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!

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I had my four month review with my boss today and I glow! Not surprisingly, am thrilled with this :D

Oh, and I saw a poodle in combat gear. No gun though...

The headache from Wednesday night is STILL lingering on. It's now 00:46 Saturday morning. Not good :(

I was using a text book today that used the expression 'to get off with'. None of my upper intermediate students knew this expression and complained it wasn't in the dictionary. They looked shocked when I explained it. (Yeah, right!) The Japanese make a great sound to express disbelief/shock. It's an 'ehhh' that slowly goes up and up at the end for about five seconds. It cracks us foreigners off. I can't help but take the piss now when I hear this wonderful sound. They, of course, think this is hilarious and laugh at us laughing at them. Normal service resumes eventually...

Oh and I wish I could find some humous (no, I CAN'T be arsed to make it) and pickled herrings (yes, I AM weird).

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Please shoot me now :(

It's 22:35 Thursday. Last night I was out on the shochu. My head is STILL hurting.

I'm paying to park my bike for a few days now as the bicycle spy (little old man with an arm band) is out clipping threatening notes onto people's bikes.

Train drivers here look like pilots. None of ya slouched beer gutted London Underground striking moaners. (Safety note: am kidding. I'm sure they're not all like that.)

Gotta laugh: Now, whilst it is unacceptable to blow your nose or eat in public, it's fine to put on a full face of make-up and curl your eyelashes on the train. What really amuses me though, is that to do this involves using a mirror. A tiny one? Oh no. The average mirror pulled out of a bag to help with making up the face is about half the size of my computer screen...

Breakthrough: after FOUR months, my personality bypass sisters are FINALLY showing a sense of humour and personality. I know some people take time to warm up, but this IS ridiculous. First Mr Hairspray, then them. Just what went on in these people's lives over the school holidays?

Black Triangles

Tonight, over bowls of nabe and litres of shochu, with a bunch of Japanese and English people, the subject of black triangles came up.

Japan, despite it's open attitude to nudity (onsens, etc) will not allow pubic hair to be shown on television or in the majority of porn films apparantly and, instead it has to be covered up by a small black triangle.

We were all getting pretty drunk so the conversation didn't go much further than a bunch of jokes and a heap of laughter which won't translate into writing. It's an interesting point though.

(Hey, if you're after a world view or an argument about politics you've come to the wrong blog. This is about fluff n stuff in Tokyo, okay.)

Oh and I saw a tree with buds about to explode.... isn't it a bit early? It's freeeeeeezing in Tokyo right now.

I'll miss the multitude of daffodils in the UK every spring this year. I loved that! Still, I'll be avidly chasing cherry blossom with the rest of the country come spring.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

eye candy

I had to do a cover day today and one of the students was VERY VERY cute. What's going on? That's three in two days. Where have they been hiding? He was only elementary level, but a good elementary level and we passed a lovely 45 minutes talking about Spain and Italy. He was followed by a hyperactive 11 year old that couldn't catch a ball but was a cool kid and a, yawn, business student that didn't know whether he was brave enough to leave his job or not.

And that's one of the main problems in Japan. Whilst the whole 'one company for life' of yesteryears is no longer such a big thing, many people DO stay put for years and years because they're too scared of not being able to get another job. Same with holiday allowance. There is a massive allowance here for some workers - but they can only take it if the work is all done. For most that seems to mean the company wins. Sad, huh?

Is it sad that my neighbour and I, whilst both in our prospective apartments, have text conversations?

Another fairly common sight in Tokyo is something that really sums up the Japanese personality for me. Most days I see bicycles colliding or nearly colliding with each other. Nobody raises an eyebrow or shouts. They just stay calm, probably both apologise and continue on their way. Now in England if that were to happen.....

Oh, and yesterday I got a warning note left on my bike for parking it in my regular spot threatening to take it away and charge me 3000 yen. I'll put it in other places for a bit....

Oh, oh, and it's snowing lightly. So far.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I had two classes today each with an adult male upper intermediate student, both of whom are in full time employment, have own houses and no ring..... (Side note: there's a COMPLETE lack of them in our area. Most students seem to be female or kids or old/ much older/ married men.)

My eyes were very happy.

One's a regular student of mine now :D

The other is a floating student. I've asked the school manager to insure he floats my way regularly!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I've. Got. A. Wob. bel. ly. Tooth.

Actually, I don't have a wobbly tooth, but one of my cute kids does and she made the receptionist come into me before class as she wanted to know how to say it in English to me, and the receptionist didn't know. She's six I think.

One of my four year olds yesterday, finished colouring something in and sat there saying: 'no, shell?', 'no, shell?' and looking really upset while I racked my brain trying to figure out what he was on about. When he left, I said to the receptionist, I think I've done something wrong - but none of us could figure out what; he just stood there looking all sad. His mum brought him back five minutes later - I'd not given him a sticker. And yes, I did then give him a sticker (he chose a a tiger, I think), and yes, he was happier!

The point is - these kids are so desperate to learn to communicate and initiate language with me that it makes teaching them a real pleasure. Especially when they have a personality, which can be hard to see sometimes! I love the feisty ones though, or the ones that are a challenge. Challenge and naughty are not the same thing here! I'm talking about getting through to a kid as some kids like boisterous activities, some like quieter ones and with some, you get nothing from them for ages and then suddenly a flood-gate.

And with adults, the biggest reward I get (apart from bags of apples) is when students leave my class laughing or smiling, or tell me they've enjoyed my lesson. I mean, let's be honest here: you cannot learn a new language in 30 or 45 or 60 minutes a week unless you put in a hell of a lot of work outside the classroom. I know that. They know that. So we may as well make the best of it... And it DOES show who does the work outside and who doesn't. I mean, I can teach you, but if you never review it or do any extra work, we're both fighting a losing battle.

One of my fave low level adults, an 18 year old, is leaving me in Feb and March to do a homestay in New Zealand. She'll be amazingly good when she gets back as she picks things up so quickly. I'll miss her.

Student Weird-Teeth is in Hawaii all of Feb (okay for some). I won't miss her much. She's hard work!

I'm sleeping badly at the moment. I don't know why, but a lot of other teachers are as well. So, the idea of getting up in the morning and the idea of going to work and being all genki are hellish. As soon as one of my students steps into my class though, I realise anew how much I enjoy it. There are exceptions, of course, but even the class with my personality-bypass-sisters seem to be getting a BIT less painful. After nearly four months. GAH!!!

Since I've been here, I've seen people wearing face masks every day. (No, not disguise masks - paper mouth covering ones. Think Sars coverage on telly way back...) I'm yet to figure if it's to protect them from the world or the world from them - but there are far too many people sneezing on trains, etc. That (and sickish students) combined with weather going hot, cold, hot, cold, and air con some places, heating others - fighting off bugs is not too easy.

Oh well, I'll just keep pumping echinacea and vitamin c. I don't think a mouth mask would suit me. White is the only colour they come in. Unless I got one and painted it brightly? Hmmm. Could start a new fashion statement!

And last night, I went to the cinema and saw Howl's Moving Castle. For anyone who loved Spirited Away, this is a gotta see. Loved it. Even if I didn't understand it all!! (Well, I was dying to see it and it wasn't available with subtitles anywhere!). The animation was wonderful and the music fantastic! I have to buy the soundtrack and get myself to the Ghibli Museum now!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Turning Japanese

I'm turning Japanese. Actuallly I think we all are. It must be down to spending so much of every day with Japanese people. I wave at people when I'm immediately in front of them; often with both hands. I indicate 'two' with two open fingers (think 'fuck you') facing people. I give little bows to thank people (just slightly more than a nod). And a load of other things.

My language is becoming peppered with odd words in Japanese here and there. Things like can I have your keitei number? (keitei is a mobile phone) and so on.

We're all gesturing to each other much more and starting to talk to each other like we're with our students, and it normally takes ages to realise.

When I did my Israel/France stint, my grammar completely broke down. As an English teacher, I obviously hope this won't happen again!!!

OOOPS - just noticed I'm not the only thing 'turning Japanese' - must have been playing around with my settings, and now all blogger instructions are coming up in Kanji. Guess I should fix that, eh? (fixed, but that was quite, er, amusing).

After a couple of hours getting stressed over a Japanese photodisc, I've finally figured out how to save it to my hard drive. I may even get around to putting some up here soon.

COMPLAINT: I have a site meter. I KNOW people are reading this blog - so why are none of you buggers leaving me comments or signing my guest book / map? huh? huh? hmph.

Monday, January 17, 2005

man oh man!

All about men:

Man one -

Mr Hairspray, my student, who's been engaged for, like, ever.... I asked him today about his proposal - where was it? was it romantic? etc. He said he'd thinks she'd guessed. I asked how. He said (now, he's Japanese, she's British) because he'd been asking her how to propose marriage to someone in English.

Like, DOH!!! Talk about UNromantic and giving the game away. Anyway, things like that should be what he uses his English lessons for!

Man two -

Okay, cheating here slightly. I'm talking about Niku-Man. Niku-man are steamed buns with fillings in the middle that are sold on the counters of convenient stores. They have inspired names like Cheezu-man (a man with cheese inside), Curry-man (a man with a curry filling inside), Pizza-man (a bolognesey like filling and so on). Anyway, they are, generally absolutely lovely and perfect for this weather. Apparantly they pop up ever August, so they've been around since I have.


- to see what they look like. You can also get sweet bean fillings, pork fillings, shark fin, and who knows what else.


Man three -

Oops. I seem to have a four inch nail in my skull. How did that happen? http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,91059-13284772,00.html - I mean, HONESTLY!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

*gasp - three posts in one day!*

So, now the anger post and the 'what if' posts are out of the way:

I went back to work last Tuesday, which is normally my day off, but I had to cover. Woke up shattered from the excesses of the previous few weeks and slowly went down hill as the week went on. I wasn't looking forward to starting again, but as soon as I saw the students I perked up. I DO enjoy this, and feel I had some great classes this week. Unfortunately, I had training on Friday which meant getting up earlier than normal, but I always feel more inspired after these sessions and implement new ideas with the students.

I have a new cute student. He's 26, has his own apartment and is upper intermediate level. He does however, work extremely long hours and wants to do business English with me (yawn. I HATE business English - mainly because I have no interest in that field, and it' s not my background. Maybe I can talk him out of it though!). Anyway, I don't do if he's single (yet) or if he's a smoker.... but I've lots of Saturday's ahead to find out :D

Last night I ended up in another all night karaoke session, and made everyone jealous by asking for a tambourine and then hogging it most of the night. Drank a phenomenal amount and we ended up in FatDonald's before the first train. Evil.

Oh and it's been pissing it down here (again) since Friday night. Great. It's Sunday night now and hasn't stopped yet!

Not so angry Jo

I had a discussion with my neighbour today about what we'll do when 'the big one' hits Tokyo. Assuming of course that a) we're still alive and b) we're still in Tokyo. We concluded we have no idea and we'll figure it out when it happens. I, for one, refuse to waste water by permantly keeping my bath stocked up with water 'in case'. And I can't be bothered to go and stock up on 2 weeks worth of tuna cans. What happens happens.

I said, my biggest priority would be to email everyone, assuming of course that all connections weren't buggered, to at least stop my friends from all panicking and worrying about me.

Where we were would make a massive difference. If we were at home, we'd be okay probably as these are pretty new buildings. Must find out how to turn my gas supply off though. We concluded we'd open our doors and stay put as more deaths will be caused by falling things and fires than anything else. Of course, not knowing the state of roads or transport, or even if any convenience stores were open, would become a problem but that's a slightly longer term worry I guess.

Some of my schools would be devastated by a quake. I guess if it happens we're all hoping we're in a 'safer' place.

What will happen, will happen I guess, and better it happen somewhere like Tokyo where it's being expected than, well, somewhere that isn't, I guess!

Angry Jo

Okay, so I try and keep this blog light and fluffy and avoid getting all heavy or political on here, but my blood is boiling about an article in yesterday (Jan 15th)'s Japan Times.

In a nutshell then:

Christians and Muslims vieing for Sumatra's soul's:

These people need food but they also need Jesus... God is trying to awaken people and help them realize that salvation is with Christ.

I can't decide whether to be speechless or fume about this.In brief, the article says that

Muslim radicals are handing out Qurans with the bags of rice and sugar they distribute to tsunami victims. Christian aid groups have also rushed in, quietly promising salvation in this predominantly Islamic region but are fearful their presence could spark sectarian violence.

Another Christian group, 'Light of Love for Aceh' is handing out food and wants to take 50 kids to a Christian orphanage in Jakarta to:

..expose them to Christian values.

[An] Evangelist says it's impossible to separate reliefe activities from sharing the Gospel. He acknowledged he was warned to tone down his message but says he has "a job to do"....

God is trying to awaken people and help them realize that salvation is in Christ.

What do you think? I'm really angry about this and think it's yet another example of how evil, corrupt and unnecessary organised religions are and....... I'm stopping this post before I start spitting blood.

(No offence meant to any individual believers reading this. I just don't get it, okay.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005



So, we went to a themed onsen today. The theme being the Edo Period (old Tokyo). You go into a large hall, taking your shoes off, natch, and go and select a YUKATA (think kimono/dressing gown but gorgeous designs), then go and pay and get given a barcoded wrist band which you can then use to pay for everything for the rest of your visit.

You then go through to another locker and take your clothes off, leaving them in there, and put your yukata on for the rest of your visit. There's then a choice of three things to do: we started off with the mixed (with yukata's on) footbath, which was outside with nice hot water (you could see the steam coming up from it) in a long windy 'trough' like line. The bottom of this was stones of varying sizes and throughout you heard cries of 'it hurts', 'it hurts' (in Japanese obviously), intercepted with lots of giggling. Mainly from me and my friend. Some of the areas were okay to paddle through; others pure torture. Regardless of the pain though, everyone continued through to the end, with the odd sit down to splash feet around in the water. Baring in mind this was a cold January day and we werer outside, this was actually lovely to do. We'd all been given thick overjackets to throw on top of the yukata's. There was a hot fresh spring bath at the end to sit and paddle in too.

The second 'thing' to do, was to wander around the 'authentic Edo street' where there were lots of shops and lots of food and drink available. Everything was paid for by having your wrist scanned and settling up at the end, so you didn't need to carry money around. They also had some very very bad 'entertainment' in this area. But it was too painful to watch it.

The main reason for going to an onsen though, is to go into the hot communal (single sex in the case of this onsen) baths. Now, the make up of people who go to an onsen: families, groups of friends, couples..... a cross-section of society basically.

Anyhoo, you go into another changing room and get given two towels - a big one (that you leave in your locker) and a small one you take in with you. There are also toothbrushes available at this point if you wish to have one. If you have a tattoo (or your period) it says you're strictly prohibited from going in.

So, we stripped off and carrying said little towel, went through to baths area. The first thing you have to do is have a total and very thorough wash. This is done in little open cubicles, which have dividers between them. You're supplied with shampoo, conditioner and shower gel and a lovely hot shower. You're also given a little basin to pour water over you to rinse and a small bench to sit on while you get clean. A lot of women washed each others backs. Gal pal and I aren't quite that friendly yet. And we're Gaijin and Brits so, one step at a time. After a good wash and rinse off you soak your small towel with cold water (cos it's nice to put on your head when in the hot baths) and just pick a bath to get into. This onsen had about 6 large inside baths of pretty similar temperature. One with jacuzzi and with some kind of slime-ish thing in that smelled lovely and made your skin feel lush.

The whole nudity thing didn't bother me and, basically, I didn't give a shit about it (again, I emphasise - I'm a Brit. We're not into this whole naked thing!!). There were all sizes, shapes and what not there, there were lumps and scars and, well, nobody cared about what anyone else looked like, so I didn't either. For reference, Japanese women aren't into 'hair maintenance'. Well, I'm sure some people are interested to know that. There was also a freezing cold bath, which was heaven to use to cool down a bit, and a large sauna and steam room. In case you weren't hot enough already.

Leading from this was a large outdoor area. Remember: naked, January, Japan, brrrrr. But once you'd got into the hot pools and tubs out there it was lovely.

Anyway, the whole thing was so totally nice and totally relaxing. Back in the changing rooms, there were sterilized hairbrushes to use, hair mousse, dryers, etc, and foot acupressure machines which hurt like hell. But boy did my feet feel wonderful afterwards. So, you get dried up. Put your yukata back on, dispose of your towels, and wander off (for more food in our case).

We went back to the foot bath later but it was dark. We had the sense to not try and navigate the stones in the dark, but took great delight from laughing at other people trying to, while we just dangled our feet into the hot water until we felt too cold.

After falling in love with Christon Cafe, I persuaded gal pal to come with me and she loved it. Had another couple of mates join us and finished off the lovely day with a lovely evening. Even though they were out of sangria by the time we got in. Bastards. I had to stick to red wine instead.

Holiday is now over, and it's back to work tomorrow. Holidaying in your own city has got to be one of the best things to do!

Monday, January 10, 2005

School break is nearly over :(

On Saturday we went to a drum festival with about 9 different acts from various African and Asian countries. Was fantastic fun. Especially the man watching. I saw the MOST perfect man. I'm in total lust and he'll be the object of my dreams for at least the next few nights. Perfect Man was one of the drummers - a Japanese guy. I don't know his name or if he speaks English: but who cares. I'm happy :D

I've now dropped in four 36 films to be developed and put onto disc. At least I think I have. A lot of Japanese was spoken to me and I just nodded away. I may have ordered a chocolate cake or designer wellies, or something. Anyway, if I can figure out how to put them onto this site, I will.

Today I'm going to my first Onsen (public bath). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous, and I've never done the public nudity thing before (I'm a Brit, okay!). Anyway, I know all about onsen etiquette so at least I won't do anything embarrasing. Hopefully!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Shrines and Temples

I've been using the two interchangeably. Bad Jo.

A Temple is Buddhist and a Shrine is Shinto.

Senso-ji in Asakusa is a Temple and Meiji-jingu, in Harajuku, and Yasukuni-jinja (the controversial one near the Palace) are Shrines.

How do you tell the difference? If they have a Buddha, they're a Temple. Otherwise, they can be fairly hard to differentiate between unless you can get really close.

Which we did today. We went to another Temple, this time in a place called Gokokuji. Apart from the Temple there were lots of other beautiful buildings and a cemetary on the site and, the biggest bonus, not many people and absolutely no other Gaijin (okay, I was with Japanese and Gaijin, but we don't count!

Anyway, we were allowed inside the Temple and were permitted to walk around and have a proper look at all the statues and interior of the building. There was one man kneeling down playing some eerie tune on a bamboo instrument of some sort, and also lots of Buddhist monks wandering around. Awesome. There were statues there with 'real' (blue) eyes. Most strange as normally statues' eyes are just made of the same material as the rest of them.

Another of the todays highlights was a restaurant called 'The Christon Cafe' http://www.ug-gu.co.jp/restaurant/shop/christon-tokyo.htm Now, the website doesn't do it justice, but I've included it anyway. It's like drinking (very cheap good sangria, etc) in a Cathedral, with very low lighting, Spanish music and Gothic decor. The staff are all pretty Goth looking too, and there are large gaudy chandeliers, crosses, stained glass windows, priests robes, etc around. We thought it a shame the waiting staff weren't dressed as monks and nuns, but I guess you can't have it all. And the pizza there was soooooo good :D and so were the comfy chairs and sofas though, unfortunately you did have to lean forward to speak to each other.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Happy New Year!

So many days to catch up on, so here goes:

Now, it's just gone 1am and I'm listening to The Pogues and heading for what may actually be my earliest night in, er, well, can't actually remember that! I've EVEN got some washing doing it's thing. Truth is, I've hardly seen this place in the last few days. Unless walking in, crashing out, getting up, going out counts. It doesn't though, does it? Apologies AGAIN if I owe you emails, I'm being crap.

Ooo, as a sideline to the catchup and all things Japanese, I'm a ruler now. I have my own nation: http://www.nationstates.net/ and I quite like being in charge. I'm sure I'll get bored of it soon, but for now it's good. You create your own nation and decide what laws to pass or inflict on your citizens. Every resolution you pass changes your nations profile a little bit.

But, let's get back to Wednesday. As I said, it had snowed during the night and was bloody cold and still snowing all day. Didn't stop the running around though. And photos ARE getting more imminent. They have to. I've a pile of films now to develop. Gonna cost a fortune. I really must get a digital camera. Soooo, we headed off to an area called Asakusa (pronounced 'Asaksa' for anyone who cares about that kind of thing) which has another massive shrine and was heaving with people after their new year blessings. I got my fortune and it's gonna be good for the year, apparantly. The temple, Senso-ji was another massive one, though the canvas covering the bits being cleaned did take away from the whole effect just a tad. Off to the side was a pagoda, but we didn't wander over to it. And on the long wander up to it was a heap of stalls selling tourist tat, memorabilia and religious er, things. There were far too many foreigners though... Don't they have anything better to do? We trotted off to an Izakaya after that.

I can't remember if I've ever mentioned Izakaya's before, but they are, I suppose, the Japanese equivalent of a pub. Not to say there isn't an abundance of British and Irish pubs here to choose from...

Izakaya's tend to be quite large and you can have a relative amount of privacy, whilst being served. If you're lucky the menu will have pictures or, if you're really lucky it'll have some English on there. Actually, most of them do, or otherwise you just get Japanese friends to order! You order drinks and several dishes to share. Normally larger than tapas sized, but depends. There's also a dish called 'Nabe' which you cook at your table. It's a kind of stew, I suppose in as much as there's a broth base and you let the veggies, meat, fish, tofu or whatever simmer away until it's done. Sooo nice. And really cheap.

I'm going through a Cassis Soda phase at the moment. Soooo nice. (It's a blackcurrant liquor that's extremely popular here). Also, sake, shochu, vodka, beer..... Shit, I need to detox...

Apart from the menus that have pictures (a LOT of them) or English, the other option is you can point to the amazing plastic replicas of the meals that are in the restaurant windows, though I haven't needed to do that just yet.

Thursday, I met up with a Japanese ex-flatmate from Brighton days who I haven't seen for two years and had a lovely lovely very amusing day in Yokohama (one of the Tokyo suburbs). The weather was bright and dry and the sun was out. It was still chilly but warmer than Wednesday. More a mid autumn than deep winter day.

We had a long wander around China Town which is, I'm sure I've heard this but can't be bothered to verify it (!), the largest China Town outside of Hong Kong and had wonderful Gyoza in a tiny restaurant in one of the side streets before looking around the shops at a range of kawaii and not so kawaii (kawaii kunai) things and giggling a lot, though not as much as we did later on. Saw lots of things in one shop that were 'off' according to the shelf labelling. It took a couple of minutes to figure out it meant 'sale' (or the equivalent of '50% off' or whatever!)

Had a wander down to the harbour where there were swarms of rather small seagulls. Well, compared to Brighton they were small.

We passed an amusement area and whilst some of the rollarcoasters weren't running, some of the water ones were. Now, I'm sorry but whilst in the middle of summer I'd be quite happy to go roaring down a water ride and getting soaked, in the middle of an icy day? Crazy people. Didn't see if they were Gaijin or Japanese. I imagine both.

Then we hit the malls. Now this is where the digital camera I don't yet have would have come in handy, though I did take some bad pictures on my phone as a reminder... Anyway, I'm rambling.

It's the Chinese year of the Rooster coming up, so not surprisingly there are roosters and rooster things all over the place, but not so much as in Yokohama (that I've noticed yet anyway) were there were scary giant rooster inflatables hanging from the mall ceilings and all sorts.

The scariest thing I saw though, and which I'm just getting over the trauma of is a Winnie The Pooh, dressed in a non-removable rooster outfit, complete with rooster tail (though the head could be slipped back and forward). And, as someone 'kindly' pointed out to us (and I'm shuddering as I type this). If you, er, slip your fingers inside Winnie (I feel dirty typing this) and have a good grope around you can pull out an egg.

Winnie The Pooh is male.

Roosters are male.

This is so, so, so, so WRONG.

I was also rather upset by Disney's having produced ice blue and white Winnie The Pooh's, Tigger's and Piglet's. They looked like someone had set Photoshop on them. I mean, if you're winter themeing well known characters, bung them in ski jackets or give them hats and scarves... but please leave their fur alone. It's not right!

Also saw some hair bands with the brand name 'Ouchless'. (Any non-native English readers, 'ouch' is the noise you make in English if, for example, someone pulls your hair...). I take this as another Japanese love of English and desire to use it in anyway possible. I found it funny anyway.

There was also aromatherapy sprays for dogs coats to make them smell better. (A bath not good enough?)

Pet pillows. Come on now, does your dog really need it's head raised on a pillow? I'm not talking about a pillow for your dog to lie on. It's just for it's head.

And, talking of dogs, you know those buff puff things, or whatever they're called (the net things you use in the shower that when you put shower gel on them get all sudsy) well, I don't see anything wrong with the basic design. Here though someone decided to throw a dog through the middle of it. Think chihuahua in a tutu. Creepy. Not as bad as Winnie The Cockeral though.

There were clocks that would give me nightmares, let alone the average child; a monkey that vibrated at a great velocity while 'oo oo aa aa' -ing VERY loudly. Other toys that snored while their chests raised up and down. And so so much more.

We also saw these little jars that had lots of water and stones in them. I thought 'snow globe' (well, actually I thought 'snow thing' as I couldn't remember the name of that either, but those things you shake and watch the 'snow' fall back down) and we both stood shaking vigourously before putting them down disappointedly, as nothing had happened. That was when we noticed they each contained four or so little fish. Oops. Bet that traumatised them. Bet we weren't the first to do that either.

They had some toilet cubicles in Yokohama mall that had two toilets in them. A big one and a little one. Very sweet! They also had chairs for babies in a lot of the toilets cubicles, which is something I've not seen before. Makes so much sense. Wonder why more loos don't have them?

Anyway, got home pretty late and into bed even later. Yet again. And so onto New Years Eve.

Having got into bed around 4am, I got up pretty late, and as it had snowed again during the night, couldn't be bothered to do anything during the day. Headed off to an Izakaya for about three hours before trotting off to the Meiji Shrine (the biggie). Managed to get to the station for the shrine at about quarter to midnight (Normally it's about 10-15 mins from the station to the actual shrine) but we had no booze with us. Went running round trying to find a convenience store that had some and all beered up went to head off. Third friend had disappeared so, whilst waiting for reappearance, we started talking to random Japanese girl who was waiting for her friend. I suggested she joined us and not worry about her friend and she agreed (the friend caught us up eventually) and we trotted off. Typically (maybe) for Japan, the police were happy for us to go trotting into the shrine area drinking from beer cans but didn't allow cigarettes in. It took an age to get to the Shrine, but we didn't care. We were having such a giggle and the whole atmosphere waiting and shuffling forward with THOUSANDS of other people was awesome. And the police had it so well organised. But then this wasn't the train, so it's not really surprising people were being polite about the whole thing. And luckily there were lots of loos - well, at least one that I went back to a couple of times, en route.

We got to the Shrine, did the shriney thing and then headed for more food and drink - they had a LOT of both on site and a huge inside area to hover and consume and talk. Which we did. Until 7 in the morning. They also had an amusing gift shop with lots of kawaii and kawaii kunai things in it. The Japanese girls stayed with us throughout and we taught them some naughty slang sentences which they seemed to love. Along the lines of: 'Shut up you f....ing p...head, you're talking complete b...cks'. And that kind of thing. Well, why not? lol!

Staggered home and crashed about 8.30ish.

Got up around 16:45ish New Years Day and refused to even contemplate leaving the apartment. Naturally, this meant I didn't go to bed until gone 5 in the morning!

Where are we? Oh, Sunday. Well, it being that Emperor San was going to going out onto the balcony of the Imperial Palace, which he only does twice a year, and which means the public gets access to otherwise shut areas, it would have been rude not to have also gone up there. So, we trundled up (another warm and sunny day) and joined the 1000's of others gripping our free paper Japanese flags and waving them furiously when he appeared. Hey, you have to go with the flow, don't you. And again, typically, the crowd was organised, calm and polite. Gotta love this place!

Wandered through the gardens to go to the very controversial Yasukuni-jinja (shrine) which is dedicated to the war dead, except a load of war criminals are enshrined there too. There was a performing monkey there which upset me more though :(

The Shrine was nice, but we didn't throw money or offer a prayer at this one.

Oh and they had tons of lovely food just before the Shrine too, and lots of people. It was a nice ambling kind of day. We picked up fortunes for the year according to our birthdays (the previous one was more 'random' - you have a load of sticks in a shaker and shake one out. Whatever that says, is the fortune you then have to pick from a drawer. If it's bad, you're meant to tie it to a tree or rail). Anyway, I got a translation of mine and it's looking pretty good to me!

After that had a wander over to Ginza which is known for it's shops and had a wander around the Sony building, which has lots of gadgets and games. Though I couldn't figure out how any of the games worked.

Knackered, we ended up in an Izakaya.

Today then: I met up with some student and had a giggly lunch and wander round shops.

Amongst todays delights were a very scarey (to me) Kittypan toy, that's half Hello Kitty and half panda and looks like something from a monster movie. There was also a kimono'd kitty and some very cute but BLOODY LOUD alarms that I think you're meant to use to protect your bag or something. Anyway, I only realised this once I'd pulled out the pin and we nearly got deafened. Other people started pulling pins out of others so we tried them all. After we wandered away an assistant came and removed all the open alarms. oops!!

Then we stumbled on the designer dog clothes section, complete with fur collars on coats and shiny jewellery attached. A few people had taken their dogs in and were holding the clothes up to try them for size. One bemused chihuahua sat there not moving (yes, it WAS real) whilst a jumper was thrust over it's head and it's legs were yanked through the leg holes.

I then got told off for taking a picture of scarey doll-bear thing. It was another mutant toy basically: one of the old-fashioned teddy bears in body with a dolls face coming out it's head, but still with teddy ears and teddy back of head. I'm not sure why they didn't like me taking a pic of it. Maybe they thought I'd go away and copy it or something. Er, I DON'T think so!

It's now 4am, so looks like I'm not crashing any earlier than normal. Damned body clock. What's going on.

Oh and, for someone who never saw the point of legwarmers, today I bought my third pair. Oh and a third pair of fleecy sockets too. And some 'house socks'. Well, hey, Japanese apartments are bloody cold :D

Monday, January 03, 2005


Apologies for lack of update. I've been too busy juggling having fun with too little sleep to settle down on here and do a catch up.

But I will.


And, boy am I enjoying this break :D