Friday, December 31, 2010
In Japan December 31st until January 3rd are ...basically holidays. That means all kinds of weird TV shows. First, the movies Rocky and Rambo are shown on many channels and for many days. All of them. In a row. So, if you don't like either movie series you better change the channels. Then there is the bizarre "24" TV challenge (yep...Jack Bower). Fox TV here in Japan, will be showing all 7 seasons of "24" in a row so for 1 week...that channel is all about Jack!
Now...for Japanese TV shows. Here is an example of how crazy Japanese TV shows are. I'm not making this up. I just watched this.
Imagine a cold winter day (ok..no snow but still cold) in a big high school field. Imagine there are many men all in black suits and black trench coats standing in front of a big stage. On the stage imagine a chubby man dressed in a woman's military uniform (with wig, red lipstick, blush. pantyhose, heels etc). Then next to him on the stage is some white foreigner (we think he is from Holland) dressed in a military uniform with a huge crazy mustache. Now...the foreign guy is yelling in the microphone (in some language) at the men in black. He is freaking out and the guys in black are trying not to laugh. But of course they do because it is stupid. Suddenly the foreign guy says in English "out" and points at the man who is laughing. Then out of nowhere, a guy comes running out on to the field with a big black tube in his hand and hits the guy who was laughing on the butt. This keeps up for like 5 minutes- the crazy foreign guy yelling and pointing at the laughing men and then the laughing men getting their butts hit with some kind of rubber tube. The point? Try not to laugh while the crazy guy yells. Sadly, my husband is laughing his head off. I truly do not get Japanese TV...especially the New Year's TV shows. Wish me luck as I have another 3.5 days of this!! At least for some of the time we will be watching K-1 which is a combined fight of karate, kick boxing among other things. I actually like this. You can find out more about K-1, if you want ... here.
Happy New Year everyone!
Friday, December 24, 2010
So...Merry Christmas everyone! It is 1:40 am here on Christmas morning! Last Saturday I worked as we had the Christmas party for the children. Here are some pics! This year their craft project was decorating blank pencil cases. They used fabric markers and glittery fabric paint. You will see some very cute ones!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Canal City, a shopping mall in Fukuoka (near us), is all lit up for Christmas. Click on the link and it will take you to a panoramic view...it is stunning! You can use click on the buttons to see the top or bottom or either side of the view. Enjoy!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Then we were served some sashimi.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
So today I woke up and while drinking coffee I browsed the Etsy forums. Thank God I did. Another seller in Japan had posted something about Japan post not shipping any package over 453 grams (1 lb) via airmail to the States starting tomorrow. WHAT?!
We called Japan post and the lady I spoke with said that the American government asked the airline companies not to carry any package that weighed more than 1 lb. That means all packages that weigh more than 1 lb must be sent via seamail. Now I asked the lady if she wasn't mistaken because all I could see on the Internet was that only ink cartridges weighing more than 453 grams were banned due to the terror plot. She said no...ALL packages.
So..I quickly rushed down to the office to pack up a few packages that I knew were over that weight. Then we rushed to the post office to mail them off. The guy at the post office said the same thing to me.
So...I then went on the etsy forums again...funny...only Japanese sellers were complaining of this. Some sellers from Canada and the UK said that only the ink cartridges weighing more than 453 grams were banned. Hmmm....
Now...Japan post is a big company and I usually assume that big companies have people who speak different languages but I'm guessing that somewhere along the line something was drastically misunderstood because there is a huge difference between 1 kind of package being banned and ALL packages being banned!!!
So....at this point it looks like Japan Post just decided that ALL packages going to the United States that weigh more than 453 grams are banned. WTH???
To all our American customers:
From November 16th, any orders weighing over 453 grams (1 lb) will not be able to be shipped airmail, EMS or SAL. If possible, we will try to divide the order into 2 (perhaps more) to send them airmail but if isn't possible we will be in touch and discuss sending it seamail or refunding your money. We are so sorry about this but there is nothing we can do. We will update this as we find out more. Hopefully it won't last long. And ... you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be phoning and complaining!
So...in this case a sponge will not be enough to say sorry for all the inconvenience this is causing us and our customers!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Our post office is a wonderful friendly little (really little) place. The people are very nice and I realize that I'm quite lucky with how few problems we have ( I'm especially grateful after reading people's posts on the Etsy forums about post office problems). Of course no place/no person is perfect so the occasional problem happens but how it is dealt with, I believe, is very different. For example, there are times when they might forget to give us our copies of the EMS forms. They have someone drive them over to us and they give us a towel (very handy for cleaning) to say sorry. The other day, my hubby went without me and it took an unusual amount of time. They apologized and gave him another towel but then the next time we went in, the boss apologized again and gave us these- a sponge, a cell phone strap (charm) and a pack of band aids.
You might notice that they say "JP BANK" because in Japan, post offices are also banks. How cool is this? Most of the items are useful so that is even better! I almost forgot...one time we got a box of plastic wrap...again with the logo.
We also regularly get "thank you" gifts. I have received pens (so many that I probably never have to buy one again), small tissue packs, hair scrunchies, chopsticks, special envelopes, candy and other things.
So...am I right in thinking that is a "only in Japan" thing? And am I the only one that finds it a bit ...hmmm...odd (but still cool)...that Japan post has all these items made up with it's logo?
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Well...now he is my student! He is 3 and is in a "mommy and me" class. We sing ABC and other songs. He is learning colors, numbers etc. His pronunciation is soooo cute-"fish" is "pish" and my name is "sopia". He belts out the ABC song and apparently sings it all the time which his sister (the girl in the above photo) complains to me about! Anyway...here is his latest picture. He is still a cutie!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
It's funny -I never started this part of my business thinking about being successful...rather I've always been creative and I thought I might as well try to sell them since I'm already on Etsy for supplies and vintage...it just made sense. It used to be that Sundays I would go downstairs to the office where I have my "studio" and I would make some rings (pendants etc) while watching Suze Orman on itunes or listening to Harry Potter (book on CD-Jim Dale's version) on my ipod etc-it was fun and relaxing. But now I'm making them 4 days a week....3 nights after work and on Sundays. That of course doesn't include taking pictures, listing them or preparing orders for our assistant (she does all the packing for our 5 on line shops-thank God for her).
I'm so happy to make and sell rings!! I'm not complaining at all! I just have to try to balance it all- 5 online shops, a full time job, all the crazy daily accounting that has to be done here in Japan and I'm trying to have some kind of personal life-this is proving to be stressful at times. I can't even imagine what it would be like if we had kids!
Anyway, now you know why I haven't been blogging as much as before.
In other news....
Here is something I thought would interest you. From now until February 19th in Nagoya you can take this "oden" train. It's once a day and lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes. It costs 3,500 yen ($43 USD at today's exchange rate) and that includes beer "nomihodai" (all you can drink beer), a bowl of oden (boiled food you eat with spicy mustard-very popular in winter and quite yummy), some snacks and 1 glass of sake. There is also karaoke. This local train company started this in 2007 as way to attract more customers in the winter season (apparently they have a summer version as well).
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
So...Friday night came. I left work and went home to eat a delicious meal with my hubby but half way through, my throat started to hurt. It was literally like someone flipped a switch because I didn't have that "hmmm...think I'm getting a cold" feeling...just suddenly I had a sore throat. So...Saturday and Sunday I was feeling pretty crappy...runny nose, sore throat and I had a hard time sleeping. Monday I started to feel a bit better and I figured I could meet my friend as planned on Wednesday.
I was right. I went to Hakata (the big city about 40 minutes from where I live) and met my friend. We went to Starbucks (twice-it's a treat since there isn't one in my area) and lunch and did a bit of shopping. I had a great time (thanks Phee). So we parted around 5:30 and I went to the station, bought my ticket and then realized there was a huge group of people standing around. I also realized that my route wasn't on the announcement board giving the time and platform to catch my train. It was blank. This was not good. I asked the train station guy but he couldn't tell me much at that time just that I couldn't take the train and he didn't know when I could. Ok...problem. I called my husband who was at home and asked him to find out what was going. Turns out that a bridge near my area had a crack and they didn't expect to even begin train service again for 3 hours. Now at this time my hubby and I discussed me trying to take the bus but this would have been very difficult as I have never taken a bus from the city to my area. I can't read Japanese and was a bit worried about getting lost. So...my hubby called his family and it turned out that his brother was in the city as he works there and there was a chance that we could meet and figure out what to do together. So...I found him in the crowd and he suggested we try to take the bus. Fine but it was a good thing that I hadn't attempted this on my own as it turns out that the big bus center that is next to the station was not the one we needed. We took the subway into Tenjin (another part of the city) to leave from the Tenjin Bus center but once we got there we realized that we weren't the only ones with that idea in mind. The line was very very long. It moved very slowly and we realized that it would have been hours before we reached home. So....we decided to take a taxi. It cost us about $80 so about $40 each. We had the taxi driver drop us off at my in-laws house (where my brother-in-law still lives) and he then drove me home. Needless to say I was tired but very grateful that my brother-in-law had been there. When I got home the TV announced that the trains probably wouldn't start again until about 11pm so I would have been stuck in the city for about 5 or more hours.
And to top off all that has already happened we found out on the news that a typhoon is headed this way....should arrive by Friday. Perfect.
What a vacation!! Sure hope my boss is having a better time in Italy!!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I had recorded the show on my cell phone (as we were watching it on our TV) as I was hoping to be able to upload some of it here but sadly, we can't do that so instead we found a great example on youtube.
Are there such small restaurants where you live?
Monday, October 4, 2010
And fall is actually here!! The weather is much better....nights are cool and I feel alive again! Friday is my 40th birthday and I asked for the day off as I just don't want to work that day. Thankfully my boss is fabulous and he said yes so my honey and I will go into town and eat at my favorite yakiniku restaurant (you grill the meat at your table).
I don't have much else to blog about at this moment so I will leave you with a crazy Japanese commercial. Apparently the idea behind this commercial is finding the bra that fits you right....when it first shows the bra you can see how it doesn't fit well and then they show a well fitting bra. Seriously... a strange bra commercial!!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
It takes about 2 weeks as they are made for you in your requested size. I can't wait to wear this! I have so many favorite quotes and words I love that it will be hard to choose which I will write down first! This will be a conversation starter!!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Hubby and I had started walking again at night but the last few days we haven't as the humidity is so high that I start feeling sick so will hold off until it cools down. I sure hope where ever you are that nature is treating you better!
Friday, August 27, 2010
The first is a very very cool sake cup! It can be found at mikioceramics. The interior glaze is food safe so it can be used!
Next we have this very cute print by threecatsgraphics.
It is super hot here in Japan right now....beer sales are soaring! Sapporo is a very famous brand of beer. This is a very cool recycled notebook by ivylanedesigns.
Pocket mirrors are very handy to have and this one is also cute! Robots drinking sake under a cherry blossom tree eating sushi-what's not to love! Check it out at botodesigns
One can't talk about sake without including sake sets! This is a very cool set by Hodakapottery. I love the colors!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
When I first came to Japan 12 years ago:
* I didn't have culture shock but I did have price shock! I remember going to a kind of cafe and a small (think ornate British style tea cup) cup of mint tea was $4.5. I almost walked out.
* My body was confused. I came in July from Vancouver (almost no humidity) and the humidity was so heavy here that everyday my body was expecting rain followed by a break in the humidity. It never came. It also gets dark here in the summer by 7:30 so I kept looking at the clock expecting it to be much later than it really was.
* I couldn't wear makeup. It was so hot and humid until November that the thought of putting anything on my face made me cringe and besides, I would have just wiped it off as I was using a cloth every few minutes to wipe the sweat off my face (if you come to Japan in the summer you will see that everyone carries around at least a small handkerchief though some carry towels). And by "wipe" I don't mean the dainty style of dabbing my face like Japanese women do. I mean I was taking off my glasses (thank God I wear contacts now) and wiping my face as if I just got out of a shower or like the "ojisan" (old men) do.
* I had never seen a cockroach in any place I had ever lived in and therefore the thought of having to deal with/kill them was so foreign to me. Now, I'm a pro at killing them and have come to realize that it has nothing to do with a dirty house but rather it has to do with living in Japan (though thankfully I only have to deal with them 2-3 times a year).
* My first winter here was a bit shocking. Where I live, it doesn't snow-kind of like Vancouver. It does get cold (sometimes it gets below 0) but there are vegetables growing, flowers blooming etc. What was shocking was that I was fine outside with nothing more than a sweater (I am Canadian!) but inside my house I was freezing!! I could never get warm enough. Cold wind blows in easily through closed windows! And there is no central heat so you have a choice of contraptions to keep warm but for the first few years it wasn't enough. Now, I'm not only used to it I love it and find it too warm in Canadian houses especially while sleeping.
* I couldn't drink cold green tea (the real stuff...not flavored or sweetened "green tea" products). It was way too bitter for me. Now, it is my favorite drink.
* I had hard time dealing with getting paid only once a month. In Vancouver I had 2 jobs so I was paid every week since they had different pay schedules. I was in shock and had a really hard time learning to budget my money.
* I was really homesick at Christmas time since not only was I far away from my family and traditions but really...Christmas in Japan is....well...not the same (I know I know....not a real shocker). Now, I love NOT having Christmas. Honestly, I never thought I would be someone to say that but it is true. I'm glad I don't have all the stuff taking up space in my home, no pressure to shop ( I do send a few things home but it isn't the same), no overspending etc.
* I was shocked at how small the portions are in Japan. I will never forget my first meal here with my boss. We ordered and after it came I looked around and thought the waitress would be bringing more...nope! Now, the opposite is true. I am SHOCKED at the how big the food is in Canada!
* I couldn't eat plain white rice-no flavor. Now, I love it. I couldn't taste the difference between 100 yen salmon sushi and 500 yen salmon sushi ($1 and $5). Now I really can and I'm not so fond of the 100 yen salmon sushi anymore.
* I was shocked at how quickly Japanese homes get dusty. You could dust here every day and still not keep up with it. I am thinking it must be the way houses are built or what they are built with. I remember 3 older friends (ladies in their 50's) went to my mother's house and one morning they got up early to clean her house for her but they couldn't find any dust....they thought she had just cleaned but mom said she cleaned before they got there- so about 5 days before. They were shocked.
* I would stare out my school's windows at the rice fields in dismay and wonder what the hell I was doing here. Now, I LOVE rice fields. Walking by one as the wind blows through it is so amazing!
* I missed so many foods from home but when I go back and try them I can't believe they were my favorites as my tastes have changed so much.
* I couldn't imagine that I would start to forget English. I remember listening to the teacher I was replacing explain how to use the washing machine. She was talking and then she was struggling to find the right words so she used her hands in a sweeping motion while saying "now we will make the water go away". In other words, turn this dial to drain the water. She was Canadian. I was shocked. Now....I'm not shocked. Now I struggle sometimes and the dictionary is my best friend. But living in a foreign country for 12 years and teaching "This is a pen." over and over....chances are ...you will lose some English!
I still can't believe I have been here this long. I came when I was 27 and I will be 40 in October. I never could have imagined this life but I love it!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Yeah...you read that right! A very old and famous soy sauce and miso company invented a soy sauce based ice cream sauce! It is meant to be used only on vanilla flavored ice cream and a few other desserts. Apparently, it tastes like caramel!
Here is the man who invented it. He looks pretty happy eating it!
Here he is pouring it on Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream.
Here he is eating it on "kinako mochi" (rice cakes with powered soy beans).
I think I will pass on this. Would you try it?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
And I just saw this picture today online. It is so amazing I thought I would share. There was a "matsuri" or festival in Tokyo and of course, there were "hannabi" (fireworks) which literally translated means "fire flower"! You can also see the new (and not yet finished) Tokyo tower which is actually called "sky tree".
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This picture is pretty easy to understand....don't use cell phones, don't be noisy, don't listen to loud music, don't "fly" on to the train etc. But the don't eat...as this is a sign for the subway I am assuming it is only for the subway as people eat on the train all the time but I'm also going to guess that people probably eat on the subway as well. Now...you might be wondering why there is a a big "X" across a lipstick and compact. Perhaps you are thinking...really, no powdering your nose or touching up your lipstick? That isn't what it is about....I have done both. The reality in Japan is that many teens and young women put on ALL their makeup on the train. I mean, they pull out monster sized makeup bags, HUGE mirrors and start with foundation and go from there-they will even spray on their perfume! It really is unbelievable and I really don't get it. Still...it happens all the time.