Thursday, September 29, 2005

A day in the life

Waiting for the train.

Ahh Okazaki...

hmmm... the same but.. so different!

A bright and misty morning.

It is strange how quickly the bright and new becomes mundane! How soon we can get into a routine, how work becomes once again, just work. Because I work most days from 1:00 to 10:00, I tend to sleep rather late. This morning I awoke only because the building across the street is being torn down. That can be kind of noisy you know. If I grab the right express train (55 after the hour is a good one) I can be in Okazaki in around 20 minutes. (full disclosure, the train platform above is NOT my stop, I don't have one of my stop.) Then a quick jaunt to Mr. Donut for some fried goodness. Sometimes I have a class right at 1, which means I have to be ready when I get to work, but Thursdays are the exception to that. I only have 3 classes on thursday, 2 of them kids classes. The first one is at 4, so I have plenty of time to prepare, to say the least! When it comes time for 'lunch/ dinner' options are very limited. Around the school we have 3 Chinese places, 2 Curry shops, 2 convenience stores and.... McDonalds! With the cheapest option being the convenience stores, that is usually where I end up. Nothing like a little premade yakisoba and fried rice for taking away your apetite. Once the day ends if I dash across the street I can make the 06 express home, to the internet, dvds, and bed.

It is also interesting how quickly the 'I live hear bug' has bit me. You know how people who live in San Francisco have never been out to Alcatraz and the like? If you live somewhere, you never actually go do the cool things all the tourists do. I bring this up because I still haven't made it to Nagoya Castle, which is supposed to be pretty cool. I haven't been to the top of Nagoya TV tower, which is another blatent copy of a certain Parisian Original. I haven't been to Atsuta Shrine, which is right down the street from where I live, and is one of the most sacred sites in all Shinto. Course to be fair, I am working pretty hard ;-).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Expo, with pictures included.

Fear the insanity. Take disneyland, and pour in even more people. I mean heck, a two to three hour wait for Star Tours or Space Mountain is seen as a long time. A two to three hour wait for the Toyata pavilion was seen as a good time to get in line!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Home sweet shoebox

Well, I have well and truely arrived. I have my high tech cell phone, and my own little apartment! As you can see from the pics, it is indeed VERY little. Perfectly fine though. Of course I wont really be able to house more than two guests, and even that is a bit iffy. Rather cramped really. But its home, and that friends, is what counts.

My cell phone is amazing. Now I know that you can get phones just as cool in America. However, here in Japan this little wonder was the bottom of the barrel. Cheap! Yet it surfs the net, gets weather news, and has a 1.3 mp camera. You can't get a non-camera phone. It is totally standard.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Me and 280,000 of my closest friends!

Ok, so for those of you who dont know, the 2005 World Expo was held here in Aichi, a bit aways from Nagoya. It is quite impossible to go anywhere near Nagoya and NOT be inundated with ads and signs touting the Expo. Being that it shuts down on the 25th and I may never get another chance to see an Expo I went there on Monday with my good buddy Zach. I had heard it was a holiday, but even that did not prepare me for the sea of humanity that inhabited the Expo grounds. Think Disneyland, times ten. I dont know about yesterday, but I have heard the lines for the Toyota pavilion (complete with dancing robot) streaching over 7 hours. I know the lowest I saw that line was 2 and a half hours, and that was later in the day. It looked less like a line and more like people camping out for Star Wars or something! They were all spread out, blankets, food, some were sleeping, it was insanity! Needless to say, we steared well clear of that mess! We did see some cool stuff though. A 3D movie on water, a security robot demonstration, The Irish and Tunisian pavilions (no line!) the wildnerness experience (nature in the middle of thousands of people) and the recreated house from Miyazakis film My Neighbor Totoro. We couldnt actually go in, as you had to reserve a spot a day in advance, but it was still cool seeing it there in the flesh.
It was strange though, for the WORLD expo, the crowd was 99.9999% Japanese. There were sooooo few international visitors. I mean heck, the Irish Pavilion didnt even have any Irish people running it! At least there were some authentic Tunisians in that one, and some Germans hanging around outside their pavilion.
Well, we had a lot of fun, but next time Im not going on a holiday. Meet me in 2010 China World Expo!

Sunday, September 18, 2005


So last night was Saturday, which is now my *Friday*. I get off 2 hours earlier than during the week, and have the next day off. So Trevor and I decided to ditch the rather low key Okazaki scene, and head into Sakae, the Times Square of Nagoya. It was a pretty intense sight, coming up from the huge subway station into a world of neon lights and throngs of humanity. There are a couple of 8 story Kariyoki (spelling? I know its wrong, but cant remember whats right!) bars, I mean giant complexes devoted to the Japanese deity of off key singing. Luckily, we headed downstairs to a little bar called Heavens Door. It is small, cool, and the owner has a few thousand records. Yes, records, not CDs or Tapes. They are mostly 60-70s Rock and Roll. He doesnt take requests, he just plays what he wants to hear, the whole album at a time. Good beer, and some descent food as well. The spicy pizza was actually recognizable as pizza, but still fairly different to be sure. It is a great night spot, I will be back, that is for sure. As soon as I can, I will start getting photos on here. I reckon Sakae at night will be some of the first ones to go up!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Google Localization is a pain

Greetings from Aichi! As I write this I am in an Internet Cafe, and Google has detected that I am in Japan, so all the buttons and such that are normally in English... Are in Kanji! Crazy. So anyway, I arrived a few days ago, and have been adjusting as quickly as I am able. The first night I was here the Sub that picked me up took me out to a Yakitori place near the hotel I used for the first two nights. So far so good right? The Yakitori was tasty, and the Nagoya speciality chicken wings were awsome. But then I look over at a new dish, one of little deep fried things.

I say, say, that looks interesting, what is it?

Oh, its good.

Yeah, thats nice... what is it?



Am I being to ominous?

Yeah, yeah you are.

Ah, well it is deep fried chicken cartilage.

Hmm hmm good, now THAT friends, is the breakfast of champions. I actually did try it, and other than being really damn chewy wasnt too bad. I also tried a random teryaki skewer that ended up being grilled pork tounge. Yummy. At that rate, the tempura mushrooms were awsome! I alway did say it isnt Japanese food if you can identify everything on the plate.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Well, this is it!

My next post will be from Japan. I leave bright and early tomorrow morning. All the anticipation, worry, excitement, it all comes to a head in the next 24 hours. Crazy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Vancouver is a pretty city, eh?

Here I am, Vancouver Canada. This is the last step before the big jump across the Pacific. I won't say I'm not nervous, but I am actually feeling quite confident now. These last few weeks have both flew and dragged for sure, it has been pretty crazy. But here I am, in training. They are working hard (and fast) to equip me with the basic skills I'll need to teach in Japan. Now to be sure, it is a 4 day course, so these are very, very basic skills. But thats exactly what I need, the framework. Everything else is built up from here. I did my first ever lesson today, with a cute Japanese girl doing a 1-year study abroad here in Vancouver. I certainly messed up plenty of my lesson, but I got a lot right too. What it really did was show that I could do this, I could in fact teach somebody a little bit of English! It was a bit of a revelation to me, and provided a big boost in my confidence levels. I also learned a ton about my school, and my first few days in Japan, but I think that is best left for another post.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Tomorrow I leave for my training course in Vancouver. GEOS will take 3 and a half days to teach me everything I need to know about teaching. Heh yeah right! Why do I feel this job has a lot of 'on the job training' involved? By the way, this is my first post from my brand new laptop. It is a beautiful machine. I'll post a picture later, I'm too busy packing right now. Must be ready bright and early tomorrow morning.