Thursday, November 30

Last lot

Here are the end of the amusing photos of last weekend. The pretty photos are on my travel blog, and I'm still thinking of uploading the rest to flickr, which would mean starting a flickr account, but, given my current photographic bent, that might be a good idea. I took 200 photos in my two days in Hakone! Ridiculous really. But some of them came out really nicely, and the rest, well, here they are...

My cruising boots are my favourites...

I don't know if I want "potatochips" or "Pumpkin" burended into my icecream. Or "tiny rice crackers and peanuts". No, not "Soybean flour" either. Thanks anyway.

The panda appears to be a form of transport. I didn't ask why.

And this next photo is ghastly quality because I was many metres away on a moving ship (ok, not moving much, but still...). It's still legible though. Either they want to rent out the back deck, or you don't really want to go out there...

Wednesday, November 29

I'm Googleable!

I've just been browsing my statcounter (yes! I know Who is reading my blog When and from Where!) and have discovered that TWO people lately have found my blog through google! Try searching for "driving map sagamihara city hakone". I'm near the top on the first page! (no idea why, but the "driving" is important. Have I *ever* talked about driving here?) AND, if you search for "sagamihara hakone map" my travel blog is the first hit! At least, it's the sub-hit of the first hit! (click the link to see what I mean).
The other search terms that put me on the first page is "arabian rock shinjuku".
Why, I feel almost famous.

EDIT: and now, of course, I am *the* top of the list for these search terms. If anyone is actually looking for these things for real, I bet it pisses them off! (Sorry if that's how you arrived here!)

Tuesday, November 28

Black Eggs (Weekend pics, part 3)

Owakudani is famous for black eggs that are cooked in the boiling hot sulfuric spring water here. But apparently they don't always have them available. At least, that's what I think they're saying here.
The sulfuric gases that fuel the tourist industry here are apparently not all that healthy for you. I decided I didn't have a dedicate bronchus and went on regardless!

The gases and spring water here might not be so good for you, but the eggs they cook in them are apparently very healthy for you.

And this one, I just can't work out. Ok, point 1 refers to the fact that you can only buy 6 eggs at a time, I understand that. And point 4 is obvious. And 2 might just mean that you have to eat the eggs within 2 days. But point 3 really gets me. Can anyone read the japanese and provide a better translation? Or anyone, any suggestions as to what it might mean? Prizes for the most creative responses...

Monday, November 27

more from last weekend

More from my weekend in the Hakone region!
This isn't some google earth image, but a shot from the cable car over the valley at Owakudani. I don't know what they were doing, but it was something they were doing with the sulfuric gases and steam that shoots out of the ground all over this volcanic region. If anyone has any idea what exactly they are doing, do let me know!
And at Gora station, you can eat hot sands!

And at Chokoku mori station, you put your rubbish in a "dust port". It sounds so high-tech. Like something you would find in a spaceship.
The cable car that took us to Owakudani was keen for us not to open the door of the capsule and tumble to our deaths hundreds of metres below: "A door is automatic and opens and closes it. Please do not hit a handle here"

Sunday, November 26

What a weekend

I had 4 days off this weekend, which means going back to school tomorrow is going to be quite a shock to the system! I spent my first day off doing testing for Cambridge (I'm an official Oral Examiner for the lower level Cambridge exams now!), and then two amazing days in the Hakone region, and then today I spent doing pretty much nothing, except, of course, going out for sushi with Gloria.

I collected a heap of photos of funny stuff this weekend, so I'll blog them in batches over this week. Here's the first lot:
First, another vending machine. This one serves cups of drink, either hot or cold. The reason for the photo though, is the tv screen on it. So many things here have tv screens. Even the price tags on the shelves in shops are sometimes tv screens bombarding you with little tinny advertising jingles. This TV screen has the words "Vendor Vision" under it. I found it amusing!

My first example of Itarian. This was not far from the vietnamese restaurant where I had dinner with a friend on Thursday night after the testing.

This was a sign outside a bar in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. My theory is that they are trying to be a "coconut disco". God knows why though.

Thursday, November 23

Magnetic Island - Townsville, Australia
visited Nov 22, 2006
I forgot magnetic island! Which is a pity, because it was a nice place. We got into horseshoe bay after dark, and woke to find it was a nice bay with a good beach and plenty of other yachts, and well set up for yachties. We went ashore and explored the one street of civilisation (fresh milk! yay!) and had a real coffee (pity it was awful...), then caught a bus to the beginning of the track up to the old army forts and look outs and whatnot that are still there from WWII. It was nice to have a good walk after a few days of relative inactivity. In Horseshoe Bay we also discovered a great shop called Maroon'd, which said it sold "survival products for people". While at first glance this could be mistaken for a gift shop (it did sell candles, soaps, scented things and other trinkets) it also seemed to manage to stock at least one of nearly everything you can think of. There was a second book section, a pet section, a crocodile meat (with recipes!) section, they had pharmaceuticals, every type of spark plug ever made, bike gear, fishing gear, swimmming gear, boat parts, shoes, small gold anchors (for your small gold boat perhaps?) and even a boatswains whistle. And there was an internet computer. And it was all in a room about the size of my living room at home. Pretty amazing, really, and quite unexpected on the wrong side of a small island! (the main civilisation on magnetic is on the other side of the island). We ended up leaving later than planned (probably due to the hour spent in the shop!) and headed into Townsville proper to find the marina berth that had been booked.

Wednesday, November 22

Another hat gone...

Waa. I've lost my hat. I stopped at a bakery on my way to school this morning to buy something for breakfast, and shoved my hat in my jacket pocket as I went inside. As it was pretty warm, I didn't feel the need to put it back on when I came out, so didn't even think of it until I got to school 5 minutes later, and went to put it in my drawer in the teachers room. It wasn't in my pocket. And I don't know where it is! I've even retraced my steps, and asked at the bakery (in japanese!) but no luck. Grr. It wasn't a perfect hat. It was brown flat cap of the style I have been wearing for years now, but it had a tendency to slip upwards and sit too high, but I only bought it 3 months ago (in Edinburgh) and it was my current best hat. I do have one other, but it's sort of... fluffy. I don't do fluffy very well.
And thinking about it, I seem to have some sort of curse that means my hats are never allowed to last more than 3 months or so. I think my record might be 6 months or so for the one I bought in Brescia last april and left in a bulgarian supermarket in about november.
So let's have a moment of mourning for Yet Another Lost Hat. And for the fact that I will now have to wear a fluffy hat.

Sunday, November 19

Today's crop

This is from my outing to Ueno in Tokyo today. My travel blog has more info. These green signs seem to be approaching the issues of smoking and littering from intersesting angles. In case you can't read them, the first one says "Cigarette smoke is wider than a human body" and the other one says "Some people throw trash in the street. Other people have to clean it up" The first person in the trash picture is labelled "Bad Smoker" and the other three are labelled "Street Cleaner", just in case you didn't get the message!

And this is a snack I bought at the 99yen shop that was slightly disappointing. They didn't provide nearly as much joy as promised!

And another one I couldn't get a picture of was a girl's shirt that said in large letters "ABSOLUTELY" and underneath it said "Be Pleased to Do". "Do what?" I ask!

Another shirt last week: "Orange Peel". No idea why. It was an orange shirt though.

And the Turkish restaurant I went to tonight had a tri-lingual menu, and the english was full of cuteness. For a main course we had a choice of, among others, "Lattatouille" or "Raviori". Other than that, they'd done a pretty good job, really, and the food was lovely - very authentic, I think.

Saturday, November 18

Photos from my life lately

So here are a selection of photos from the last month or so that seem blog-worthy but never made it into a post at the appropriate time. They are in random order.
Halloween: I didn't see the makeup until I got home (thanks Gloria!). If you can't guess, I was a spider web. And I think Nami maky have been a pumpkin. I never really worked it out!

This was my lunch at school the other day. Pretty typical. I'm hooked on the Miso soup!

Gloria and I saw this band (I think they're called One Star) play in Shinjuku a few weeks ago. The lead guitarist is an old student of hers. They were really good, and the tiny little basement bar was a fantastic venue!
This is Okonomiyaki. Eggy pancakey omlettey thing. With sauce and mayonaise on top. Oh, and the girls who came over and made it, of course!

Later that night they gave me a birthday cake! With candles! (7 of them!)

And this is from a different night when we had Nabe, which is a sort of stew thing. It was utterly delicious. For some reason it made sense to have the lid of the Nabe pot on my head at this moment. I don't know why. We weren't even drunk!

This is the view from the corridor outside our teachers room at school I love gazing at the lines of mountains in the distance, and often the sunsets are beautiful!

And a different sunset from a different window in the same corridor.

And this, believe it or not, is a golf driving range. It's also visible on the other side of the same corridor.

I am utterly addicted to sushi. This is the 100yen sushi train that I have been to at least once a week since we discovered it. Before that we were going to one that was much further away. I will have to take a photo of some of the actual sushi at some point. It's such a pretty food!

And the train. I don't have to catch a train to work, which I am very grateful for. This picture was an evening train, with hardly any people on it, but you still never get a seat. In the worst of the rush hour you are lucky if you can even breathe.

There are more, so stay tuned, and I'll post them in the next few days sometime. I also put a heap of Harajuku photos on my travel blog, so check them out too!

More engrish pics.

Look a second post in a day! I've been sorting photos, and thought I'd better blog them while I knew which ones were which!

My favourite nut mix for my relax time:

And this (from Meiji Shrine in Harajuku) made me feel there was something lost in the translation. It's like the opposite of Chinese. I remember when I went to the Imperial City, there would be three chinese characters, and the english translation would be about a page long!

This isn't Engrish. The sausage-y thing just looked disgusting, somehow!

And this is the most elaborate pocky I've ever seen. I'm wondering if "decorer" has something to do with the french. Not with shampoo. Either way, they were yummy!

I like Japaneeeese

I've been going to Free Japanese Lessons at something called the Sagamihara International Lounge since about the first week I arrived here. It's a great system. They have 4 or 5 sessions each week of these free lessons, taught by volunteer teachers, and the only thing they ask is 200yen (about AU$2.30) per month as a photocopying fee. Well worth it. There mut be about 10 or 15 little groups all working at different levels each session, all in one room. I've been lucky enough to nearly always have a teacher to myself, as I was sort of adopted by one teacher on my first saturday session. Unfortunately I started finding saturdays too hard (there's too much else to do on the weekends!) and started coming on wednesdays, even though I'm permanently an hour late for the two hour session! I joined a group that was only slightly behind where I was, but, due to doing some extra work in my free time at school and going to this Saturday's session as well (not to mention my natural ability to pick up languages), I'm going to be way too far ahead for that group next time, so I'll have to ask to change, and that's going to be a pain! But it does show the fliexibility of the many-small-groups system. If one person progresses faster than the others they can be promoted to a group already working on the next chapter of the book (we all use the same book, which makes it easier to know exactly where you're up to). I wonder if this could be made to work in an english school at any point. hmm.

Oh, and the lessons are held in a building called the "Fuchinobe Promity Building" whatever that means!

And, because I can't do anything so boring as a post without a picture, here are a couple I took in Harajuku a couple of weeks ago. I had forgotten about them!

A Classy Jewelers:

And a 100yen belt:

Tuesday, November 14

Happy Birthday to me!

So, I have just (9 minutes ago) entered my late twenties. It's a little scary, really! But I'll get over it!
So I have (already) celebrated in style - I had some... er... japanese associates (we would *never* associate with students outside of the university!) over to cook me okonomiyaki. Which is basically a kind of eggy pancakey omelet with cabbage and pork or any of a variety of other ingredients in it. I've been hearing about it for a while now, so it was good to see what it actually was. The party was at my place, but we went shopping together first, so I didn't have to prepare anything (except the mad flat-tidying I did yesterday), and they cooked it all, and cleaned up after, so it was wonderful! The easiest sort of party to have. Of course, having 7 people over for dinner when you only have 2 chairs, 2 plates, one bowl, one glass etc. was interesting, but they all put up with it very well. My yoga mat makes a good place to sit, and Marcus and Gloria (who live in the same building) brought their own bowls and whatnot, so we managed!
I hadn't expected an actual birthday party, as we had been talking about an Okonomiyaki party for weeks, and it was just coincidence it was today. But the others got me a surprise birthday cake! It was lovely, although incredibly creamy and rich! I still have a piece left for tomorrow, when I've recovered from this party!

Saturday, November 11

Trains, bars and arabian rock.

First of all, this from Enoshima last week (actually at Fujisawa station):

And a very popular platform it was too.

Then I noticed this at one of the stations on the odakyu line as I was coming home this evening.

Do you think they mean "REquest"? or seek? Is it an ad for a modelling agency? Or a salon that does scary things to you to try to expose your beauty within?

Then there was this. But I'm not so sure about it. It's either a hilarious instance of the oh so common l/r mixup, or someone actually thought they were being funny, in which case, er, it isn't.
This place isn't actually Engrish, but I think it fits here anyway. It really needs the audio, but I decided to save everyone and not record it. It's easy enough to imagine though. It was playing "Arabian" music. By which I mean Arabian Nights from the Disney Aladdin movie. Then it moved on to A Whole New World from the same film. I didn't hang around to see if it had the whole soundtrack going!

And this just sounds messy:

Tuesday, November 7

Engrish fix

So it has been pointed out to me that I haven't posted any engrish up here for a while. I have excuses. For a start, I was all fired up to put all this up on Saturday, but blogger was having problems and wouldn't do it for me. The next excuse is that these pics have all been sitting on my camera. One of the drawbacks to a 1gb card, is that there isn't quite the same level of motivation to get the pics off the camera as there was when I only had a 256mb card! And finally, I haven't posted any written engrishes because I've discovered I have an absolutely terrible memory for the exact wordings, and it often really matters.
Enough excuses: here they are:
I like the way my grapefruit juice orders me around. But nicely.


Team and band names here get quite, er, creative.
Ok, so this one isn't engrish at all. I just wanted a record of the first box of Pocky I ate here. It was good!