Tuesday, October 30, 2007

stunt double Halloween aisu kurimu

Here's a quick pic to remind ya'll what I look like. I went up to Sasebo this weekend for the huge Yosakoi dance festival. Very cool costumes, very cool music, very cool moves. Think: Japanese samurai + The PropellerHeads dipped in the Fifth Element.
I have a short video that I'll post once my workshop presentation is done - I've got to present at the mid-year conference for the JETs this week...so I'm a little busy.
Happy Halloween to you - I'm going to try to carve a Japanese pumpkin with my kids at lunch tomorrow - but the best I could find (and I looked ALL over) is a green lumpy thing that doesn't really stand up very well. We'll see. We're going to sing "The Monster Mash" too - can't wait.

OH - and if you haven't gotten the memo - I'm coming to the US - Arriving in ATL Nov. 17, leaving from there Dec. 5. We'll be in Disney for Thanksgiving, and South Florida from the 24-28ish. If anyone wants to see me - let me know asap! :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Welcome to my little apato! Here is the "genkan" or front entry way where you take off your shoes (they go on a shelf on the left). To the left is a hall that leads to the sink and toilet, to the right is the office/wardrobe, ahead and to the right is the kitchen, straight ahead is the lounge, and just before that on the left is my bath. The little red curtain thingys are called "noren" - you can see them at the entry way to many restaurants, too.

Here's the room where I keep my clothes (on the rack on the right) and have an "office" of sorts. When I'm wildly motivated, I even use that exercise ball for more than just a computer chair.

Here's another look at the wall behind the desk - picture of Mom, bus & train schedules, picture of my former school in Takaki, poster Chris sent me from Switzerland, necklaces, headphones, picture of Gabby Reece to encourage wild motivation to exercise (maybe it would work better if I'd printed it in color)...

"the bath"

Japanese "bathrooms" are generally different than the ones in the US. If you need to go to the bathroom, you say "Toire wa doko desu ka" because the toilet is usually in a little room by itself. Notice the little sink on top of the tank - many places use this as the sink (but I like to wash my hands in the one that's outside in the hall). On the toilet you'll also find that you have a choice between a 大 "big" and 小 "small" flush - just another indication of Japanese environmental awareness. (did you see the birthday dragonfly Dad made me? on the right are my pics of Paris buildings on the Seine)

When I first got to my apato last year (before the renovations, so I still had an old toilet), the river rocks in the top sink part above the toilet tank threw me, but I was so relieved to not have a "squatty potty"!

The actual bath area is much better than it was - now the washing machine has its own drain, and I don't have to dodge the tube in the shower. The only thing that's tricky is figuring out how to heat the water with the gas heater. Though the room is spacious, it's FREEZING in the winter! I now understand this concept of "taking a bath" - you shower off quickly to get clean, then soak in a hot tub to get warm. Sounds good on paper (so to speak), but for those of you who know how tall I am, you can imagine how that tub there is not the picture of relaxation for me. This is why I go to the onsens (hot springs) as often as possible. You'll also notice that I have a DRYER - the other reason why the other JETs are jealous - I usually just hang my clothes out on the verandah to dry, but on cold mornings, it's REALLY nice to pop my clothes in the dryer for a quick spin.

...my spacious and modern kitchen...

Have I mentioned that my apato is the envy of most of the other JETs around here? It's huge by comparison - I think the boys' apts could probably fit in my kitchen. It will be really strange going back to the States where everything is so BIG. But such as it is - here it is. This is the view from the door separating the kitchen and living room. On the right side you see sliding doors - the one good thing about my place is that I can open up or close off rooms, depending on the desired temperature. A student made the basket thing on the wall, and underneath it is the rice cooker that I never use. I bet I can use it for more than rice, but I honestly keep forgetting I have it! On the floor next to the fridge is my shopping bag. I live near the grocery store, and to help save the environment (and 'cuz I get to collect these little green stamps that are undoubtedly good for SOMEthing), I just use that when I go shopping (which is almost everyday). Assorted photos, cards, etc. posted on the fridge, next to that the sink, and "burnable" garbage can. But don't get me started on all the ways we have to separate garbage - we have to buy special bags and have different disposal days for each type. It's really easy once you can FIND a schedule and then READ the schedule. Everyone jokes about the hassle, but at the end of the day it's really not all that difficult.

Here is my china cabinet (don't laugh, Papasan), and next to it my microwave oven/oven. Notice my pet fish, "Men" (that's Japanese for "pasta/noodles") on top of the cabinet in one of the pasta jars. He recently won the lottery, sold the jar, and moved to a huge place on the verandah - pics of his new digs later.

Here's my gas stove. For several months I lived in the fear that I would set my place on fire. But now I rather enjoy having electric bills that hardly ever go above about 2000 yen.

And at last - my Japanese microwave "renji" ("range"?). It only took me 4 months to figure out how to use it. I was ecstatic when I figured out it was also a toaster and an oven. As long as I don't need to cook more than one piece of fish at a time, it's brilliant :)

Any questions?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

...and the living room/lounge...

At long last! I finally got my art up and remembered to take photos of my little Japanese apato. This is my "living room/lounge" and frequently where I sleep. I either throw my futon on the tatami floor in one of these rooms or fold the couch down and sleep on it.

When they were renovating my house last year I came in to find a huge hole in my floor - the workers had taken a section of the tatami out, and were underneath my house fixing pipes...well, no WONDER I froze last year...underneath the straw tatami mat is maybe a 1/4" piece of plywood, and then 3 feet of AIR and then soil! BUT I LOVE the tatami anyway. You can see I have a TV set, but since NHK charges you for just HAVING one, I disconnected the cable and never watch Japanese TV. Not that I watched much in the US anyway - the TV is now mostly just a stand for my year-round Christmas tree. On the right side of the top photo is a sliding glass door to a verandah, and out the window in the back is a hill up to an elementary school playground.

One piece of furniture of interest is that square table in the middle of the back room. It's a "kotatsu" and it's your best friend in winter! Underneath is a framework holding a heater, and you put a blanket between that and the top of the table (it really IS safe-). Many a night I sat and read there - getting as much of my body underneath it as possible! Please post questions - I'm beginning to forget what's "foreign" about my place!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

acess denied :(

Of course now that I FINALLY got my act together and finished "fixing up" my apato, photographed it, and downloaded pics, Blogger seems to be having technical difficulties...hopefully it will be resolved soon... gomenasai :(

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deodeo darling?

So since Dad isn't here with his shotgun and I'm having a hard time getting the Surinak filter to work overseas, I wonder if you all could tell me what you think about this nice fella I met on the bike ride from Hiroshima to Miyajima last week. Certainly the tallest guy I've seen, he's a snappy dresser, and oh, what a nice smile, desho?
(This one is definitely a candidate for the BG All Stars Roadside Attractions rag, eh, T?)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

...where the tide ebbs and flows...

Just letting you all know that I'm back home safe from my "pilgrimage" to Hiroshima. I actually spent more time on Miyajima (island), home of this famous gate, because I found it to be a much more peaceful place than Hiroshima City.
I'm told the torii (gate) and shrine are "floating" because the island itself was (is?) considered sacred ground, and so people couldn't set foot on land.
Somehow I don't think Mom would have ever chosen to come here, but I somehow felt a bit of peace as I sat on the stones here watching the tide come in...and go out again...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

一周忌- "Isshuuki" - the first anniversary

The first anniversary of someone's death is called いっしゅうき.
Today is my mom's.
(I can't believe it's been a year, either)
Since I can't be with my family, I've taken off of work and am making a pilgrimage of sorts to Hiroshima. I'm taking my bike and tent with me and my goal today is to camp out on Miyajima - the island that has the famous "floating" red torii. Where these's a torii, there's a shrine, so I'm taking this photo with me and some chocolate that I got for Mom in Korea. In the Japanese homes I've visited, they've set up little shrines in their homes dedicated to loved ones lost, and they frequently place food and drink (sake, beer) in front of them.
Well, with a heavy heart, I'm off. Mom always did say that 'that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger' -