Monday, March 14, 2011

Why people need to THINK, for once

First of all.

STOP FREAKING OUT PEOPLE. Be calm, be logical, and used the prized human intelligence of yours. And stop screaming.


I've had enough. Just I've had enough. Just $&#%ing enough. My dad won't stop bugging me with "updates" from "experts" about how dangerous the power plant situation is, and apparently that's all the media wants to talk about.
amp;#%ing enough. My dad won't stop bugging me with "updates" from "experts" about how dangerous the power plant situation is, and apparently that's all the media wants to talk about.

Let's think about it. We're worried that something we don't know anything about (apologies to the nuclear physicsists reading this, obviously this does not apply to you) might somehow go wrong into an unforeseen worst case scenario where we can't really say what will happen, despite multiple credible analyses from experts in the field that we are still working within predicted boundaries and that it won't be Chernobyl.

What did you say is going to happen again? Radio-active wind? How radioactive? What sort of possible damage are we talking about? Where's this wind headed anyways? What caused the wind to be radioactive: the explosion? And probably the best question of all:

Does anybody really know what's going on?
(No. You don't. Admit it.)

Certainly not the media. Plus, even if they did, they won't report it. The last couple of years should have more than adequately shown to people who have a brain cell that the news media is not interested in reporting true news. They report what you, the audience, want to hear. And right now, since you are irrationally and idiotically scared of a possible nuclear meltdown, even though you probably have no idea what that word really means (what's a meltdown?), that's what's being reported. And it's damn irresponsible. See here:

And, let's not forget:

Thirdly: There are thousands of people lost or stranded or dying in Tohoku RIGHT NOW

While a small team of people try to prevent a little glob of stuff being spread over a 500m radius and possibly infecting an evacuated area... There are people trapped in rubble, stranded without food, washed out to sea, or just plain unaccounted for.

Bottom line: Tens of thousands of real people. Dying.

And the ones who are safe are left without SHELTER, without FOOD, some probably injured without adequate AID, not KNOWING if their loved ones are alright, and terrified of the possibility of another tsunami from the aftershocks. Which are still happening from time to time. Entire towns were obliterated by sea water on Friday, tens of thousands are missing and apparently all that is now unimportant compared to omgnucularfactoryzomg. That's just wrong.

So, dear blog readers, I would like to invite you all to read up on some of the things that are happening, resist thinking "but there's nothing I can do right now" and at least keep them in your thoughts. Anything you can do would be appreciated, of course. And yes, it is more immediate for me here in America, and yes life must go on, but since this is something I can personally help with for the time being, it will be a large factor of my life for the oncoming months. (Especially since I could have just as easily been assigned up to that region on Japan for JET)

No pictures this week, just a few websites:


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Foooooooooooooooooood!!!!!! (finally, Part 1)

Finally, the long awaited food report from yours truly. Let's just say I haven't lost any weight since coming to Japan, shall we ;D


Well... the blog IS called Nick's sushi adventures, so I guess it's high time I put this up:

Yes, sushi. Finally.

Every neighbourhood in Japan should have some form of sushi-ya (ya means house. In this case, a restaurant). Fortunately for me, not all neighbourhoods in Japan are born equal, and I happen to have one of the best sushi restaurants located, conveniently, a short, 5 minute walk from my house. It's probably not the most recognized restaurant in the world, but it IS better than 93% of all the sushi restaurants I've eaten at.

Recommendations? The chef is actually licensed to do fugu dishes (pufferfish), and has a tank of 'em next to the sushi counter. But by FAR the best fish there is toro. It's heavenly anywhere, but this is seventh heaven goodness. An orgasm in your mouth. Coma-inducing ecstasy. And only a moderate sized hole in my wallet.

Because that's how you get through life with good food: pick a restaurant as your designated go-to, go regularly, befriend the staff, and never say no to the free food/discounts they will inevitably start piling up on you. Oh and buy the sushi chef sake.

(Not in North Carolina, mind, it's illegal for the chef to drink on the job. That being said, next time someone goes to Kurama, say hi to Mizaki-san for me, ok?)


I've learned one thing so far in Japan about the food. It's delicious, light, but actually not all that healthy. They don't really eat vegetables. Thankfully, there's okonomiyaki, which probably has the most vegetables you'll ever find in a single Japanese dish. And it's a Kansai speciality too!

Not the pot in the middle, it's the things on the side

What is it you ask? Great question! Basically, it is a vegetable filled pancake with bits of meat, and you eat it with mayo, okonomiyaki sauce (think teriyaki. except not really), bonito flakes, and friends. There are a few styles: in Kyoto they eat them flat like the one in the back; in Kanto you can make your own, and it's generally a simple fare of cabbage and the eggy batter; here in Kansai the okonomiyaki are much thicker, are cooked in the kitchen and brought out to your personal metal plate fryer/heater thingy for you to eat over.... oh, a beer or four. It bears repeating: this is a Kansai speciality. Try it.

Yes that sentence back there is badly worded, but grammatically correct. So bite me.


Japanese hot pot is amazing in the winter. Period. Their stock is sooooo much better than the Chinese versions that I'm tempted to call it the best. Except Duke HKSA comes to mind, and those really are the best hot pots, especially when I do the shopping/cooking/hosting :P

(Expecting a comment each from Jason and Boris!)

See also the photo from the last section

Best nabe in town? Hard to say. There's the restaurant that's 2 blocks from my house that serves whale nabe from time to time (picture above), which is delicious, but then there's this place a bit farther than has a nice Korean influenced nabe that is warmingly spicy (also good with beer), and most izakaya's serve it in some form or another. It's nabe, and it's good. I'll take it any day of the week.


Speaking of that Korean nabe, that particular restaurant actually serves yakiniku as well. Which is... actually also Korean influenced. It's the Japanese take on Korean BBQ. And honestly? I think I prefer this one, and here are three reasons why:

Say hello to deliciousness, heart-attack, and I-die-happy.

Not sure I can find it again if I tried... Nate and I stumbled on it in Osaka. $50 a person for the course, but it included appetizers, rice thingys, dessert, and 2-3 other things that I don't remember. A bit pricey, but Nate got a phone number out of the trip, so it was worth it :P

It's not normally that expensive, and especially since tajima-gyu (commonly called Kobe beef, even though Kobe has absolutely NOTHING to do with it) come straight out of my prefecture, it is absolutely mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


Not exactly "local", but local enough. Kaki, oysters, are a speciality of Hiroshima, which is just a quick hour away on the shinkansen. I, for one, am looking forward to February when they have the kaki matsuri - oyster festival - but in the meantime the yakikaki will suffice to appease my oyster addiction. I pains me to watch them actually cook those little things, but they've just started to get in season, so the raw ones will start getting devilish right about Christmas, I think.

Woman A is cruel.Woman B is hungry (Annette Leung)


The crown jewel of kansai cuisine, kaiseki dinners are 10+ dish affairs of whatever is most in season. The menus generally don't tell you too much because the point of kaiseki is to feature Japanese cooking styles. So there's something raw, something steamed, something marinated and boiled, something in broth, something with rice, something that's fried, something for dessert, etc. Each dish is not very large, but exquisitely and lovingly planned and cooked by the kitchen. You pay through your teeth for it, but it's worth it if you're celebrating something.

I think that was half the courses... maybe

Japanese Breakfasts

... are heavenly. Nothing quite like a bowl miso shiru (miso soup) to kick the day off, along with nama tamago gohan (raw egg rice - yes you beat a raw egg into a bowl of rice, stop freaking out), and a bunch of whatever they put on your large, fashionable box-tray-thing. Unfortunately, it is expensive, takes a VERY long time to make on your own, and so you only really get to eat it at ryokan's.

We were an hour late for breakfast :P

To follow soon.... photo essay of miyajima as well as part two of the report on Fooooooooood. Western food, go!

Also, Kooza is coming to Japan next year!!!! YAAAAAAYYYY!!!!! (and also way too many hours wasted on youtube this week because of that XP)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Yeah, yeah, I know everyone else is writing about it too, but this is Halloween in Japan - not your traditional Franklin street stuff.

No, this is Halloween in Japan, where people also have no idea where the festival comes from, but decides to celebrate it anyways - because any excuse for booze and costumes has got to be a meaningful event, amirite?

Stolen off Google Images: beats me why such a dastardly school as such an awesome street

The excuse: is semi-religious, actually. Hallowe'en is the lazy man, Scottish pronunciation of Hallow's eve; which means the day before All Saints Day. But between the pagans, Tim Burton, and all the bartenders of the last 1000 years, no one except the Catholics celebrates November 1st, and EVERYONE celebrates October 31st. With things that are diametrically opposed to... well, saints. Hence Casper, Sabrina, and, of course, this guy (who wins Nick's best costume award):

There're actually three of them, but I don't have their pictures

d 1: Himeji

In anticipation of a sleepless weeken
d (and partly to fix the national disaster that is my apartment), I took a day off on Friday and clocked my hours with the sandman. It was delicious. I then proceeded to laze the day away, and at precisely 6pm (or there abouts), I donned my legendary "Venetian Pirate" costume (tm), and made my way to town for the first night of revelry and debauchery.

dless to say, I was the talk of the town that night: children screamed at my ferocious getup, youngsters (ie my students) came up for high-fives, mothers just stared - all sense of Japanese politeness forgotten - and the old people... well, just ignored me. I guess they got used to it between Kyle and my 4 other predecessors. Granted, it was only a 5 minute walk to the train station, but a bright red coat is hard to miss, and word gets around fast in Japan :P

In short, train ri
de win.

That is one MEAN scimitar, deshou? (also expensive)

The party itself isn't really much to write home about, unfortunately... typical gaijin Halloween party, with a few confused Japanese friends thrown in for good measure. Chip did an AMAZING job pulling it all together though, and almost eight hours of karaoke, midnight food runs (oh how I've missed you), and properly delightful English drunk talk.... home, sleep, and Corpse Bride.

Not in that or
der... don't exactly remember either, come to think of it...

dit: interesting note, by the way. Karaoke is the PERFECT after-after-party. They should have it in America.

Round 2: Osaka

No hangover from the first night, so I guess I was doing ok...

Halloween in Osaka was just another wil
d party, similar to America but simultaneously less crowded yet more energetic. I won't bother with the boring "well this is what I did" stories, so here are my observations.

1. Halloween in Osaka has waaaaaay more men than women.

2. Except at the right clubs, which we were not at.

3. Which left us with a lot of
desperate Japanese men hitting on the girls in our group... And a lot of cougars hitting on the guys.

4. The Ma
d Hatter makes an AMAZING costume, especially if you do the face paint. And the Japanese excel at costumes. Seriously one of the guys there just dropped my jaw... I was about to ask him for an autograph before I realised that Johnny Depp was probably not in Osaka. Oh well.

5. They have poutine in Osaka.

Number 5 being, obviously, by far, the most important (and delicious) observation. See next post.

Rightio, time to leave the office and get home, so I'll leave you with...

d 3: Nate's birthday in Osaka

The birthday boy

Did I mention I didn't sleep much this weekend? I stayed in town for Nate's birthday dinner, and bunked at Roger's to sleep off the smoke that now permeated my clothes. That's what you get for partying till dawn, I guess. Then again, that was one thing I missed when I was at Duke... the parties start too early, and they end too early in NC. The real Walk of Shame is when you've been out partying all night, and you're going home still in your sweaty, alcohol-reeking clothes. And you're on the same train as all the church goers for half an hour. While hungover. And it's plain to see you did NOT get laid.

Anyways, onward to food!! (soon, I promise)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello cold weather

I'm writing this sitting on the sundeck of my Tuesday ferry, listening to the new, down tempo, chilled-the-ice-out-of-Antarctica cd from HedKandi, with the sun setting behind me. Life is GOOD. Just thought you might want to know.

This week in life: Nick's feelings about stuff. In Japan.

This. Is awesome.

Cut 1: Annoyance

But there are two things about speech competitions - and I've been in enough of them to know - that really bug me. Bad judges, and the bullsh*t comments made by said judges. The first screws up 3-15 months worth of hard work, and the second rubs salt in your wound for about half an hour as you listen to them drone on and on about how good the winner's speech was (when it really wasn't). If you're lucky, or have worked hard enough, or are just plain deserving of winning, you'll get to hear all your effort brushed off as "a little over the top." The comments don't sting, but the fact that they're making them sure as hell does.

Spot the judges! (the redhead is just a student)

So I found myself glaring death at some professor of English from the Himeji Doukyu university two weekends ago, as she explained in detail how the judges thought my student's speech was over-exaggerated and over-emotional and over-dramatic. Over and over and over. She wasn't the only judge, but she was the one in charge, so she got my gaze of terror. Ryota, in my opinion as well as that of the audience, had by FAR the winningest speech. Sure the topic was boring (they all were), but at least his was the only speech that was clearly understandable and decently delivered. The simple message got through - which, by the way most important point, it's a speech competition, not a writing competition.

The campus was frightfully pretty though...

And I could not be more proud of him.

I wasn't at the school when he wrote the speech, but I saw him through two months of Nick's Grueling Speech Training (TM). This kid couldn't say "sing a song" without stumbling when I met him, and yet I managed to cram most of my not inconsiderable (that is to say eleven years' worth) speech experience in to his... erm, throat, by the time he'd qualified for and been invited to attend the finals. That's probably the first time ANY student from Shikama Technical High School (read: don't-really-care-about-English-but-I-guess-I'll-be-nice-to-the-gaijin high school) ever made it to the finals of ANY competition that had ANY English in it, and for Ryota to have performed to such a high standard and to have impressed the audience so much was.... heartwarming and slightly tear jerking (I'm NOT crying dammit). It also helped that making the finals boosted both Ryota and his coach, me, to superstardom at school. Oh and his 6th place plaque didn't hurt either. I think I'm gonna sneak it out of his house and sharpie a big "CHAMPION" over the six.

You're not touching my plaque. rawr

Cut 2: Copious Amounts of Joy

October is apparently the month of festivals in Japan. I checked the schedule: there are at least two big events going on every weekend (and one or two during the week) in October if you know where to go or who to ask. Autumn festivals, Jazz festivals, Cultural festivals, Fighting festivals, Lets-burn-stuff festivals, you name it, it's probably in October. Except for the Snow festival, that's in February. But there's nothing in November - I guess it'll be cold enough for people to huddle under their kotatsu at home. That, by the way, is synonymous with "doing absolutely nothing because I'm brrrrrrrrrr."

But I digress. Here are the festivals/events.

A) Kobe Jazz Festival

An entire weekend full of jazz (in my pants). One street. Twelve venues. 4500 yen. All day.

Not exactly what I'm used to, but then again it wasn't Wednesday and I was nowhere near the Mary Lou Williams Center. I heard more styles of jazz there than I could count, which was already worth the money I paid, and the light drizzle that day just set the mood perfectly. And then I got shocked by a fusion performance with the shamisen and shakuhachi. Absolutely delightful doesn't even come close to describing it, but they have been running the festival for 28 years, so it wasn't too much of a surprise. 5 stars.

Maybe not entirely Kosher, but it's good!

I'm pointing at the entry pass. That Adam's arm is hiding

And Simon does a little jazz jam of his own afterwards.

B) Sports Festival

Well it's really supposed to be in September, but I forgot to mention it then. The sports festival got rained out this year. There are two big events at school every year - the sports festival and the cultural festival - and one of them got canceled because no one at school remembered to check the forecast. Apparently. We sat at the stadium for 2 hours while the field got flooded, and they called the day off right as the rain stopped. The sun was up by noon.

And the worst part? They moved my replacement vacation (they had sports day on a holiday) so I had approximately 20 hours notice that I was now going to teach the next day instead of taking my parents around town. It was non-negotiable and made sense to no one except the principle. -5 points.

Hoping to see the real thing next year, it's supposed to be a real blast, if these guys were any indication:

We get to go home? YAAATTTTAAAAAA!

C) Aki Matsuri

Aki is the Japanese word for autumn, and the delicious sanma (saury) dishes aside, the next biggest thing is the aki matsuri. In brief, it is a celebration to honor the spirits of fall, and the Japanese do so by parading gigantic, two tonne shrines around town. On their shoulders. And by bouncing the shrines up and down on said shoulders while chanting with the intensity worthy of a Cameron Crazy.

It's behind bars right now, but it can kill you if it decides to

At Nada, which is a short 5 minute train ride from Shikama, they take it fives steps farther: it's called the kenka matsuri, which means fighting festival. Yep, the BASH the shrines against each other, as if just carrying them weren't rough enough on the body. Luckily Nada is the only place bonkers enough to do it, and the festival is a national attraction - possibly the largest event in the fall.

Unfortunately, I had to miss most of it during the day. The aki matsuri takes place all through the month, at different dates for different temples, and the one at Nada (which is on the 15th) just happened to be Friday this year - which means next year it'll be on Saturday, w00t. But I still managed to catch about 4 hours' worth of shrine bashing. Typical of a Japanese festival, the matsuri featured lots of food, koi fishing, and drunk Japanese people. We managed to find a spot to sit and watch while I eat my dinner of yakisoba and karaage. More pictures to follow once I get them of my DSLR.

See the faint outline of the hill? It's filled all the way up there too.

D) Himeji International Festival

It's similar to the Rayleigh International Festival, except out in the open air instead of a stuffy convention center. Basically a showcase of international food and language booths and butchered, romanticized portrayals of someone else's culture. Which, may I add, is mildly insulting. If you think about it. I don't.

Anyways, I worked at one of the English booths as a volunteer for an hour this Sunday morning, talking to children and their parents for 100 yen/10 minutes. Good training to come up with conversation topics - they relied on me completely to keep the conversation going. And, uh... I ran out. So I started talking about onigiri (rice balls) I was being "paid" with - I'll always take food as payment :P

E) Canadian Thanksgiving

Christine throws amazing parties. Not in the college sense, but in the "we're mature adults having a good time until someone breaks out the booze" sense. At which point it dissolves into a college party.

Anyways, Canadian Thanksgiving was two weeks ago (right after the Jazz festival, actually), and we somehow managed to cram in twenty people in her apartment in Aioi. And feed all of them too, from her typical-Japanese-sized (i.e. tiny) kitchen. Food was amazing, company was great, and I too shall celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving henceforth.

You can sort of see the kitchen behind Bri's head. The stove is barely 2 feet across.

Simon's saying peace. Not the Brit thing. I promise.

Cut 3 - Excitement, A Tinge of Regret, and the Train Ride of Glory

Oh partying. The thing that gives a college student hope on Monday, trains the average Joe in the ways of the all-nighter, the grotesque hole in my budget. Yeah, that thing.

Unfortunately, I've discovered that the only way you can ever have a good party in Himeji is if the gaijin organise one. The scene here SUCKS. Believe me, I wasted a whole weekend searching. You want host clubs, hostess bars, love hotels, you got it. No party scene though, and I don't think anyone should ever pay for something we can all get for free.

So it falls to Osaka to keep the party animal in me sedated. Which is fine because the parties there are awesome: nothing is open till 11 pm (as all good clubs should), no one shows up till 1 am (because it is simply uncool otherwise), and the party ends only when the last customer leaves. The dj's are awesome, the crowd is wacky, and I love it. You really do meet the most interesting people out there. Blahblahblah details blahblahblah, and then you're on the first train back. Sunday's lost to sleep, but whatever.

By the way that's about how much I remember of my nights :P

This is at Joule. The dj's (right) are really friendly ^_^

Last but not least... IT'S HALLOWEEN THIS WEEKEND!!!!

Got a crazy schedule coming up for the weekend, here it is:

Dinner wherever, Chip's Halloween party at the bowling alley above Time Machine (best karaoke place in town), putting people up at my place afterwards.

Wake up whenever, see (potentially hungover) guests home, waste the day, maybe hang out with whoever's staying in town, go to Osaka for the Halloween party there. Stay out all night.

Probably nurse hangover, get home on first train for internet installment, back to Osaka for Nate's birthday, sleep somewhere in there. Get home for class on Monday. At some point.

There'll be plenty of pictures.
... if I don't break my camera.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Update soon!

On Saturday, since there's a speech contest and a festival I want to write about that's happening then. :) hang tight!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things I miss from home

Two months. I've been here two months. (yes I am a girl and I'm counting my 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 month anniversaries. Only difference is I DON'T CARE if no one else remembers it.)

That's a lot of time. By now, the Math 103 kids will just be getting back their first midterm, the Orgo kids will be wondering why they wanted to be pre-med in the first place, and normally, my friends will soon be having my farewell party for no-show November (Passport editing. duh).

3am. On a cold March morning. 2 articles publishable, 10 to go. Yep, good times.

But instead, I'm having a mini-reflection thingy going on about home (Duke and HK both, but mostly Duke) and the things I miss most. Things. Not people. I'm a guy, and I believe the people I miss know who they are. If you're not sure, consider yourself on the list :P


Only Burger - Mobile, delicious, on twitter, on campus (they take food points) and second ONLY to In and Out. They also get bonus points for having amazing business sense and being on campus for every basketball game. I know cuz I was at all of them last year.

Not Dales, but it's delicious looking Indian food!!

Dales' lunch buffet - the $8 all you can eat lunch buffet is a steal. And also a close, convenient source of chicken makhani. Those of you in Durham - I'm looking at you Caleb - go for me prease.

Cookout milkshakes - These are the only possible explanations for why you don't know about cookout... 1. You live outside of N.C. 2. You have no friends. 39 flavors. THIRTY NINE. I still haven't had all of them yet, and it is THE place to get your late night party food since it's open till 3:30am. Provided you have a sober driver - there is no restaurant seating, it's drive through only.

Speaking of which, Scott Rong owes me a tray.

Not Food
(what can I say, I live a simple life)

Duke Basketball - obviously, if you read my last post. Or know me on any level. The madness resumes 6:30 pm October 15. EDT. Bet your beer money I'll be glued on youtube for clips. And on ESPN 360 for the live games, wearing my Go To Hell Carolina t-shirt. At work.

Last year: Conference Champions, beat UNC BADLY twice, undefeated (17-0) at home, National Champions. Also UNC sucked. Like, barely-had-a-winning-season suck.

This year: TBD

Farmer's Market - summer's over so no more Heirloom Tomatoes, but it's fall, which means pumpkin time!!

g105 - for music, otherwise I have no idea how to dance to the songs at parties. Thankfully, even though there is a lack of means to keep up with billboard, I'm in Japan, which means the club music is probably 3-6 months behind anyways. So I'm good for a bit longer.

Justine's piano - yes her digital piano is just that amazing (also much closer than going to Biddle)

Comedy Central and Food Network - Mostly I hate having to wait an extra 5 hours to watch the Daily Show on the net instead of live on my TV.

Lastly, here is your Japanese food of the week: Omurice!

Delicious fried Japanese rice wrapped inside an omelet and served with curry/gravy? For only 600 yen? YES PLEASE!!

Available at a department store or hole in the wall near you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


So this post took me 2 weeks to get to finishing. I wrote this bit early September:

[On my way to school today, I was suddenly struck by a strange realisation:

It isn't as hot anymore.

Sure, my shirt was still soaked by the time I arrived at school and the staff room AC is still turned up all the way, but every time I passed under shade, there was a hint, just a hint, of autumn. The heat isn't suffocating anymore. The sea breeze is actually cool. Lazy clouds, softening sunlight, the lot. And the cicadas finally shut up.

Unfortunately the start of autumn is also the start of school. And labor day here in Japan is in May so forget the long weekend moral boost.

Yep. Work.

So school. You learn rather quickly that good teaching is a balancing act. You'll get eaten alive if you spend hours and hours on a class plan and the kids don't listen in class, but if you don't plan at all the students stop caring about class and it's a slippery downhill slope from there. Having JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English) around helps a ton because, at the very least, THEY are excited about your class. And, of course, every good teacher should remember that, once, we too were the misbehaving miscreants that wanted nothing more than to sleep/eat/talk/text in class. You just have to rough it out and bring even more energy to the table. Don't forget to charm the alpha males/females of the class either. They're the cheat buttons for getting the class under control!]

Right so now, 4 weeks into actual teaching, I thought I'd take a little time out to tell you all about my visit school. Conveniently located 40 minutes south of Himeji on a FERRY, Ieshima High School (Ieshima is the name of the island) is a cozy little school with a student population approximately the size of an Orgo 2 class. And roughly the same why-do-I-have-to-go-through-with-this-crap attitude as well. Watch out, I'll starting making "Only at Ieshima" jokes pretty soon.

The ferry ride isn't really that bad. Honest.

The island has a cozy population of 2000, and in a city like Himeji, it provides a nice bit of boonies flair. It's gorgeous during the day, everyone is friendly so long as you're not trying to teach them English, and if you know where to look, this is where you can get literally-right-out-of the-sea-fresh seafood to take home for dinner. Literally.

Pretty, eh?

It's Japan, so naturally there's a shrine.

And to top it off, I teach there twice a week, which is a nice change of atmosphere from the industrial toxins I breathe in at Shikama. But the draw back, you ask? Well... let's start with the 5:30 am alarm I have to set to get to school on time. Then there's the completely unmotivated students, the completely disappointed students (who can't look at me beyond my asian skin color), and the completely asleep students.

But then again, they love me outside of class. I took my parents there last weekend when they came to visit and the kids were all over me. Which is always nice ^_^


Back at Shikama, I come to accept that I'm not really teaching the 1st years since I only see them once every two weeks. My 5 third year students though, I love like they were my... hmm. Well, students. I'm in that in-between age where "siblings" doesn't cut it, but "children" is just weird. You get the point.

So for you other JETs out there interested in seeing what I'm teaching them right now, I give you my freshman year World Cultures syllabus... World Cultures. These kids only have another 3-4 months with me, and I know that's no where near enough time for me to make drastic changes to their English level. So I'm going to have them leave the school with a better understanding of the world outside Japan. In hopes of inspiring them to do great things.

Also it was an easy excuse for me to talk about Duke Basketball culture. ;-)

Yeah. Me. At Indy. This was on the AP. I'm awesome.

So we've brainstormed different aspects of culture (there are over 15), and each lesson I have so far has been based in one of those aspects. DukeBluePlanet videos for the day on sports, home made Linguine Puttanesca for the day on food, fun stuff. I've also given them a term project to present a cultural aspect of their choice. Just to give them a sense of what humanity is all about. Not that I know all of it. Also, mnemonic devices are always fun because you're making them doodle. What's fun in kindergarten is still fun when you're 60!

Right, so, before I sign off on this article, other happenings in the last 3 weeks.

- I bought a TV and PS3 and 2 games for cheap(ish)
- I've decided on an electric piano that I will purchase either today or tomorrow
- I found an AMAZING Kaiseki restaurant right in my area.
- Sports day turned into pouring rain day turned into we're-gonna-cancel-but-you-still-have-to-sit-at-your-office-today. After we sat and waited for 3 hours at the stadium.
- Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert made me sad... because I can't make it to their rally on October 30.
- Homecoming made me sad because I missed it.
- But that's ok because I'm stuffing my face with the BEST Japanese cakes EVER.

This slice of heaven? Only a 2 minute walk away.

Lastly, I pledge to you the reader, now, to update my blog every week. Even if it is just a "I'm so busy c@|\| 1 h@5 h3lp p1z"

So. See you next week!