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!

The Japanese Self Defense Force

Tuesday, February 28

I think this is some sort of recruitment video. And I thought the Village People were gay. Silly me...

Thanks for the video David!

Kampai! (Cheers)

Friday, February 24

Besides festivals, one of my favorite things to do in Japan is go to an enkai (big dinner with lots of drinks) because it's one of the few times that Japanese people open up and act crazy (a regular occurance for most Americans). After all day on the slopes, we had an enkai with some of the best food I've had here. Course after course of traditional Japanese food like tempura, raw seafood, nabe (soup that u cook at the table) and other delish things kept coming our way. We played some games, had an after-party and I somehow managed to pull off giving the closing speech in Spanish by the end of it. The weekend was a complete success, even if I was worthless on the slopes the next day. Bruised and battered, we made our wayt back to Tokuyama.

Snowboarding in Shimane

I have a confession to make. I became the thing that I so adamantly tease. I was a Japanese tourist. Before you judge, hear me out. My new found infatuation with snow has put me in a position to accept any invitation to play in it. A group of teachers from around Yamaguchi were going on an organized package tour to go snowboarding in Shimane-ken. How could I resist? Yea, so we had the big tour bus…and the overly helpful tour guides…and the cameras around our necks…ok, it wasn’t THAT bad. But I admit, I did feel like a sell –out. Anyway, I’m glad we did it because it gave me a chance to hang out with my favorite JTE (Japanese English Teacher), Atsushi, and of course the always lovely Beck Iverson (another ALT). Plus, I met tons of other people who are equally as fun to be around.

Since it was my first time snowboarding, I had to take lessons. Before I know it, I was already gliding down the slopes (see: falling). Atsushi made sure that I didn’t forget it by demonically laughing at my failure. To Atsushi: you’ll get yours buddy! j/k Honestly though, he was a huge lifesaver all weekend—translating for me, giving me tips, and just making me laugh like always.

Being on the slopes all day was better then I expected and it was another good opportunity to see Japanese life. There a few times when I’d stop and notice how lovable Japanese families are. I still think that Japanese kids are the cutest kids in the world, especially if they’re decked out in little snow boots and Hello Kitty hats. Something else dawned on me: I have yet to see a Japanese kid throw a tantrum in public. I’m sure it happens, but I think it’s definitely safe to say that they’re far better-behaved in public than American kids. At home, though, I’m sure it’s a different story.

All day snowboarding was the perfect introduction to the dinner/party we had later that night.

さんぞく (Sanzoku)

Wednesday, February 22

Sundays in Yamaguchi, especially in the winter, and especially if the night before was spent slurring our words, are usually spent laying around, recovering, eating, and being blissfully lazy with the rest of the ‘Guchies. One of these days, Han-chan, el Diablo, Saki-chan, and I went to Sanzoku. It’s a quiet little spot in the middle of nowhere. The traditional restaurants and gift shops is a good way to spend the afternoon and the chicken on a stick is enough to justify a trip out there. Since it was freezing when we went, they put us under a kotatsu (traditional Japanese tables with heaters underneath; you sit with your legs under them and a blanket trapping the heat) outside by a waterfall. Su goi !

Happy Sweet Heart Memory!

Monday, February 13

Happy Valentine's Day! I completely forgot about the holiday until some ladies at school gave me some tokochoko (friend chocolate). For western women, Valentine's Day in Japan is easy to forget because women aren't given presents by their boyfriends, fiances or husbands. Instead, tradition has left the work to women so that they give whoever they like a gift. Like so many Japanese things, there isn't much deviation from the norm as to what the present can be. It's almost always chocolate. I thought that this was a male-confectionary-conspiracy until a Japanese friend explained that men return the favor on March 14, White Day. Japanese women can expect their lovey-dovey boyfriends to woo them while digging their little fingers in a bowl of marshmallows. It's the Japanese approach to romance.

P.S. I finally caught a cold..pretty impressive considering that I've been surrounded by gas mask-wearing-snot-rocket kids all flu season. Please send all your "Get Well" cards, balloons, chocolates and unrequited love letters to the address below. Arigato!

Japanese Fact #43

Poo is funny all over the world.

A conversation with Sayako, my favorite high school student:
Me: You haven’t eaten lunch? You must be so hungry!
Sayako: I am not. I no poo.
Me: Tee-hee-hee...you can’t poo? How did you learn that word!?!
Sayako: My friend. What do you say in English?
Me: Constipated...(now drawing a diagram)...constipated=no poo; diarrhea=a lot of poo.
Sayako: Could I say, “I diarrhea?”
Me: (giggling is now full-force laughter) NO, I think you’d have to say, “I have diarrhea.” How do you say constipated in Japanese?
Sayako: Watashi wa benpi desu. “Benpi” means “poo secret.”
Me: So...you have a secret poo?!

Tag, I'm It!

Thursday, February 9

Ellen and Steph have tagged me. To fullfill my duties as the "it" girl of the moment, I am listing the following information:

4 Jobs I've Had in My Life:
artsy-fartsy-type at a pottery studio
senior staff writer for FSU newspaper
waitress & wannabe-bartender at Ruby Tuesday
intern/office biatch at a PR/advertising firm

4 Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have
Lost in Translation
Forrest Gump
Dumb and Dumber

4 Places I Have Lived:
Valencia, Spain
Los Angelas, California
London, England
Jacksonville, Florida

4 TV Shows I Love To Watch:
Family Guy
The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart
The Sopranos
The Conan O' Brian Show

4 Places I Have Been On Vacation:
Prague, Czech Republic
Seoul, South Korea
New York City, New York
Cozumel, Mexico

4 Websites I Visit Daily:
The Guch Blogs
Gmail email
the Onion (when I'm bored)

4 Favorite Foods:
everything my momma makes
anything with cheese
anything with coffee
anything with chocolate

4 Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
my house in FL with my fam and friends
on the beach, any beach
in my car back home

4 People I Am Tagging With This (feel free to post it on your blog):
G. To (Genesis)
my piercing sis (Jenn)
my 7-11 anarchist (Han-chan)
Thianh (Waxinator)

Home Sweet Home?

So I had a nice post written out on my computer about the end of my trip and what it felt like to be back in Japan, but I murdered my computer with a glass of milk. I'm pretty sure that it was something along the lines of, "I'm going to miss this place and--HA HA--to all you doubters: I didn't get the Bird Flu." I also knew that I was back in Japan when the flight staff outside was bowing at our plane. I don't know if they expected the pilot to bow back while safely maneauvering us from death defying speeds or if they thought the passengers would even care after we've survived our way through an erray of crappy movie selections and sludge in-flight meals. There was just no mistaking it, I was home.

Back in Bangkok

Thursday, February 2

Despite my plans to go straight to Cambodia right after New Years, I ditched them to meet up with Jesper. He's the Swedish culprit behind my dissappearing act on New Years. After a couple more days on the beach (I stayed at a nice retreat that had yoga, meditation, tofu dinners and other hippie things) we met up in Bangkok. We mainly stuck to Koh Saon Road which is kind of a backpacker's cult. Internet cafes, pubs, massage parlors, street vendors and fake Nikes line the street, tempting travelers to buy everything. My trip was coming to an end. :(