Sunday, February 29, 2004

Hey everybody this is akiko updating luke and he is unable to type lots and lots right now. Just let everybody know that he has me running around fetching cigarette and cooking food for him (bastard). Luke has broken his arm between his shoulder and elbow while skiing. He has bandage around his arm and he will need surgery next week sometime. The bandage si useless though.... because his arm is slipping out. Going to have surgery soon to put bone back into place. Right now it looks disgusting on the X-ray, but after surgery the bone should be in place again and he will be wearing a huge plaster.

ok bye bye

Friday, February 27, 2004

Ossssu. Yesterday I came home early from work because apparently I had been working outside of my hours the previous saturday when I went to Owani with the teachers for the afternoon, skiing. I went because it was an afternoon of free skiing, and they decided to give me yesterday afternoon off as well. Sweet? I think so. Then I went to Japanese club in the evening, as always. I go every week now, almost religiously, as it's the only good Japanese conversation I get. Aki only speaks to me in English and when she does speak to me in Japanese it's super fast.

That's right, I think it was Jamie who asked why this site was called Biffa'sblog and not something more appropriate, like, the El Badboy Blog, or, Blog of the Boy of his Royal Badness, etc. It is, that is the name, what my Dad used to call me when I lived at home. The name comes from Biffa Bacon, who was a character from a British youth comic called Viz. The Bacons were (and probably still are) a family from the North East, where during the 80's unemployment was probably very high and everybody passed their time kicking each others heads in. My dad read the skit once and thought it was funny, ever since he has primarily referred to me as Biffa. I refer to him as Fatha, and we both refer to my mum as Mutha. The Bacons were accompanied by other cartoon characters, such as The Fat Slags, Cockney Wanker and Rodger Melly the Man on Telly. Click here for a raz around the Viz website. Highly recommended are the archive cartoons, where you can find a very entertaining sketch featuring the young Biffa Bacon.

I'm probably not going to do anything very interesting tonight because I've got to put the finishing touches to the NoreSore magazine before the weekend. If you didn't know, I foolishly volunteered to be co-editor of the local JETs magazine for the year and I have a final publication to bang out this weekend. It's looking better than the last one I did, not by much though. It couldn't get a lot worse; the last one had pages missing and all sorts. But don't think for a minute that I'm going to be sat around the house all weekend! I'm going skiing both days as well. Gonna slip my snowshoes on and escape into the wilderness on Saturday, then on Sunday I'm going to ride the Hakkouda mountain side like there's no tomorrow, or the next day.

And here are some pics of the actual ski school (suki-kyou-shitsu) I did with the first grade students the other day. Have a click and see what you can find. What a beautiful day it was! I couldn't believe our luck for the second year running.

Right, back to my editorial responsibilities.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I went to ye olde amazing ramen restaurant for the second time last night. Aki took me on Sunday, and it was so good that we went for secondsies. When we got back Erica called because she thought I might know something about paying a bill for a flight at a combini. I didn't, but Aki did and she went off to rescue the poor damsel in *nee-hon-go* distress (all I know about bills is that if you leave them on the shelf in the kitchen your bank account balance is higher). So I watched the K-1 kick-boxing on TV, which was rockin. But the rules must be Japanese, because I saw one guy get beaten to a pulp, only to be announced the winner. Then there was the fight between the really ugly Turkish guy, and the clean cut, good-looking Japanese guy. The Turk was amazing, with acrobatic kicks and loads of power. But the judges gave the most points to the Japanese guy (it was a tournament based in Japan, with Japanese judges) after he got beat up by the Turk. Maybe the judges were homos and they were judging by looks, not the fight itself (the Turk was reeeeeeeeally ugly). I felt sorry for old Turkish though, since he was the only non-Japanese guy in the tourney. He got plenty of cash for fighting mind you.

Today I went to Owani with my ichi-nensei students and all the teachers. It was a glorious day, not a cloud in the sky. The previous day it had rained in Hirosaki, but it fell as snow on the hills of Owani so when we got there the snow condition was fair to midling. It got slushy towards the end of the day, but it didn't slow the skis down which is the main thing. Absolutely wicked day though. Kudo sensei let me take a band of kids on my own hardcore route through the trees and down the steep slopes and I managed to keep them all from breaking any bones. All in all a kushty day.

Going to Iwaki on Saturday to try out my new snowshoes, then Hakkakkakkoda on Sunday baby.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Good morning. It's another day of nothing to do. I bought a philosophy book to school with me today, after hearing that so many other JETs read their own literature in the office during the day. Also, I was talking to a friend last night about Enlightenment philosophy and I was reminded just how long it has been, and just how much has slipped my mind since I studied the likes of Kant, Hegel, Marx etc. The discussion came up at bible study, which is a weekly get-together of Christians and non-Christians to talk about faith and religion, and just about any matter related to spirituality. The Christian members of the group are very liberal, and they don't mind my criticisms. Me and Gavin, an Australian JET, are the only non-Christians going. There are seven of us in total.

So, I've got my reading material for today, and I might do a little bit of J-study as well. I find language learning a difficult pursuit on my own. I can write and rewrite the clauses over and over again, but it doesn't have the same effect as it has when I am in conversation with somebody.

Mum and dad have offered to pay for me and Aki to fly to England in the summer, and Aki just told me last night that she can get some time off work. It's not much, but it'll do for a short break. My parents had planned to come to Japan this summer, but thought that it would be better to put me (and Aki) on a plane and fly us both to England instead. Sounds like a good idea to me, but Aki is still a little bit shocked at my dad's decision to pay for her flight. Now she wants to have a formal introduction for me and her family before she announces that she will be going to England this summer. Why can't people just chill out in this country? Man, now I have to act responsible in front of her parents and stuff like that. It's heavy, man, it's really heavy!!

Monday, February 23, 2004

Well, this weekend was pretty good fun. On saturday I went to Owani ski resort with some of my teachers, but it was really warm and the snow was like poo. It was really sticky, heavy and difficult to ski on. The temperature had risen to about 10 degrees though, which is really unseasonal for this time of year. It looks like it will drop again, for the rest of the week at least.

I bought my new snowshoes on Saturday as well. I spent far too much on them, but they're damn good quality. Here are the pair I ended up buying. Nice, heh?
I also bought a very spanky new chair yesterday, which I'd love to show folks on this log, but which I have no photos for. I'll describe it though: ground based (no legs), spinning on a disc underneath, high arms, very high back, reclinable (90 degs), cream colour all over, Dr. Evil-style. I just need a nice big fat Cuban cigar, and an white cat on my lap before I can look really stupid.

Aki took me to a ramen (Chinese noodles) restaraunt yesterday, which was out of this world. I had started losing interest in ramen, but this place has put it firmly back on the culinary map. And last night we used one of the family onsens at Momotaro as we have done on many Sunday evenings recently. I didn't want to go skiing yesterday as the temperature was the same as it was on Saturday. This season has been short, warmer than usual and generally disappointing on the slopes. Now I have my snowshoes, though, I can get right to the top of the mountain, where the snow is still in pristine shape (hopefully).

Last, but certainly not least, it is my Dad's birthday tomorrow, so I want to wish him a happy birthday. In fact, I want to wish you a happy birthday, Dad, because apart from Mum and Joss, you're probably the only one reading this webpage, so I may as well keep it personal.

Happy birthday (55 today!!!!)


Friday, February 20, 2004

Hello there. I've got nothing to do today until about 1 o'clock so I thought I'd post a shorty. I went to Japanese club last night but forgot to bring all of my study material from school, so instead of reading my book (ningyouhime) I had to work from one of the clubs crappy text-books. It was alright though. I learned how to put two verbs together in order to express the meaning that one does something in preparation for later.

For example:

watashi wa okyakusan ga tsuku made ni bangohan o *tsukutte okimasu*

The whole sentence means:

I'll go ahead and make dinner before the guests arrive.

*tsukuru* is the verb for 'make', and *tsukutte okimasu* is how you would conjugate the verb to offer the meaning 'make ahead of time'. Or something like that.

Anyway, if you're not in the process of learning Japanese I imagine this kind of stuff is really boring.
Tomorrow I'm going to Owani for some skiing. I just got paid so i'm pretty happy right now. I'm not planning to buy anything expensive this month so I shouldn't be in desperation come next payday.

Also, start using the comment box! That's what it's there for. It's easy to use and a good method of creating jovial banter between friends.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Ohayou Gozaimasu. I'm not feeling too bad today, regardless of the poor night's kip I had last night. I still have a bit of a blocked up nose, even though my cold never really took place (thanks to half a bottle of gin). This cold hasn't been too bad compared to the last one I had, but I still think I should have waited until the Saturday night to nip it in the bud. *If I had waited until Saturday I would have caught it at a higher level of maturity, and probably would have been able to knock it out for good. But it was a young resilient cold that I dealt with on the Friday night, which came back in a vain attempt on Sunday*.

I had a case of the old 'breathing difficulties' last night and had to breath through my mouth. I don't like breathing through my mouth. Besides my sleeping problems, what I want to do today is play around with links so that I fully get the hang of how to create them. In order to do this I thought I might just show you a picture of my favourite philosopher , a picture of my favourite mountain photo (I will ski this mountain someday), some pictures of our local mountains here in Aomori: Hakkouda, Hakkouda again, and Iwaki. Here's a picture of me really drunk, and here's a picture of my new skis (mine are the orange), and here's a picture of Me and Aki at the ski ground together.

On Saturday I have to go skiing with the teachers from my school in preparation for the ski school next week. This is probably unnecessary for most teachers, since everyone here knows how to ski anyway. It's a free afternoon at Owani ski resort again though. Then on Sunday, if Aki doesn't kick up too much of a fuss, I'm going to Ajigasawa to venture off into the Iwaki backcountry. Here's a webpage with photos of where I hope to be on Sunday. Click on them to get a better look.

Have a good day, and I'm sure I'll be back on here writing stuff the next time I get bored.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

As you should be able to see, I've been looking into what I can do with this site and I've discovered how to make a couple of home improvements.

The links: For those people who visit this site and who don't know much about the internet, when you see a part of the text that is a different shade of green you should click on it. This will take you to a different website with information relevant to the thing I'm woffling about in my weblog.

The comments: After you have read an update, why don't you use the comment service that I have set up? All you have to do is click on the word 'comments' at the bottom of each update and a little box will appear. Write in the details to let other people know who you are (you don't really have to leave your e-mail address) and comment in the main field.

Photos: Unless I update to a paid website I can't actually upload any photos, but I can create links to photos on other peoples websites. I may upgrade my blog account so that I have more control over what goes on. But for now I'll stick with what I've got.

I could stick a counter at the bottom of the page as well, but that would be way too embarrassing!!
This morning I've just arrived at the office to find that the heater has been switched on already and that there is a nasty smell lingering that only I seem to be uncomfortable with. I know that all I have to do is wait until all the teachers go to their classes before I can open up the windows, switch off the heaters and get rid of that nasty lingering smell, so I won't get angry today like I did yesterday.

It's snowing today, quite heavily. It wasn't forcasted, but there was a few inches on the floor when I woke up today and it's still coming down at quite a rate. I'm looking forward to this weekend when I'll be going up into the mountains in my new snow shoes. I probably shouldn't sound so confident because there is bound to be a problem with the fitting or purchasing of them, as there is with any kind of shoe for me here in Japan.
Here is a link to the kind of shoe I will be buying.

Aki came around after work last night and I made some Yaki udon (fried noodles) and she made miso soup. She didn't finish work until 7 o'clock, but neither did I. I had English club until fairly late last night it took me half an hour to walk back home. I walk to and from school everyday these days, which is about an hours walking everyday. Regardless of this, I am still two or three kilos heavier than my lowest weight since coming to Japan. My lowest is about 87 kilos, but now I'm roughly 90. Still a good 10 kilos less than what I weighed before I came here though.

At English club we watched 'Fight Club' with Brad Pitt and David Fincher. The students; two light-weight ichi-nensei kids, were a bit troubled by the film. Especially the bits in the basement where the guys were fist-fighting to the brink of death. When the film finished I took the projector back and, like any responsible teacher, warned the kids to be careful of strangers on the way home. hee, hee, hee....

I have one class today, which is in the afternoon. Apart from that I have to mark papers for other teachers and generally do the work that their levels of professionalism cannot manage. here's to another day in the office!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Well, I'm sat in the office right now and the temperature is somewhere around 28c. In the summer, everybody sits around complaining about the heat when the temperature is also 28c, but now they sit around moaning about the cold. I'm getting really pissed off about all this, especially since I've got a cold, which is made even worse with the heater blowing out warm air. I've got to check some papers now for a guy who hasn't even invited me to any of his lessons for the last year. It's a piss take, and if he brings any more I'm going to have to lay down the rules: No classes = no dirty work!

Sunday, February 15, 2004

It's Sunday morning here and rain is falling outside. I'm still going to go skiing though, even though I've got a bit of a cold lingering. On friday night, after I returned from skiing, I felt it swelling in the back of my throat so I decided to take action instantaneously. I had half a bottle of gin (Bombay Safire) sat in my kitchen from New Years Eve so I used that to tackle it. No matter what people say, booze DOES work when you've got a cold coming. It won't cure you, but what it will do is hammer it down in size substantially. I haven't felt fantastic this weekend, but I haven't suffered from what would have been a fully blown cold. I went to watch Lord of the Rings 3 with Aki yesterday, and I felt fine all the while I was sat in the cinema. Terribly hungover, yes, but without the cold.

The movie was good. Lots of epic battle scenes etc. I hadn't seen the second one though so some of the plot was lost on me. It was St. Valentines day as well, so Aki brought me round some chocolate cakes and I treated her to Sushi after the film. Skiing on Friday was pretty cool. I spoke to my supervisor first and asked him whether it would be OK to take an hour off at the end of the day. I didn't need to lie because he's a pretty cool guy. I think he knows that the only reason I take leave is for skiing anyway. He told me to go to the vice principal and feign an illness, which would actually be favourable on my part because it would look like I was using my own holiday allowance when I could actually be taking sick leave. Hee, hee, hee! I met a guy called Eric, from Oregon, who is also a JET and later a guy called Ernie, also from Oregon, and skiied the Big Jump and did some mogul runs. In fact, the mogul runs are what I want to practise today.

Right, I'm going to get ready now. Laters...

Friday, February 13, 2004

Hey, Friday morning and I've got nothing to do until 13:40. So I have resorted to typing nonsense onto my weblog again. I want to leave school early today to go night skiing at Ajigasawa, so I'm going to lie to Kudou sensei, my supervisor, and anyone else who asks me where I'm going, and I'm going to tell them that I need to go to Aomori for something offbeat (they won't ask questions if I just use the word 'something'). They'll be a bit miffed if they think I'm missing so much school just to go skiing. I took a day off on Monday (Hakkouda), and Tuesday I went skiing with another school (I told you in my last update). So, 'sneaky, sneaky, catchy snowy' is the motto for today.

It's Valentines day tomorrow, and in Japan on the 14th of February the standard set-up is for the woman to treat the man to a day of luxury and pampering. Instead of the man having to face the knicker aisle at Marks and Sparks destined for the cheapest G-string, clearing himself of any lack of consideration, forgetting that Valentines day is a day of love and for lovers, not just expenditure, often forgetting to tell her that he even remembers her name - in Japan the woman is the one who carries the weight and she carries it well. Aki just booked two tickets to see Lord of the Rings III on Valentines day. She will probably cook dinner for us both in the evening. She'll do little things all day as a token of her appreciation of me. And she'll genuinely mean it. What I'm trying to say is that Valentines day is always a failure left to men, so why don't women take over the reigns? It works in Japan!

Right, I'm going to do some language study now, but before that I'll give you a brief illustration of what I learned last night with my sensei.

appuru pai hodo oishimono ga aru deshou ka
which means:
Is there anything as delicious as apple pie?


appuru pai hodo oishimono wa arimasen
which means:
There is nothing as delicious as apple pie.


ano hito wa sumousan no you ni tsuyoi
which means:
that man is as strong as a sumo wrestler.


kyousou dewa kare wa donna ni hayakutemo katemasen
which means:
No matter how fast, he cannot win the race.


Thursday, February 12, 2004

Good morning, and welcome to my latest update on Biffa's blog. I've just written quite an extensive email to Joss, my brother, so some of today's update may just be cut and paste from my mail folder. I'm back at work now after a five day break. I managed to engineer five days off with only the use of one day of my annual holiday. These things you can do when you've got so much time sitting in front of a desk calender. I have no classes today, and I only have a couple tomorrow. Usually on Thursdays I go to Owani High school, but my term has run out there and I'm now just waiting for some school somewhere in the expanse of Inaka (countryside) that constitutes this prefecture to contact my supervisor with the request: "Give us your funny looking white man", "yes, that American you keep in your office". My school visits, (or 'business trips' as they are called by the other teachers) have been a godsend, splitting up the week and thus diluting the boredom of my working life. I actually got on better with some of the teachers at Owani, and I knocked off at 2 o'clock every Thursday there. Owani still had it's fair share of heavy breathing honkers though.

I went skiing on Monday at Hakkouda. It was great. The sheer volume of snow that fell whilst I was there was awsome. The top was an absolute white-out. Visibility was around four to five metres. There was already around a foot and a half of fresh that had fallen the previous night, and while I was skiing another 10 inches fell. The powder was once again chest deep, bringing back those memories from last year when me and my old buddy Mitch Foss would rip it up with about seven runs a day in phenomenal powder, both on Saturdays and Sundays. I haven't bought a new Hakkouda pass yet for february, so I only did three runs which came to about 16 pounds. Yep, five quid a run if you don't have a monthly pass. I tried my board there as well, with better results than I imagined. I thought I'd fair terribly my first time boarding at Hakkouda.

I can't think of any anthropological critique today, like my previous insights into the connection between Japanese penis size and bad breath. So, I'll give it a miss this time and try my hardest next time. Other news: I went to Aki's colleagues house last night and ended up getting quite drowsy on Sake. It's not good for your head the next day, that Sake gear. Today I feel like I only got about two hours sleep last night, when I actually got about eight. That reminds me. I'm getting a new bed soon provided by the school. I asked my supervisor if he could recommend a good bed shop and he told me that the school might buy me a new one if my present one was causing me problems. After some negotiations with the school clerk it appears that I'm going to receive a new futon. I slept on a futon at Aki's a couple of nights in a row recently and noticed that I woke up feeling really good the next day. 'Futon no hou ga ii' as they all repeatedly say in Japan, or, 'futon's the way to go'. They don't really say that, I just made that bit up.

I could really do with a new bed though. I think my current bed is just adding insult to the injury of being sat at this bloody desk all day long. Neither are doing my body frame any good. It's a good job I get to exercise regularly, because if I didn't I would have problems.


Friday, February 06, 2004

This is probably the only link that I can find to a picture of my new glasses. You can't really see them properly though:

My new glasses

What Video Game Character Are You? I am Kong.I am Kong.

Strong and passionate, I tend to be misunderstood, sometimes even feared. I don't want to fight, I don't want to cause trouble, all I ask is a little love, and a little peace. If I don't get what I want, I get angry, and throw barrels and flaming oil at whatever's stopping me. What Video Game Character Are You?
Morning. It's friday here and I've got very little to talk about apart from skiing yesterday after school and what I'm probably going to do this weekend. I was at the 'other' school yesterday, in Owani village. It's a high school just like my own here in Hirosaki, but the students there are not so bright and it's generally a more relaxed place to be than this stuffy office. After my two classes in the morning and yaki-soba for lunch (the best yaki-soba in tsugaru, might I add) I was told that I could go home, and as there's a ski resort right next to the school I went there instead. I was on my board again, and all in all it wasn't such a magnificent day because of the lack of snow. Owani is a low altitude resort so it can get pretty rough at times as the sun gets onto the snow and hardens the surface. There is about 80 cm of hard-packed snow on the slopes, which is standard for a lot of resorts, but it gets so hard that when you do fall you can really hurt yourself. Lower altitudes obviously mean higher temperatures as well, so the snow that does fall often starts to freeze over within a day or two.

I'm thinking about going to Hakkouda tomorrow with my board because the weather report shows heavy snow for today and tomorrow. It snowed heavily last night with about 15 cm on top of my car this morning. This means that there was probably about 30-40cm of fresh on top of cars that were parked at the foot of Hakkouda mountain this morning: ) I'm also desperate to get my hands on a pair of snoe-shoes as soon as poss as well, so I can start venturing out into Iwaki mountain instead of trapsing up to Hakkouda every time I need a powder fix. (Just looked out of the office window and it's vomiting snow outside). Anyways I've got a class with Terayama sensei now so I'll be on my way. I'll probably go skiing with Aki on Sunday as well, so it's going to be another ski, ski, ski weekend for me.

Take care

Ah, I've just been told that the class I have with Terayama sensei is only on a fortnightly basis so I have nothing today until 12:30, which is a class with the rosy-fingered Yamada sensei. These are now my favourite classes as she gives me quite a lot of the lead and I rarely get bored. A lot of the other classes become boring because the teachers do nothing but mutter the methods of grammatical clauses at the students while I stand in the corner picking my nose. I often find myself drifting into states of conciousness during some lessons, where I am so removed and abstracted from anything going on in class that I often catch myself on the verge of breaking huge gastrous winds in front of everyone. I have so far managed to avoid this embarrassment at the very last moment. It must be something to do with the physical effort that it takes to release a fart, and the effect that such effort has on the awareness I have of my surroundings. Anyway, even if I did break wind in front of everyone it would be so embarrassing for them that they would probably pretend they didn't hear it and carry on with wheatever they were doing.

That reminds me of the look on Yamada sensei's face when I decided to teach the class about transvestites. One of the students had written a sentence on the board which read: "He changed his dress quickly", which was supposed to mean 'he changed his clothes quickly'. The translation from Japanese is difficult, and the student didn't understand that the word 'dress' can't be used as a noun in relation to what a man is wearing.
(Well, it can, but it has to have a very well defined context, and even then the word 'clothes' would be better). So, I told them to look up the word 'transvestite' in their dictionaries with a smile on my face, and a look of deep discomfort on Yamada sensei's, expecting them all to be rolling around on the floor with laughter in just a few seconds. The students, of course, didn't respond to it at all. Probably because they thought I was just being some mucky old man getting a kick out of teaching sixteen year old girls rude words in English. But Yamada sensei cringed, and I think the students now understand that they should pay more attention to the use of the word 'dress' as a noun when talking about a man's clothing. (What useful stuff I teach these kids)!!

OK, gotta go now because I have to pay some bills at the post office before they cut my phone-line off.
Probably update this weekend sometime.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Well, hidleydidleyhowdydoody folks? Yet another day of sitting in front of my desk for the entire afternoon. I had a couple of classes this morning though, so I haven't wasted the whole day away. I enjoyed the classes that I had today. I felt like a pretty good teacher, which doesn't happen everyday in this job.
Apart from those two classes, I've had to sit listening to the hissing and heavy breathing of the men in the office again. My theory is that men with penises as small as the average Japanese penis have to reassure themselves of their manliness in other ways, and the heavy breathing is just one of them.

Is it easy to tell that sitting in this office is driving me up the wall? Well, it's not all that bad, but I will never get used to some of the habits people have here. As I am the office lurch, I have plenty of time to get my own back making all sorts of noises. Cracking my finger bones as I pour my morning coffee. Picking my nose as I read my mail between periods and slipping the odd silent fart out from time to time just after my early lunch while the others are still eating. I can see some of them getting angry, but so long as they irritate me with their pointless little peculiarities I don't really care. The thing about Japan is that you could work with someone for the whole of your life who you found absolutely repulsive and disgusting in manner, but you could never do anything about it. I know that one of the teachers who I used to work with has a great relationship with everybody on the surface, but underneath even he knows that he offends and repulses nearly everybody in the office apart from the hardline chauvinist faction in the other room. He stinks to high heaven. He wouldn't have been given a job anywhere in the UK, let alone a teaching job because of his poor hygeine standards. He hits the kids and he has been known to touch up the female staff at parties. He has a very Japanese mentality, and I bet his penis is no bigger than an over grown clitoris.

Pardon for all of this heated expression. I have to get it out from time to time. Apart from work, I haven't been skiing since Saturday and it's going to snow within the next twenty four hours. So, I'll be up the mountain after work at some point this week. I have English club today with the students after school. It's only going to be a quick one though because one of the students wants to go home early and so do I, which makes two of us. Therefore the other member of our club is a minority with little say in the matter. Also she's a girl, so me and the other lad can dictate how things go regardless and she just has to accept it. God bless this country.

Oops, there I go again. It would appear that I'm having a difficult day in Japan today, but it's OK. It's just the office getting up my back. I've got the night in to myself again tonight so I'm probably going to read my book and cook myself.... wait for it..... Yes, another one of my fantastic sweet potatoe curries!!!!

I might practise the guitar a little and check out the news in English on the TV.

Jaa ne (see you)

Monday, February 02, 2004

It's been several days again since I last wrote. Nearly a week in fact. I had a game of poker on Friday night with three other guys. Apart from the fact that I lost over 40 quid, it was quite an enjoyable evening. I went skiing at the Owani ski area the following day with some of the teachers from Owani high school. It was a good day considering I didn't pay for a thing, apart from lunch. I got a free pass (which they've let me keep for the next two weeks) and I've been invited to the ski school day that they are having for the students. In the afternoon I met up with some of the other JETs and I got my snowboard out instead. I'm picking it up quite nicely now, and should soon be ready for a trip to Hakkouda. I'm starting to miss the place actually, I haven't been for about two weeks now.

I went out to the pictures with Aki yesterday. We went to watch The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. It was a good flick about the last days of the Bushido creed under Emperor Meiji of Japan. Meiji is always glorified by the west as the man who brought Japan into the twentieth century, but little is considered as to what he trashed for the sake of modernisation. Watching the film made me realise that I still know too little about Japan's history, and that I should really be gleaning the facts from sources outside of Hollywood. I recommend anybody to go and see it though, if just for the final battle scene and the harikiri scene at the beginning - what a glorious way to go; ) (Harikiri is the age old Japanese custom of redeeming your shame through a gruesome suicide ritual where you yourself cut your abdomen out and then your friend slices your head off with a cold steel blade - don't forget that suicide in Japan is still regarded as the respectable way to redeem yourself if you have done something wrong; facing up to your problems and dealing with them constructively is for pussies).

And then, after the pictures we went to a family onsen for a good scrub and soak. Going skiing again this week at some point. It's going to snow heavily on Wednesday, so I might go up after school.