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!
blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
Can I also point you in the direction of my new other blog, which is all about cooking in Japan, with one hob, in a shoebox, on 4000yen a week.

Kitsunekitchen

blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
I was amused to see an article on the Guardian website about more men taking their own lunch to work.  My bento box is pink and sparkly though, and those little fish I detest.  You can see them looking at you.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/18/japan-white-collar-workers-bento

blacklilly: (moody)
My week off was great.  I'll tell you more about it when I manage to get the photos sorted out.  I'm guessing somewhere will allow me to get CD copies of my Holga pictures...

Gideon left on Saturday morning and since then I've been moping about.  Saturday was particularly miserable as I had to go back to my empty apartment and remove traces of him from the place.  I've washed everything and hoovered, but I keep finding his long curly hair about.  Sunday was better, but sitting on trains allows me too much opportunity to sit about festering about things.  So it's been a little rollercoaster of having enough to do to forget about things, and then lengthy periods of making myself angry and upset.  We had a really nice week together, and only got grumpy once (we both had hangovers).  In fact, it was rather like old times, which probably had made the transition back to normality even worse.  At least he was always far far away in England and I could get on without him, but now he's been here to visit, it has rather spoiled things, in that it has dragged up a lot of old feelings, which I thought had been nicely buried.  I recall writing a poem a year or two ago about  him and using the old gardening, digging/burial metaphors to express what I was really trying to say.  I think I even sent it off to a competition, but it didn't get anything but a nice rejection letter.

I've had a few things to keep me busy though.  Yesterday I went to a teaching workshop in the west of Tokyo, which took my mind off things for about 6 or 7 hours.  One thing I really miss is having contact with other teachers who have different experiences to me. It's a great opportunity to share ideas and make contacts.  I was quite pleased to see people scribbling down my ideas for a class exercise on numbers and prepositions while I was talking to the group and going red in the face (as someone pointed out later whilst complementing me on what lovely eyes I have).

Today I took my Powerbook to the Apple shop in Shibuya to get it looked at.  Last week it started playing movies covered in green pixels.  It seems it's only the DVD program causing the bother, as VLC works fine.  The guy in the store told me it was the first time he'd ever come across this problem, and diagnosed it as a problem with the video chip in the computer not being powerful enough or something (this was all in Japanese so I'm not 100% on this).  He suggested I get the logic board replaced, and when I balked at the number he quoted me for the repair he wrote it down just to confirm what I'd heard: 51000yen.  I figure seeing as this is one quarter of the way towards a new computer, I'll just stick with VLC and pray nothing else goes wrong until I've accrued 200 000yen for a MacBook Pro.

I did finally get round to getting another external hardrive (the emergency money fund took a significant hit for this) and after spending an hour installing and partitioning it, it seems to be working fine.  Now all I have to do in consolidate my iTunes into it and I can free up nearly 30GB of space on my internal hard drive.


This afternoon I met Kate for lunch and coffee in Yokohama.  I had a bad hankering for tempura, so I had tempura and soba for lunch and Kate amused me for the afternoon. I think I'm very lucky to have made some really good friends in Japan.  Alas, they're too far away - Rachel's in Gifu, Brooke's in Ina, and Kate is (actually not that far away) in Hon Atsugi.  Still, they're all brilliant and do a good job of keeping in touch with me despite the distance.  Rachel was around on Friday and Saturday (having returned from her 6 week holiday) and did an excellent job of keeping my and Gideon's spirits up until the bus whisked him away to the airport.  Then she stuck around in Shinagawa with me until I felt better, and then she went home.  But she's been emailing and calling me to check I'm not moping too much.  They're all great. I'd love to get them all in a room together.  It would be excellent.

After sorting out the HD I had to do the whole bento lunch-making thing.  I cooked up a batch of dahl (which is probably one of the best foods in the world) and some pumpkin samosas, and a huge pan of dashi for soup etc.  I've decided to start up the food blog I mentioned, and I think they'll be one of the first things I'll post on there.  More info on that when I post something.

Right, well there's more Supernatural to watch now, so I'm going to lust over hot angry men...

blacklilly: (Angsty)


This was this morning's breakfast: tofu with wakame and somen noodles in a miso broth using my own homemade vegan dashi stock.  Super yummy it was too,  I should eat it everyday, but sometime I love toast too much.
 
Yesterday's trip to Roppongi was very nice, despite the heavy rain and high winds.  We met at the very cool Aoyama Book Center, where I spent my time cooing over various font and sample pattern books.   After a fabulous lunch, we then went to check out Roppongi Hills which is full of nice expensive shops, including a very very nice Tsutaya full of magazines, books and coffee.  On the way we stopped off at the Asahi TV station so Kazumi could giggle over her favourite TV programme like the big fangirl she is.  We finished off in the Tokyo Nation Art Museum.  We didn't actually go to any of the exhibitions, because that costs money, but we did check out the gift shop, which has loads of interesting little bits and pieces in it.  I bought some more postcards for my 2009 postcard project (in which I attempt every month to send someone I know, somewhere in the world, a postcard, in a vain attempt at keeping in touch).  Just before we went back home I stumbled across a pet shop and keened and cooed over the kitty-cats (and a six-week odl puppy, who should NOT have been on his own).  Then I went home to my empty apartment, which has no feline inmate,

For some ridiculous reason, I can't get rid of the underline on this page.

Anyway, I came back home and downloaded the latest episode of Dollhouse, which finally seems to be making a bit of progress.  This episode I think, is what everyone wants Dollhouse to be - a bit more of the Whedon-lingo, a faster moving plot, and some nice surprises.  Much improved.  More like this please.

It's nice and sunny today so I'm going out on a bicycle adventure soon.  The wid is pretty strong, so strong in fact that my apartment buiilding shakes with every strong gust.  I'm attempting to find a park i saw a sign for last week.  It'll probably turn out to be a foot square piece of green surrounded by old ladies with cameras.

blacklilly: (Default)
Owing to the fact that I have 13000yen to play with until the end of the month, I'm staying at home again.

I plan to not do as little as I did last week.  So far that means I will actually have to get out from underneath the kotatsu (which I stupidly forgot to turn off last night) to wash myself, and wash my clothes, and wash some plates.  Then I plan to cook up some beans so I can have Mexican for dinner tomorrow night. And I'll make a curry, and some other stuff as part of my grand plan not to have to buy lunch all week.  Not having money to play with is good as it forces to me to think about what to do with the random stuff in my fridge.

I'm still dead excited about getting my Holga, and I'm dead excited about getting a social life back next month.  I'll be heading to Omotesando on February 1st to get the camera, then heading to a nearby store which sells European designer glasses (I need a new pair, and most Japanese frames are far too small for my massive Western skull).  Afterwards, I'm meeting a few people for lunch in "Korean-town", Shin-Okubo, for lunch, where I plan on testing out the camera by  photographing Korean BBQ and other spicy (vegetarian) delights.

Last night I watched Coppola's "The Conversation" and "Shikoku", neither of which particularly impressed me.  "The Conversation" was an interesting film, but I didn't have the patience for it.  Meanwhile, "Shikoku", which was recommended to me as being a horror movie, turned out not to be a horror movie at all.  Next time I'm watching "Tokyo Gore Police", at least that's guaranteed to be grisly.

Anyway, more later, when I've stopped wearing my pyjamas.
blacklilly: (Default)
I've been thoroughly miserable since I came back to Japan. I know, I know, post-holiday blues etc etc, but I don't think I've ever had them this bad. I was telling my friend and co-worker Kazumi about how annoyed I was, and she said:

"But Japan's a good place!"

"Yes, it is!" I replied. "But... I want to be back in Thailand!" Maybe it's a sign of how much like home Japan has become that I feel a little downhearted to return, although, truth by told, I was quite relieved to get back here after my trip home in April, if only because I could eat brown rice and miso soup for breakfast.

The photos are back, but you'll have to wait a little longer for them all as I need to knock my ramblings into shape before unleashing them on you. Meanwhile, you can have this picture of me looking insanely happy in the sea:




Read more... )

Oden

Dec. 23rd, 2007 11:20 am
blacklilly: (Default)
Today is the kind of day when I don't want to venture outside. But I have to. I have a hankering for goats cheese and salt and vinegar Pringles (clearly there's something wrong with me with that last one). So I'm procrastinating in a bid to delay the inevitable - having a bath, burning some movies on to DVD to free up 4 GB on my hardrive, painting my nails a harlotish red. Oh, and writing this.

Last weekend I made oden. This is a big old winter stew made of various things. Here's what I did:

Oden Pics etc )

So now I may venture out. Or I may wait and see if more Strictly Come Dancing has been uploaded onto Youtube...

Goya

Oct. 8th, 2007 04:28 pm
blacklilly: (Default)
Last night I made Goya Champ and decided it would be great idea to tell you all how to make it. So here we go:


You will need: Eggs, tofu, a goya (also known as Okinawan Cucumber or Bitter Gourd/Melon), oil, soy sauce, mirin or cooking sake.


Cut the goya in half. In the middle are the seeds and a soft pith. Scoop these out with a spoon and then slice. Put in a bowl and add salt. Leave for 5-10 minutes for the bitter juice to come out. Meanwhile, beat your eggs and drain the tofu. Then rinse the goya and immediately squeeze out any excesss juice with your hands.


Chuck the goya in a frying pan with some mirin and cook for a few minutes. Add the tofu and cook a few minutes more. Add the eggs and a dash of soy sauce and push around until it looks cooked.

Stick it on a plate.
Serve with extra soy sauce (it takes the edge off the goya if it's too bitter). I also experimented with a bit of cheese - I don't recommend it. It is, however, pretty good in curries.

Scrummy. Of course, if you don't like bitter stuff than don't go near this. And as for those of you in England - good luck find a goya (try an Indian market)! I'll be sending seeds over to England for my three favourite allotmenteers (Gideon, Dad and Grandad) so see what you can grow in the greenhouse next year.

Goya is alleged to have numerous health-giving properties, including balancing blood sugar (so is a good food source for diabetics), aiding digestion and being chock-full of various vitamins and minerals. How true any of this is I don't know but I certainly don't get after-dinner munchies when I've eaten goya.

In other news, I decided to tranfer to Yokohama, so told the relevant people on Friday. That's it so far. I likely won't hear more about it until December time. Many hours of Japanese this weekend too. I've noticed that my brain has permanently replaced "wow" with "すごい" and "really" with "ほんと”.

I've been reading Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled", a beginners guide to writing poetry. As a formerly prolific poet who is trying to find their way back to the metaphorical "ribbon of moonlight", this is a thoroughly entertaining read. Of course, I am biased: Stephen Fry is Number 1 on my list of fantasy dinner guests. However, if any other writer said they weren't going to let me read on until I had picked up a pencil to mark enjambment and ceasuras, I would ignore them. Not so in this case. I do everything I'm told. I even sit up at night writing iambic pentameters for homework. Tonight I have to work those two end-stopped lines into two lines of enjambed poesy containing 2 ceasurae. Phew.

I'm gasping for a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. Well, 50% success isn't bad.
blacklilly: (Default)
And here's what I've been doing so far today:

curry )
blacklilly: (Default)
I've spent the afternoon and evening working on the story and the poem. The story is finished (for the moment)- clocking in at 1600 words or so, and the poem is in its fourth draft at 20 lines. It's nice to be working on poems again after so long. I like the action of paring them back and back again, like boiling down a sauce until it's thick and glossy. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is glossy, but the analogy is true of the good stuff.

I wanted to write up tales from my holidays, but I've put these two pieces as a priority, so the tales will have to wait. Rather than bore you with a blow by blow account, I'm going to flick through the notes I have, write up some more (I didn't get anywhere near enough chances to write while I was in Tokyo and Kyoto) and then give you the best of, along with a selection of pictures (there are over 100 in total).

I cooked curry yesterday for my new manager and the Japanese teacher at school. It was pumpkin, potato and chickpea curry, which initially hit you with a the sweetness of the pumpkin and then followed up with a good dose of chilli. Until two weeks ago I hadn't had a curry for over six months. I was in the restaurant sweating, and afterwards got a proper curry high. Great it was, and I even had the company of Shizuko (my student from London) too. I'll be doing it all over again in a couple of weeks with one of my current students.

Next week I should get a big load of overtime payment, so I plan on buying a bike (of the foot-powered variety) to go on weekend adventures now the weather has perked up. There have been some very impressive thunderstorms, and it's not even the rainy season, which has me both looking forward to some spectacular lightning shows, and a little concerned at my proximity to the river...

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