Friday, October 28, 2011

A Halloween Poem

Twas the night before Halloween, and all through the land of the rising sun...people didn't really care.
Pumpkins risked judgement, trying to sell themselves for 3000yen.Costumes did the same.
But a little California girl managed to find a costume at the dollar store, and a party in Tokyo.
Come tonight Cat Woman will stir all through the house.


Dinner with the Parents

Since arriving in August with the other new ALT`s, Olivia from New Zealand has been my partner in crime as of late. Considering she's only been in Japan for three and a half months, she has kept herself busy, making friends left and right.

One night, as she was running out of JET Village on her super cute pink bicycle, she told me she was going to have dinner with two friends.
"I told you about my adoptive parents here didn't I???"
The look on my face must have answered it all. She chuckled then continued. Apparently, one night after first arriving in our little town of Kamagaya, she went to eat dinner by herself at an izakaya, a Japanese restaurant/bar.

Side note: Eating by yourself is rarely done at izakayas, and I can honestly say that I have seen a woman do it. But being foreign we get away with a lot. I'm sure people looked at Olivia and assumed she didn't understand the norm, chalking it up to ignorance, when in reality, she knew but simply didn't care. 

While she was eating, an older Japanese couple started talking to her, also not usually done, probably curious as to why she was eating alone. Having studied Japanese in university, she is able to communicate, well, I might add, with the people in this country. Olivia explained that she had just moved to Kamagaya to teach English at a middle school here through the JET Programme. The couple apparently also lived near by and exchanged information with Liv, to set up another meeting time. Since their first encounter, the newly formed family have gone to dinner and done other fun things on a regular basis. How cute is that!

こんばんわ! He greeted us when we walked in.
Last week, Olivia was set to go with them to dinner and a small jazz bar for dessert, and asked if I wanted to go with. I was very curious to meet these new `parents` of hers so I accepted and we were off. On the walk there she confessed that they were worried about meeting after she told them I spoke no Japanese, which is close to true, but my listening is pretty good and I know enough words to get by. Either way, this language barrier wasn't going to be different than anything else I face on a day to day basis. I wasn't too concerned.

We showed up and immediately hit it off. Alcohol always helps a bit too. We laughed and giggiled our way through dinner and on to the little jazz restaurant, taking the last train home. Who knew what party animals this 60 something couple was?! They then invited us to karaoke the next day at noon, but unfortunately neither of us could make it.
Still sending you love Dad.
xoxo Olivia & Kate
When we got to the jazz restaurant, Olivia explained that on one of her previous outings with her adoptive parents they stumbled across a jazz bar where they began talking to the lady performing, post her performance. She gave them her business card and they had been in communication. We were actually at this restaurant to listen to her. She was AMAZING and so sweet, coming over to say hi after the performance and dedicating a song to Olivia. Both Liv and her new mom sang for everyone, both have amazing voices. While they sang, I did what I do best, sit, eat and smile.

Olivia and the star of the show.

All in all is was a great evening. New friends, good food, a rainy night, jazz and wine make for an excellent combination.

Havin a ball, 

[The Latest]

Google search: How to upgrade old fall fashions
Tune: Got 2 Luv U By Sean Paul feat. Alexis Jordan
Accomplishment: successful Simon Says~ games in my classes, having a student come out of her shell enough to seek me out to talk to me
Obsessions: 7 Billion People and What's Your Number? -a MUST click

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fallin Around

This past weekend, in another effort to soak up every ounce of autumn, I headed to Shinjuku Gyoen with my friend Jeff to explore. A newbie to Japan, I am ridding on the coattails of Jeff's excitement and eagerness to explore this beautiful country to discover a few new things for myself.

[Shinjuku Gyoen]

Still sending you love Dad...

After the park it was off to eat dinner and check out the Halloween costume situation. Japan doesn`t do Halloween per say. There is Halloween crap to buy everywhere, but when it comes to trick or treating and Jack-O-Lantern making, it just doesn't happen. During the costume hunt, we saw a carving size appropriate pumpkin for ¥3000 or $40. We passed. Then we saw a Darth Vader costume that Jeff got excited about, but that too was a no go when we saw that it was over $100, and either way we ran the risk of it not fitting his 6 foot frame. So we have reverted to the old school way of doing things, which is to create it ourselves. The Darth Vader mask is the killer, but we will see!

Loving the season, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: Darrell Hammond Abuse from CNN
Poor guy. I had no idea.
Google search: How to make your own Darth Vader costume
Tune: Pumped Up Kicks By Foster the People
Accomplishment: an excellent chicken salad for dinner, reading and understanding an entire paragraph in Japanese
Obsessions: hourly weather with the new itunes update, Halloween things, homemade popcorn

Visual aid of my latest accomplishment.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have been in Japan 1 year and 2.5 months and I would say that just about everything around me is comfortably familiar. Thus making it harder and harder for me to think of topics to blog about. In trying to remedy this form of writers block, I went back and was reading some of my past blogs.

I was shocked to see how much my vibe has changed from first arriving in Japan. Even more shocked to see how obvious the change was. In my first few posts I had used explanation points, multiple in fact, at the end of every sentence. Making it clear that I was ever so excited about everything around me.(!!!) The explanation point usage has since calmed, the writing topics have broadened, and it is clear that I am completely comfortable with myself and my life, here in the land of the rising sun. I have grown up quite a bit in these past 14.5 months.

The other day as I was walking around Tokyo in this beautiful fall weather that I'm obsessed with, I started to look for things that I don't usually see. I started taking pictures of details, generally scoping out all the things that are so familiar to me that I haven't taken notice of.

Here are a few of the details of my life...

The feeling of being home when I reach this light.
Grocery Store Sushi.
Took this picture long ago so Ian could choose his dinner.
Marked by Many.
Saw it in Shibuya, Tokyo and just liked it.
Pizza. REAL pizza.
Surprise Summer Downpours.
Gotta love the bike ride home on those days.
Constant omiyage (little gifts/souvenirs) from other teachers.
These are caramel from Yokohama.
White here, red absent, half means left but returning.
Welcome to Kamagaya.
Monday afternoon ALT meetings at City Hall.
A new coat of nail polish.
My Name Tag.
Only worn when important people come.
Kyoushoku, School Lunch.
This was a good day.
My Bike Key.
Seems small and insignificant until you can`t find it in your purse right away
and you realize the level of panic that sets in.
Population of Kamagaya.
Total, Men, Women
My Desk.
The Textbook.
This is my favorite chapter by far.
Outside Tokyo Main Station.
Daily Schedule.
It`s amazing how much more I can understand compared to last year.
Crossing Guard.
I say Good Morning to him everyday, makes me smile.
He also happens to be the grandfather of one of my students,
and he is usually all smiles but got serious for the camera.
The ability the Japanese people have to fall asleep at a moment`s notice is unreal.
Mini Shinks.
Mini shinkansens as Happy Meal toys. Amazing.
Train Rides.
Oh, and the ability to drink wherever and whenever,
making the ride to the club significantly more enjoyable. 

Lookin at the little things, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The book has been out for awhile, but I realized that I never finished it and picked it up again. Chapters just long enough for my train rides.
Google search: features of the itunes update
Tune: Baby Got Back By Sir Mixalot
I don't know the last time you listened to it, but it's a classic for a reason. It came on the other day as I was getting ready for the day and caused a smile that lasted well after I left the house.
Accomplishment: get back into a workout routine, branching out a the grocery store, just talked so much with the class I ate lunch with, none of us really finished our food. That`s big for them, so proud of them.
Obsessions: South Korea v Japan 2002 Vintage World Cup sweatshirt, oreo/coffee flavored blendy stick, Pinterest 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This One is for You, Dad

For those of you who don't know, my dad is battling cancer; and giving it hell, I might add. The other day he had a trach put in to help facilitate his breathing and from everything I've heard, it's working amazingly well. Breathing and sleeping are easier, which makes everyone a happier camper.

I am planning on going home for Christmas, but since I can't be there now, I decided to send my love, via email, all the way from Japan.

Sending my love...
...from the train.
...from the Rugby World Cup AUS vs NZ game.
...from karaoke.
...from a queendom activity.
And because I`m sure he`d love a  beer right about now.
...from McDonald`s.
Shhh don`t tell my mom.
...from work.
Many more to come.

Sending you love always Dad.

Your favorite daughter, 

[The Latest]

Google search: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tune: Save Tonight By Eagle Eye Cherry
Accomplishment: being on the ball with my blog, making an amazing pizza and salad dinner
Obsessions: Up All Night, my new fall nail polish enhanced with a glitery coat

Monday, October 17, 2011

Falling into Autumn

I love fall.

I have made that rather well known to anyone and everyone who is around me as of lately. The other day one of my guy friends said to me, `Is that a girl thing? Your love of fall? I feel like every girl I know loves fall.`

Let's be honest. What girl doesn't love candles, wine, a nice dinner and a movie, and maybe, just maybe someone to share it with. That doubled with weather encouraging that very scenario is almost too good to be true. Then their is fall fashion. As a southern California child, I am loving the seasons and enjoying it even more by showing off my personality through boots and scarves. Seasonal clothing is still something I'm getting used to.

Yesterday, Monday, I had a slow day at work as all the students had midterm exams all day. I was left to sit at my desk and entertain myself. Given that I don't have to lesson plan, as I am not teaching elementary school anymore, I had little to do but play online. Something I think anyone from my generation is remarkably good at. I started looking at all things fall; clothes, crafts, recipes. And decided that after school I would go and try to `fallify` my apartment. More difficult than you might think living in Japan.

Everywhere had kitschy Halloween stuff, but I didn't want that. I wanted generic, classic fall things that could last well past Halloween, through November. And let's all remember that I won't be living here forever, so I wanted to spend as little money as possible and buy stuff that I wouldn't feel guilty throwing away in a few months. Surprisingly I found a few pumpkins and a cheap vine of flowers to accent my home with this lovely season.

I have passed the first few weekends of this lovely season by traveling to Tokyo and exploring. Just wanting to be out in the weather, walking around with my coffee. It really is the simple things in life.

Loving Starbucks flavoring, Hazelnut especially
I get excited when they come to town
Persimmon is kaki in Japanese, just so you know
Make your own Jack-O-Lantern!
Ya there`s an app for that
Starbucks apple crumble latte.
Not sure if it`s just a Japan thing, but it is definitely apple pie in a cup.


[The Latest]

Google search: Fall things
Tune: Don`t Let Me Fall By Lenka
Accomplishment: get back into a workout routine, branching out a the grocery store
Obsessions: 79yen milk frother from IKEA, plastic desk cover from IKEA that is now decorated with pictures underneath, my new fall apartment decos, persimmons


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...