks
Six Goths a Dancing
Five Chihuahuas Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Eight Heated Toilet Seats
Seven Pairs of Chopsticks
Six Goths a Dancing Five Chihuahuas Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Nine Tubs of Miso
Eight Heated Toilet Seats
Seven Pairs of Chopsticks Six Goths a Dancing Five Chihuahuas Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Ten Kabuki Actors
Nine Tubs of Miso
Eight Heated Toilet Seats
Seven Pairs of Chopsticks Six Goths a Dancing Five Chihuahuas Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Eleven Godzilla Dolls
Ten Kabuki Actors
Nine Tubs of Miso Eight Heated Toilet Seats
Seven Pairs of Chopsticks Six Goths a Dancing Five Chihuahuas Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Twelve Packs of Tissues
Eleven Godzilla Dolls
Ten Kabuki Actors Nine Tubs of Miso Eight Heated Toilet Seats Seven Pairs of Chopsticks Six Goths a Dancing Five Chihuahuas Four Samurai Warriors Three Sumo Wrestlers Two Hello Kitties and a Crow in a Bonsai Tree

Hey, I said it was going to be bad. Now sing along please!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Forgotten from last weekend

I've mentioned the nice young people or freaks, depending on your perspective, who dress up outside Harajuku station and stand around having photos taken, as their parents did when their ages, e.g:




I have quite a few pictures too, but haven't quite got around to developing them, let alone putting them up. Oh and they're known as Cosplay (as in costume players, or something like that).


last weekend, amongst all the goths, baby dolls, wedding outfits and whatnot, we saw a girl in full Nazi uniform, complete with swastika arm band. Well, full in rubber I think with huuuuge heeled boots. Blame the shochu, I can't remember exactly!!!

Now, I don't know if she thought this was cute, or was just plain ignorant or if it had occured to her friends to say anything.....

I also wonder whether a youth in any other country than Japan would get away with this without being arrested or beaten up.....

Things that made me happy today.

  1. Today was my last day of teaching for three weeks.
  2. I had a couple of really nice adult lessons today, and one student told the receptionist she really likes me. I taught three of my students the words 'tacky', 'cheesy', and the Spanish pronunciation of 'Paella'. Well, I did once I'd interpreted what 'paidja' was!
  3. I had my cute four year olds jingling some little bells while I sang 'Jingle Bells' to them. Badly.
  4. I cut my last snowflake. Over the last week I've cut more of the buggers than can possibly be healthy for one adult.
  5. I learned that nine year olds don't cheat at games that six year olds do.
  6. I laughed my head off at my nine year old lads: I made them eat M&M's with chopsticks.
  7. My receptionist gave me a large box of PG Tips Tea Bags.
  8. I had yet another lovely evening out with nice food, good drinks and wonderful Japanese company. And I didn't have to pay a penny for it!
  9. The two sets of traffic lights I needed to cycle over both turned to green (for me) as I approached them.
  10. I realised just how totally happy and content I am now, compared to this time last year.

One of the people I was out with tonight, said culture shock will probably set in around six months. I've been here three. Thing is, I can't imagine that it will. I feel so settled here, and now my circle of friends - both Japanese and Gaijin is growing, I'm feeling even more so. It's nice. The only difficulty I have is with the language, and that can only get better. Maybe it's because I feel I'm so independent and adapt so well and so easily to new surroundings, experiences, etc, but I really can't imagine a sudden downturn in mood over this. I may, of course, be eating these words by the end of Spring. But we'll see!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Cocktail for trouble?

Today I had one of the worse hangovers to memory. No throwing up, no headache, but I felt very green and my stomach didn't forgive me all day, especially as I'd bumped it along on my bike this morning.

The culprit? A very pretty martini cocktail: shochu, vodka and midori. They all tasted sooooo nice, and I did have a lovely salmon and pancake thing with them. Actually it was really weird: everything on the menu was in English. I'm no longer used to that!

Of course, this being party season, I've had to subject my liver and stomach to a lot of booze and, even when there's been food available, it's hard to talk to students, eat and get drunk at the same time, so the food always get sacrificed. Hard life really. Poor, poor stomach and liver though!

There are two more teaching days until the holidays. I get three weeks break. I've never had that in my life. I'm SO excited by it! Lots of time to relax and explore Tokyo. I might even get around to developing and putting some photos onto this site. Maybe...

Xmas lessons have been fun, despite my lack of initial enthusiasm for them. My snowflake technique is now very good, although I realised I can't name most of the countries in the Commonwealth. A good snowflake technique is probably more important though, no?


One criticism many people have of Japan is that it's so insular. To an extent I agree. Everything is very safe and sanitized. Okay, of course there are some dreadful exceptions, like the earthquakes and the little girl recently murdered.... But generally the 'darker' side of things here is so well hidden. You often see young kids alone together in 2's or 3's getting the trains or walking up the road. There's a certain respect here. People remain calm. If you accidently wander out in front of a bus; it slows for you and the driver doesn't honk his horn or shout at you. Seeing litter is extremely rare and graffiti even rarer - in the areas I go in anyway. Shop workers say hello to you and then stay out of your way. If you handled everything in the shop and left empty handed, they'd still thank you. The only time I've ever seen anything other than total politeness is on the trains when people push and shove like there'll never ever be a train again. All the time. At other times, people queue quietly and politely and are completely respectful of each other.

I wonder if this goes someway to the desire of Japanese women to hook up with Gaijin men - to get something a bit different?

In a way, Tokyo reminds me of life in on a Kibbutz - and the whole insular criticism is given of that too.

It IS nice though. And knowing that petty crime is practically non-existant is wonderful. I've left things in my bike basket before when I've gone into a shop, knowing it'll still be there when I come out. And knowing that keeping my wallet in an accessible place in my bag isn't asking for trouble here. That's nice!

Life here IS strange though, and feels like an alternative reality in many ways. With the amount of Gaijin and Japanese friends I'm getting increasing, it's starting to feel like a big social event; and socialising with the school's Japanese staff and having (mainly) lovely students - it doesn't feel like I'm 'working' - not in the old sense anyway. And now I'm seeing more and more of the other teachers in my apartment block, it's feeling almost campus like.

And as long as I remain all 'genki' with my students, everyone's happy it seems.

'Genki' is a frequently used word here that describes anyone that's lively and fun. I love the word. Another word I love is 'Kawaii' - (rhymes with Hawaii, funnily enough) which means 'cute'. The final 'ee' has to be long and raised (and generally said in a silly voice). Or maybe that's just me?


Oh and today and yesterday there've been small rumblings of an earthquake or aftershock! Hopefully there's not another big one happening somewhere right now.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ditzier than the average ditz

(firstly can I just swear my head off at the long post that just disappeared?)

Okay, so where on earth was I?

Oh yes, this morning I exceeded stupidness. I've mentioned my washing machine before: it's a massive twin tub thing straight out of the 60's that is practically manual. Anyway, this morning I did a load of washing and spun it three times. And THEN had a funny feeling: had I actually remembered to remove the clothes from the washer and put them into the dryer? Nope. And I'd gone over to it three times to put it back onto spin. What a div, eh? And I had to leave so didn't get to finish it. GAH!

Cycling through crunchy dead leaves is almost as satisfying as shuffling through them or kicking them, I've decided.

Today at school I got Xmas choccies from a student :D Nice ones too!

I did a Xmas lesson with a seven year old girl today. We started the lesson with a couple of rounds of 'Go Fish', some alphabet revision, and a quick Santa Dot-to-dot, before getting her to practice writing on the board what I wanted her to write inside the card she was giving to her parents. So, she's still completely into the lesson and always loves being able to write on the board. We then sat back down and I got her to write it inside the card before colouring it in. (We'd been given cards to give the kids). She happily did the trees baubles and then gave me a complete: 'you must be kidding' look, when I got her to do the presents. It was hilarious. Apart from the fact I've never met a 7 year old girl that didn't like colouring...

I nearly fell asleep in one lesson today. I have a couple of sisters (in their 20's) who've had a personality bypass. Apparantly no teacher has managed to get anything from them. It is pure agony trying to teach them. Life's too short! They are just SO frustrating. I've had them for three months now and am still struggling how to pique their enthusiasm. I don't think they have any though. Example: one told me she'd put together a photo album for her friends' wedding present. Naturally, I asked what Japanese weddings were like. Then my pain set it...! I mean, they have the vocab........ gah!

Later I had to give a lesson to someone else's student: a common thing. It was a thalidomide victim (well, if he uses the word 'victim', then so can I). He'd decided he didn't want a lesson with a book today and brought in a long translation he'd done for the Thalidomide Society in Japan from another Thalidomider who'd written about her life in Japanese. He wanted his translation corrected. It was really interesting actually but kind of strange, in as much as he'd already possibly changed this women's words, and I was there changing it a bit more. As this is being published for the society and I had to correct some of his sentences quite a bit, I really hope I've not strayed away from her meaning. Make sense?

And, this evening, I discovered Apple Pie flavoured Haagen Dasz. Oh my! Pure bliss in a tub!!!

Oh and if anyone could enlighten me as to why an ostrich would want to go skiing, I'd be most grateful. There's an ad campaign here with skiing ostriches on posters. On the train today, there was a tv screen showing an ad. It showed an unhappy ostrich who wanted to see some snow. It then showed the happy ostrich skiing. I'm baffled. Freshly frozen ostrich meat? Or skiing holidays? But why an ostrich? [shakes head in confusion].

ooo aaa mmm banana chocolate pocky's...

... are my latest discovery from the Pocky range. Soooooo nice. Pocky, for the unitiated are sort of like bread sticks but much thinner and normally coated in chocolate. A bit of a Japanese addiction - to some of my students anyway.

And I got more apples today, from another student :D (Hey, I'm easily pleased!)

I had another Xmas party at the weekend. Free booze is ALWAYS a good thing and I've behaved pretty impeccably so far. Well, compared to how I got at some of the[old work place's] parties, that's not a hard thing, and I did swear to keep work and booze separate. Actually, I recall saying that several times. Anyway, I've been good so far.

This evening I went out for food and drinks with another of the receptionists from a different school. I'm still not sick of Japanese food and don't think I ever will be - especially when you get lots of little things to share. The restaurant was quiet, but we weren't. Actually, this occurs most places I go. Funny that.....

Tokyo is getting colder and colder and the Xmas music worse and worse. Think bad organ. Not nice. Actually, think pain!

I now have just five teaching days left to Xmas, and three weeks off. I cannot wait. I have no plans. Bliss! It'll actually be the first rest I've had in over a year. And what a year!

Oh, and don't expect Xmas cards, as I've not got my act together. I do have four little packages that'll be sent out to the UK tomorrow though. You may get them by mid January. If you're lucky!!!

Anyway, it's late, I'm babbling and so I'm going now!

Friday, December 10, 2004

I'm a good teacher! :D

Now I think I understand what job satisfaction is: happy students who you can see progress and who tell you they like you and you're good and they learn better with you than their previous teacher and why don't you have room in your schedule for them to see you more often. I'm a happy bunny!!! (I've also had receptionists telling me students enjoy my classes.)

Actually, today was a giggle fest. I had three adult classes and three kids ones today - and - well, the amount of noise one adult (me) can make with one kid can be very loud! It also means I get to enjoy the classes. And, I'm not sure WHY there was more giggling than normal, but two of my kids had me in stitches, and the other one I always giggle with). Plus, kids are much more willing to initiate English in games than in 'normal conversation' situations. And their personalities come through more. I mean, let's face it, one kid with a teacher is a very artificial situation.

And thing I love about this job is that I'm forever learning things. I also love it that we can do whatever we want, more or less, in the lessons, although we do have to stick to a pacing schedule for some group and kids lessons.

Other things that made me happy today:
finishing early, a Subway chicken and gorgonzola sandwich, a 50 yen dvd ('24' naturally - oh and 50 yen is about 25 pence!), checking mail box and amongst the junk mail and bill heap, finding two bits of real mail - Kate, Simone: thank you! Although I'm not altogether sure about the pix. Maybe they should have been burned? Brought back cool memories of Scotland anyway.

And knowing I don't have 12-year old kid ever again on a Saturday! My Saturday schedule is now a private intermediate class, a group intermediate class (which is one of my faves and who I think I may teach the many uses of 'piss' tomorrow - well, how can you speak English without knowing the difference between a 'pissup' and 'piss off'?) and my 3.5 hour intermediate group.

I like intermediate students!


Question to other bloggers: do you check your sitemeter? I do and I love seeing the referrals page. Today, for example, I've learned that my site comes up if you do a search on Comcast for 'european dog regristration' or on google for 'instruction of hovercroft' or 'doremon kitten'. I'm intrigued. I've seen some other funny ones it's come up on but can't remember them. Well, I find it amusing anyway!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Thoughts of the Day

How many millions of disposable chopsticks must the Japanese get through every day?

How many pairs of chopsticks can be made from one tree?

Why have I been told there are lots of Yakuza (mafia) at the university near me, when Yakuza are meant to be uneducated?

I feel some student interrogation coming on.....

And, have a go at this website: http://y.20q.net/anon - it's a computerised version of 20 questions. I beat it with mirror and teacher and then gave it stamp which it gave me in 19. It gives you random comments.

For mirror, after it gave up, it said (all quotes are from puter):

Can it cheer you up? You said Depends, I say Yes.

(it's obviously never had a bad day then!)

Is it normally planted in gardens? I say Probably.

(come again, computer?)

Would you find it on a farm? You said Maybe, I say No.

(so farming communities don't use mirrors then?)

Can you control it? I say No.

(oh oh, mirror on the loose.)

Does it live in large populations? I say Yes.


Is it a type of fruit? I say Yes.

(yum, yum, mirror fruit is my favourite)

And for 'stamp' it then told me:

Does it slobber? I say Probably


Monday, December 06, 2004

Only TWO packets?

Today I only got given two packets of tissues. Normally on a Monday I get lots more. I think my record for free packs was last Monday when I got 8 or 9.

There was a second teacher in my school today. So far, I've been the only teacher in on Monday in that school. Having someone else there was kind of odd, but nice. We shared games ideas with each other and I've learned another three that I'll have to try out.

I got given a bag of fruit today by a student. Three massive apples and 8 or 10 satsumas. Have I mentioned how much I love my students? Some of them anyway! And I'm slowly getting rid of some of my not so favourites - like 12 year old know-it-all who lived in England for years and is, pretty much, impossible to teach. SUCH a shame my schedule couldn't accommodate her moving to a later class on Saturdays.

Oh and receptionist gave me a satsuma too :D

Students have many different reasons for wanting to learn English. Naturally, with the kids it's because their parents make them, but the adults: some want it for work or travel. Some want to live in an English speaking country at some point. Others learn as a hobby. And some do it to relax - maybe the only time in the week they get to themselves is when they come to English lessons, or it's the only regular thing they have in their weekly schedule as they don't have jobs. One student of mine, has lessons in 3 different schools I think. I don't want to imagine how much that's costing her, but it's her pleasure, so good on her.

One of the kids in one of my classes - three 6 year olds - is a little shit I've decided. The three of them have been coming to the school together for about 2 or 3 years so know each other, and the way we teach, pretty well. Thing is, little shit (okay, I'm being a bit unfair) is taller than, and fatter than, the other two by quite a bit and pushes them around physically, grabs things from them, won't always co-operate and won't attempt to listen to instructions. Remember these are SIX year olds with pretty limited English so the instructions are simple. The other two have no problems with them. Hell, my three year olds have no problems with my instuctions. It's not like he doesn't understand what is required, as some activities I repeat every week. And he's not thick, as he sometimes will answer things. He's also not too bright for the lesson so bored. And activities are turned around pretty quickly. He does go off into la-la land with the book work sometimes - and book work only lasts about 10 minutes. Oh well.

I had my 10 year old girlies shouting today. Well, there's only one way to teach 'whisper' and 'shout' in my opinion. I wonder what the receptionist thought of that!

Mrs Cheeky Bint - floating student - annoyed me a bit today. She comes in for chats so no preparation is needed for her, which is quite nice. The first time I had her I was nervous as other teachers had left lots of comments saying how difficult and unpleasant she was and rude, etc. We, however, had a lovely lesson, and she told the receptionist she wanted lessons with me whenever I had a gap in my schedule. Today was such a day, as Mr Hairspray is away all December. Now, Mrs Cheeky Bint likes me quite a bit. I know because she told me so. So, half hour lesson - ten, maybe slightly more, minutes general chit chat about this, that, Japanese men vs English men, that kind of thing. Then she hits me with R. R is a teacher she had for quite a while whom she adored. She spent the rest of the lesson telling me about him and about how wonderful he was, how he had a weird Japanese girlfriend, how she misses him and she showed me his picture on her phone. Maybe she has a crush on him, I don't know. Anyway, she then asks me if I'll do her a favour - 8 minutes before the end of the lesson - and produces a letter she's written to R that she wants me to go through with her. Of course, it meant the lesson ran over by nearly 10 minutes. Hey, I wasn't to know how many errors would be in it before I agreed. Gah! Still, rather Mrs Cheeky Bint than Mr Hairspray No Personality.


I was going to write about my students, and started the post, but it was too boring.

Saturday night was the first of the three work Christmas parties I have. Had a blast! It was a lot of fun, with about 30 teachers and 200+ adult students. I introduced one of my favourite students to Tequila Slammers - that wonderful bit of British culture. The Japanese staff at teh restaurant thought it was very funny and honked a horn when we'd done it. My students face was a picture. She obviously hadn't realised how strong tequila is!

Later on, it was decided everyone would sing Rudolf The Rednosed Reindeer. Naturally there was a great deal of confusion over the words, though some lines were being handed around. One of my neighbours and I started belting it out where we were standing. To help people learn, you understand. I think being a teacher is making me not give a toss about what I do anymore. It was either that or the rather interesting looking drinks we were being served.

About 60 of us decided to go onto a pub afterwards. This, naturally, caused great confusion, and the group ended up accidently splitting up and then deciding which lot should join which lot. I just wanted a drink.

On the way we passed a restaurant with a tank of water and two live turtles inside. Dinner for later that night? I felt very sorry for them, with their little wrinkled heads and legs, and their snouty noses poking above the water. I did consider liberation for a split second but it would have been pretty impractical. And it was raining heavily. And I wanted to get into the pub.

On the way home, my neighbour and I decided we had to have some noodles. We were both SO tired - having got up very early and done a full days work before the party - that we ordered our food and just sat there giggling. The staff must have thought we were nuts!

Sunday - had a headache. Had a flat to clean and tidy, and couldn't be bothered, so just spent time on the computer, after a long lie in, and then had another long nap. Hey, I LIKE napping. Later on went out for drinks and food with three of my neighbours - other teachers for the same company. We were loud. It was a fun evening though.

The (Japanese) guy at the table next to us, had his tracksuit bottoms rolled up to the knee. This is another weird look I keep seeing all around on Japanese guys in their 20's. Odd.

And, in the loos, there was a basket of sanitary towels. I've never seen this before. It also says a lot about Japanese culture, that they trust people enough to not just pocket the lot, as would happen in England.

Only five days til the next party......

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Enough! Enough!

Coming from England, I'm more than used to being blasted out with Xmas music every Xmas time in shops, shopping centres, etc. Here though, the versions they are playing are truly offensive to the ears. I'm talking about very strange jazzed up electrified versions of santa claus is coming to town, etc. Unbearable. It's like being stuck in lift WITH lift music playing at you. And it's everywhere. Horrible. I miss the old pop 'faves' that get rolled out every year though: you know, Last Christmas and all those. Though I have heard a couple of them here. Just as stranged up versions!

And it hit me: I won't get to eat any mince pies this year. Oh well, I'll live!

There really aren't enough days or hours in the week here what with the whole 'get up, go to work, come back from work late, eat, crash' cycle. And now I'm having Japanese lessons, meeting a Japanese language exchange partner, going out with teachers and people who aren't teachers, and so on........ gah! It's lovely having so much to do - I just wish I had more time for it all!