vlog update – goings and comings

27 11 2010

How to become a ‘Cartoon Hero’

29 10 2010

Ayers Rock

Remember Ayers Rock? And Kanga-kun (the inflatable kangaroo?)

Well, the library at my school made a display for Australia just recently, and wanted to use the Ayers Rock and the Kangaroo, so of course I said yes.  As advertising they drew a little cartoon in their newsletter to let the students know –

Ayers Rock Cartoon

That top panel?  Apparently that’s me.  I always wanted to know what I’d look like as an anime character… And it’s amazing they predicted me getting a fringe!

Basically the cartoon reads as –

  1. *AYERS ROCK!!* Did you see the Ayers Rock that the Junior High English Club made for Culture Festival?
  2. The Librarians meet to plan the display about Australia… “Did you see the inflatable Kangaroo???  It was cute!” “Right, lets borrow it for our display too”
  3. *REAL KANGAROO* ‘Waaahh!’ “What is it?? Wood?!”
  4. “No way!” Looking very closely (it is kinda a wood colour…). ‘Miss Librarian, it’s wood isn’t it?’ “No, no no!  It’s not made of wood…”

not that I *like* Valentine’s Day…

13 02 2010

but this was sooooo cute that I had to share it!

a cake...

yes, a cake.  A cake…  with my name on it!!!! (it says ‘Micchan’, my nickname at work)  OMGosh! isn’t it sweet?!

Courtesy of one of the girls in my English club…  awwwwwww!

tickled pink

25 10 2009

In a way, not much has been happening lately, but on the other hand, lots has.  We’ve just finished the mid semester exams and sports day at school, and during that time I had a number of days off.  Now its the 5 week hard slog until end of semester exams and winter break.

Because I’ve had extra time off, and because the weather has been great (well, barring that late typhoon on Oct 8th), I’ve had plenty of time to go hiking.  I’ve actually gone 3 times this month, which has me at a never before achieved physical fitness level (^-^)v

Firstly I hiked from Mt Takao to Mt Jimba.  It was probably the hardest hike (barring Mt Fuji) that I have done to date.  Mainly because it was 19km.  But I survived and had a great feeling of accomplishment afterwards.  It was actually really good timing, after the typhoon, because the sky was really clear and I could see Mt Fuji, Tokyo, and even all the way to Mt Tsukuba, which is pretty rare.

Last weekend I went to Hakone for 3 days 2 nights.  While I was there I did two hikes, the first from Gora to Hakone Yumoto, and secondly a walk around Lake Ashi.  The Gora hike was pretty hard, and I have to admit that I was kinda freaked out about the possibility of seeing a bear.  The hike around Lake Ashi was a lot easier, and I actually meet with a friend I had made at the summer camp I worked at, which made the hike really pleasant.  And of course I went to onsen and had a massage, so it was also a pretty relaxing weekend.

On Friday I decided to go to Nikko for the day and walk the Senjogahara marshes.  I was a little disappointed I was too late for most of the leaves changing, but despite that, it really was a beautiful walk.  I think I might try to go again in summer next year.

I worry a little that I’m somewhat of an addictive personality.  I really seem to have caught the hiking bug, but I also know I’ll probably only be able to go once a month from now, at least in the winter months.  But I’m totally excited about using my new thermal cup when I do go hiking –

Thermal cup/mug thingyopen thermal cup

Is it possible to have a thermal bottle/mug fetish?  because I swear I have about 6 things now….  Anyhow, this one is specifically designed for hot drinks, and is really easy to use.  Its kinda sad, but I’m particularly impressed with the pouring cap –


You just push down on the red button to open the spout, and to close you push the tab on the side in!  Very smart – I like that you don’t have to touch the spout.  I tried it out on Friday, and I was also surprised at how long the water inside stayed hot.  It’s supposed to keep it at 70deg for 7 hours or so, but it lasted longer!  So now I’ll be able to take tea with me when I go hiking.  How exciting!!Azuki Flavoured Pepsi

Apart from hiking not much has been happening, however there are a few things that have tickled my fancy.

At 7-11 the other day I spotted Azuki (sweet red bean) flavoured Pepsi.  Only in Japan…

It wasn’t flavoured cola, but more like flavoured sprite.  Actually, it wasn’t bad, however it really didn’t taste much like azuki to me.  But I’ll try anything once.

I also got a delivery of bulbs the other day, in the hopes that come spring I’ll have a lovely pot of lovely flowers.  I planted them up this morning, and here’s what it looks like now –

one day, I'll grow up into beautiful potted flowers....Let’s just hope I don’t manage to kill them…  I’ll post photos when they bloom…  If they bloom…  Really, I’m good at killing plants….


10 09 2009

ACK! It’s been over a month!?! Boy you must be thinking I’m slack. But I have a good reason, really!

Um… okay….

Maybe not that great. But yeah, things have been happening to conspire against me blogging. I think summer holidays do that to me. Either I’m incredibly busy or sleeping. However, that’s all over now, and I will endeavor to stick to Goal #1. Both Goal #1s…

My school’s summer holidays are from about mid-July until September. I always have the best intentions to spend as much of my vacations travelling around. Last year I managed to go to Kyoto with a friend, travelled to Aizu Wakamatsu and Sendai for the Tanabata festival, climbed Mt Fuji, visited my family and friends in Australia, then travelled with my parents to Hakodate, Sapporo and Furano in Hokkaido. It was a very successful vacation! A number of these trips were part of my ‘Things I MUST do in Japan’ list, so I was really happy. This year I intended to do a number of things from that list too, however time and money constraints limited what I was able to achieve.

As I mentioned in my last few updates, I did go to Hakone and Nikko, but apart from that I didn’t have the chance to travel much in Japan. Some of the events I did manage to go to however included the Sumida River Fireworks and Summer Sonic.

Japan is very big on summer festivals, particularly fireworks. Sumida River is the biggest and oldest firework festival in Tokyo. The fireworks themselves go for about 90 minutes, but it is near impossible to get a good vantage point unless you reserve your spot some insane time in the morning. That being said, it’s still an experience going. Festivals are a lot of fun, with people in yukata, food stalls, and a fun atmosphere. However, I think next year I will go to my local city’s festival instead, because I actually want to see the fireworks.

In recent years, as well as summer festivals, summer music festivals have become popular in Japan. Summer Sonic, which is held in Chiba and Osaka, and Fuji Rock, in Niigata, are the two biggest. I really want to go to Fuji Rock, however this year the line up wasn’t great, and Niigata is quite a way away. So I went to one day of Summer Sonic instead (it’s a 3 day festival). Although there weren’t any acts that I was dying to see, I did enjoy Dragon Ash, Phoenix, Mercury Rev, the Silent Disco, and Nine Inch Nails(totally surprised me, but NIN were the best act of the day). Overall the day was more fun than I expected.

Apart from those couple of events, there wasn’t much else to my vacation. I did spend a day at the ‘seaside’ (or bayside to be precise). Odaiba is an island of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. You can catch a boat from Asakusa along the Sumida River to Hinode Pier, and from there across to Odaiba a ferry. During July and August a special life sized statue of a Gundam was built to promote ‘Green’ Tokyo. I have no idea what Green Tokyo was about, but the statue was very very cool. Every once in a while it would play theme music, move its head, and steam, which was pretty cool. But what really impressed me was the details, things like the decals, and hydraulics (fake of course), which made it look like it could have just walked off its stand. Too bad they are taking it down. I think it would have been a very good tourist attraction. Anyway.

While I was in Odaiba I took the time to go to Miraikan or MeSci as it’s known in English. It’s a museum that is supposed to ‘share’ innovative science. There are a lot of interactive displays, and it’s well set out and very funky, but I was disappointed that there didn’t seem to be that much. I suppose when I think of a science museum with interactive displays I think of basic sciences. There’s not many ways you can have a display of the International Space Station and make it interactive. And driving a robot remotely just isn’t my thing. However, the one exhibit that was really cool was the internet display, designed to show kids how information is sent around the internet. Using black and white balls as bits you try to send a word to another input station, but the balls have to go along all these ramps and through big windy things. Very cool. Overall, even though I found Miraikan to be a bit dull, young kids would like it.

Oh, and I finished off my day in Odaiba by conquering my fear of heights and walking across the Rainbow Bridge. Got some great pictures of Tokyo too, check them out!

For the rest of my vacation I knew money was going to be sparse, so I took up an offer from my company to teach at an English summer camp. The camp was a lot of fun, and really wasn’t very hard work. I got to meet 3 other teachers from my company who were lovely ladies, and my group of kids was friendly and tried hard. I think the most enjoyable part of the camp was the BBQ/bonfire/ghost walk evening. We ate a heap of meat, got to light small fireworks, dance around, and freak out the kids (we were the monsters)(and yes, I am kinda sadistic).

The final part of my vacation was two weeks spent in Australia. Two weeks seems like a long time on paper, but it really flew. I visited my grandfather, aunt, uncle and cousin, and also managed to catch up with a few friends. I went shopping for clothes (I just can’t buy pants/underwear in Japan), multiple doctor/dentist appointments and ate many foods I missed. It was really wonderful to go back home, I’ve been missing it a lot lately. And believe me, it was very sad to leave. It was also very distressing to get my credit card bill (4 days of shopping, and averaging $500 a day… you do the math) but at least I have clothes now.

And now it’s September and it’s back to school. Admittedly it’s only the first week of school, but things have been slow so far. I’m expecting to get slammed next week. But I would have to say the most interesting thing about being back at school is the ‘measures’ the school is taking in regards to Swine Flu… It’s not even flu season yet!?! Regardless, if a kid comes down with a fever during class time, we have to give them a mask, send them to the teacher’s room, and then to the nurse’s office. And on top of that, the school has decided to limit the Culture Festival in a few weeks time. Now, if you’ve ever watched a school-based anime, Culture Festival is when all the kids open a maid café or make a haunted house in their classroom. People from outside the school (family/friends/complete strangers) can come and look around, etc. This year however, the school has limited the festival to one day, no food will be sold, and only families that have returned their RSVP’s can come. I can tell you now a lot of the kids will be disappointed.

But such is life in a society prone to panic.

Did I ever tell you about how natto sold out when a TV show said eating it every day was good for dieting??? Crazy group mentality….

*edit – apparently the swine flu panic isn’t over reacting, at the moment about 12 kids from the school have contracted it…. great….