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, July 28, 2008


Another busy weekend.

At the moment I have a very heavy Saturday morning with a 3.5 hour lesson to kick off (which I love doing), I then have a 30 minute and a 40 minute class. This makes my hours comparable to the other teachers on that day at that school, so.... recently I've been getting off work at around 3.40pm on a Saturday. Pretty good stuff!

This Saturday I legged it over to the International Forum after work, meeting up with my house-family on the way, to watch a friend and her band, Vanilla Mood, performing.

It was only a short set and after hanging out with the them for a bit it was time to go and drink - except we didn't quite manage to sort the drinking out. I went into Muji and bought two pairs of shoes instead - quite a feat considering my size is basically a half size bigger than most shops have in stock in Tokyo!

From there, it was onto the Spanish restaurant in Koenji again, for my friend Masami's sayonara party. And a lot of eating and drinking. Oh, and then all night karaoke.

Sunday, after sleeping away half the day, I met up with the house family and went to the World Press Photographers 2008 exhibition in the Metropolitan Photography Museum in Ebisu. It was my fourth press photographers exhibition and I found last years more inspiring, to be honest - although there were a few pictures I really loved. My absolute favourite was of a mother and baby. I think it was in a refugee camp but the mother had an expression of absolute hopelessness and the baby is sitting in front of her touching her with such an expression of hope on it's face. Unfortunately, I tried but cannot find a picture online of this one. Here's a couple of the other ones I really liked:

After the exhibition we went to Zest, a Mexican restaurant in Ebisu, that I hadn't been to for ages - and then to the Pink Cow to enjoy some live music and a lot of drinking.

Today has been very lazy - but I'm off to watch some baseball now at Jingu Stadium.

Busy, busy! But keeps my mind off my job which I'm pretty pissed off with at the moment...

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Cicadas

Every summer in Tokyo the nights and days have been punctuated by the songs of hundreds of cicadas. At first a sound I really didn't like - a constant humming with the odd piercing cry thrown in to send chills up your spine.

Maybe it's because I've moved to a different area of Tokyo or maybe it's some other reason, but this year I haven't heard any of them.

I miss the sound. In England, Pimms equals summer. In Tokyo, it's the cicadas.

Actually, it occurred to me, on the way home from the station, that perhaps the reason I haven't heard the cicadas is because whenever I'm outside I'm plugged into my iPod (which I didn't have last summer). I removed the earphones and, lo and behold, I heard them. 1000s of them.

I can be a ditz sometimes. I do miss hearing them from my room though.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bla Bla Bla

...bla, bla, bla..... still hot....bla, bla, bla....sleeping still buggered....bla, bla, bla.... skin still buggered.... Friday, drank with work colleagues...bla, bla, bla...Saturday went to an Izakaya, then a games centre, then clubbing (Harlem, in Shibuya - awesome!) with housemates....bla, bla, bla... crashed out about 5am....bla, bla, bla.... Sunday went to a wedding party in Yokohama (photos on camera still)...bla, bla, bla....good fun again....bla, bla, bla.... Monday, went for lunch in the Shinagawa Prince Hotel with Kate and Jen...bla, bla, bla.... was very nice....bla, bla, bla.... and then shopping...bla, bla, bla.... Kate leaves Japan today for 6 weeks...bla, bla, bla.... too many friends leaving (for good) in next few weeks...bla, bla, bla.... sad....bla, bla, bla....

.....bla, bla, bla.... I think I'll have a nap now before going back to work.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Essay Fun....

So, another four hours of bloody written exams:-

How to keep your employees happy:

Treat them as children.

and another one -

Love your staff.

insane but sweet, I guess. Actually, just worrying.

Yup, I'm sure it'll work!

Today I had the joy of four or so hours of written work examining. The highlight though was one student who in a 'report to her boss about her companies products' decided to talk about the product being instant ramen (pot / cup noodle).

She explained that the company should get 'jivly' (studio ghibli - makers of My Neigbour Totoro, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, etc) to design the packaging for the pots because most users of cup noodles were lonely and it would cheer them up seeing cartoon characters.

It cheered me up to read anyway, and yes, the writer wasn't a 12-year old girl!


Went to the wonderful Spanish restaurant in Koenji again tonight. Meatballs in blue cheese sauce. What can I say, except, oooooooooooo!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Further Proof The Japanese are Barking Mad

Dancing lessons with your dog.

Check out the video. I rest my case.

In case that link breaks, here's another one.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My House

It's summer in the city and it's hot hot hot. Actually, I love the hot weather but my skin definitely doesn't and has gone crazy. Am hoping it'll calm down anyway.

The summer has been fun so far. I'm a little sad I'm getting less holiday than I had in previous years (different branch of company, different set up).

Anyway, a lot of the summer, actually a lot of the time since moving into the gaijin house has been spent with a core 'family' and has been a lot of fun. I need to get some photos of the house. It's VERY old, but full of character. And characters, for that matter. There's twelve people living here currently:

One Japanese guy who speaks no English and doesn't seem to really speak much to the Japanese people in the house or ever use the kitchen or anything.

One couple: he, Australian, hates everyone; she (his wife), Japanese, lovely girl. Bit of an odd set up (seven years in a gaijin house in a 4 mat room, but still).

Then there's a French and a German girl who share a room, who haven't been here so long. The French girl is pretty friendly. The German girl seems a little grumpier with us.

Then there is a lovely Taiwanese girl, who's kinda barking, but pretty cool. She hangs out with us in the house sometimes but hasn't ever been out with us.

And then the family: three Japanese guys, a Dutch guy, a German girl and me. They're all insane. Apart from me. Actually, the third Japanese guy just joined the 'family' and is still a bit of a cousin. Us others cook together or for each other quite a bit, drink and hang out in the house and go and do things in the evenings and at the weekends.

I really thought I'd hate living in a shared house, as I've lived with so many basket cases in the past, but this is a fun set-up AND I do have my own kitchen, which is a bonus for me!

Anyhoo, some family photos:-

This is Eras, the hot Dutchie, pissing around with the easily corruptible Shuji-kun, who seems to have picked up a LOT of very bad language recently - I can't imagine why, in Yoyogi Park.

Can you spot the flatmates in this picture? The lovely, but completely insane, Anke (from Germany) with the cool Masato - who occasionally allows me to practice speaking French with him. Again, total nutter - but not caught up with the others. Yet. This was in the Benetton shop in Harajuku.

Anti-social nutters: Masato and Kate enjoying a quick cigarette while the rest of us sweated away over Ramen in 45 degree temperatures. Well, it felt like it. I mean, who eats ramen on a hot day? Actually, a LOT of people. This was a famous ramen restaurant in Ebisu.

Er, do you think I should tell Anke and Eras this isn't how you're meant to use chopsticks, or just leave them to it?We have a lot of fun together anyway but, very very sadly, both Eras and Anke are leaving in August, and Kate is pissing off to England for six weeks. Maybe August will be a quiet month?

Actually, it probably won't be!

Last week I went to the 'Alice in Wonderland' restaurant in Ginza - walking past the huge H&M building which is due to open in September... got VERY excited! The restaurant was pretty cool too, although maybe not 'Alicey' enough. The waitresses were dressed up in Alice costumes, the chairs had bunny tails on the back and a lot of the food (which was nice) came in various guises such as a Caterpillar sushi roll, a beautifully crafted mock turtle shell and salad, lots of faces and bits and pieces.

At the weekend we had a house barbecue party in Futogoshinchi which was filled with awesome people, great food and lots of booze and nipple touching. Pretty standard stuff really. I've not taken those pictures off my camera yet but will.

On the subject of which, did I mention I've started a new blog for photos? Am slowly getting it sorted with all the pictures I've taken in the last four years. Could take some time but will give you the link soon.

After the barbecue, around 7pm-ish, we headed back to Shinjuku for a quick drink or two. Got home around 7.30am after a five-hour bargain karaoke session for 1980 yen! and we could take our own drinks from the conbeni. Lots and lots of fun.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Bring It On!

In the pub this evening, conversation with one of my Japanese male flatmates:

Him: Don't you mind us (the male flatmates) standing around half naked in the kitchen?

Me: Fuck no!

Him: Oh. Japanese women wouldn't like it.

Me: It's okay. We're European.

I'm loving living in a shared house! ;-)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Typhoid, Legionnaires, Hepatitis?

Me: So, what do you like about business trips?

Student: I like trying new diseases and new supers.

After scratching my head for a couple of minutes I managed to translate this sentence -

'diseases' = 'dishes' - ie food.

'supers' = 'spas' - ie onsen.

Had me going for a bit though! Especially as each time I got the student to repeat, he pronounced it in the same way. Ah students!

[Okay, if you really can't get your head around this, a lot of Japanese have problems with 's' and 'sh'. Now imagine the two syllables of dishes being dragged out to three, and you'll probably have it. Likewise, consonant blends, such as s+p, are pretty hard for a lot of Japanese students so an extra vowel gets thrown in for measure - but you didn't really want to know this, did you!]