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!!!
blacklilly: (Default)
Hmm.  I don't think I ever really said there would be nothing I wouldn't try, but keeping in mind my vegetarian proclivities, that cancels out a great deal of food.  That being said, my fish consumption increased when I came to Japan, pretty much because I either gave in to the fish in almost every dish, or I just never went out for dinner.  Lately, I've cut back on the fish - I feel far too guilty most of the time.  At most I eat it once every two weeks, normally when I'm out.

I recall being a little dubious about the idea of natto, but it was something I ate on my second day in Japan, thanks to my friend Yusuke, who took me to a tiny izakaya in Ikebukuro and ordered natto omelette, looking on with amusement and then astonishment as I discovered that I actually liked fermented soy beans.

Weirdest thing I've eaten, and which I was really struggling with (and still do) is sushi and sashimi.  It was all I could do not to gag the first time I ate raw tuna.  The weirdest sashimi I ever had was one of these little critters:

Yes, teeny tiny squid.  Teeny tiny raw squid.  I popped into my local bar on the way home one night in Omori and was offered these as something of a challenge.  For some reason, I accepted it.  So, with a plate of soy sauce and wasabi put one in my mouth and started to chew.  At first it was just bland squiddishness, and then suddenly my mouth was filled with the sea, and it was absolutely revolting.  Maintaining what little dignity I can still muster, I swallowed down the squid and then sat at the bar making nasty faces until someone kindly got me a beer.  It was nasty nasty nasty.

It made me think of that scene in "Oldboy" where the protagonist eats a whole live octopus and the tentacles are slapping about on his face while he chows down on the poor critter.

Today I've been in a pretty morose mood.  For some reason last night at the party I went to I was overcome by the heat of the place, and as I sat on the steps cooling off, was overcome with a really strong feeling of despair.  I ended up going home for a bit as I was so distracted by this intense feeling that I couldn't even hold a conversation with my friend, who seemed to cotton on that I had descended down into the depths and was trying to get whatever it was out of me.  I lay down for a bit, had a shower, changed and then went back - by which point most people had gone.  I managed to cheer up by playing a couple of guys at Connect 4.  One bet me was that if he won he could have my phone number.  I won the game, but I gave him my number in return for an orange juice.

Sometimes I just need a day of moping.  I think I got that today. I stayed home, had a bath, rearranged my bookshelves, watched Alice in Wonderland and cooked some excellent food.  As it's a moping day I should have watch Amelie or Bright Star - something to cause a cathartic session of boo-hooing.  There was no booing today.  I'll cheer up tomorrow.  I'll have to cheer up tomorrow, I've got to be genki Laura for my students.

Something that should cheer me up - a got a short term contract teaching at Waseda until the end of November.  That'll make my CV look sexy.
blacklilly: (Default)
"...if life as we know it really is fundamentally rotten - what the hell is there left to believe in? Alton Towers? Greggs the bakers? The WI?The internet. Can we trust in that? Of course not. Give it six months and we'll probably discover Google's sewn together by orphans in sweatshops. Or that Wi-Fi does something horrible to your brain, like eating your fondest memories and replacing them with drawings of cross-eyed bats and a strong smell of puke."

Oh, it must be Monday.  There was a good one last week, which made me laugh out loud in the school lobby, but I don't quite remember it now...

It's revoltingly hot in my apartment, and blissfully gusty outside, so i don't know what to do with myself.  Today is almost perfect beach weather.

Yesterday Kate and I hit Shibuya, took a walk through Yoyogi and then headed to Fonda De La Madrugada, where we sampled the delights of the appetizer menu (Quesadillas, Nachos and Jalepenos Rellanos) and sipped Sangria.  I'm organizing my colleague's leaving party, so it seemed only right to sample the menu before booking a massive party there.  Great atmosphere, decor and hot waiters too.  Yum

blacklilly: (Oishii)
The past day or two I've had weird pangs for England.  I wanted to go back and smell fresh cut lawns, hear the birds in the trees,  play with the cats, and eat a decent curry (and fish and chips, of course).  But anyway, I can't, so I started to muse on other things, like the perennial idea that I should stop drinking.

However, Maki at Just Hungry  has been in London and took a trip to Borough Market, which just sent me back into further pangs!  I used to work near Borough Market when I was at FP and most Fridays myself and few others would take a stroll down to get lunch, have a pint and pick up food.  I'd go to the vegetable stall and pick up shiny fresh habanero chillies and big sweet onions; stop by the Somerset cider stall and have a tipple whilst picking up a couple of bottles for the evening.  After that, I'd occasionally check out Pieminister, whose selection of pies was excellent (and still is by the look of things). My favourite was the Heidi pie - goat's cheese, sweet potato and spinach. Then I'd go to the bakery stall and get huge slabs of chocolate brownie.  These brownies were stacked up in foot high piles, and the queues for them barely ever died down all day.  They were little choc-gasms.  The others would run off and get boar burgers, bacon, and whatever else took their meaty fancy, whilst I'd wander about and get tofu burgers or falafels.   On occasion, Gideon and I would go there on a Saturday and he'd stock up on his meat.  I recall him particulalry relishing the Melton Mowbray pork pie, with it's little layer of fat between the pastry and the meat.  At least, I think that was him.

Borough Market was always great to hang out in during the summer, but I also liked it when the weather was crap, and everyone would be huddled under awnings out of the rain, tucking into their steaming lunches.  In fact, when I do come back for a visit (probably not until next summer) I will be hitting the market and pigging out.

Now, I need to find somewhere in Yokohama today that sells artichokes.  I have a craving for these roasted artichokes in olive oil I used to be able to get in Ina.  Hmmm, artichokes.  Olives.  Pies.  Brownies.......

blacklilly: (Shibuya)
It being  sunny day I decided, after washing my kitchen floor, do the washing up, hoovering, doing the laundry and some yoga, that it would be a nice idea to leave the house and bask in what seem to be temperatures equivalent to an English summer, before it becomes impossible to open the windows for fear of bugs and death by heat suffocation.  Of course, I don't normally like to leave the house on a Sunday, unless it's to take on the swarming mass of Tokyo with other company.  So...I'd forgotten why I don't like leaving the house.  Within about 5 minutes some eijit on a bicycle tried to take me out on the pavement leading down to an underpass.  An underpass, that is, with designated cycle paths.  And he had a fully functioning bell on the front of that bike, too.  I've decided that if I must leave the house, I shall do it on my bike, and then at least I'm on an equal footing and only really need to worry about cars.  Eventually I found a quiet footpath between some houses and strolled down there before taking a hasty detour home, taking an underpass beneath the train tracks which also coincides with the small river nearby heading underground for a couple of blocks.  It was rather eerie under there so I took a photo...on my Holga.  You'll just have to wait for it.

Golden Week was rather lovely.  I went down to Gifu to stay at Rachel's house. I took the night bus, which was an exercise in torture I don't wish to repeat.  It would all be fine if my legs didn't decide to take on a life of their own whenever I'm on long journeys.  Having weird leg spasms while you're attempting to sleep is deeply uncomfortable and no doubt a little weird looking to the other passengers.  Next time I'll just suck it up and take the Shinkansen.

Here're some photos from Gifu:


The Other Laura and I posing in Nagoya.           Down by the river in Gifu after the BBQ.  I was sporting an 80s quiff and pink sunglasses.

Looking along the river to Mount Kinka, with Kinka castle at the top.
And this is me half way up it.

After Gifu, my friend Brooke visited for a couple of days.  We hit China town in Yokohama in the pouring rain, and spent the afternoon with [ profile] jennarose  in a cafe discussing Dean Winchester and drinking coffee.  Dinner was at a cool little Mexican place (it being Cinqo de Mayo (spelling?)) which did great food in small portions and had a quite confused waiter.  I think it took three languages to get all our ordering done - Spanish, Japanese and English.  At the end of dinner the guy lifted up the apron on the little skeleton in the doorway and flashed us a stuffed willy whilst thanking us loudly and guffawing. 

Which also reminds me of the Moroccan restaurant we went to in Nagoya, which did fabulous cheese briwat, hummous and fish tagine.  And then there was belly-dancing!  I was dead impressed. 

Speaking of belly dancing, I shall be returning to the land of shimmy tomorrow after a month's break.  In the meantime I've been checking out various videos on youtube and have decided that I need to learn to do Tribal bellydance.  Watch this and you'll see why. The best bit is about halfway through.  You'll know which bit I mean.

Err, that's it for now.  Maybe some more ramblings later, after I've consoled myself with a chocolate Hobnob and a cup of tea.

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: (Default)
It's never sunny when I have a day off.  Today it's all windy and grey outside.  The crows have moved back into the neighbourhood the past week or so, and are giving their throats quite the workout.  I recall being on Skype with my parents last year and them asking what the noise was.  So I turned my webcam round and showed them the monster squatting on the phoneline outside my window.  Evil things they are...

I want March to finish as soon as possible.  I was looking at a post I made from the beginning of the month and though it was only 3 weeks ago, it seems like an age.  Roll on April, which includes two weeks of holidays.

Later today I'm going to Roppongi with a few people to have a celebratory (as in "Yey! You passed your Japanese test!")  Indian lunch.  I can't wait to eat a proper curry.  I plan to eat so much I won't need to eat dinner, which works quite well, as there's nothing for dinner in the fridge...

There was the jazz gig on Friday night where I got a little too tipsy and danced with a 21 year-old trumpet player.  It was a bit like dancing with a tree.  I then had weird dreams which included my sister having  a transparent stomach so we could all see the baby, who had black hair and blue eyes.  Then there were some rather lovely blonde-haired, pierced and tattooed twins who looked a little like Eric Northman, but dammit, my neighbour woke me up before anything interesting happened.  Speaking of the neighbour, his number of OCD door rattlings increased yesterday to 12 repetitions, and then he came back two minutes later and did it all over again.  At 5.30am. 

blacklilly: (Default)
I'm back from Gifu, warming up my apartment, drinking beer and hoping my washing is going to dry.  I'm also raiding the recipe stacks of to find things to eat for the rest of the month. 

I took the bullet train from Nagoya to Shinagawa and had to stand the whole way owing to it being the last day of the holidays.  The whole of Japan was going back to Tokyo in preparation for tomorrow it seems.  I've never had to stand for 90 minutes anywhere in recent memory, but it wasn't quite as bad as I was anticipating.  I had Cloud Atlas with me, which cheered me up, and was listening to MF Doom on my iPod (Laura in not-listening-to-heavy-metal shock antics!!).

Rachel put my dinner in a bag and stuffed it in my rucksack so I don't have to cook tonight.  Last Sunday night I cooked falafel for lunch on Monday and then forgot to take them with me.  I hope they're still edible!!

Things to write about:

1) Getting kicked out of the gym
2) Going to Osaka and having a fabulous time in a forest
3) Some thoughts on books and films and music
4) Err, other stuff - like crazy people on the train, how much I hate old ladies, and why old men love me.
5) Throwing myself down a mountain and bleeding copiously
6) Why being vegetarian in Japan is akin to living in the North of England, except there's no Quorn... or quiche. 

開けまして おめでとう ございます!(That mean's Happy New Year in Japanese).

blacklilly: (Default)
I'm currently in the process of cooking oden. Having been fortunate enough to be the recipient of the leftover veggies from the school Xmas party, I'm making a pot of yummy to keep me going for the next two days. Today's oden consists of daikon, carrot, chikuwa, eggs and tofu all cooked up in a soy sauce and miso soup. It's as Japanese as I can be bothered to be at the moment. I did, however, forget how long daikon takes to cook, no matter how small you chop it. Hey ho, it's a good thing I finished work early tonight, otherwise I may not have been eating until midnight.

Whilst I'm waiting on the radish, I've decided to tell you the long overdue gym story. It took me about 5 months to get round to joining the gym near my train station, as (surprise surprise) I was agonising about the cost. However, I eventually got so stir crazy for a swim that I did it. I would go in the mornings when it the gym opened first thing and charge up and down the lanes for 45mins before pelting off to work. No one really wanted to talk to me apart from two ladies, one of whom had a daughter living in London. The other old ladies merely gave me a basic good morning, or totally ignored my existence. That is, of course, until one of them clocked my tattoos in the showers.

One of the gym staff approached me while I was getting changed and asked me if I had tattoos, which I confirmed. She then informed me that this was not allowed, and that we'd discuss it when I came out to reception. Except that there was no discussion. I found a cancellation form and a copy of my contract waiting for me at the desk. Tattoos of any kind, be they the more yakuza-style, or mere "fashion tattoos" such as mine, were not allowed. So I was given the form to sign, told that it must be difficult being a foreigner, and ushered out in the autumn sunshine. At the time I found it quite amusing, but as the day, and days, went by I became increasingly more angered about the whole thing.

Now, I admit that I am aware of the general "no tattoos" rule in a lot of places in Japan, but I've been used to them not being enforced. I've never been to a gym or an onsen which has refused me access, even when I've told them I have tattoos. Even my previous gym in the sticks of Nagano didn't worry about them, and one would expect more "traditional" thinking in a place like that. Yet, it seems that the suburbs of Tokyo are far more intolerant than one would assume.

There are two lines of thought here. The first would be that as I'm living in a culture foreign to the one I've spent 26 years of my life in, I should try to adhere to their values etc etc. Which, I would say I respect and value, for the most part. Yet, the other line is that I should be allowed to do as I wish with my own skin, without having to face discrimination as a result. I'd like to do both, but it seems I can't. Of course, being an foreigner here means that I will never really be accepted, and that my views on certain subjects are at a wide variant to those of some Japanese people. So one is tempted to give "tradition", and old ladies, the finger. I've certainly had far less tolerance of them lately, especially when the sneaky bitches jump the train queue. In fact, ANY queue that I'm in seems to be fair game.

I think this is what sparked the recent "slump", and led to me feeling rather victimized in that self-pitying way I have. It wasn't just that, but I can date most of my ill-feelings to around that time.

Anyway, here's a picture of some yummy for you:

Daikon, chikuwa (the weird brown and white stuff), carrots, a boiled egg, tofu and some wakame. I just ate it, it was pretty good. The egg, of course, is saved for last.


Jul. 27th, 2008 11:05 am
blacklilly: (Default)
I was just checking out a macrobiotic website (it's a long story) and found this "remedy":

"Carp Plaster"

Reduces high fever, as in the case of pneumonia. Crush and mash a whole, live carp and mix with a small amount of whole-wheat flour.Spread this mixture onto oiled paper and apply to the chest. When treating pneumonia, drink 1 or 2 teaspoons of carp blood, only in the case where the carp has just been killed. Take the body temperature every half hour, and immediately remove the carp plaster when the temperature reaches normal.

Ummm, I think I'm going to leave this website, right now...
blacklilly: (Default)
It's 30 degrees today, according to the Meterological site. When I got home last night I couldn't find my aircon remote so I spent a sweaty 60 minutes trying to figure out if I could live without it. Which I couldn't, so I had to pause yet another watching of "Batman Begins" to find the damn thing. Turns out it was wedged down the side of the sofa, which should have been the first place to look as we all know that remotes like tight comfy places.

The humidity helps none, of course and just means that five minutes after showering you need another one.

I can't wait for "Batman" to finally get to Japan. It will actually be only the third time I've been to the cinema since I came here.

I have to go out and get some food later as I've deliberately run my fridge down to the sum total of: some pumpkin, a bit of cheese, half a bottle of wine, a piece of ginger and some American mustard. I got fed up of the food in there. Now I'm going to attempt to actually eat everything I buy, and stop buying stuff I don't need.

Not very exciting at the moment.
blacklilly: (Default)
Having been moaning about how cold it is here, and how it felt so much colder than last year, I was a little disheartened to return to Ina last weekend to find 3 inches of snow, and a further plunge in temperature. I don't know quite how cold it was, I didn't check and no one wants to talk about it being -8 so who knows. What I do know it this:
- it's so cold that I've had to limit the amount I drink because I don't want to go to the bathroom as it has become an exercise in torture.
-Cooking is also painful, the floor is blistering cold and if I accidentally go out there without putting on my slipper things bone ache results.
- I also found that my olive oil has frozen solid. It's currently thawing by my window.
-Going outside is pleasant in the sunshine, but night results in brain-freeze similar to eating ice cream too quickly.
- And school. We have to sit on our own in our classrooms with the aircon and the space heaters going and it still doesn't get rid of that numb feeling in your toes, despite the double socks, and boots I've taken to wearing. I even wear fingerless gloves in class because I can't write properly with frozen fingers.

Anyway, last weekend I went down to Gifu to meet up with my friends Kim and Rachel and watch John Waters movies. It being a cold day, we went for a walk along the river (which is beautifully clean - possibly the cleanest I've ever seen) and thoroughly deserved the rather fabulous outdoor onsen at the end of it. You can peer out of the bath at people skating at the park on the other side of the river, and they can try peering at you in your birthday suit. I stayed in rather too long and ended up with my face a shade of red that I can't actually describe other than "third-degree burn". It returned to a suitably pinkish colour by the time we arrived at the Natural Cafe. Going to onsen always gives me the munchies afterwards so we had prawn crackers, a salmon Ceasar salad; and a fabulous cheese, onion and mochi chijimi. Chijimi is a Korean-style pancake usually made with squid and other veggies, fried up and served in squares with a soy, vinegar and chilli dipping sauce. Scrummy. Then we took the bus back to Rachel's where we watched Pink Flamingos and Serial Mom whilst chowing down on the three kinds of curry Rachel has cooked up for us.

This week I've been attempting to pack away things, as it's only two weeks until I move. I've done nearly all of the books, though I suspect I will take them all out and rearrange them again. It seems like there's a lot of stuff here, but I suspect it's just the limited space which makes it look that way. It won't actually take very long to pack it all away so I may just wait a little longer before doing any more. I was finally given my new address yesterday. Whilst working in Yokohama, I'll actually be living in Tokyo. It's 17 minutes by train to Yokohama, which equates to about an hour by bike.

More to come later...maybe. I may go back to bed.


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...
blacklilly: (Default)
It was raining rather heavily as I started work yesterday and one of students came through the door, remarking on the weather:

" Isn't the weather bad?" she said.
" Well, yes, it's cold and wet. But rain in good," I said, pointing at the evidently thirsty trees outside on the street.
" Ah, you are English," she replied. In our ensuing conversation I think I put the idea in her head that English people like walking in the rain without umbrellas.

Next a private student, when I asked him what he knew about London, said: " It rains a lot."

Later that day, teaching a couple of teenage boys( we were learning about superlatives):

"What's the most popular food in England?" I asked.
" Cereal."
" Hmmm, maybe."
" Toast."
" Yeah, we like toast, but so do the Japanese."

I went on to tell them about fish and chips and we looked at a picture in their textbook. Underneath there was an information box in Japanese which told them that English food was disgusting. They found this hilarious and started making vomiting motions. "That's not true!" I said. " うそぅ!" to which they fell about laughing. I shall be having words with the textbook department about keeping their opinions to themselves.

It's still raining today. I have to clock in at work and then (hopefully) pop to Tsutaya and get a video to watch tonight, and then go to City Hall on a work errand. Then I might do the washing-up...

All this rain does make me slightly nostalgic for London.


Jun. 22nd, 2007 06:19 pm
blacklilly: (Default)
A quick update from work. My 6pm cancelled so I'm sitting in the office wondering why my head isn't with me today. All week I've woken up late, having slept through my alarm. Given that the alarm is normally by my ear, this is not good.

I should do something constructive for tomorrow's lessons...

Later I will be cooking Aubergine Parmagiana (sp?) and watching "パプリカ”、which I've heard good things about. Let's hope the subs I downloaded for it aren't for the Tinto Brass film of the same name.

Am also about to finish David Mitchell's "Number9Dream", which is going to take book of the year, unless something astoundingly good comes along. There is a particular pleasure gained from reading books in the country they are set in. Those little bits of information you miss in England - like knowing what a Lawson is - add a familiar, engaging touch.

Today's weather is very English, rain rain rain all day. The kind of rain that gets under your clothes. I'm going to think about what else I'm going to do with my next class.
blacklilly: (Default)
Last night I ate Octopus for the first time. I was in Genghis Khan after work (it was 10.30pm and I wasn't about to go home and cook) and Miki-san rustled up something for me to eat. Octopus tentacles in a nice crispy batter, along with some very rubbery fried fish...things. I can't recall the name. The octopus was actually quite good, just like squid in fact.

However, I was on the National Geographic website last week watching footage of a giant octopus battling a shark, amongst other octopus footage. This has again left me with the feeling that these creatures are going to take over the earth. ( "Somebody's been reading too much Lovecraft," you may say. And yes, I have been re-reading good old HPL recently.) Therefore should I be eating them?

I decided that when I came to Japan I would have to eat a little more fish than I normally do, as a concession to the fact that vegetarianism isn't really recognised out here (a bit like the north of England). However, I was having thoughts on the way home about how intelligent octopuses (yes, that is the plural - I checked) are, and also about something I read about how octopuses are exempt from animal testing because it has been proven that they feel pain (how about every other animal then? - but that's another issue). The feelings of guilt returned.

This is an etiquette versus morals issue, and at the moment the etiquette is winning.

Miki also gave me a six-pack of Kirin beer as a present, and mentioned that Sam has been trying to set me up with one of the restuarant staff. I foresee me punching the big ex-Marine very hard. I wonder if he's ticklish, that might induce a suitable amount of humiliation.
blacklilly: (Default)
I got up early this morning - OK, 7am, which isn't early. I'm back in bed because that was a BAD mistake. My flat is sickeningly cold. I've brought the laptop under the covers and made a cocoon with the electroc blanket roaring away nicely until the room heats up a bit. Then I will brave the rest of the apartment.

Was waylaid last night on the way home by Miki-san waving at me through the window of his restuarant. Inticed in I had beer and potato salad. At 10.30pm I was the first customer of the night. A couple more turned up while I was there. They ordered rice and salmon roe. Miki-san gave me a bowl to try, but I found the smell was turning my stomach, which is strange since I think salmon is pretty good stuff. I had a couple of spoons of the roe - it was a bit like eating sea bubbles - fishy, gelatinous and mildly unpleasant. I've realised that much of my dislike for certain foods (see raw tomatoes) comes from the texture of them in my mouth. Anything slimy gets the gag reflex going - same with jelly.

Lazy day today. I don't have to log in until midday and then don't have a lesson until 5pm, so I'll be at home packing stuff up for the move on SUnday. Shouldn't take long, there's not a great deal of stuff apart from that in the kitchen.

Am going to brave the cold now. Also, I have either split my lip in the night or I have a cold-sore coming. Grreaat.


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