Wednesday, 16 December 2009

PostHeaderIcon Earthquake hurrah

So... I was enjoying my cheeky break by playing some Xbox in my apartment. I could feel my arse moving very slightly. It kind of felt like I was dizzy after standing up too fast. I didn't really feel anything but checked anyway. Level 2-3 quake in Tano-Cho. Oh yeah. That's that box checked after I have alluded numerous others before. I hope it doesn't mean the big one is warming up to kill me. Then who would write this fantastic (US embassy sanctioned) blog?
Wednesday, 9 December 2009

PostHeaderIcon A gaijin and his skirt

Haud yer wheesht ya wee bawbags. A kilt ISNAE a sukaato... awright?

Look at me in my kilt everyone. I thought it was about time I wore my national dress since I stole... inherited... it from my dad in the summer. I had been teaching my junior high school students about Scottish customs, traditions and the like for the month of November. Surprisingly... haggis was particularly well received even when I explained what it involved. It seems that in a country where every part of an animal is eaten (I've often had chicken livers/ cartilage/heart as well as cow intestines/stomach) there was no problem with the concept. Indeed, some of the students even gave it an OIIISHHIIISOOOO rather than recoiling in horror. Indeed, they all remembered it when I told them the sgian dubh (small knife in the sock) was used for ceremonially slicing it up.

My plan was to conclude the Scottish lessons with the wearing of my kilt on St Andrew's Day. Instead... the students had an English test that week that nobody thought to tell me about. Nevertheless, I proudly walked to school on Monday morning in preparation for my fantastic internationalising. This began with me running late for school because it took me ages to put it on and I was scared I would ruin it by driving there. Therefore, I embarked on the ten minute walk to school. I was of course expecting a few extra stares than usual but as I passed the convenient store/train station car park I caused an accident. As I was crossing the road I noticed a woman was staring at me from inside her car. In doing so she slowly crashed into the car in front of her and narrowly avoided another man who was walking between the two cars. I completely ignored the drama because I was late for school and because I found it exceptionally amusing walking away to a chorus of GOOOMMEEEN NAAASAAAIIIiiiiii....

Internationalising the world with my sexy legs.

When I arrived at school I first saw the P.E coach who merely chuckled through the haze of his early morning smoke. He said I looked like Burevuhaato as I hastily made my way through the staff room gasps to get to my first class. As I walked up the hall towards the classroom I could see the row nearest the door and their reaction was priceless. Two of the girls screamed and one boy just looked at me in shock before shaking his head. The latter amused me because usually they like to show off to each other but that was a deeply personal moment for him alone. He did not look impressed throughout the class. Anyway, my half of the lesson went much better than expected for every grade. I explained all the usual stuff about the history, traditions... when it was worn... what each part meant. I tried to make a few Japanese connections by explaining the similarity to "family/clans", how a kilt was similar to a kimono, how traditionally men got a kilt at their coming of age (still a very important day in Japan) and even how there is a sakura tartan (cherry blossom tartan for the Japanese tourists). The girls in the class were embarrassed as usual and refused to go near me whilst the boys were obsessed about what was under my kilt. They taught me a few useful words.

I brought my hip flask full of lovely Islay single malt to explain what a sporran was for. I took a cheeky swig after my last class. What a rebel.

After I had left the shocked and smitten school in my wake... I headed to a local temple on the way home in an attempt to take some artistic photographs. I was hoping to achieve a blending of Scottish and Japanese history in a unique snapshot of mutual cultural appreciation. Instead, I panicked and trampled all over Japan with my massive boots. Indeed, not only did I take an awful picture with no flash... but I got covered in spider web and nearly fell backwards into a ditch. Also... I got another shout from some construction workers who were digging up the road at the bottom of the temple steps. I had previously passed them on the way there with a cheery wave and a konnichiwa and was greeted with facial reactions that words can't describe. Also, there was an old woman who didn't move from the moment I went up the temple and returned down the stairs. I don't think her brain could process what was going on.

Just awful

As I was about to leave the temple I noticed a pilgrim was walking towards me from the other entrance. It must have been my new found confidence in knowing that I looked completely ridiculous but I approached him because I wanted a photograph. Even as I was walking towards him I was preparing my Japanese explanation about cultures but before I could say a word he ran off. He actually ran behind a temple to get away from me. I tried shouting on him but he just waved his arms in a gesture that suggested "getawaygetawaygetaway". Congratulations pilgrim... you have set back my desire to reach out to Japanese people for another 3 months. On the way down the stairs I jumped over a concrete fence and probably flashed my arse.

Just buying some Muse tickets in rural Japan... as you do.

The rest of the day had similar reactions from all age groups. Some elementary school children ran towards me before changing their minds at the last minute and ran away screaming. Thus concluded my day of internationalising the rural folk of Kochi prefecture. I wonder if I'm possibly the first person in Kochi to wear a kilt? I'd like that. I like to think everyone who saw me on Monday ended up talking about me at their dinner table that evening. I'll leave you with some advise that I told my students today about how to pronounce kilt. I said it's called a kilt because if you say sukaato... I WILL KILL YOU! I'm a great ambassador for my country.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009

PostHeaderIcon A few shashins

I just had a really annoying situation where a town hall employee was poking his finger at a mistake I had made on a tax form. Baring in mind I would struggle to fill one of those out in English... I felt I made a decent effort as nobody was around to help. "I'm afraid this complicated kanji is above my level my good man. Could you please explain what they mean? Name? Address? My blood type? Oh... I see... you've decided to act irrationally impatient and run around finding someone who might be able to communicate with the useless foreigner... thanks".

Anyway, I thought I'd post some other pictures that I took yesterday... just because.

An English poster that I didn't make along with some advertising posters for Sports Day (woo..)

More English things that I didn't make... oh dear. We have KUSAI! and Dou iu imi? as well as the Japanese way to pronounce them. Itto sumeruzu! and Howatto do yu miin?

Here are some 13 year olds acting like 13 year olds. My guess is that this comedy skit was on television on Sunday night... it usually is. The kid in the middle is the bad boy of the grade but he's also one of my favourites. He teaches me bad Japanese words. He wanted to be called Jack Sparrow when I first taught him but now he hates it and I mock him with it.

Urgh a くさい sink in a 50 year old school. The drains have quite an odour sometimes.

I used to enjoy marking until I realised I was correcting the same words about 20-30 times. I took a better picture but I wrote my name closer to ハソター (Hasotaa) than ハンター(Hantaa). Can you tell the difference? Exactly!

Looking down from 3rd grade to 1st grade before lunch. They used to play the same school jingle on repeat whilst we were eating. One day I suggested we play a CD or something. They started to play classical music and it was wonderful. However, I now listen to the same 4 classical songs... argh.

Monday 7th December's school lunch. There is of course the standard bowl of rice and milk. Monday's small dish (always the worst) was a horrible pickle affair. The soup was a reasonably tasty vegetable/meat thing. On the whole I'd give it a solid 7/10.

This is a kimchi flavoured drink. Kimchi is the national dish of Korea. It is fermented cabbage covered in garlic. It was くさい!

PostHeaderIcon The feds are onto me

Just the US embassy checking me out. No big deal.
Sunday, 6 December 2009

PostHeaderIcon Different Japan: How to bake.

How to bake

I would just like to make this blog post to boast about my amazing skills in the Japanese kitchen. Nobody in Japan owns an oven. They do have these hybrid microwave/your child's first oven but they aren't very good. However, I heard you could "bake" things in the rice cooker. So I made a banana cake and it was absolutely amazing. I was preparing myself for some sort of aborted alien to appear but instead I made the best banana cake I've ever eaten. Ever. I'm fantastic.

Here's my.... loose recipe:

2 bananas that have gone a bit black (extra flavour)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups of flour
1/5 cup of baking powder
Lashings and lashings of vanilla flavouring
Into a blender
Into a rice cooker
2-3 cycles of that and DA DA DAAAAAA


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

PostHeaderIcon My name is Craig. I come from Britain.

Greetings everyone. I was doing a cheeky bit of studying on the toilet today (as one does) and found myself revising some polite forms of Japanese... as can be seen above. The example sentence is イギリスから参りました。クレイグと申します。 There's not much to say about the Japanese itself but it's the first time I've ever seen my name クレイグ written in any kind of example. I got excited about this until I remembered that the example country was IGIRISU.

Igirisu is the collective name given to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all those numerous titles to mean Britain BUT.... BUT... it is also used when just referring to England. It's even worse than having all those ignorant Americans talking about "You guys over there in England" when they refer to Britain. The amount of times I have been forced to explain that "Yes, I am British but I'm also Scottish" to various nationalities can get infuriating. At least I can explain in English to the moronic masses but Japanese is actually designed to completely hinder all hope. It's bad enough that Japanese people are oblivious to the outside world never mind Scotland being so tiny it never stands against a chance against the Europa heavyweights of Furansu, Itaria and Doitsu in their tiny rice brains. Indeed, they barely have enough room in their mental world maps to include anywhere after Pari and Rondon. The only link I had with Japan/Scotland was when Shunsuke Nakamura played for Celtic. He's left and I'm stuck in Japan with only bloody "Sukotochi" whisky as a link to home. Basically, the insulting and infuriating reality is that Britain is England and England is Britain in Japanese.

Actually... I blame Japan for all of this. Do you know why Scotland doesn't have it's own kanji? Because all those centuries when we were an independent country, Japan was trying to figure out how to make bamboo appetising whilst they shut up their borders... stuck their fingers in their ears and went LA LA LA LA LA. When they finally opened their eyes and had a look at the rest of the world, Scotland were best buddies with England and reaping the benefits of empire (even though Scots nationalists don't like to admit it).

" Oh harro Amerika. Who is that biggu country over there? "
" Oh heya guys. Man I really love your guy's sushi. Those guys? That's a limey country called England "
" Oh sank you. See you Pearl Harbour bai bai "

The amount of times I need to repeat my name/country to Japanese people is ridiucolous. Sometimes I don't even bother with either and just sit in the corner sulking at all the independent nations in the room. If ever there was a reason to celebrate the proposed Scottish independence referendum (announced yesterday on St Andrew's Day) then it is surely to stop this disgusting use of Igirisu in Japan. Help me change the nationality on all my documents from Igirisu jin to Sukottorando jin. I might send this information to Alex Salmond... I'm sure he could use the help.


Alba gu bràth!
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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.