Thursday, March 22, 2007


I was able to capture a Japanese couple on their little Miyajima rendezvous. It was really nice to see because I personally don't find Japanese people very romantic. Perfect, isn't it? Beach, Tori, sunset.... I luuuuv this picture. I woke up at 1:30pm today and decided to go to Miyajima...
to munch around...
especially the Momiji Manjuu.... yum yum.
to check out the deers...
The Tori Gate: I had actually just realized what it was called. But it's a gateway for the gods to enter in Shinto religion.

Even on holidays, Japanese people just work away... diggin' them oysters.
I got to Miyajima a bit late. I ran into Clare, Pauline and Matt there too but they were on their way out. I guess it was a good thing because I was able to catch the sunset there.

Last Kencho...
Everyone was super laid back that day (in other words, late). But yay!!! no more pretending to be professional... and I'm speak for all.


I was excited to attend my elementary school's graduation because I've never been to one before. I promised the kids I'd go, thinking I would just sit in the casual, parents and guardians section... nope! Instead, I was led to the Principal's office and as I walked in, there was a group of 15 old Japanese (mainly men) people. THESE were the VIPs, made up of Board of Education reps, PTA (Parent Teacher Association) reps, city office reps, etc... and I had to sit with them in a long clothed table that looked like a piece of furniture at a UN conference. I was not looking forward to being introduced and having to bow and congratulate the graduates in front of everyone. But anyhow, it's done and over with.

These are the 6th graders who graduated... I'll be seeing them again in 2 weeks at Shimata Junior High.

These are the kouhai's singing a song as their present to the graduates. Aren't they cute? Well, I guess it's hard to see.
Just like a typical graduation back home where the principle calls the student to come up to receive his/her certificate.
Unlike back home though, they bow to the teachers, the principle and the VIPs. Very cute.
Yes... a woman IS crying. You are not seeing things. I know students usually cry at graduations but it's less common for parents to cry and even more rare to find a parent crying from beginning to end fo the ceremony. I couldn't help but stare and thought, "what's wrong with her?" I was also really curious whose mother this is. Turns out she is one of my favourite student's mom and she came up to me to say thank you later and I felt totally bad for staring at her earlier.

Asae JHS Graduation '07

Another year, another graduation.

This is Yuki. She's super cute. She always wrote an English journal to me. I learned that she likes Cameron Diaz, likes to go shopping, has a "crush" on my fashion and wants to be an actress someday.
Typical J-boys
This is Reina. She's actually half Taiwanese but I don't think she can really speak much Mandarin. She's a funny girl though and not shy to speak to me, unlike most of the other students.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lust of the Month: Onkyo X-T1

Looks cool and sounds even better. CD, MD amplifier system with an "aero acoustic drive" (perfect sound quality that stretches smoothly across the room). Includes a separate iPod dock that allows you to charge and control the iPod from the controler.

Friday, March 09, 2007

An Obvious Down of Being 外人

Generally, the term for foreigners is 外国人 but mostly people just say 外人 for short. But if you can read kanji, it directly translates to alien or outsider. I never took the word so literally but overtime, it's hard not to.

Morning, it's just before the starting of the graduation ceremony at my base school and all the teachers look a little nervous. All except me. I guess it's because nothing is expected of the foreigner. Yes, I feel so outcasted. I feel outcasted in a lot of places in Japan but never as unbearable as when I'm at this school. I'm not sure if it's me or if it's them. I feel like no matter what I do, it's the same thing. I've learnt to deal with it though. I sorta just ignore it and count down the days that I still have to deal with this sort of thing. 4 months and 11 days. But really about 3 months because by then, I'd be too busy to even notice it. And actually, I'm assuming there would be a turn-around because because they know I'm leaving so it won't be difficult to try to be nice to me for just another couple weeks or so. I hope so anyway. It would be really sad if they don't bother trying at all.
Graduation is always a very big deal with Japanese people. I didn't feel this way last year but it's finally gotten to me. For my kids' graduation, I decided to burn CDs for all of my 238 students from my 2 major schools. I became pretty good at being a one person assembly by the end of it. But my BOE co-workers (namely Okada san) and my good friend Kyoko helped a lot. Kyoko wasn't very good though and was honestly quite slow hehe.... She was talking to her boyfriend and fooling around for the most part. But she tried and her company kept me sane. So... YOSHI!!! it's all done now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Okayama Saidaiji (Hadaka Matsuri) for Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year everyone. And for your information, it's the year of the boar. It doesn't even feel like CNY at all since Japan doesn't go by the lunar calendar. It also sucks that I'm not getting any money this year. But on the brighter side of things, I was able to see loads of naked men. Not a bad trade off but a little overwhelming with testosterone.
We went to the Naked Man's festival in Okayama this weekend. Even though we had to take the train for nearly 5 hrs and it never stopped raining for the whole 12 hours that we were outside for, it was still a worthwhile experience. Definitely not a part of my culture to see hundreds of nearly naked men running around at night time, all for the sake 2 batons.
So the festival participants catwalk into a bath house looking building, soak themselves wet and march right out. I don't really know why they do this though and I've sort of stopped questioning why Japanese people do what they do.

Then they march over to a shrine and wait crowd around, waiting for the baton throwing to start. I should mention that most of the time was spent waiting for the baton throwing and not the actually throwing. I never did get to see the batons though because they were really small. They should really make it glow in the dark.

Prancing in the rain with Dennis (Okayama JET). My friend Pauline had warned me that the bags we bought in Vietnam rub off dye. I sorta forgot about that and didn't think about the rain so much. 4 hours into the rain I see that my hands are all black and was like... dammit!!! As you can guess, my jacket also looks ridiculous. It had a dark grey streak all the way down on the left side and I think the damage is permanent. Reason to buy a new jacket.

Traditional fundoshi (loincloth)
Not so traditional fundoshi poses
Rows and rows of Okayama policemen. I thought this was just as worth going to the festival to see simply because there was clearly an overcrowd of policemen but they served no purpose at all. They didn't even do anything. Just stood there with no expression. Though I wasn't at home having a cozy CNY dinner with my family. It was nice to be able to eat 開年飯 with other foreigners whom Chinese New Year's actually mean something to. But still no money.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Preparing for the next chapter

Vietnam was a great break from Japan but I got pretty homesick near the end. Yes, Japan really is home now. I remember talking to my dad during my trip and saying I was homesick (Japan) and he sternly said, "Calgary is home, NOT Japan." I think he was a little concerned about me wanting to stay another year. Even I was worried about that. You know that deep down you've made up your mind, but when the whole "recontracting" time comes up, you start doubting your decision. I actually had to contemplate for weeks but I'd say I'm one of the luckier ones as others seemed to have more difficulty making that final decision. I finally went into my work and told them I won't be staying. I felt immediate relief, rather than regret, so I think I've made the right decision. So here's the official announcement... book your days off and buy some beers cuz.. I'M COMING HOME BABY!

Though there isn't a sense of regret, the sadness sure kicked in earlier than I expected. Living away from Canada for the past 2 years has it's inevitable results; When I think about my hometown Calgary, there was always a very cozy, familiar feeling to it. But now, that might just be a mere memory as Hikari has slowly replaced Calgary's title of home. Knowing one world before kept me satisfied because I didn't know life anywhere else. After living somewhere else for a while, you can never be satisfied again because you know you can only be in one place at one time and you can't have the best of both worlds (or many worlds for you crazy travelers). Re-adjusting will feel strange too. Most people think I'm thinking too much when I say this but it's true. Not just in the language aspect but literally everything. I find that I move, talk and walk a lot slower. I do a lot of awkward bowing now. Being passive is a part of my daily life (or more so anyway, as it is pretty hard for me to be passive). Gotta snap out of that slow, conservative mentality from the rice patties.

Below are some pictures taken when Paul, Pauline and I went to southern parts of Vietnam.
Do Enjoy ne...

mmm... a moment to last forever...

That's right! We were the honoured occupants of the all new, high quality Kitty-chan plane. It was intensely Hello Kitty. Even the food was shaped like her.
People watching... Saigon, Ho Chi Min

Vietnamese people seem to enjoy squatting in all situations.

They also enjoy doing everything in the streets. Above, a man was performing a type of Chinese medical therapy using fire and glasses to suck out the feng in the receiver's body -on the street.

Words of wisdom

The infamous piss wall in the central part of Saigon

Come take part in the ritual

New Year's Eve in Saigon was great. The people were down-to-earth, fearless and real. What better way to celebrate NY's than to be out in the streets with these crazy folks.

The next morning... hungover, tired and about to eat a Vietnamese sub that Pauline managed to find, wrapped with someone's math homework .

Check out my swollen feet from all the walking.

Riding the Mekong

The hustles and bustles of the floating market.

"yeah, we're cool... yea, we're chill...."

simply content

Vietnamese floating konbini (convenience store)
Floating Market on the Mekong

Not exactly sure but assuming that the stick that's raised on the end of the boat is used to advertise their products of the day.

Here's to the lady who rowed us, and many many others, back and forth the Mekong all day long. otsukaresama

Rice paper: You've heard of it. You've seen it. Most of you have even eaten it. Now here's how you make it.

Caodai Church

Caodaism is a fairly new and but popular religion in Vietnam. It combines the best ideas from a variety of religions and beliefs such as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianist ideology and Islam.

Crawling beneath... CuChi Tunnels

Paul: Happy to be inside a tunnel at Cu Chi

Doesn't Pauline look like a pro. I bet you she does this on a Sunday afternoon. Makes me wonder what she says when students ask her, "what sport do you like?"

We believe in peace

A taste of Guerilla warfare. Used to hide and attack when enemies approach.

A spike trap on the ground

Spike trap hung on the door. Once the enemy approaches and opens the door, it will fall down and hit them. The henge in the middle is designed for a it to bend so that even if the enemy tries to dodge it, the bottom half cannot be blocked. A fool-proof design.

Sun bathing in the "Terracotta"... Mui Ne Beach Resorts