Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
'You' being Yasu of course ;)
First stop we made in Wakayama was at Porto Europa, it’s a small theme park with buildings resembling European buildings. It’s very pretty there and I just wish they’d redo all the ‘modern’ buildings in Japan to look more like these, because Japanese architecture is just plain ugly (except for the old temples and shrines of course).
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Our manager Mayuka has been transferred to a new school in Nagoya, where she will start in May. Today was the last time I got to work with her, because I don’t work on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesday is when the Golden Week holidays start, so the school will be closed for 8 days. So yeah, I’m happy to report that I don’t have to work for 10 consecutive days! Anyway, Mayuka didn’t want to have a farewell party because she’s too busy so we had the students write short messages to her:
But of course this wasn’t enough for our students, I mean they are Japanese and the Japanese love to give presents, hence the students have been bringing her a mass of presents. Every night she had to carry a truckload of flowers and stuff with her on the train, then on her bicycle to her Japanese (so not big) apartment. Just halfway through the week husband already started complaining about the amount of flowers.
It’s too bad she’s leaving the Inuyama school because I had a lot of fun working with her. Still, I only have 3 more weeks of work left without her and the new manager is our old assistant manager Moe, and she’s great too. But saying goodbye is always a bit sad, and I’m really not looking forward to saying goodbye to my students at my farewell party next month.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The first time I tried onigiri I totally screwed up opening the package and there was yakinori everywhere. So the second time I asked someone Japanese for help and discovered how easy it really is when you know how to do it. So in an effort to help people to not make a mess of their first onigiri, if they ever come to Japan, this is how it’s done:
Monday, April 21, 2008
Today I returned to Nagoya’s immigration office, fully prepared to wait an estimated 6 hours for my new visa and multi-entry permit (so I can leave Japan and come back as many times as I want during the validity of my new visa). Yasu came along to offer linguistic assistance when needed and to keep me company, he tried to escape in the beginning by suggesting he wait in a nearby café, naturally I wasn’t going to let him get away with that. Instead he got us some coffees at the konbini down the street and made my waiting in that crowded third floor sauna a lot more enjoyable than last time.
The place was crawling with foreigners of course, it being the last Monday before Golden Week (when everybody has a week off and time to travel abroad) and before the office closing down for their big move to a new building. Yet somehow it seemed less busy than 3 weeks ago, maybe so many people were avoiding the just-before-Golden-Week-&-big-move crowd by coming a couple of weeks earlier that it actually thinned the crowd today.
This time I had to get in line four times. First, I had to buy a 6000 yen stamp to pay for my new (I already have one, but it’s only valid in combination with my old visa) multi re-entry permit, but that line was virtually non-existent. Then another quickie was the short line at counter number 10, where I handed someone my passport so that they could stick the new visa in it. There an immigration officer gave me a ticket with 722 on it, when the big sign said something like 653 or something. So even though I wasn’t technically in line, as I was wondering around in search of a seat, that’s where I wasted the most time (about 100 minutes) patiently waiting for my turn.
After acquiring my new visa it was time to apply for my new multi re-entry permit, which meant taking a number from a machine and waiting for the fourth time, but I had already taken a ticket from that machine long before I actually got my passport back, in an effort to jump the line later. But the people at the re-entry permit desk were going much faster and ‘my’ turn came way too fast… twice. The number on my third ticket came about 10 minutes after I finally got my passport back and luckily sticking a new re-entry permit into my passport was only a matter of minutes, so there was no need for a fifth line. To my surprise and delight, we left the immigration office ‘only’ about two hours after entering it and with a new visa, which by the way is valid for 3 whole years!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
As you can see we also came across that creepy Kuidaore Taro (with the red and white striped outfit) proudly banging a drum in front of restaurant with a banner that supposedly reads “eat until you’re dead”. I didn’t see the banner, that may be because I don’t read Japanese that well or because Yasu failed to point it out to me or because it’s been replaced with a huge text balloon saying that the gluttonous clown’s restaurant will be closing down in July. I guess eating until you drop dead isn’t that popular in Osaka anymore. I enjoyed all the flamboyant decorations in Namba, even that creepy clown but my absolute favorite was definitely the famous Glico man:
Glico is a snack and candy manufacturer and they have a giant electronic display of a runner crossing the finish line on a building above the Ebisubashi bridge. The Glico man was originally installed in 1935, and is one of Osaka’s landmarks often featured on postcards, advertisements, travel guides and people’s blogs. I’d been looking forward to seeing this running guy the most, and it didn’t let down at all! Yasu was surprised how ‘energized’ the billboard made every time I saw it and probably wondered if I ever felt like I’d taken enough pictures of it. I loved Namba, and anyone that’ll visit me in Osaka in the future can expect me to drag them to this place!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Yasu's father, Minoru (Yasu's uncle) & Mayumi (Yasu's aunt) after a fulfilling dinner
We were going to dinner to discuss our Obon plans, which is when my parents are going to stay at their house (Gy and I will stay at Yasu’s house) and they are going to take all of us to do a bit of sightseeing. But Yasu’s father tagged along for dinner, so instead almost their entire evening was spent conversing in Japanese with him. So we’ll have to try to get together again some other day.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Sunday, April 06, 2008
The kushi buffet
My selection of fish, meat, vegetables and weird-looking things
- Take one bamboo stick with a pierced piece of raw food (otherwise known as kushi) from your plate which you just loaded in the buffet area:
- Dip the skewer in some sticky batter you also got from the buffet area:
- Roll the skewer covered in sticky batter around in a plate of panko crumbs, which you also get from the buffet area:
- Stick the skewer covered in batter and hundreds of panko crumbs sticking to it in the deep fryer:
- Wait a bit, talk to your boyfriend on the other end of the table, and then take the skewer out of the deep fryer:
- Dip the deep-fried skewer in one of the sauces you got from the buffet area:
- Put the kushiage in your mouth, bite off a piece, chew and swallow (a.k.a. eat):
It’s a buffet style restaurant, so you can try out all kinds of interesting looking things without hesitating to spit it out if you don’t like it. So I did try some new things (I forgot the names though) and things I normally wouldn’t pay to try but there wasn’t anything I didn’t like, except for the two brown sauces, so I totally ignored those.
Cheese bread, a piece of hamburger and a piece of pumpkin waiting for me, ready to be eaten
Yasu and I really had a great time at this restaurant. Nice atmosphere, good food and a fun activity to keep you busy, and we only paid ¥2500 each. The only bad thing is that afterwards everything you’re wearing stinks! They have Febreze at the cash register for you to use before you leave, but it’s nowhere as strong as the kushiage smell. I’m definitely planning a return visit to this place, but I will be wearing some old clothes and carrying a bottle of perfume with me.