Friday, March 26, 2010

Hiroshima - Peace Memorial & Museum

Peace Memorial Museum from Persnickety on Vimeo.

Some of the images you see in the video ...ordinary household items warped or partially destroyed by the impact, black rain, iron door warped by the heat rays and blast,the tricycle of a three year old boy who died while riding it in his backyard, the Children's Peace Memorial and lastly, the A-Bomb Dome.

The A-Bomb Dome was the Industry Prefecture Centre in 1945 and it lies very near the impact point. Upon detonation, the heat of the bomb (approximately 2000-3000 degrees) melted the cooper roofing. Every person in the building was killed. The structure remains as a testament to those who died and as a symbol of peace and renewal.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Making Paper Cranes

I made an offer to Persnickety Snark readers to leave paper cranes with their names on them at the Hiroshima Peace Park. What I soon realised was that I had forgotten how to fold paper cranes.

I ended up (pathetically) watching this video.

How To Fold An Origami Paper Crane (Orizuru) - Awesome video clips here

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Months

Over the weekend I celebrated living in Japan for two months. I can't really wrap my head around it as it has all happened so quickly.

It's hard to imagine that three months ago I was sitting in a hospital bed recovering from surgery and a month after that I was adjusting to a temperature change of 43 degrees to 1 degree centigrade.

I can remember waiting for hours at the Narita airport for my boss to arrive. The drabness of the airport combined with the language barrier made the reality of my situation sink in. The ride on the bullet train showed that Japan can be both beautiful and ramshackle in one hit. The supermarket that night scared the living daylights out of me. I have to admit...that first two weeks was really hard. I had a video of me at a low ebb questioning my choice to come here.

And now I am here...




It's incredible. I might only know a small amount of vocab but my charade skills are professional, I am not kidding. I have mad skillz.

In two months I have been to Tokyo for two weekends. I have been into Shizuoka city many times, finally driving in solo this past fortnight. I've been strawberry picking, shrine visiting, and attended countless dinners with parents. I have eaten things that I never would have considered at home. I have gotten depressed when I realise that my assumption, that clothes were beyond me here, was correct. I got depressed again when I realised the same thing about shoes. I have sung karaoke twice, once in a room and once in front of a band. Beyonce can no longer be voiced by yours truly. I got even more bummed out when one of my kids cut my fave hat. I have booked trips to Hiroshima (next weekend), Osaka and Kyoto (the week after that). I have also started squirreling away cash for my trip to New York in August.

I have the bug. The travel bug. It bit me hard and now I am carrying a big ass scar.

The thought of seeing Hiroshima next weekend thrills me. I know it is going to completely bum me out but that's the point of the experience. I really want to leave a paper crane at the monument in Peace Park.. My colleague and I are also planning on seeing the torii gate at Miyajima Island - that famous orange gate in the middle of the ocean. Apparently there are monkeys there...I don't know whether to be excited or scared. Unfortunately there is no home game for the Hiroshima Carp baseball team that weekend so I won't get that particular pleasure, though I am determined to see one live.

I have plans to visit Kamakura soonish as well as Okinawa. Some of you know of my fascination with all things war related. Okinawa was a key point in the Pacific-side of WW2, it is also one beautiful place. Having met a resident recently and really thinking about where I want to go, this was one of the places. It still houses an American base and (apparently) reminds people of Hawaii.

The NY trip is making me particularly excited. I have accommodation already set up and tickets are the next thing to secure. After hearing about it since I was a kid (for some reason I equate it with Sesame Street - go figure), the thought of actually being in NY is beyond exciting. I've had a few people ask me why NY since they know I am nuts to visit Europe. I have some great mates in the US, bloggers and authors alike. NY is the perfect combination of people and places so I can achieve a lot in a very little small of time. There might be a detour to Washington though as someone has expressed interest in meeting up. I am more excited about having coffee with people I email with constantly than seeing Central Park....though Sharon might get commandeered to give me a tour of The Strand! Sharon doesn't know about this yet but she will, either through twitter or her Google alerts :) The lovely Mitali is also someone I hope to meet up with a gush over books and FNL. Dream come true.

Give me some suggestions people...

What are some of the memories (good and bad) so far:
  • supermarket meltdown
  • discovering the joy of Denny's
  • eating a raw squid
  • being complimented on my excellent Japanese pronunciation...though typically on my use of 'arigato' lol
  • my Koala class...they are my sweet peas
  • My colleague...she's my training wheels and unfortunately leaving in 2 weeks
  • Seeing The Lion King in Japanese
  • Askusa
  • Shibuya intersections...just as nuts as you would think
  • Hanging out with Yae and meeting her folks
  • Ramen
  • Cassis - lovely berry alcoholic drink
  • Strawberry picking
  • Learning how to make guacamole and therefore initiating a Shizuoka fad
  • Driving manual in a foreign city solo
  • Paying bills when I have no idea what they are
  • Catching the Shinkansen for the first time
  • Tokyo subway
  • Dying my hair with a translator on standby for directions
  • Still not understanding why the Japanese insist on reversing into parks
  • Realising my kids are learning words like 'lovely' from me alone.
  • Emails
  • lifeline
  • Having a chorus of 'Adele Sensei cute' said to me
  • And my favourite request/demand ever....'Adele Sensei, hug please!'

The big revelation is that teaching might not be for me much longer. I can only see myself teaching in a literature capacity these days. I am weighing my options and trying to figure out what I am actually qualified for outside of teaching. Books are my passion, specifically YA. Maybe this means studying to be a librarian or pursing publishing...who knows? Though both sounds like careers that would plug into my passions and allow me more contact with people that share those same interests. I seem to inadvertently surround myself with non-readers, it's time to switch that up!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kissing Turds

Today I went to the aquarium as part of my school's excursion program. It was an interesting experience as I was told to schmooze. You know, circulate and chat everyone (parent) up...which isn't my style at all. I can't even chat boys up that I think are cute and there's a lot less motivation in sweet talking parents.It was a pretty magical day though. The kids were mesmerised by all the awesome fish and other sea creatures. That being said, my flash couldn't really adequately photograph them. Everything ended up looking slightly psychedelic.
This is an oarfish...named so for pretty obvious reasons. I think it looks like the fish cousin of Falcor from The Neverending Story but more scary. Am I right, or am I right-er?

As a previous post of mine states, I am not a fish person. I am not a spider person, snake person or rat person (apparently not a camera person either according to the picture above).

And yet I found myself reaching into the kiddie pool and picking up this sea sponge. It felt like a balloon full of that silly gooey stuff you throw at walls. It really wasn't all that pleasant. I got to hold the starfish too but they felt like plastic. It also horrified me that the kids were using them as building blocks, grabbing them and putting them on top of one another.

So why I felt the need to pose kissing this ugly, turd looking thing is beyond me. Thankfully I didn't actually kiss it. This is about as close as I got. If I had of smooched it, I imagined it would have closely resembled my slobbery and somewhat slimy first kiss.

At least in this scenario I didn't go through with it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Family Dolls

We've been learning about the family this week. So I thought we would make family dolls and bring in family photos to make connections between the words (mum, dad, sister, brother, baby, family) and their meaning.

It ended up being a considerable amount of prep. Three years olds have problems cutting paper so cutting out clothing in felt was impossible. So guess what I did for a couple of nights last week?I could totally outfit Thumbellina now though!
I had a department store of looks and options. It's all about the separates! I used paper doll templates from the internet and then scaled them down. I then made a cardboard template and traced the outline onto felt. It was a busy few days. Especially as I needed enough for sixteen families, many with five members.
They did such a good job with the glueing and the fussiness of it. Attaching the felt head and clothing to the paired chopsticks was easy for them but the hair was the real challenge.
But they managed well.
Before the dolls had a chance to get their faces on. This was on day one when they had mostly completed their mum and dad dolls. I love looking at the different methods the kids used with attaching the wool for the hair.
My prototype that the kids saw at the beginning of the journey. They didn't believe it was Adele Sensei and to be honest, I don't either :)
And at the end of a very long week!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

This is why we teach...

The awww moment...

The strawberry keychain was great but the notes were lovely. I have already laminated them and they reside in my wallet. Yes, I am a sap.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Outside the Comfort Zone a whole lot.

Ask my family what I am like with fish, they will tell you that I am a big, fat sookie-la-la. I don't eat it. I've had barramundi but I have an completely illogical dislike for the things in most cases. My grandmother's throat was once pierced by a fish bone while she was eating and it's given me the heeby-jeebies ever since. Surgery for something that doesn't taste all that good to me doesn't seem to be a real win-win.

I like shellfish but everything else is a no-go.

But here in (or sakana) is a staple. I went out for dinner over the weekend with parents from my school. I didn't know I was walking into a multiple course meal of raw and cooked fish.

This is what I ate...yes, I ate all of it (in varying amounts). This is one time I have no problem calling myself brave here in Japan.
Raw fish, raw squid and horseradish...
Sure it looked nice but....
It's RAW SQUID!!! I ate one whole and it was mushy and salty (not in a good way) and the tentacles creeped me out.
Raw tuna and another kind of fish with radish flowers and gold. Didn't mind the raw tuna, the light pink stuff - not so much.
Cooked fish (don't ask me what kind)...and it was delightful.
Some kind of fishy patty thing that was really yummy (and blessedly cooked).
Octopus salad. Cooked. Not too bad. The 'pus wasn't too chewy and it was a 'go back for more' dish.
Soba (I think I spelt that wrong) noodles. Cold. Yummy. I found out that chicks are allowed to slurp (not just the dudes), so I slurped. It was fun to make as much noise as humanly possible while eating. One mum took a picture of me doing so, I am hopeful that it will never surface.
Apple icecream with green tea jelly. Ice cream was to die for, jelly hmm. I am not a fan of green tea but it complemented the ice cream well.

And here's me at the end after eating all that (plus unlimited alcoholic beverages).