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December 5, 2009

Kyoto in the autumn is absolutely gorgeous.

How have you been?
I'm sorry for being away for so long.

----
My new job has me traveling around, which is great...this is what I had been hoping for.

But there is so much more to a job than meets the eye..

Calling people up and asking them to open their busy schedules in order to meet ME is not always an easy thing to do.

Hopefully I will get better at this...
Hopefully I will become a person who people will want to meet...

How is yor autumn ( or depending on where you live, spring!)?

November 1, 2009

Unlike the Kyoto I had in my head...

October 21, 2009

videoBeen working hard...I've been thinking about my blog friends and have been wanting to update stuff but it has all been a blur... I am in Fukuoka till today but will be heading back to Osaka in a few hours...

I found lots of fish in a river nearby my mother's home...let's see if the video works!

October 3, 2009

It's huge and it's yellow....what is it?

Long time no speak... I have been in Tokyo again and am finally back. I am still learning the ropes of my new job as a sales consultant for a textbook publisher. it is so far great fun to talk with a lot of "educated" people and I am learning lots.


I am VERY busy during weekdays and I sometimes will have to work on the weekends as well, but it is fairly peaceful compared to what I have done in the past...


...I am literally crying because I am happy to have TWO DAYS OFF IN A ROW. Which sounds normal but it wasn't for a long time and so I actually feel....well....blessed.


AMEN.


Anyway, on my last day off I went to Osaka's "Aqua Metrpolis Osaka 2009"... it goes on till the 12th of October and I think this is the first year that the city has "celebrated" the waterways.
They are trying to clean up the rivers and make them more popular again.


(There are several rivers in the city that used to be major waterways for distribution but highways and trucks have basically taken over.
The City has a nice website in English over here if you are interested in learning more...)


ANYWAY,
My husband and I went to see what was going on at the festival...which turned out to be much smaller than I had imagined BUT ...it was still rather interesting.


For example, what do you think this is?



Wow...how did you know?!





Yep...it just as well could be one of the world's largest...



say hello to the yellow rubber ducky...
floating in the river that runs through the Nakanoshima Park



It is 9.5 meteres tall (the size of a three story house?)
The duck was designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hoffman.
You can find out more about the rubber duck (and him) by clicking here.


There were also windmills made out of recycled plastic bottles...

Do you see the rubber ducky in the back there?
(The rubber ducky is now in a different part of Osaka...Suminoe-ku)
...
There was also a sand castle....

A Japanese style sand castle.


There was a lot more to enjoy, but since this is getting rather long, I will leave the rest for my next post...


Thank you for patiently waiting for my post...I have heard of some troubles with posting comments...I think the problem is fixed now but if you still have problems with comments could you please let me know by e-mailing me? Click here for the e-mail...no spam please ;-)


I hope you have a great weekend! I know I will!

September 21, 2009

The view from the place we stayed at in the Rokko Mountains!

The air was absolutely refreshing!

We also had a great healthy breakfast!

September 19, 2009

The rice is growing, making the heads of the rice stalks get heavier...they are bowing in the autumn wind....in Kyoto.


an old tower at the Toji Shrine in Kyoto...I am now going to be traveling to Kyoto quite often for work... yeah!

But I will be headed for the mountains in Kobe tomorrow with friends!

I'll let you know how everything is when I get back...Japan is having several days of holidays in a row so I am enjoying some time resting after a very eventful week at work!

September 12, 2009

Have you ever seen a gold elevator?

This is an elevator in a building in Shibuya (Tokyo) that was featured a bit in the movie "Kill Bill"!

...
Don't worry, the gold isn't real...
...I think!

Thank you for your lovely comments. I have been pretty tired from all the studying and "partying".

I can't wait to get home tomorrow night and rest as well as check out my favorite blogs that I have been missing this past week!

September 11, 2009

Good morning!
Another view from my phone.
This morning I got to take a bath in the sunrise...

The birds are chirping and flying about. I am grateful for all this nature, the delicious air gives me an appetite!

I will post more pictures when I get home. Today is the last day of our conference and we will be heading to Tokyo for a different seminar!

September 9, 2009

The little bath!
I woke up at six am and took a bath in the rain! It was lovely!

September 8, 2009

I am in Atami studying about sales and the latest products our press has to offer. There are quite a few people from other Asian offices gathered here for this seminar.

The above picture shows the view from our room. Tomorrow I will post a photo of the little bath that is on our veranda!

I haven't used the little bath yet because we all went to the larger bath. In Japan there is a saying "hadaka no tsukiai" which translates into "naked association" ...
I know ... sounds weird but it means that you get to know each other better AND trust one another more after taking a bath together. It could freak you out at first but after a couple of times you can get used to it...

September 2, 2009

Tokyo night lights...are much prettier than I expected.

I'll be back home in Kansai tomorrow night. I have been enjoying Tokyo and life in my hotel room but it will be nice to sleep in my own bed for a couple of nights. I will also get to use my home PC and do some catching up with your blogs! I haven't been able to check out as much as I'd like to since I am "sort of" working...
LOL

August 31, 2009

Times, they are a changin'〓

The elections in Japan for the lower house reps, ended yesterday with the Lberal Democratic Party winning a "landslide victory". Please check out this news if you haven't already. I'd love to talk more about this but I am typing this with one finger...on my, yes, phone.

I am in Tokyo because my job is "a changin'" tomorrow. I will be attending a meeting tomorrow and will be here for two more days for...I'm not sure what... but I'll let you know so long as it is not confidential ;-)

Oh, I arrived just an hour or so before the TYPHOON got here too!
The view from my phone:

August 28, 2009

I love...

I love my phone. I know you are not supposed to say you love "things" because it makes you sound materialistic...how can a love for family and friends be compared to a "thing"...!
...but I still love my phone...a lot more than my previous one... AND I love Blogger because it has become soooo easy to post AND add a picture...from my phone.
Why is this such a big deal?
Because I will be going to Tokyo and other parts of Japan in September..which means I will be away from my computer. But I am greedy now. I want to read my favorite blogs and update my own blog while I'm on the road...and now I can!
I am doing the hokey pokey now...
Now, that "peach sweet" I posted (from my i-phone!) looks like this when split in half:
The outside is a crust (made from flour and sugar) and the inside is a chestnut paste with peach flavoring.

This was a gift from one of my bosses who traveled to Okayama, a prefecture in south western Japan that is famous for their gloriously delicious peaches.

Hey, I also love peaches.

Oh, and I love you too!

From my i-phone...a peach manju (a mini traditional Japanese cake)

August 24, 2009

My trip to Hakata. + More tomatoes!?

Hi! I am back and feeling great!

I tried getting on the internet with my new phone but the area surrounding my mother's place did not have wi-fi so it has been a week since I have been able to peek at some of my favorite blogs!


The rice paddies are green and looking nice where she lives.
In a couple of weeks the stalks will grow taller, turn brown and start to bow with heavy heads of rice grains.



While I was in Hakata I found more interesting tomato sweets!

Tomato yogurt... it tasted like... cold tomato soup... but more creamy and sweet.

This is white chocolate with tomatoes in it! When you munch on it is rather crispy, kind of like when you eat a kit-kat.
At first the aroma of white chocolate fills your mouth...
but when you swallow there is a light tang and you get a whiff of tomatoes.

...

It was hot in Hakata but I had some errands to run, and one of them took me to my alma mater.
It is a Christian school and I remember attending chapel once a week to hear the pipe organ...which I forgot to check out while I was there....

I did stop to see what was on the bulletin board:


Since my errand had to do with my "new beginning" ( a new job in September) the above bit of scripture seemed directed at me...

I can just see the trees "clap their hands"!

When I got back to Osaka, the trees had a few yellow leaves and the clouds looked farther away than they were before...an autumn sky!

There are a few errands for me to run before my magical merry Monday off is over.
Next week my Monday will be spent in Tokyo! I am so excited!

August 16, 2009

fireworks, tomato dessert and my new phone

I will be visiting my mom in Fukuoka from tomorrow...I will probably not be able to do a whole lot of blogging this week since she doesn't have a computer...but with my current blogging rate, you won't even notice that I'm gone! lol

However, I will try to see if I can blog via my new phone...

Yep, you read right, my new phone:
I am a sucker for apple computers...
I have an i-pod too.... but I think my new i-phone is pretty....

Anywhooo...

Last week was packed with fun and work. I got to meet some friends and we had a great lunch and some sparkling wine...

I also treated myself to some interesting dessert that my husband found...
this is a "tomato tiramisu"

It was a little sweet and sour at the same time...not bad really!

There was also a fireworks festival not far from where I live. I got to catch a glimpse of it all between the surrounding buildings!

I'll try to get back on track with more photos and posts about Japanese culture as soon as I get back.

I'll be starting a new job in September but it should give me a lot to write about since I will be a "traveling sales person"! Autumn is my favorite season in Japan for so many reasons and I hope to share them with you too!

August 8, 2009

Dear Diary, I have been a bad blogger!

Last week torrential rains devastated the south western part of Japan.  Landslides took the lives of people living in the countryside...

We had a few mighty rain clouds hovering over our city as well...

but now we are out of the rainy season and it is ....HOT!
Today it was a whopping 36 degrees C  (96.8 degrees F)...

I had to work today but I came home to find my husband cuddling a bag of ice.

I asked him why he didn't just turn on the air conditioning... He gave me a very earth friendly answer...

...

This is also a week in Japan for remembrance.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed on August 6th and 9th and it is the weekend before the Obon festivities begin.

Obon is held in mid August and can be loosely identified with Halloween and Memorial Day (in the States)...it is a time for family reunions and heading down to the family graveyard(s).
Willow wrote a nice poem about this and you can find it over here.

This year I will be heading over to Fukuoka to visit my mother and maybe my grandmother's grave after the Obon festivities so that I can dodge the traffic.

There's more I would like to talk about on the Obon subject but that will have to wait.

I am really posting all this to explain again why I haven't been an active blogger...


I have been away from blogging and even checking out my favorite blogs this past week because I went to Tokyo during a regular work week.

This is the first time I have ever applied for a job while still working...and I vow not to do this again...

Why?

Too stressful... Leaving a job seems to be more stressful than having to find a new one!

I still don't know if I will get the job or not but I seem to be among the last batch of recruits.

I actually had lots of fun at the interviews.  I learned a lot about myself and about how I cope in stressful situations.  (I have all those lovely, outrageous people who visit me at work now to thank...so everything does have a meaning!)

Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

I have a day off on Monday and I am going to Kobe for a lunch and book buying!  I will update my week's adventures again then!

Thank you for all the encouraging messages!
I have been able to stay focused and happy because of you!

July 27, 2009

Dear Diary, where is all the zen?

Thank you for your kind messages and comments... let me explain my current excuse for not being the perfect blogger...


I have been busy. I know, I know, you are too...but, please allow me to whine a bit.

4days of work, 1 day off, 5 days of work, 1 day off, and now I am getting ready for a week of
6 days of work to be followed by...

1 day off....

And work hasn't been all that great. Lots of people whining about stuff that really isn't THAT important.

Why do people threaten librarians? They must have a very difficult life if venting on me makes them feel better.... But does it REALLY make them feel better?

When you are angry and let that anger persist, all it does is consume your energy.
I really don't think it is worth it.

So...while I was being hollered at for not having a particular book at the library (it is not in my power to do anything about it...so very sorry), I decided to meditate.

Right in the middle of being hollered at...I straightened up my back, set my chin straight, looked directly at the hollerer and said....
"yes, I understand" ... repeatedly like a mantra.

I sort of zoned in by zoning out and freaked out the hollerer. hehehe

But this made me think about what the rest of the world thinks about the Japanese people.

Quiet, subdued, polite, tranquil, zen-like....what do you think?

Of course, like any other nation there are stereotypes and much more. You can't really label a whole people, can you?

I have met some angry people over the past couple of months and they have made me wonder...what happened to the mild mannered Japanese?

So, I made comfort food (which is an amazing feat for me)
Pumpkin soup, mushroom, eggplant and goya pizza with marinated beans and peppers...
and I called my mom.
According to her it was all an illusion from the beginning. "Foreigners think Japanese people are polite because Japanese tend to cram their bad attitudes into the closet when they are with foreigners. They are afraid of being disgraced. But with each other, Japanese can be rude, harsh....mean."

My mom has never really liked her own people that much.

So, I thought I would think about it myself.

Maybe it has nothing to do with nationality.

Maybe it's me.

I can't cope with being around angry people. They make me angry for making me uncomfortable.
I'd like to fight back but I know that that is like "oil on a fire"(hi ni abura wo sosogu)...it will just make matters worse.

Or maybe it's the Moon...
The total eclipse on page 1 in all the newspapers....(evening papers from the 22nd of July).

But then again, maybe someone stole the zen from Japan.

Maybe there is some kind of zen sucking vampire on the loose. In that case, I will guard my "peace of mind" with my life! I don't care if the vampire turns out to look just like Robert Pattinson... it will not suck anything from me.... except a little excess fat wouldn't be minded at all ;-)

To keep my mind from collapsing....
...on this very treasured day off, I am still waiting to hear when my next job interview is... while I read....

and meditate/yoga, and do a bit of shodo, Japanese calligraphy...my style...
in the lower right hand corner is the kanji for the word "light" (hikari光)...I have made a mix between kanji and the alphabet in the center.

Here is a more simple one for "dream" (yume夢) ...

(There is an amazing shodo artist named Kunishige Tomomi. I can't find an official website but there was one example of her work for the word "festival" (matsuri) over here.)

...

I am also working on my next "i-ro-ha" series. The next character is "chi"... and will include words like

chyouchin (lantern) ...'tis the season for lanterns and summer festivals in Japan.
My search to find the lost zen will continue...

July 18, 2009

an overview of my weekend in Nagasaki...

I haven't been able to check out many blogs this past week, I'm very sorry for being a "bad blogger".

I jumped back into my work schedule after returning from Nagasaki...and I also had a job interview! Yes, I am currently hoping to get a job where I can use my English skills and previous experiences as a teacher and in book sales.

I did my best and if providence is willing I will have a second round of interviews later this month...
Let's see what happens!

Now, here is what I did in Nagasaki...again, apologies...I wasn't able to take very many photos.
It was raining when we reached Nagasaki last week. There is a famous song in Japan...
sung by
It was a bumpy flight sometimes but we had a smoooooth landing...
There was a very strange looking (and gigantic) bowl of noodles in the airport to greet us.
It was supposed to be a model of the local delicacy called "chanpon" but it looks nothing like the real thing!
Here is a picture of the real thing...the picture doesn't capture the actual deliciousness of the dish though...sorry!
Chanpon is a bowl of noodles in chicken and pork broth with cabbage, bean sprouts, shrimp etc...
It is a combination of Japanese and Chinese food.

There are many Chinese descendants living in Nagasaki and that is why a lot of the Buddhist ceremonies and other festivities in Nagasaki have a very China-like atmosphere.

For example usually cemeteries in Japan are quiet...but the first summer after a loved one has passed away, in Nagasaki cemeteries...do not be surprised if you hear a lot of people lighting firecrackers. The loud crackling sounds are supposed to scare off bad spirits.

Lots and lots of firecrackers!...this is from the Chinese culture that has become a part of Nagasaki.

(I'd show some pictures from 2 years ago, but I'm not sure everyone would be interested in seeing me in a dark cemetery lighted by an orange-ish flame...;-))

...

Speaking of flames....since it was raining most of the time that we were in Nagasaki and because our main purpose of being there was to "commemorate" the 2nd year after my father-in-law's death, we didn't go out much. So with the couple of hours of free time, I read some of my husband's old manga that he had in his room.
Hinotori (the Phoenix) by Tezuka Osamu.
All 5 episodes are set in different times but the main character, the Phoenix, appears in all of them.
I wanted to bring these back with us but our suitcase was full...so next time I will try to post more about this epic tale of life!

...

In Japan there are many memorial services that are tied in with both Shinto and Buddhist religions.
There is the "tsuya" = kind of like a wake
the shonanuka=a memorial after the seventh day of passing
the shijukunichi=a memorial after the 49th day
the isshuki= a year after
the sankaiki = "san" means 3, but in this term it is actually the second year after...

I know, VERY confusing.

This year was the "sanakaiki" memorial service, the second year since my father-in-law passed away.

We listened to a Buddhist monk chant for about 40 minutes. My mother-in-law, my husband and myself had front row seats. I could hear people getting restless in the back...
I used this extremely long chant to "meditate". I closed my eyes, held my buddhist beads (like Catholic rosaries) and concentrated on my father-in-law's smile.

If someone stands in front of you, or waves their hand in front of your face when you have your eyes closed...you can tell, can't you? You can feel their presence without having to open your eyes...

...I had my eyes closed but I KNEW someone ELSE was there, right in front of me. Unless, the Buddhist monk was doing an unexpected jig around us...


Of course I can't be sure, but I wasn't scared. I felt calm and rather peaceful.

After the chanting, our party of 23 people sat down to eat a huge lunch.

Some relatives stopped by my mother-in-laws home. I had to shuffle around in the kitchen to prepare things to eat and drink. I can't cook, at least not for relatives...and ordered chanpon and other dishes from a local restaurant. I did cut some fruit though! ;-)

(My own "story" reminds me of a book I am looking forward to reading that should be released sometime this September. It is by Marie Mutsuki Mockett and she has written a very interesting essay about Buddhist funerals and Japanese society. Please click here to read it.)

...

..and then the day we had to leave Nagasaki...it wasn't raining anymore!
...and from the car ride to the airport I was able to take a few pictures of the beautiful countryside.
Nagasaki grows a lot of fruit and vegetables... some people have asked me about the effects of the nuclear bombs...they wanted to know if it was safe to eat food grown in Nagasaki..."isn't the radiation supposed to last for a long long time?" they asked me.


There was a news article recently about how a researcher found that people who were in the area of the bombings still carry some radiation in their cells. However, since the bombs went off in the air and not on impact with the earth it is said that there is not enough radiation in the soil to be lethal.
...
The airport is an hours drive from Nagasaki City...in Omura City (Nagasaki Prefecture).
It is has recently been renovated! it is small but it's sparkly clean!

AND there is a new lounge!
This is what I saw from the lounge. You can see some of Omura City at the foot of the hills and the Omura Bay.
Before we boarded our plane back to Osaka, I noticed the green Nagasaki sign right behind our airplane.
It looks like our airplane is being sucked on by a huge elephant snout!
LOL
Hope you have a great weekend!

July 10, 2009

i-ro-ha #7 "to"


I spent an hour constructing a post for this splendid character "to"....only to have it deleted in a split second. aaaahhhh%$#"!

So, here is a quickie because I am not up to rewriting a hour's worth of "work"....

"to" is pronounced like the "to" in the word : toe

と is splendid because it means : and

words that begin with to:

tori = bird
I went outside hoping to take a picture of a bird but I was met by clouds....I think all the birds have flown away because it looks like some rain is headed this way...
tobu = to fly
a famous peson in Japanese history:
Toyotomi Hideyoshi

1537-1598
Toyotomi was born into a common farmer family. He is often described to have been a peasant.
He had a nickname after being hired by the local warlord Oda Nobunaga... Saru (means monkey).
The nickname comes from his small stature and his always running around wild like a monkey.
Toyotomi lived "The Japanese Dream" by becoming a Shogun from such a low status.

You would think he would be willing to give other people a chance to climb the samurai ladders...
In 1588 he did a national sword hunt and prohibited the change of status. He is a popular figure in Japanese history but I don't really like him...maybe that is why my 1 hour piece of work all vanished into cyberspace...I am living in a city that used to be his home base. A couple of minutes on the train will take me to the remains of his castle...

photo from wikipedia since I haven't visited the palace yet...
....
more words that start with "to"
tombo = dragonfly
toshokan = library
と(and) of course the most important one:
tomodachi = friend
thank you for being a friend!
Hope you have a lovely weekend, I will be going to Nagasaki for a couple of days from tomorrow!
(no internet access but I will hopefully be back with something interesting to talk about)