Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shiitake surprise

So today when I walked by my little tatami shop friends, I said hello and offered them some of the omiyage I had gotten at the sumo tournament (these happened to be little cookies in the shape of sumo wrestlers - you'll have to take my word for it - they were cute. The cookies, I mean). I REALLY don't expect these lovely people to be giving me free stuff every time I turn around, but the lady just wouldn't let me go without several shittake mushrooms in my sack. Dinner was "oishiikatta" (delicious) tonight!

Tatami wa utsukushii desu!

As I walk to Yue train station each Thursday afternoon after a day at Takaki Bunko (my other school), I pass by these genki peeps making tatami mats. I'm really lucky to have a flat that has three tatami rooms - I love the stuff! Click on this post's title if you don't know what tatami is.
So one day I stopped and bravely tried out my Japanese, "Anata no tatami wa utsukushii desu", which - I hope - means, "Your tatami is beautiful." Whatever I said apparently pleased the lady and she came out and filled my hands with mikans - the local oranges. Yum. I just can't get over how cute they are - that guy there smiles with his whole body! :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

**** It Feels Good to be a Gaijin

That title is for those of you who've seen (or live) the movie "Office Space" - just sub out the guys in the field swinging the hammer and instead picture me - with bag of pastries swinging on my handlebars as I cruise through Isahaya on the Wahoo (that's my bike for those of you who didn't know). Yep. Certainly good to be the gaijin (foreigner). I go into a pastry shop and having only ordered - and paid for - ONE of these (the one with the strawberries) I come home to find that the nice man stuffed the rest of this nonesense in the box, too. And I thought the Japanese weren't into sweets and pastries...baka baka baka Tracey! (OK...going out for a run, now...)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


This is the inside of a passage way on the Kamome train, one of the Japan Railway (JR) lines that runs between big cities here in Kyushu. I've been told the Japanese on the signs says something about Holland, as the Dutch were the first foreigners here back when Japan closed itself off from the world. Directly on the left (it's too dark to see) is a little booth where you go to talk on your keitai (cell phone). How nice, eh? Come to think of it, I rarely hear people babbling on their phones anywhere (maybe that's because you only get 62 minutes for 5,000 yen/month!). PS - click on the title, "Kamome" and it will take you to the JR Kyushu link - the English one :)

Have a seat...

This is the interior of one of the cars on the Kamome line - the JR line that runs from Nagasaki to Fukuoka. It's not "first class" but it sure feels like it. (So, what do ya think, Berns? Personally, I like it even better than the Shinkansen. Just tell your mom that you need to come over here and check it out for yourself :) )

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

No, I did not have to have sushi for Thanksgiving this year! Thanks to the splendid hospitality of Tim and Machiko Huggins, whom I met through my bike touring friend, Taniguchi san, I was able to enjoy a delicious "American Thanksgiving" today. It was at the Huggins' chapel/home up on a hill in a town north of Nagasaki. Absolutely beautiful view down into the mountains and sea, and absolutely delightful food and company! I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to share this time with such warm-hearted people. After dinner we went upstairs into the living quarters and it was Christmas! It really felt like home. I think that Mom and Machiko san (she's the one in the photo with me here) would have gotten along really well. Well, I hope all of you share a wonderful day of food, friends, family, and football!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka

So many little time and little mawashi! (the silken loincloth).
Hey - I also heard that women are not even allowed on the "dohyo" (the platform thingy where they wrestle). So I guess Title 9 is not an issue here. One interesting point is that the mayor presents the winner with the prize. In Osaka, the mayor is a woman - hmmm...

A lotta love...

Just wanted to introduce you all to the new guy in my life. Met him at the sumo tournament - he's absolutely perfect - big and strong, quiet - a good listener, looks good with his shirt (and pants???) off, rich, has a WHOLE lotta love to what's if he's a cheeky sort and a bit one-dimensional?

Lunch of Champonians

Ugh...I've definitely got a right proppa cold...but I guess it serves me right for staying out till all hours after the sumo tournament in Fukuoka this weekend. So...lots of tea for me and this wonderful stuff from Nagasaki called "champon". It's the closest I can come to getting chicken noodle soup around here...and for the record, I liked it much better before I looked it up and found out how it's made...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"orange you glad you checked the blog today?"

SO I guess you can take the gator out of Florida, but just can't take the Florida out of the gator...
(alright, I'm going to bed now! Promise!)
See ya later arrigator!
(well - you HAD to see THAT coming!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Aren't you the sweetest?

Ikiriki Shogakko (primary school) invited us (several local ALTs) to participate in their annual Orange Day celebration. Basically, it was like a massive field day at this park atop a hill overlooking Omura Bay. Each ALT was assigned to a group of students, and our only job was to play with the kids! How fab, eh? They were quite adorable with their random questions they bravely spoke in carefully rehearsed English (evidence of Graham's excellent teaching, no doubt!). Sorry I can't show pictures with faces (the kids couldn't read my photo release forms :) ), but here I am hoisting up someone who just KNEW that THIS was the sweetest orange on the tree. In this unique "field day" event the object here was to pick the sweetest orange - since this area is known for their oranges - the owner of the grove let us in for this activity. And how sweet the taste of victory - we scored 5 out of a possible 5.

Did Sam get trashed?

Well, I'm feeling under the weather (I think I'm allergic to school), but Sam's getting out at least. Here he is checking up on the nensei (students) who are currently engaged in picking up trash along the lovely Isahaya river. Faces have intentionally been fuzzed out to protect the innocents :) (um- yeah - it was just really cold out and I didn't take time to focus!). Sam wandered down to help with the clean up, but some of the nensei almost mistook him for garbage (sorry, UF mates!). By the way, I didn't hear anyone complaining about picking up trash, but that's maybe because they got out of 6th & 7th period and got to play in the water.