blacklilly: (Default)
Hey all,

After last night's big aftershock, we're now being pummelled by some impressively strong wind.  I'm not sure now whether it's the ground, me or the wind shaking the house.  Thanks, weather.  Just in time for my hanami party too.

So, I actually just wanted to post this link to the Deathgaze review and interview at Rokkyuu Magazine.  Photos by me.  What a good gig that was.  I was a bit gutted that Deathgaze cancelled their Tokyo gigs after the quake, though it was entirely understandable.  I guess I shall be somewhere around the world when they next play Tokyo.

Speaking of which, there are now two weeks to go until the Peaceboat sets sail from Yokohama.  I am nowhere near packed (I have to be ready to send stuff off next weekend) and there are all these things I keep needing to do which jump out at me.   I attended two Peaceboat events this week.  The first was a pre-voyage fundraiser where I got to meet alot of the young volunteer staff, who are all ridiculously energetic and funny.  I then had a staff nomikai (drinking party) last night, where I was able to spend a bit more time with my bosses and co-workers.  They all seem like a great bunch of people, and there are a couple of people I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be good buddies with.

I've had flu and tetanus shots this week, and am thinking about thyphoid and hepatitis B - though they are prohibitively expensive.  I guess I shall just have to be extra careful.  I'm also a bit unsure about the malaria situation.  Basically, the costs and side-effects of taking malaria medication for over 80 days outweigh the risks of actually getting malaria, so we decided not to do it. The doctor just told me to go straight to a clinic if I get at all feverish.  A friend of mine told me he has had malaria four times (his father is/was a Nigerian ambassador) in his life, and he's doing OK...

In other news, I celebrated my freedom by making a return to my old goth self.  It certainly makes me feel about 10 times sexier than I did before, and is a  damned good excuse to wear more lipstick:

 
blacklilly: (Default)
Oh ye gads, it's the end of the freaking world!!  There's almost no beer left in Asagaya! The only stuff people won't touch is the non-alcohol and calorie free stuff...and Beaujolais Nouveau, but that is entirely understandable. Not only does this tell us what shit even Japanese people won't touch in a crisis, but that should the end come, I won't be able to drink myself to death first!! 

Ha ha ha.  I joke on that last count, of course.  Seriously, though, this beer shortage is a problem.   With the water supply issues at the moment, bottled water is scarce, so beer kinda seemed like an option until a week or so ago when I overheard a discussion between the owner of my local bar and his supplier:

" I've got one keg of Yebisu left.  Do you want it?" the supplier muttered into the bar owner's ear.

" What happens when that runs out?" the bar owner asked.

" We still have the Asahi Super Dry."  Both men looked seriously into space.

" Give me whatever you've got left.  Bottles as well," said the bar owner.  " Hopefully things won't get that bad."


It turns out that one of the Yebisu breweries was knocked out either by the quake or the tsunami, and is out of action until they can safely return gas and power to it.  The Kirin brewery site in Yokohama is subject to blackouts and supply problems, I would assume.  As for Asahi, who knows, but there isn't much of that about at the moment either.  Though it gives you a good indication of its popularity, that it was one of the last beers to still be hanging around in the convenience stores.  I'm well aware that there are other locations in Japan still brewing beer, but they are unlikely to divert their supplies to Kanto when Kansai and Kyushu are also needing to slake their thirsts.  I bought one can of Yebisu in the supermarket earlier, along with a 12 pack of toilet roll - mango-scented - which was a relief.  I was starting to look at which book was going to be the first to be ripped up for bog roll.  Maybe I should request copies of the Daily Mail and Sun newspapers to be shipped over to Japan.  They'd make good bum rags.

Last week I went out to grab some food and wrote this when I got home:  "Ito Yokodo had a massive delivery of water when I popped in earlier.  People were taking them out of the boxes before the staff could get them open properly.  One old lady was trying to fill her basket with bottles until one of the staff reprimanded her and told her she could only have 1 bottle.  She had to put them back.  Ha ha.  Old ladies = wagamama monsters."

I know much has been said of how people in Sendai have been stoic about their situation and haven't resorted to looting or fighting etc etc, but I think people there have a better spirit than those in Tokyo - a better sense of community.  I sometimes feel the fact that Tokyo mostly comprises people from all over the country makes it a rather disconnected place to live, which perhaps results in people immaturely hoarding food, water and other necessities.  Anyway, just a random thought.

So, things have settled down a lot since last week.  Omotesando and Harajuku are their normal heaving selves.  The police in the Omotesdando Dori police box were feeding biscuits to some woman's pet rats dogs on Friday morning, and the street nampa-ing (or whatever it is those guys are up to) is back on.  Curiously the tissue guys were absent this week - possibly they got mobbed for their tissue stashes and are tending to their old lady-shaped bruises at home.  Work is busy with spring intensive courses for the kids.  Thursday, fortunately, is my last day at work until July (not including Peaceboat), so I'm counting the hours until my freedom!

So, I shall leave you with a photo of plum blossom from one of my wanderings from the other week:




blacklilly: (Crazy)
I came back to Tokyo yesterday. The shinkansen was packed, but my friend and I were lucky to get a seat. The four days down in Osaka were a much needed break from the constant anxiety in Tokyo - I stopped shaking, and despite dreaming about earthquakes for all but one night, got some rest and relaxation.  Every time I go to Osaka I wonder why I don't live there.  The atmosphere of the city seems to suit me much more.  The pace of life seems less frenetic than Tokyo, and the people much more friendly and relaxed.  There's something nice and grimy about Osaka which I like, too.  And the mexican restaurants are deeelicious.

I met up with an old friend on Sunday for lunch. Ayumi is a former student of mine from London, and she was always really cool.  She played in a punk band in London, and looked after the school principle's little boy as a part time job. She's really different from many of my Japanese friends.  We once went to an izakaya in Tokyo and she asked for a spoon.  They waiter gave it to me, and I promptly handed it to her as she had lost her patience with chopsticks for eating rice - too much time in England with mashed potato.  We went to a little omu-rice restaurant in Amemura (America-mura) and then went to buy earrings in a silver shop.  We walked past a group of young kids having a dance competition on the street.  There was a lot of silver lame, spandex and braided hair going on. Very cute.  Ayumi took off for a band practice and I took to wandering the streets, where I observed some guy getting mobbed by people and upsetting the traffic.  It turned out that he was Kid Yamamoto, a famous K1 fighter.  I had no idea who he was until I googled him after a friend also mentioned seeing him. 

So today, we've had three noticable aftershocks.  They've been 5+/6+ tremors, though in Tokyo they only registered 1 and 2.  I noticed the first one at work, mainly because I started feeling nauseous, and then the secretary called out "jishin" (earthquake) and we waited to see what would happen.  The other two have been since I got home, though I don't recall noticing the second one, which is actually a good thing.

This afternoon I headed down to a hotel near the British Embassy in central Tokyo to pick up some iodine tablets.  The likelihood of having to take them is low, as was stated when the embassy handed them over, but it provides some peace of mind for myself and the people back home.  The queue was quite long.  It took about an hour waiting to register but was pretty quick after that.  I bumped into three other people I know in the queue. 

The man standing next to me got talking, and provided a great conversational hour.  He is teaching techincal writing at Tokyo Univeristy, but has a doctorate in civilisation collapse in ancient cultures.  We talked about that, Angkor Wat, Frtiz Schumacher, and vertical farming, as well as his forthcoming book, which he says is a response to Jared Diamond's "Collapse".  I've not read Jared Diamond, but I am aware of his stuff, so will have to look it up.   This also ties in with what my friend Erik has been blogging about since last week.  Erik has some really good stuff to say on environmental issues, and he writes very well.  Check it out.  Very interesting, and very lucky that I got to talk to him, as the people ahead of us spent much of their time wailing about some sort of apocalypse, telling each other to hush up about the apocalypse, and slagging off the French.

So, apart from the continued tremors, things are slowly slowly continuing and getting back to normal.  The trains are running, though there is no set schedule running on some lines.  I had to take the subway to get the tablets earlier, so was a little nervous about doing that, but it turned out alright.  The subway is pretty empty in comparison to over-ground trains, but in general things are quiet.  Food is back in the shops.  In one supermarket they are rationing how much you can buy.  I got two 2-L bottles of water today (I guzzle a lot of water), and my friend picked up some gas canisters (1 pack per person).  10kg bags of rice at rationed to 1 per purchase, and there was no bread left, but plenty of bakeries.  So, not so bad.   There's still palpable tension about, but the Japanese are good at dealing with difficulty - mature, as Erik put it - and are battling on sensibly where others might lose their heads.

Oh yeah, I checked the BBC yesterday, only to find that we had started bombing Libya.  When did this happen??!!  And more importantly - ANOTHER war?????? 


blacklilly: (Default)
Day 3 in Osaka!  I was sitting in bed last night and thought the hostel was shaking, but yet again, it turned out to be me.  I hope I can keep myself from going nuts when I go home tomorrow.  No word of any big events or changes on the news this evening, other than that power is soon be restored to the coolers at the nuclear plant (fingers crossed).  Japanese TV has cancelled all advertising and so is running the same four or five public service announcements.  One is about strokes, one about cancer, one about having good manners on the train, and the other (curiously) about being friendly to people. Talking to strangers is the best way to make friends.  I'd like to see that work in reality.  Or maybe that's just me.

I thought I'd show you a couple of pictures from last week:

            

The one on the left is my kitchen.  As you can see, stuff was thrown around, but apart from that not unlike the state of my kitchen on a Saturday morning - though I am less prone to hurling the microwave around.  The picture on the left is my friend's apartment.  He lives on the 4th floor and came home to find all his bookcases tossed about.  He didn't go home for 2 days, as he couldn't face dealing with the mess, only for it be tossed about again if another big one hit.

So, continuing from yesterday, reports in the Kansai region say that there are 90% more foreigners around than usual. Being the most conspicuous, it's an easy observation to make, but there are a fair few Japanese escapees too.  Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe hostels and hostels are fully booked for this weekend, and restaurants are packed out.  I was walking through Shinsaibashi yesterday with a friend, who spotted a group of people she knows vaguely from Tokyo, and I'm fairly certain I've seen a few familiar faces.

There have been some comments made by people in Tokyo saying that it the behaviour of people who left Tokyo is shameful.  I recall watching people leaving messages on Facebook last weekend saying they were moving to Osaka, and thinking that it was a bit of an over-reaction.  I can only say for myself that I waited until it became obvious I was going to get sick if I didn't leave. I admit to feeling a little ashamed of the idea of leaving, and certainly felt it when I was taking the train to Tokyo station on Friday morning, but the masses of (mostly Japanese) people at the shinkansen gates reassured me that this behaviour is not confined to just the foreign community.  So far as I can tell, and this is purely form observation, but the majority of people who left the country fall into two categories - those who are in their early 20s, and those with young families.  For both, I can appreciate their reasons.  Something hugely stressful like this is bound to have you heading home if you have responsibilites to your family, or a family who are desperate about your safety.  I certainly received a lot of messages from people asking me if I'm leaving, and some even offering to buy me a place ticket out.  A friend, who lives out here with his brother, posted a message saying he didn't want to leave Tokyo but was heading to Osaka purely for the peace of mind of his family.

The family pressure comes from the overblown coverage provided by the British press.  The Sun and the The Daily (hate)Mail are most guilty of this, but even the BBC seems to me to be over-egging things.  I appreciate they need the ratings, but the news they were providing was out of date, sometimes inaccurate, and came in such a bombardment that it was difficult for people not to get hysterical. I also felt that the focus on the nuclear plant was way out of proportion when there were thousands of people elsewhere in Tohoku who need that media attention more.

OK.  Dinner time. 

Here's a picture of an octopus.

 








blacklilly: (Default)
I am currently in Osaka.  I came down yesterday, after realizing that my nerves had got the better of me.  Despite the first two or three days after the earthquake being pretty constant for aftershocks, I thought I was handling it OK, but by Tuesday I realized that I was starting to go down hill. My head felt as though I was viewing everything through a haze, I couldn't sleep, and throughout the days I was constantly experiencing fake earthquakes - it was either in my head, or my heart beating so strongly that I the rest of my body was shaking.  By Thursday evening, I found myself in my friend's bar with my legs and hands shaking almost non-stop after having two strong aftershocks inside 10 minutes.  I had also taken to sleeping fully-clothed, with the light on, too scared to even take a shower for fear of another shock. 

My boss very graciously gave me yesterday off work, so I could have 4 days rest - this being a long weekend anyway.  My two other jobs have cancelled everything until next week at the very earliest.  The Omotesando job is bravely toiling ahead - they say they have no choice but to carry on - they have no where else to go, and a business to run.  

Since coming to Osaka, I've met up with quite a lot of other people who have also left Tokyo - and the reasons are a mixture.  Some, like me, cannot deal with the constant aftershocks and the fear of another big quake, whilst others are much more concerned with the nuclear situation in Fukushima,  I've spent a lot of time researching the reactors, and trying to find out as much as possible about the likelihood of a meltdown and it's possible effects.  Most information seems to point to things being unlikely to get as far as the need to shelter indoors whilst a radioactive cloud passes overhead, but as the days go on and the British Embassy edits its advice (they have now started distributing iodine to British citizens), one can't help but start to feel a little anxious about what we are not being told by the Japanese authorities.  Despite people doing their best to carry on as normal, there is a palpable tension to daily life.

On Monday I went down to the station as I had heard it was crazy busy.  There were people queuing out of the building to get on a train.  Allegedly it took a friend an hour to get from the entrance onto a train.  The supermarkets were also bare by Sunday night - no rice, no water, no bread, no noodles.  I would like to show you pictures but my friend took them and I am unable to snatch them off of Facebook for you.  Anyway, I'm sure you've seen plenty of that on TV already. Despite the state of the the supermarkets, the smaller stores  were and are still operating extremely well.  Local bakeries are making a killing as they don't rely on a supply chain for bread, and the vegetable stores are still selling produce.  In fact, one supermarket in town managed to restock on Wednesday morning, though it was almost empty again by the early afternoon.

I'll continue more tomorrow.  I've got to go out!
blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
Hey all,

Just to let you know I'm still in Tokyo and still OK, though these aftershocks are starting to fray my nerves.  I'll give you a longer report another time, but for now, some good news.  All those gigs I've been shooting and articles a-writing are now live at http://www.rokkyuu.com/.  Please check the site out!!

Rock on (but not literally).

blacklilly: (Default)
I am getting so fed up with these aftershocks.  Yesterday, we had one pretty much every hour.  Just when you started to relax, the house would start shaking again.  The other thing now is that sometimes I think we're shaking, when we're not.  I was sitting in my friend's bar last night and we spent our time watching the bottles to see whether it was us or the building.

And now the problems at the nuclear plant, which some people are getting worried about down here in Tokyo.  Some people are even talking about leaving the country for a few weeks.  The idea is quite attractive this morning, but I don't really want to uproot myself 6 weeks before I leave the country anyway.  We'll see how things work out.  I made sure the British Embassy have the correct details for me, and the British Council called me on Saturday to check I was doing alright.

I feel like I'm over-reacting a little.  I got off lightly - only a broken teapot - but it is really stressful not knowing when another quake is coming.  Interestingly, I was talking to a friend last night and their phone alarm went off.  It turns out the Docomo network have an early warning system, which gives you the location of the quake.  Last night it read Niigata, and 10 seconds later the bar shook.  It was actually a relief to know it was coming -  you at least have 10 seconds to process and react.

Anyway, I shall keep posting when I can.  From tomorrow we're going to be having 3 hour power cuts everyday - don't yet know what time yet, but allegedly we'll find out later today.
blacklilly: (A Vad Day)
Just to let you all know that I'm OK.  I had a pretty scary time in Tokyo yesterday, and an intense 5 hour bus ride back home (would've been quicker to walk, I hear), but was relieved to get back and find all my friends OK, and that house is still mostly in one piece.  Later I will be heading out on my bicycle to see what's what - plus, staying outside is better than in at the moment.

It's a beautiful sunny morning in Tokyo, but I can't begin to imagine what is happening in Sendai right now. 
blacklilly: (Default)
I'm still completely exhausted from the weekend.  Lately, all I want to do is sleep.  I got 8 hours last night and I still feel rubbish.   Curiously, yesterday I came home from a little meeting with Peaceboat and sat down with a coffee and a cigarette, and magically felt much more alive than I had done all day.  I don't even smoke, but I had a craving for one so I gave in and bought some.  Weird.

Last weekend i went to the new h.Naoto store in Harajuku to shoot the new Sixh collection.  The new store is very airy and sleek, and there was a great space for the runway.  Luckily, it was just myself and the the s-inc photographer so I had plenty of floor space, which suited my sad knee very well.  I can't show you all the photos, but here's a cool picture of (Pirate King) Ibi wielding a sword:
 

Afterwards, I walked down to Shibuya to my friend's birthday party.  The bar manager had double booked what was meant to be a party with good DJs with a J-Pop video night, so until 11pm the music was unbearable.  Myself and a few friends defected to the nearby rock bar and had a great time listening to classic heavy metal.  We returned later, to hear the birthday day boy verbally rip the bar manager and the J-Pop DJ a new hole.  It was pretty funny.  Fortunately, my friend started a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" and successfully diffused the situation.  The I went home, met a few other friends and stayed up until 8am laughing, chatting, listening to music and generally having one of the best nights I've had in a very long time.  And I wonder why I'm tired all the time...

This Sunday I was shooting at the Asia Girls Explosion in Yoyogi Stadium.  I had been convinced for some reason that I was shooting the Tokyo Girls Collection, so hadn't been much excited about it, until I actually did some research and realized that X-Japan's Yoshiki had masterminded the whole thing and that it wasn't the TGC but the AGE.  So not only did I get to shoot Marilyn Manson modeling, but I also got to see Violet UK and X Japan perform.  It was pretty cool.  I'm slightly enamored with Sugizo, but alas, not a single clear picture of him playing.  The stage was 70 meters away and my zoom just couldn't cope.  Fortunately, for the fashion shots, a bit of cropping and enlarging saved the day, and most of the Yoshikimono collection look pretty good.

On my way out, I got lost.  I was trying to get back to the press room, but got dragged with the crowds to the Harajuku exit, had my press pass taken off me by one of the staff, and then missed the press conference with Marilyn Manson and Yoshiki.  I was a bit gutted, but on the other hand, I was exhausted and busting for a pee so making a speedy exit home was probably the best thing to have done.

And now, into my last three weeks at work.  This Thursday is my last day at elementary school.  I like the kids, but I do not like 5.45am much.  I will also be happy to stop teaching rich weirdos.  Long story...

Here's a picture of me from Sunday, as I can't show you any pics from AGE until they're cleared by da management. It says everything about how I felt waking up.
blacklilly: (Amelie)
Blissed out

Let's go with the Blissed Out first.  Further to my musings on the VK scene and my little photographic forays into it, I actually go all fan-girly and excited (well, as fan-girly as I can ever possibly be) about getting to shoot Deathgaze at their gig in Shinjuku at the weekend.  You know, had I not got the chance to photograph them live, I would have paid for a ticket and forgone the photos anyway.  That's how much I like them.

The ed. and I arrived at 4.45pm and collected our press passes, before hanging out in the venue (Loft, Shinjuku).  I scoped the stage out but somehow completely ignored the photographers' run at the front of the stage.  It took one of the sound guys to point it out to me, and I was quite relieved as I did not fancy the prospect of fighting the moshing masses to get a good photo.

So, I crawled down the front and had a little chat with a photographer from Cure magazine while we waited.  It was actually due to case of lens envy that I got talking to her.  She had the lens I've been salivating over, but will never be able to afford - a 14-24mm Nikon wide-angle lens.  I felt rather inadequate, to be honest.  She had the wide angle, a cute little 50mm (by the look of things) and a zoom lens, all of which she alternated throughout the show.  I had my 35mm Nikkor prime lens, and my 44-200mm zoom, which at such close proximity was only good for trying to snap the drummer, who was sitting in the unlit depths of the stage most of the time.  It does take nice sharp photos, where the 35mm sometimes fails, so it's always good to take along, just in case.

Deathgaze took to the stage a little later than scheduled, Naoki and Kousuke taking to the stage first, before Takaki followed.  Ai appeared after a little pause and the band went slamming into the first number, which may have been "Crash Down", but I can't be certain owing to switching into photographer mode. I remember the third song being "Blood", as it's my favourite off the new album.  I'm currently trying to check the Deathgaze blog to find a set list, but nothing is loading up...nope, nothing on the blogs about set lists. 

I had a great time up in the bands faces taking photos and trying not to mosh too much myself.  They were full of energy and playing my favourite kind of music, so there was nought that could go wrong!  Apart from the lighting.  Which sucked.  Not for the band themselves - from the audience the set up was great, but for me down the front, there was far too much back-lighting and waaay too many red gels being used.  I don't seem to be able to figure out how to compensate for reddish-tones in photos.  Ai looks positively devilish in most of my shots...when you can actually make out his face, that is.   Both he and Takaki were playing up to the camera all night.  I was most pleased.

I had my boots off for the first half of the show, which made scurrying about much easier, but after ducking out half-way to get some crowd shots, kept my boots on and did the rest of the show squatting down and performing all manner of photographic acrobatics in 3-inch platforms.  My thigh muscles are still pretty sore and I seem to have almost pulled my toe nail off my big toe.  It doesn't hurt, but I can tell it's not right.  I dread taking off the nail varnish to see what the damage looks like.

The toe beating slowed me down somewhat, so I took a breather and sat on the floor of the the pit watching the show.  After two great encores the show finally ended.  I had a beer in the bar with music still going round in my head, and waited with the ed. to interview the band.  Sadly, while I was waiting, I realised that I didn't have enough money on me for a t-shirt, which saddened me, as I had wanted to get one.  No idea where to track one down in Tokyo. 

The details of the interview I cannot tell you, as firstly, you should read the interview when Rokkyuu publishes it, and secondly, I can't understand enough of what was said to give you anything meaningful, except that Kousuke said he liked animals.

To the right here, we have the lasciviously-tongued Ai posing for the camera.  The "blacklilly" on his leg is my internet name, which also doubles as my photography name.  So, no pinching without asking, ne.

I need to wrap this up as I have to go to bed soon, but the mention of photos and names brings me to theme number two.

Slightly Put Out


Basically, I've photographed a fair few bands now, and for the most part have had no issue.  However, twice last weekend I found bands uploading my photos onto Facebook having swiped them from mine.  I was credited, but I am a little uneasy about the idea of bands using my photos without letting me know.  The issue is not permission - of course they can use the images, I'm more than happy for them to do so.  However, I would like some warning so I don't look at their pages and wonder why that picture is so familiar.  I had a discussion with the singer of one of the bands last week and he got quite defensive about it all, saying that what goes on Facebook is fair game.  True, but common courtesy is nice to practise too.  So, I'm a little...annoyed/confused/ about it all.  I've actually considered not bothering anymore, but that would be a stupid response.

So, in the future all photos will be marked with my name and website (when I sort one out).  It perhaps seems a little overkill, but this is something I would like to make money doing, and I need to attempt some sort of professional behaviour.

Actually, I just realised that using that promo pic of Deathgaze is probably making me look like a hypocrite, but it's a promo photo which means someone was renumerated for it.  I wasn't.

Worn Out

Yes, I am worn out.  All I want to do is sleep, but when I get there I can't.  I am counting the days until I finish each of my jobs.  Sadly the one I want to get out of the most is still over a month away from finishing.  They were saying to me the other day that they want me to come back and work for them in July.  Which part of "I quit" is failing to register?  Very Japanese I suspect.
blacklilly: (Angsty)
Hmm.  Not being Japanese?  That's pretty hard, though liberating in equal measure.

No, I think the hardest thing for me is having to deal with practical things in Japanese.  I can hold a conversation with most people, but when it comes to getting the electricity turned on, or dealing with residence tax, I can't do it at all.  It's partly a nerves thing, partly that I ended up with some form of linguistic PTSD after dealing with estate agents to get my apartment.  After that exercise in torture I'm rather inclined to let someone who knows what they're doing help me out.



And that's Day 14.  I'm still chipping away them!!

I still feel a little numb about the Peace Boat.  Occasionally, I feel excitement approaching.  Then I think of all the forthcoming hassle of vaccinations, embassies and pre-departure training, and the excitement goes away.  Plenty of other people are excited for me though, so hopefully it'll become infectious.

Last night's vegetarian interview was wonderfully catered.  I had a vegetarian sausage roll, vegetarian cornish pasty and veggie lasagne - none of which I've eaten for YEARS.  The tofu scrambled egg salad with delicious and the chocolate cake for dessert was lovely and squishy.  During the interview I also managed to get myself a writing and photography gig for one of the upcoming issues!!  Go me.  Yesterday was a good day!
blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
Well, finally, some excellent news to tell you about!  I just found out this lunchtime that I have been offered a teaching position on board the 73rd Peace Boat voyage.  What this means is that I will be travelling around the world for 3 months whilst working as an English teacher on-board a cruise ship!  This plan has been in the works for a while - I've been planning it since last summer - and last weekend I went for a full-day teaching demo and interview session.  I came out feeling that I'd cocked it up, and so was hoping that the fact that I called on my friends who've worked on Peaceboat to recommend me would sway the decision.  Well, something worked! 

They've actually got a specific role for me on board.  As a teacher with more exam experience than most, I will be teaching the TOEIC classes on board.  TOEIC is actually my least favourite exam to teach, but I'm going to accept the challenge and try to devise a way to improve people's TOEIC scores without boring myself to death.

I feel like I should be dancing around the place, kicking things and generally shouting a lot, but I just sat on my sofa and felt a bit numb after I finished the phone call with the co-ordinators.  I've been waiting since December to see which way my life is going to be heading this year, and now the decision has been made I guess I've gone a bit blank.  There are now so many things to organise.  Do I keep my apartment while I'm gone?  Do I come back to Japan and stay until my visa runs out in November, or do I move on somewhere else?  Moving to another country could only do wonders to my love life, I suppose...  Anyway, thoughts thoughts and lots of thoughts.



The cough and gravelly voice stuck around until Saturday.  I didn't feel much like getting out of bed for most of Saturday, but I had to get motivated to shoot this bunch of growly, screamy, heavy beasts called Reivier.  They played at AREA in Takadanobaba, which is a mere 15 minutes from Asagaya, so I didn't even have to go very far.

Following on from my musings about Visual Kei in my previous post, I was highly amused to note that the mosh pit at a VK gig is the only place  you will see people hanging out in slippers - only changing into their shoes to go skipping off to the toilet.  It's also the first time I've seen synchronized hand-banging in full force.  I noted that head-banging in Japan is much more fragrant (as it's mostly girls) and you are at a near-statistical impossibility of losing your teeth, owing again to the girls, and the fact that everyone knows what the moves are - there's no miscommunication, as a certain Fox news presenter would say - though I doubt synchronized moshing proves the existence of God.

I was down in the mosh-pit for part of the show, then hung back on the raised section with my zoom lens to catch the encores.  The band were pretty good live, which is good, as their tracks (the ones on Youtube, at any rate) actually suffer from the opposite of my normal gripe -  they don't sound well-produced enough.  They need someone with a good grasp of mixing metal to get their sound spot-on.  If they want to crack the overseas market, which they really could do, they need a good producer.  They were thoroughly entertaining, and certainly seemed to be having a great time themselves.

After the show, the editor of the VK magazine and I interviewed the band.  We slunk through the dressing room and found the guitarist Koh, who had arranged our press-passes. He corralled everyone into a corridor backstage and so we all stood in a circle and talked. They were all quite sweet and friendly, and were much more approachable than the last band I was involved in interviewing.  Mid-way through, the lead singer started de-robing himself, and stood about in his tight underwear and smudged eye make-up. 






Speaking of interviews, tonight I'm actually being interviewed by a magazine about being a vegetarian in Japan.  Three of us vegetarians, plus the owner of a vegan cafe in Kichijoji, will be discussing the trials and tribulations of our dietary choices over a FREE veggie meal.  I hear there will also be a camera there, so I should try to pretty myself up before I go out. 
blacklilly: (Default)
The other day, after writing my last blog entry, I went over to my friend Mikey's house to watch wrestling.  Yeah, I know, me watching wrestling is not quite what you'd expect, but I was persuaded with beer and a heated carpet.  We watched the Royal Rumble - 40 wrestlers, 62 minutes, only one champion.  It was probably the most ridiculous thing I've watched for quite some time. 

So anyway, by the time I get tired it's getting for 1.30am and I have to walk home in the freezing cold.  So I wrap up warm, don my gloves and hat and head out into the nighttime streets of Asagaya.  And the reason I can do this - walk home alone at 1.30am by myself - is because this is what sets Japan apart from so many other places.  I don't feel that walking home at 1.30am is putting myself at too much risk.  The Japanese are always very proud of how much of a "safety country" Japan is, yet older people always seem to be talking about how things are going down hill in terms of crime and delinquency etc (note the rise in crime among the elderly).  What I like about living here is that I don't feel like a potential victim.  When I lived in London, I would always ask Gideon to collect me from Perivale station if I got home after dark, even though Perivale was not like living in crime central at all.  In fact, I was thinking about this on the way home from the Royal Rumble.  I passed by a really drunk guy and then passed another couple of guys on their way home from work or bars.  Had this been in England, I more likely than not would have picked up my pace and avoided them, and although I still felt quite on edge being by myself, I knew that more likely than not, I would get home safely.

And that is your answer for Day 13 of the Japan meme.


I woke up last night with a horrid sore throat and then failed to get back to sleep for much of the night, despite taking painkillers.  This morning it felt worse, so I booked a trip to the doctor and cancelled tonight's class.  I still got through High School despite progressively losing my voice (no illness could make me lose THAT much money) and then went to see the nice doctor who told me it's just a cold, and not pharyngyitis or any of the other things I was concerned about.  Which is good, but still denies me Japanese prescription drugs, which are pretty special.

On the High School note, I received some feedback from my students, only 40% of whom claim to make any effort to review or study for their English classes, according to the survey.  The ratings were somewhat erratic, but my favourite bit was the comments.  Students were allowed to make comments, both good and bad, and some of mine included:  "She is pretty and I can learn English", "She's pretty and friendly", "She is good at drawing pictures so it was fun!", "Since the teacher changed the lesson is much more interesting",  "She is good at motivating us" and "Genki".  I liked the ones about being pretty best of all - living in Japan makes me feel like a monster sometimes. The negatives mainly focused on not having a Japanese teacher translating every instruction, though one said: "Ishii should work more", "Ishii" being Ishii-sensei, who I never actually ask to do much other than translate for me, so not his fault. 

Now I have a free evening, I'm not quite sure what to do with it.  Maybe some drawing, some writing and some reading in bed!! Perhaps I should give the bunny some attention as well!!

Here I am looking pretty, despite being sick, on holiday:

blacklilly: (Amelie)
Despite my best intentions when I returned from Bali to make a little more time for doing nothing, which means actually relaxing at home with a good book, I have had remarkably little time to do so this month.  The weeks have flown by once again, and there seems very little to show for, although a far deal of stuff was done.

Back at the end of December I shot a goth fashion show in Harajuku, which featured X-Japan's guitarist Sugizo giving a live performance on both guitar and electric violin.  The shoot was for an online magazine, for whom I have written some album and single reviews. The magazine isn't live yet.  It was meant to come out last week, but it's now looking like sometime this week instead.   How I ended up writing for a Visual-kei magazine, whilst knowing almost nothing about the genre, is still to be discovered, but booze cruises in Tokyo have quite a lot to do with it.  I'm thinking of trying to research Visual-kei a bit more, as it's a genre of Japanese music which drives me slightly potty.  Potty, because they bands almost never look like they sound...or how I think they should sound, at least.

Let's use Daizystripper as an example.  Observe these lovely lovely young men to the right.  Rei (the bassist on the left) is rocking the cut-off t-shirt with his teeny-tiny waist, and the other all look thoroughly cute.  My problem was what they sounded like.  Looking at them, I was thinking something along the lines of the early grunge scene - you know, when Alice in Chains were more glam.  And then of course, I listened to a song.  Whatever song it was I cannot remember, but it didn't impress me much.  The music was fine, I just felt that the whole thing was overproduced and far too clean sounding.  And then I saw them in concert, which made my jaw drop.  Yu-giri getting on stage and growling and screaming earned huge amounts of rock points in my little world.The energy of the band was excellent, and I found myself bopping along in the photographers' pit.

You can watch a video here.

In other news, I am looking after a rabbit for 6 weeks.  He's super cute, but doesn't like to be handled too much yet.  He runs in circles around my feet while I'm cooking, which is pretty hilarious to watch.  He also has an unhealthy relationship with an orange ball.  I had to take it out of his cage as the raping of said orange ball was freaking me out.  His name is Cecil.


Apart from that I've done some photography at a couple of shows -art shows and rock gigs,  but haven't yet put the photos up anywhere to see.

Next week I'm being interviewed by an eco-lifestyle magazine about being a vegetarian in Japan.  I get a free meal in one of the best vegan cafes I've been to in Tokyo (I was there last night, actually) and can wax lyrical about being poisoned all the freaking time.  I actually ate a piece of meat by accident on Saturday night, which pissed me off a bit.  I'm getting really fed up of telling the restaurant staff I'm vegetarian, only for them to forget about it as soon I've ordered one dish. Being vegetarian applies to everything I order.Rabbits
blacklilly: (Amelie)
Happy New Year to everyone!  My New Year didn't actually start until January 2nd as I allocated January 1st as an official day for doing absolutely nothing constructive whatsoever, so I stayed in bed until 1pm and then watched movies the rest of it.  Although, if you take into account that for the first 7 hours of January 1st, I was actually conscious and for the most part in control of my faculties, it wasn't such a wasted day.  I even got to take this rather blurry photo of sunrise at 6.30am.

The skyline is heading towards Shinjuku and Nakano, then you have the moon and what my friend was absolutely adamant was the International Space Station.  To keep with the poetic moment we all waved at the astronauts, but in my head I was doing the math.  The ISS orbits the Earth twice a day, which means you would actually be able to see it moving, and when I went to bed it was pretty much in the same place.  But, whatever, eh.  My same friend went off on an amazing drunken tangent the other night about how having sex three times a day makes your cock bigger.  We let it go the first time he told us this, but after the third time everyone was starting to get a bit uncomfortable.  I like having male friends:  they generally don't want to talk about their uterus all the time*, or blame everything in the whole world on their hormonal cycles, but they do try my patience sometimes.  Speaking of hormones, I was discussing my tattoo with a friend the other day and was talking about how I found the shading more painful than I remembered.  She informed me that hormones lower your pain threshold a week before your period.  I would start stabbing myself randomly with needles and then charting the pain levels over the course of a month to see if this is true, but actually, I don't care.  More on the tattoo in a bit but first...


I spent the week running up to Christmas in Bali on a yoga retreat in Ubud.  It was possibly the best holiday I have ever had.  Three hours of yoga every day, amazing scenery, beautiful food and three full-body massages in as many days.  It was heavenly.  I actually managed, despite the frog song cacophony outside my window every night, to sleep without ear plugs for the first time in months, nay years.  Which demonstrates that I have no problem with natural noise, just man-made ones.  It was a much needed vacation and was pretty much everything I could have wanted out of it - lots of time to think, read, paint, write (I wrote so much that I used up an enitre new pen in a week), and relax.  It's amazing what directions your mind takes you, and how much peace you can feel when you don't have the constant worries of paying the bills, or what you can't be bothered to cook for dinner, or whatever message your company has left on your answer phone etc etc.  I came back from the holiday so relaxed and content that a security guard at the Denpasar airport commented on how happy I looked.  It's effect now is that I realize just how much of my thoughts are taken up with things I need to do for work, worrying about money, obsessing about what I can and can't eat, whatever email I need to write to somebody.  Much as I love teaching, I have come to realize that it absorbs most of my brain power, so I need to save some of that for myself. 

So the tattoo.  I've had this one in the pipeline for the past couple of years, but had not found a tattooist for a job.  Then I met a few people who had all had work done by the same tattoo artist so I went to check him out back in the summer.  I waited until the hot weather subsided before going back and discussion ideas for the design, and at the beginning of December set a date for it to be done.  I gave him a bunch of drawings I had found on the net, and told him he had the artistic license- which is a little odd for me.  I was quite surprised by what he presented me with.  I had always had this idea of something a little more "aggressive" in my head, but I think Carlos actually seemed to spot my cute side as the drawing he made was perfectly in tune with the other tattoos I have.  He also inked in some cherry blossom for me, freehand.  I was a little nervous about this as I had no idea what he was going to be doing, but when I got to see it at the end (and the cherry blossom was by far the most painful of the whole thing) I was very very impressed.  I know, it's rather cliched to get cherry blossom done, but I really wanted something that epitomized Japan for me.  I  think the transient nature of the flower itself, so integral to the Japanese appreciation of it, symbolizes a few things for me: the transient nature of all things, particularly as I begin to feel that my time in Japan in coming to a close; and the appreciation of the present moment.  I love how everyone anticipates and then suddenly rejoices in the cherry blossom season - very carpe diem, and something I aspire to do more of.   It was actually not half as painful as I remember it being, either because I'm getting tougher with age, or Carlos is just gentle.  The only time I found it hard-going was during the cherry blossom, right next to my paw prints, which hurt a fair  bit last time, so maybe it was the location rather than the shading that was painful.

I will be continuing this one with a body at some point this year, and then mulling over where to take things from there in the future.  I think ultimately, I would like to cover one half of my back with ink, but we can't keep with the cat theme any further.  This cat, with it's body, completes the image I had in my head for so many years, and then it will be on to something else!!













* I'm talking about people who use periods as an excuse to not do anything, not people who genuinely have issues with their lady bits.
blacklilly: (Default)
Gaijinfails are numerous and often unexpected:
  • the most recent would be totally forgetting to remove my house slippers at my friend's house when wandering in the tatami room. 
  • eating sashimi incorrectly.  It seems that the numerous times I ate sashimi with with Japanese friends no one ever mentioned that I was doing it wrong, until summer last year when  I was told the "proper" way to do it.  Of course, the person who corrected me, could have just been messing me around.
Gaijinsmash!:
  • going to onsen and brazenly wandering around with my tattoos showing.  The best time this happened is when I went to an outdoor onsen in Gifu with two friends - one of whom had pierced nipples, and the other, who not only was three times the size of the average Japanese person, but also bedecked with tattoos.  The bath emptied out pretty fast.  Of course, it doesn't always work like that.  I was kicked out of my gym in Omori for having tattoos after some crinkly old bitch spotted them in the showers and reported me.  "Life in Japan is hard for foreigners," said the receptionist as I signed the cancellation form.  "Not really,"  I thought.  "You just like to make it difficult."

Speaking of gyms, I quit gym back in the middle of November.  I got so frustrated with running on a treadmill going nowhere, and being subjected to Japanese TV, which is for the most part food porn and talentless "personalities" giving their watered down opinions about the process of making tatami mats whilst a bevy of overly coiffed and primped "personalities" nod their heads in disinterested agreement and giggle.  I doesn't help that I dislike TV in general, so Japanese TV was never going to fare well with me.  Anyway, I've been walking, swimming and doing yoga like a little beast since I quit.  I actually exercise more now that I don't go to the gym.  So maybe I should get off this computer and go take a walk in the sunshine!

I've been sounding pretty grouchy about Japan lately.  I think I need a break.  So it's a good thing my trip to Bali begins on Saturday!!!!
blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
It's 10.27am.  I'm waiting for my rice to cook so I can have breakfast,  It seems to be taking much longer than normal.

Today is one of those 3-day weekend days, though I did work yesterday, covering an IELTS class at the British Council.  It was a rubbish lesson, but that's the point of being a sub-teacher - go in, do the lesson, but don't be too good at it, else the students may get disappointed with their regular teacher.  After that, I stopped off in Takodanababa to get rid of some books at the Blue Parrot second hand book shop.  Much to my delight, they were having a 50% off sale on everybook in the place, so I traded my books in and picked up:  

George Eliot - Silas Marner (possibly my favourite book ever)
Wilkie Collins - The Woman in White 
Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Love in the Time of Cholera
Carols Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the WInd

I've always struggled with the Victorians.  I think it comes from forcing myself to read "Great Expectations" at a young age and not being able to cope with it.  I avoided them at university too, so I'm still making up for the gap in my reading.  I must admit that going round the bookshop was a little boring.  There were so many books to choose from and not many that I could get excited about.  Must go to Tower Records and pick up some more recent stuff, like David Mitchell's new book.

HahAAAA!  The rice cooker has just chimed!!

Hmmm, rice, poached egg and kimchee and miso soup for breakfast,  Odd, but delicious.

day 11 - overrated and underrated Japan


This goes along with what a few other people have said, but the train system is hugely over-rated.  People in other countries always bang on about the punctuality and regularity of trains in Japan, but what they fail to mention is that sometimes these trains run at well over 200% capacity (capacity being defined by the number of seats and hand-holds in a carriage).  I regularly have to endure  having full body contact with a total stranger in the mornings on my way to school, which I often can only get through by closing my eyes and trying to shut down my brain for a few minutes until we hit the next station.  Getting on and off the train is treacherous as those inside the carriage push and shove their way out, often causing the people at the front, who are doing their best to get out of the carriage anyway, to literally pop onto the platform.  I saw a guy take a tumble out of the train one morning and all people did was step over him as he lay curled up in a ball on the platform until it was safe to move.  An interesting article in The Guardian on this, only the other day.

Last night trains are the worst.  The Yamanote and Chuo-sobu lines run up to nearly 1am out of Shinjuku, but from about 12pm there's only one train every ten minutes and it's very often running late at this point.  Last Friday I was out with two friends in Shibuya and we got the second to last train home (about 12.37 out of Shinjuku).  We got on the train fine, but as successive Yamanote line trains dumped people onto the platform, people kept getting on, and on and on.  My friend Erik started up asking people not to get on anymore because it was getting so uncomfortable.  I had my arms around him and was pressed up into his back so I was at least groping somebody familiar.  Eric's comments were making everyone around us laugh, as it was pretty funny, but some guy took offense and told him to shut up.  Erik asked me why I was laughing and I had to explain that it was just the guy behind who was rammed up next to me laughing.

The only good thing about this situation on late night trains is that people are usually in a good mood and more willing that normal to start up a conversation with you.  I once had a conversation with a really cute guy after he ended up within my kissing zone.  I was with my friend Saradia and commented on his earrings being pretty cool.  She said I should talk to him, but I was too shy.  As we got even more squished he said:  "Gomen nasai" and I replied: "Daijoubu", and then he said: "I hate this fucking train" with a perfect American accent.  So he'd clearly understood all that I had said about him being cute.  We had a really good chat all the way home, swapped numbers, and have never seen each other since.

In my previous post I mentioned Japanese guys being overrated, and I was going to explain why I think this, but just like them, I can't be bothered today.  Maybe another time soon, ne.

Right!  Now for a wash and a walk!!!

Good Sex?

Dec. 1st, 2010 10:16 pm
blacklilly: (Ero ero ero)
Whatever happened to the days where I used to be able to discuss books all the time?  I need to get a job in a bookshop again, and move to Texas and live with [livejournal.com profile] jennarose who was always good for book chat.

The Guardian and I may be on the same page with regards to the good sex/bad sex thing.  Of course, they have a huge readership and don't have to resort to trying to goad people on Facebook into taking the time to read what they're saying.  Has anyone else noticed that people just don't READ things anymore?  Emails, notes, blogs etc.  Have you even read this far into my burblings, fair reader??

Last of the 13 hour work days today, as high school has finished until January.  Am deliberating going to find some company at the bar, or staying here and lamenting...my lack of readership????

Seeing as no one is paying attention by the fourth paragraph (and congrats to those who held on this long) I should tell you that I have begun work on a novel which has been floating about my head for a year or so.  Strangely, it is requiring a huge amount of pre-planning, which is not something I've ever really had to do with stories before.  It's closely plotted and I've been using an excellent program called Scrivener to help me structure things out.  Rather than putting things down into notebooks, I'm making notecards on the virtual corkboard.  I can then rearrange them, add sub-categories and name each section.  Each card provides a short synopsis of the scene, which I can then write directly into the program.  Should I need to rearrange the scenes, I can just pull the notecards about and the text will re-organize itself.  I've never been a fan of writing straight into the computer, but so far this thing is so user-intuitive that I'm yet to get frustrated with it.  Anyway, I'm midway through plotting the thing out, and have just reached the "crisis" in the second-act.  Where it goes from here, I'm still trying to work out...  I can also tell you that it is called "The Hanging Forest", until something better comes along.

What I like most about this is that all my thoughts at the moment are taken up with it, which makes the morning train journeys on packed commuter trains all the more bearable.

I was gonna do the Japan Meme, but currently I'm at a loss for over- or under-rated things about Japan.  Except for the men, who are, so far,  totally over-rated.
blacklilly: (Ero ero ero)
Every year the Literary Review runs the "Bad Sex Awards" which decries the worst of sex written in fiction during the year.  

http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/badsex.html

 Seeing as there may well be the need to add some sex into a story I'm currently cobbling together, this got me thinking about what is good or bad sex in fiction. Can there ever be good sex in fiction, or is it bound to make someone somewhere squirm?  Should writers just avoid writing sex?

 This got me thinking that it might be funny to get you all to find a sex scene from a book you've read and add it to this discussion.  Then we can decide if it's bad sex or not.  I offer up two examples of bad sex:

I pressed my lips against the sky, and licked the stars into my mouth. She took my body into hers, and every movement was an incantation. Our breathing was like the whole world chanting prayers. Sweat ran in rivulets to ravines of pleasure. Every moment was a satin skin cascade. Within the velvet cloaks of tenderness, our backs convulsed in quivering heat, pushing heat, pushing muscles to complete what minds begin and bodies always win. I was hers. She was mine. My body was her chariot, and she drove it into the sun. Her body was my river, and I became the sea. And the wailing moan that drove our lips together, at the end, was the world of hope and sorrow that ecstasy wrings from lovers as it floods their souls with bliss. (p400) Shantaram,  Gregory David Roberts


Nominated in the 2004 award. Shantaram was a good book, but the sex was quite ridiculous - licking stars, indeed.  Sounds like something I wrote as a teenager.

 

This one is from the winner of the 2004 Bad Sex Award.  It WILL make you squirm:

Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth. She tried to make her lips move in sync with his. The next thing she knew, Hoyt had put his hand sort of under her thigh and hoisted her leg up over his thigh. What was she to do? Was this the point she should say, "Stop!"? No, she shouldn't put it that way. It would be much cooler to say, "No, Hoyt," in an even voice, the way you would talk to a dog that insists on begging at the table.

Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns - oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest - no, the hand was cupping her entire right - Now! She must say "No, Hoyt" and talk to him like a dog. . .

. . . the fingers went under the elastic of the panties moan moan moan moan moan went Hoyt as he slithered slithered slithered slithered and caress caress caress caress went the fingers until they must be only eighths of inches from the border of her public hair - what's that! - Her panties were so wet down. . . there - the fingers had definitely reached the outer stand of the field of pubic hair and would soon plunge into the wet mess that was waiting right. . . there-there- (p368-9)  I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

 

"Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth" - I think I may have kissed Hoyt at some point in my life.  "Wet mess"????  This just goes to support my body horror theory I never got to write about at university. I never want to sleep with anyone named Hoyt...or name my dog after him.  Bad dog!

Here's the problem - unlike real life, you never remember the good sex in fiction.  I just looked up the sex in Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" (which I thought was quite nice).  When you read it out of context of the entire story (you only get it on the last few pages) it just reads badly.

So, thoughts and quotations please!

blacklilly: (Smiley)
Just re-posting the forthcoming list so I don't have to trawl though entries to remind myself what I'm doing.


Day 11 - What did you find most overrated and underrated about Japan?
Day 12 - Describe a fail!gaijin moment. (Where you did something wrong or completely misunderstood because you couldn't ~read the air~ or just plain had no idea what you were supposed to do because you weren't born and raised here) Describe a gaijin!smash moment .(Where your foreignness was to your benefit)
Day 13 - -Something about Japan that sets it apart from anywhere else.
Day 14 - What is the hardest thing about living in Japan versus your home country?
Day 15 - Weirdest food item you've seen, and weirdest food item you've actually eaten.
Day 16 - How you realised you'd acclimated to Japan. (if you have)
Day 17 - Your karaoke top 5, your sushi top 5, your conbini top 5.
Day 18 - Post some amusing/cute/faily purikura.
Day 19 - Your favorite Japanese character(s) and Gachapon/UFO Catcher toys
Day 20 - Favorite Japanese festival or folklore.
Day 21 - Favorite and least favorite Japanese fashion trends.
Day 22 - Your favorite Japanese saying or kotowaza (proverb).
Day 23 - What is something you have/do in Japan that you wish you had/could do in your home country?
Day 24 - Your favorite Japanese slang or borrow-word (外来語), e.g. セフレ "sex friend"
Day 25 - Most interesting vending machine find.
Day 26 - What's your favorite/least favorite train line.
Day 27 - Place you avoid going to if at all possible.
Day 28 - A picture of you looking like a weaboo/A picture of you trying to blend in and failing.
Day 29 - What's the thing you [will] miss most about Japan when you leave (either on vacation, or move away)?
Day 30 - Did Japan meet your expectations, both good and bad? What has been the most surprising thing about Japan for you, or the thing you least expected?

My house in shaking.  Not from an earthquake, but from a building site just down the road.  Most irritating it is at 9am.

Japanese class went well.  Apparently I haven't forgotten that much, as I my teacher very kindly kept telling me how impressed she was.  Still, I had some trouble getting my words out and had to stop and think a few times, but I didn't spot too many grammatical errors - apart from dropping particles (which Japanese people do a lot anyway) I was OK.

I'm gonna cook a spicy tomato and garlic sauce and then I'm heading off to a party.  Hurrah!

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