Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hello - I've been out most of this week doing various things for work, but on one of my rides here and there, I stopped to take a photo of this flower that's blooming now, higanbana. It's really lovely, and it seems to just sprout up everywhere in white, cream, and red. I believe the name has something to do with sparklers/fireworks.

And I'm doing my level best to be as genki as I can, but as the second memorial day for Mom approaches, I'm just feeling like I've lost a lot more than just my mom, and it's really wearing me down. Sorry in advance if I'm a little quiet for a while.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Art...the universal language... (?)

One night in Sapporo I took a little field trip to a park designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Very interesting stuff, but by the time my several forms of transportation delivered me to the site, it was dark :( . I do have a few shots I'll share later, but what do you think of this sign? I would really like to know what the 3rd one down means...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monkey magic...

Well, though Sam's still hungry (when is he NOT?), he did make two new friends. My student remembered to bring her Show and Tell monkey doll today, so Rirrakuma was saved from being Sam's dinner and got to go home with his rightful owner tonight.

Music survey

On a sad note, I just found out my supervisor
(26 year old Japanese Teacher of English who sits next to me)
lost his father last night. Prayers, onegai shimasu.
When I was in Sapporo studying Japanese, one of the things I did for homework was a music survey of the locals. Whereas my classmates primarily hit the beer gardens for their research, I tried to find other colorful subjects as well. Here are some of the ones who weren't too shy to have their photo taken.

These students were just hanging out after class one night, so we had a nice little chat about music and their graphic arts studies.

These cats cracked me up. It seemed like these two men had been friends forever with the rapport they had with each other. The one gesturing really likes Elvis.

This was a really cool little store run by a lady who'd been to Egypt. I was lured here by the sale on skirts...I bought that maroon one I'm wearing in the photo of me with the girls in yukata.

Meet Faye-Faye. S/he performs almost every night in a little restaurant/bar in the arcade. His/her favorite music is old Chinese and, of course, his/her own. :)

Here are the 'yukata girls' I met in the park at the beer garden. They were having a party for all of their nursing colleagues.

I walked up to these guys and told them they were the coolest looking guys I'd seen that night, so I figured they'd be interesting blokes. They were just some students out enjoying themselves. Too bad you can't read the shirt on the guy in the middle. Claaaasic English, but not quite appropriate for my (mostly) "G" rated site here :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Don't forget...

I don't know if it was a Boy Scout thing, or if it was just a genius idea that my dad (a Scoutmaster) had, but whenever a scout forgot something somewhere, he'd have to sing to get it back. I did this kind of thing in my art classroom, because students invariably left negatives in the enlarger. Today one of my students left her Show and Tell object (apparently a monkey doll) home, making it difficult for her to SHOW it. So, I took her Rirrakuma omamori charm* hostage until I get to see the monkey doll tomorrow. We'll see how long it takes for her to remember :)
Rirrakumachan hopes it's soon - Sam seems a little hungry...

*the kids all have these kinds of handmade charms hanging on their bags. They can be characters, symbols of the sport (ie: volleyball), etc. Usually someone involved with their club makes them for each of the members to commemorate an event or to get them psyched up for an upcoming competition.
Rirrakuma - I think that roughly translates to "Relax Bear"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In the US, the "big" high school events seem to be things like Homecoming and Prom, and they are somewhat exclusive (usually the upperclassmen participate more). In Japan, it's been my experience that the "big" school events are the "Bunkasai" (Culture Festival) and "Taikusai" (Sports Festival). These events involve the entire student body in various ways, culminating on the festival days, which happen to be last weekend and this weekend for my school this year.

In this little slide show, you see the drawings the students did of their homeroom teachers. The numbers you see in the pictures are the year & grade of the students - ie: 3-1 = third year, class number 1. Which translates to class 1 (out of 8) of the senior class. I wish you knew the teachers in the pictures - it would make them even funnier. My favorite is the one of the two teachers sitting at a table in a "snack bar" (not like those in the US - Japanese snack bars are basically places where men pay for female employees' (hostesses) drinks so that they'll keep them company).
Note - the teachers in that picture are both male...

You can click on the slide show to see the pictures & comments in my Picassa web album.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sam here making a few friends with the locals in Hokkaido...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Wall

Did I mention this before?
I've taken up climbing. Well, I've only been able to 'take it up' about half way on this wall, but I'm giving it a go. It's much more difficult than I expected. I kind of feel like there's no way to practice or train, I just have to DO IT. I'd really like a vertical wall for warm up, but, I guess I just have to grit my teeth and just push myself on this one. The guy at the bottom there on belay keeps egging me on - telling me that it's so easy to make excuses to not come and climb, but he's doing a good job of ticking me off enough to make sure I keep coming back and challenging the wall :)

One of the great things about being here in Japan is that I never quite know what to expect. That can certainly work for or against me. But this time I lucked out. I ended up finding this wall when I was at our sports festival at the gym here in Nagasaki city. I was curious, so I wandered over to see what this was all about. I think I still prefer rapelling, but this will do for now.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Just a couple of reference shots for my sketchbook...

Here's a museum at the botanical garden I visited on a school field trip in Sapporo. It was nice to see something different than the traditional Japanese for a change.

These maple leaves will be turning scarlet soon to herald the arrival of fall...I'd like to see this pattern in fabric.

Here's a little nod to Weston -
(since I didn't have any peppers :) )
Actually, I'm thinking this could be inspiration for a new kind of potato chip...

Monday, September 08, 2008

YMC Yea!

Hmmm...can't seem to upload photos at the moment. But I hope you enjoy this very short clip from one of the most amusing performances at our culture festival! This teacher must be the KING at karaoke!

Yea! It works again...Here's a shot of the teacher, now donning a red bow, joined by a few energetic cheerleaders.

Friday, September 05, 2008

It's funny how we can "see" things, and then through the help of the camera, we can "see" things differently. That's probably why I like photography so much. That and because it's kind of a legacy of sorts from my dad, I guess. Speaking of Dad, I paid special attention to this glass ball sculpture because Dad used to have several of these green glass balls around the house. He made really cool macrame hangers for them and hung them about. I think he got the glass balls from his USCG stint in the Pacific. Well, here I am on the other side of that ocean and obviously some other artist thought that they were an interesting medium, too. I'm not crazy about my compositions here, but I was fascinated in the material (the green glass) and it's reflective, refractive, and transparent qualities. It was also kind of a natsukashii (nostalgic) moment for me because they remind me of "home" (a little ironically, since I think they actually originate in Japan!).

Here's what the sculpture looked like in the hotel entrance way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You know it's a
good party
when you can barely set foot in the genkan...

(for those of you unfamiliar with a "genkan" - it's the entry way in a Japanese house or building where you leave your shoes.)
Thanks for the pic, B!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hello, sushi lovers!

Here's a helpful sign I found in Sapporo -

Which is your favorite?

(don't forget to click on the picture to make it big enough to actually read)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

omochi yori/kaeri pa-ty!

So it looks like the winner is...Bernie! Yeah - out of all you who SAID you were going to come visit me here in Japan, this guy is the only one of you lot to actually follow through, yo. ;o I had a really good time showing off my little corner of the world to my American friend here. The night he came down to my place I hosted an "omochi yori" (pot luck) party so B could taste all sorts of Japanese food (and so I wouldn't have to cook ;) ).
OHMIGOODNESS did we ever have lots of food!

And people! I think there were 28 people in the apartment at one point!
I didn't know that I knew that many people!
And, 15 minutes before the end of the party, those amazing creatures - otherwise known as Japanese ladies - were a whirlwind in my kitchen and suddenly everyone had a take home plate, all the rooms were clean, and my kitchen was spotless. They're just brilliant those J-ladies!