Japan Time

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Santa AND his samurai...and me!

Discovered this on Louana's blog...read the lyrics and the meaning behind them here.

And now, a word from our sponsor (me):

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The past few days...in pictures.

One of my students was in a concert with her university's band in Kusanagi (about six train stops away) on Sunday, so myself and three of co-workers went out to support her:

The University of Shizuoka


Yusaku, Kengo, and me

After the concert, me, Hiromi, and Kengo stopped in Shizuoka so I could buy some Hershey's Kisses (for more peanut butter cookies with Hershey's Kisses on top), grab some dinner at a great Indian restaurant that Jen took me to when I first got to Fujieda, and enjoy some coffee at Tully's. In Shizuoka, we stumbled across a beautiful hotel with an awesome backyard for weddings. It had a small pond, a bridge, and some little walkways and such:

Then, yesterday, I had some fun with trains around Fuijeda:

And today was the emperor's birthday, so I had the day off of work. My school's manager hosted a nabe party:

(Winnie the Pooh fish paste - thankfully, this wasn't included in the nabe)
(yes, I am rocking the peace sign in this photo - that's fine)
My toaster oven cookies were a hit - I also made sugar cookies this time:

AND when I got home tonight, I made banana bread:
I seriously might forgo becoming a photojournalist to pursue a career in toaster oven baking. I think I have found my true calling.
And, as always, see more photos here, at my fantabulous Flickr page.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Some photos from my recent bike ride around Fujieda...

Tomorrow I am going to Kusanagi with some fellow teachers to see one of my students play the clarinet in her university's Christmas concert. More photos to come!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm just saying...

You know you've been living in Japan for a while when you cook your bacon with chopsticks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"dreaming of the osaka sun..."

Today I got invited to a Coldplay concert near Tokyo in February with some fellow teachers. I don't actively listen to Coldplay, but going to concerts is always a good time, especially ones close to Tokyo, so I said yes.
I checked out their website tonight and watched "Lovers in Japan" - the video is sweet:

I am definitely looking forward to the concert and an evening out with some of my cool co-workers!

Monday, December 8, 2008

"and when all's been said and done, it's the things that are given not won..."

General timeline of the past two days:
-took the train to Shimizu at about 10:30 am (saw Fuji-san for the first time on the train!) - had to change trains in Shizuoka, got confused, called Michiko and got everything straightened out,
-arrived in Shimizu at about 11:35 am, went to Michiko's friends' house for a very international Christmas dinner, complete with sushi, mashed potatoes, pumpkin soup, edamame, KFC chicken and McDonalds french fries,
-enjoyed some conversation with Japanese and foreign guests,
-took the train from Shimizu back to Shizuoka at about 5:15 pm with a new friend from the party, Kim. Met up with Christina, a fellow teacher, at the station and took the train to Hamamatsu,
-arrived in Hamamatsu at about 6:45 pm, met up with a group of other teachers and foreigners, and headed to a Western (literally - waitresses complete with cowboy hats) restaurant for a few hours,
-then off to karaoke...the group of us who had to catch the train to get home decided to take the 1:19 am express so we could enjoy as much karaoke fun as possible,
-caught the train and got off at Shizuoka with Christina (since it was an express train, it didn't make a stop in Fujieda),
-stayed the night at Christina's,
-took the train this afternoon at about 12:35 pm back to Fujieda (P.S. I had to do this without my contacts in, half-blind...we bought Japanese contact solution at a convenience store since I didn't have mine with me, and when I tried to put my contacts in this morning, they were all cloudy and weird...don't know what that was about),
-went for a bike ride and took some photos around Fujieda:

and now, after a long (but very fun) weekend, it's time to go to bed and get back to work tomorrow!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A prime example of how much importance the Japanese put on working together.

I am watching Japanese group three-legged racing on TV right now:

Only in Japan, a country that is rooted in the importance of being part of a group, would this ever work.

In other news, I did karaoke on Thursday night! It was so fun. Photos will be posted on Flickr soon.
I am going to two parties tomorrow - a Christmas party in Shimizu and a going away party for another teacher in Hamamatsu. It should be a good time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I am, in fact, a cookie baking genius. Or I just have too much time on my hands. Either way...

It's Christmas time in Japan. The decorations are out, the stores are playing Christmas music, there are Christmas parties happening. And so, just like every year at this time, I feel the need to bake Christmas cookies. Namely, peanut butter cookies with Hershey's Kisses on top. My mom and I used to make them when I was a kid and it just wouldn't be Christmas without them.
Of course, with only a toaster oven, a microwave, and a burner in my apartment, the idea of baking cookies was a little daunting at first. But, with the translating help of my manager today on my break, I bought the necessary ingredients to make those peanut butter concoctions of goodness.

(crazy Japanese ingredients)

I didn't have any measuring cups, so I had to eyeball all the cups and teaspoons.

Here's the thing about my toaster oven. It doesn't even have temperature settings like American toaster ovens. There's just one temperature - 860 watts, whatever that means.

Since the whole thing is heated by a coil in the middle of the oven, the cookies were coming out a little...uneven, to say the least. So, I devised a plan to put the two rows of cookies on separate sheets of tinfoil. When one side was getting too done, I took them out, turned the tinfoil around so the not-done sides were facing the center, and put them back in the oven.

Okay, so even with the whole tinfoil turning stroke of genius, they definitely still aren't the best peanut butter cookies with Hershey's Kisses on top that I've ever made. But, I made them in a toaster oven, for goodness sake. Cut me some slack.