Feel like my blog has been abandoned for a while… Have been really busy lately and couldn’t really squeeze in time for writing. Anyway, this post is just a quick update of random things.
Here I am writing this, and eating my unusually early dinner at 5pm. Our company made several announcements since 2pm about a storm coming soon, and advised us to leave office ASAP. So everyone in the office left the building by 3PM… The ironic thing is, that’s earlier than when we were striking! When we got down to the bus stop, the lineup was growing… so we had to wait for the next bus, thankfully the weather was still relatively calm, with light showers.
I received this email earlier on:
Dear Canadian citizen,
As you may have heard on the news already, a low pressure system is developing quickly over the sea of Japan. Winds and rain will increase all over Japan and are likely to turn into storms. Strong typhoon like winds are also predicted. In the Tokyo region, the winds are expected to peak during the evening rush hour. The coast will be turbulent. There will be thunder and heavy rain on the Pacific coast, and heavy rain is predicted for all areas of the country. Please be aware of land slides, overflowing rivers, flooding in low lying areas and tornadoes from April 3 to April 4.
Also, please be certain to follow any safety instructions issued by your local municipalities in the various regions of Japan. Transportation might be disrupted and some schools will be closing this afternoon.
For additional information please refer to the Japan Meteorological Agency website: http://www.jma.go.jp/en/typh/
Embassy of Canada, Tokyo, Japan.
Yay, a short work day for me! This feels like the typhoon days in HK again. Sad thing is, Sakura won’t last as long.
Since I’m leaving for Kyoto on Friday night, and I won’t have homecook dinner tomorrow or thursday… which means I gotta wipe out my fridge tonight!
Oh, and I still have a whole carton of milk, two more packs of Natto. Along with my strawberries, would make great snacks before sleep.
Was planning to purchase tickets for museums in May.. but someone reminded me that June will be the rainy/stormy season in Japan. So I’d enjoy the (hopefully) nice weather in May for outdoor things/sightseeings, and leave the museum/shopping in June. Sounds like the perfect plan!
Our team had another Friday drinking party last night. The occasion was two members will be “retiring” from the company end of the month to become professors in universities, as well as to celebrate Coke-san’s recent marriage to his girlfriend (dating since junior high, way more than 10 years haha)! The party was attended by most of our members (around 20 people), my supervisor didn’t show up because he had to hurry home and take care of his pregnant wife (expected date in a few weeks!) 😀
The more drinking parties that I go to, I find that there are usually 6-7 dishes shared amongst each table. The dishes are all small portioned… perhaps people need to save space for alcohol? I didn’t take picture of our food, but we had: Shabu Shabu, Plain tofu (yes, plain with a pinch of salt, but it was really good… As someone commented, “Oiishi, it got such a rich taste of… tofu” lol), Sashimi (I don’t think I’d ever know what fishes I’m eating) , salmon salad, ramen, and chicken karaage. Obviously, for a person who needs to consume 14 plates of Kaiten sushi…. It was not at all for me. So after I went home, I wiped out all Natto in the fridge 🙂 .
Actually, I prefer all you can eat over all you can drink…
During dinner, Mayor-san talked about his 3-day trip to Hong Kong… I asked him if he went to DisneyLand or the Peak… He said no. Then I asked him where he went. He said “I went to buy iPhone, iPad. And I also went to see Jackie Chan’s house (outside, of course)!” *drop dead*
After dinner, of course there’s a second round as usual. Being a good (and poor) kid, I went home to sleep.
For my weekend Kyoto Hanami trip on April 7-8th… I have planned to visit the following places… will put more details once I have checked out maps and finalize the route.
Red= Must see
* = top 100 Hanami sites
# = World Heritage Site
清水寺 Kiyomizu Dera ( #)
高台寺 Kodaiji ()
浄土宗 総本山 知恩院 Chion ()
平安神宮 神苑 Heian Shrine ()- features colorful pink blossoms
哲学の道 / Ginkaku ji (#)
二条城 夜桜 (#) : Need to enter during daytime
醍醐寺 Daigo Ji(* #) Southern Kyoto
The famous cherry tree in Maruyama Park is often the center of attention in the evenings when it is lit up. Vendors line the pathway leading up to it, creating a festive atmosphere. Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji have extended hours during the first few days of this season offering visitors the opportunity to view them at night, lit up against the blossoms. Blossoms can also be seen along the Kamogawa River. The entire area literally blossoms in the spring!
Arashiyama(*)- Light up and food stalls at night
御室@仁和寺 Ninnaji（* #）
Kinkaku ji (#)
“The Kyoto Sightseeing Card can be purchased as a one-day (¥ 1200/Children:¥ 600) or two-day pass (¥ 2000/¥ 1000). It can be used for unlimited travel on the subway and city buses as well as a part of the Kyoto bus route. The two-day pass has to be used on two consecutive days.”
Matcha… tofu, Fugu sashimi, etc.
This year’s winter has lasted longer than usual… so I’m praying the cherry blossoms would bloom in time of my visit. Because normally early April is the prime time for viewing Sakura…
The purpose of the trip is to enjoy cherry blossoms in the historical Kyoto, so I want to spend quality time at each site, rather than taking a photograph and leave. Looking at the jam packed wishlist, I’m sure I won’t be able to cover all the places listed above, but it’s alright… I plan to visit again soon in a longer holiday (hopefully I’ll get to visit nearby cities such as Nara, Osaka…)
Today was the deadline for paying the overnight bus fee to Kyoto, otherwise my reservation would get cancelled. The website said I had to pay by 6pm… but I couldn’t leave work yet! So I kept hitting Cmd-R on my keyboard, hoping to re-reserve once I get dropped off the list. But nothing happened… My status didn’t change. So I took my time and finally arrived at Lawson, the convenient store next to my dorm at 7pm. Then I realized, I didn’t have enough cash to pay for the fee! Crap… The 7600Yen roundtrip ticket was the cheapest I could find, and I had to get it (Seriously, Shinkansen one-way costs more than that!). So I ran to Yokosuka Chuo, where the Post office was… Yeah, I hate my bank… it’s a Post Office bank, so ATM machines are inside Post offices (there’s one nearby my house, but it’s closed at 4pm). The Chuo branch was still opened, so I withdrew some money, crossed the street to a convenient store and got it over with. When I was about the make my way back, I spotted this-
OK, I walked by this area every few days and I couldn’t believe I didn’t see this. Or maybe my mind wasn’t on Kaiten Sushi at those moments. But I have been craving for Kaiten-Sushi, particularly after having it last week. Not because I love Sushi… but because last time was just so, memorable. Don’t get me wrong, not the taste, but the cost. 2600 yen = 10 dishes for lunch. For a student like me, this made my heart ache. Then people kept telling me about 100yen Kaiten Sushi after hearing my experience. I couldn’t stand it no more, I had to have it again, just to even out the costs. 😀
Yesterday when I was at Akihabara, I saw 130 yen Kaiten Sushi… I stood outside the place, in the rain for 5 mins… debating weather to step inside or not. I really wanted some sushi, but 130 yen still wasn’t the cheapest! So I ended up not having it, nor dinner… because I spent some money on something afterwards (What’s with my mindset of balancing things out?). Last night before sleep, I actually searched on the web to find 100yen Kaiten Sushi places in town- Since there’s no work tomorrow (Spring Day or something), I planned to eat at this place with good reviews near Uraga Station.
But how could I resist? Standing right there in front of the tempting 90Yen banner and with some cash in my hand, I walked in w/o second thoughts.The place could seat around 60 people, with four conveyor belts. It was busy, yet fast flowing… There weren’t many waitresses, but was convenient enough since everything was done electronically: From getting a seat at the ticket machine, to ordering using a touch screen menu.
Overall spent 1400 yen for 14 dishes plus the steamed egg. 1200 yen less than what I spent last time (with only 10 dishes). Honestly, the quality was nowhere near as good (not as fresh, smaller piece), but it’s expected. Which do I prefer? The cheap place of course. I really don’t care too much about eating 550yen middle class bluefin tuna… all I need is to enjoy and pick up any plate I want without calculating the price! Sure, I would come across some disgusting Uni at times, as long as I don’t get sick or parasite infections… I’m fine.
One draw back is I tend to get carried away and eat too much… like what happened today.
I have simply bought too much food in my previous grocery shopping spree. Since I haven’t been cooking much in the past week, most food was just lying helplessly in the fridge… forgotten and expired. Some (even the pumpkin) became frozen.. Remember the grapefruits that I bought early last month? there are still 2 left… I cut one up this morning, barely any juice left. As I’m writing this, I suddenly remember the bananas.. they must have turned into charcoals by now.
Anyway, I tried to not be もったいない (wasteful) so I dumped all the expired goodies into my miso soup for lunch today. Tasted as good as they were fresh, except for the radish…. no matter how long I cooked it, it was still crunchy like those pickled ones you find the supermarket… Is it supposed to be that way? I was dreaming of those steamed soft melt-in-your-mouth radish with soy sauce.
White Day in Japan was several days ago. As a tradition, guys would give gifts to ladies, as a return for the Valentine’s chocolates. It’s a custom that ladies at work would give chocolates to their male colleagues on Valentines day, to show gratitude. The Jap term for this is 義理チョコ. What I received from some colleagues… though I did not give them any chocolates :-<
Now I really wanna buy a oven, to bake things and share
the edible ones with my coworkers. And I need a rice cooker too.. I am very sick of udon/spagetti now. With a rice cooker, I can finally eat Natto with rice and make congee once in a while too! Plus rice cookers save so much cooking time! A bowl of hot rice, Natto and some soy sauce can satisfy me!
Saw these on Amazon JP- I love how Amazon can deliver to convenient stores, so I can pick up after work.
炊飯器 3合 一人暮らし 1380 Yen! for a mini rice cooker
KOIZUMI ホワイト 1582 Yen! for a toaster oven
Can a 1000W toaster oven bake anything other than toasts??
Oh and also on White Day, our office had a worker’s strike! It was rumoured to begin on Monday, but somehow got delayed.
So what is a strike really like in Japan?
WTF right? Yeah, a strike in Japan (or maybe just in my company) is basically employees have to leave work by 5pm. Which is a normal time for North Americans to leave work (assuming arrive work at 9am). Plus, many employees here arrive earlier than 9! Some didn’t even want to go, as they had unfinished work. =_=;;
The higher people settled things fast too, people were back to their “normal” work hours the next day haha
So Canadian teachers who are on strike now.. consider yourselves “lucky”, because you don’t have to work at all(besides protesting on streets)!
Some random musings…
I am craving for steaks and pizzas recently. So one day after work, I went for a American restaurant, hoping for a steak fix. I saw they were advertising with gigantic posters of meat. I walked in and ordered the same thing.
When lining up to order at 大戸屋, the waiter usually ask how much rice the customer want. I didn’t know how to express different sizes in Japanese, but lucky me! The guy lining up in front of me ordered the same thing… And I copied what he said haha- “Omori 大盛り” If he was a girl, then I’d probably end up saying “Small bowl please” lol The bowl was big, but wasn’t filled… Useful meal size phrases I found on a site.
Although 並(nami), 大(dai) will works on most of the place, but others would depend on each restaurants.
- For Small – 小 (shou), ミニ (mini), 半分(hanbun), 少なめ (sukuname), S (エス) …
- For Normal – 並 (nami), 普通（ふつう）, 中(chuu), M (エム)…
- For Big – 大 (dai), 大盛り (oomori), 多め (oome), L (エル)…
- For Special Big – 1.5盛 (ittengo mori) (sukiya invented it)
- For extra Big – 特盛 (tokumori), 特大(tokudai), …
- For extreme Big – 鬼盛 (onimori), (超)巨大盛 (chou kyodai mori), バカ盛り (baka mori), 激盛り (geki mori), メガ盛り (Mega mori), ….
Finally, I’m currently planning a Hanami(花見) weekend trip to Kyoto in early April. Night buses are cheap (7600 yen) round trip.. but all hostel rooms are full! !! I’ll try my luck again, if not I’d delay the trip for one or two weeks.. hopefully the cherry blossoms aren’t gone yet!
Been raining alot lately.. if weather is nice tmr, I’d probably go to Akiba and Ueno.. to check out ricecookers and cameras for my bro.
This was a dull weekend, as I stayed in Yokosuka without going anywhere (not even Yokohama). But I did catch up on some much needed sleep, reviewed some Jap, cleaned my room etc.
First thing I did yesterday(Sat) morning was to hurry to the nearest ATM… My paycheque+ air ticket money was finally deposited on Friday! I had seriously ZERO cash(except for some coins, not even enough for an onigiri) in my wallet, and in the past few days I had to borrow transit money from N-san just to make it to work T_T As for food, I was surviving on instant noodles, which I previously bought for emergency purposes.
When I saw my account balance, I knew it’s the end of my financial crisis. Phew, a major relief. If I don’t spent extravagantly, the amount should last for at least 3 months.
Since the ATM was located inside the post office (my bank is a post office bank), I also tried to pick up a parcel (received a slip in the morning).
But the post office lady told me to return at 5pm. It was 1pm then, which meant I had to chill in Yokosuka Chuo for another 4 hours…
After a fulfilling meal (the only meal I ate for the day… since it was costy- 2500yen!), I went for grocery shopping…
Let’s fast forward to 5pm, when I was ready to pick up the parcel in the post office.. The lady apologized to me and said the postman would actually delivered the parcel again to my place between 5-7pm!! Shit, I couldn’t miss it (I knew the parcel was my debit card).. So I ran as fast as I could to get home. However with so many bags, what I actually did was fast sprints for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 secs lol
Finally I made it, and I saw the post man on his motorbike about to leave- “Sumimasen!” I yelled and showed him my pickup slip. Phew… It’s a small package, but since it had confidential info, the guy had to make sure I was the receiver by following me home and confirmed that I could open the door with my key haha.
Besides grocery and snacks, I also went mall shopping to kill time (since the post office lady misled me to go back at 5pm =_=)
After unpacking, time for cleaning….
After sweeping and cleaning up… The entire night was spent reading a Manga called “Parasyte”/(寄生獣).
A colleague recommended it to me after finding out I visited the Parasitological Museum. It was about this young teen’s (Shinji) right arm got infected by a Parasite. He was lucky as the parasite did not take control of his brain and turned him into a human eating monster… The whole story was about how the parasite (called Migi, means “right” in Japanese and Shinji co-exist and fight other parasites to save mankind. I finished it, in one night. It was bloody but engaging! It also had a meaningful message about species on earth and the environment.
Today is the one year anniversary of the 3.11 Earthquake in Japan. I did not go out, but I heard that trains would stop around the time when the incident happened…
Since I stayed up till 4am to read Parasyte, I woke up at 1pm today- my first time since coming to Japan .
I bought some chicken breast yesterday… so I decided to cook that for my late brunch. I didn’t want plain chicken breast and dip with soy sauce… I had eggs too, might as well make Oyako
Sometimes a chill weekend like this is quite enjoyable, especially going to Tokyo is quite physically+financially draining. A good way to get some work/jap review done without spending much money (though I still managed to spend quite a bit during grocery shopping oops)!
How Do I Live
How do I get through one month without you?
If I had to live without you
What kind of life would that be?
Oh, I, I need you in my bank account, need you to live
You’re my world, my life, my food and if you’re ever missed
Baby you would take away everything good in my life
And tell me now
How do I shop without you? I want to know
How do I eat without you if you ever go?
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh, how do I live?
Without you there’d be no fun on weekend
There would be no cash in my life
There’d be no food left for me
And I, baby, I don’t know what I would do
I’d be lost if I lost you, if you’re ever missed
Baby, you would take away everything real in my life
And tell me now
How do I pay without you? I want to know
How do I eat without you if you ever go?
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh, how do I live?
Please, tell me, baby
How do I go on if you ever leave?
Baby, you would take away everything, I need you with me
Baby, don’t you know that you’re everything good in my life?
And tell me now
How do I live without you? I want to know
How do I pay bills without you if you ever go
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh, how do I live?
How do I live without you?
How do I live without you, baby?
How do I live?
I think I’m cursed. I have no pay cheque, my internet is cut, and my bills are due in a few days. Worst of all, I only have 20000 yen left.
I thought I had brought enough cash to survive for one month. And I was right, I just didn’t expect by the time I set up my bank account, I would miss the pay day (20th). They said the worst case scenario would be I wouldn’t get paid until the next month 😥
Let’s do some math… I still have 20000 in my pocket.
Rent is exactly 10000, half gone.
I just received my water and electricity bills…. around 5000 yen. So I still have 5000 left with all bills paid off. Darn, I have never been in any financial crisis in my life.
It is impossible to live in Japan with only 5000 yen for a month. IMPOSSIBLE!
Let’s put things into perspective, I add a 5000 yen charge to my PASMO card (transit smartcard) every week… This is because round trip to work costs roughly 800 yen a day=> 4000 yen five days. Plus I have Japanese class in Yokohama once a week. Oh god, either I send an SOS to get my parents wiring some $$$ to save my butt, or I cross my fingers+toes that I would receive some money pretty soon.
Meanwhile, I should start keeping a budget and eat only one meal a day…
Let’s see what I have been cooking lately… Cooking really doesn’t save much, especially when fresh produce is so damn pricy. However, bento boxes are expensive and oily.
Anyway, I woke up last Saturday and found internet on all my devices had stopped working…
I hurried to Kojima- an electric store literally NEXT to my place, and where I got my pocket wifi. The guy called E-Mobile (the carrier) for me and they explained they cut off my service because I did not taken action after receiving the “THANK YOU LETTER”. OK, what Thank You letter?? Turned out they got my address wrong… so it never got sent to the right place. And the Customer Support line was closed on the weekend. So I had to wait until Today… The Kojima guy gave me a call in the afternoon and told me to call their Customer Support number myself. OK, the number did not work! Because apparently Monday is a holiday for their English Service… WTF? OK, I will wait until tomorrow if I don’t get my internet back, I will complain (in English of course) until they give me some discount back!
So meanwhile, how do I go online and make this post? They say… One door closes, the other opens. This is so true… When I found out I couldn’t connect on Saturday… I was devastated, so I decided to try my luck to connect to near by wifi- but all had encryption. But guess what? I was lucky to guess the right “password” for one of them… and now I’m borrowing the person’s WIFI. It’s slow, but I am really thankful already.
So last night I was really tired from the day trip, and went to sleep after dinner without taking off my contact lenses!!!
And this morning, I couldn’t open my eyes or see anything!!!
JK =) I was fine, they were slightly dry and good news is I am finally used to wearing contacts for long hours (24+ hrs seriously). But I still prefer glasses… Putting on and cleaning contact lenses are just too troublesome!
In my office, people use stickies a lot… to brainstorm, or even when chatting – someone would actually take out a pad of stickies and start writing on it. I personally just use them for doodling, since I hate messing up my notebook… plus you never know who’s gonna peek into it 😀
But today, I have found another use for these post-its…
These cans of candy drops have always been piling up on a tray right at the bookshelf next to my desk. I never touched them, because I thought they were just empty, perhaps a collection of the desk owner (I am actually just borrowing her desk temporarily until she gets back from pregnancy leave). Not until today my colleagues asked me why hadn’t I tried any!!!
There are about 30 unique flavours, each was bought from a different city in Japan. There are a few normal ones, such as Mango, Apple, Sakura, beer… but that’s about it. The rest ranges from Okinawa flavors (Awamori, Goya) to Hokkaido’s (Lamb, potato w/ butter) to fishy things like Mentaiko (明太子). Extreme, eh? According to my colleagues, only those classified as “normal” have tolerable tastes. Which is why- everytime someone tries a new flavour, they would rate the candy on a sticky note. BTW, most of them have pretty disgusting tastes, since like 70% are imitating salty food.
There’s really not much food that I dislike, back in Vancouver I’m usually the one to clean up all the expired food. So I asked for the nastiest flavour possible. They thought for a while and concluded that pretty much all those 70% are right on par with each other.
So at the end I picked an unopened can, something that looked like Unagi Don (鰻丼)… but they told me it’s a similar but different kind of fish.
Anyhow, the very second it landed in my mouth… I could smell a weird odor. Basically smelt like century old vomit… but the taste was about right, salty and fishy (not fresh sashimi, think dead fish). It brought back all the memories of eating Harry Potter jelly beans. I had an urge to spit it out, but I didn’t want to lose face in front of my colleagues… so I pretended and kept saying Oiiishiiiiiiiii!!! They were pretty surprised actually, and said I was lucky to taste a decent abnormal flavor on my first try. RIGHT.
Then I turned my back to grab a sticky note (meanwhile secretly spitting it into my cup of greentea), and ranked it as SUPER OISHII…
Throughout the day, two colleagues tried it after seeing my sticky 😀
OK, though I think it wouldn’t taste good either. I sort of want to try Takoyaki flavor, too bad my colleagues said they couldn’t find it at Osaka.
I think I will start collecting these drops from now on (a colleague reminds me they make perfect souvenirs for friends, great idea :P). Top of my most wanted list is Wasabi (of course disguised as Matcha flavor or something).
Now i wish they are real food… maybe the japanese should take the next step to put real nutrients in them.
Funny thing during Jap lesson… My teacher asked me where I would like to go during the Golden Week. I heard from some people that flying to Korea is actually cheaper since most Japanese prefer travelling within the country. I meant to tell her かんこく（韓国）, which is “Korea” in Japanese… but I pronounced it as かんごく(監獄), which means JAIL. LMAO.
Anyway, I have a new goal to learn at least 3 new Japanese words each day… Here are what I’m taught today:
モテキ（？no kanji）- “mo-te-ki”, means a prime time period of a guy/gal’s life where he/she suddenly becomes so attractive (to the opposite sex I assume?)… N-san told me Japanese believe everyone experience 3 “motekis” in their life.
ハンコックき（反抗期）- means puberty…
こうねんき（更年期）- means menopause….
けんけつ（献血）- means blood donation…
Last but not least….
Well, the arm actually broke off a week before I came to Japan.. but I glued it back and it was fine until yesterday.
So I was playing badminton … and somehow when trying to make a save, I lost balance and fell toward the net… my glasses were knocked off and here they are now…
I will try reviving them with Krazy Glue tonight.