Archive for January, 2009
I wrapped my visits to my elementary school this month. Unfortunately this month’s visit ended on a sour note. It was the first time I ever had to yell at a class! Usually my Grade 5′s are pretty good, but today they were a little unfocused. I think mainly because we had class 5th period and were antsy to finish the day. But still that’s no excuse. Disruptions delayed the class 15 minutes behind schedule! They were being soo noisy or as I yelled “煩い!” (urusai), grinding the class into silence.
Regardless of the language barrier you can read my emotions and my face that I was not pleased. I admit I’m usually the last to ever get angry, but if you get me to that point it’s a big deal. I wish it never had to come to that point, I don’t like to yell. But unfortunately it had to be done. I do feel bad for yelling, but I yell because I care… If that makes sense. Now I know how Tyra felt when she had to yell at Tiffany during Cycle 5 of America’s Next Top Model. (LOL, it always comes down to Top Model doesn’t it.) Hopefully I don’t have to yell at any of my classes anytime soon. I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again. They’re a good class.
When Tiffany got screamed at for giving up and not trying her best.
When you thought it was all over!
Remember when I got my surgery? I have to go back to the doctor’s office! Nothing serious, I kind of half expected this to happen. I claimed my surgery and subsequent visits with my insurance company (me having an insurance company just makes me sound so old) and they want some extra documentation from my doctor and further details. Bureaucracy is a pain in the ass sometimes. Anyways, I will just get it done so I can get my payback ASAP.
I few weeks back my air conditioning unit (エアコン eakon in Japanese) stopped working. I remember I had turned it on one night and some time in the middle of the night it stopped. I didn’t think much about it until the morning when I was leaving to work. I usually turn the unit off before heading out (no need to heat the apartment when I’m not home, right!), but notice it was turned off for good!
My landlord is cool. I called him about the situation and he came over. First he fixed the toilet. Funny thing is he fixed it using duct tape. ^^ Well the thing works though it wastes way more water then before. I think I need to put a rock or brick in the tank to save on water. I ain’t complaining cause the thing flushes now despite ghetto style repairs.
The aircon needs replacing and can’t be repaired. It’s actually pretty expensive to replace. But I’m only paying a small fraction to get it replaced. The aircon is roughly about 70,000-80,000 yen at the cheapest. He asked me to pay 15,000 yen, which is fine by me.
The New and Improved
My new air conditioner unit is here! WOOT WOOT! So now I won’t freeze during the winter and burst into flames in the summer. I’m happy it’s not second hand. My landlord has proved thus far that the second-hand approach or the “do-it-yourself” ghetto styles approach is his preferred method; anything which involves the least cost. He proved this when he fixed my toilet. LOL I think he’s lucky to have a tenant like me. I think others would complain, but I don’t care so much as long as it works.
My new エアコン by National
So How Does this Sh*t Work?
At first I was confused and even with my old aircon unit I wasn’t sure how it worked fully. But I’m confident I can work this thanks to learning what the kanji on the the remote control mean. Now I’m here to spread the knowledge. Yes, I’m just THAT nice! ;) Here are some useful kanji to help you operate your Japanese air conditioner.
I was feeling mighty lazy this past long weekend. The previous Thursday and Friday I had to work and prior to that was the winter holiday. It’s really hard sometimes to get back into routine. Anyways, Heather invited me to go with her friend as well as Ariel to a club out in Roppongi the Saturday. I was mad tired to even move that day. My friend said I had mono… LOL but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.
The next day I managed to get out of my funk and make my way to Shinjuku. A few of us went to this one club there and I actually had a good time. The music was so-so, but it was all good amongst good company.
Pancake Wednesday… um well it was a Tuesday
On Monday I went over to Andrew’s place to use his kitchen. I asked him if he could help me make pancakes for my Grade 4 kids for their cultural lesson about Canada. Though pancakes are not exactly Canadian (…I suppose), maple syrup is (at least in the eyes of Japanese people). The school had asked me to talk about maple syrup production. ^^ I admit I have a vague understanding of the maple syrup process, but hey, we’re all here to learn!
I love pancakes! :9
I can’t cook for sh*t. So Andrew made the pancakes while I washed all the dishes that had accumulated over the past couple of days. We mostly just hung out and talked that evening cause pancakes don’t take too long to make and are relatively simple to make. I was thinking poutine would have been a good Canadian food to give the kids. Maybe next time I’ll try my hand at making that!
Tuesday I brought the pancakes and syrup to the school. The kids are really excited to eat pancakes and syrup. I don’t really know why because I’m sure they’ve all had it before, but I suppose that anything food related and out of the school routine is just accepted. Unfortunately the ALT from Australia’s Vegemite spread sandwiches were less than a success that day. *tear*
Me Being Silly as Always
We always have this discussion of how Tyra Banks says to smile with your eyes in pictures. Well I decided to put it to the test. I took these pictures last semester at a school I was visiting between periods. The locational context is not very important here I don’t know why I mentioned it. Anyways remember to “Smile with you eyes!”
Spontaneous Trip to Hiroshima
I’m back from my weekend trip from Hiroshima! It was great trip. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get a way and do something cultural. The trip was pretty last minute. I planned it just 2 days prior to leaving. I booked the hotel online and Heather booked the shinkansen tickets. I had a few other ideas from destinations, but these places required a little more planning and reservation then time allowed.
Standing outside JR Hiroshima Station
Day 01: The Peace Park
We arrived at Hiroshima Station around the lunch hour. Me and Heather made our way to our hotel which was like 5 minutes from the station. We dropped off our sh*t and made out way to the Atomic Dome (原爆ドーム Genbaku Dome) and the Peace Memorial Park. It’s a pretty quick walk and pretty quiet city by Tokyo standards, but digress. The atmosphere at the park to me seemed somber. I really enjoyed the the Children’s Peace Monument and the Peace Memorial Museum. We even went to the hypocenter of the atomic explosion, which in itself is not all that impressive, but overall the history of it all is something not to be forgotten. It was quite moving. I don’t usually like museums, but this museum was very engaging. You can’t help but feel a little sorrow and sadness.
The Atomic Dome (原爆ドーム, Genbaku Dome) – The Genbaku dome, being the closest structure to withstand the explosion, has been preserved after the bombing, now serving as a reminder of nuclear devastation, a symbol of hope for world peace and elimination of all nuclear weapons.
The Children’s Peace Monument (原爆の子の像, Genbaku no Ko no Zō) - In memory Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Thousands of origami cranes from all over the world are offered around the monument on a daily basis as it is believed that a thousand cranes can grant a wish; in this case world peace and a world free of nuclear arms. Sadako Sasaki died of radiation-induced leukemia after folding over a thousand cranes with help of her classmates.
The Memorial Cenotaph (原爆死没者慰霊碑, genbaku shibotsu-sha ireihi) – a monument near the center of the park that holds the names of all who were killed by the atomic bomb. Through it you can see the Peace Flame and Atomic Dome.
Inside the Peace Memorial Museum - A model of the atomic aftermath extending out kilometers.
Day 02: Miyajima
The next morning we got up and took the tram to Miyajima. Miyajima is an island off of Hiroshima. It has been celebrated as a sacred island and one of Japan’s three most scenic views. It is most famous for Itsukushima Shrine, which, together with its large wooden torii, stands in the ocean during high tide.
Outside the Miyajima Ferry Port
The Floating Torii at Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja)
My new best friend :P
Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja) and Miyajima’s 5 story pagoda in the distance
There were many people visiting the island that day. Probably for hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year) purposes or because of the free time everyone has during New Year’s. In either case it was busy. The island was filled with food stalls and deer following visitors with yummy snacks. At one point Heather was being followed by a hungry little deer who was after her dango.
Heather’s hungry little friend
Towards the end of the day we visited Daisyō-in(大聖院) a Japanese temple on Mt. Misen. The temple area was amazing and filled with many people. We were thinking of climbing up Mt. Misen but it was late in the day and probably not worth rushing around at the top because of lack of time and daylight.
Day 03: Hiroshima Castle
The last day we decided to go check out Hiroshima Castle and Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine (広島護国神社). Like many things in Hiroshima these two structures were destroyed in the atomic explosion and rebuilt. The shrine was way busy that day as it’s a popular hatsumode spot for people in Hiroshima. The castle (like many castles in Japan) was a museum dedicated to history of the the grounds. We also visited Shukkei-en (縮景園) a beautiful Japanese garden, which was also destroyed by the atomic devastation and was a refuge for victims of the war. Later that afternoon we had a late lunch at the Pacela Mall and then made our way to the station.
Hiroshima Castle (広島城Hiroshima-jō)
Crowds at Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine for hatsumode
There was quite a line for the shrine. It stretched almost the length of the grounds and through the yatai 屋台 (food stalls) area.
We had managed to get non-reserved tickets for our 4 hours trek back to Tokyo. In retrospect we should have booked our return (reserved) tickets in advance. It being New Year’s time and everyone was returning back home and back to work for the Monday it was something that didn’t factor in unfortunately. Anyways we were greeted by long lines for a chance at a seat for trains departing Hiroshima to Tokyo. Feudal as it was we ended up standing most of the way (in the smoking car mind you). Lucky for me I was able to snatch a seat while making a brief stop in Nagoya, while Heather didn’t get a seat until we were practically in Tokyo. Lesson learned… especially at busy seasons it pays to shell out a little more for reserved sitting. Though the good thing about non-reserved sitting is it seems you have more flexibility of your time of departure though risking not having a seat and standing for the journey.
Ugh it’s almost back to work time! I’m not exactly dreading going back, but after having the time off you become a little lazy. Lucky for me I work on Thursday & Friday and then Monday is a holiday! I’ll take any break I can get! :P
Hiroshima Pictures – Click Here
FYI the pics will be uploaded by the weekend so you won’t find the album via the link just quite yet. Gomenasai!
New Years 2009
Can you believe it’s 2009! God I feel old! I’m 26 now and 27 in 9 months! Then from there it’s like 3 years to being 30. Haha let’s hope the Asian in me blesses me with a youthful appearance come middle age. :P Age is not much of a concern so long as I look youthful. Personality wise I don’t act very adult like. I’m too silly and too happy-go-lucky for that. Or at least I think so. ;) I don’t think people should be too serious all the time.
I’m totally on a tangent cause I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year 2009. Or as the they say in Japan – あけましておめでとうございます (akemashite omedeto gozaimasu). I’m not quite sure what 2009 will bring for me, but I’ll take it one step at a time as I always do.
New Year’s 2009 at Zozoji Temple near Tokyo Tower
What did I do on New Years Eve?
A bunch of us went over to Andrew and Ben’s place for a chilled New Year’s celebration. We watched NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen, which is cool cause I don’t own a TV here in Japan and watching the various performances was entertaining. We drank and and ate soba noodles as is the custom on New Year’s. I have to say it was a very typical Japanese New Year celebration.
What did I do on New Year’s Day?
After getting the the idea from me during a recent visit to Kawagoe (which I will discuss shortly). Heather planned Shichi Fukujin Meguri a pilgrimage type thing that is popular in Japan where people visit the shrines of the Seven Lucky gods (七福神, Shichi Fukujin). We walked around Ueno northwards to all the 7 gods’ shrines. It was quite cultural.
Starting off in Ueno Park at the Benten Shrine
Short trek through Yanaka Cemetery (谷中霊園 , Yanaka Reien) onroute to the next shrine
Heather was getting stamps from each of the Seven Lucky gods’ shrines. Here’s the completed scroll
We even got to be more Japanese and did our hastumode (first shrine visit of the year) at a local shrine, I think near Tabata Station or maybe it was closer to Nishi Nippori Station. ^^ Anyways it was a nice walking tour (including a visit through Yanaka Cemetery near Nippori). Later that evening we headed to Andrew and Ben’s place and we watch a movie and a few episodes of Star Trek Voyager. :P Good times!
So What About Kawagoe?
I’ve actually been there once before by myself, but it was one of things that I forgot to talk about in my blog (maybe… I can’t recall ^^). Anyways this being my SECOND time there (this time with Heather) it was a fun day trip just before New Year’s – walking around and taking in the Edo period sites and shrines.
The Bell of Time (時の鐘, Toki no kane)- the symbol of Kawagoe
Kuradukuri Street (蔵造りの町並み, Kuradukuri no machinami) where you can find large kurazukuri buildings.
At a shrine in Kawagoe. A man gave me incense to pray. So thoughtful, though I hate the smell of incense. ^^
I was having the worst case of boredom ever since the the Winter break began and needed to do something out of routine and I thought Kawagoe would be a good outing. My boredom and need to do something out of routine ultimately is what got me to plan a last minute trip to Hiroshima, which I will discuss next blog.
Shichi Fukujin Pilgrimage & Kawagoe Revisited Pictures – Click here