This was taken just before we were about to walk up the Brooklyn Bridge. H E L L O Brooklyn!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Sunday, 12 October 2008

October Update

October 12th
Sitting in Star Bucks: Kamiooka station

I’ve just had Japanese class in Bandobashi. I was half an hour late, but I got my money’s worth. I pay 500 yen for 3 month’s worth of classes, which includes a one hour and a half of teaching on Sunday’s. Starts at 1.30pm, which isn’t too shabby. Now, I’m finally attending to my blog. I’ve been neglecting it recently as I haven’t had the time nor the patience to sit down and get down to typing.

Since the new term has begun, and ever since the summer holidays have ended, I’ve been studying Japanese every day during work and after. I got myself hyped up for the JLPT (Japanese Level Proficiency Test) level 3 exam. My qualification in SOAS has already got me covered for level 3 and level 2, but, for my own security and peace of mind, I’ve decided to do the level 3 irrespectively.

This way I can re-learn the things I didn’t understand and make sure I perfect them. Other foreigners I’ve met in Japan are preparing for the level 2 exam, which is apparently so hard that even a native Japanese speaker has difficulty passing it. That’s very encouraging! In fact, I’ve met someone who is revising for the 3rd time as she has failed the level 2 exam twice. Good on her for keeping at it and getting on with painful Japanese.

Overall, I feel a little bit closer to the Japanese language compared to before as I’ve forced myself to study everyday even if it is merely for an hour starring at a page of grammar or revising ONE form of grammar only. Studying Japanese grammar and vocabulary can become a tedious chore, so recently, I’ve lost a little motivation, yet I know that within a month I’ll be going crazy making sure I’ve learn enough to do a mock-exam. So be prepared for when I go incognito just before December approaches.

Afterwards, I get to enjoy my Christmas in the love of friends and parents back in my city, my lovely London, which I miss very much. I’ve bought my ticket and decided to lift off from Narita airport on Thursday December18th., which means I get more out of my money by spending a couple of hours extra in my city. But, what’s even more better is that I arrive in England on the same day that I launched : )


So my summer holiday was good. My friend Chia was happy to let me stay with her and her family in Tsuruoka, Yamagata ken, for a week. I enjoyed it very much. Much of the time, I had to communicate in Japanese, but even small words made a difference. I could listen to their Japanese and learn casual words and phrases, which got me thinking about moving in with a family or committing myself to a Japanese home stay.

I had my first experience of an Onsen, which was very interesting. All these Japanese women butt naked in the same Onsen made me feel nervous. I suppose being here, as a foreigner or outsider, made me feel slightly embarrassed. Back home I’m quite the exhibitionist, but here, I was RATHER shy.

We went to the beach and I got stung by a jellyfish : ( Besides that it was nice to be out in the hot sun and despite the fact that the water was shallow and the rocks were sharp beneath my feet, I was pleased to be swimming (more like doggy paddle-ling) away in Japanese waters. It was a very exotic scene I must admit. I got to savour the favour. Hmmm… Salty!

An aquarium, summer festival-ing, a fireworks display, book reading, traditional Japanese food eating, lots of sleep, and Beijing Olympic watching were the many activities that I got myself involved in during my week in Tsuruoka. The family were absolutely lovely. They were so welcoming to me and I think I should get them many things from England for their courteousness and warm welcoming. Probably some of the friendliest Japanese people I’ve met so far.

More pictures available here:
After that I headed off to Hakodate. I had a hotel room to myself, which made night times a lonely place. Although I only stayed there for 3 days, by the 3rd night I was out drinking, which was cool. Majid and his girlfriend showed me around the town, which being in Hokkaido, was very Western. There were a lot of churches and European buildings to be seen. So much, that at some points, I would think to myself, ‘If I really wanted to see this, I could just go back to England!’ The tourism was sky high since it was summer season, yet unfortunately, it was rainy and cloudy, which made going out a bit of a problem. Nonetheless, we still got to see the hot spots like the Hakodate mountain, which apparently is the 6th best view in the world and indeed, it is definitely top. Despite the crowd, it was spectacular to see such a beautiful view of looking down at a small city lit up at night. The periphery of Hakodate and what it had in it was such a great delight.

More pictures available here:

Next was Sapporo, the big city. I stayed in my first hostel. I had received good reviews from a friend as well as other websites about how family-like this place was, yet, this wasn’t the case. Being alone again, I was left feeling vacant. I had limited internet connection, clothes, a mobile phone and a Japan guidebook to keep me entertained. The people and those other travellers who stayed in the hostel weren’t so friendly besides one guy (with beautiful green eyes) who probably had more life then the rest. I had a contact, Ben from Kent, in Sapporo at the time so I was able to meet him and get to know his friends all of whom I got on really well with. If I could express Sapporo, it would be ‘Western Japan.’ It wasn’t hard to get around with so many English sign posts everywhere.

Given the history of Hokkaido, being another port for foreign import and export, it had so much Western influence. The buildings were European in style and many monuments were famous because of its Western connection. I hung around the large department store area in Sapporo station, which was very very big. So many clothes stores! It was absolutely fun looking around and checking out the style, but my feet stopped loving the sights after the 6th floor. I didn’t buy much since I was on a budget, but yes style in Hokkaido isn’t as hot as the stuff back in Tokyo, which isn’t any big surprise. Also in Hokkaido, I realised that there were less foreigners around despite the Western scenery. There was also the skanky part of Sapporo called Sukino, a bit like the back streets of Soho, except this place was larger. Love hotels, and general dirtiness was surfacing at night. Terrible… damn filthy! Disgusting filthy!

More pictures available here:

Friday, 26 September 2008

Hisashiburi or 'Long time no see'

Hey Everyone,
I want to apologise for leaving out the past couple of months. I've had to live Japan as oppose to noting everything down. I've decided to select some photos, which has highlighted the greats things in the past months.

Kyoto: June
I came to Kyoto with my mum and it was the first time I had used the Shinkansen. These bullet trains are so fast and comfy.
Unfortunately, we went when the weather was horrible so we spent most of the time touring around with an umbrella over our head. We were lucky at least that there was one day of sightseeing with hot heat and sun, which was the day we went to Gion.

Gion is famous for it's geishas.

(Me showcasing some Yokohama Car)

JULY: Japan is about geting close to nature so there are so many hiking trials, moutain climbs, beaches, beautiful views and aquariums around! Here I'm showing off the lovely coral behind me.

JULY: Here, I'm enroute to climbing Mount Takao. Ok, we're not talking about literally moutain climbing but walking around and around in circles until we get to the top. There were various paths to take from the widest, steepest, most dangerous or most boring.

I took the steepest and most interesting one. It was the closest to nature given that little ponds and rivers were accessible. There were also lots of greenery, cedar tree paths, and tree root to walk over.

When hiking in Japan, you have to bear in mind that the weather is very humid so you have to deal with annoying mosquitos surrounding you. Plus, you have to keep up with the path as there is no turning back once you are already half way through your journey. Many pensioners enjoy the moutain climb and probably had done the same path 10 times when you're just trying it for the first time.

The Japanese are very fond of being fit particulary towards the late stages of life, which is why ther are so many 'genki' old men and women climbing moutains and hiking all over Japan.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

I'm an English Teacher

Hey Friends,

Been a while since I’ve uploading things online and that’s because I’ve stopped treating the Japan experience as a holiday and decided just to live it. I’ve quickly adapted myself to the new lifestyle and it only hit me yesterday that I was a teacher. Although my professional role is an assistant English teacher, I feel more towards the teacher’s role. Having to plan lessons, prepare materials, coordinate the lesson with some assistance from the home room teacher gives me that extra dominance and edge. Plus, I’m really enjoying it.

Things are already speeding up and I sense that the job will get even more interesting. I’ve finally been to all three schools and I’ve measured them pretty well. I know which schools have a closer relationship with me, which schools are keen on implementing the English program (i.e. Me,) into their schedule, and which schools have the naughtier kids. However, naughty or not, Japanese kids are in no way a nuisance compared to kids back home. For one thing, Japanese primary schools are lenient in that the teachers won’t scold them. For example, if a kid misbehaves by shouting in the room, tries to distract other kids, or pays little attention to the teacher, the teacher will just call out their name and give them a one liner such as, ‘be quiet!,’ or ‘stop doing that!’ and immediately resume the lesson where the naughty kid, usually, continues to create more distraction.

I know that I shouldn’t be saying such positive things or having such high expectations of my schools right now, since I’ve only been teaching for a month now, but I have to admit that I’m really enjoying my job. Despite how tiring it is, it’s actually fun! I can wake up in the morning feeling typically annoyed that I have to get out of bed at 7am to arrive at work at 8.30 but by the time I arrive, I’m in the midst of cuddly children who are excited to see me and that makes my day. Some of them run up to me in the hallway just to say ‘Hello!’ or to ask me stupid questions in Japanese. The girls are very touchy. They like to hold my hand or generally touch me all over, which is cute. I’ve been called ‘Baby!’ by three 9 year old girls before, which got me perplexed, but I think it’s because of my ‘cute’ face. Yet, despite how nice it is to be liked by students, I worry that the kids may find it harder to take me seriously, yet it’s not like they are a problem to teach. It’s the typical scenario whereby they are either too shy to speak in another language or find it difficult to say specific words for example, ‘where?’ I’ve realised now that the Japanese tongue is a relaxed tongue compared to the British tongue that resides in the Southern parts of England. With so much emphasising we make, we totally take for granted how much work our facial muscles are doing, particularly our mouth muscles. Yet, there is a minor scenario that comes up here and there, but there is only a 1 in 10 chance it happens. I’ve had kids shake their head when I’ve tried to speak to them in English, yet I persist until they eventually give in. However, this 1 in 10 case is usually when a kid looks at me with a blank face and says ‘wakanai,’ which means ‘I don’t understand’ and decides not to participate. I’ve had one 11 year old who not only said that but walked out of the room straight after. I was peeved because I felt that since he didn’t want to get involved in what I had planned, he was not only making a judgment about learning English, but also making a judgement about me - not worth paying attention to, therefore, he probably had no respect for me : ( Although, that was a one off in the 30 days that I’ve been teaching so I’m not letting it get to me.

So there's my teaching account out of the way. I thought that with my limited experience with kids I'd be lost, but children are children. They are curious and at the same time fun, fun, fun!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Shibuya and Harajuku's Meiji Shrine

As much as I would have liked to have taken photos of Harajuku's fashion life, it wasn't possible given the many signs saying 'no photographs.' There was even one sign that said, 'No Photos, FUCK OFF!' LOL. Harajuku is amazing and so is Shibuya. I wish I lived inside Tokyo because it reminded me of London and New York. Very busy and very city-esqe. : ) I enjoyed it very much :)

The famous pedestrian crossing. The most largest in the world. Start's off..



On path to the Meiji Shrine, famous Shinto shrine. These things are filled with Sake.

So are these!

The Meiji Shrine. I had to clean myself by washing my hands and drinking some of the fountain's water before entering the shrine's area.

Tori Gate?

The path to the shrine is very pretty. You forget you are in a cosmopolitan city once you enter this park. It feels like a forest.

Making more wishes!

That's me. Me with those path lanterns that automatically turn on when it gets dark

I've moved to NY

I've moved to NY
I have certainly moved to New York City