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, May 19, 2008


There are mice in my house. I can hear them in the walls and ceiling. Or at least I think I can. Luckily I haven't spotted any yet. The joys of an old house, eh?!

UPDATE: I emailed the agency and - apparantly - they put down some traps and medicine for the mice the other day, but they'll come back and check. They also recommended I get some medicine for my ants before they come round to check for where they are coming in, etc.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oh My Head!

Spring looks like it might be back and there's lots of fun things going on in Tokyo today. Unfortunately I'm too hungover to leave my bed.

The plan was for a quiet night in as I've been trying to shake off a cough this week and I'm rather poor this month. My friend, Kate, came over and I cooked and we demolished three bottles of wine between the two of us. She went to get the last train and I walked her to the station, planning to cycle back but Kate decided it would be a good idea to go to a karaoke bar in Golden Gai.

Several hours, gin and tonics, tequila shots, beers, songs and random conversations with lovely lovely random people later, I headed home. Except I managed to get lost somehow and I was way too drunk to get on my bike. Although I did try!

Feeling like crap currently and had to miss the Design Festa that I really wanted to go to. And having to miss the Jamaican Festival in Yoyogi Park because the idea of leaving my bed is just too much to handle. Oh well! It was worth it. I think!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beautiful Spring Days

So, beautiful spring days filled with long days in the park drinking, throwing frisbees, hooping, sun on my arms and on my pretty painted toes....

Just where are they?!

Spring has gone. Not to be replaced by summer, as would be the normal order of things, but to be replaced with winter. We're all back in jumpers or sweaters and using heating. Socks are firmly planted on my feet. This is not how May should be.

It's not the rainy season yet - but it keeps on raining each day. People are getting the grumps. People are getting sick. I'M getting sick. I have an annoying cold - not the burning up sweat it out variety but an annoying energy zapping chest burning hacking cough blocked nose and sinuses kind of cold. A functioning cold but still an annoying cold.

I have to confess that a) I'm waiting on it to go away by itself - mainly because I don't actually get colds that often and I don't want to shove medication into my immune system which does a pretty good job usually and b) since my raw vegan 'lapse' - I still see it as a lapse or a temporary hiccough as I do intend to go back down that road again from June (May is too busy with social events) - and since moving house especially - my fresh food intake has dramatically decreased. Not saying I brought this on myself but...

So, in the world of Jo life has been the usual routine of working, drinking, working a bit more and drinking a bit more and hanging out with friends. And coughing!

Oh and I love my house. I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy being in the vicinity of other people after having house shared with a variety of 'characters' over a 17 year period and swearing I could never do it again!

Having my OWN kitchen in the gaijin house is a definite plus. I'm not sure I could have moved into a gaijin house if I'd had to share a kitchen. The shared shower and toilet have been fine - there's almost never been anyone in either if I've wanted it. My place feels more homey than the company accommodation I was living in before too.

The location is great. It's in a residential area in Shinjuku near all the big hotels and near a good choice of stations. The other people in the house are lovely and we've started arranging drinking and eating things to do together. Last night was the first time I've seen so many of them at once as two were talking when I walked in and I joined them, and then more and more kept dribbling in - it was quite funny - I think we were all a bit surprised.

Oh and there's a week left until I'm 37. That's kind of scary. I still don't feel like a 'grown up' and I still don't really have a 'life plan' as such. I think I had more of a life plan when I was a teenager. Maybe. And when I look at the things I have and don't have, the things I've done and haven't done and, well, I'm not really sure what to make of it all, but more of this another time.

One other decision - my time-frame for leaving Japan has been next spring for quite some time - I'll finish sending chunks of money back to England in about three months so will be able to save up a bit after that, plus I'll have been here for 4.5 years by then, with two years post certTESOL experience (which some places want).

The question is where next. Last year I went through an obsession with moving to the Middle East next to teach. That was replaced with an absolute obsession with moving to Argentina. Well, Argentina is still very much on the cards but I think I'm going to delay it for a year or two more and move to Spain instead - for a few reasons:

I love Spain.
I can speak a little Spanish and, unlike Japanese, I actually have the motivation to learn it properly.
I'd like to spend more time on mainland Europe.
I have friends who are, and who will be, living on the mainland.
I miss English shops and being able to afford to pop to England a few times a year is quite appealing.
I need the convenience for a bit of being able to get hold of products I need easily - such as homeopathic remedies, aqueous cream and that kind of thing.
My friends in England WILL be able to afford to visit me.
I miss my friends in England and want to be able to hang out with them more.
I'm missing out on seeing people's kids, weddings, parties, etc.

So there you have it. The money WILL be crap compared to here but whilst on some days I love Japan, I'm not one of the gaijin crowd who could stay here long term, I just find too many things annoying, frustrating, difficult, different... and life isn't all about hanging out in Yoyogi Park taking photos of gothic lolitas or daschunds in sunglasses, unfortunately!



Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Final Day :(

Woke up feeling mildly lively. Was meant to meet up with Beastie, but she's caught some nasty lurgy... So did a bit of pottering and housework, a bit of hooping and eating lots of fruit - and suddenly I got a cold. From fine to not fine in a matter of minutes. Great.

I live right by Shinjuku Chuo Park. While it's known a bit as a homeless park, it's actually really nice and I went for a wander around in it today. There were a few homeless tents but not such a big deal as people have seemed to have made out. The park isn't huge, but it's quite nice and was certainly big enough for a very long wander around looking at temples, water features, statues, skateboarders, people walking their rabbits, pushing their dogs around in buggies, playing guitars, trying out bike moves, watching each other, etc.

And lots of quiet areas to have a bit of a hoop! - although I didn't take the hoop with me today.

Came back and realised I had NO idea where my passport was. While I don't have any immediate trips planned there's always the possibility I'd need to grab it in an emergency, so it and a torch are always (usually) extremely easy to lay my hands on. But somehow I'd put it somewhere carefully without noting where in my head when I did my bit move in sort out. Can't really express my relief at finding it again.

Back to work tomorrow. Hope my cold is gone by then :(

Monday, May 05, 2008

And the fun continues...

This is probably the longest amount of time I've spent in Tokyo during one vacation in - well, I can't remember the last time actually, and it's been a lot of fun but I wonder whether I've been doing too much, spending too much time with other people and not enough just chilling out by myself. I've been pretty moody this week. The beginning of the week I suppose I could have put down to PMS, but not now. Hormones, age, lack of time alone, who knows!

Anyway. Enough of that.

Saturday I'd planned to go to the Salvation Army Bazaar because it's rare I get a Saturday I'm not working. Thanks to the heavy rain though, I just couldn't motivate myself to go out. Slept and cleaned instead. Later on went to a friends wedding party which was quite fun.

Sunday it didn't rain! But I woke up with bad period pains. Dragged myself to the supermarket and then gave in and took painkiller (which I really dislike doing, but I felt rough and didn't want to stay feeling rough all day).

Sunday afternoon I had SO much fun! I went along to Yoyogi Park to find Deanne and get a hooping lesson. I'd wussed out of it the week before and so was determined to give it a go this time. Wondering if I'd be able to find them, I had to laugh when I saw how visible they were. Of course I was late and the hoops were in full spin, with big smiles on people's faces. Swearing they'd only picked up hoops for the first time 30 minutes earlier everyone was spinning away making it look dead easy. I have no rhythm. Deanne showed me what to do. And I was absolutely hopeless, being unable to keep the thing spinning for more than ten seconds at a time and not getting any better as I kept trying.

I'm determined to get it though and I have one of Deanne's hoops in my room which I'm going to practice with every day. Actually, the hoop is massive - but luckily there's just about enough room to play with it in my space.

The afternoon was great though. I was feeling very energised and enjoyed talking to friends old and new. Even if everyone was better than me!

As it started getting darker I went off to join another group of friends in the park and we all went to Roppongi to the Kill Bill restaurant, Gonpachi. The restaurant was lovely. Very nice decor and atmosphere. Upstairs one side had seating that looked like a row of balconies.

Unfortunately, the service and food were a total let down.

The waitress who took our order forgot to put two of the orders through - after complaining we got the food free but it ruined the evening having to wait almost an hour for food which was lukewarm (rice) and burned (yakitori*).

The waiting time for service of dishes and drinks generally was pretty crap too.

Oh well.

[and yes I've tumbled right off the raw vegan bandwagon but plan to climb back up in June - there's too much partying in May, I'm being realistic].

Then today, one of my old school managers had a party at her house. We met up (I was late because I left home 5 minutes later than I'd planned and subsequently fucked up all my connections) and went for a long walk in some woods near her house, before stopping and having the first course of our meal and a couple of beers. It was lovely getting fresh air and exercise and very peaceful.

We wandered back to her house where she continued feeding us and giving us more and more to drink until early evening when we all tumbled off for a couple of hours of karaoke.

Lots of fun!

One day to go before w*rk resumes!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Table Diving Lessons

Today I learned how to dive under a table and hold onto a leg. Table leg that is.

We went to the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center where we started off by taking lots of photos of each other wearing 3D glasses, then watched a hilariously dubbed earthquake simulation 3D movie. "I. Think. I. Hurt. My. Hip." - and other wonderfully badly dubbed lines.

Then we spent time laughing at the literature they gave us before being allowed in small groups into the 'family room' where we sat at a table until - all of a sudden.... the floor started shaking and we had to grab cushions from the table to cover our heads and dive under the table and hang on to a table leg until the 'earthquake' passed. I'd like to say we took it really seriously.... but we kind of didn't.

I mean, hey, none of us actually have sturdy tables in our houses to dive under anyway!

Then we saw a video of a girl being squashed by falling bookcases, falling tv's, etc and learned how they should be strapped to a wall.

And finally we had to go into another room - a smoke-filled maze and find our way out. It wasn't too hard!

And then we posed with firemen's jackets and hats for photos. But no cute firemen. And Japanese firemen have horrible coloured uniforms anyway.

Best of all, this was all free and all in English. Good fun, really.

Then we went and ate lots of ice cream. I'm knackered. Too many days of walking around in my Converse have made my feet ache too. I'm pathetic!!!

Hot Dogs

Yes. All four dogs DO have sunglasses on.

Dog abuse? This coiffed pooch has been lovingly trimmed, brushed and dyed pink, blue and yellow.

My camera is currently out of use (ie I've still not emptied the full memory cards, so I've 'borrowed' these pix from mates. The first one is in Harajuku (where else) and the second was in Yoyogi Park (if you hadn't guessed)!

Golden Week has been good. Up to today the weather's been really nice and I'm feeling relaxed so doesn't really matter anyway...

Tuesday I met some mates and went to the Science Museum in Odaiba. It was kind of fun, but I've been to better science museums before. Then the afternoon was spent eating, drinking and chilling out in Harajuku and Yoyogi Park before more drinking in Kichijoji.

Wednesday I met another friend and splashed out on lunch at the American Grill in the Park Hyatt Hotel. Expensive but sooo good. I've done it twice now. They have an amazing starter buffet bar, then scrummy main courses and finally a pretty amazing dessert bar. Of course camera, bla bla bla = no photos. After that we saw 'Atonement' which I really enjoyed. One of the best movies I've seen in a while. And a couple of drinks.

I'm detoxing after Golden Week.

Yesterdays plans fell through which gave me the first chance to hang out in my new home, sort things out, get my modem sent back to the rental company which was a LOT more complicated than it sounds... and to just chill out, listen to music, read, sort... nice.

And the best thing is I still have FIVE more days before going back to work. Just gotta watch the cash a bit now - especially after Wednesday!