Sunday, February 28, 2010

That’s a bit cheeky!

Last week on our trip to Space World while we were amongst a crowd of people dressed up in their costumes (read Megs blog below if you’re a bit lost here) we witnessed these two shellas wandering past.

Forgetting other people speak English in this country I said to Megan, in a rather loud voice, ‘do you think these two are dressed up or do they always look like that!?’

Much to my surprise they heard me, needles to say I was given a rather disgusted look. We believed they were from some Eastern European country and travelling with their sugar daddy. Every time they took a step the skirt (or lack of) rose up enough to reveal some cheek.

With Megan posing in a shot I managed to sneak this image!

You may think I crossed the line capturing this but I can assure you every person walking behind them saw the exact same thing without any effort at all! Even the strange people in costume thought it was a bit much!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Space World

In need of a little fun and excitement over the weekend Nathan and I took my niece and nephew to a near-ish theme park as a promised Christmas present.

Having just been to Universal Studios we weren't too sure how Space World would compare but we were pleasantly surprised... we would probably even go as far as to say it was better!

There was a great balance of not so scary rollercoasters we could all enjoy as well as a few heart in the mouth ones only Nathan and Jo were brave enough to queue for.

Our visit just so happened to coinside with a "cos-play" event. There's a really funny culture of dressing up in crazy, random costumes here in Japan - something none of us can quite work out - but basically the park was overrun with people walking round wearing strange costumes complete with wigs and the most ridiculously high shoes! It certianly gave us some extra entertainment!

We had an excellent day with Jo and the kids... hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ready Steady Cook!

At school we have an ESS club, the idea is that we get together twice a week and students can practice their English, spending time with a 'native English speaker' (me). It's a simple, straight forward idea without many things that could go wrong. The one key component, apart from people actually showing up, is using English. This is where we hit a speed bump. Plain and simple the students just don't use the English they have and would much rather resort to their native tongue, a very common problem any English teacher faces. At times it's like getting blood out of a stone!

This aside we still plow ahead with our activities, usually parties, a good excuse to eat chips and chocolate. On Tuesday this week we broke the mold and ventured into the school home economics room to do some baking!

I don't know how we did it but the chocolate cake was amazing, the cookies were little treats of treasure and the pikelets were slightly tough but covered in jam the Japanese members didn't know the difference. I was a master chef directing traffic and fending off teenagers who would rather eat the batter than the finished product (when they weren't looking I would sneak some).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Run faster!

After a lengthy break you'll all be pleased to see the blue text author is back! Not that Megs hasn't done a stella job of keeping you all posted on the goings on. Round of applause for her. Thank you.

This evening's blog will commence with a pictorial 'look back' at a school event we had last week.

The school marathon.

Yes each poor soul has to run a marathon (actually 15km for the girls and 20km for the boys). To make matters worse the first half of it is up the hill and the second half is right back down. Just when you want to collapse with the pain of a 10km climb you get spun around and fall all the way back to the finish line. They certainly know how to break them down.

Surprisingly all the students did an amazing job and the winning time was a speedy (actually I think he had a rocket on his back) 1hr 19m. Considering it's virtually a half marathon and half of it is uphill that time is very very fast. Trust me.

I think the Japanese are built to run. A little like the Kenyans. Maybe the difference, when comparing Olympic medal tallies, is that one country has lions to make your training more realistic and one has a world leading train system to take you between villages. Just comparing physical appearance most Japanese have the slender figure of a long distance athlete. Maybe they should borrow some training lions.

That aside each student completed the race with great enthusiasm (well most of them) and I certainly enjoyed directing traffic and yelling at them to run faster!

Anticipation at the start line

Sprinting off the start line

The journey begins

Mothers hard at work making soup at the finish line

All smiles at the finish

Saturday, February 13, 2010

TV star...

When i'm not teaching 6 year olds how to say "I like apples" one of the more random aspects of my job is to help present an English TV show for the local cable channel.

"Lets Enjoy English Conversation" is basically a five minute show that airs several times every day with the same episode running for an entire month.

Basically myself, one other ALT, an English teacher and a film crew of two get together once a month for an afternoon of hilarity as we each stumble our way through our lines in front of a camera.

Each episode is on a different topic and filmed in a different location. We are given the script when we arrive and pretty much have 5 minutes to memorize our's fair to say we are the worlds worst when it comes to remembering our lines so what should probably only take about half an hour to film takes all afternoon!

The aim of the show is to help teach conversational English so each episode is basically me and the other ALT having a scripted conversation about something completely random which the English teacher then explains in Japanese.

It's actually quite a bit of fun but boy am I glad we don't have cable... I have never seen an episode and never want to... especially when you have random people in restaurants coming up to you saying "aren't you the girl off TV?"

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It's got to be said that the Japanese have very strange ideas when it comes to fashion! I can give you many an example but the one that has us dropping our jaws everyday is the ridiculous "uniform" Japanese girls seem to insist on wearing during winter.

It doesn't matter how bitterly cold it is, how much snow is on the ground, how freezing the wind is... the list goes on... everywhere you look girls are wandering around wearing nothing more than tiny little skirts, bare legs and skimpy jackets that have a token fur hood.

Back at home we would use a whole array of not so nice words to call them but here it's considered totally acceptable to wear next to nothing even though it's literally only a few degrees outside.


And while we're on the topic of 'fashion'... check out this wedding dress displayed in one of the many bridal shops about the place.... I rest my case!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Meet Spidy the spider... he is our friend.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The weekend that was...

This weekend we went from being hermits at home to social butterflies flitting about the countryside! Things kicked off after school on Friday when we jumped in the car and headed to a nearby town called Nakatsu to stay with an English friend of ours who was dieing to play tour guide to all the local hot-spots! After a night of way too many Japanese snacks, a delicious made-from-scratch curry (thanks Dash) and giggling over stories from school we set off the next morning to check out the Nakatsu castle.

If you've been to J
apan you'll know that once you've seen a castle or two they all start to look the same but this one was much bigger than others we have seen and made for the perfect back drop to try out our sweet jumping poses!

From there we headed out to the countryside to a famous tunnel which was built by hand way back yonder by a monk who for some reason felt he needed to devote his life to such a mission. It was pretty impressive and once again lent itself nicely to a few more sweet jumps!

And with that... the sights of Nakatsu were all done and dusted so we headed back into Yamaga to spend the afternoon and night at Jo's. Not only were we treated to an amazing roast lamb meal (we were seriously in heaven) but we also got to make and decorate not one but two kinds of cupcakes for the kids' school fair.

Which is of course where we spent all of this morning! It was actually a lot of fun to the see the kids that I teach letting loose and enjoying themselves without having to constantly stand in lines and bow! The morning started with mochi making... both Nathan and I showed our muscles (or lack of) by having a turn during the pounding process and then moved through to the kids entertianing us with an operetta... we might not have been able to understand a word of it (we did pick up that it was about a fox... and at one point the words for cold, snow, blue and red were used) but Emily did an amazing job with her solo part in one of the songs!

The morning ended with what they call a Bazzaar... basically the school fair part when lots of random stuff gets put out that you can buy along with lots of yummy food. We came home with lots of the baking Jo had done... some of the cupcakes we had made... and a touch lamp from the 60's (random!) but it only cost 100 yen - who can resisit a bargain!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Temple hopping pictures

Hello again,

Feels like ages since I wrote anything on this blog! To be honest there hasn't been too much to report lately! Outrageous Fortune (a NZ TV series for all the international community who read this)has secured all our spare time and taken over our lives, so until we finish it don't expect any dazzling reports about our life! You won't have to wait long though as 3 episodes a night is eating through the series very quickly.

So with nothing interesting to write about here are some pictures we took a week or so ago exploring more of the fantastic temples and shrines the area has to offer. Enjoy!