Wednesday, June 29, 2005

fashionable idiots

The Japan Times Online has an important article on fashionable idiots that wear armour to work and contribute to environmental destruction.

This suit-wearing regime is a massive contrast to the attire I donned in my previous jobs. So why have I joined this greenhouse gas producing plot? Or a better question is: "Will it ever be possible to sway the mindset of the biggest employer of English teachers in Japan and their clients?"

I think I'll enquire about it at work today. Hopefully they won't fire me but seriously consider the issue of global warming and Japan's promise. I'll try some relevant big words like Kyoto Protocol and ones honour to keep their promise.

It's 30 degrees and raining here in Hiroshima today with little change predicted in the forecast. So what would you look like at work without the neck-tie? Save the ozone layer: ditch the suit

weekly carnage

Hiroshima International Centre is where I try to go every week for Japanese language lessons. It's a great place to meet others also struggling with life in Japan and an opportunity to obliterate the Japanese language without offending too many people. Last night's lesson was largely about flavours of lollies: strawberry, orange, grape and apple. This is very important for some reason... I'm sure that reason will come to me one day.

My brother has enquired about the chewing gum that increases breast size. All too late this week I'm afraid, I'll have to ask about that next week. Meanwhile, my shopping experimentation adventures continue.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

blind jousting

There are a plethora of activities one can carry out whilst cruising around town on your bicycle. I am constantly amused by the ladies wearing face shades that look like the wearer is a fully qualified welder. In my brief survey of other things you can do while BMXing in Hiroshima, I came up with this short list:
  • chat with your co-cyclists
  • smoke cigarettes
  • send email from your moblie phone
  • call your friend to ask if they are waiting for you somewhere else
  • navigate your way with the moving map GPS in your phone
  • hog the shade while you wait beside the pedestrian crossing
  • film the action as you ride
  • use your umbrella to shield from the rain or to practice jousting (works best with a transparent plastic umbrella)
  • never eat, but drinking McDonald's Coke is okay
  • dink your friends
  • wear high heels on your way to work
The list goes on... Any suggestions for testing are welcome.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

learning Japanese

Sunset behind a torii gate beside the Hiroshima castle grounds.
To help me learn Japanese, I have started applying what I learn, by writing a separate blog in Japanese! Sounds pretty radical to me, but it's the only way I'll retain anything. If you can't read the characters at all:
  1. Install the Japanese language on your system.
  2. Learn to read Japanese! Or take a guess - that's what I do...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

cero - the climbers' place

CERO is Hiroshima's bouldering and climbing gym! "Hooray" to Steve for finding this little gem of a gym. A sticky sweaty experience was had by all at this fine establishment. Actually it is good and let's face it, there isn't a lot of choice in a place where climbing is defined by foreign words. This wall is seriously overhung - the photo does it no justice. Bring a couple of 'draws and your own rope and a belay doover.

A little monkey magic and a few chalk-ups later we were not all pumped out, but work often gets in the way of life... Check out the Flickr: Archive of our friend's photos taken on 15th June 2005.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

over-time dining

Lunch break is all about finding the tastiest bargain in the alloted time. Usually 40 minutes. I've learned to scoff this bowl of yummy... stuff... in next to no time at all.

Another call for me to do an over-time shift in town today leaves little time to prepare anything more than an ironed shirt and a BMX bandit mission weaving down the alleys, around cars, snail cyclists, office workers and other street space hogs.

Physical challenge:
  • learn to quickly eat rice meals with chop-sticks or;
  • get into the slurping noise action of eating ramen

Monday, June 13, 2005

welcome, farewell, happy birthday

Honey-choco-bread was a demolition site after 6 of the Japanese staff from my old work branch, Itsukaichi, went to work on it. The triple celebration of my farewell from the branch, another staff's welcome and yet another staff's birthday was more than justification for this grand get together.

After spending the day at Miyajima, I found myself rather short when it came to paying the bill at the restaurant. Any other country in the world, I'd say even in Cambodia, who cares if you run out of cash. Maybe you could pay by debit card but Visa-san always works... Except when you're in Japan!

What still seems more stupid than my extremely embarrasing moments while the birthday girl paid for my dinner, is the fact that the ATMs have opening and closing hours that pretty much coincide with the bank's hours. Anybody, please tell me the point of closing an ATM.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Travolta's constructions

Travolta's erections have been coming up all over Japan in a new wave of cultural heritage restoration. Yesterday's excursion to Miyajima island once again proved disappointment for those wanting a clear view of the famed 5 storey pagoda. Standing tall with his finger pointing skyward, the sign was clear that the scaffolding remained, despite Saturday night's push to complete the restoration work.

On his recent visit to the 5 storey pagoda on Miyajima island, the king of the disco floor commented on the scaffolding We just can't get it down!

famous views of JapanApparently a lot more work than expected remains yet to be completed. With the rainy season soon to be upon us, there is no assurance of early completion. Hiroshima and Miyajima's tourism is impacted nonetheless.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

shefu シェフ

shefu シェフ,
originally uploaded by vfowler.
At long last, I finally enjoyed the local specialty. It's called okonomiyaki and is a superb meal cooked right in front of your wrists. You know it's fresh! This particular eatery, in a building with 3 floors of okonomiyaki serving venues, includes a menu in English and a cool chef.

Standard okonomiyaki comes with egg, pork and either soba or udon noodles. Add your extras like garlic, onion, shrimp, squid, cheese, or perhaps cows' achilles for a custom version. After a hearty feast with a pair of fellow teachers, I can definitely agree now (finally), that it is a scrumptious and filling dining delight. I'll be back for more some day soon!

the eggs Coming to Hiroshima? Seek out one of these places serving okonomiyaki for your dinnner! ... or lunch, a snack, something to munch on, an alternative to whatever else you've been feeding yourself. Choose any excuse.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

keeping fit?

Aussies versus Hiroshima's only bouldering facility.
Aussies versus Hiroshima's only bouldering facility
Note the sophisticated technology indicating the route to be climbed. Green Arena's the only place in town!
Green Arena's the only place in town!
All one needs to do to utilise this brilliant climbing facility is:
  1. buy tickets from a vending machine before each visit (pretend you're going to a cinema)
  2. take your shoes off before you enter the soft floor area
  3. swipe your member card and press some magic buttons on a touch screen
  4. hand over your ticket and member card to the smiley staff
  5. find the route maps that you think you might try and plug the numbers into the sophisticated electronic route mapping system (a 486 that tells which LED's to light up, just like landing a jumbo jet at night time with the Christmas trees along side the runway)
  6. shoe up and chalk up (neither are optional if you plan to last more than 15 minutes)
  7. and don't take photos unless you have a photography pass - available free at the swipe-in counter!
And that's assuming you have survived running the gauntlet past the kyudo (Japanese archery) club.

toukasan festival

Toukasan festival, unfortunately I am largely missing out on... I'll blame the new work situation for putting me on a long shift Saturday night. Though I did catch a few friends at a house-warming party still wearing their yukata (summer kimono).

I'll be donning a rather expensive new pair of rock shoes instead. Expensive by my standards, though they are cheapest pair in the shop! Of course even my little foot is too big for a Japanese shop to stock, they came after I ordered them in my guessed size. Tonight at the unsung saviour of climber's sanity (aka the Green Arena) we'll be hangin' tough in the bouldering cave.

Other than that, new outfits I often slip into now-a-days are my business suits that are quickly becoming saturated in sweat. Not quite the emporer's new clothes that I had in mind. I asked my students at work yesterday if they mind if I turn the climate control down to 21 degrees (celcius).
"25," was the reply.
"How about 22?" I asked, noticing students clutching at cardigans and warm clothes.
"Is 23 okay?" I'm dying of dehydration here.
"24?" Please!
"Okay then..." If I melt into a puddle of simmering organs, it'll be your fault!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

serious drugs

Yo baby! Slip me some skin brother!
What are the sign-writers in this country on?