Tales From A Broad

My year of teaching English in Japan is up. Next mission: backpack Asia before going home to the U.S.A. Currently HOME!

Unidentified Flying Object

Monday, August 29

This is Hannah, a fellow JET in Tokuyama and my British partner in crime. Together, we unearth Japan's little English blunders like the title for this bowl of instant ramen noodles. We wondered what other unidentified objects were flying in that murky, MSG-ridden broth. I bought it anyway and marveled at the rate at which the shriveled bine shrimp and fried tofu grew in hot water.

This is not a fluke. The Japanese fail to doublecheck anything that they publish in English. Billboards, commercials, t-shirts, among other things, usually contain illogical and humiliating English for the person responsible for it.

My all time favorites:
1.) "Yours Asse" --The name of the grocery store in the Hiroshima train station is fully equipped with meat byproducts and raw tuna. Can get quite stuffy in there.
2.) "'Thuggish, Ruggish Bone' by the gangsta rap group Bone, Thugs 'N Harmony" --The song playing, uncensored, over the intercom in Max Value, Japan's equivalent of Wal-Mart. Hannah picked up her 50 liter bottle of Herbal Essence as Krayzie Bone damned all ghettos across the world.
3.) "Everybody get something to hide except me and my monkey. She knowes it, but she dosen't. Because she loves life, culture, song, boys, girls. Get your special." --The directory and map at Sunmall and, yes, that is exactly how they spelled it.

Grading Japanese Homework

I had to grade an assignment that the seniors did before summer vacation started. The teacher asked them to write an essay as follows: Suppose you received a wonderful gift from someone close to you. Write a "thank you" letter to the person who gave it to you, and describe what it is. I started to read through them and realized that I was quicky laughing my ass off. Here are some notable answers.

Thank you for ________________.
1.) "the huge watermelon. It's bigger than my house. I will throw a party and give them out."
2.) "palatial residence."
3.) "the Force."
4.) "stocks of venture corporation." Only in Japan would a teenager actually dream about this...

Other notable quotes:
"Judging by your appearance, you don't seem to make a cake, so I was surprised to see you made me one."

"Thanks for the DVD player, but it doesn't work very well, so please send me a manual of it."

"Thank you for the clothes which you used. It is a very nice smell and I love you. I never wear it without remembering you, because it is very strong smell. To make a long story short, I want to get married to you."

Don't cock-a-doodle me

This is one of Stephanie's (the funniest Aussie) hats. She wore this as she ordered a chicken sandwhich at KFC (can you believe KFC made its way across the globe?!). This reminds me of a hamburglar incident in Tallahassee...

This is My Everest

I did it, but it was no easy task. Mt. Fuji is a bitch, but I didn't do it alone. I met Ray and Eddie on the bus on the way to the mountain. They're professional dancers at Disneyland Tokyo; one of them is even from L.A. and used to work at the Northridge mall, right next to my old house. We hit it off. So, we bought our walking sticks at the base of the mountain, falsely assuming that it would be a cute souvenir. We would have died without them.

We started our climb at nighttime so that we'd make it just in time for sunrise. Our moods were so joyful for the first hour, taking pictures at the mountain huts along the way. Halfway up our climb (3 hours or so), we were starting to feel the affects of the thin air and hurricane strength winds.

The wind and rain, not to mention the lack of railways, made the climb pretty scary. One unlucky gust could've bounced us off Fuji like a little Pachihnko ball, but we were determined. The rocks were really steep and wet, and Ray would yelp, "Jesus on a bike!" everytime he lost his balance. Sometimes he'd spice things up and scream, "Christ on cruches!" Nevertheless, we made awesome time; by 1 in the morning, we were only 100 m from the top. So, we decided to hide out in one of the last mountain huts for $8 instant noodles (we were desperate). A goup of US Army guys met us inside and we all moaned about how tired and cold we were.

We got a stamp burned into our walking sticks at every mountain hut, documenting our progress. The last mountain hut was our Holy Grail; it was proof that we made it to the very top, the 12, 395 ft mark. The winds were easily 100+ MPH, so we stayed behind a rock, watching the sunrise. Every once in a while, the clouds would let up and the view over the central Japan revealed itself. Down below, the clouds looked like marshmallows suspended over Lake Ashi. That moment was the best pain releiever. No longer could I feel my worn down joints.

An old Japanese saying says that everyone must climb Mt. Fuji once, but only a fool would do it twice. They couldn't be more right.

Lemme Rewind

Sunday, August 28

*This pic is of me and the english teachers at my school. They threw me a welcome party!*

I know that I've been m.i.a. for most of the people in the States, but I finally have internet, soooo let me wrap up my life in the past month. Ever since I got on that flight from Miami to Tokyo, it's been a complete whirlwind of new faces, places, foods and jetlag (when I wasn't sleeping on the plane, I was watching Family Guy episodes on my computer with one of the guys who sat next to me). Orientation was one big blur, but I met tons of people from all over the world especially the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

Allison, one of my buddies from high school, met up with me and took me around the city which was really helpful. Catching up was just what I needed after all those workshops and sessions during the day. But, the highlight of that first week was meeting all the other JETS in Yamaguchi. Japan is really big on all-you-can-eat-and-drink places, so we went to one and bonded over fish salad and drafts. In good Jap fashion, we ended the night at a karaoke bar which has sort of become one of our late night traditions. I've officially overdosed on Bruce Springstein.

After Tokyo, JET flew us out to Yamaguchi. The person in charge of me, Nakazumi-sensei, picked me up and drove me to my city, Tokuyama. He loves U2 and and drives like he's on a sewing machine--a complete spaz, he's great.

Luckily Yamaguchi is one of the greenest parts of Japan (real grass in Japan is a raraity), but my city is really industrial ("Smokuyama"). There are 150,000 people who live here (half the size of Tally) and I'm centrally located in the downtown, next to to the train station, pubs and bars, Jap skaters and surfers, and boutiques. My apartment isn't nearly as small as my predecessor made it out to be. I fit 7 people in here last Friday.

So much more to say, but I'll leave it for tomorrow...soo tired.

Trying to figuure out this blog thing...