Friday, August 31, 2007

Dog Daze

You should have seen HOW EXCITED this little guy was when I ate my Sasebo Burger in front of him. Rude, I know, not to offer him any - not even a little nibble - when he was shaking with anticipation. I'm so mean. He was at the festival in Sasebo and I had to sit right behind him on the dock during the concert. As for the Sasebo Burger, it was born in this city thanks to the American base here, and is famous for being - well, I'm not really sure, actually. They just seem to be like the good hamburgers you get in places like TGIF, but burger joints aren't really common in this country. You can get a "hanbaga suteki" - but it sits closer to meatloaf than McDonald's. Anyway - this guy really cracks me up every time I see him. Hope you enjoy :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Samurai class!

Whew! And everyone thought that Japanese students were perfectly docile and never gave the teacher trouble.
Well, I've been so busy lately (and still don't have an internet connection at home - MAN I wish I could read my mail!), I'm going to have to play catch up here. One Sunday some of my Japanese friends took me to a samurai village (recreation of one, anyway) in Saga prefecture. I included this photo to break the stereotype that Japanese students are always perfect. Actually, my Kanko students are :) but I've heard stories that not all teachers are so lucky.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hello, P/Busan!

No, I didn't visit a place famous for Peanut Butter, but it seems that the city hasn't decided whether or not it's Pusan or Busan. I saw/heard both. Well, here I am at the top of the moutain in Geumgang Park. I rode the cable car up and walked around, then hiked back down. I think being out of the big city like this was the part I liked best about the city.
Anyway - still no internet at home, which means I'm at school on a Saturday...which means I need to get outta here.
Good luck to all you teachers out there with a brand spankin' new school year! See you when I negotiate a deal to get my internet back!

Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm back!

Just wanted to let you know I'm back "home" - that's weird. As foreign as Japan and Japanese is, I was still glad to get back to the foreign that I 'knew'. So I've done Korea. It was interesting, and I am glad I went - if nothing else it was a personal accomplishment to get there and around and back! But I don't think I'll be rushing back. I've got tons of photos from my little trips piled up, but my internet's not working at home, and I've got to finish planning for a conference I'm doing next week in Nagasaki for the new ALTs. So - yep, back, and I'll write again next week!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Natsu Yasumi

Hey! I'm catching a train to Sasebo in a little bit, trying to catch one of the "natsu matsuri" (summer festivals). I'm also taking my bike to ride up there and some of the way back to Isahaya. Then I'm off to an island music festival near Fukuoka, and since I'll be close, I might also catch the ferry over to Pusan, Korea. So - not sure when I'll be back online - but I'm off to enjoy a little bit of my "natsu yasumi" (summer break)! Mata! tx

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kakigouri and the question of the moment, 'Do semi sleep?'

It's HOT. But at least it's not raining. One night we all met at the local Joyfull (think Japanese Denny's), and I ordered this essential summer treat, kakigouri. It's basically a pile of snow with syrup and cream (sweetened condensed milk?). Reminded me of the snowballs in New Orleans. The one in the photo is actually some kind of matcha flavor with azuki beans. Yum. AND it was actually as big as it was in the super-sized menu there.
I have to wrap it up here, since a semi (cicada - one of the giant ones) followed me inside and seemed to promptly fall asleep on the dried flowers I have in the entry way. Seriously, I tried to gently move him to encourage him to sleep outside, but he wouldn't budge. Now that my computer light is the only light on in the house, I hear him rustling around behind me, and before he dive bombs the screen I'm going to sign off :) Oyasuminasai おやすみなさい
(ps - if anyone's seen or heard from my dad, tell him to send up a signal flare please :) )

Next stop, Goto-machi

Well, my godson, Berns, celebrated a big birthday this week (your gifts will hopefully get there before Christmas, B), and so here's another picture for my little man who loves things that GO. These are two of the 5 trolleys that run in downtown Nagasaki. This spot is just outside of the main train station and AMU plaza, where the movie theater is. Make sure to click on the photo to get a better look at the street cars and signage. B, if you come over, I'll give you 100 yen and you and Gilli can ride the trams with me all day long. Mom can go to the onsen and get a massage :)

Moshi Moshi...

Just wanted to show you a photo of my new keitai/cell's the HOTTEST thing out there at the moment...
OK, bad joke - I had an ear infection and went to the doctor last week. After swabbing some stuff around in my ear, the doctor had me spend some quality time with this apparatus, to dry out my ear. Interesting. I've noticed that Japanese is much easier to understand after my time at the ear sauna.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Everyone needs a little magic...

OK, I'll admit it, I am a little hooked on Harry Potter these days. English things in general are a bit scarce in these parts, so I watched some of the earlier HP movies when I first got here (thanks to our library - "toshokan" 図書館) and then got a hold of book 4. I wasn't immediately impressed with the level of writing - but then, of course reminded myself it was, technically, written for a younger audience (and I'm for anything that gets young people fired up about reading!). But now - oh, dear, now I'm done for. I have to read all the books now, but at least I don't have to wait in any long lines at midnight for Book 7 here in Japan :) I'm not going to give a book or movie review here, but let me just say that I've thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world JK Rowling has created.
Here's a photo of me and one of my eikaiwa students posing with Harry and friends at the theater. (Harry's wand was a little broken, so I had to help in with it there-) We caught the show in Nagasaki because Wednesday is Ladies' Night and tickets are only 1000 yen (woohoo!)

You know, it's funny. I had a teacher once who was reading several books at one time. I didn't quite understand how she kept them straight. Now, however, this life affords me more reading time (or I just seize it when I can), and I just realized at school I'm reading Life of Pi, at home I'm reading a book about an Indian woman in South Africa, and on the trains I'm reading a book about Japanese culture. Funny the things we suddenly realize we're able to do -

Friday, August 03, 2007

sayonara party time

Ironically, this sayonara ("goodbye") party was the first time I'd been to Amber's apartment (whose layout was almost EXACTLY like mine - I kept feeling like I was in a parallel universe). This is the time of year that new people are coming in and the ones who've finished their contracts are leaving for travel or home. Sad and exciting at the same time I guess. We had a good time at the party, some of the guys had a fun playing their instruments, and for a while it sounded more like an Irish party than a Japanese one. I spent most of my time talking with the two ladies to my left in the photo - and hopefully one of them will be able to give me Japanese lessons. I'm really excited because on Sunday I'm going to Ureshino (with AWESOME hot springs) with them and the lady who took me to the volcano museum.
Well, I know the group pic is a little odd, but that's what happens when you've got a room full of hot party people and I give my camera to people who are chotto yopparai - the other photo is one I took of the guys who took the photo...madness is starting to break out here in the inaka, ne -

ps - I think I've mentioned this before, but I still can't get over it - no one can drink and drive. It's actually kind of a relief for the rest of us. If you have ANY alcohol, you can't drive, and I don't think you're supposed to ride a bike either. So it was really cute at the end of the night, because the slightly yopparai peeps kept asking if I was alright to ride home - funny, since I only drank apple juice and water...
Maybe this is why it's so common to sleep on the futons here - people are always having parties and then everyone just crashes on the floor :)

yukatta, ringo ame, and usagi-chan

As I was walking around during the Kawamatsuri in my jaunty little jimbei (like "Jim-Bay", though unrelated to Michael Bay), I kept running into my students. Actually, they kept spotting me and calling me to jump into the photo ops. Here are some of the volleyball girls donning their yukatta. The little red things on sticks are like candy apples ("ringo ame"), and for the record, despite usagi-chan's popularity, it seems like I'm usually the only one who does bunny ears in the photos. (うさぎ "usagi" = rabbit. So, yes, the typhoon that we just had was "Typhoon Rabbit"???)