Saturday, 6 December 2014



A few funny little things.....

Pubic grooming is different in Japan!

Taught one of the teachers at my school that old saying 'Easy Peasy Japanesey'. She looked confused!

Japanese people traditionally have very small dogs that do not take up much space. Invariably they are dressed up (seriously I would guess 60% are adorned in some costume or other) and, the more pampered ones, are transported around in special dog prams. This way they can go into shops, around the town and on buses without causing any undue savaging worries to other citizens. When their dogs are allowed out to walk they are closely monitored by their owners who will not only pick up the poo in a little bag but will sloosh down any area that the dog has pee’d  on by means of a little squirty bottle.

Dog Prams!
The people who are employed to work on the buses and trains, in fact, in any role that involves the wearing of a uniform, are proud to wear the uniform and treat their jobs with consideration and pride. They are always impeccably turned out with white gloves, pressed trousers, shiny shoes, smooth chins and willing smile. Seeing them often makes me think of their counterparts employed at British Rail, CBC buses and NCP car parks. I have a little chuckle.

Some restaurants have special vending machines that dispense tickets for the meal you choose from a picture on the front of the machine. You then hand the voucher to the waitress and she brings you the appropriate food. Many others have plasticised dishes displayed in the window. This way you can see exactly what you are going to get.

One of my teachers bases how cold a classroom is on how many fat kids there are in the room! More fat kids the warmer the room – apparently.

People in Japan all walk up stairs on the flats of their feet. Its like they have been especially trained to bring the whole foot down at the same time. The result of this is that they are really slow and noisy when going up or down stairs because they can’t help but stomp.
Your average Japanese person walks at an estimated 1.5 miles an hour. It is simply astonishing how slowly they can dawdle about and, because they appear to have no periphery vision, they veer all over the place and cause horrific slow mo pile ups of shuffling people. Finally on the walking issue. Women seem to only move their legs from the knees down.

Skytree plaza - Another photo op
where we had to queue with kids
OK on to stuff we have been doing… First work. We are both working in schools for the same company which is good news. The bad news, however, is that we are working about an hour away from where we live and in in opposite directions. Not what we signed up for but we both do our thing whilst travelling. Mine is learning Japanese and Rachel’s is …. Actually I don’t know. Now there’s a thing. I know just about everything else there is to know about the woman – when she’s hungry, what she really means when she says something, what she means when she doesn’t, what she likes, doesn’t like and even times she goes to the loo (all the time – that's when). But I am not sure about the train time usage. Huh?! 

Footnote to above. She tells me she talks to High School boys! I think I will leave that hanging ambiguously in the air for now.

Anyway once she has finished chatting up minors Rachel is teaching 4 days at Junior High and I day at Elementary. She loves her teachers and they her. She now smiles at children and oohs and ahs like a proper human instead of the child catcher she has always been. Something about these little Japanesey folk make you do that. Anyway she likes the schools and although the JHS is a little unrewarding the lovely teachers make up for it whilst the Elementary day fills her with joy.

I am at JHS too (but no elementary for me). However I have carved out a rather nice little “show off” niche for myself by teaching a phonics course I devised. So half my time is spent as a ALT and the other half of the lessons is spent shouting out noises and make kids copy me. Alll good fun and well received by kids and the school alike.

The company we are with seem a bit flakey and the chiefs (or sub chiefs) appear to be a bit on the disorganized side. We keep hearing dramas that have occurred and every now and then I shoot off a slightly offence and aggressive letter to head office about something or other. I fear it is the Japanese way rather than just our bunch. We will see in due time.

Kawagoe Float festival
We have been to several festivals. They call them festivals and, indeed, there is usually something to see but more than anything it's a good excuse to huddle together in queues and pay over the odds for food. These skinny well-proportioned people love eating. And they eat with gusto and joy. Where It goes I don’t know. Some of my personal favorites I have seen on the stalls are gaudily sugar-coated bananas on sticks, frozen cucumbers eaten like ice lollies and bags of dried fish crisps - disgusting


So festivals – Kawagoe Float festival….Huge floats trundle around the town being pulled by devotees of the temple they represent. They occasionally come up against another float and have a 'float off'. A ritualized battle where they waggle laterns at one another. We have been to a “Family Friendly Assassination Festival” celebrating the Ninja. Ninja dressed people doing stuff on stages, wandering around a bit, serving food and giving murderous demos to groups of wide eyed boys. 

Skinny Ninja Panda
We quite often go to Tokyo and walk about the parks or go shopping or see the sights. There are lots of things to see in Tokyo so we always come home feeling its been worth it. The other day we kept seeing groups of Wheres Wally dressed characters wandering about – don’t know why. We have seen the most amazing Christmas lights at Raponggi Hills and Mid Town. One was themed “The universe” and hopefully I will have put it up on the gallery when you read this as its worth seeing. 

No reason - they just were!
Shopping is pretty amazing here. So many shops filled with such nice things. The other day we went to Ueno and went rooting around the lanes near the railway arches for hours. Being jostled from one shoulder to the next as we and a million others all looked to buy a bargain from the stalls. We also went to the biggest electrical store in Tokyo, so, by definition probably one of the biggest in the world. 8 huge floors of everything you could ever dream of. I bought a mouse. (Question: whats the plural of electronic mouse?)

Some Christmas Lights - But see gallery for video
We have been to other towns too. Rachel works with a lovely woman called Asami who has taken us to a harvest festival – Food! And the other day to Karuizawa which was up North about 2 hours from here and was absolutely stunning with a lovely drive through Autumnal leaves that occasionally opened up to give us glimpses of the valleys thereabouts. We even went ice skating in a huge rink with just the four of us and Rachel managed to flip up and crack her head open. Blood on the ice is not a good look. At the insistence of the friend we went to hospital but it wasn't that bad and just as well because the doctors only worked on Friday mornings so there was NO ONE to see us..

Trouble with leaving everything so long is you forget so no doubt I have overlooked loads. However, one final thing….We got the last of our clothes from the UK sent over by my sister. 30kg of old friends. We are still smiling at our new abundance of clothing 3 weeks later. Mind you we did spend pretty much two years in the same stuff so its not surprising.

Bye for Now

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys, I've just caught up on your blog posts - I forget it's here so maybe when you post an update here mention it on FB too.
    Japan sounds challenging in a good way. From your Oz blog post I think it's fair to say you didn't really approach the country with an open mind. We'd never fancied visiting Oz either but we had a fab time in Sydney and driving up the various surf beaches to the Sunshine coast. If we'd have had longer we'd have explored the reef and further north - not in your bumpy scary sleeper train kinda style but nevertheless great fun. Oz was expensive though but we were fortunate to have friends to visit and the local tips that make all the difference for short vsits. Oz is such a huge country I don't think it's fair to compare it to anywhere else but I sense you've ticked that box and moved on.

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