Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mame Shiba

So I found this cute character....mame shiba. "Mame" means "bean" and "shiba" is shiba dog. These guys are sooooo cute!! I was searching for more products to buy for my stores and came across these youtube ads. What is soooo funny is that they are so cute and have cutesy voices but what they say is sooo unexpected. Watch first and then read below each one to see what they say.

In the one above the liittle beans says"Did you know, in France the Japanese word "tanpopo" (in English it is the word for the flower dandelion) means "peeing your pants".

In the one above, the little bean says "did you know, if you kiss....in one second 2 million viruses are exchanged".

In the one above, the little bean says "Did you know that a hippo's sweat is pink?"

In the one above the little bean says "did you know that a kangaroo's pouch is sooooo stinky?"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Funny Japanese commercials.

I am so loving youtube right now so I thought I would share some funny commercials from Japan.

This one is with Bob Sap who is really famous in Japan.

Here is another strange ad.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Check this out on Youtube...Christmas in Japan!

I know I just blogged but then I found this video.....it is funny!!!



Grilled Salmon Cheese Sushi

The other day we were shopping and for dinner decided to go for sushi (wow we eat a lot of sushi, don't we?). It was a place we go to a lot but we never ate this before!! Aburi salmon cheese sushi. The salmon is slightly "grilled" (probably used a torch) then mayo is put on top and then a layer of cheese and the cheese is melted. OH MY GOD!!!!!! It was soooooooo good!!! It sounds odd and looks so so but the taste is unique and delicious!!!

Oh and here is a pic I took a while back but forgot to blog about. This is a Japanese version of a California roll. The outside is covered in tiny little orange fish eggs...I love it!! This version has lettuce and a kind of sprout, avocado and shrimp. This one is ok....not my favorite...I will take a pic of my favorite one another time.

Oh and here are some pics of the latest starbucks mugs and cups in Japan.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hi tech sushi, "green" McDonald's and Christmas Eve

Just a note-it is Christmas here even though the date says it is the 24th.

Yesterday, we went into town to figure out what is going on with my cell phone. As I mentioned in another blog post I was over charged by $200 on my cell phone and I wanted to know 1) why and 2) how to stop it. So we went to Yodobashi electronics store.

First, we were sooooo hungry and we really wanted to eat at the Indian restaurant (the top floor in the electronics store has many restaurants) but it was closed so we went to a new "keitan" (round about) sushi shop. This one is hi tech!! Usually if you want to order off the menu you push a button and a waitress comes but at this place the menu is on a computer.
You push a bunch of buttons to order what you want and then it comes around on the conveyor belt with your seat number just before the sushi you ordered so no one is supposed to take it.

Not very "gaijin" (foreinger) friendly as most of us can't read Kanji (Chinese characters) and I almost took the wrong sushi! But I was with my honey so he taught me how to use it. It was good-I'm sure we will go back.

So....after lunch we went down to the cell phone area and talked to a guy about my phone. As he was playing with my phone I was sitting at the counter looking around. Suddenly there was "a happening". We were sitting next to one of the entrances and being Christmas eve, it was very busy with people coming and going. So...suddenly this guy goes running out of the store.....pushing people out of the way, including pushing a little kid to the ground-alarms are going off and then a store clerk goes running after him. I couldn't believe it....it was the first time in 10 years of living here that I saw someone steal something!!

Finally the guy finished with my phone (we are keeping our fingers crossed that it works) so we headed home. When we got to our town we headed to another mall to pick up a few things. Of course there was a line up at the KFC for Christmas dinner. We checked it out just to see what was on the menu and the only thing on the menu that was available were Christmas specials. One was $35 for 5 pieces of chicken, 12 chicken nuggets and maybe 6 chicken tenders! No thanks!

Then we noticed at McDonald's that there were no more plastic bags. Instead there are "eco" bags

Finally we got home and relaxed. I was hoping to watch some kind of Christmas show and the only one on was a musical "Scrooge" from 1970 that was more than a bit corny! My honey had never heard of "scrooge" or "bah humbug" so he learned a few things last night!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I am grateful.

The other day I was sitting in the tub and thinking about what I was going to blog about. I was going to call it "I had one of those days". In my mind I was ranting....really ranting. It was one of those days that I just shouldn't have gotten out of bed. It started with not enough sleep followed by a realization that my cell phone company charged me $200 too much followed by going shopping on the Sunday before Christmas at the costco mall here in Fukuoka (note to self-don't ever do that again!!!) followed by rain....sweat...rain...too many people....couldn't find what I wanted.....more problems with the cell phone company. UGH!!!

I didn't blog about that at the time as I was too tired (though I guess I just kind of did LOL) and I remembered something I saw on CNN. It was about a typical Japanese family. The husband and wife get up everyday at 5 am. She makes "obento" (lunch) and his breakfast. He has a 90 minutes commute to work. She stays home with their baby. He finishes work at 10:30 pm. He comes home at midnight (notice he gets less than 5 hours of sleep a night). He never sees his daughter-in fact his daughter doesn't recognize him and will cry when she does see him. The wife talks about the American movies she sees where the husband comes home early (anything before 10pm is early here) and plays with the kids and has weekends off and takes vacation-she says that is a dream. And after living here for more than 10 years I agree- it is a dream for most families here in Japan.

From August 2003-February 2008 I had to live this kind of life. Ok....I never got up at 5 am and I have never made obento for my honey but the rest is the same. We never took a vacation. He never had any kind of weekends. "Holidays" just meant he had to work longer and his normal working day was 12-17 hours long. His boss would call the house at midnight. He had to go to parties and pay for his boss (this could be 100-200 dollars). He could never question anything and he could never say no. I hated it. Thankfully he was laid off in February and thankfully my etsy business was growing enough that he never had to find another job. I know I might have told this story before but when I saw that Japanese family on CNN I had tears in my eyes because I remembered what it was like. I had tears in my eyes because I was so grateful that we don't live like that anymore.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Class Christmas party

Yesterday, I had a Christmas party for my youngest students. They are in nursery school so they are too young to attend the kids Christmas party on Saturday. I always have the moms /dads come to help. We decorated cardboard picture frames! We had lots of things to use like buttons, sparkles, glue, foam shapes etc.
I also took a pic of one of my student's little brother. He is soooooo cute!!!!

My holidays have officially started!! Woohoo! But I have the big kids' Christmas party on Saturday and I have to go to work on Monday for 2 hours. Still....I don't have to go back to regular classes until January 5th. I love holidays!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I have magical powers!!

I realized today that I have magical powers!! I can make people disappear from the post office! All I have to do is walk in with 3 boxes and 7 bags of packages to send!! Seriously...I made people disappear today when they saw how long they would have to wait in line! It didn't help that the "baba" (old lady) working today is slower than molasses!! Good God I don't know how she hasn't been fired yet! Anyway, I think I am becoming famous at my little "inaka" (countryside) post office. I have actually heard people talking about the "gaijin" (foreigner) and all her packages! I also can put in special requests for 1000s of the customs forms and EMS forms since they run out pretty quick due to me! They also give me many small gifts of appreciation...tissues, calenders and today I got a package of chopsticks! I kinda feel loved by the people at the post office...though I wonder if they don't groan on the inside when they see me coming!! ^__^

Well....I did something very Japanese the other day. I went to our local shopping mall and they are all set up with a gift giving section (it is a gift giving season here too...not Christmas but end of year gift giving time!) so my honey and I bought and paid to have delivered a box of canned beer for his dad and a box of sweets for his mom.

There many things to choose from....fish, coffee (nothing special...just regular coffee from the supermarket in a box and 2x the price!), boxes of oil (nothing says I love you like a box of cooking oil!! ^__^) but it was easy to pick out sweets and beer. It felt so weird sitting down and filling out the forms, answering questions about the wrapping (we choose "eco" wrapping btw-"eco" meaning environmentally friendly). The box of beer cost about $35 and the sweets cost about $30. I'm thinking they will be happy!

Speaking of "eco".... as I stated above "eco" means "environmentally friendly". In the same vein as "eco" is "my bag". "My bag" (literally spoken in English by Japanese) means any bag you bring yourself to use instead of store bag. We happen to have (thanks to my friend Clarie) Whole Foods recycled bags. The other day the taxi driver saw us with all these blue Whole Foods bags and said "ahh....my bag". Of course he didn't mean "his" bag but it was confusing when I first started hearing the words "my bag". I had a student write about it a few years ago. The title of her story was "my bag boom". Honestly, I thought she was talking about one of her bags exploding!!! I had to have my boss explain it to me!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cute characters at the supermarket!

We went shopping today. Actually we go shopping almost everyday but today we also went to the supermarket as we had pretty much run out of food! In the fruit and veggie section we found some rather cute characters!

I'm thinking these kinds of things are only in Japan?!

We also went to get some more Hannari tofu cushions and we saw these Hannari Tofu ATMs!

How cute are those!!! And speaking of cute.....I took some pics of one of my little student's baby sister...I could eat her up she is so cute!! The whole time she is there she says "kore wa?" "kore wa?" as she points at things. It means "what's this?" In the first pic she is trying to make the peace sign!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It snowed.

It snowed today. That's not a big deal except when you remember (or perhaps just learn) that we don't have central heat in this part of Japan. It is -1 Celsius or 29 F outside right now. Think about that for a minute. That means it is about -1 in my apartment! Or rather in part of my apartment. We close the door that divides the bedroom, bathroom and front hall from the kitchen, office and living room. In the living room we turn on the air conditioner-in Japan the air conditioner is also a heater. In my office in my apartment I have a little heater behind my chair.

There is one very good thing about it being cold....

I just drew a bath. Taking a bath in winter in Japan is one of my favorite things. Sure it is "nipply" getting ready for the bath since it is -1!! But I open the window (love a cold breeze) and get in to the very hot water and honestly it is almost like an outside onsen or hotspring. My tub is very deep so I can get in up to my neck. I love it when it is breezy ....feels fab!!! I honestly can't imagine taking a bath in a warm bathroom in an "ankle and elbow" tub (this is how my Canadian friend describes typical North American tubs after trying mine here!).

But in the middle of the night I don't like getting out of bed to pee because it is FREEZING!!!!! Now, many Japanese have little heaters in the toilet room and in the bathroom (the "bath" room and "toilet" rooms are divided). I think that it helps prevent old people from dying of shock in the bathroom in winter....it is sad but true that it happens every winter!

So when my mom tells me it is cold in Canada...I totally agree (of course I agree cause it is damn cold) but then I tell her to stop complaining because she can't see her breath INSIDE her house!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aren't these gorgeous?!

I don't usually blog about things I buy on etsy but I think these are so fab that I had to blog about them!! I just had this wonderful etsy jeweler, María Goti Joyas, from Spain make me these:

I had been admiring a ring she had in her shop just like this but with coral and I decided to ask her if she could make it with a pearl and she did it!! She also made these earrings for me! I can't wait for them to arrive!! Merry Christmas to me! (Ok they are actually part of my Christmas present from my honey...I always get to pick out what I want since he has no clue when it comes to jewelry!)Oh and the pics are Maria's!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Tuesday Class

I love Tuesdays! I have some great classes. My first student is a doctor. She is amazing and we have great conversations!! Later I have a class of crazy fun girls ..Saki, Misaki, Kyoko, Nagisa and Ren-very very fun girls who loved posing for this pic!!

Other news-I'm in the process of trying to shop for my office as I have almost no furniture down there so I really need to get some. One room is mine-I have a computer and I use my mini trampoline down there, do yoga etc. I will also put in a sofa and use it as my craft room. I have been really going crazy with ideas-there are so many things I want to make!! I have even been thinking of names for the line of products I want to sell. I really want to do this full time but we can't swing it quite yet. I don't want to rush into it and make a mistake. Besides, I love my job and my crazy students!! ^__^

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas lights in Tenjin.

Yesterday my honey and I went into Tenjin, which is the heart of Fukuoka city. First, we had to go to a lawyer, so that she could sign a marriage affidavit (which I then have to send to the Canadian embassy, along with her statement saying she witnessed me signing the paper-they then sign it and send it back to me so I can get married-all foreigners in Japan have to do this).

After that was over we shopped and took a ton of pics. First we went to a kind of shopping mall called IMS-it was decorated for Christmas!! This is a round shopping mall so most of the decorations can be seen from every part of the mall!

After I took the pictures of the Christmas decorations, we went upstairs to the atrium (floors 12-14) for lunch and took more pictures because it is so beautiful!

We ate fab Indian food!! Then we went walking around to our favorite places and of course, many places were decorated for Christmas. This Iwataya store had giant Christmas cakes in front.

The front of this shop was beautiful in pink.

This shop had many decorations for sale. In one of the displays is a reindeer with a note from Santa, in Japanese, not to feed the deer!

My honey put these pics up on another site and someone wrote that they hope to spend Christmas in Japan one day and I just have to respond to that comment. My first thought....don't. Yes, the decorations are pretty but it isn't Christmas like we in Canada or the States are used to. I can't speak for all North Americans but Christmas is more than 1 day which Japanese kind of think it is. There is a build up in Canada....decorating the outside of your house, decorating the tree with your family (and if you are like my family...decorating your whole house including bathrooms! ^__^). There are cookies to bake, cookie exchanges to go to. Kid's Christmas plays and parties. Adult parties.Shopping for gifts in stores that are decked out and with Christmas music playing. Wrapping the gifts. Hiding the gifts so little ones don't find them. Advent calendars to open....counting down to the big day! Going to the mall to have your children's picture taken with Santa. Christmas cards to send. Laying out the stockings for Santa to fill. Leaving carrots and sugar cubes for the reindeer and cookies and milk for dad...I mean Santa ^__^. If you are religious then you have other activities to signify that Christmas is coming. Then there is the big day itself with the family gathering, presents to open, turkey to eat, eggnog to drink etc. There is such a build up to it and it just isn't here in Japan. I totally understand why-it isn't their culture and that is ok. I have to say when I do go home for Christmas I appreciate it all that much more!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A week in pictures

I took lots of pictures this week so I thought I would share.

The first picture I took at my local shopping mall. It shows a typical Japanese Christmas cake-covered in "nama" or whipping cream and strawberries...red and white!
These next 2 pictures I took while shopping on Friday. Next year is the year of the ox/cow so there are cows everywhere!

While shopping we stopped for a drink at starbucks. They have 3 holiday flavors now...gingerbread,dark cherry mocha and creme brulee. This is a pic of creme brulee. Sadly-no eggnog lattes in Japan.

At one mall they had lots of these pretty trees up.

At another shop I took a pic of these tofu plushes....sadly the blue ones only come in the big size!

A picture of a great "kaiten" (round about) sushi shop....everything is 105 yen! I love the salmon with onions and mayo on top!

And I was so thrilled when I found this game to sell on our yahoo site.....OMG it is so cute! It is both a game and a great way to practice using chopsticks. It comes with a bowl, a pair of chopsticks and little "chicks" in different shapes that you try to pick up. I LOVE this!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's 3am so of course I'm making lip balm!

It is 3 am here in Japan and I just made some lip balm, my famous (ok...famous with friends and some family members) green Japanese beauty mask and some bath salts. You might ask why I would do this at 3 am and my answer would be .....because I've been getting antsy.

See....I've been working hard on my 2 businesses and at my job and I've had little time for other things. Somedays I really am a chicken running around without a head (side note....had fun explaining that one to my hubby....now he just looks at me when I'm stressed and says "chicken....no head?"LOL) . Reading? What's that? Making stuff...hmmm....one day I kept thinking but then.....

I've been feeling just off.....antsy....energy to burn and walking and bouncing on my mini trampoline hasn't helped. I have always made things....but lately it has all gone to the wayside. I make lists of things I would like to make and then never get around to doing it. And perhaps I have put too much of an emphasis on making things to sell and so I just haven't made anything. But tonight (or rather early in the morning) I got the urge to make these items and I have to say it feels damn good!! I also can feel that energy has been toned down a bit. I guess what I have learned is that I need to make time to make things....even if I never sell them because it is just a part of me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One Match Can Start A Fire!

So, the other night my honey and I went for a walk. On our way home I could suddenly hear the sound of sticks being banged together and a voice on a loud speaker and then people repeating what he said. It was weird as I have never seen this in 10 years. These kids and a few adults were walking around yelling "Hinoyoujin matchi ippon kazi no motto" which means "one match can start a fire".Okaayyy.....what? Why, I asked him, do they go around banging sticks together and yelling this? He said it is a community service to warn the neighbors to be careful because the winter air is dry so if a fire starts it will burn faster than normal. Then he told me that they repeat the above sentence 3 x and then they say " okasan gasu no mottosen kiotsukete. Otosan netabako yamemashou" which means "mother check the gas (many houses still use kerosene heaters). Father don't fall asleep smoking". This is beyond odd because in this country...they may go around yelling to be careful about matches and checking gas but no one has a smoke alarm in their house!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Feeling a bit blah!

I'm feeling a bit blah. It's rainy outside....has been for 2 days. I normally like the rain but this has been kinda weird....not at all like November. I've still been wearing sandals! So when it feels rainy it just feels humid not at all the way I like my rainy days. Not sure any of that made sense...maybe I'm rambling! Ok...to cheer me up (and probably you after reading that) I will put up this picture I took earlier in the week-this garden is across from my apartment building.

Oh and one day when I came home I found a lovely envelope addressed to me and inside was this lovely card that my customer made for me-I've never received a card from a customer before!!

Hmmm.....what else? Oh the other day I received my fall copy of "The Portico" which is my University's (University of Guelph) alumni magazine. It was so cool to see all the research my university does and inside I found a picture of a prof that I once gave a presentation with at a national conference . Anyway, I took the magazine to work to show a couple of students and I talked about it with my boss. I asked him if Japanese universities do this and he said no and then said it probably is because people don't donate money to universities. I was surprised. Then he said most Japanese don't donate money to charities. I was less shocked by this but I never knew why they didn't. He said it is because it doesn't help them with taxes. So if they donate money they don't get a receipt for tax time. Wow! I swear I learn new things all the time even though I have been here 10 years!!


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