Tuesday, April 24, 2012

IKEA Mishap

This past weekend I had big Sunday plans to head to one of my all time favorite stores, IKEA. My friend Debs wanted new sheets and I wanted a \100 hot dog. 
We had a date.

Though we live only a few minutes away, we live on different train lines, meaning our routes to IKEA would different. So, we opted to meet there. What seemed like a smart decision at the time, turned out to be the most detrimental one we made all day. 

I got there first and headed to get coffee and wait for Debs, finishing a chapter of my book in the process. When she arrived, I made my way over to IKEA, calling her when I got there. 

 I'm in bedding, she reported.

I went to bedding. 
Didn't see her. Called her.

Nooooo, I'm in bedding in the market place, she clarified via text.

Went downstairs to the marketplace.
Again, didn't see her. Called.

Oh, I wandered a bit, let me back track. Stay put.

I did as I was told. 

We had about 20 minutes more of back and forths trying to find each other. 
Next to lights, under the yellow sign, next to the wall stickers, in mirrors.
She stated once that she was next to the bathroom in home furnishings. 
I looked around and didn't see one, then asked if she had built it herself while she was waiting for me.
I was starting hate IKEA.
Finally, I asked what station she got off at. 
She reported a different one than I had used, though was quick to clarify that it was next 
to LaLaPort (a big mall) and on the same Musashino Line I had used.

Carts, Carts, Carts.
Ok, then lets try this again, head to check out, I said.

She did. Where she called to report that she was under a yellow sign.
I didn't have a yellow sign.
I exhaled in frustration.
I give up, she said.

Are we at different IKEAs?I offered.
Though thinking that wasn't possible. The others in the country are hours away. 
I pulled up IKEAs Japan locations and saw that their was one alternative possibility she could 
have gone too, though it was on the other side of Tokyo. I used her location via the app we were 
chatting through, and brought it up on MAPS.
I laughed out loud right there in patio furniture.
We were at different IKEAs.

Worst hang out session we've ever had.

IKEA Failed,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rain Proof

It appears, that before we can make the full transition into sunny spring days, we need to get through a few wet ones first. Seemingly every other day or so, we're getting dumped on. Heavy rain. ALL day. I am a big fan of rainy nights with a candle and a movie, but it's the getting up in the morning that's a killer. Why would I want to get up when it's raining and I'm all snugly?? 

But I do. Making coffee, while I get my stuff together and wash my face. I get dressed, trying my best to look remotely sophisticated. When it is finally time to walk out the door, I slip into my knee high rain-boots and pull over my rockin, pink, rain-proof onezie.
Thus, completely negating any sophistication.
I may not be sophisticated but I'm ready for the bike ride to work. 
Bring it on rain.

Rained On, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: Chernobyl Expert Takes A Look At Tohoku`s Trees...from The Japan Times.
Google Search: The Artist movie..
Tune: That's Entertainment By The Jam. 
Accomplishment: Finishing A Visit From the Goon Squad.
Obsessions: Candle from Anthropologie.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pick Me Up

I had few sad moments this weekend, missing my Dad.
 I swear it happens at the most random times...folding laundry?? watching a Will Ferrell movie??
After reminiscing and shedding a few tears, I felt a lot better. 

On that note, here are a few things that consistently make me smile. 

This Quote...

This FREINDS Clip...
Joey's answer has me on the floor every time.

This Richard Avedon photo...
I have it in postcard form.

This Song...
Real Girl By Mutya Buena

Glass half-full, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: Inside China's Murder Mystery Hotel...from CNN.
Google Search: IKEA Japan Locations.
Tune: You Got Me By Colbie Caillat. 
Accomplishment: A sparkling clean apartment.
Obsessions: The Artist Movie.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dinner And A Kimono

A few nights ago I was invited over to Kyoko's home for dinner. Kyoko is in the English conversation class I lead. She had invited myself and fellow ALT Kyle over, excited for us to meet her daughter Nori, and share in her cooking and some general conversation. 

 Kyle and I were greeted at the door by 30 year old Nori, currently living in Australia, just home for a bit to visit Mom and Dad. Kyle and I smiled trying to put our best face forward, as the rest of us look rather pathetic. We had biked 20 minutes, uphill, in a sudden downpour, accessorized by thunder and lightening, to get to their home.
The storm of course stopped minutes after we arrived.

We dried off a bit and started chatting. Talking to Nori about her boyfriend in Australia, and the fact that she went to the elementary school where Kyle is now teaching. While we waited for Nori's father to come home from work so we could eat, Kyoko asked if I wanted to put on a kimono. I wasn't completely dry, nor did I feel remotely attractive biking in a downpour will humble anyone, real fast but I was here and she was ready, so why the hell not.

She took me to an adjoining room with the different parts of the kimono laid out. I looked at the 10 or so different pieces and wondered if anyone could ever put this on, on their own. Kyoko chatted with me during the roughly 20 minutes it took to get me dressed. I watched her as she picked up each piece with care, then thought, tied, adjusted, thought, and tightened the various clothing items. I asked if people were able to do this on their own, or if they needed to have help. She explained that professionals could probably dress themselves, but the average person needed at least one extra pair of hands. I completely understood why. 

When we were finally done, I stepped in front of a full length mirror and stared back at myself. Despite my wet hair, and make-up less face, I felt surprisingly beautiful. The kimono, though not entirely comfortable, was extremely flattering. While I usually slouch in my standard jeans and a t-shirt, I was now standing stick straight with the best posture I'd had in years. I was aware of every move I made as I glided around the house, taking pictures in various poses. 

Kyoko explained that the kimono had been her mother's who had purchased it in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan. Apparently, her mother, herself and her daughter Nori, had worn it on their Coming of Age Day. Coming of Age Day is an annual holiday in January, where anyone who has turned 20 in the past year gets dressed in traditional Japanese garments and visits a shrine or prefectual office for a ceremony, celebrating adulthood. 

Kyoko went to the bookshelf, then came over and handed me a picture. 
It was a picture of herself taken on her Coming of Age Day.
She was striking.

circa 1970
Kyoko & Kate
Can you see Kyoko in the background?
We did take a picture together, but I don't have a copy of it. 

 Then it was time for dinner. I went back where my jeans and t-shirt were thrown on the floor. What took 20 minutes to put on, took 2 to take off. In a second I was back to Kate from California. I sat down at the table and did my best to sit up straight as I reached for my chopsticks.

Standing tall in jeans and a t-shirt, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: The Story of Obama`s Kenyan Sister...from The Root via Slate.com.
Google Search: Jackson Pollock in Tokyo.
Tune: Call Me Maybe By Carly Rae Jepson. I'm obsessed with this song, even though it makes me feel 13.
Accomplishment: Sticking with, A Visit From the Goon Squad.
Obsessions: Vanilla Tea.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Dominos Tale

BREAKING NEWS: Kamagaya just got a Dominos!
Was the text I received last Monday, from my friend and neighbor, Kris. 

Was my response.
I had been praying for some local pizza that came sans mayonnaise and sea animals.

Kris had passed the latest and greatest addition to Kamagaya on his ride to school earlier in the week, and had been scoping out its daily progress. Kris reported that they appeared to have the signs up, promising a buy one get one free, promotion to celebrate its grand opening, though he couldn't see workers inside. Japan is know for the speed in which buildings go up and into operation, I swear some appear overnight so we all took bets that the store would be up and running by Friday. 

We had no idea that this little experience would be such an emotional roller coaster...

Friday Kris texted everyone to say that the fliers were out, delivery scooters were ready, people were inside and lights were on. He copied down the number for delivery and we quickly organized a pizza and beer dinner at my house. The excitement was palpable.
We were so excited!

We found a Dominos website online...IN ENGLISH.
We were thrilled!

I texted, called, and vibered everyone who was enroute home from work. 
Taking down names and orders.
Kris tried calling first and was doing ok until the woman asked him something he didn't understand.
He panicked and hung up.
Nice job Krisu.
We were embarrassed. 

Once orders were sorted, we went to Kim and her rather fluent Japanese. She called the number Kris had and a woman answered. Kim asked if they delivered to our area, and we all understood when the woman said no.
We were puzzled.
The place was no more than a 10 minute bike ride away, but we chalked it up to the recent opening. Though one of us joked that maybe Dominos was racist. We chuckled. 
Leave it to the foreigners to place the first order at our new Dominos. 
We placed our orders and elected the 3 people who would go pick up the pizza in 20 minutes.

Kris, Rachel and I walked to our bikes, sat down, and it started raining. 
We were bummed. 
But nothing a little American pizza couldn't fix.
We biked the 10 minutes in the rain and parked our bikes under the Dominos sign that was no less than 5 stories high.

We walked into a brand spankin new Dominois building. It smelled of plastic and freshly assembled pizza boxes. The 6 or so workers looked at us, smiled, and asked if they could help us.
We explained that we had placed an order under, Kiiim-ba-ly. They looked at each other. 
Then to us. Telling us they weren't open until Saturday.
Then who had we talked to?
We were perplexed.
We explained that we had called the number outside, and spoke to someone. 
Mr. Dominos said that since they were not open, the number had been rerouted and our pizza was waiting in Matsudo.
About a 20 minute train ride away.
So are we getting pizza? Are we not getting pizza?
The employees talked among themselves, and felt so bad, saying it was their fault for the mix up. They explained that they were going to make our order right there.
You could almost see the stress and excitement, as their boss must have said to them, 
Ok guys, this is not a drill! Apron, dough, sauce, cheese...go, go, go!
Kris, Rachel and I smiled and chatted to the manager who surprisingly spoke English. 
We apologized profusely.
We felt so bad.
He assured us it was ok, and confirmed that they would be delivering to our area in 
the future...starting next Friday. Ooops. 

Ingredients exclusively for our pizza.
Finally our pizza was ready. 
We overly thanked everyone in the place, sheepishly smiling and apologizing. 
Promising to be back when they were open for real.

Pizza Shift.
Tasted just fine, don't you worry.
We biked back in the rain, as fast as possible. 
I was hungry and I think part of me thought they were going to chase me down and take my pizza away.
We made it home in one piece, not entirely true for the pizza after I flipped it to make it fit in my basket.
Passed out beers and had a lovely, extremely familiar meal.
Made only better by the reality that their were a few times this meal wasn't going to happen at all.

First to order, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: 12 Problems Busty Girls Have...from Buzzfeed. I chuckled, though none of these apply to me :)
Google Search: Free Attractions in Hiroshima.
Tune: Call Me Maybe By Carly Rae Jepson. 
Again.I'm obsessed with this song, even though it makes me feel 13.
Accomplishment: Studying Japanese rather consistently.
Obsessions: Painting my planters.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Technology Love

Jessica, one of my favorite people, former college roommate, and current timezone buddy, finally got internet. As the only person I know from the states who is living in the same hour of the day as I, over in Korea, I was eager for her to get internet so we could get our skype on. 
That magical day came yesterday. 
Welcome back to 2012, Jessica.

3pm for Kate, 3pm for Jess,

[The Latest]

Must Read: The Californians...from SNL. A watch rather than a read. I'm probably the last Californian to see this, I chuckled.
Google Search: The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Tune: Call Me Maybe By Carly Rae Jepson. I'm obsessed with this song, even though it makes me feel 13.
Accomplishment: Finishing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Obsessions: Cheez-Its...THANKS MOM!

Monday, April 16, 2012


This past weekend I went to a taiko festival about 40 minutes away in Narita. Since seeing taiko as kid at some festival in Torrance, I have been completely enthralled by the drums. I love how massive they are and how rich the sound is. Most arcades here have a taiko to the beat type game. I am in love with it, and would realllllllyyyy like to have one of my own. If anyone wants to make that happen, let me know.

The festival this past weekend had groups of taiko drummers of all ages from all over Japan, set up in booths down the main street, with a collective parade at the end. I started to take pictures, but realized they wouldn't do justice to the sound and power of the drums. So I began taking little videos. Last night I put them together to make one big one!
And by big I mean like 4 minutes.
The video isn't super impressive, but I'm so proud of the little guy!
Click here to watch.

Drum, Drum, 

[The Latest]

Must Read: 50 People You Wish You Knew...from Buzzfeed. Number 36 went to my High School!
Google Search: Chiba Orphanages.
Tune: Fidelity By Regina Spektor.
Accomplishment: My little video.
Obsessions: Love and Other Drugs-the movie.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Norm for Me, A Chuckle for You, 3

Last week, I was in search of a new planner. So, after drinking down a Starbucks, my friend Debs and I made our way toTokyu Hands. A store, like many in Japan, that has everything. Suitcases, exercise equipment, make-up, cell phone covers, lotion, cooking supplies, you name they have it. After browsing the, always entertaining, make-up counter, looking at tools to roll out wrinkles, or stickers to give ourselves a more visible eyelid, we headed to where we needed to go. The stationary section takes up a large portion of the top floor, and after walking past approximately 54895793 pens in 7498 colors, we found paper products.

Tokyu Hands Pen Collection.
Just as I picked up a planner to flip through, I heard Debs laugh from the next aisle. She had stumbled up these winning post cards. And after the post cards, the stationary entertainment didn't stop there.

It's always a good day when a kitten is randomly placed in front of a sakura tree.

Whoever gets married next will no doubt get this awesome Disney, hologram, wedding card. 
Not adjectives you usually see together. 

Happy Wedding, from hologram-ed Minnie herself.
The Perfect Tiered 
Whatever the hell that means...

Without question, my favorite find of the day. 
Bible Sized monthly refill paper. 

In Japanese it says, diary refill, which if anything, just confuses me more.


P.S. Read the first The Norm for Me, A Chuckle for You here and the second here.

[The Latest]

Must Read: 6 Life-Changing Uses For Binder Clips...from Funny or Die. 
Google Search: Kamagaya Dominos.
Tune: Cupid Shuffle By Cupid. 
Accomplishment: Finishing Book 5 of my JET Program Japanese Books.
Obsessions: My new planner.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


...they suck.

But I'm done!
Mailing them tomorrow.
Never felt more adult in my life.

So let's laugh about them shall we!?


[The Latest]

Google Search: Chiba Marathon.
Tune: Wild Ones By Flo Rida feat. Sia.
Accomplishment: Finishing my taxes!!!
Obsessions: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thoughts Today II

On this, my first Monday of the new school year, here are a few of my thoughts, dreams, sights and sounds. 

What I'm Seeing...
Our New Textbook.
What I'm Eating...
Our First Kyushoku or School Lunch.
What I'm Reading...
I know, I'm a little behind the times...
What I'm Hearing...
Sugoy Keitoooo, Nihongo pera pera!
Believe me, my Japanese is FAR from fluent.
If I had to take a guess, I'd go with pre-school level.
What I'm Saying...
What I'm Dreaming...
I wish this happened...
So I could do this...
All over the place.
What I'm Pondering...
-I wonder how the students first day of classes is going?
-I hope I get to see the chest X-ray they took of me today at school.
-I wish my nail polish didn't chip so easy.
-I am loving this warmer weather.
-What should I bring for our little picnic dinner tonight?
-Shit, I didn't do my taxes.
-Oh, but we get a two month extension cause we're abroad. Sweet.
-I need to swiffer my house.
-I'm glad everyone likes the peppermint patties I brought back!


P.S. Read the first thoughtshere.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hanami Weekend

The beginning of spring is always a refreshing wake up call after months indoors, safe from the cold and dark. As the cherry blossoms here in Japan come to life, it's like the entire country wakes up and comes outside. For about a week the cherry blossoms are in bloom and hanami, (lit. translated, flower viewing) is well underway. Everyone grabs a blanket and packs a picnic, heading to wherever the little pink/white blossoms are on display. 

[Goko, Chiba]

Saturday I stuck close to home, going for a walk down a street lined with the famous trees.
We walked and walked until deciding to pop in to a conbini to create lunch and sit in a little park we had passed on our way. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Sakura Matsuri.
Cherry Blossom Festival.

Sakura Biru.

[Yoyogi Park, Tokyo] 

Sunday we came a little more prepared. Stopping to grab sandwiches and smoothies. Then braving our way through the crowd at Yoyogi Koen, one of the most popular parks in Tokyo. Finding a spot to sit, snack and stare.

This Is How You Hanami.
Keigo & Debs.
Exiting Took Teamwork.

To Say It Was Crowded Would Have Been An Understatement...

The trees are undoubtedly gorgeous, and it's so fun to see the whole country get in to the season. There are hanami themed things at just about every restaurant, including Starbucks and McDonalds.

I have a few plans this week to head out to local places to have a picnic type dinner and soak up as much of this season as possible. The blossoms are scheduled to fall within the week, which apparently is also supposed to be amazing. I hear it looks like snow! And we know how much I love snow! I can't wait to see how it all goes!


[The Latest]

Google Search: Hiroshima.
Tune: Wild Ones By Flo Rida feat. Sia.
Accomplishment: Cleaning out my closet.
Obsessions: Crossword puzzle app, makin my train rides fly by.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New School Year

                          As spring is slowing approaching, a new school year is beginning here in Japan. 
                                   Today marked the first official day of the 2012-2013 school year.  

The First Sign of Spring.
We had a very formal opening ceremony that lasted most of the day followed by a special sushi lunch for just the teachers. Last year when I fled Japan post earthquake, I missed out on this ceremony and everything that comes with the beginning of a new school year. When I finally returned mid April of last year things just weren't the same. Everything felt off since I wasn't there for when it all started. I wanted to make sure I was here for day one this year, if it was possible.

The ceremony, which really was to welcome the new middle school freshmen (our 7th grade), went beautifully. The new kids processed in with their class, then stood when their name was called, all while proud parents and their video cameras took up residence in the back of the gym. My only participation came when I went on stage with a few other teachers to be introduced to the new parents and students. They called my name, and I answered with a Hai!, stepping forward and listening while the principle read a few sentences about me. I then bowed and let out a confident yoroshuku onegaishimasu and stepped back into line. The principle had gone through everyone who was on stage and we were all about to bow one final time, when the new, and extremely shy, librarian scampered up on stage. Apparently she missed when we all processed up, not sure how since she was sitting right behind me. None the less, at that moment I didn't feel like the least Japanese person in room. And that, friends, is hard to do.

Tomoko Sensei Officiating.
Class 1-1 Processing Out.
Special Sushi Lunch.

Would be 20th grader,

[The Latest]

Must Read: Girl Forced To Run 3 Hours, Dies..from USA Today. WTF?!
Google Search: White confectioner`s coating.
Tune: California Love By 2Pac. It came on this morning while I was getting ready. Made me smile.
Accomplishment: Using more Japanese.
Obsessions: The New Girl. This week`s episode make me laugh right out loud. I watched it twice.


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