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!

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.


Blogger Liisa said...

Am I glad I found your blog. It's nice to read your comments on life in Japan.

I arrived to Tokyo about a week ago and I keep on getting flash backs to my days on a kibbutz - mostly because I can't read or speak the language and katakanas look a bit like hebrew letters.

It's nice to be here in Japan.

1:12 pm

Blogger Elspeth said...

Nice to see Lisa here too :) I love vodka and midori but it is potent! I love the idea of hardly any petty crime, if only the rest of the world was like that. have a Great Christmas there!

4:23 pm

Blogger Jo said...

liisa - it's a wonderful place. i hope you're settling in okay. things do become less baffling, you know!

12:56 am

Blogger Jo said...

and elspeth: vodka and midori IS. with shochu though - ouch!

12:58 am


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