Friday, February 29, 2008

Kujaku 孔雀

Here's a photo of one of the pieces I saw at the Lantern Festival. You'll be happy to know I chose not to post the picture of the scary pig heads (real - NOT lanterns) that were on display directly across from this peacock. ??? pigheads??? They were all around this shrine-looking thing. Almost like all the pigs were at a drive-in movie, but facing the wrong way... Never could get a straight answer/explanation about that one!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bagel & Bagel

Funny how I can see or taste something I haven't had in a while, and suddenly I really miss it. Perhaps it's good that these bagels are unattainable in my area. They're way too good. As I've probably mentioned before, many people here go on trips and bring back "omiyage" for everyone at school. Omiyage is usually some kind of indigenous food that comes conveniently wrapped for individual "distribution". It's really easy to find at tourist shops and even the bus/train stations as you're on your way out. Well, bagels aren't your typical "omiyage" fare, (but then again, I'm not so typical, either) but since we did a lesson in class on food ordering that involved a bagel shop, I figured I'd pick up some real bagels for the teachers to try. Since I have to work Saturday for our graduation ceremony (yes, already), I had yesterday off. I went to Fukuoka for the day to get a hair cut, to continue the "Starbuck's Project" (ask Chris), to eat Mexican food, and to just generally soak in the diversity of city life for a few minutes.
Well, seems that the bagels - and the rum raisin cream cheese - are a big hit. :) I keep getting a lot of "gochisosama deshitas" (roughly translates to "thanks for the food").

Friday, February 22, 2008

Drummer boy

I know I promised the Snow Festival pics (I'll get to them - honest), but I just had to post these from last night at the Nagasaki Lantern Festival. I was right up front for this performance of Okinawan drumming (drumming + crisp movements + excited whistling + exuberant faces!).
There was so much joy in the kids' expressions...I can still hear and feel the delightful beats inside me this morning!

The white sock-looking things they are wearing are called "tabi"

Can you see the large lanterns in the shape of people in the background?

Ry - I really think you should come over and try this!

***Don't foget to click on the photos to see the larger versions!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

you can say that again....?

This killed me. Walking around what I can only think must be the red light district of Nagasaki, I saw another example of the fine use of English in this country. It's probably a "snack bar" - but not the kind where they serve chips and dips.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

hey, there, puddin' -

I think I've passed the point of no return...I think I've now really made some ties that I will be sad to 'break' when I finally leave this place.
It's a common joke among the gaijin (foreigners) that the Japanese people are always asking us when we're LEAVING (like they can't get rid of us fast enough!). But the other night, when I was out to dinner with a nice couple whom I see each week to help them practice English (more "enkaiwa"), they asked how long I was staying in Japan. When I told them I'd probably leave in August, 2009, they said how sad they would be when I left! It's nice to feel wanted :)
At the end of our dinner, the shop owner brought over some special desserts for us - this pudding in these very uniquely-shaped cups. Mmmm...oishikatta, yo!


Thanks, Cathy! The Valentine care package got here and most of the cookies were even in one piece! (just remember, when cookies are broken, all the calories fall out - so, no worries!) I also liked the styrofoam snacks you sent :) Very filling, they go with everything, and no calories! And who knew that Bounce scented dryer sheets could say "I love you" like that? Thanks so much! txo

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here are some of the cuties in front of our "e-space" English board. They are the winners of the Valentine's Day word search, and in the other photo you see another student doing a different word search on the board.
And here's a little bit of Japanese culture trivia I might have mentioned last year - Feb. 14 is a day when the ladies give men chocolates...then the men get to wait a month and give something to the ladies on "Howaito Day" (white day), March 14. I'm trying not to get depressed that it's been several years since I've had a would be nice to feel endeared to someone again. But I did get a very cute Valentine card from my aunt - if you look closely, you can see it on the "e-space" board there.
Thanks, Aunt B!
Oh - and good luck (?) to Dad today (he's getting married at his new house in Georgia).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ice Lion

I've returned from the Great White North (Sapporo, Hokkaido), fairly unfrostbitten. Believe it or not, I've been much colder here than I was at the Snow Festival. More photos to follow, but here's one from my keitai. In this area of the festival there were several large ice sculptures around a huge "tree" made of lights.
(and here's a photo tip - to get that super-cool starry effect with the lights, just engage in some heavy breathing on your lens first! ;O !)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hip Hoppin' Blossoms

Well...not exactly. The hip hopping was after I saw the blossoms. Saturday I met two former students in Fukuoka and went to see the ume (plum) blossoms in Dazaifu. The shrine should look familiar, since I went last year, but this year I got to see the flowers (they're only around a short time at the beginning of February). They were just starting to peek out, but they were worth the trip. Click on the link in the title to go to see other photos from Dazaifu and the hip hop class. You can read about that in the comments under the photos - I've got to catch a train now to Fukuoka - again - because I fly out of there tomorrow to go to the snow festival in Sapporo. ja, ne!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Here's the lovely ryokan (traditional Japanese style inn) where I stayed one night I was in Beppu. (more photos of it in the slideshow - click on the "monkey see, monkey do" post title)

monkey see, monkey do?

They really remind me of my students...(because they're so cute, yo!)
I'll let you guys fill in the thought bubbles for these characters.
If you missed it on the other post, click on the title of this post to see the other photos from my trip to Beppu on my picassa webpage. You can see them in thumbnail or slide show format. (please let me know if you can see the oh-so-clever captions, on the slide show, onegai!)


The other night when the girls were over for our "enkaiwa" Mihoko saw this in my fridge and asked, "Is this toothpaste?"
(because in Japanese the pronunciation of this product would be like "paste-oh")
(I can just see the ad now - "Ever have a FABulous Italian meal you didn't want to end? Then brush with PESTO!...")