Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Well, here it is - a fresh daikon - my favorite veggie ("yasai") at the moment because it's so cheap ("yasui"). Carrots are currently a yasui yasai, so I have been cutting up both and snacking on them at school (an effort - mostly in vain - to stay away from the yummy pastries that keep taunting me).
"You eat them LAW???" ? One of the Japanese teachers was pointing to the bag of raw daikon and carrot sticks - "LAW?" - "Oh - OH - RAW - ah - yes - it's actually quite a popular thing back home!" I found this surprise and amusement - well - amusing, since the first time I was served daikon, it was cut up like I had done, but then some dressing was added and it was served on a plate. Maybe it looks funny for me to be eating these veggies like chips out of a bag?
Anyway - in the photo - daikons are larger than they appear :) You should see me lugging these home from the A-Coop on my jitensha. I guess the night we took the photo I didn't feel like lighting up the kerosene heater - because I'm wearing almost everything I own, there. The plaid thing is called a "hanko" (which is also the name of my official name stamp/seal - tho, of course, my name stamp doesn't keep me as warm) which is a very popular half-coat-quilty thing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


That would be "katakana English" for "postcard"! Well, I WANT YOU - yes, YOU to do me a big favor! The kids here are planning another culture festival, and we are doing something with postcards from the - get your cute self to the local "konbini" (aka - convienence store) or tourist trap and get a cheap, cheesy post card from your area. Feel free to get creative in your message, or just "The weather is here, wish you were beautiful" works, too (though, of course, I'd be the only one to get that joke since stuff like that is totally lost on the peeps here). Tell your friends! Make it a class assignment (I'm sure you can fit some FCAT objectives around a 'handmade postcard to Japan' lesson). Let's see how many states we can get to represent!
Mail it to:
Tracey Petruff, ALT
Isahaya High School
Nagasaki-ken, Isahaya-shi
1-7, Higashikouji-machi
854-0014 Japan


...okay...go on now...I'll be waiting with baited breath by the mailbox... ("baited breath" - yet another thing lost on peeps here - anyone know a good explanation of that phrase? Or did I just make it up?)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trojan Cow

"Mo" - ("Moe" - as in the 3 Stooges Moe) - that's Japanese for "moo" apparently. Doesn't it look like a giant Trojan cow? I swear I felt like I was in some bizarre (well, that's gonna be redundant) Monty Python skit...Yes, the cow was big, but frankly, I'm surprised my hair fit inside, there - wow - how did they let me outta the house like that? No wonder the Japanese look at me like I'm an alien - I walk around with the sun shining out of my head :) Speaking of the blonde thing, tho - you should see me trying to explain the concept of "having a blonde moment" (you know - when I do something 'silly') to someone who's never even really seen a real live person who didn't have black hair...
PS - as a special treat, though I couldn't find the link to the Aso Dairy Farm in Kumamoto ken, a yahoo search did turn up this interesting link to Michael Jackson's beer hunter page...oh, go look - it's not what you think! Just click on the underlined title for this post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Aisu kurimu

Yeah, that's ice cream - and yeah, that's a fire that I stood near to keep me from freezing while I ate the ice cream. I'm not going to give it up just because it's 40 degrees outside, now am I? It was a dairy farm afterall, and the cream was nice and fresh.
Tune in tomorrow to see Tracey eating ice cream inside a giant trojan cow...(I wonder how cows "moo" in Japanese? I mean dogs and cats speak a different language - dogs say, "wan wan" and cats - "nyan, nyan" - cows? ...I'll get back to you on that one)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Almighty Daikon

Since coming to Japan, I've become much more aware of quantity/quality/price/season of produce. For instance, I typically pay about 280 yen/apple "ringo" (granted, it could almost feed a whole class of kindergarteners), snow peas seem to be about 15-20/200 yen and meticulously lined up like a pack of fresh pencils, strawberries "ichigo" are DIVINE and SO red, and the king of all the fruits is apparently the canteloupe, because I have never seen them for less than 1200 yen, and the other day saw one for 3,000 yen (I could go to Fukuoka for less than that!). I've heard that instead of bringing flowers to someone in the hospital, you can bring a cantaloupe. Hmmm. Anyway - Mikans (tangerine-y oranges), when in season, are "yasui" - cheap - 6-8 for 100 yen, but now they're up to 380. Daikon, as pictured here, however, are VERY cool. A mere 68 yen for a vegetable the size of your forearm (or whole arm - if you're Surinak-sized!). If you click on the link, you see that they are used in various ways, but I just made a marinated daikon & cucumber salad tonight that was quite good. The daikon in this photo are being dried so that they can be pickled (I hope!). And to the FMFPeeps - didn't Decker san have some kind of stuffed or dancing daikon? I'm picturing it in Kitty chan's hoteru room in a face off against Godzirra??? (Did I have too much sake that night?)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Onsen Onsen

Yep - once again - this is what I have to resort to for any kind of action around here. Sam and I had a short visit to Kumamoto City and relaxed at an onsen (which apparently is popular with pigs, too?). If you don't know what an onsen is, click on the title above. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, lemme "wet" your appetite: think hot, naked, clean fun. OK, well maybe not "FUN" fun, but it's definitely relaxing. And yes, I know some of you dirty little minds are wondering if any of the onsens are mixed - I've heard of them, but all the ones I've been to have separate areas for men and women. But I'll keep lookin... ;)

Did I mention that one of the big Japanese New Year's traditions is to go to the shrines and temples? It's funny, though, because as I was walking along the long line to ring the bell at this huge temple in Fukuoka (of course we couldn't wait until morning on the 1st, we had to go after rolling around in Tenjin for New Year's - 12:30-3:30ish am...), religion didn't even occur to me (it did occur to me tho, that I made up half the gaijin population there that night - as usual). My lessons this week included a bit where the Japanese students compared/contrasted (oh, no! that almost feels FCAT!) New Year's traditions in US and Japan, so when I read their homework, maybe I'll understand a little bit more. For now, it's mostly a mystery. However, I'm pretty sure that the little water bowls at the feet of the statue here are for this diety's cats.
Or dogs?
Speaking of - I need a little pep up here (I know I look genki in the pics - but I'm a really good actress). Please send me a favorite photo of your pet (esp dogs) doing something silly. Pet pics - that always perks me up. Arigatooooo -tsensei :)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Akemashite Omedettou Gozaimasu

That would be the equivalent to "Happy New Year" (this, of course, would be accompanied by much deep bowing). I've been away for a bit due to a "holiday" (took full advantage of the 3 days I had off around New Year's), and, frankly, I've been really down and out and didn't feel like pissinnmoanin much here. The holidays were just reeeeally difficult this year, not just because I wasn't home, but mostly because I didn't feel like "home" was the same now with Mom and Grandma both "gone". Fortunately, some of you were nice enough to send cards and a BIG thanks to Cathy and Dad for sending care packages. So, Dad, even though I can't get a hug from you every night, at least I can hug myself wearing that nifty robe you sent. And Cathy, of course I didn't eat ALL of the cookies...(in one sitting) - no really - I did share, and had pictures to prove it, but tragically I managed to delete all - ALL! of my photos from my computer (OH, NO!). And I've already read the book you sent and have passed it along to one of the other Japanese teachers of English (but we'd both like to know if next time you would be so kind as to send some of the Nora Roberts MEN, too, please?) Anyway - what was this picture? Oh yes - it was at a shrine near Kita Kyushu - they're little stone gods wearing bibs and wishes, and little handmade hats to keep warm. Or I could be making all this up. I have no idea. I had a massive allergy attack and so your guess is as good as mine here...