Golden Week

If you think anythings changed in the past month or so, you'd be wrong. I'm still studying everyday and not doing much of anything else :)

Just fyi

I Didn't Win...

...Or did I?

For class, we were required to write at least one Haiku (in Japanese of course). I sat down and wrote a few for fun and then found out later that there was actually going to be a school wide competition (two groupings. Upper and lower level students to make it fair) and they were actually giving out prizes! 5000yen ($50ish) went to the winner and I was all about that!

First, one haiku from each student was submitted in class and we all got to vote on which one we liked best. Mine tied with another classmate. We both went on to the second round where the entire school got to vote.

Unfortunately, I didn't "win"
(Mine is the far left that says ニーナ at the bottom [that's Niina in Japanese])

Even though I didn't win, I still made it to the final round so I got a cool Yamasa School cup!!!

Kinda almost better than the 5000yen I think (^^)v

BTW, my haiku was:

花香り
露の晴れ間に
春の虹

The scent of flowers
A break in the clouds during the rainy season
Springs rainbow

It sounds kinda dumb in English and I can't pretend it sounds awesome in Japanese either. But I'm still learning ;)


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In other news, yesterday was White Day!

White day is the cousin to Valentines day. Here in Japan, on Vday, girls give chocolate to their friends and lovers and one month later the boys will respond by giving women "white" chocolate. (no one pretends that there's any history to these holidays. They're just for the purpose of buying and selling chocolate...I kinda like that ;) )

I was given Tim Tams!!! The overly chocolatey Australian cookies.


Usually I don't like Tim Tams because they're SO rich. But my friend convinced me to try the Tim Tam Slam.

Tim Tams are two chocolate cookies sandwiched on either side of chocolate frosting and then the whole thing is dipped in more chocolate. (and these ones were the Double Coat type!)

For a Tim Tam Slam, you basically bite off both ends of the Tim Tam, dip it in coffee like a straw and suck. The hot coffee melts the chocolate making it all gooey and then you shove the whole thing in your mouth. You end up biting into an explosion of warm chocolate.


video

And it was sooooo good.

Happy White Day!!!

Temaki Zushi

Aka, make it yourself-by hand-sushi. Actually a really awesome idea when making sushi at home and you're not so 上手 (jyo-zu[talented]) with rolling everything together. Besides, this way is much more fun!!!

Slicing up the fish. Not as easy as it looks. And that knife is quite sharp too!



Our final spread. The sushi was arranged on the plate kinda weird but it tasted good and that's what we all agreed was the most important part!


Here's a video of our teacher explaining to us how to make the final product. She starts by grabbing a square of Nori (dried seaweed) and puts a shiso leaf on it (Japanese cilantro, I hate the stuff). She then grabs some wasabi and puts a HUGE glob on the shiso. It doesn't look like it but that wasabi was REALLY strong! I was tearing up and I used half of what she did!

After that adds some fish then realizes she forgot to add rice. Rice is the first thing to go on!!!!

video

She's so 適当(tekito- [haphazard])


Here's the final product. It came out looking really good! Which is funny because the tuna I have here is the stuff I cut myself. I cut it so poorly that it ended up falling apart into little sections. Still yummy!

Food

I haven't done too much these past few weeks, as I'm sure you can imagine. But I have a few interesting food related stories I thought I might share.


About 2 weeks ago I volunteered to teach 6th grade students about America. It was quite similar to my self introduction lesson that I would do back at the high schools in Kochi but this time, it was all in Japanese! I was excited.

Afterward, we all went outside and made Mochi. (Mochi is basically mashed rice. You roll it into a ball and can eat it as part of a meal or a dessert, depending on how you season it. It's a very traditional new years food.)

Here's a video of one of the teachers showing the 6th graders how to make it. Later, they all got to try it out themselves.

video



The next day I was cold and craving American food so I made Shepherds pie. (AMERICAN Shepherds pie has beef and not lamb [cottage pie in Europe] and usually has cheese :3)


It looks odd because I only added cheese to half the pie. My friend who wanted to try a bit said that he didn't think cheese went well with it. I proved him wrong in the end but it was good both without as well.

Also, I have started Japanese cooking class! This was my group from last week. We made Sukiyaki Kansai style. Sukiyaki is a great winter soup. Very sweet and savory. Kansai style has less broth (if any) and therefore has a much more concentrated flavor.


Lastly, this past Friday I volunteered to teach the elementary school PTA about America (again, in Japanese) only this time I thought I'd make it more interesting so I made S'mores in the microwave. They didn't go over as well as they usually do with my high school kids but it wasn't a complete failure either.

The front middle people are all Yamasa students. Taiwanese, Korean and American.


To see more pictures of everything, check out facebook!
They've been added to the original "Okazaki" folder so you may have to flip through a few old pictures. Enjoy!

AU Cell Phone

Ever since my run in with the jerks over at YahooBB, I have been very wary about addressing issues I have with any kind of service I'm paying for here in Japan.

For example, recently my phone started glitching on. It's 3 years old afterall so it's a little expected. But I didn't want to go into the shop and have to explain the problem just to be given the run around. So I just worked around the glitch (the screen would just shut off randomly)

Finally, while I was in Kochi for winter vacation the display on my phone officially died.

I was phoneless for the first time in years and that 18 hours was such a challenge!!! (only because I was trying to make plans with friends! I'm not TOTALLY dependent on my phone! ...not like I am with my laptop...but that's another story)

So I went over to the AU cell phone shop in Kochi city. And this was basically how the conversation went:

Oh, your phone is broken? Hmmm, well it is 3 years old afterall. Hmmm, alright! Here's what what's going to happen. We'll send your phone in to be analyzed. If it turns out to be a problem with the phone naturally then we'll fix it free of charge. If it was broken because you did something to it (it was dropped quite a few times in the past 3 years...) then we'll have to charge for the repairs. It won't be more than $150 (cheaper than a new phone) but we'll call to confirm with you what you'd like to do. The entire process will take about 10 days. Oh, your leaving to go back to Okazaki in 3 days? That's no problem, we'll send your phone to a shop by your home. Also, here's a phone we can lend you in the mean time. It's free of charge unless you break it of course. And of course we'll put your sim card in the lender phone so you'll still have all your pictures, preferences and address book. Have a nice day!

And that was that. I ended up getting calls from them several times after this. Each time I was convinced they were going to give me some bogus line about how I had done something to my phone that would require me to pay XXX amount of yen and also do something ridiculous like revoke my visa or some such nonsense.

First they called to confirm that it would in fact cost some amount of money to fix my phone. I couldn't understand what the woman was saying on the phone because she spoke so fast, but I assumed that the $15o would be charged and I would just have to bite the bullet and pay up.

Yesterday I got the final call that my phone had come in and I could drop by to pick it up.

Today, I went in and this is how the conversation went:

Good afternoon! Here's your phone, yes it's the same model you had before but it's been replaced by an entirely new phone. We'll just pop your sim card in here and there you go! A brand new (old) phone! That'll just be 5200yen ($50) but since you've been with us for so long, you've collected quite a few points so if you'd like, you can pay for it in full with the credit you've accumulated. You'd like to do that? Thank you very much and have a nice day!

Bottom line, I got a new phone for free :3

AU is the BEST ever!!!!!

First Day of School

That's right! Today was the first day of classes after the winter vacation. I have some new classmates and a few new teachers as well. It's shaping up to be a good term!

However, the winter vacation was all of a whopping 3 weeks. I slept and relaxed so much that I was particularly lethargic today. I could barely keep my eyes open in class. It was horrible! So I went for a bike ride after school and will continue to do so everyday until I get my energy levels back up!

In other news, I joined a Jazz band. Or rather, I was recruited by one. They needed a new English singer and I just happen to be an exhibitionist with a decent voice so I agreed to try it out.

At the same time however, this is not a small band. There are about 18 members total. Also, have I ever mentioned that I'm not a big fan of jazz? In fact, I usually hate it. It just doesn't do it for me. But I decided that this was too awesome of an experience to turn down and it's also an awesome way to use my Japanese in a very real way. I mean, why else would I be in Japan unless I wanted to sing English for a Japanese Jazz Band?

So I've started practicing some of these songs at home (my neighbors must love me) and for the most part, I just really don't like these songs. Some more than others. And then the icing on the cake is, the band director has decided to throw in Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" just for giggles. I'll admit, it's fun to sing and it's one of my favorites from the list just because it's NOT jazz at all. But at the same time, I feel like an idiot singing such a cheesy song.

I mean I cringe every time I have to take a deep breath to belt out, "AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEE-AIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII will always LOOOOOVE yooooOUUUUUUUUUAAAAIIIIII will alWAYs love..."

You get the idea

Ah well, if I sing it well, that's all the matters. But this isn't a Karaoke box either. I'll be in front of an audience (O.O) something tells me I'm gonna probably regret this :P

Winter

Uh... Here's the past month or so....

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