Taking the world less travelled

Valentines Day in Japan

Posted by on Feb 17, 2010 in Life | 2 comments

Valentines day is different in Japan than it is in Australia. The main thing here is that on Vday girls give chocolate (if it’s hand made all the better) to a special someone. They also have a custom of giving it to male co-workers and the like, but to be honest I’m not all that clued up on the why and how of things. Where as in Australia I think Vday is a thing more for new couples or couples who are trying to bring back that spark, and often involves a card plus chocolate or teddy bears or flowers or necklaces (if there is lots that needs to be repaired in the relationship), and usually the giving is given by the man.

Never the less, what it usually doesn’t involve is a tree.

My JET friends, however, haven’t taken down their Christmas tree, so they decided to decorate it with stuff from the 100 yen store to make it into a valentines day tree!

Apparently the land lady saw the tree and talked to another Japanese person about how Americans celebrate V day by putting up a tree. That’s part of our job – to spread international understanding etc.

At my mountain school just before Vday I was doing a lesson on Shapes, and my JTE, who has great ideas but not very good English, came up with the idea of doing some origami. We made hearts and then she got the kids to write messages to me on them!

The thing is, when I was explaining about how the V day works in Australia, she misunderstood (actually, I think she had preconceived ideas about the day and just ran with it) and started talking about how you give cards etc to people who you want to say “thanks” to, by the sounds of it you can give V day things to anyone and everything. I just ran with it, it was easier.

But the message to me on a heart card was the sweetest idea ever and now I have about 15 hearts from my favourite school. I put up some on my wall – I put up the ones with the neatest handwriting and ones that just didn’t say the predictable “thanks for teaching me English”.

They are next to my mirror so I can feel the love as I brush my teeth. If you are interested in what my apartment looks like you can check out my home tour post.


OK, a standard response, but the hearts were so sweet. This is from a grade 3 girl -there are actually only two grade three students and they share a class with the grade 2 students. This girl is so cute *heart* her!

ありがとう。 またいっしょうにあそぼう

Isn’t that just the cutest! And i’m fairly certain she misspelled Australia – オーストラリア - with a ヤ at the end. So cute! But true – the correct way to say my country of origin is “au-stray-li-ya”.

Dear Carlie
From Sora

This one is from a fourth grade student. Nice use of katakana there.

Sorry I took these in bad lighting… This one is also from a fourth grader.

Dear Carlie
これからも べんきょうをおしえたくだ
From Maya

I like this one a lot!

Dear Carlie
From Kayo

I like the use of English and the creative tale of the “y”. I like it beri macchi!

Speaking of valentines trees, it turns out they actually exist. This is what I saw in Kobe!

It seems you write your wish on a ribbon and tie it to the tree.

Does this by chance say the “backstreet boys”??!

And some Korean.

Well, there you have it, my vday post for this year…


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Kolon Factory

Posted by on Feb 14, 2010 in Life | 0 comments

Here’s another image from the vault as I organise my photos/thoughts from a weekend of Chinese New Year, Valentines Day, Steak (deserves a capital I think!) and Madeline.

This one is from a shop/factory(?) – I’m not sure. Well, it’s a sign in my local area for something. The message isn’t really clear. All I know is I feel sorry for the teddy bear.

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Grow in the Dark!

Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 in Life | 0 comments

Spotted at Nagashima Spa Land (an awesome theme park, review to come sometime…), these key rings actually grow in the dark! It seems to good to be true. I was suspicious, so didn’t buy any, but I would like to see how big they grow – I wonder if they do grow in the dark but shrink again in the light, so you never know… OK, maybe I’m taking this too far now.

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Working On My Fitness

Posted by on Feb 9, 2010 in Health, Life | 4 comments

So I want to get back into shape. No, I need to. Not just for the physical benefits but also for the mental. I’ve been tracking my food intake now for about three weeks. I’ve been using an iphone app called Lose It. I tried a few other apps but in the end I decided to go for this one. It certainly isn’t perfect – a big downfall is that everything is measured in imperial measurements and both Japan and Australia are metric. But I just need an online calculator to fix that. What is good is that it remembered the last quantity of food you entered so if I eat the same amount regularly, which I often do on most foods, I don’t have to select a new measurement each time. i also like that you can access the food when you are not online, everything is easy to input, and there is an easy graph to see your progress. You can also sync it to the website which means even more graphs and information.

This week I’ve been pretty good for the most part sticking to my daily calories. My two main changes have been that I have stopped eating a packet of chips every night (if I get hungry at night, a bit of an issue for me, I am opting for crackers or fruit, foods that still get me going but are lower in calories and are better nutritionally somewhat). And I have stopped drinking so much soft drink. I am letting myself have some on the weekends for now but I suspect in the future it will only be something I do when I go out for dinner, for instance – I’m finding I don’t miss it at all.

As for working out, right now I am trying to work out three days a week, with hopefully at least one workout high intensity. I want to gradually increase this to four workouts a week by the end of the month. I’m looking forward to it warming up a bit more too, so I can go outside to go running and I also want to purchase a skipping rope.

– not necessarily my favourite food but my most eaten food.


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A week or so in Japan

Posted by on Feb 8, 2010 in Life | 7 comments

Here’s a week or so in the life of me!


The week starts off with the water in the gutters all iced over. Coming from a country that is nice and warm always, stuff like this is exciting to me.


So at my middle school they were playing volleyball. At the end the winners played the teachers. OMG it was freezing inside that gym, I think I died. I didn’t have gym shoes either, but in the end one of the students let me borrow her shoes and I played for 2 minutes with the teachers, scoring one goal but also losing one goal. So I guess I contributed nothing.


An assembly after the volley ball. At things like this you bow before and after someone does a speech. I think it is a better idea than trying to clap cold hands. It is certainly different though.


The view as I walk from school to the bus stop. I always think that it is just so beautiful around here. The camera never does it justice.

I am taking all these photos from my iphone, so the quality is pretty crappy. I also always seem to get a smudge on the photos, but that is just grubby me.


At the JET mid year conference. Hmmmm…. This was better than the orientation in Tokyo for sure, but still…. The best things I got out of it were a couple of ideas for games (reverse bingo anyone?). There was also information about the teaching English program in Finland and how they can totally speak English by the end of their high school years, but of course everything that was addressed will not be implemented in Japan. They could do it – after all I’m pretty sure if they started the Middle school textbooks in grade 3 here they would be able to do it easily. Thinking that perhaps they would move a bit slower than what they do in middle school, I see no reason why a grade six student could not graduate primary school with the English knowledge of what a current grade 9er (grade 3 in middle school) would have. However it is Japan’s policy that we just play games with primary school kids so it’s not going to happen…

That’s my thoughts/rant for now!


We were the bad kids up the back…


My first time bowling in Japan. Their shoes aren’t clown shoes! I wanted to keep them.


Before bowling we had all you can eat pizza which was pretty good. I also won bowling which is an unexplained phenomenon and I hope I didn’t break the universe.


I still can’t believe people eat the whole fish, head, tail, bones, all. I can’t fathom it. The thought makes me want to throw up.


The bus on the way to work.


From the top of the hill, walking to the bus stop from my middle school


My mountain school. This is all the kids in the school. :)


They has a skipping expert come in from another city to teach skipping skills. It was actually a lot of fun and I think I want to get a skipping rope when the weather warms up a little bit. I remember when I was a child I used to be able to skip for hours.


Rice fields everywhere were getting… um… machined over. This one is my back yard.


Tis amazing! There are actually people on my bus today!


View from the bus


Dinner. Home made wong tong soup – perfect for a cold night.


Everywhere was covered in cloud. This is me waiting for the bus…


More cloud.


But when I got to the top of the mountain where my school was I realised I had actually stepped out of the cloud. That was pretty cool.


Middle schoolers serving lunch. At my schools everyone eats in one room.


More fish. But the vegetable thing to the right side has grown on my and I enjoy it now. At middle school you can choose how much you eat which is fantastic. I always had trouble getting through all this food. Now I am trying to be more healthy in my everyday life I’m trying not to eat more than half of the rice. I try not to be guilty about throwing out all the food I don’t eat. I am thinking that if I don’t see the results I want by the start of the new school year in April I’m going to try and cancel school lunches and bring in my own. The downside would be losing valuable interaction time with the students.


After lunch you have to separate all the rubbish. You also wash your milk carton and unfold it.


This is still the cloud day… After school the cloud had cleared at everything looked amazingly clear. You can’t see it through the camera as well, but it was awesome. This is my middle school.


Friday! This is at an elementary school. I was always a fussy eater, but as I got older I became less and less fussy and now I eat quite a lot. Unfortunately, being back in Japan I feel like a fussy eater. I don’t like seafood and I don’t like citrus fruits. These two things are often served. I managed to get rid of the orange that was served with this meal, but had to eat the tuna croquette. *sigh*.


So at this school I always had a fax machine in the corner of my desk. Now I have a fax machine in the middle of my desk and a computer on the corner of my desk. Yeah, thanks guys. I have lots of room to work on. :P And I can’t even feel comfortable using the computer because I sit next to the vice principal. :P


View of the primary school as I wait for the bus. Yayayay, it’s Friday and now weekend time!


Well, that was my week or so, let me know what you think! Do you want me to post more stuff like this?


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Life, Priorities, Thoughts and Life… Recontracting?

Posted by on Feb 5, 2010 in Life | 3 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life and stuff. I know thinking is bad for your health, and I’ve concluded that the answer is 42, I’m still no closer to the ultimate question.

What do I want to achieve in this life? There are many things that I want to do. I’m young but I know if you don’t set out clear plans and intentions, the days roll round quickly into years and suddenly it’s five years later and you are no closer to where you want to be.

One thing’s for sure – I don’t want an ordinary life. Some people are happy with a nice, comfortable life with 3.2 kids and a home of their own. And I guess I would like that too. But I want to experience other things as well. I’m not a great adventurer but I would like to see the world.

The thing is my careers of choice are not the stable income time. My careers of choice are the type where 2% are rich and the rest are struggling to make end meet….

I am also no closer to achieving anything in my chosen professions than I was 5 years ago. They haven’t been high on the priority list. They should have been. Japanese definitely took over. Lately… Lately I want to keep learning Japanese but I feel like I need to put these other things into my life as well.

This has all come about partly because it is recontracting time with JET. Do I stay or do I go? I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s due today but I’m handing in my forms tomorrow to my supervisor. So I have just over 12 hours to decide. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I’ve seriously been thinking hard about it for two weeks and I am perhaps no where near closer to a decision. I’m looking into my life’s priorities and I’m not sure.

So that’s where I’ve been. Deep in thought. I don’t know. I’m too indecisive.

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SMAP in Pocari Sweat

Posted by on Jan 16, 2010 in Reviews | 0 comments

That photo was seen on a vending machine. The stars and idols really are everywhere here. It’s great! I think in Australia at least, it’s the “average, everday” person who sells things on TV (hired actors but not famous). Where as in Japan it is the famous people who appear in advertisements. In particular, Kimura Takuya is the king of ads, I think he is in every second one.

Here are some of the Pocari Sweat (a drink) ads I could find:

Smap vs The Family


Smap vs The Old Men


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Do you think ads with famous people or the “everyday” people are more effective?

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