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, June 29, 2005

Yes, really.

This morning I saw a toddler at a train station wearing an orange v-necked t-shirt over a white t-shirt or vest. On her lower half she had a blue and white thin striped skirt stopping just below her knees. It was a cute look. However, the fact her mother was dressed IDENTICALLY was NOT cute.

One of the students in my afternoon class today, came in wearing a white t-shirt with bright green marijuana leaves all over it, and an unbuttoned shirt with flowers over the top. One of the activities we were doing involved me getting the students (advanced level) to challenge each other to talk about a topic for a minute. The student wearing the marijuana t-shirt was given the word 'marijuana' by the other student and proceeded to look panicked. Anyway, to the total amusement of the other student and myself, it turns out this guy has never smoked dope and 'just likes the look of the t-shirt, and do people really think i smoke because i wear this t-shirt' (kind of thing) and then told us how the eyes of one of his friends in high school had gone funny when he'd smoked some and.... Other student and I kind of explained the t-shirt and the message it gives off and told him to NOT wear it when he moves to the USA next month. Oh the innocence, eh!

Another reason I love my job: one of my nine year olds was sleepy so we threw a ball around to wake him up. Note to self: don't get students to recite the alphabet backwards until you are sure you won't make any mistakes yourself. I'd had loads of free time before the lesson so had made up a very elaborate version of snakes and ladders for them and later when we were covering the target language (no, it's not ALL fun and games in my lessons!) the same student started looking tired again so I threw a large soft dice at his head. The students and I then just lobbed it at each others heads for the next five minutes for no reason... Hard life. Great kids though.

I went into the supermarket this evening and passed a dog in the basket of a parked bicycle, with it's lead entwined around the handlebars, and whining away sadly. I couldn't help but think that dog could see easily end up hanging itself...

And I'm finally starting to see businessmen NOT wearing their suit jackets on the trains. Shirts are still firmly buttoned up and ties tightly knotted. It's bloody hot. They are all insane. Early this year, Koizumi, the Prime Minister, declared it was okay for men to dress down a bit this summer - mainly to save on the costs of aircon in offices.... Looks like old habits are dying hard.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Darth made a comment in the Shibuya post about another breed called Kogals. To the untrained eye (ie mine) they look pretty much the same as Ganguro but, as I googled and discovered, this is not the case and Kogals are in fact the term given to the rich school girl look. Short skirts, lots of make up, glued up white baggy baggy socks. More Kogal information. and another article here.

Who'd have thought there'd be so many subcultures in Tokyo, and I'm sure I've not even started skimming the surface yet.

If you like things to be a bit more colourful maybe the look of your dreams is here: link(Decorer)


I had an odd trip down memory lane this evening whilst in an Izakaya. Do you remember those little violet sweets that were about the size of a contact lens and came in little packets. They sort of tasted of sugar and perfume?

Tonight, in the loo at the Izakaya, they had toilet paper that smelt just like the sweets. Cute, ne?


And, outside my apartment this evening, whilst parking my bike, I saw a cockroach that must have been about 2 inches long. Summer's gonna be great fun!

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Firstly, and irrelevantly to the title: ever felt you've won a competition? I do. And my prize is a two year old. Back in April, I gave a 'test' lesson to a two year old boy whose mother made no secret she was taking him for test lessons to EVERY English language school in Tokyo (or something like that). Well, today I found out that, from Monday, he's going to be my new regular student. I WON! They liked me best. Or something like that. Maybe I was just more or the level of a two year old than the other teachers (should I be worried?).

Anyhoo, Shibuya. Tonight I got very drunk in Shibuya. For anyone that doesn't know one of my favourite Japanese words, a quick lesson: No-me-ho-dai. Got that? A nomihodai is a 'drink-as-much-as-you-can-in-a-set-period-of-time session. (Doesn't really translate quite as well, does it?) Tonight 33 of us tumbled into the Buttu Trick Bar in Shibuya (Buttu is, I imagine, the Japanesified pronunciation of the English 'Buddha', or something like that. Who cares?) Anyway, cool bar, here's some pix from their site. It's along the lines of themed bars such as the wonderful Christon Cafe, except the Buttu Trick bar had a giant Buddha and lots of little Buddhist statues and whatnot, and The Christon Cafe has big stained glass windows, crucifixes, angels and stuff. The pictures on these sites don't quite give over the amount of details or iconography or atmosphere or small extras of these places, but I do like them. A lot.

What was my point? Oh yes, Shibuya. (Oh and I had a conversation with someone tonight that as soon as I told my name said, 'ah, you've got a blog haven't you? WTF? Anyway, another teacher stumbled across this some time ago and asked me one day if it was mine, I said yes, but just why he'd mention this to someone that doesn't know me, I'm not sure. Infamy I guess).

Shibuya, anyway, is an interesting place. It's a place where lots of young orange people hang out. It's packed with shops, department stores, restaurants, bars, etc. But it's particularly well known for two things: Hachiko and orange people.

Hachiko firstly and very briefly: Hachiko was a dog that use to walk it's master to Shibuya train station every day for ages. Master san died one day at work. Hachiko carried on going to the station for years to wait for his dead master. People tried to rehouse him without luck. Bla bla bla. He died and was buried with his master and the people of Shibuya thought it was so kawaiiiiiii that they build a statue in his honour outside the station. It's one of the most famous meeting spots in Tokyo and there's even a 'Hachiko Exit' in the station.

And then there's the orange people. The orange people have gone crazy with the fake tan and sun beds basically, and have long, out of control back combed and laquered to fuckery hair, and white eye liner under their eyes. The girls look pretty similar to this. A brief survey of two Japanese friends concluded 100% that this is not a good look. (Not that I was in any doubt.) Orange people are known as ganguro, although my Japanese friends were confused whether this term could be applied to men as well as women. (More gangaro)

The next step up (!) from a ganguro is an old woman of the mountains (or old hag of the mountains if you prefer), or Yamanba. Like ganguro but with white lipstick.

Anyway, the orange look has been popular for about ten years now, apparantly.

I kind of equate ganguro girls as being the Japanese equivalent of your Shaz n Trace look.

But, it's late and I'm tired, and you can use google as well as I can if you want to know more about the wildlife of Shibuya.

Side note: the above was all written in a VERY drunken state last night. I'm amazed at how little editing I just had to do on it!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Jo's first sentence!

Hot on the heels of my first crane on Monday, today I came out with my first long, grammatically correct Japanese sentence totally spontaneously (ie wasn't reading from my notes in a lesson, but was at the train station).

Yay me! I'm happy now! Give me another few months and I might be able to come up with some kind of meaningful conversation too..

Today wasn't too bad. I had to do a special class this morning for 8 low level adults. I think we all really enjoyed it, and I feel content that if any gaijin need help in Japan, my 8 adults are out there, armed and ready to help them understand Japanese life. Or something like that anyway.

I finished on a high too - I had to give a test lesson to three adults who may or may not sign up. Their knowlege of English was - well, crap basically but we had a really funny, light-hearted lesson with lots of laughing.

The point of what I've just written? No point. Is there ever? But what I'm saying IS I do enjoy teaching - as long as the students have some kind of personality - which all but 4 of my classes do - and those three are REALLY draining. My definition of 'a personality' - a student who gives ME an enjoyable lesson and walks out smiling. They can have practically no English and we can still have an awesome lesson and I think (big secret here) most students want to have fun and whether they learn is secondary to that. Kids and adults alike. Of course, as I've had some of my students for nearly 9 months, I must be doing SOMETHING right. Naturally, it's also quite nice when they DO learn the target language and use it spontaneously, or even remember it the following week. And I love the informality of the lessons, and the freedom I have in how I teach the language, what extra things I throw in, what games I do, etc.

Actually, I do have another point: this life is so totally stress free it's almost unreal. Well, for me it is. Some teachers are totally stressed out - but they don't know real stress, in my opinion! Before I came here.... Ach. Enough!

Oh, by the way: I seem to blog a lot more that other people. Is this because I blog TOO much or that other people just don't blog enough?

Women are fun. Men are funner.

I adore seeing English slogans on t-shirts in Japan. The title, above, is an example of one I saw today. I want one! I want to proclaim to the world that men are funner too!

Anyway, now it's summer, it really does seem that more is more, and I'm seeing girls with 3 or 4 layers of clothing, just chucked on.. le scruff look is the 'in' look it seems. Suits me. I don't know how to use an iron....

Footware is all about badly fitting sandals and platform wedges... and every time I have to get onto the train in my flip-flops (thongs) I'm just waiting for my toes to be trampled. So far they've been okay, you'll be pleased to hear.

Having short hair (and being in Tokyo) means I wear all sorts of 'cute' hair clips that I wouldn't probably wear anywhere else. Others are clipping the sides of their hair back with 6cm or so clippy grippy things - I can't think what they're called - hairdressers use them to pin bits of your hair back, or you use them to twist your hair into and pin up at the back - someone give me the name please...

Hats are also seen all over the place now, as people are being good and sensible and, okay, some people REALLY don't suit straw hats or baseball caps but at least they're being sensible BUT what is possessing other people (read: mainly men in their late teens to mid 20s, though girls with multi-layered tops and platform wedges have also been seen) to still be wearing woolen hats?

Shirt pockets have cigarette packets competing for space with fans. I'm yet to get a fan. I haven't seen one cute enough yet. And around the neck people are wearing their mobile phone, on a cute strap, naturally, or an i-pod, with massive headphones.

And bum-bags (fanny packs, whatever you call them) - there are TOO many of them suddenly around. Of course, if you have no hips and no bum they don't actually look SO bad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I want one!

Today I saw a woman with a buggy, and on the buggy was a special clamp that held her umbrella over her. I want one for my bike! Holding an umbrella and cycling is HARD!

Pachinko - a hugely popular arcade game that involves salarymen sitting in front of a machine and feeding hundreds of little silver balls into it. Something or other happens next and said salaryman might win money. They all look so bored while doing it though is what gets me. Maybe it's cathartic?

Anyway, I have an early start most Saturdays which means leaving home around 8am when the pachinko parlours are shut and, every week, I see a gathering of young men (that's a bad sentence isn't it? makes me sound really old), anyway, I see a gathering of young men sitting outside said parlours waiting for them to open.


This has nothing to do with Japan, but I'm currently loving this website which has a webcam set up in Kruger National Park. For ages you see nothing, but then suddenly you'll look again and see a giraffe or impala or jackal.... I'm yet to see an elephant on there though. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Actually, I'm not too bad but that's the track I've got playing and I couldn't think of another title, so it'll do. (From '80's Summer Hits', if you must know.)

This morning the bike gatherers were out. This meant I cycled to my normal (illegal) parking spot in time to see the bikes being gathered up and taken away. I cycled to another of my (illegal) parking spots, to see most of the bikes there had been tagged to take away. Rushing, as I was late for my Japanese lesson, I went to a paid bike park - and was told it was full. I've used it a few times before and it's never been more than half full. I guess everyone was panicking, but there's so little parking for bikes near the station that, like cycling on the pavement, everyone always just dumps their bikes. Place number four, another of my illegal spots, had already had a few dozen bikes taken away, so given the odds that they wouldn't swoop the same place twice in one day, I left it there. Finally. And it was still there when I came out.

I then had a haircut. This is a brave thing to do when you don't speak the language, but I'd been there once before, so at least I knew I wouldn't have to fill in another form. The thing about Japanese hairdressers is they are so nice. To wash your hair, they lie you down with a blanket over your knees and a cloth over your face and after your shampoo, you get a head massage. Sooo nice. Oh and I saw another load of bikes being taken away near the hairdressers...

There's going to be some mightily pissed off people around this evening.

Monday, June 20, 2005

My first crane :D

Origami is in the Japanese genes. The Japanese are born knowing how to make cranes, I swear.

I managed to make a bat the other week but I've been aspiring to make a crane and today I made my first one under the instruction of one of my receptionists. I'm SO proud, and I've put it under my photo on the noticeboard with the caption 'Jo's first crane'. I got several admiring comments from students and students parents that saw it :D

Here are origami cranes. And they are not as easy to make as they look!


Another thing I learned today is that Japanese six year olds find it hilarious when their teacher suddenly starts using Japanese words. Well, I figured it's the only way to stop them using Japanese in the classroom! "No, not 'kantan', say 'easy' ". "No. Not 'kono' - 'this' ". And they were rolling on the floor laughing, as only six year olds can. They also found my quick drawing of a sheep hilarious. Reminded me of 'The Little Prince'. (Saint-Exupery - one of my favourite books).


And I love this story: Japanese 95 year old sets sprint record. BLESS!


Weather report from last three days: lovely and sunny, but a bit too hot.

The Whiskers Tweezers*

Today I saw Kabuki at the National Theatre.

The history bit: Kabuki is a theatre form that was started in the early 1600's, in Kyoto, by a troupe of dancing girls. It became all controversial and they were labeled as eccentric and unorthodox (the Japanese word of which is Kabuki) and there dances were banned as a result. The troupes of women were replaced by dancing boys, and they were also banned and then replaced by adult men who developed kabuki into what it is today. Along the line the meaning of the word 'kabuki' changed to Ka (song), Bu (dance), Ki (technique or skill). Originally kabuki consisted of short dances but now it's made up of plays and dances, many dating back to the 17th and 18th century. Originally this was aimed at the merchant classes, at the same time that Noh Theatre was being played to anyone else. A normal trip to kabuki can last for 4, 5 or more hours. End of history bit.

Luckily, today wasn't a 'normal' performance but much better. There was an introductory lecture explaining how the theatre is used in kabuki and some of the 'tricks' that are used, how the props are brought onto the stage and handed to the actors as needed and so on. Interesting, but I'd been hoping for more information. Anyway, a couple of volunteers from the audience were taken on the stage and got to handle the swords, chase each other around with butterflies and foxes and help demonstrate the 'secrets' used in karaoke. They were very funny.

Most of the 'action' involved the actors sitting on the stage which was dressed as a tatami'd room (tatami = straw / bamboo mats). They wore traditional kimono, had whitened faces and hair tied into top-knots. They spoke in high pitched long drawn out voices.

The story was about a princess due to get married but who won't meet up with her fiancee because she has a strange ailment that makes her hair stand up on end. Now, we're not talking vain bitch with a bad hair day here, the whole metre length of her hair sticks up into the air. (Thanks to a stage hand with a load of strands on a broom kneeling behind her). Anyway, blokey from the groom's household comes over to visit and sees his tweezers floating in mid-air. From this he concludes that there is a plot to take over the bride's household and that there is a guy hiding in the ceiling with a giant magnet. Blokey is very clever.

And everyone lives happily ever after. Apart from guy with magent and another man who get killed.

Luckily, we had headphones with English commentary. But then the Japanese also had commentary as apparantly it's meant to be pretty hard to follow and understand even if you DO speak the language.

* tweezers used to be carried by men to pluck out any stray chin hairs. The tweezers we saw being enchanted were giant size.


Other stuff from this weekend: parent observations are now over and all went well. I've concluded the parents aren't that bothered about the kids learning English, just that they have a good time. Should we be worried by this? My final observation was one of my favourite kids (actually, that's unfair. I love most of my kids and teens, apart from the ones that bore me or who won't try!). Anyway, this kid I'm talking about - her dad came to observe. She's a great kid and we always have a giggle. She loves English and is a pleasure to teach. I particularly love the way she always uses 'oops' if she drops the ball or makes a mistake! I was teaching her about musical instruments: 'I play the piano', 'I play the drums', etc and after teaching the target language I got her dad involved and made him mime the 6 instruments for her to guess. He got so totally into it, that we all ended up laughing our heads off. Nice.

Oo - just felt a good three minutes of earthquake. (Monday morning 01:20) Haven't felt one so long in many many months. I hope this isn't the aftershock of some terrible quake I'll hear about in the morning.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's rainy season.

It's raining. A lot.

The UK has a reputation for rain but, funnily enough, I remember thinking every year over the last few years, just how little it did actually rain in the UK. Plus, when it did, it was normally for a brief spell only and it was very rare if it continued.

The rain in Japan is something else. Since I've been here, if it starts raining chances are it'll still be raining 24 or 48 hours later. And that outside of the rainy season.

Anyway, I was told today the rainy season will last until the third week in July so I thought I'd save everyone's sanity by trying to get all my rain whingeing out in one go. It's not fun. It might be a wonderful thing for the farmers and the ducks, but I am not a farmer or a duck. I don't like rain. It's not a pleasure to get wet and worry about your things getting wet all the time. Cycling in the rain is not fun. Getting on trains that smell of saunas because of all the wet people, is not fun. Being poked and prodded by massive umbrellas is not fun. It's just not fun. Okay?

Of course, the hot days we've also been having recently are nothing compared to what I've been told to expect. So for the rest of June and most of July I'll be hot and wet and sweaty, and in August and the first half of September just hot and sweaty. Yay.

I promise to not mention this again. Unless it REALLY annoys me.


Yesterday, I accidently ate natto. Natto, is the devil's food. Imagine that bit of old food you threw into your dustbin six weeks ago still lurking there and you get a vague idea of the smell of natto. Have you ever smelled durian fruit? It's like a spring morning in comparison to natto. What is natto? It's fermented beans. Not only does it smell vile, but it looks pretty gruesome too. You know when you eat pizza, and the cheese sort of stretches in a satisfactory way? Imagine that cheese string being SLIME. That's what you get with natto between chopstick and mouth. As for the taste - I can't even begin to describe that. Anyway, it was hidden in some sushi rolls I'd bought and I'd eaten a couple of them before the taste hit me. I felt SO ill.

Of course, in Japan this is hugely popular and (apparantly) extremely good for your health. Most of my students even claim to like it and many Japanese eat it for breakfast. Right.


I want to share something with you. This is from Thorntree, a travel bulletin board. One day someone posted that one of the departments in her company was complaining that it never got its paperclips back when it sent them out. The poster decided for a giggle, to post her company's address with the request that people send in paperclips. People from around the world did and for a while it confused the hell out of her company, until she fessed up. Anyway, it makes a pretty funny read, so here you go: A good practical joke?


And this morning they were playing Amazing Grace at the train station. What was THAT all about? [baffled expression]


For any motorcyclists out there, Sanrio has now released a Hello Kitty motorcycle helmet.

Kawaiiiiiiiiiiiii, ne?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

International Weblogger's Day

Sooooo, three options to write about, but which to choose?

Well, the third choice was Why do you think weblogging has become so popular?

An astonishing number of people have access to computers these days and with the combination of paint-by-number setting up of your blog and friends (mr teacher) who can do the fancy schmancy stuff like guest maps and whatnot, even an illiterate like myself can set one up.

And everyone has something to say. Or even if they don't, they'll say it anyway.

Blogging allows a lot of mememeism, doesn't it? My day. My life. My thoughts. My terrible day. My terrible life. My terrible thoughts.... This also allows a lot of voyeurism, or peaking into other people's worlds, which can, naturally be wonderful as most of our nosy buggers, aren't we? Sometimes this can be wonderful. Unfortunately, for every witty, informative, moving, great blog there are just as manly that are painfully boring to read. Or that you need a PhD to understand. Or just call me thick if you like.

Actually, on reflection, I'd say that interesting blogs are but a handful of roses amongst a host of thorns. I mean, have you really seen what's out there? ('I listened to a good CD today' or 'I got dressed and went for a walk today. It was nice.' and so many others just like this. GAH!)

Let's side track for a moment. Naturally, my definition of 'interesting' is probably very different from yours. But then, if that's the case you've probably stopped reading my drivel by now. Interesting to me means simple. Tell it like it is. Give me too much description before you reach your point, and you lose me. Tell me something I don't know. Tell me something that is REAL to you. It doesn't have to be all smiles and laughter, but laughing at yourself is a good thing and keep the public whingeing down please! Colours - don't use a colour that makes me squint to read it. Short sentences are good too. Engage me - why should I read your blog rather than someone else's?

But, enough of that. I'm waffling. Again. Let's talk about me now, and the first of the options:

Why did you start blogging, how long have you been doing so, and why have you continued?

At some stage last year, I made a sudden decision, brought on by desperation and extreme dislike of the job/career I had at the time and shared housing fun and games, that the long running intention to leave the UK and move to Japan should become more of a reality. The original plan, some months before had actually been to have headed out around this time (June 2005), but things were getting too whatever and I, for once, got my act together pretty quickly and within a matter of weeks had applied for a job, been interviewed, sorted out 20,000 different things that needed sorting out, got a bit stressed in the process, got on a plane and arrived in Tokyo where I relaxed, and am still relaxing eight and a half months later.

And so, on July 22nd 2004, this blog was born. I was going to start it once I arrived, but boredom at work one day, three weeks after my application process had started, got me setting up and starting to write. http://jo-in-japan.blogspot.com/2004_07_01_jo-in-japan_archive.html - is my first post, and chronicled all my planning and thoughts when I only had nine weeks to go.

I started it for three reasons: firstly, to enable my friends to keep track of me, see what I was seeing through my eyes and 'experience' all the new things in my life throuh me. Most of my friends haven't been to Japan, so this seemed like a good idea. Secondly, as a discipline for me as I never stick to anything and, thirdly, I now have a permanent record of one hell of an experience!

And for as long as I'm enjoying Japan, there'll be more things to say. I'm always seeing things that amuse, confuse or amaze me. I work as a teacher, with a lot of private students, so I get a wonderful insight into Japanese people through things I ask my students, or things they choose to tell me. My schools have Japanese staff and I drink with Japanese people. I learn from all of them. I question all of them. I'm fascinated by everything Japanese - from the history to the society to the cuteness of everything. This is what I blog about. This is a blog of my random observations and thoughts. Yes, I really AM as random as I seem from this blog. What you won't find here is politics, philosophy, or anything even remotely intelligent. I save that for my classroom where I'm expected to talk about everything and to know everything. (Yeah, right!)

When I start disliking things here, or being bored by them, it'll be time to move on. I expect to be on here and blogging about Japan for at least two more years though.

Happy Blogger's Day! And, Linda, Marcia and people 'thinking' about starting to blog - just do it!


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sundays 'oo' of the day

I'd not been into one of our local supermarkets since it revamped in April. Anyway, today I did and the edge of shelf price tags are all electric and start flashing if they suddently decide something is on special. Soooo cool!

Again I was saddened by the prices here of fresh fruit and veg. They had watermelons for nearly 2000 yen (that's ten quid) and their apples were 198 yen each (two quid). If you want to convert it to anything else go visit http://www.xe.com/ucc/ .

They had a display of various pickled things (foods not livers) and the assistant starting offering me samples which was nice. I wasn't quite so sure about how I felt about his opinion that I wouldn't like the things though (because I'm a foreigner) - "it's too salty, no?", "it's too bitter, no?", etc.

One of those things, I guess.

The other infuriating thing about this supermarket was it was, apparantly, divided into three different stores - each of which you had to pay for at different sodding tills. Grrrr.

Of course the price thing is the only thing that IS cool right now. It's not even summer yet but we're all starting to wilt. For the first time I've put my fan on. I'm trying to resist aircon for a bit longer. And it didn't rain today: it's rainy season which means it keeps sodding well raining.... . Looks like the next three months I'm either going to be wet from rain or sweat every day. How nice!

The other downside to the rain (apart from being wet, having hassles trying to dry washing, etc) is wet pavements and umbrella carrying people who don't look where they are going. Off my bike I get battered my brollies. On my bike -- well, let's leave it that I came off on Friday and Saturday... and it hurt, especially on Friday which wasn't my fault.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Another 'interesting' look I've now seen twice in about three days, is jeans that are designed in such a way that it looks like the wearer has one pair over another. Most bizarre...

This is them, or similar: http://fashion.3yen.com/2005-05-09/barak-invents-the-double-sexy-jeans/

Sometimes I have to wonder whether some of the people I see haven't gone to http://www.gofugyourself.typepad.com/ for inspiration... The things on this site are NOTHING to some of the wonders in and around Tokyo!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Only in Japan?

I've mentioned the dog before that gets brought into my class. Well today he (chihuahua) was wearing a light pink and white striped outfit with angel wings attached. The student is a male in his 40s/50s.

Would you see something like this ANYWHERE else? (Well, okay in Taiwan I did see doggie cheerleader outfits, but a pink and white striped angel one?!)

Pesto in a sodding tube

Hmmm, jars of pesto are expensive, I thought to myself.

Oh look, I added, pesto in tubes is MUCH cheaper, why don't I get one of those.

Pesto in a tube. Theoretically a beautiful idea. If ONLY you could get the sodding stuff out of the tube and not squirt it all over the microwave, empty water bottles, work surface, floor, chopping board....

[note: the intention wasn't to get it all over said above items and neither was alcohol in any way involved]

[note 2: reminds me of a time, several years ago, when I was going through abaking aubergine (egg plant) phase. the phase lasted for 2 aubergines. the first one was fine. the second one (after which the phase ended) was treated the same as the first and i'd left it happily baking away when, all of a sudden, there was an almighty BANG. rushing into the kitchen to investigate i saw what can only be described as aubergine shrapnell. the bang had been the oven door being blown open when the sodding vegetable had exploded into 100's and 100's of little pieces which were all over the inside of the oven, the floor and the work surfaces opposite.]

i'm not sure why the pesto made me think of the aubergine incident. i guess that's just my rather bizarre train of thought.

anyone else got any cooking incidents worth sharing?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gyoza ga suki desu*

* I like Gyoza

In Tokyo there is a gyoza (dumplings) museum. There may have been information about the history, geography, etc of gyoza but, to be honest, who cares? The whole point of going there is to EAT gyoza. Lots and lots of gyoza, and wash it down with beer. A pretty good way to spend a Tuesday afternoon, I'd say.

Somewhat randomly, though not really surprisingly, the gyoza stadium has been decked out to resemble an extremely strange haunted house. There were some very strange noises (not connected to the gyoza, I don't think) and a few animatronic thingies...

But the funniest sighting of the day was adults sitting in big plastic ducks, frogs and octopuses, rocking backwards and forwards and sort of singing karaoke.

[scratches head with baffled expression on face.]

And no. We didn't get involved in that.

P.S. Liisa - lots more towel on head sightings. It's definitely a 'fashion' thing.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Great Expectations

This fortnight is parent observation fortnight. Oh joy. This means the kids parents can come into the classrooms, spy on us, intimidate us, make the kids feel nervous and that you can hear them nattering away to each other.

Today was my first one. Three mothers of my 6 year olds who, decided to play at being shy and wouldn't join in the sodding song - which they've done a billion times before. The parents got to watch me jumping, hopping and trying to bully the kids into joining in, instead. Lessons are hard to predict. Sometimes you get it spot on. Most of the time with kids lessons you plan too much or too little. Today what I'd planned went a bit too fast. But I managed to improvise. Phew....

The parents gave good feedback. Except for one comment: the children should be doing more conversation. Oh how we laughed. Let's have a reality check here, shall we? They can manage to ask each other simple questions (what's your name? what's this? etc) - they are hardly likely, on 60 minutes of English a week, aged 6, to be having full on conversations in English, are they?

Some parents really do expect too much. Oh well.