Monday, 23 November 2009

Supermarket shenanigans

An entire dried squid. In a packet. Of course. Had to be. The packet says "surume." Surume (鯣烏賊) is a medium size squid that weighs around eight ounces.

Crazy adverts are amusing in your own language, but hilarious in others. Cocoa No1!!!


The other night a few of Iida block went out for okinomiyaki (お好み焼き). Essentially you order a bowl of uncooked veg, meat and egg. You mix it yourself, cook it on a hotplate in the middle of your table, and coat it with a choice of toppings. It's sort of like a really chunky omelette, with Japanese ingredients. I love omelette, I love okinomiyaki.

Gohei Mochi

This week I was fortunate enough to have gohei mochi for lunch at my Junior High. Gohei mochi is a speciality from Ina, Nagano, just over an hour north of me. It consists of flattened rice surround sticks (like paddles), and you cover it with a sweetened miso paste. It's damn tasty!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Komagane tour

Yesterday me and some fellow JETs took a tour around Komagane to see Kozenji temple, take a walk around the heights and river, and of course, visit the local (famous) brewery, Minami Shinshu. It was my first 'proper' jaunt to Komagane, the weather was fine and the company great.

Wow. Just, wow.

In we go.

Want long life? Drink here. (Or someone kills you on the way out?)

Green, yellow and red! And Erin!

Beware the ghost dog.

Me in the eye of a giant metal beetle.

Super bento! The dark red in the top right is horse. It was surprisingly tasty (and beat the cow tongue I tried on Saturday night! Sheesh, that was the only meal that's ever licked my a$$ on the way out!)

No tour would be complete without a visit to a brewery.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Keitei snaps III

Every class got a personalised mural.

Tree outside my JH school as Autumn was rolling in.

Trees outside my elementary school, again, as Autumn was rolling in.

This maple is so bright it actually distorted the photo! Insane.

The heights and depths of Iijima.

Hike with Ike

Yesterday Ike and me went for jaunt through the back woods/mountains of Iijima. We managed to get fairly high up to where low clouds were rolling through the trees around us. Saturday saw a lot of rain, so the river and streams cutting through the mountains were fast and full! At one point we had to barefoot through a small stream that threatened to obstruct our path. Great fun, but bloody cold! The trees packing the mountains were a really bright rust colour too. Amazing.

Wizard weather

The following pics were taken over a couple of hours on Saturday morning.

Spain and Iraq

Yet another hilarious comment from an elementary student.

The JTE was playing a cd which had various languages reciting the numbers 1- 10. Then he'd hold up a picture of the country's flag to help them guess the country and it's language.

On my turn I held up a Spanish flag and a student yelled "Iraq!"

He saw the expression on my face and then shouted "Iran!"


Taiko at my yakuba

Last Sunday I had another taiko performance. What I didn't realise what that there was a mini festival going on in the grounds of my yakuba, and that's where we would be playing. The realisation that I would most likely be playing to lots of people who know me, including dozens and dozens of the kids I teach at school, didn't take its time to sink in.

Actually I had nothing to be apprehensive about. The show went really well, and I received many compliments from both people I know and random strangers who passed me by afterwards. Awesome.

The banner says "Hanabutai", which means "flower stage."

As well as the rows of stalls of food and festival goods, one of the rooms in my yakuba were used to display my village's fabled handmade Japanese umbrellas. To say the least they are fantastic.

After the performance my taiko group headed to a nearby restaurant, the Radish (recommended by me!) which does really nice katsu. My second victory of the day was by far the sweetest. Allow me to explain. If lemon is put on my plate I always eat it. I find it nice and refreshing, and leaves a pleasant taste behind after a good meal.

Now, foreigners will be familiar with the word "challenge", but never will they hear it as often as being in Japan and having a native say "challenge" every time you look like you may not enjoy something, in this case food. Not one to miss such a golden opportunity, I scoffed my lemon after finishing my meal and looked expectantly at my group. They all looked horrified. I smiled and said "challenji." Bound by the unspoken laws of their own culture, they carefully picked up their lemon slices, looked at eachother, plopped the slices into their mouths and started to chew. The facial expressions at the table were absolutely priceless.

Food of champions!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Yesterday was a national holiday, so a few of us headed north to Matsumoto to go shopping and visit the castle, which is one of the top three in Japan. It's not hard to see why, it was incredible. It just so happens that there was a festival going on too, so we saw samurai and cheerleaders, dollied-up motorbikes... the works! And to top it off, we had a fish'n'chips lunch in an English-style pub. It wasn't the same as back home, but it was nice.

Matsumoto castle in all her glory.

Uzumi bridge.

Samurai waiting to cross the road... as they do...

What on earth is that?!!!

Ye olde Englishe pube!

Yet another manhole cover to add to my collection.

Sun heading down.


L-R: Bryce as a Japanese construction worker, Kasumi as a witch, me as a Power Ranger, Marion as some kind of undead creature, Nic as a giant bear, Ben as something from the crypt, and Joe as the weird Japanese McDonalds guy.

Although an adopted celebration from western culture, some people in Japan still celebrate Halloween. Naturally, all us westerners got together for food, drinks and a great evening. It was obviously also a great excuse for us to dress like a circus for a night.