Thursday, 25 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon Oops

I got a call from elementary this morning about my classes today. I kind of pretended to know what was being said. I know something is happening... I think it was the English room is booked out. Or it could be swine flu, aliens... school trips, ill teachers... I have no idea. I'm off to find out!
Monday, 22 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon I like sportsu. They make me happy.

The victorious Kochi Football Club of 2009

Good evening world. I just ate some deliciously greasy gyoza (dumplings) and I'm trying to waste time before I take a shower. I would take one now but it has got so unbearably humid recently that I want to wait as close to bed as possible. I had almost fooled myself into believing that the summer weather here wasn't as bad as I remembered but I was wrong WRONG!

Anyway, I thought I'd write a little bit about the two weekends of sport I had recently. First up was the mightly Kochi Football Club travelling in bright yellow to the swine flu infested island of Awaji (between Shikoku and Osaka). Once again we had a strong number of people who were up for a party and "don't know much about soccer". We all got drunker than planned on the Friday night but this didn't damage us too much for the three games on Saturday. We had a rough draw as we had to play two proper amateur teams back to back. First up was a team from Nagano or Nagoya called Shonai I think. We played so much better than I imagined and only lost 2-0 despite having various chances - Noah missed a sitter and I got one the wrong side of the post. Next up was the always champions of Real Osaka who beat as comfortably (6-0?) despite us playing our best football in the first half. We should have destroyed Wakayama in our last game but we seemed to fluff a few chances. I won us a penalty after the keeper took me out of the game and their defender decided to lie on top of the ball. I converted the penalty like I did last year... with the grace of a seagull diving into a trawler to steal a fish. They got a penalty in the last minute and the 1-1 draw meant we had a tougher game the next day.

That night we all got absolutely hammered in our hotel and then went to a snack bar where I drank Chinese 'fire water'. It is the worst drink I have ever tasted. The next day both the men and women's teams kicked off hungover or still drunk. I was a bit gone myself but sobered up and was determined to score again. I was running through on goal at full speed and about to smash the ball when this Japanese lad came in and got the ball off me at the last second. This resulted in me absolutely smashing my right leg off him and made me limp the rest of the week. I actually got the "kick shitted out of me" in every game.. especially by other Scottish people the gits. We lost the last game 3-1. We played well and I showed a few glimpses of my former glory but about a decade of casual playing and binge drinking has destroyed me.

We watched the women's team for the rest of the afternoon before heading back on the road. As usual... they always perform better than but still came last. The keeper was an American girl called Claudia and she was excellent. I think she even played on with a broken rib. My favourite bits of their games was my friend Michelle running into and flooring this tiny Japanese girl who didn't move out the way. Also, Naomi scored a belter of a goal and we all ran on the pitch and banged out drums to the KFC song. It was a good weekend full of good banter. Our half time shows involved music, dancing, song and chants that made us stand out even more than the neon shirts. Right... I've written too much.

The next weekend was the touch rugby tournament. I didn't have us much fun playing because my knee hurt and I was rubbish. However, we were actually pretty good and won the lower of 3 groups. Considering the overall winners were a selection of Kiwis from all over Japan we did pretty well. I got really drunk that night and became unusually sociable. The Mauris aren't actually that nice. I thought they'd be all friendly and that but instead I was probably lucky not to get punched when I was at their house party. Some Japanese woman started hitting and shouting at me too. Also, I met some Scottish people that I hadn't seen for 2 years so that was fun. We won a mug.

We had to wear masks to protect ourselves from the 'grumpyarseitis' of the other teams.

2009 Tokushima Touch Rugby Champions (3rd division)
Thursday, 18 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon 40 minutes left of Thursday

This last hour has been utter hell in the office. I'm exhausted and hate all the Japanese people here with their stupid... talking on the phone. I can't see past it. I think I'm going to die at my desk. I'll probably delete this tomorrow. ARRRRRGH
Sunday, 14 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon Good Japan: Abandoned Stuff

Haikyo - 廃墟 - Ruins

About a forty minute drive down the coast from my town is a place called Muroto. It's famous for deep sea water and whales. It is located on the west cape of Kochi on the island of Shikoku and will be totally destroyed when the predicted Nankai Earthquake/Tsunami hit.

There are a few sights to see down there including a famous temple, statues, wedded rock things and the like. However, the best thing there is an abandoned restaurant at the top of the cape. I did a little bit of research (I stuck ruins+kochi+muroto into google in Japanese) and found other people who had gone there. Apparently it is called the 'New Muroto Sky Rest'. My guess is that it went under when the bubble burst here about two decades ago. I found a website ages ago that was full of pictures of abandoned hotels, restaurants and theme parks throughout Japan and that was the reason for most of them going bust. Indeed, an hour away in Noichi there is a fake castle on a hillside that used to be an amusement park.

Anyway, I have visited the restaurant a few times (I went up the spiral staircase in crutches once) but have always forgotten to take my camera. My camera failed to capture what I saw with my eyes but at least you'll get the idea. I think there are going to be a lot more of these structures reclaimed by nature in years to come... especially in Shikoku. Although it is more likely to be old schools now that the population is aging.

Fortress Muroto. A missing set from Battle Royale.

This must have been the main enkai/entertainment room because there was a stage and lots of sodden tatami mats. The coffee sign says スカイレスト (Sky Rest), 食事 (meal) and 喫茶(tea drinking/house)

The kitchen in the adajacent restaurant has deteriotrated quite a bit. This is the hobs of the main cookers. The restaurant looks remarkly small when it's empty.

Every time I go here I always want to have a quick pee but I'm scared a spider will jump at me and I won't have time to run away. Also, the desire to smash a urinal is quite hard to overcome.

Such wonderful views of the cape. This was taken in the exceptionally small and narrow staircase (1 of 3). The white statue is the monk who invented hiragana/katakana and the 88 temple pilgrimage on Shikoku. I couldn't tell you his name.

The Sky Rest comes with its very own infinity pool. The last time I went there the water was a rancid green. It's fun to throw things into it. Also, you can see this part of the roof because a whole wall has collapsed.

Each staircase has one of these horned beasts at the top of it. You can't climb up the towers because rust has eaten away at them. I like how the vines have managed to reach the top and are pulling it back into the Shikoku wilderness.
You know... most things built in 1960s Britain resemble this. The only difference is they are still used as schools, libraries and offices.

Here is a good website with some stuff from around Japan. It's in Japanese but the pictures are interesting enough.
Friday, 12 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon Seouled myself

I guess I have put off talking about my trip to Korea for long enough. I probably should have written it when I got back about 5 weeks ago because now I can't remember that much about it. Although I did spend a lot of the time drunk so that could have contributed to my memory loss.

Before we even left Kansai airport I was being coerced into drinking white wine. Now, this is obviously too feminine a drink for me to consume... what with my rugged beard and all. However, I appreciate the silky ease of it as it pours down into my belly. Still, there is the increasingly difficult task of tilting the glass to a ridiculous angle the more you drink. My main point is I spent most of my time in Korea drinking wine. Mainly because their beer is atrocious and I liked to finish off the bottle for breakfast. What? I was on my holidays.

Also, I became addicted to the breaking news of swine flu and was excited to be scanned by a heat camera at Seoul airport. Naomi pointed out on the bus to the city that they drove on the right hand side of the road. I confirmed this observation by pretending to drive and acknowledged that this was correct. That evening we went out for some Korean barbecue and had the strange sensation of not knowing how to communicate. I began to speak in Japanese before remembering where I was and continued in sheepish English. Of course, it turns out that the majority of Korean people that I interacted with were outstanding at English. Japan and all their English teachers (ahem) should be ashamed of themselves. Also, during the trip a lot of Korean people started speaking to us both in Japanese. I think it is because we both have slanty eyes or it could have been the Japanesey way we conducted ourselves at the dinner table.

I never did quite get over the hurdle of communication. Mainly because Korea is almost exactly like Japan on the surface. The only difference I could detect (apart from the obvious language/writing) was that Korea had a lot more western chains of delicious food and that Koreans had a more determined look on their face. I say that because Japanese people tend to wander about like a child whose just walked into Disneyland for the first time. It really is a very similar country though. If you were to show pictures of Seoul and Tokyo then I doubt you could really tell them apart. They're just very clean, busy, modern East Asian cities. A lot of the traditional culture of food, temples, dress is all very similar. Even modern stuff like the television format is almost identical if you ignore the language difference. It's amusing because the two countries detest each other and each nationality would punch me if I compared the two. I guess it's like comparing Spain and France. Europeans could talk endlessly on how different these countries are but a tourist from Japan would probably see all the similarities.

So yeah we went to some stuff in Seoul like the imperial palace/gardens, up Seoul Tower which was alright and a 'teddy bear' museum that I thought was appalling. There isn't much to see in Korea outside of Seoul apart from the demilitarised zone and Gyeongju (the old cultural capital). Our plans to go there were scuppered when it became apparent that the 'Golden Week' holidays occurred at the exact same time in Korea. See... they're exactly the same. So their version of the bullet train (KMZ) that leaves every 15 minutes was booked out the whole day. We had to pay a lot more for hotels too but it wasn't too big a deal. Anyway, we got there the next day and looked about all the sites and that. Some of it was alright and some of it was pretty disappointing. We saw the oldest observatory in Asia and I could have probably built one myself in about two days. Listen... I'm boring myself here. We saw more stuff there and then got drunk again in Seoul and went home. The end.

Thoughts on Korea

Korea is probably on par with Japan in my opinion but with a lot less to do and slightly less significant. Korean people seem to have a bit more of an edge (common sense) to them. I think I prefer Japan if only because I'm scared Koreans would punch me (2 years compulsory military service) if I said hello to their missus. Furthermore, they're are too many braindead American military walking around for my liking.

There national dish is fermented cabbage and I think it's boring and rubbish. It doesn't help that they serve you up about 15 small dishes of it when you have a Korean meal. They use metal chopsticks as well... they're horrible. It's probably that reason why we spent our time eating proper steaks - what is wrong with you Japan? Also, their cans of juice are amazing. They're all small, slim and the perfect amount. Their shops also stock Twix.

Korean people are just as stupid as Japanese people. They have a really annoying habit of dressing up in matching clothes. Young couples will wear some designer brand and one of them will have the exact same top but the colours reversed. Families will wear the exact same t-shirt when they were out sightseeing... maybe so the kids don't get lost? They look like idiots.

The most annoying and vanity driven cultural difference I have ever noticed belongs to Korean people. They are all obsessed with taking photographs of themself or their nearest and dearest. You see young women taking about 20 pictures on their mobile phone from different angles and lovestruck guys attacking their girlfriends with a camera that resembles a telescope. The worst is their complete lack of courtesy and I often found myself stopped on a busy path whislt a father configured his camera for the perfect shot. I think it is essential that the world is aware of this.

It's my mum's birthday today. Happy birthday mum.

I took this outside a toilet you know. Above the urinal said "I can see you".

Gyeongju mounds. Like 'Kinder Surprise' but with dead emperors inside.

Another temple in Asia? What a lovely surprise.

I'm happy. Also, I don't really like 'The Strokes'

Monday, 8 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon Bang Bang

Good evening.

I've been meaning to write some blog posts in the past few weeks but self-censorship and a lack of free time has stopped me. I was going to spend this evening complaining away like old times but there really is no reason to do so. Instead, let me tell you how I spent my lazy Saturday afternoon.

I broke my ice cube tray about a year ago and have been too lazy to buy one since. The hot weather inspired me to go in search of one. This turned out to be quite difficult as the supermarket and drugstore didn't have any. I went to the hardware store and couldn't find any either. I couldn't be arsed asking in Japanese because I forgot what ice was and had no idea what tray was. I could probably have said "Ai-su tu-re" but sometimes Japan tricks you and has a katakana name from some other foreign word. For example, an X-ray is called a 'Rentogen' and a stapler is a 'Hotchkiss' . Also, for some reason 'part-time work' in Japanese is the German word for work.

Anyway... I was my usual miserable self and was about to leave when Naomi asked a staff member for me whilst calling me a useless idiot. The tray was hidden away and I was excited about my purchase. So caught up in the glee of my weekend spending spree in the countryside that I bought a plastic gun that shoots caps. We bought some beer and wine in the supermarket on the way back and proceeded to laze about in my apartment. I then spent the next few hours hiding on my balcony in just my underwear whilst waiting on Japanese people to walk past. I then shot my surprisingly loud cap gun and watched their reactions with significant satisfaction. My proudest moment was jumping from one balcony to the other whilst chasing an old man on a bicycle. He turned around to look at me and nearly cycled in the gutter. How I laughed and laughed at my twisted immaturity and my unusual way of dealing with culture shock.

Later on we went to an "M" themed party. It was someone's birthday so all these happy Americans (ie irritating) were saying all these rhyming poems about the person. I remember standing there having absolutely no idea what was going on. I just wanted them all to shut up so I could start talking to people again. Urgh... enthusiastic Americans with their wee quirky quirky things. They're all too confident now that Obama is in charge. The night ended with dancing in Kochi City where I got well and truly drunk. I've invented a dance called 'The Mirage'.


Also, I bought a new cap for 700 yen that says 'Disco Magic' on it. It's possibly my favourite purchase of all time. It's rainy season now. Here's a picture.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

PostHeaderIcon I want to go buy pizza

I'm still at work even though I finished half an hour ago and I need to come back in an hour for my adult class. Why am I waiting? So I can have a meeting for one class that is happening on Thursday. It's the same meeting every week as well as the class revolves around flashcards, repetition, let's dialogue and me making hundreds of laminated cards for 10 minutes use.

The main wait today was to show me an email from Katakana sensei (who left last month) who had the GENIUS idea of including karuta in the class. The most simple, overused card game that every ALT has used since the dawn on time. Deary DEARY me.

Thus continues the third dire week of work....
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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.