Tuesday, May 25, 2010

American stuff!!

I've found a few stores around that sell imported goods from North America. It's heavenly. One store in the mall here (Aeon) is called Kaldi Coffee Farm and it has a lot of imported wine and food. It's all usually pretty expensive but totally worth it, generally. I bought three boxes of Kraft box Mac n Cheese at $3 a pop, two cans of root beer for only $1 each, Skippy peanut butter for $4, a bottle of Bertolli alfredo sauce for $7 and Al a pack of Big Red gum for $2. A few other things but I don't really remember...they sell Old El Paso taco kits which is really nice because Mexican food is literally non-existant here. I've also found a few places that sell cleaners like Scrubbing Bubbles, Downy, Chlorox and Shout. Obviously they sell these things in Japan but I can't read the labels so I never know what to buy. Finding these things was a Godsend and it's amazing the little things that make me ridiculously happy =)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Stop lights here are the longest on the face of the planet.

Japanese drivers are the worst in the history of life.

It takes, on average, at least 30 minutes to drive 10 kilometers (about 6 miles).

End of story.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Karaoke, Driving and Pastry Shops

Well, I've survived driving in Japan. It's not as hard driving on the opposite side of everything as one might imagine. I'm quite okay if I'm on a highway or a road with a dividing line. I don't really feel the need to have to think too much about which lane I should be in. But once I get on the back residential roads where there are no dividing lines forget it, I will always be on the right-hand side, guaranteed. A lot of people have tried to pull into that road and nearly ran into me because I'm not on the correct side...oops :) If you (person reading this blog) has seen my facebook pictures you have seen the little white midget car that was going to be ours. But it's not bahahahaha!!!! Thank God. We actually are now the proud "owners" of a Daihatsu Cuore...a 2000 I believe. It's the cutest little car and it half reminds me of a Mini Cooper. Everyone says we have the nicest car at GEM School which is nice thought because it IS pretty nice I find. The cars around here are sooooo small. The other day I was driving alone and actually laughed out loud at the thought of my dad's giant truck trying to get around here. The roads are narrow and the parking spaces are miniscule. I had a nice chuckle. Actually, the cars themselves are a strange breed. There are definitely a lot of names and makes that I've never seen before like the Toyota Noah minivan, for example. Also, a lot of the Lexus cars I've seen don't have the "Lexus" symbol on them. It's the exact Lexus vehicle but with a Toyota symbol on it because Toyota owns Lexus.

So it's become clear that the only fast food that is around Japan (Or at least just around Kagawa) is McDonald's. No BK, no Taco Bell, no Wendy's...McDonald's only. So normally I'd think "Wow! Amazing! I'm going to lose so much weight from not having fast food around to eat!" WRONG. In place of the BKs and Taco Bells are the most delicious pastry shops in the entire world. Just bakery after bakery with scrumptious, evil smells wafting through the air to lure in the passerbys. My favorite one is in the Shotengai in Takamatsu. I make a point to stop every time I'm in there to buy a loaf of bread and some sort of sweet. My favorite thing is a round shaped sweet bread with a dip/hole thing in the middle. In that middle dip is cream cheese, custard and strawberries and blueberries. Delish. I also just discovered that there is one of these destructive pastry shops ON MY BLOCK. Bad, bad, bad.

We went Karaokeing!!! Karaoke isn't that big of a deal in the USA but considering this is the land where it was founded it's amazing and sooo much fun. This isn't like Karaoke back home where you pick a song from a book, tell the karaoke guy, get two mikes that are hooked up to an amp and read off of a tv screen. When you get to the Karaoke bar/club wherever you go they give you a little portable screen that you take to your table to pick songs from. You pick whatever, whenever and then it will come up on the screens in the order they were picked by you or the other people around who have the little screens. The place I went to was one big room but I guess most of them are a bunch of separate cubicles that you and a group of people go into and sing. Al and I had a very nice duet of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and Al did a stellar redition of Kanye's "Run This Town"...rapping and all. I have a video. He won't let me put it on Youtube.

Our phone number here at the house is 1-304-581-4573. Anyone can call, it's a WV phone number just watch the hours that you call since we're 13 hours ahead.


Thursday, May 6, 2010


Scratch what I said about the air condtioner. It's on and on full blast. It got hot quickly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just some randoms

It's now in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, just past midnight actually, and it's the first night that we've had to keep our balcony door open because it's too hot in the apartment. It wasn't unbearably hot today, just in the 70s, but the sun is baking the building I guess so it's definitely too hot to sleep. We have an air conditioner! YESSSSSS. FINALLY!!! I've missed having an air conditioner the past few years in Canada. We haven't turned it on or anything, the night air will suffice for the next month or so I think. I guess this part of Japan has oppressive heat and humidity in the summer months...awesome. June is, what I hear, the rainy season, so that's not going to be fun walking/biking in to and from work/the train station/the grocery store. It's really peaceful up here on the fourth floor looking out over our little town at night. I can barely hear the cars on the highway over by the mountains, it's nice.

The past few days Al and I have been staying in Saijo with Bret and Angelina at their place. They live a good two or three hours driving away and about an hour and a half by train so our train tickets were ¥5,800 (like $60) per person each way. Expensive trip but we had so much fun and met a lot of new people. I met a Japanese girl, Remi, who lives in a town close to Saijo called Niihama, Derry from Ireland, TJ and Dave from Florida, a few other Canadians, a dude from New Jersey...and a few more than I don't remember names or where they're from. There is a beautiful wide, shallow river running through the town and people go and set up tents and picnic stuff on the bank and just hang out all day and night. I'm really glad we spent the money and went.

Japan Facts of the day:

Health insurance is amazing here. The taxes are very low and yet they have universal health care...someone told me they can provide such good care to the people because the country has little or no national debt whatsoever. Amazing. When we went to sign up for our Gaijin Cards (next topic) we also signed up for our health insurance cards and Al asked when our insurance will go into effect. The response? "As soon as you landed in Japan!" As soon as a foreigner lands in America with or without a visa he's screwed health insurance wise. Makes me feel very lucky to be living here.

Gaijin...definition is "outside person". It's what the Japanese call us white folk. I guess they can use it for all foreigners but from what I know/read/heard it's generally just the westerners they use it for. There is also a thing called the "gaijin smash". Urban Dictionary defines it best: Gaijin Smash: 1. A technique used by foreigners, or gaijin, in Japan in order to impose their will on the Japanese 2. To art of getting away with douchebaggery in Japan and being an ignorant obnoxious foreigner by simply pulling a gaijin smash on their Japanese asses. Example: "I was supposed to give up my priority seat on the train to that old bag but I totally gaijin smashed her ass and acted like I didn't know what the fuck she was bitching at me about". (Thank you Urban Dictionary for being such a help) As of right now I really don't know what's going on most of the time so I look all confused all the time, but it is a pretty effective technique of getting things done. I've seen it in action.

Beds: So I guess Al and I are pretty lucky to even have one in our apartment. Most, or all of the rest maybe, of the teachers don't even have one. Generally the Japanese people sleep on the floor. Imagine that "mattress" on a futon. The have that thing on the floor...that's it. Since we took Andrew and Christa's old apartment we have their bed that I guess they had to fight to get in the first place. I guess the modern Japenese people have beds but most of them sleep on the floor. Sounds wickedly uncomfortable.

Highways: So the highway (or interstate-like thing) here you have to pay to drive on. It's always depending on how far you drive as to how much it is...kind of like one giant toll road all over the country. So if one needs to get somewhere in a hurry instead of taking the normal route through town you're going to be paying for it. I think to take it to the next town it's like 6 bucks or something. It's not very crowded ;)

That's all I have for today...BTW I miss my cat. I'm dying without him.