Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Monday, October 31, 2005

More randomness

How to piss me off:

  1. Ring on my doorbell (several times) at 10.15 on a Sunday morning and, even though I open the door wearing a towel and obviously just out of bed, bubble away explaining you're my new neighbour and a new teacher and bla bla bla and can you borrow some washing detergent.
  2. Ring on my doorbell in the evening when I'm tired and trying to watch '24' and eat and tell me you are [another] new teacher and you don't know anyone and you just finished university and you don't know anyone and bla bla bla.
  3. Tell me I cannot cycle my bike where I normally do and make me take a 3 minute diversion.

(PMS anyone??!!)

More random thoughts:

  1. I am totally into Series 4 of '24'.
  2. I have been borrowing dvd's of the current series of 'X Factor' [like 'American Idol', etc]. Too funny.
  3. I have finally discovered 'Little Britain'. I'd never watched any before this week. Hilarious!
  4. I saw the 'Corpse Bride' - the new Tim Burton film. Very cute.
  5. Sometimes I really hate students. Especially when one old woman, in a group, complains she doesn't want to play games in the lesson. Boring bitch.
  6. I'm in love with a student. Unfortunately he's only three. Wonder what he'll be like in 15 years time?!
  7. I went to bed at 9.45 last night - first time I've done that in ages. I normally go at 2am!
  8. Saturday was a school holiday. Thursday is another one. Heaven! Wednesday night is a big teachers party to celebrate this, and Thursday (rain allowing) I'm going to a BBQ.
  9. What I didn't know about until the day after: on Saturday the Yamanote Halloween party took place. Every halloween there is a special party in Tokyo on one of the train lines (the Yamanote Line which goes around in a circle). Party goers gather at a given place and time and all board the same train and, basically, drink. Everyone is costumed and a fair number of both Gaijin and Japanese join in. Sounds a riot. Next year I want to do it.

Oh and big wedding congrats to Ben and Gabs.... Am thrilled for you both!

(And I've just re-edited this whole post as half of it made no sense and I seemed to have taken a dislike to the shift key when typing as there was no evidence of a capital letter.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Another dream

Last night: a load of people in fancy dress, at an airport. Their flight was cancelled so they just wandered around.

I feel there's more to this dream; but this is all I remember. And my stomach STILL hurts :(

It happened.

Tonight I uttered the words that I thought would never escape my lips.

I said...

"I don't feel like going to karaoke."

Really. I uttered those very words. I'll try and ensure it doesn't happen again though!

I don't know how many Israeli restaurants there are in Tokyo, and I'd never been to one in London (are there any in London?) but in the last 8 days I've been to two - 'David's Deli' last Saturday and 'Shamaim' this evening. Both were very different but nice. Shamaim had a tabihodai (eat as much as you like) going on and the food was lovely -- although there was too much garlic and I've been in painful farty/burpiness since. Their wine was all pretty expensive except for one bottle which I'd never heard of, so we asked if we could try a teeny bit to see if we liked it before buying a bottle. They said no. Stingy bastards. Apparently this is a typical Japanese response to this kind of request. Oh well... their loss, as our bill would have been much bigger with the wine on.

Still, I've now had enough humous to stop fixating on it for a bit! (It's one of the things I've had intermittent cravings for since getting here).

Another typical Japanese response, apparently, is to pretend they don't understand you. Now, if someone speaks to me in bad English I'll make every effort to figure out what they mean. Japanese don't do that and many times I've said something in Japanese that the person has made no effort to understand. Maybe my stress on the word was wrong or something, but it's SO annoying that people don't try to make the effort to figure out what's being said to them, in their language, by a foreigner.

Enough. My painful stomach and I are off to bed now.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Firstly can I say the beautiful weather has turned to cack and has, since Tuesday, been cold and wet. Eternally optimistic, I feel sure there are still more hot days to be had this year.

Now: dreams. I very rarely remember my dreams and those I do remember tend to be very abstract, although I can normally figure out what they mean, what triggered them off (a memory of a conversation or something I read or watched during the day maybe), what they are symbolic of, etc. And I do have lucid dreams (the dreams you know you're having) from time to time. Last nights though was so odd that I jotted the whole thing down in a notebook this morning and felt I should share it.

So, it was a cold winter day but I wanted to go to the sea to swim and get clean. On the way I met some nasty teenage boys who stood on my lilo and wouldn't let me pass. I got rescued by a female who knew me and led me off to shower somewhere safe. (I didn't recognise her). There was one shower and a kid was using it. The kid finished and a granny took her turn, with all her friends standing around her. The shower was a beach type metal one and was in a large plain dingy room.

Just before my turn, the area immediately around the shower turned into an onsen sized bath / paddling pool and kids started jumping in. I wandered over to find out what was happening and saw the little square pool lengthening and, suddenly, loads of people were in it, swimming - chaotically at first, and then laps, as the pool continued to get longer and longer, though not wider.

Finally, I got in too and started swimming to see where it led to. As I got near the end, the pool sloped up and into an amusement arcade where I was met by a friend and led through to a counter where her son was working, along with an ex-flatmate of mine from a few years back. They were selling cheap novelty purses and I don't remember what else. Ex-flatmate and I went back to my apartment (We were in New York) and as we arrived women kept passing in cocktail dresses and I asked where they were going. They reminded me it was someone's party and I had to hurry up and go. I rushed into my bathroom to shower and...

then I woke up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Perfect Weather

In between the rains here we are having many glorious days of sunshine. Hot days. Perfectly hot days; not sweat-your-socks-off kinds of days but just wonderful hot autumn days of wandering around in t-shirts or long sleeve t-shirts, and not worrying about getting cold. Of course, every silver lining DOES have a cloud, and getting dark before 5pm is definitely one big mighty cloud. But it's just so lovely. My perfect kind of weather.

Wandering around Ueno Park today and soaking up the rays and autumn colours was just perfect... Went to the Impressionists Expo at the Metropolitan Art Museum too. That would have also been pretty wonderful, if it wasn't for the hoard of other people that had decided to go on a Tuesday afternoon. Oh well. I mean, I've mentioned before one of my pet annoyances is the amount of Japanese people I see / feel that cannot walk in a straight line and don't look where they are going. Imagine this in rooms full of pictures.. Luckily I don't bruise too easily.

Spotted on the train: man in a bright yellow shirt covered with little Santa heads, reindeer heads and dog heads. Some things aren't worth puzzling yourself with, in my opinion though!

Sunday, October 23, 2005


A lady in her 50's, on the train, wearing a dark green prim suit.

In velvet.

And covered in light green greyhounds.

Not spotted, but reported to me by a friend: woman wearing a fake-fir pair of aqua blue knee briches with black lace bottom lycra long johns poking out from underneath, paired with a silk top, just covering her boobs, over a jersey sweatshirt with bat wings.

Doesn't that sound lovely? Actually, one of the many odd looks here is to wear pretty camisole tops OVER long sleeve tops, sweaters, etc.

A friend and I mused this afternoon whether people here wake up in the morning and think to themselves: what's the strangest combination of clothes I can wear today?

Come Fly With Me, Let's Fly, Let's Fly Awaaaayyyy

Twice now I've flown on ANA's Pokomon airplane. The thing about this plane, or planes (maybe they were different ones, I don't know) is that the Pokomon-ness is restricted to the huge paintings all over the outside of the plane, the headrests and the postcards they give out.


In the Japan Times yesterday I read an article that made me shudder: Eva Airways (a Taiwanese airline) will be, on its flights to Japan (Fukuoka-Taipei route), using airbuses adorned with (fanfare / bucket please) HELLO KITTY (from Saturday).

Not just on the outside though; oh no. Eva will be Hello Kitty-fying its boarding passes, its cutlery and its flight attendant uniforms.

They hope to increase sales this way.

Tokyo Whinge

Tokyo is an all singing, all dancing, cosmopolitan city that has something to offer everyone 24 hours a day.


I'd like to go out until 2am. I passionately hate having to choose between the last sodding train at half midnight or 1am or spend money and stay out until they start up again. I really don't like not having this choice. Taxi's aren't an option as they are so expensive. This is just so frustrating. For a city like Tokyo to not have all night trains or night buses is ridiculous. Or maybe London just spoiled me?

Another frustrating thing: not so much about Tokyo in general but teaching and living here: is how transient it all is. I found out about another friend today who is leaving at Christmas. Sad. I mean I know there'll be people coming and going for as long as I'm here, but that isn't really the point I'm making.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bag Ladies

What is it with students and their bags? Students have to put their bags on their chairs so they perch on the front half of their chair with the bag propped between them and the back of their seats. It doesn't matter that they could put them on the floor, or on an empty chair, or even on the table; most of them put their bags on their chairs - and I don't mean hanging from them.

I mean, this is a classroom and in Japan. It's hardly likely someone will come and swipe their bag.

I don't get it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Nasal assault: This morning, on the train to Shinjuku, I was totally overwhelmed by the woman who sat next to me and offended my nose with a stench of mothballs and perfume. Coming home, on the train to Shinjuku (two train journey on a Thursday) a man sat next to me stinking of booze and pee. I'm not sure which is worse. Thursday nights, when I'm coming home, the trains are always packed with people smelling of booze. Not nice.

Getting off at the station where I live, my ears were attacked by shouting girl outside a shop. People like shouting outside shops here, or screaming things in the street over tannoys. Go somewhere like Shinjuku, where you have rows of shops, and stand still outside any of these shops and you'll hear up to a dozen different voices loudly shouting things. I find it really annoying. I mean, talk about disturbing the peace.

Fashions are getting so weird at the moment I can't even start to comment. Especially in my current zombie state. This season, it seems, anything goes here, and the stranger, and more mismatched, the better. One day I'll take some pictures of some of the monstrosities I see in the stations, but that depends on me not rushing to work!

I had brain meltdown today. Several times I opened my mouth and what came out made no sense (in everyday life this often happens, but up to today has generally not happened in the classroom). I think, generally, I'm an okay teacher. Sometimes I think I'm really good and much of the time I think I still have a lot to learn. Today I managed to confuse several students with the instructions I gave them. This is, amazingly for me, quite a rarity. Part of it was me overestimating what they could do. Mainly though, my brain had had a stay-at-home kind of day and left me to it. Gah! Still, tomorrow is another day.

If I find my lost brain by then...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"Oh how cute"

Yes, I just uttered those words in reaction to a not particularly cute dog seat for a car. I'm doomed.


On a more serious note, today there was another earthquake in east Japan, a 6.5 or 6.8 (depending on which report you read). Or 5 to 6.3 according to NHK news depending on the area. (I give up!)

Oo apparantly an old lady fell out of bed and had a nosebleed as a result of the quake. Poor love. (You have to hear NHK News to believe it sometimes!)

I've now taught a few lessons during earthquakes and I never know how I should react. The students always look pretty worried, whereas I'm pretty 'whatever' about the whole thing. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and all that... although I think I'd rather die in a karaoke can with a vodka in one hand and a mic in the other, than in a classroom. But that's me. Anyway, I generally continue teaching when the classroom starts shaking. I wonder what other teachers do. I mean, I'm not going to start panicking and running around the classroom screaming, or go tearing out of the room for a little shake and rattle, am I? So what should I do? I also figure they are paying so should be getting there money's worth, potential death or not.

Does this make me weird?!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

School Uniforms

I'd heard it wasn't unusual for teenagers to have school uniforms for IN school and school uniforms for OUT of school, and many of my students think their school uniforms are, or were, cute but, for the first time, my student, M, turned up at 7pm, for her lesson, in uniform. I said what time did she finish school, she said 4pm. I said what did you do between then and now, she said she went home, read a comic and slept. I said, and then you put your school uniform back on? She said, no, her school doesn't have a uniform. She'd made it up (including a neck tie thing) herself. I said, oh right.

This would never happen in the UK.

And please stop bloody raining. It's been wet for DAYS now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Karaoke Croak

When you combine the tail end of a cold with a couple of hours of loud karaoke the end result is karaoke croak. Today I have a deep sexy voice. Or something like that. It's pretty painful anyway.

Last night went to The Elephant Cafe, in Harajuku. This is another theme bar that's Thai themed with lots of Buddhas and elephants, including a rather sturdy one outside that I jokingly suggested on of my friends sit on for a picture. Sadly, I don't think the hilarious results would be appreciated being shown to the Joe Public, so I'll refrain from posting them. Shame really. Anyway, after a couple of hours of nomihodai (drink as quickly as you can and keep reminding the staff they are being too slow with your vodkas as you have a set price for a set period of drinking) we staggered over the road for a couple of hours of karaoke, with nomihodai again. I had vague thoughts of going to another bar in Roppongi, but just felt too crap.

This afternoon there was a 5.1 earthquake in Saitama, Tokyo. I was having a nap and sat up in bed before deciding sod it, and lying down again. It went on for a while and was pretty shakey - well, enough to make my remote fall off the telly. Quakes bore me now. I know nothing can be done so I don't see the point in being worried by them. The Big One has been overdue for more than 70 years now. Who's to say it won't continue being overdue for 70 more. I think there was one minor injury this time.

In the evening I went with a couple of mates to a local onsen. I now feel very very sleepy and relaxed. The water was (VERY hot and) black and smelled all comforting and nice. Great way to spend a couple of hours. One of the baths gave out little electric shocks if you put your hands near the sides, which was rather odd, and the outside baths were lovely against the cold air.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Nooo! You are addling my brain!

I have a student, T, who can always be guaranteed to get things later than everyone, say at least one thing I don't get, frustrate the rest of the group and who won't stop grinning. Today, after explaining something, demonstrating, illustrating, doing an exercise with the group and having everyone else answer questions before her... she didn't get it. I could see the look of frustration on the faces of the other students when I had to explain it again to her.

In the past I used to set diary writing homework for my students from time to time. Some students do it regularly. Looking at some of these pieces of writing is like trying to do complete a sudoko puzzle. Some of the pieces slip easily into place. Others just do not make any sense. Many a time I've stared and stared at a sentence, trying to figure out what the student might have meant when they wrote it and scanning the sentences before and after it to try and find the missing link that will help me understand enough to correct the sentence. Sometimes I'll be really brave and ask the student what they were trying to say. This, of course, is a last resort as things are often no clearer once the student has 'explained'. As in sudoko, sometimes I cheat and just pass over the sentence. I know this is bad; but it's unavoidable. I had two of these today.

I played a game with a couple of intermediate adult sisters today where they had to guess which famous person had been allocated to them by the other only using yes/no questions. When they got to the end of the game (finally) they actually spent three or so minutes arguing over whether Brad Pid (sic.) had blue or green eyes. It was in English, so that's something, but still..... Anyway, I told them I didn't know and to go away and look on the internet.

Another class today, a pre-intermediate mother and son were doing an asking for directions exercise and had a map of the Covent Garden area in London with 30 random places marked on it and then listed underneath. I asked them if they'd heard of any of the places, neither had ever been to London, and they mentioned a couple of places before the son suddenly, and randomly, started explaining a route on the map. I had a really hard think and couldn't recall having asked him to do that. The mother saw my face and tried not to laugh. I confessed to the son I had no idea why he'd come out with that, and he laughed too.

And you wonder why my blog is so random. This is a typical day. In a week I see more than 50 students, many of whom are very random. My brain sometimes really really hurts.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fish and Cats

Today I looked at lots of these:

Yes, I went to an aquarium. Unfortunately, it being a national holiday and all, it wasn't the wisest of ideas and whereas normally I love aquariums, this was way too packed with rude people and their kids, all pushing and shoving. Shame, because I find quiet aquariums very relaxing and peaceful normally. They had some pretty cool fish, turtles, sharks, anenomes, etc there although I didn't appreciate the poor lonely little dolphin is a big empty tank with only two small footballs for company, or the seals swimming around and around looking extremely bored and pissed off. Outside were some awesome penguins and albatrosses, and you can see more pictures from the aquarium and nekobukuro in the photo album under Aug/Oct 2005.

After we'd finished with the fish we went to Nekobukuro. Nekko is Japanese for 'cat', and 'bukuro' a play on 'Ikebukuro' where it is. (Top of Tokyo Hands in Sunshine City if anyone wants to find it). You pay a small fee and then go and play with cats basically. It's pretty cool and the cats are all pretty friendly and beautiful. Here's a picture of one of them. And yes, it IS wearing a pumpkin outfit. Poor puss!

I'm going (hopefully) to Vietnam in the Christmas holidays. Most annoyingly the I'm wait listed on two of the four flights I need to take. (I have to go via Taiwan). I really want the dates I want. This is very frustrating. However, don't let this stop you from coming up with Vietnam tips for me. The plan is to fly into Ho Chi Minh and then out of Hanoi nearly 2.5 weeks later. I have my first list of places I think I'm going to, but what are your suggestions and recommendations?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Getting old

Note to self: 1000 yen for as many beers as you can drink before 9pm is NOT a good idea. It is also not a competition to get your money's worth. *Sigh*. Further, when deciding, before going out that AT 9pm you'll call it a night, it's a good idea to remember that decision and not continue drinking. Finally, it's a good idea to remember that beer is pretty much guaranteed to give me a headache.

Suffice it to say, I had a lot of fun last night. And by about 7pm this evening the hangover had worn off. Today was spent watching dvd's, drinking a LOT of water and peeing a lot. The peeing thing was particularly annoying as I didn't want to be moving so much. Oh well. I've decided, again, to never drink again. Until I forget the decision anyway.

Japanese television is very different from British television. J television just doesn't reach the same level of trashiness. Tackyness, yes. Trashiness, no. A friend has lent me a dvd with the first three episodes of the last series (whenever that was on) of 'X Factor'. This is an 'American Idol' kind of deal, but open to 16-24 year olds, 25 pluses and groups. It's a very good way to spend a hangover. I've not laughed so hard at anything on television for a long time. Amazing how deluded some people can be about their talents. Brilliant stuff!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I miss the sound of the cicadas. Yes, those horrible flying golf-balls I blogged that freaked me out. I miss their shrill clackering after having it as a background to the summer. A few odd chirps and screams can still be heard, but most are gone.

I've started eating nicoman again. The steamed filled buns sold in conbeni's.

And last night I ended up giving in and giving up my summer blanket for my winter duvet. Summer seems to be well and truly over. Although, eternal optimist that I am, I don't think the hot days are all gone just yet. I'm not packing my flipflops anyway yet anyway.

In memory of summer I've had my hair cut short again. It's cute, although I'm not sure what to do with the front bits, so they just get pinned gently back.

Saw another pair of odd jeans today. They looked inside-out. You know the colour of the reverse side of blue jeans? Well, imagine them being worn with that side showing and the turn up at the bottom being six inches of normal denim along with the back pockets. And they had red stitching. Interesting.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Autumn days

Apparantly it's autumn now although every day the weather is completely different. Sunday we had a glorious sunshine. A really mid-summer type of day. Yesterday was pretty indifferent weather, though a little bit chillier than it has been recently. Today is just grey. Last week we had typhoons.... And so it'll continue.

Most girls/women are still wearing clonky sandals that you can hear 50 metres away, but there's a wave of long-sleeve tops now coming in.

There isn't much to update at the moment. I did my last Saturday in one of the schools before changing to another one next week and I made it to the National Museum in Ueno Park, on Sunday, finally. It was a typical national museum really with the normal bits of pre-historic tools, etc and pots, jewellery, weaponry, costumes and prints from all periods. Wonderful building though, which I didn't take a photo of. Sorry. There were some very beautiful pieces in there.

Some random pictures for you:

This is the pavement I cycle down every day to go to the station:

Smoking is a big no-no in most of the streets around where I live and work. There are little signs all over the pavement like this:

And lots of little yellow bird ashtray spots where the ostracised smokers are allowed to stand.

Station platforms have smoking areas too. Unfortunately this doesn't stop people, in buildings from smoking outside lifts and I've walked into the path of smoke many times stepping out of an elevator.