Sunday, May 20, 2007

Korean Food

Korean food definitely gets the thumbs up although speaking Korean would probably have provided a more varied diet! Barbecued pork with kimichi on the side
BBarbecued pork with kimichi and lettuce
Kimichi hotpot with barbecued pork

Namdaemun Market


Rather than let my last few months fall by the wayside I'm attempting to ressurect my blog...first stop; KOREA!

After accidently booking first class seats, myself and fellow shipmates Steph and Matt got comfortable on the Beetle hydrofoil which takes you from Japan to Korea in a mere 3 hours! Then on to the high speed KTX train (modelled on the TGV) to Seoul. On arrival we navigated the taxi rank which turned out to involve putting our bags in the back of an occupied taxi, throwing said (by now understandably disgruntled) occupant out and driving/racing/ swerving at high speed with a total disregard for safety, other cars and red lights...welcome to Korea. Arriving at our hotel in one piece, the glow of the Hotel Kaya's landmark neon palm tree provided a warm welcome!

What followed was three days of kimichi, barbecued pig cheeks, sweet Korean high school students, turkish ice-cream vendors, temples, shopping, markets, dodgy pop-dance moves and a faulty air conditioner- strangely, the exact components required for the perfect mini-break.

Our favourite temple in the city...Changgyeonggung
" Korean High-School students with Tourists"(who know a little too much about Japanese animation.)


Changing of the Guard Korean Style!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winter is upon us...

Winter has arrived and in Japan that can only mean three things...mikans (clementines), kotatsus (heated table contraptions) and hmm, kerosene.

Today, as a waft of kerosene drifted in my direction, I was filled with mixed feelings; relief that my extremeties would not be grey forever, exasperation that this constitutes a heating system for 127 million people and a pang of loneliness since the installation of the "heaters" (read archaic kerosene stoves) has resulted in my desk being moved away from what I now realise is the fun side of the Staff Room. Here's to 3 months of sitting next to my head of department, light-headedness and small oranges.

For Marko

If you've ever wondered how we are perceived by Japanese people, take a look Saki's imitation of that ever so foreign trait... "The Gaijin Smile"

Tammy, your face says it all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cheshire Cat Visits Japan

Himeji Castle, said to be one of the three best castles in Japan!

2 weeks ago I went away with a teacher from one of my school's and his family. They are lovely and have been so generous to me ever since I arrived. Their daughter, Maki, is studying english at university in Kyoto so we went to visit her. It was a typically gruelling Japanese itinerary but as a result I ended up seeing more Unesco World Heritage sights than you can shake a stick at and visited a lovely onsen town, nestled in the mountains north of Kobe.

However, when it came to choosing some photos to post it dawned on me that Japanese people just don't smile in photos unless it's a freak accident. So, guess who looks like the over zealous werido foreigner tourist who is being reluctantly tolerated by her Japanese hosts??!!

So, the ruthless investigative journalist inside me decided to carry out a little research...

Hannah: "Hey, why don't Japanese people smile in photos?"
Saki: "What?! Why do foreigners always show their teeth? "
Hannah: "Because the whole point of a photo is to create a happy memory. "
Saki: "You're right. We don't smile like this (pulls a cheesy/ moronic grin) but maybe it's because Japanese people don't have good teeth."

So there you have it, gound breaking research, from which I can conclude that Japanese people look miserable in photos, not because they are in fact miserable, but because they don't want to show their toothypegs, which on the whole do tend to be worse than the brits (shock horror). I think this may in part be true but I think it also has more to do with the culture of remaining composed at all times and the dissapproval of public displays of emotion and affection. It upsets me a little because on the whole, Japanese people are so kind-hearted yet in photos they look stern and serious which just seems to perpetuate our stereotype of Japanese people in the west. It comes as little surprise that "purikura" emerged from Japan- small photo booths where people take ridiculous photos and decorate them with kitsch ridiculous that I've heard people even show a bit of incisor!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cosmos Season

Saki and I had a lovely, if slightly nauseating looking at the photos, day larking around fields of flowers!!! I think I've finally succumbed to this whole romance/ love thing. It feels nice though!

The WORLD Shrimp Catching Competition

I think they can get away with dubbing this the "world" shrimp catching competition because I know of no other country that would seriously try and stage an event whereby hundreds of people, armed only with a pair of white gloves (Micheal Jackson would be proud) and an orange plastic net, gallavant into the sea to catch as many live shrimp as possible. Apparently, the key is to stick your index figure into the sand to lure the no doubt terrified shrimp out of hiding and into your grasp. I was absolutely rubbish and slightly disheartened at having a grand total of zero shrimp to show for 40 minutes of scrounging around the Seto Inland Sea.