Saturday, November 29, 2008

Drinks and interesting food

After work on a busy Saturday we’re all up for some relaxation in the form of good food and good alcohol. For most people the latter means beer, for me it means something sweet, like sparkling white wine when I’m home or umeshu (plum liquor) when I’m in Japan. So Machiko, Enzo and I took a train to Umeda to meet up with Ben and park ourselves in some Japanese izakaya for a couple of hours to drink copious amounts of beer and umeshu, and eat some interesting Japanese dishes, like green avocado tofu that tasted like bacon and fish that looked like a pig’s tongue:
Even though some of the food looked unusual, it was all really good and the umeshu was just the right amount of sweet. Also it was fun to see Ben again and do some catching up, talk to Enzo outside of work, and of course hanging out with Machiko is always great fun. After dinner we went to another izakaya for more drinks and plan our next outing, which could very well be cosplay karaoke (singing in front of other while dressed up in an extravagant costume). Not entirely sure what I think about that activity yet, but I guess it’ll be fun with nomihodai (all-you-can-drink-alcohol) and a digital camera to enable myself to embarrass myself further on here afterwards.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy birthday Moem!

Happy 46th birthday to my sweet mother! I hope she’ll receive heaps of nice presents, a big birthday cake and has a lot of fun celebrating this day. I wish I could celebrate it with her in Veldhoven today, like she celebrated my birthday with me in Japan this year... but unfortunately my plane doesn’t leave Japan until the 21st of December.
Right now I’m talking to my mother on Skype. It’s afternoon on the 28th in the Netherlands so on that side she’s still 45, but here in Japan her 46th birthday has just started. I sent her a big envelope filled with presents last week and it arrived 2 days ago, with instructions not to open it until her birthday. Well, it’s her birthday here, so let’s see if I can get her to tear open the envelope, because I want to see here reaction when she opens her birthday present from Japan.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sleepy and no Starbucks

The medication the doctor gave me yesterday consists of bags with white powder which you have to empty in your mouth and then wash away with water (as expected this is totally disgusting) and regular pills. So far, so good, I haven’t felt any pain since last night and my appetite is finally returning. But the drugs seem to have one inconvenient side effect: they make me very tired. I usually sleep 6 to 7 hours a night and do fine the rest of the day. Now, I have a hard time getting out of bed after 9 hours (my alarm clock is exhausted from all the snoozing), and I keep falling asleep behind my computer, on the train and in class, even while standing up... So I turned to Starbucks for some help, but when I got there I found this:
What’s going on? I can’t read the notices, but I hope and think they’re adding more seats, because this Starbucks is always crowded and it’s always a challenge to find a seat. There are some dates on the notices and from those I figure they’ll be renovating the place for two days and reopen on Thursday. I wonder what the new Starbucks will look like.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From Chinatown in Kobe to the hospital in Amagasaki

We had two plans for today: go to the doctor to find out what has been wrong with me this las week and go to Kyoto to see the red maple leaves. We didn’t go to a doctor because after a week of uncomfortable pain and strange feelings, I was finally feeling fine today, so we figured it’s over and a doctor was no longer needed. We also didn’t go to Kyoto because of the heavy rain making it really hard to enjoy an outdoor activity like staring at trees. So instead we went to Kobe to just hang out and perhaps check out Chinatown. First thing we did was have lunch at a nice sandwich shop somewhere in underground (and dry from the rain) Kobe:
After a few hours of just sipping our coffee at the sandwich shop and talking about anything and everything, we finally set out to explore rainy Kobe a little bit. After a couple of shopping detours (like selecting a new business suit for Yasu at the Suit Company) we finally arrived in Chinatown when it was starting to get dark. It kind of reminded me of the Chinatown in Yokohama, only smaller.
Of course, the main thing tourists do in Chinatown is eat. There are food stalls everywhere selling the typical Chinatown treats and the most popular is and will probably always be the nikuman, a steamed bun with meat inside. Here in Kansai they are more commonly called butaman, and buta means pork, so I’m guessing the white buns are all filled with pork here. They have them in different sizes and colors, and they’re pretty good, but I will always prefer the Indonesian version, called bapao.
There is a small square in Kobe’s Chinatown, which really made me feel like we were in Chinatown in LA. I’ve never actually been to the real China, so I’ve got no idea if it feels like the real deal. The square had loads of restaurants and statues of all the Chinese zodiac signs, and we took pictures with our corresponding zodiac animal. In China Yasu is a pig and I’m a monkey.
After walking through tiny China, we killed a couple of hours at Starbucks before going to a cheap but tasty yakiniku dinner at Jonetsu Horumon. We paid like a 1000 yen each and got enough meat and veggies to throw on our mini table barbeque for a satisfying meal. Unfortunately we didn’t really get to enjoy it, because just before we entered the restaurant pain made its reappearance in my body. 
Like last Monday, I felt intense shots of pain near my heart and it was really scary. We started to make plans to go to a doctor tomorrow, but the pain was so bad that we decided to go to a hospital today, because all the doctor’s offices are closed at 9 PM on a national holiday. Yasu called a hospital in Amagasaki and told them we were coming and why. It took us while to get there because I could hardly move and we were all the way in Kobe, and of course we got on the wrong train which delayed our arrival even further. When we finally got to the hospital it was already closed, but there was somebody waiting for us to open the door.
After an examination by the doctor and a lot of translation by Yasu, I was reassured there was nothing wrong with my heart and apparently also nothing with my lungs (not sure why he told me that), but that there was something wrong with my stomach and intestines, but what exactly I didn’t find out. He gave me some medicine for my vague stomach/intestine problem and my cold which he let me know I have too. If I don’t feel better after 3 days of medication I have to come back for some more serious treatment... So let’s just hope it’s over by Friday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas shopping at the Loft

Machiko and I had so much fun together yesterday, that we agreed to meet up again today. This time to do some Christmas shopping at the Loft in Umeda. We found some interesting things in that store, like cups with noses, mugs with breasts and money boxes with creepily moving faces.
In Japan we currently live in the year of the mouse and next will be the year of the cow. So all the stores have gone cow-crazy lately. Lots of cow products and materials to make New Year’s cards with cute cows on it. They even had cow head gear.
And those were not the only decorative items for the head we found. We also found some for famous Japanese foods, like takoyaki, crab and taiyaki. If I had only discovered these before Halloween, I might have actually gotten myself a costume, because wearing these was really exciting. Well, perhaps next year.
After browsing the Loft and finding some good presents to take home for Christmas, we set out to find a place where we could enjoy something to drink. It being a Sunday in impossibly crowded Osaka, this was quite difficult and when I was about to give up Machiko found this little tea-shop, where we refueled and gossiped.
Machiko had some appointment back at home, so she had to leave pretty quickly after tea. Next thing we’re looking forward to doing is purikura, so far we’d intended to do it every time, but somehow we never have enough time left to decorate the pictures to satisfaction.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quick karaoke

After her work at the airport, Machiko came back to Senri Chuo to pick me up after my work. We’ve been looking forward to singing some karaoke together since we didn’t have enough time the last time. There is only one karaoke place in Senri Chuo, but it looked good on the outside so we went for it.
It looked good on the inside too, I mean it’s not the same as luxurious Shidax but it’s better than stinky Jankara. And one good thing about this place was that the hourly fee per hour per person went down when the number of people increased, which is only fair because you get to sing less when you’re with more people. This is something I feel all karaoke places ought to do. In exchange for this service they made it compulsory to order (and pay for) a drink, so we did:
As expected singing was good and we warmed up pretty nicely the first hour and were getting ready for another hour of serious singing. When we go to karaoke you tell them you’ll be there for an hour and when they call you to tell you your hour is almost over you add another 30 minutes or more and continue singing, and this whole process is repeated until you feel you’ve had enough of it. So when the front desk called after 50 minutes, we told them we were extending our singing stint with another hour, but to our dismay they told us we couldn’t! Excuse me?! Apparently, it was a busy night and other people were waiting. Well, of course it was busy, it’s Saturday, people are waiting in all karaoke parlors all over Japan... Apparently, at this place you have to tell them exactly how long you want to sing from the start, because there’s no way to extend... That’s OK, but if only they’d told us, or put a sign up in the lobby like they did with the prices. So our evening of singing got cut really short.
So instead we hung out at Starbucks and did some more gossiping, checking out some of my old pictures (I had my MacBook with me) and drinking some delicious Starbucks coffee.
More pictures 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sick day

I’ve called in sick today for the first time since I’ve been working in Japan. I’ve been having severe stomach pains since Monday, but I couldn’t go to the doctor because Yasu is in Tokyo for 2 weeks (it sucks to be this dependent). On Tuesday it was a bit better, but Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep because of it. On Wednesday I still went to work, but working made it worse, teaching and pretending to smile isn’t easy when you really want to scream and cry. So I decided to stay home from work today, which sucks because when you’re sick you don’t get paid in Japan!! Which is why I’ve never called in sick before, I figure I can be sick at home or I can be sick at work and get paid for it. But unfortunately, this time it was different. I feel a little better now and I’ll go back to work tomorrow and hope I don’t make it worse again, but if so Yasu and I’ll go to the doctor on Monday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The MacBook has arrived

Last week Yasu and I ordered a new MacBook for me in the Apple Store in Shinsaibashi. We had to do it online because they don’t sell computers with English keyboards in the store and I really can’t work well with a Japanese keyboard, it keeps switching to Japanese characters, the spacebar it too short and all the symbols are misplaced. But ordering it online requires patience, which honestly I don’t always have... So I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new MacBook. It was due to arrive yesterday, but around the time it was supposed to be delivered I had to work, so Yasu told them to come today before I go to work, and here it is:
It beautiful and very thin and light, but best of all it’s a Mac and not a PC. I’ve been wanting to get a Mac for years, mostly because I was getting sick of anti-virus programs slowing down my machine and the limitations of creative programs that run on Windows programs which would always freeze up anyway. But I’ve been using Windows for a very long time and I’m really used to it, I know where everything is and how everything works, even if it doesn’t work properly. So, I’m going to have to get used to a completely new system, but I’ve spoken to many people that have done it and they all say they got used to it quickly and would never switch back to PC. So I can’t wait to start playing around with my new Mac and trying out all the awesome programs on there, and hopefully become a satisfied computer user too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shopping in Shinsaibashi

Today was shopping day. After getting up really late for a change, we refueled with brunch at one of Tsukamoto’s new small restaurants. It’s a 24 hour place where you buy a ticket from a vending machine, and then the waitress uses your ticket to tell the cooks what your order is. The food was quick, cheap and really good. I’m not sure about the restaurant’s name but it’s exactly the same chain as the place we had dinner in Nagoya on my first night in Japan in May 2007.
In Osaka, we spent several hours at the Apple store to check out the new MacBook and try out all its applications. My current computer, a pc, is in need of a replacement and it’ll be replaced with a Mac, because I’m sick of all the virus scanners, I don’t want faulty Windows Vista on my new pc, and I want a pc with better creative options. I’ve been thinking about switching to a Mac for a couple of years now, and the time is finally here. We ordered a MacBook online (because I don’t want a Japanese keyboard) in the Apple Store today, and it’ll be delivered to my apartment somewhere next week!
Then I also wanted to buy some colored Christmas lights to decorate my apartment, so we went to Don Quijote (a huge and messy discount store) to find some. After asking 3 or 4 people and some intercom communication between several employees, we finally found some. But what often happens when I want to buy something fun but unnecessary: when I actually find the product and am holding it in my hands, I decide that although it’s fun I don’t really need it, and would therefore be a waste of money. Not sure why this keeps happening but it has saved me a lot of money in the past, which isn’t a bad idea after just acquiring an expensive computer. Still, all that Christmas-light-finding trouble for nothing… Well, not nothing, we found some fun stuff to decorate ourselves with in Don Quijote:
It was a nice and long weekend together, which is good because tomorrow Yasu is leaving for a 2-week business trip to Tokyo, so I’ll be spending next weekend without him… Don’t worry, I never get bored… in my free time that is!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dating in Kobe

We’ve been together for more than 4.5 years, but Yasu and I still love going on dates, and tonight we went to Kobe Harborland.
On our way from the station to Harborland, we discovered a crowd of people watching soccer on a big screen. Which was quite surprising as soccer isn’t popular in Japan, and baseball is the big national sport here. Yasu thought it may have been an event organized to increase the popularity of soccer. To me it felt like I was back in Europe for a minute, where soccer is so popular that it seems like a religion to some.
Besides surprising soccer events, Kobe Harborland has a lot more forms of entertainment, like a huge playground with a Ferris Wheel which has some cars totally made of see-through Plexiglass, and a huge Mario in whose belly loads of kids were jumping around.
Of course, we also found the typical harbor stuff, like lots of water, boats, lighthouses, tourists and couples walking by the water, like us.
All the water, reminded Yasu of Titanic and he was inspired to reenact the ‘I’m the King of the World’ scene, and pretend to be shot out of a canon which is really just a boarding plank…
As it got later, the colorful lights on the dinner and entertainment cruises started to look beautiful on a dark background. We didn’t board any of the ships with high entrance fees, instead we just took a seat at a picnic table on one of Mosaic’s decks and just enjoyed the view and some conversation. It was pretty cold (finally!!!) which made the whole atmosphere even more cozy with everybody sitting under blankets and crawling under their boyfriends’ arms for warmth.
It’s November so Christmas decorations are already popping up everywhere, including a huge tree illuminated with bright blue lights on the deck with the picnic tables. The Mosaic building also arranged for some entertainment with a female fire juggler on a unicycle, which was actually pretty impressive.
When we were finally too cold to stay outside any longer we headed to a Brazilian restaurant a coworker recommended to me. You can eat an unlimited amount of meat, salad and more there, with meat being the most important part of the meal of course. Meat is extremely expensive in Japan, so I never really get to eat enough of it here, so I was excited at the prospect of eating as much meat as I could for a change. And almost all the meat was awesome, except for the creepy chicken hearts, but the best part was that all the meat was served by guys with huge machetes.
After eating so much we actually felt like exploding, we went on a walk to lose some of the excess calories and admire the Christmas decorations in, on, at and around all the other buildings.
After that it was time to head back to Tsukamoto again, where we ended the evening with two hours of karaoke, which is always an awesome way to end any evening. Can’t wait for the next date.

Gorilla Granny

Old people at the gym, especially old women, are a big nuisance. They’re probably really nice grandmothers to their grandchildren, but at the gym they turn into annoying monsters. It starts even before we enter the gym. During the week the gym opens at 10 AM, way too late, so just before opening the steps leading up to the entrance are crawling with old people, mostly women. Just waiting for the doors to open is hard, because more old women keep arriving and start to push past you just to get closer to the door, sometimes some of them are actually pressed up to it. That is already frustrating, but it gets worse when the doors open, these old women actually start to push in and race for the member card scanner and cutting in line and almost running over each other on the stairs. It’s a mystery to me why this behavior is necessary, but maybe the first person to enter the workout area gets an award or something? I try to avoid this pushing match as much as I can, by arriving a little after 10, but sometimes I have to return a DVD before 10 at the rental store which is only 10 seconds away from the gym. What do these women do when they arrive at the gym anyway? Well, of course they work out, but they’re also there to kill time. They have extended picnics (they bring lots of food from home) in the vending machine room, where they catch up on their TV shows and gossip, enjoy relaxing hours in the massage chairs or walking (not swimming) through the pool filled with close-to-body-temperature water. These things aren’t bothering me and they pay a lot of money to be a member of Cospa, so it’s their right to spend time at the expensive gym. But when it gets annoying is when they have extended chat sessions while hovering around and sitting on machines they’ve finished using 10 minutes ago, making it impossible for other people to use them. And when they speak ten words of English and start following me around trying to practice it on me and eating up my precious 50 minutes at the gym every morning. I’m there to work out not to chat, but I can’t even make that clear to them, so I end up closing my eyes a lot during my workout to ignore them, because the second you make eye contact (even unintended) with one of them they come over and start talking even though they can see you’re listening to your iPod.
The most vicious women have already pushed themselves inside at this point, it goes fast, too fast to capture on camera.
I don’t speak Japanese and I don’t understand Japanese, still I always go to steps class and participate by concentrating on the teacher’s legs and copying her movements. Which requires a lot of concentration and an almost constant visual of the teacher. Usually the lessons are easy (bordering boring), but sometimes they’re a bit more challenging and therefore a lot more fun. Today’s class was very promising, fun-wise, if it hadn’t been for that infuriating old woman who kept making very loud and distracting sounds with every move we made. I’ve hear these sounds before, an old guy used to do it during aerobics, before the class got cancelled, but not as often as this old woman and it also reminds me of the yell the guys used to make during karate practice, like an deep “oow”, the sound coming from one’s stomach. In karate the teacher told us to do that (I hated doing it) to become more powerful and it was also a to psyche your opponent. But we weren’t fighting in steps class today, so there was no need to psyche your fellow steppers out, yet that is exactly what she did. With every loud gorilla sound she uttered, I automatically glanced at the source of the irritating shouts, thereby breaking my concentration and visual of the teacher, and the person in my sight now wasn’t even doing the steps right (maybe that’s why she was making these ugly sounds). In the end, my whole mind was occupied with trying to ignore the awful growls coming out of her throat, which of course made them only more audible to me. This torment was detrimental to my enjoyment of the otherwise pleasurable steps class. I’m thinking about getting earplugs for next class, just in case Gorilla Granny comes again next week.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Christmas candle cake

Christmas is coming again and Japanese stores have been into the spirit since the first day after Halloween. Santas and Christmas trees everywhere, and I’m expecting the music on the radio stations to repeatedly play Wham and Mariah Carey soon. Honestly, I can’t wait; I love Christmas! Starbucks has been selling various special Christmas coffees already, new merchandise, pies and cookies all inspired by the holiday, like this candle cake:
One of my private students who wanted to have her lesson in Starbucks in stead of school, which unfortunately wasn’t allowed, so as a compromise she went to Starbucks before class to get some coffee to drink during class. And this pretty Christmas candle cake is what she brought back for me, isn’t that sweet?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

I’ve never tasted whisky before, (except of course Drambuie, a honey- and herb-flavored Scotch whisky) and Yasu doesn’t like alcohol in any version, still we visited a whisky distillery today. I wanted to do some sightseeing and I like factory tours, especially if they let you sample the merchandise afterwards. Yasu was inexplicably interested in a tour at Japan’s first whisky distillery, when I gave him a list of varying sightseeing options to choose from. We didn’t know how to get there, only that it was located in Yamazaki. As soon as we got of the train we found a big poster telling us how to get to the distillery, so finding it was easy.
A quick visit to the visitor’s reception told Yasu everything we needed to know, the next 60-minute tour was starting in 15 minutes, it came with an English audio tour for foreigners and best of all it was free, surprisingly. Soon we found ourselves in the Whisky Library among a big group of people all ready to explore the distillery.
First up were the Mash House and the Fermentation Room, where lots of complicated stuff goes on with water called Mother Water and barley. Somehow it turns into sugar that will later turn into whisky somehow… The audio tour was supposed to explain all of this to me, but unfortunately the guide loudly used a microphone for the Japanese version in this room and made it impossible for me to hear the English audio in my ear. So I have no clue what happens here.
Next we went to the Still House, where we could observe several water stills and spirit stills hard at work to take out a variety of aroma and flavors and turn it all into something called New Whisky, which is totally clear and smells really strong (we all got to poke our noses into the bottle for a good smell). The room itself is very hot and there’s a nasty smell hanging around the stills.
The warehouse is where they store an enormous amount of initially new whisky in wooden casks to mature for many years. Every year about 20% of the whisky evaporates, the angel’s share, and it gradually turns from a clear liquid into an amber-colored liquid. How this all happens and why it has to take so many years is still a mystery to me, but the warehouse was pretty impressive and I’ve learned whisky makes have to be very patient. I read somewhere that when the distillery opened in 1923, locals used to think some barley-devouring-monster inhabited the place, as they would see loads of raw materials going into the factory and nothing coming out for years.
After that the tour was over and it was time to taste some whisky. We were expecting small samples, the size of one sip or perhaps two, so we were very surprised to see regular sized whisky glasses filled with whisky. We could try Yamazaki Single Malt with water or soda and Hakushu Single Malt, to taste the difference between different distilleries’ products. The Hakushu tasted kind of woody, which I didn’t like, and the Yamazaki wasn’t what I expected of whisky either. I was also surprised to see liquid in my glass with a very light color, instead of the deep amber color I was expecting. But that was probably due to it being mixed. Other people kept going for refills, but we really didn’t need any. Yasu gave up after a few sips and reconfirming his dislike for alcohol and not detecting any taste in the whiskies except alcohol itself, and I really couldn’t finish 3 glasses of whisky by myself, after a few tastes I’d really had enough. It isn’t really my kind of drink and it was still early and our stomachs were almost empty, so we returned 3 almost full glasses of whisky, we were definitely the losers in the room.
After the tour and tasting we were free to shop in the whisky shop, where we may have been to only people to have bought absolutely nothing. We did enjoy watching old Suntory Whisky commercials and admiring the hundreds of bottles of unblended whisky sitting beautifully on shelves in the Whisky Library. They also had a couple of rooms, showing the history of Suntory Whisky and their bottles of consumer products through the years. You could also get a taste of New Whisky (only available at distilleries) for a small price, but we’d had enough alcohol for the day by then.
Our visit to the distillery was interesting, but not so educational because I was very unclear about what to do with the audio tour, nobody explained it to us, so if I want to learn how they make whisky I’ll have to check online. It was fun and free, the best combination for a sightseer.

Mug shots

I have a new Japanese experience to add my to my list: taking pictures in one of those train station photo booths. We needed new pictures for some official business so we chose the cheapest and most convenient option. In the photo booths at home have you sit down, throw in some money and endure 2 or 4 flashes and the pictures are done. They’re always the same size, always ugly and never quite what you need, so you end up going to a real photographer in the end. Here you have some editing options, you can choose the size of your pictures, you can retake pictures and pick the one in which you look the least ugly and you can even adjust the position of your head on your picture, to make sure it’s really central and obeys all the specific official rules.
I didn’t like my first shot, because I smiled slightly (not allowed) and weirdly, so I took a second shot, which was totally weird, so I decided to go with the first one. I could have taken a third and fourth and more until I was satisfied, but I was convinced the pictures would only increase in weirdness, and this would turn into a whole-day event and we were in a hurry. Yasu is not so picky and decided the first take was good enough and printed that. Of course, his picture looks better than mine, and of course we both look like criminals having their mug shots taken.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Hanging with Machiko

I met up with my new friend Machiko in Umeda to take a train to Universal City to check out the Universal City Walk that leads up to Universal Studios Japan (which we were not entering). We wanted to walk around a bit, check out the Takoyaki museum and have dinner at one of the Western restaurant chains. The Takoyaki museum wasn’t really a museum, though. It had five old-fashioned takoyaki grills on display, lots of takoyaki merchandise for sale and 4 or 5 takoyaki restaurants… But at least Mr. Takoyaki is cute.
Machiko came straight from work and was very hungry so we decided to go for dinner early, which was great to avoid those ever-present lines at Western restaurants around dinner time. We were immediately seated and were served quickly too. We chose Bubba Gump for dinner, because I’ve been wanting to eat their ribs for a while now, they’re the best you can get in Japan.
We had a hard time choosing between Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump, so we decided to have dessert at Hard Rock Café after dinner at Bubba Gump. We chose apple cobbler for dessert, and even though the waitress warned that it was a ‘chotto oki’ (a little big) we thought we could handle it and ordered one apple cobbler each. Well, turned out the waitress was wrong, dessert wasn’t ‘chotto oki’ it was a lot ‘oki’! We hard a hard time finishing our desserts and were totally stuffed after that. It was good though, what wasn’t so good was the extremely loud volume of the music. I’ve been to several Hard Rock Café’s before and they always play rock music clearly audible, but people would always be able to have a conversation. In Hard Rock Café Osaka that’s impossible, it is so loud I felt I was screaming when I tried to say something and deaf when Machiko tried to say something. And they don’t have a Bon Jovi display! Needless to say I won’t be returning there.
Other things we did today was observe a lady getting off the train and dropping one of her too big heeled shoes in between the train and the platform, so it fell all the way down to the tracks. What’s up with Japanese women wearing shoes that are easily one or two sizes too big? Maybe next time this particular lady will choose a better fitting shoe. Then we got off at the wrong train station because we followed some foreigners who we knew were also going to Universal City. The foreigners had no idea what they were doing and we were so busy chatting on the train that we had no idea what we were doing following them! At the end of the night we met up with Yasu in Umeda after his seminar was done for drinks and dinner (just for Yasu, we were totally stuffed) at the English Pub.
It was a lot of fun hanging out with Machiko. We talked a lot and gossiped a lot (even when Yasu was there, because he’s good at that too!) and ate way too much! Oh and did I mention she wants to learn Dutch? Her sister is married to a Dutch farmer and they live in the Netherlands, so Machiko has actually been to my country several times.
More pictures

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A week of costumes

After a week of dressing up, everybody appeared in their normal business clothes again today. Yesterday was Halloween and since last Saturday most of us have been wearing costumes to work. Not everyone had to work during the Halloween party, so here are some pictures of the missing people and some the different costumes and costume swaps that happened throughout the week:
I didn’t really have a costume, but I found miscellaneous things around the school that I’d wear to look as silly as I could during classes, and I succeeded! Sometimes I was a red-haired-pumpkin-head hippie and at other times I was evil Stitch (isn’t he always evil?). And the most ridiculous I looked all week was when I was added huge glasses decorated with grey zombies to my costume. That night’s greetings from students changed from hi to hiwoohoohahahaha, the second they saw me. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of those glasses and after that night they disappeared! Which is maybe a good thing because they gave me a huge headache.