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, March 09, 2005

I'm a crap blogger

But I'm back. Actually, I'm annoyed at myself as this blog is meant to be a record for me as much as anything else and three weeks - well - not good.

It also means I'm out of date with everyone else's blogs and, until last week, had emails overdue an answer from back in January. The beginning of. That's all sorted now though and the doses of flu, colds and bronchitis are gone. More or less.

The weather here is bloody cold at night and, finally, hot-ish in the day. And we keep getting snow. It's March - what gives?

Of course, just because the weather is only just starting to heat up which does beg the question, on the subject of fashion, of are the Japanese mad or just made of sturdier stuff than the rest of us. There is a huge amount of girls and women running around wearing shorts, long socks and boots, or short skirts, long socks and boots. And school boys are still all out in the teeny tiniest of shorts, and have been all winter.

As a cursory nod to hay fever season (which many people started suffering with weeks ago, and which is only affecting me slightly) I bought a face mask two days ago. Think of operating room masks, although there are a few basic shapes and materials used. The problem is that they steam up my sunglasses. Honestly, I feel like the Invisible Man when I go out. Surrounded by other invisible mouthless and noseless people. I wonder if the face mask (for colds and hay fever) will ever take off in the UK. Doubt it somehow. And if anyone can tell me how to breathe into it without steaming up my sunglasses, I'd be grateful. It also gets a bit hot!

This morning the God squad came calling again. Two women and a small kid. This is one of the few things I have no tolerance for. Luckily a lack of understanding got rid of them really quickly. They rang the door, I answered it, they asked if I spoke Japanese, I asked if they spoke English, they got out Watchtower and showed me it was available in a million languages, I said goodbye. Gah!

Actually it IS nice not being able to understand other people sometimes. Makes life much less stressful, calmer and easier to zone out. I've always enjoyed it.

Yesterday, I had my hair cut. Short. It feels most girlie! Well, I'd not had a cut for over 18 months and it was getting ridiculously long - like half way down my back. The water is really hard in Japan and so it had really dried out too and kept matting and I kept molting everywhere and, well, I was about to cut it off myself. But I was brave. Armed with two bad sketches and a half price voucher I bravely ventured into a local Japanese hairdresser. Luckily while waiting I found a pic in a magazine in there that had what I wanted, more or less, so that was okay. And lots of furtive fringe pointings and ii-e's (no) got over my point that I'd not be a happy bunny if anyone attempted to give me a fringe. After a 'consultation' (hairdresser with no English, me with no Japanese) I had it washed. They lie you down in a chair to wash it! And take forever. Soooo nice. And this is all with a lightly mentholated cloth over your face. Utter bliss. Hair guy thinned it out too and it's now chin level. I like it. I think. After cutting it they washed it again. Never had that before. Of course, new hair style meant having to buy new accessories and so I now have several pretty clips from the 100 yen shop. I intend to get a Hello Kitty clip as soon as I get back to the Sanrio store.

To add to the weird things I've eaten list, I tried azuki bean poki. Poki are like little thin biscuit stick things. They were strange. Azuki bean Haagen Dasz was too though. But in a nice way.

On the subject of ice cream: I was most impressed the other day when, before going to see The Juon (The Grudge) - good film! - we went to Baskins and Robbins to get some ice cream to take into the cinema with us. You can get it packed to go there (is it just me, or is my phrasing of things starting to get more American and less British?) and tell them whether you want to eat it after 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 120 minutes, and they pack it all up with dry ice. Sooo cool :D

The dry ice thing confuses me though as to me 'dry ice' is steam used for movie, tv and theatre effects and not uber cold ice cubes used for packing up ice cream tubs. But whatever, it worked!

Oh and I'm currently totally into Season 3 of '24'. Though I am questioning why. I mean, don't CTU vet their staff before employing them? Anyway, I just got through episode four and Kim's about to get shot or whatever by Gael. She's not a very lucky person is she? I mean.... Oh never mind.

A couple of weeks ago - and this is when the blog fell down - I went off to Hokkaido - the island at the north of the country and to Sapporo for the snow festival. (Photos will be short coming. Possibly.) Wow! Of course now I can't remember half of what I would have wanted to say so here are the highlights:

  • My second flight on a Pokemon jet. (First time was when I came to Japan).
  • Eating a melon flavour kitkat. YUMMMMY!!!
  • Seeing the MOST amazing snow and ice sculptures. The detail on all of them was fantastic. The size truly awesome of some of them. A couple had slides built into them. They were of famous people, characters, buildings, settings and ideas.
  • Eating the loveliest ramen ever.
  • Experiencing real snow - fluffy, powdery stuff like I have never seen in the UK. Real snow like I didn't know existed!
  • The really large sculptures had stages in front of them. On the night we were there (we - 12 of us - were there for two long days) there was a fashion show on one of the stages - lots of models in wedding dresses and shoulderless evening dresses. Did I mention it was snowing? And about minus 12 or minus 15? They did their best to not look too pissed off!
  • On another stage a guy was dressed as a giant M&M (the chocolate, not the singer). He sang and then ran off.
  • The third stage had two guitarists. The snow was building up on top of them and their fingers were red raw before they even started to play, but they had so much enthusiasm, so we danced around in appreciation!
  • To keep the roads clear they plough all the snow off the roads onto the pavements, so there are heaps 3-4 foot high of snow ON the pavements. Magical!
  • We saw a great dance and drum festival thing while there and had our photos taken with the performers. Or rather the organisers used our cameras - all 12 of them - to take pictures of us posing with the performers!
  • We nearly got run over by a police and media stampede soon after. The Prime Minister was visiting. We got out the way, but watched one policeman barely avoiding being tripped over by his colleagues ropes. Very amusing.
  • We found the cutest dogs in a pet shop all running around and disappeared from the cold to play with them. I was momentarily tempted -- they were soooo cute!
  • I had the first real bath since getting here in the hotel. By real bath I mean, well the bath in my apartment is, er - picture a bath, divide it into thirds and imagine lopping off a third. That's the length. You can't sit with straight legs in it. Imagine also that it's so deep that when filled to about two inches below the top, the water level reaches your shoulders, while you are sitting. And the bathroom in the hotel was warm so the water didn't get cold within ten minutes. Bliss.
  • I ate natto. Now natto is fermented beans (or something like that) and has a reputation for being disgusting. I'm a brave soul though and couldn't turn down the chance to try it at the breakfast buffet in the hotel. How can I describe it? The smell is foul. It looks foul. You pick some up with your chopsticks and a trail of slime lifts up with it. You eat it and, er, make the decision after two beans to never ever ever try it again, regardless of the rumour that it's an 'acquired taste'. Still, at least I did it and lived to tell the tale.
  • Did I mention the melon flavour kitkat? Available only up in Hokkaido unfortunately.
  • On the second day, we went up to one of the Olympic ski jumps. Taking the ski lift to the top the view was truly amazing - of a snow blanketed Sapporo and the hills surrounding it. We later went up a big tower and saw the view looking back at the ski jump. Also on the site was an Olympic museum with lots of simulators to play with (ski jump, bob sleigh, etc) and, naturally, we had a lot of fun there!
  • The wellies meant I didn't slip once. They're not the most comfy things to do lots of walking in though. And it did snow so heavily that we looked like snowmen ourselves at times. Oh and daytime we only saw a temperature guage once, and it said minus 5.9. Lovely!

Next trip, which I'm planning to book tomorrow is going to be to Taiwan end of April.

Apologies again.

Shit - is anyone going to actually read this post, or has it been too long since I lost posted anything?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you're in Taipei, you 100% have to go to Ding Tai Fung and eat dumplings. I will not take no for an answer. If you do not, I'll be very angry.


3:22 am

Blogger Jo said...

Noted. Er, where do I find it?

10:52 am

Blogger darth said...

we got a tour of the pokemon jet when it was here in SF...very wacky.

9:06 am

Blogger darth said...

argh..i always say i'll try anything twice, esp. when it comes to food..but i have no desire to ever try natto again...and they served it for breakfast like once a week where i stayed...

9:11 am

Blogger Carole said...

Jo, glad you're posting again, I've missed reading your incredibly long yet interesting cultural blog entries.

I want to know where that dumpling place is to! I live in Taipei and I've never heard of it.

4:01 pm

Blogger Jo said...

darth - you had a tour? lmao.

carole - if you fancy a beer in taipei let me know!

12:16 am


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