Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Kyoto culture.

Nijojo castle: if you walk 10 minutes from here you can find a store that sells samurai swords, not the imitation ones but the real deal. I don't know if that's just very cool or incredibly scary.

This photo come courtesy of Glen Dare (yes, that is his real name and yet he's not a character from the Thunderbirds!), my former flatmate and all round good bloke. You see, he has a serious thing for women in kimono...

Just to prove that there's more to my life in Japan than my job, I decided to head to Kyoto a few times to experience some culture. Here is some random cool things I took pictures of..

Dali come back soon.

Come back soon. Preferably with Jaffa cakes. You Brits know what I'm talking about.

A special birthday party for Natasha.


With cunning and precision several random people came together to celebrate a special person's birthday.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bizarre english and friends

This is why I always carry a camera with me in this country.

The reason you go to Kyoto

One of the things I LOVE about Japan is the culture. The old culture of Japan. Temples and monks in the mountains, Japanese art and of course another kind of Japanese art - the kimono. It really is an artform here. People take classes to study it, how to to wear it, how to make them. There are many different kinds of kimono and there is a proper time and place to wear each of them. We went to Kyoto with a friend and her mom who was visiting Japan. It was raining quite a bit and everyone was carrying their umbrellas as they were exploring the various temples in Kyoto. It was just a usual visit until we saw these young girls coming down the stairs in their kimono and lacquered umbrellas in the misty rain. It took my breath away. I hope it takes yours away too.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ryoukos Birthday!

So, it was our friends birthday this last week and as per usual we decided to:

1. Find someplace to get drunk
2. Get really drunk
3. Sing some karaoke
4. Sing some karaoke while really drunk
5. In general behave like idiots

All steps were completely successfully - thankyou no applause. Here is the proof.

This is Ryouko. Say hi to mom! She is solidly working on step 2.

This is Ryoukos brother. We can see that is has decided to skip the first few steps and go directly to step 5.

Ikuyo and Daniel. Daniel seems to be enjoying his drink alot.

Steve and Rich. Both of them look surprised - I wonder why???

Noayuki and Rebecca. Naoyuki does a great 'Rinda rinda!'. I have video to prove it!

Claire and Kevin - the first to move onto step 3! I think Claire must be contemplating her next song.

Me and Ryouko on step 4. Yaaaaah J-pop!

Ahhh the aftermath. Sorry if your picture didn't get posted but gosh darn it, we were doing such a good job at completing our steps that we just forgot to take your picture!

I am the poncho king

All bow down before me! This is my husband. He bought this crappy poncho when we went to the Hanshin Tigers game. I cringe everytime he puts this thing on. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mmmmm Ramen

Ramen is one of the main staples here in Japan. Funnily enough its not a real Japanese food. It originally came from China but I think a whole generation of Salarymen would die from lack of food if ramen disappeared :) This statue was outside one of the more eccentric ramen shops I've been to. Uuuuuuuugh. He looks kinda constipated which to me doesn't seem like the best advertisement if it were MY ramen shop!

Another sleeping beauty

I took this one the other night in Saizeriya. For those of you not living in Japan, Saizeriya is an Italian ristorante (according to the sign) where you can get delicious (questionable), authentic (uhmmm perhaps if you are Japanese you may think so?), Italian food. It is well priced and decent enough to eat. Don't drink the wine though or you will be sorry! Atrocious doesn't really cover how bad it is. I've had vinegar that was MUCH tastier.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I cannot even explain what this is...

Uhmm....I think the picture says it all in this one. Your guess is as good as mine. Japanese retailers is all I have to say.

Fun at work

Some days are insanely busy at work and others are not. On the days that aren't....well.....we have to entertain ourselves. He he. Here are my workmates. In order: Sakamoto (my boss), Kouji Uehara, Naoto Oohira and Chieko Yoshizaki and of course me!!

Tie that tie

Oh yah baby - make it a wet one!

This envelope contains secret real estate information. Well, not really but I thought it would sound cooler if it did.

I need coffee

I'm being serious here - he he not really!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Before and After

I think that makeup completely changes a persons appearance. I also need to say that I hardly ever wear the stuff. Here is a pic of me that was taken by a professional photographer. When I showed people this picture every single person said, 'Who's that?'. Just goes to show you....

And.......another one.

Yep, its another person sleeping. I liked this one because the guy didn't look like a salaryman. Just a young guy. Taking a nap. On a train.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rolling, rolling, rolling - in the back of a truck.

Moving here in Japan is an experience. Part of my job here as a real estate agent is to try and help my foreign clients get their stuff into their new digs. There is no 'U-Haul' or such equivalent here in Japan. Either you pay some company alot of money to move your stuff or you know someone with a truck. We figured out a great way to move things here. There is this certain store similar to a Revy or Home Dept that will let you use a truck for an hour if you buy something that you can't carry easily home. So, buy something 'awkward looking' and ask for a truck. Then you can pick up your other items that you need to move and TADA! You have a free truck - or a very cheap truck. Depends how much you spent on your awkward item. Here was a recent experience. Me, Tash and Oohira (he works with me) went and picked up a couch to move into Tash's new place. (Which by the way was really heavy and awkward and the person from whom we were liberating the couch did not seem very happy or helpful about it either) Here are some pics so that you can be right there with us!

Do you have the "FINE YOUNG CARNIVAL" CD?

I had wondered why teaching English was a popular job in countries like Japan. Now I can see why. Someone must have tried to sound out the name and thought carnival was the closest match, but if you have seen some of the band names in Japan then you'd know why this doesn't look strange at all. Besides, us English speakers make no sense half the time anyway.

 Posted by Picasa

The good, the bad and the ugly....

I love the city that I am living in and love living in Japan. Here it comes. The 'but' statement. But, Japan really has to do something about animal rights. I see stray cats everywhere, and obviously there is no real incentive here for people to fix their animals so they don't reproduce. There seems to be no real place for people to take stray animals. Here is a sad story with pictures attached. Well, it sort of ended up happy. One day after work (quite late) I was picking up my bicycle so I could ride home and I heard a very strange sound. The tiniest of 'mew mew's coming from the garbage area of the building where I park my bike. So I went over and took a look. Someone had put 5 kittens in a box, and dumped them in the garbage collection area. I nearly had an apoplexy right there. Who would put kittens in the garbage???? Kittens are not garbage. And if you are dumb enough or just not motivated enough to get your cat fixed, then for gods sake find homes for the kittens or take them to the appropriate place - AKA an animal shelter. There are a few in Osaka although few and far between. I called my boss because I didn't know what to do. I couldn't leave them there, but I couldn't take them home at the time either as I had to go to my other job right after I got changed. He kindly took them home for the night - bought some catmilk and fed the little guys with a small bottle. I picked them up the next day and we took them to the ward office the next day (it was a weekend and we couldn't take them any earlier) where they told us they would take them to a shelter. I was angry, confused, and well, mostly angry. I even cried when they took the little guys. What kind of person throws a living creature in the trash? Anyways, it made me want to change things here in Osaka. Inform people about vetrinary practices that are common in all other 1st world countries and see what I can do to encourage vets to give good prices for basic services here. I'm not sure whether I will get anywhere with this, but its something I'd like to do. Here are some pics.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Its art!!

Aaaah the things we do when we are bored. I went out for lunch with Jessica and Brett yesterday. Well, actually it was more like linner or dunch or some kind of afternoon meal that has no proper name. Anyways! We decided to go to this cute little restaurant in Hi Hi Town in Uehonmachi. On a side note, the waitress spoke really good English which made me wonder why she was working in a lunch restaurant. So, Bretts meal came with an egg of some kind of small bird - definitely not a chicken as it was brown and mottled and very small. It looked like a quail egg. After dumping the contents into the correct spot for consumption with his yummy looking noodles, Brett was left with an egg shell, some toothpicks and a couple of friends looking for some entertainment. Here is the result.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I need my beauty sleep

I realised that the older I get, the more important a good nights sleep has become. I'm a bit of an insomniac as it is, so getting to sleep can be difficult for me and I easily awaken. And I'm not one of those people who is nice when they are suffering from lack of sleep. I'm cranky and bitchy and just want to hurt things. Here is the point of this blog - the only thing I don't like about my job is that people call me all the time on my phone. Even on my day off it's hard to escape 'work'. Today was really rough for me. I usually take Sunday and Monday off as they are the same days that my husband has off. Saturday night, we went out for a birthday party downtown. Richard took the last train back home, but I had to stick around downtown for my Saturday night job. One night a week I work at a bar. The next morning, we met someone we hadn't seen in a long time - see previous post 'visitors'. Richard was short on sleep and he was home by midnight. I was knackered! But we had to be up for partying again because it was someones sayounara the next night. I figured it would be OK as I wasn't working the next day. *slightly crazy laughter* So again, all night partying!!! Richard actually fell asleep at one point at the party, and I felt like it but didn't. I had caught my second wind by 4AM and didn't make it to sleep until about 630 this morning. Here is where the bad part of my job comes in. I got a phone call from work at 930AM. That was just the beginning - in the next 6 hours, I got 4 phone calls and 6 emails. My phone was happily ringing Jpop and anime tunes all morning. I tried to ignore it, but I just couldn't. When the work number pops up, I answer like a good capricorn. *grumble grumble* I decided it would just be easier if I went into work and then at least my phone would stop ringing. *Note to self - remind clients (and other staff) what days are my days off. And remind them not to call me unless a) some apartment is burning down or some other apartment emergency of equal importance b) someone has died c) well, I can't think of anything else really. My friends know I sleep in the morning and not to call me before noon unless I'm at work, its already arranged, or they think I will really be interested in whatever they want to talk to me about. Now if I can only train my clients.....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Not an unusual sight....

My friend (Michiko) sent me another great pic. She says it was the same guy as before. I think this guy needs to get more his house.


I got to visit today with someone I hadn't seen in a long time. Over a year in fact!! The coodinator for the English Program at the University I was volunteering at came to Osaka for business. Richard and I met her for lunch in Umeda with Akane who was studying in the same program. It was really nice to see a familiar face from Canada.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Miyako Odori

One of the coolest things we did recently was go to Kyoto to see the Maiko dance. Maiko are geisha in training and there aren't that many of them left anymore. Once a year they perform for the public in Kyoto. It was an amazing show. We paid a little bit extra to be able to do tea ceremony as well. As an added bonus, we got to hang in the garden behind the building before the performance and we got to keep the plate from the tea ceremony. The first few pics are the garden. The show also coincides with cherry blossom season.

Next is a pic from the tea ceremony and some from the show.

Afterwards, we walked to Yasaka shrine for some eats and drinks in the park.