1. image: Download

    I am the one providing the answers to all your homeworks!

    I am the one providing the answers to all your homeworks!

     
  2. Presents

    My last day at Shido Higashi JHS, the school with the nicest teachers but the most high-maintenance kids, and I was left with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

    I love the hand-written notes I’ve been given from my students as well, like this one compiled by a group of 1st year girls at Shido JHS.

    I’m starting see it, the sadness of leaving this tiny country town.

     
  3. To a place of blue skies and sunny days!

    In the spirit of the July 4 holiday, here’s a list of places I’d rather be now. You Americans better enjoy your summer vacation while it lasts–I’m still waiting on mine.

    Montreal, Quebec (Canada)

    François Hogue

    Reading a good book at a cafe, al fresco style.

    Bali, Indonesia

    Bambu Indah

    An after dinner stroll.

    Pays Basque, France

    JPAZAM

    Biking down this hill.

    Where would you rather be?

    PS: I haven’t done a good job in this whole blogging thing, not because I lost interest, but because I lost track of the time. I had a number of things + pictures I’ve been meaning to post so we’ll see if I can get around to them.

    Countdown to Tokyo: 13 days!

     
  4.  
  5. SAKURA COUNTDOWN

    I am like one of the millions of Japanese following the sakura blooming charts.

    Just looking forward to wandering around the streets of Kyoto with *insert sappiness* my special someone. :)

     
  6. In a Western Japan

    In a Western Japan…

    1.) Stores sell old-fashioned koo-koo clocks and other wooden trinkets, all hand-crafted and imported from Germany.

    2.) Grand living rooms are decked in reds and golds, to make the perfect place to play a game of chess or your favorite Mozart tune on a vintage piano.

    3.) Attire from the people of long ago line the walls. Perhaps, worn by the rich (bored of stuffy kimonos) during the Edo Period?

    4.) People make it a hobby to play (and sing) classic American blues and rock & roll in live venues.

     

    There are many reasons why I love Kobe City so much. It’s refreshing to see a mix of cultures when you’ve been stuck in the more conservative countryside all month long.


     
  7. Scary Doll Day

     

    I know it’s a little late, but yesterday was Hina Matsuri, otherwise known as the day when the Japanese proudlydisplay their creepy-looking dolls to the public. People can enjoy looking at their ghostly white faces, while the dolls plot their next move to take over the human race (or at least, wreck havoc in my dreams). Okay, maybe I am over exaggerating a bit…


    A handmade present. Yes, those are lil’ monkeys sitting on a log in the BG.

    This is how cute they can actually be.

     
  8. Sharing the music love

    So yeah, basically it’s an audio-splitter, and I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in it if it were just some ordinary looking piece of metal. Nevertheless, the concept remained endearing to me ever since I first read about it via Yanko Design. I mean, music can set the mood for anything; it works for movie soundtracks, so why not use it to liven up your own personal life and share a little piece of happiness in the process?


    I got me little greedy paws on it…!!!

    I could imagine strolling down Central Park, hand-in-hand, to the tune of “Autumn in New York” before stopping by a local pizzeria for some pepperoni and jalapeno. Now, how romantic is that?

     
  9. Exploding mochi!


    Don’t you want to know what’s growing in my microwave?

    Today marks the day I made mochi! Well, technically, the lunch lady of one of my schools (a typicalkyuushoku no obaasan) did all the hard work, pounding then molding the rice into little square bricks. I just cooked and ate them.


    What? “Square bricks”?!

    It was my first time making mochi of this type. Usually, when I think about mochi, I think of its sticky, chewy texture (which, the Japanese describe as mochi-mochi, simply enough) and its addictive sweetness. Then I saw these white little bad boys at the super market–my idealized beliefs were shattered into tiny pieces. Hard mochi? Blasphemy! Zero flavor? DOUBLE the blasphemy! Apparently you can cook it either over a grill, in the toaster oven, or in a pot of boiling water for different results. I was skeptical. The lunch lady suggested I eat it with jam (a substitute for bread?), but I had a better idea. The other day, I made some Korean sundubuBCD style, with tons of leftovers to spare. Why not toast the mochi and put it in a bowl of the hot steaming soup! Brilliant idea, non?


    The outcome: mochi with LEGS!

    It was also a good way to test my microwave’s other functions (it apparently can toast and bake too). Popped it in, 5 minutes, and boom! Grew double its size! The end result was deliciousness.

     
  10. On Japanese design

    I am in love with Japanese minimalism in design. I love how they can make a simple space or ordinary object stand out because of its simplicity.


    From Oji & Design

    I hate cleaning. I do it regularly, but it takes great effort to motivate myself to clean. Seeing this simple broom, however, brought a smile to my face. The unexpected twist? The umbrella-like handle! If it were in my posession, I’d be motivated to tidy up my room every day!

    A living room brightened up by some green

    There’s this house close to my apartment that from the moment I stepped into it I fell in love. The designer (also the resident) shaped the exterior into a metallic cube which may sound strange, but the inside is strictlynatural wood with windows in all the right places, filling up each room with tons of sunlight. The furniture is also modern chic yet family friendly (they have 2 kids). And it’s energy-efficient! Lovely!


    Chichu Art Museum

    If you want to experience the best of Japanese minimalist design, the island of Naoshima, off the coast of Takamatsu City, is the place to go. The architect Tadao Ando brings out the beauty of hard grey concrete, often incorporating nature in strategic areas. It’s a great place to walk around, explore, think, and just be.

     
  11. Dropping cash is a new sport


    New Year’s Day sales in Osaka

    Shopping in Japan can be a fun and interesting experience. I always enjoyed how lively shopping areas are in the city. Makes me forget all about the recession.

    During my time studying Kyoto, I missed walking through random shops on my way home. It was easy to do there because you can’t walk from point A to B without passing by a couple of random shops containing the latest fashions or cute little trinkets you don’t really need but want anyway.

    Reminiscing about my experiences, I came up with this list of things that always amazed me when shopping in the big cities of Japan:
    – The cute elevator girls in fancy department stores who are paid to press the floor button for you.
    – The basement floor of such department stores (aka the FOOD floor)
    – The tiny girls with big voices yelling out the prices of their wares.
    – Pushing my way through a mass of people during special sale days.
    – The people who like to shadow you until you decide to make that purchase.
    – The sheet of plastic/paper/cloth you’re supposed to lay on your face before trying on a blouse (an effort to prevent makeup smear on the new merchandise–I never use it).

    Being in the inaka, however, the options are very few. Well, at least I’m able to save a ton of money.

     
  12. My ode to winter

    You know spring is coming when you wake up in the morning and don’t feel as hesitant to get out of the warm sheets. I checked the thermometer and found that my room was actually a temperate (but still cold by LA standards) 13 degrees! I don’t even need two heaters on, and walking on the woodened floors barefooted wasn’t much of a pain. Yes! Spring! I await for your quick return!

    But I do love you winter, for the sole reason that I can go snowboarding in Japan’s beautiful mountains! Early last month a couple of friends and I headed to the mountains of Hyogo Prefecture to ride the slopes. I’ve never seen so much snow my entire life! And it felt like fine powder!

    So thank you, winter! You will be missed!

     
  13. For my Valentines

    While walking through the Loft the other day, looking for some cute Valentine’s Day cards to send to people, I stumbled upon a HUGE section dedicated to those make-your-own chocolate truffles, cakes, and other sweets. Of course, all the women were surrounding the section; Valentine’s Day is a day for men–that is, it is the day women are obliged to spoil their male counterparts by making them sweets and other goodies. Times like this makes me proud not to be Japanese because I know I can expect a new Chloe purse and not feel too guilty about it. Right? :)



    Chocolate meets spoon

    I should add this to my “You know you’re turning Japanese” list because you know you’re starting to act like one when you get overly excited about making cute small edible things. I couldn’t resist buying this ready-to-make pack of choco spoons. Aren’t they adorable?


     

    Colorful candy hearts, metallic dots, and star bursts galore!

    The part I got excited the most (other than sampling the chocolate) was the decorating. Not as easy as I thought it would be–the creative juices had stopped running and I had to resort to the examples printed on the box for more “inspiration”.

    Is this pretty enough to eat?

    In the end, I think they came out pretty well. I think I added a little too much cream to make them harden properly, but ganaches are just as yummy too! And much more melt-in-your-coffee efficient!

     
  14. Blame it on the weather


    Doesn’t this make you feel just a tad bit warmer?

    I don’t know what to say about the lack of posts.

    It can be because I decided to exert a little more effort into getting to know my students, making me a little bit busier than usual. It can be because of my growing frustration with the whole system. It can also be the result of my mixed feelings (border-lining between like & annoyance) with a fellow comrade at times. Ultimately it’s the winter slump that’s making me less productive on the internets. I haven’t even updated pictures on the Fbook in a ridiculously long while! STUPID COLD!

    But spring is in the air… I can feel it!

     
  15. Japanese homes
I want to live in a Japanese-styled house, with a bright sunny room overlooking a peaceful garden. That would be nice.

    Japanese homes

    I want to live in a Japanese-styled house, with a bright sunny room overlooking a peaceful garden. That would be nice.