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!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Chihuahua's (part two)

Spotted today: a chihuahua in a light pink kimono with a yellow obi around it's 'waist'. (An 'obi' is the wide sash used to tie a kimono).

No, I didn't imagine it. No, I wasn't hallucinating.

Another chihuahua picture.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


What's the point in chihuahua's? There are millions of the tiny things here, which weigh about 2lbs and are about 6 inches long. Now, of course if you live in a little house, like many Japanese do, and you want a pet, then it DOES make sense to have something small but let's look at some facts.

Dogs have four legs. Most dogs have four legs that work. This means, or rather should mean, that they are capable of walking by themselves. You would have thought. In Japan they generally get carried though in bags, bicycle baskets or occasionally in arms.

In summer they cannot walk because their little feet would get fried by the pavements.

In winter they have to wear lots of silly clothes because they'd freeze to death otherwise.

And they have big scary buggy eyes.

One of my students regularly brings one of his six dogs to me lessons. It stinks. Today I studied it though, trying to figure out if it was actually cute. After 45 minutes of careful deliberation I concluded it wasn't.

29/11/09 Update: I did have links in this post, but they all seem to have expired. Shame. Especially a shame that you can't see the painted dogs on my blog. But you'll survive. Have a look here if you want to see more dogs in stupid clothes and positions though.

When I lived in Paris I developed a dislike for poodles. But at least the majority of them weren't regularly trussed up in silly costumes. Actually, come to think of it, a lot were.

DOGS HAVE THEIR OWN COATS. At what point did someone decide a dog couldn't cope by itself?

Give me a nice big dog, anyday.

And if you're about to defend them - just keep the c*te word well away. 'c*te' and 'chihuahua' do not belong in the same sentence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Me: Horrible weather, isn't it?
Student: Seven.
Me: Seven?
Student: Seven.
Student: Yes, seven.
Me: Seven what?
Student: Seven.
Me: Seven what?
Student: Typhoon. Seven.
Me: Typhoon seven?
Student: Seven typhoon.
Me: Seven typhoons????
Student: Yes. Seven typhoon from January.
Me: argh. Okay. This is the seventh typhoon this year in Tokyo. Right.

This must have taken about two or three minutes to conclude!


This week is a harsh week. I'm on a six day working week and have two special two-hour morning classes in addition to the normal working day that starts in noon. It's a killer. I was going to ramble on a bit about being a teacher, but am having difficulties putting sentences together right now!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Let's Pecology!

Back last winter, there was ad on the trains that seriously disturbed me. It was a blonde model imitating a character, but she looked possessed and pretty scary to me. Luckily, scary girl disappeared. (imagine this with a model instead of the picture you see).

Now, however, there's a new one I'm finding disturbing. It's called 'Let's Pecology' and involved a panda hand puppet in a green t-shirt with the slogan 'Let's Pecology', squishing a PET bottle (you know, the 500ml plastic bottles) in it's mouth. I'm not sure exactly WHY this gets to me. But it does. And I don't really get it. I mean 'PET' and 'Pec'??? I don't know if it's meaning pecs as in muscles, but who needs muscles to squish a PET bottle? Maybe it's just English gone crazy again and isn't meant to mean anything.


Japan is a confusing country.


Additionally, it's raining. Not the rainy season mind you, as that's over. Nope. Now it's typhoons. Don't mix them up as they are not the same thing. Apparently. (Sorry, where I come from rain is rain. Especially if it's bloody heavy!)

* scary - and not to be confused with 'kowaii' (kowaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii) which means 'cute'.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Todays Earthquake

Imagine if you will an old building:

shake shake shake
shake shake shake-shake-shake
shake shake
shake shake shake
shake shake shake-shake-shake

However, in a NEW building it feels more like:


Just so you know!

Today however, I was teaching in a very OLD building at 4.35pm when a rather long earthquake happened in Chiba (Tokyo). It was only a mild one - a 5.7 (or 6.1 depending on which report you read). I wasn't letting my students out of a hard slog (okay we were in the middle of a game) just because the building might fall down on us. They did look at me a couple of times to just double check I wasn't seriously insane though. But I figure, if you're gonna go you're gonna go - although I could think of better people to go with than those two... Anyway, I did allow them a three minute stop so we could all go and stare out the window, with everyone else in the school at the train that had stopped on the track, just before the platform.

Sad, isn't it, the things we sometimes find interesting!


There was an article in The Japan Times the other day about new ATM's that are doubling as slot machines by turning a 105 yen (about 50p) withdrawal fee into a game of chance. It goes on to say that customers who line up three straight 7's when they press the 'stop' button on the ATM screen win 105 yen, cancelling out their fee. However, if you line up a set of 'gold' or 'super gold' images, you can earn a payout of 1,000 yen (about £5).

I particularly love the quote: 'We want our customes to enjoy a little excitement during the waiting time when they operate an ATM,' a bank spokesman said.

Er, yes. Right. VERY exciting...!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

One Year

I've been blogging for exactly a year. So, in celebration of my July 22nd blogiversary, what were YOU doing 365 days ago? Were you living in the same place? Doing the same job? Have you had more children or taken up any new hobbies in the last 365 days?

Confident Sandwiches

I had a confident sandwich today. The wrapper said so. It said: "You won't find sandwiches anywhere else that can beat ours in confidence, taste and freshness."

I didn't think it was so great. It shouldn't be quite so confident, in my opinion.


Today I saw an old lady in one of the stations. She had yellow hair. Not blonde, or a bad dye job but BRIGHT clown yellow. I considered wondering why, but decided to put it down to Japan. She probably dresses as a goth at the weekends.


I'm getting concerned. I keep finding myself speaking English like my students do. This is a bad thing.

And I've got a sore throat. Bloody aircon. Well, I'm pretty sure it's the aircon and not the singing and vodka overload last weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I'd forgotten what summer was. I mean, in the UK in the 'summer season' - you get a few hot days - although most of the hot ones tend to be in spring or autumn often. Here though I'm experiencing a real summer where every day is hot and, generally, pretty sweaty. And the rainy season is over, so this is now it.

Most Japanese are extremely sensible when it comes to the sun. They walk along with umbrellas up shading themselves from harmful rays. Many go a step further and wear cotton gloves, and I've seen a couple of people wearing cotton sleeves (that aren't attached to their clothes).

The salaryman though is something else altogether. Despite the Japanese government going all out to discourage suit wearing in summer, they are all still doing it and are wearing suits with jackets, shirt done up to the top and tightly tied tie. Apparantly, some take their jackets off when they get to the office but this is nuts. It's so hot it makes no sense. And they just mop themselves and fan themselves - but the tie stays tied, the shirt stays buttoned up and the jacket stays on. Daft.

In England, in the heat, tempers fray at the drop of a hot. I'm yet to see anything vaguely resembling a confrontation or a grotty mooded person here. England has much to learn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


There are several places that are day trips from Tokyo. Nikko was one. Kamakura is another. (Photos are nearer in coming as my camera card is now full, so I HAVE TO do something about it. Kamakura has lots and lots of temples and is famous for it's giant Buddha. It's all pretty laid back and chilled out with wonderful temples, great views, beautiful scenery and gardens, etc. We sweated our way around it though. It's. Just. Too. Hot. And it wasn't even sunny. Of course we did see some daft bints staggering around on silly heels - Kamakura involves lots of steps and the temples are all very spread out.

And tourists. Why are so many tourists SO loud and annoying? As white Gaijin in Japan we all stick out enough without being embarrassed by other foreigners. Anyway, it's actually quite interesting watching tourists sometimes. I mean why just look at an unmoving object, if you can video it, take a photo of it and THEN get someone to take a photo of you in front of it? Are you going to show all of these to your poor unsuspecting friends back home? Cruelty. It can be amusing to watch though. I also find cliched photos amusing. You know, the one of you dad in Pisa with his arm in the air so it looks like he's pushing the tower. Or your friend in front of the Trevi Fountain, throwing in a coin. I'm talking about the pictures that everyone thinks they HAVE TO take. Well, in Kamakura, the must-be-taken-cliche-pic is sitting crossed leg with fingers and thumbs touching in front of the Buddha who is, er, also in that position.

I wonder how many people who think of these must-be-taken-cliche-pic's actually think they are being original?

(No more rambling on today. Too much walking. Too tired.)

But, to the person who found Jo in Japan by googling: "japanese cockroach wrestling", I have one question: WHY?

Friday, July 15, 2005


I don't get it.

Yes, I've read all the Harry Potter books. Yes, I've seen all of the movies. BUT, I certainly didn't pre-order them, or rush to buy them. In fact the first three I got in paperback. Five definitely was in hardback - though a long time after it came out, and four I don't remember.

When I read a book, I want to enjoy it. I don't want to race through it. I want to savour it. Sure, some books are unputdownable, but people are planning to put aside their entire weekend to read it before Monday which seems nuts to me. Shops opening at midnight so people can buy the book. The huge amount of hysteria and marketing involved.

J.K. Rowling, and the publishers, must be pissing themselves laughing at this behaviour. (Whilst of course rubbing their hands together in glee over how much more money they'll be getting).

It's fiction, for fucks sake. I just don't understand they hype.

In London, every time a new Harry Potter came out, you'd see, on the train, 8 out of every 10 adults sitting reading it.

They are good books. But there are a lot better ones.

I'll read it eventually. Maybe when it comes out in paperback, or when I can borrow it from someone else. But for now, I have much better things to spend my money on and my own ever growing pile of exciting books to enjoy. And besides, big bulky hardbacks annoy me as they just aren't practical.

Anyway, please feel free to defend yourself if you disagree with me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Spotted on a t-shirt

"Why did you let my ostrich out of his basket? He got away."

O--kay! (I can't really think of anything else to say about this.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Big yellow plastic birds

Where I live has recently been plastered to death with large no smoking stickers on all the pavements - something which seems to be on the increase in many areas. As a non- (well, -ex) smoker, I think this is wonderful. Anyway, to keep the puffers happy, there are designated cancer spots available now and where I live, and a couple of stops away, these are marked by funny looking 2 foot high yellow plastic birds (ashtrays). They're pretty cute too. One day I may post a picture of one.

Having already gone through two 100 yen toilet brushes since I moved to Tokyo (well, you get what you pay for, don't you?) I bought a new one today and, on unwrapping it got rather perplexed by this wording:

"Toilet Brush - We'll advise you about your 'stickiness' about your daily life. To the people enjoying their life..." [all punctuation as per label]

If anyone can tell me what this means, I'll be most grateful!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yay, me!

I got my first taxi last night from my station to my house by myself. Am VERY proud of myself.

I know I promised to not write too much about the weather but it's been raining again. A lot. All Japanese are experts on the weather. Until the end of June, we'd been assured by them that the rainy season would be over by the end of June. Now that it's obvious it isn't, suddenly everyone is forecasting the middle of July.

Last night I got so wet you could have wrung ME out. I had an umbrella so my head remained dry, but that's about it. I was out drinking with a large group, and we'd pre-booked a roof-garden table (yes, I KNOW!) where they'd put gazebo's over all the tables. Problem was, I was sitting where two of them joined and despite the best efforts of the staff to pin them together, the canvas they'd used for pinning came undone from the weight of the water - which proceeded to absolutely drench my right side. So nice. We decided to go to karaoke and we set off to find a great one I'd been to once before. Of course, one of the downsides of being an utter ditz, was that once we got to where I thought it was, it wasn't. And the rain was just getting heavier and heavier.... Next thing we knew three of had got separated from the other seven or so (some had gone straight home) and spent the next however long trying to find them. They SAID they were in 'Big Echo' - which is a chain of karaoke places. In Shinjuku there is more than one 'Big Echo'. We visited two of them trying to find our friends... and finally, in our dripping and squelching state, giving up and going home was the only option.

Good night though. Hungover today. I keep saying shochu is evil. One day I'll listen to myself. Maybe.


There were a couple of stories in last weeks Japan Times that, what with one thing and another, I didn't get around to posting.

With the first of them , it was mainly the headline I liked: 'Condom makers face shriveling market'. Anyway the article isn't so great, just talks about how a lack of sex education and porn stars not wearing condoms is making them not so popular and how the Japanese market is addressing this with glow-in-the-dark, thicker and thinner condoms. As I said, the headline is the best thing about this but the idea of seeing a glowing penis in a dark room seems like a wonderful passion killer to me. (Shit, I've posted the word, 'porn', 'sex' and 'penis' - when I check where people found this site, I'm going to get some lovely surprises, aren't I?)

The second one was about internet addiction in China and how Beijing clinics are getting tough on internet addicts. This tough treatment is including electric shock treatment and drips of some drug or other that the person interviewed wouldn't be more specific about, being pumped into the addicts veins. This is for people as young as 12 and, of an estimated 94 million online population in China, some 2.5 million are believed to be addicts spending stupid amounts of time online. Anyway, on that note, time to log off I think....

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ganguro update

Apparantly, the orange colour isn't always fake tan. Some ganguro apply it, and then wash it off when they come home again....

I also heard yesterday that one of my students suffers from low cholestrol and this is, apparantly, a rising problem here.

Oh well, one thing gaijin don't have to worry about!


Sometimes my students make so little sense I don't have the heart to tell them I have no idea what they are going on about. So, I sit, nod, make encouraging noises, and they ramble on until I can figure out how to shut them up / change the subject /focus them.

If they could read my thoughts they'd be getting:

"What the fuck are you going on about?" or
" I have NO idea, whatsoever, what you are trying to say to me." or
"Please get to the point. There must be a point, mustn't there? Can we just get there, please? This is painful. Oh ho hum [nod, make encouraging noise], what shall I have for supper? damn my room needs tidying. Must remember to blog about that funny thing I saw this morning." [nod, make encouraging noise].

Luckily, I don't have many students like this and they need to be a certain level to obtain this skill of pure waffleness.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

up OR down

There seems to be a new look in town: trousers are being worn with one leg down and the other rolled up.

I wonder if this is a sign of a secret cult and this is how the members identify themselves to each other.

I can think of NO other possible explanation.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Click, click, scrape

Some things to get out the way:

1. The Inland Revenue is full of incompetent twats who don't have a clue what they're doing.
2. I have PMS and am feeling murderous.
3. The weather is too hot, too wet, too hot, too wet.... GAH!

Okay, that's that. Click, click, scrape. Timorous Beastie beat me to blogging about this, but it's not going to stop me. Click, click, scrape. This is the sound the average Japanese girl makes as she shuffles along the pavement. Click, click, bloody sodding scrape. I wouldn't want to describe the shoes of the average Japanese girl as silly but... well, I have PMS so I'm tempted. Many Japanese girls wear either ill-fitting heeled strappy sandals or not so ill-fitting strappy sandals. Of course some people carry this look off very well. Others though, should be steering well clear. When they actually fit the wearer (maybe 50% of the time toes aren't dangling off the sides), you still see, as Beastie points out too, the straps not being worn around the ankle, but crushed under the heel. School boys do this too. Er, that's with the backs of their shoes/trainers and NOT with their strappy heeled sandals.

Another thing I want to get off my chest, and I would love to say I'm generalizing, but I'm not, is the Japanese and spatial awareness. Put simply, they don't have any. Every day I see people walking or cycling into each other and dithering across the pavement from side to side, eyes glued to their keitai (cell/mobile) texting/emailing/playing games or listening to their IPOD (Ipod? IPod? oh, who cares?) with oversized headphones. Looking at the ground, trying to not fall off their little heels... Put simply - it's infuriating. AND cyclists here NEVER EVER use hand signals to indicate if or where they are turning. In my nine months of being here, I have never seen this anyway.

Of course, (I'm on a roll here), as so many days are either wet or hot at the moment, people are out all the time with umbrellas (people, mainly women, use umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun). With umbrellas up, they take even less notice of where they are walking. Yesterday, for example, picture a pavement (sidewalk - see, I'm becoming bilingual!) that is wide. Wide enough for maybe 6 or 8 people to walk abreast. In theory. Okay, so I walk the side furthest from the road. Amount of space to my side to be passed? A lot. Amount of people who bashed my umbrella with theirs? A lot. Of course the cyclists with their umbrellas and keitai's are THE worst.

Maybe it's good my Japanese isn't good enough to start screaming abuse yet?

Talking of silly strappy heeled sandals and rain: I saw one girl outside my local station dressed head to foot in thick yellow waterproofs. No prize for guessing what was on her feet! Did she look silly? Hell, yes.

I mentioned the umbrellas that are used in the sun. Two more things you see are flannels (towelling squares) that people carry to mop up sweat. I carry two - one for sweaty me, and one for wet bike seat. And fans. People here carry fans and use them in the streets, on the trains, in lifts, and so on. I do too. And no, it doesn't have Kitty Chan on it, although I did see a Kitty Chan one that lit up if you turned it on. I've never seen anyone with a fan in England. Well, apart from the silly little battery operated handheld ones.

Completely unrelated (like that'll stop me), I normally see them at inconvenient times, but it seems people set up tables outside their houses and sell off fruit and veg from their allotments. Now, I've seen this in the countryside in England, but never in a city. Shame I'm never passing them at a time where I can buy things.

And finally, I went shopping today and actually managed to get a couple of pairs of trousers! As I'm a big Gaijin this IS quite amazing and worthy of a brief comment. I also bought a USB cable so I can take photos off my phone now and, as my camera is nearly full, I'll have to do something about that too. Photos may be around the corner. Some corner.

Whilst getting my cable, I overhead a conversation:
Caring parent: Shut ya face.

A most touching scene. Bet the customers in the restaurant they were about to go into loved it too. Japanese kids seem so much better behaved. Or maybe it's just that they always get what they want...

And on the subject of food: I almost always eat with chopsticks - at home as well as my bento lunches and when I'm out. But I still can't manage to eat noodles without splashing myself. *sigh*.

P.S. Is it only me who is amused that Bloggers spellcheck doesn't recognise the word 'blogging'?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Nikko and Neko

I saw a really cute ad for a cat (neko) in a weekly free magazine here: it says the 6 week old kittens are bilingual. I am SO impressed. I wonder who their teacher was?

Blissfully, I've just had a three day holiday from work. April was the last time I had any consecutive days off, so this has been very very nice.

Friday I went to Nikko, which is about two hours north of Tokyo and famous for its many temples and shrines. Very nice. Pretty. Bla bla bla. And wet. It absolutely chucked it down, from the minute we got off the train. Still this kept the hoards away, so no complaints there. And it was very calm and peaceful there. The train ride was pretty cool too as we went up through the countryside, passing hundreds of rice paddies, some of which were no bigger than little family plots, and others entire fields.

Saw things like The Three Monkeys (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) and here's the Google images for Nikko (hey, I'm lazy, I didn't take many photos myself, and I'm not doing a big tourist sell here).

One other thing to say about Nikko, I bought a Three Monkeys Hello Kitty (everywhere has it's own Kitty Chan) which consisted of Kitty Chan dressed as a monkey with a monkey standing on her and another monkey standing on that one. What disturbed me is that Kitty Chan was the 'speak no evil' monkey.

Kitty Chan does not have a mouth. Is this a subliminal message that Kitty is an evil lying bitch?

It's kawaii all the same.

Saturday took great pleasure in doing nothing and Sunday had a lovely bbq in a local park with much too much food, lots of booze, good company and finally lots and lots and lots more rain. Oh well, it was good fun all the same, and pretty amusing realising the rest of the park had gone home because of the rain but we were still there under a couple of trees. (Oh, and we did get a few hours before the rain came so it wasn't a total wash out).