Monday, September 17, 2007

Picture time

I have so many photos on my pc, that it is seriously slowed down on every end... So I've been trying to organize my endless database in order to make back-ups and get them all off my pc. My (perhaps idle) hope is that it will speed up my pc soon...

Anyway, I found a scanned picture, among the masses, that I wanted to share with you all. It's a photo of Gyano and me taken by a professional photographer last year. It was a birthday present for our mom, which I had framed at EXPO (where I used to work). It was hard work trying to pose for a picture that looked semi-natural. We spent more than an hour in his studio, and this end-result is this photo, which made our sweet mom very happy! Although, it's almost a year later now and she still hasn't put it up yet...

Friday, September 14, 2007

The aquarium

So last weekend Jen came over from Fujieda to celebrate her birthday in Nagoya. Eric, Kristin and I met up with her at Nagoya Station at 10:00, which is way too early for us teachers who normally don’t start working until the afternoon. But it was great to see Jen again, who unfortunately lives too far away to meet each other regularly. Adrik was also supposed to meet us there, but he went out until 7 AM the night (or morning) before and it was impossible to wake him with our phone calls. He later called us to let us know he woke up and would soon join us, but quickly fell asleep again until I called him an hour later.
Anyway, Jen had decided to pay the Nagoya Aquarium a visit and so off we went to find our train to Nagoya Port. We wanted to buy special all-day train passes, but I only had ¥10,000 bills (comparable to 100 dollar/euro bills), and the machine didn’t accept those bills. Luckily, there was an older man standing next to the machine to assist ignorant foreigners like me (and others), so he took the bill from my hand, gestured a bit, spoke Japanese and ran off. If this had happened in Europe, I would have started yelling and chasing him, but I was in Japan and felt perfectly comfortable and certain that the man would return speedily with my ¥10,000 in smaller banknotes. And of course he did!
After the nice man’s help we were off on our way to Nagoya Port to check out the dolphins and killer whale at the Aquarium. The first thing you see when you go in are loads of dolphins enjoying a swim in their tank, upside down… They looked really relaxed and I guess it just feels better than swimming normally, or maybe this is normal for them? Actually I also prefer swimming on my back, maybe I have some dolphin genes?

Outside (and upstairs obviously) you can see the same dolphins coming out of the water to greet all the curious visitors or doing a show with their friend the killer whale. The best trick the orca had up its sleeve (or fin) was purposely splashing the audience near the edge with gigantic waves of water! We were nowhere near the danger zone, so it was highly enjoyable for us but I really wondered whether the hundreds of handy cams, cell phones, and cameras in the first 10 rows were still functional after the whale had its fun.

Kids in Japan are just as busy as the adults in Japan, and have numerous of activities besides their regular school, e.g. cram schools, sports, club activities, music lessons, homework, and of course English schools like AEON. But Sunday is their day off and they can relax, for example at the Aquarium while seeing a dolphin show. But I think the Japanese feel uncomfortable when their kids aren’t learning, so they stopped the show to educate. The big screen above the pool showed mathematical formulas and diagrams of how dolphins see the red frisbee from underwater and how they calculate (consciously?) exactly where they need to emerge from the water to catch the round disc. I decided to take a picture of this peculiar lesson, but right when my camera snapped a shot of the screen the aquarium people chose to teach the kids about the foreigners that roam Japan instead. So my picture doesn’t show any dolphin math, but it does show a small group of non-Japanese people unsuccessfully trying to blend in.

After all the sea life excitement, we decided to make a little pit stop in Italy! Venice to be more precise... Or rather a tiny make-belief version of Venice, but to be honest it was kind of refreshing to be somewhere that resembles Europe, complete with some very non-Japanese men controlling the gondolas! We had some delicious seafood (what else?) pizza there, before we headed back to Japan to have Japanese food in a great izakaya somewhere in Nagoya.

It was great to see Jen again and do a lot of catching up. And it was fun to get a little drunk at the izakaya from the superhuge chu-hais, and later on with some cocktails at some Australian bar with some of Krisitin's friends. Luckily, I never get a hangover, so my free Monday was in no way ruined by Sundaynight's drinking fest!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Citrussy bob

Just got back from 'Tough' and I'm much much happier with my hair than I was before. I didn't want to change the color, because I thought it'd be better to give my hair a chemical rest after the dye job it endured two days ago. Kristin is still in the salon, she had her hair trimmed and is trying out a new color too. I hope it will turn out to her satisfaction...

It was quite scary to get another haircut without really being able to communicate what I wanted, but a lot of gestures and a picture on my cellphone taken of my computer screen did the trick. I no longer look and feel like a soccer mom with my new citrussy bob. And they gave me a free head and shoulder massage in between all the hair designing action! I'd go back for just another one of those!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Soccer mom

I'd had it with my (way too long) hair and craved a haircut, so Yasu and I went to Kobe (a beautiful city near Amagasaki) yesterday, to visit a beautyshop named 'Earth'. It was a very fancy salon and the people were uberfriendly. You can choose a stylist by their level of experience, and pay accordingly. There were 5 categories so I chose the middle one. He was going to dye my hair somewhat lighter and cut off my long hair into a cute and short hairdo...
Even though they didn't use bleach, they were able to to make my hair lighter... a lot lighter! It's now a mix between blond and viking red! Still have to get used to it, I guess. The hairdresser I selected really did his best trying to create what I wanted on my head, but I suppose most of my wishes got lost in translation. After two and a half hours of, he was finished and hopefully asked me what I thought. I already knew that it was much longer than what I tried to make clear earlier, but it looked fine and I didn't have the heart to tell him that it wasn't exactly what I wanted. And I thought that at least at that length I can still wear a ponytail to the gym, which is convenient after all.
But after walking around in sweltering Kobe and my unstoppable prespiration, any sense of style dissapeared from my hair and it transformed into exactly the look I did not want! I couldn't find the words to describe my look until today when Kristin expressed so it so bluntly and honestly correct: I look like a soccer mom! And that is exactly how I feel. And I'm 27, so I'm not ready for the look of a 40-something suburban American woman with a couple school-age children.

Picture stolen from

The hair in the picture is actually quite similar to mine, mine is just a bit longer and a bit more orange. And no I won't be putting out a picture of myself with the soccer mom hairdo, so don't ask for it. Tomorrow, at 9:30 in the morning I have another appointment at a beautyshop, this time at 'Tough' above AEON in Inuyama. Let's hope I can get the message across tomorrow without any translator present, because I'm going there with Kristin who doesn't even the 31 words of Japanese I speak.
P.S. Yasu, the poor guy, did his best in translating my many demands and questions to the stylists, and I so appreciate all of his efforts! xx