Saturday, October 4, 2008

First Week of October in Pictures

Crying Kids

This week was quite eventful: I made three kids cry, and one kid hate me. Oh well, "what to do, what to do". At least in one case it was the kid's fault, and as for the other cases, I learned a bit more about what 5 year olds can and can not developmentally handle in terms of competitive games. I am still not used to how young my students are, it's like they live in a completely different world. I wish I took developmental psychology...

Yesterday one of my students, an extremely smart girl who is really good at English, left my class smiling (she won in two games, and she is generally a happy kid), but then she came back to school crying her heart out. It turned out her mom didn't come to pick her up. Thankfully I had a break between classes, so we waited for her mom together with her and the manager, Natsue-san, both of us trying to cheer her up. I always thought of this girl as if she were older, a 9-year old or so, but this reminded me that she is only six. She cried for her mom so bitterly, I almost felt like crying myself, she was so sad. It's amazing how kids' emotions work. I bet once she was in the car with her mom (who was only 5-10 minutes late), she was laughing and smiling... Kids go from sad to happy so fast.

This is going to be a totally random post by the way, I just realized there is a lot I wanted to write about, so whoever reads this will have to bear with me.

Okonomiyaki and Monja

Yesterday I went to an okonomiyaki restauraunt with our two managers and the kids, and with one of the guys I work with. It was so fun! I wrote before that I love the kids a lot, and I love my managers too, they are such good people and so interesting to talk to.
Even though we were in an okonomiyaki restauraunt, I didn't have okonomiyaki, I had monja instead, because I decided to try something new, and because that's what the kids were getting :D. It's actually pretty interesting food, but difficult to describe. So instead of me explaining what it is, here's a video I found on youtube of what happens when you make monja:

Doesn't look very appetizing, but it tasted wonderful.
It has all sorts of stuff inside, the main ingredient being cabbage, but there is also seafood, and/or meat, and/or rice cakes, and cheese, and/or seaweed, and other things. It tasted very good.
I didn't take pictures because I was lazy and tired from work... Maybe next time.

Nagoya Concert
Now, skipping one week back, last weekend I went to Nagoya with my friend Eri. She invited me to a concert, and I think she told me what exactly this concert will be like, but I misunderstood, so the more exciting surprise it turned out to be. This concert turned out to be an orchestra that played music from Nodame Contabelle! I know, some of you must be pretty envious ;). MAAAAANNNNNN, it was good! They played my most favourite, Rachmaninov's second piano concert, and I have never heard it live before, so it was an unforgettable experience. It was so moving, I cried actually, because the music is just so beautiful. Here is a recording of Rachmaninov himself playing the piece:

Before the concert Eri took me to see her university, Nagoya University (or College?) of Music. It was so interesting to see where she goes to school. We had lunch close to campus, at a "Moss Burger" restauraunt. Apparently it's a big chain in Japan, and the food is really good, a lot better than North American burgers. Plus the portions are small, which is great, you don't end up overeating. I am not a big fan of burgers, but the one I had there was really really good. I didn't take a picture, but I found one on the internet, I think it's similar to what I ate:

Oh, and the drinks are really diverse here, not just the standard cola/sprite/root beer/orange juice/apple juice stuff. You can get ice coffee (that is actually good, not like the McDonalds nasty ice coffee in Toronto), different tea, and different kids of juice.

The performance was in Aichi Arts Centre, that has a beautiful concert hall. My pictures kind of suck, but oh well.

After the concert we went to have dinner at an Itallian restauraunt near the train station. I didn't get to see as much of the city this time, but I will definitely go back there again soon (maybe even tomorrow), because it's just so lively and the atmosphere is great there. I don't know if I will go tomorrow or not for sure, because I might go to the ocean, and I might also have to stay home to catch up on all the chores and such if I don't get everything done tonight, but we'll see I guess. Anyways, I didn't take pictures in the restauraunt, but it was fun. I met Eri's university friends and it was interesting to talk to them.

The Ocean Next to My School
During the week nothing much happened until Thursday. That day I had extra time before my lessons start, so I went exploring the city (Kosai). I saw on google maps (haha, on my iPhone :P) that the ocean is really close, so I went to take a look. It was even closer than I thought, it's literally a 5 minute walk from our school! It's not a beach or anything, but it was very nice to walk along the ocean and smell the salt in the air. The day was absolutely beautiful too, so I really enjoyed myself. Here are some pictures.

There was a little crab (maybe 5cm wide) walking along the road:

There was also a turle, sunbathing on the pier:

There were many fishermen's nets along the coast.

I liked how the corroded metal looked on this mirror. You have to click it to enlarge though if you want to see the details.

These flowers bloom all over Toyohashi and surrounding areas now, I wonder what they are called. I have never seen flowers like this before.

This was someone's abandoned bike. I wonder how many years ago it was abandoned.

Saturday Trip to Gamagori (Mikawa Otsuka)
Today (on Saturday) I went North-East (towards Nagoya), to the station called Mikawa Otsuka, where I get off every week to go to my junior high school classes in Otsuka Junior High School. Whenever I take the train there I keep wanting to explore, but of course there is never time during the week, because we get there at 9 AM, and after that we have to return to teach our afternoon classes (yes, I love my schedule, sigh).

On the way I saw some weird plants:

This is just a view of the area around the station:

Power station? It looked cool, but I couldn't get a good picture because I couldn't step far enough back to capture all of it.

There were these citrus gardens everywhere. I wonder what fruit these are... Oranges or tangerines, maybe.

There is also a Buddhist (I think) graveyard next to the train station. I always try to take a good picture while waiting for the train, but the angle is not right, and I am behind a fence (the station has a fence since you have to pay to get in). Today I was on the other side of the fence, outside of the station, so I managed to take a better picture:

Anyways, there are these torii gates that I always see from the train, so I wanted to know what was behind them, and that's the main reason I went there. The day was absolutely beautiful today, so warm and bright, so I enjoyed walking around the area. The gates led to a small shrine, in the middle of a pine-bamboo forest.

This is more or less what I see from the train:

This is the climb there:

These are the other set of gates, at the top:

These are the same gates, but I am looking down from the shrine on them (as opposed to looking up from the forest):

This is a fox guardian, I think. This reminds me, I still want to go back to Toyokawa Inari shrine and take a picture of the million foxes there.

This looked like the lantern, but I don't know. I need to read more about Shintoism to understand all the things I saw.

I initially planned on exploring the mountain too, but I guess I got a little bored with just pines and bamboo, and worried about getting lost (even though I had my GPS, which is really an amazing device to have—imagine carrying google maps with you everywhere). So instead I went to explore the coast. The station, as well as the school, are close to the ocean, and I could easily find my way there with the google maps on my phone. I can't get over how much I love my new phone by the way. Today it made my life so much more easy and so much more fun—I could find the train station easy, and I knew which way was the shortest to the ocean, and where parks and other attractions were.
On the way to the ocean I made a stop at "Laguna", a sort of mall/entertainment center. Apparently it's supposed to be a place for young people to hang out, but I wasn't too impressed (haha, maybe because I didn't feel like spending money, I don't know). Maybe I didn't see all of it, I don't know, but in any case, I had a lot more fun walking around the seashore. There were two guys flying some kite-looking things, I don't really know what those are called. One of them was trying to surf using the kite (Joanne, remember the ones we saw in San Francisco? It was the same thing), but the wind was blowing towards the shore, so he didn't have much luck. I stayed to watch for maybe half an hour, but then I got bored and decided to keep walking.

There were also people water-skiing, but I didn't manage to take a good picture.

The shore was littered with shells, some of them quite beautiful. I ended up picking a whole bunch... I don't know what I'll do with them, but they looked pretty. I guess I can always throw them away, but for now they will be good memories from today.

This is the view of the shore.

This is not a very good picture, but there is a Ferris wheel behind the palm trees. I wanted to ride it, but I didn't bring enough money and didn't want to risk not having enough to pay for the ticket back home, and there was no bank machine in sight. I actually don't know how much the ride costs, maybe I did have enough, but anyways I wasn't in the mood either. I think it's more fun to ride these things with friends anyway. Plus my phone was running low on batteries so I wouldn't have been able to take too many pictures. I can always go back there, it's so close to my home.

This is just the view of the ocean. I took off my shoes and walked in the water. It's already October, and we had a few cool days when I woke up in the morning and had to dash for the shower (it was too cold in the room), but today I think was about 25 outside, and the water is still warm enough to swim, I think. Maybe not warm enough for comfortable swimming, but definitely warm enough for a vigorous work-out-style power swimming... that's why I am not entirely convinced I should go to Nagoya tomorrow and pass up on probably my last chance to go swimming in the ocean this year. Ah, decisions, decisions... :D Well, I can always go to Nagoya, I think, but the ocean is getting cold, so I'll probably bike to the ocean. Plus I skipped kendo today because I had stuff to do, so I could use the exercise...

I am so happy that I live this close to the ocean. I missed it so much for these 8 years in Canada... I REALLY missed it, now I am realizing just how much.

Some Random Pictures from Today

I just went to the grocery store to get more tea, and I ended up buying a snack as well. The tea is mango orange (I didn't even realize it had orange in it until just now, and I've been drinking it for a week). It's really good actually, I love it a lot. The snack is coffee ice-cream. I love Japanese grocery stores for carrying everything in small portions. This was a 150 ml container. They gave me a wooden spoon-looking thing to eat it with, and they have chopsticks too if you ask, so basically you can just get all your cooked food in the grocery store, including cuttlery, if you wanted to (a nice back-up system for when you don't feel like cooking, and it doesn't cost that much more to buy pre-cooked stuff). Oh, I just noticed, the tea box says "Flavoury Tea". :D

The next random picture is of me editing this blog post :D.

Special Requests
The last two pictures I took because I was asked for more information on my super cool toilet :P. Here's also the URL to the website of the manufacturers of this wonder of technology.


Jeff said...

Mos Burger rules! 以上。

Katya said...

I know!!