Sunday, 29 April 2007

A Week of Gold.

Golden week! Golden week! We love Golden week!

It’s the first day of Golden week vacation today, and as you can likely tell; I’m fairly excited because I don’t have to go into work ever again… or at least for a whole week.

My first week of being a ‘real’ teacher has just flown by…’busy’ would be an understatement; there’s always something to do at the office and the schedule can get fairly hectic at times. Lesson planning has become a five minute matter rather than a half hour project but teaching back to back lessons for five or six hours is pretty draining. The students are always fun though, and it’s great being able to actually feel like you’re helping someone with something they care about. The best part is probably answering questions (‘which is a worse insult, pig or dog?’) and being able to teach stuff that’s tangential to the curriculum (yesterday I explained about fraternities, sonorities and ‘keggers’ to a student who's planning a stay in an American university).

The biggest challenge is probably the kids classes; while adults are well-behaved, with kids it's often quite difficult to make them do the activities as planned. I have a newfound respect for early childhood educators everywhere. So far the teaching points have been making it across, but I still never quite feel in control in the classroom, it’s more like I’m a lion-tamer than a teacher or something. I’m hoping it’s just a matter or practice, otherwise I’m heading to aneurysm-land.

Last night me, Saori and Hiroki celebrated by going out to an isakaia for some food and drinks; lotsa fun! Chihiro's running off to a hot spring for a week (a plan which I am exceedingly jealous of) and everyone else has plans to visit their families (Golden week seems to be kind of a Thanksgiving equivalent over here) so I'm gonna take the opportunity to explore a bit.

I'm not really alone though; I got a knock on the door last week from Gela and Hannah, two foreign teachers who also work in the neighbourhood, although I answered the door in my boxers (I had some misguided idea about an 'early night' or somesuch) they still agreed to take me out and show me the sights ('sights' in this case means 'bars'). We went down to the local watering hole called 'Playmates’ and began a fairly epic night out that ended sometime around 3.30 in the morning and spanned another 3 bars and a karaoke parlour. Both of them are a great source of advice about teaching and life in Japan and it was nice to take a bit of a tour of the town. Hannah lives right above me in my building too, so it’s good to know there’s a friendly face nearby, and her English accent is very charming.

Want to try something different? Some Japanese bars have this stuff, which we affectionately call 'Snake Juice'.

And this is me, Hannah and Gela indulging in aforementioned snake-infused liquor. Why are we smiling? Even I don't know.

I’ve still got to get some plans together for the holiday, lest I fall into a deathly abyss of sitting in my flat watching MTV and eating dry pasta for a week and a half straight. I’m still slightly crippled in the organization department by my lack of internet or cellular phone access, but I’m gonna try and catch up with Cristi and Lauren anyway… after all, how hard can it be? I’m GTS (Great Teacher Shaun) after all!

Golden week means celebrations, and no town celebrates like Sasebo! Because Sasebo celebrates with a giant inflatable hamster.

Ummm ok, I’m gonna go, I need to fold up my futon and vaccum. Grand plans indeed.

(GT) Shaun.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Welcome to the J-Pan...

It’s the weekend (at least my weekend: Sunday and Monday) and I’m lazing around my flat recovering from my welcome party last night. Serious fun was had; after work everyone from the office and a bunch of students got together and we all went out to this all you can eat/drink buffet at a local swanky hotel. The food was great, we started off with beer but soon switched to cocktails (Saori used to be a bartender, so she’s awesome at making drinks). Afterwards one of our students took us all to karaoke- which was so totally fun and so hilarious that I still giggle to think about it; everyone has their preference for music, and while I got to hear a lot of cool Japanese songs my highlights were singing R.E.M. (What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?) Aimee Mann (Lost In Space), Daniel Powter (Bad Day, with Chihiro) Greenday (American Idiot, with Hiroki) and Simon and Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water, with everyone). We stayed out singing and drinking until 3AM. Total Awesomeness.

It's an unwritten law that in Japan every product, organisation, institution or thing composed of atomic matter needs a cute/bizarre mascot. This is the one for Sasebo city, illustrating the 'sailors and burgers' motif admirably.

I think I’m gonna go shopping today and maybe make some kind of effort to decorate my apartment, it’s looking pretty austere and I think it’d be nice to come home to a few posters and maybe a pot-plant or two… hmmm, I’ll have to think about interior decoration in between lesson planning. Shoot me your suggestions (bearing in mind that cheaper is better).

Still lost in Japan,


Finding Engrish over here is about as hard as finding sand on a beach. Todays dose is courtesy of a sweat top I bought at Jusco yesterday. It may be nonsensical, but its warm, and it was cheap.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

My Flat, My Job and an End to Suitcase Living

Here I am at the end of my second official day of work and I’m finally finding enough time and energy to crack out my laptop and get digital again. I’m typing this as I sit on the floor, with my laptop on top of the koatsu (one of those low tables with a built in heater) how Japanese is that? Actually this might be a short entry since I don’t have a cushion yet and the floor is hard, but I still feel pretty damn cool.

My apartment building. 100% genuine (possibly) earthquake proof concrete.

Sasebo is really nice and pretty; unlike Fukuoka you can actually find patches of grass here, and I can see some wooded mountains from one of my apartment windows. I can’t wait to go exploring more, but right now I’ve been limited to walking the route between here and work (which happens to be practically the length of Japans longest enclosed shopping mall; it takes about 10 minutes, and really it doesn’t seem that long). There’s an awesome Mexican restaurant across the street too, so I won’t be missing out on nachos, woo!

Sun Plaza: Japan's longest mall, where you can buy whatever kind of generic fast food you want. Yay. See the Jusco? That's where I (try to) shop for food.

The staff at the school are all really awesome and great; my manager Saori took me down to the government offices to get my alien registration card today, so we had some time to swap stories; she’s really cool and nice, plus she seems really cheerful, which gives the office a good atmosphere. I finally got to meet the rest of the staff in person too; I’m kinda wary of saying too much, since this is the internet and people still deserve some shreds of privacy y’know; but Hiroki (our headteacher) Chihiro (my fellow teacher who mostly deals with kids) and Takaho (the part time kids teacher) all seem really nice, and I’m grateful that I get to work with such cool people. It’s a small team (in fact the smallest in the entire AEON chain) but that’s nice in its own way since we can work pretty tightly.

Mostly I’ve been following the lead of Chad, the Emergency Teacher who’s been working in the school for the past month. He’s a total pro and has given me a lot of really great advice, there’s still a lot to learn but I feel like I just might be able to get a handle on the ‘real’ job soon. I’m still vaguely terrified at the prospect of teaching children, but I’m hoping that will fade in the face of actual experience.

I haven’t had much of a chance to explore the city itself, but moving into my apartment has been great; It’s been really great to unpack my suitcases and settle down. The place is larger than I expected, and while I still need to get a few things, it’s mostly pretty decked out. I’ve inherited a 62cm flatscreen TV, and although the only thing I can understand with certainty is CNN, it came with a Playstation 1, so I can at least play CDs. I’ll have to wait until my Japanese is infinitely better before I can play the copy of Final Fantasy that came with it though. Sleeping on a futon every night seems a little strange, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough, likewise with the whole ‘changing into slippers when you walk in the door’ thing and sitting down on the floor instead of a chair; I’m still more bemused than culture shocked- it feels weird to actually be doing all those ‘quirky’ things I’ve seen in movies and anime. I’m having fun though, it’s nice to have a seismic shift in lifestyle, and I feel like I’m learning a lot by being here.

Motochima-cho, the main street of Sasebo; not exactly an urban-jungle. But I like the small-town charm of the place.

Now I’m going to go and sort my trash (‘cause if I don’t no-one will take it). Afterwards maybe I’ll take another shot at figuring out which dial does what on my washing machine; does anyone know what the kanji for ‘spin’?


Tuesday, 17 April 2007

I am sensei, hear me snor... uh, roar.

It was our last day of training today! There was lots of ‘Yay!’ a little bit of ‘Awww!’ and I heard “gambatte!” (which means ‘do your best’, and is interjected into conversation with regularity) more times than I care to remember.

Mostly we’re focusing on the ‘Yay!’ since we’re all totally excited about finally being able to stop living out of suitcases and settle down into our apartments. Personally I’m totally itching to finally get down to Sasebo and see what the place is like in person after reading and hearing about it for so long. I’m looking forward to getting some of the basics of my high-tech, information dependant and horrendously decadent life back; lack of stuff like a cell-phone, broadband connection and a set of speakers so my mp3’s sound decent is starting to grate; and I’m totally looking forward to getting back in contact with the rest of the world! (That means actually posting this stuff instead of just writing it out in Word)

Me with the AEON kids mascot (I forget, but I think he's called 'Muffy'). I love the fact that he has fangs... I can just imagine Buffy kicking his arse.

Anyway, we did our last round of information cramming today, nothing too strenuous, just some pre-school stuff (I don’t have any pre-school lessons anyway, which I’ve decided is cool… if only because it’s one less set of structures and materials I have to memorise). The Honbucho (regional manager) took us all out to lunch at a very nice Italian restaurant, which was very nice… we were all a little stressed, because, well, she’s the regional manager of this giant company we work for, but actually she was really nice and just asked a lot of questions about us all; it made meeting her for our ‘graduation ceremony’ a fair bit less scary too. Basically she just pinned our AEON badges on us, told us we were great and to ‘gambatte!’ then sent us out into the big scary world of teaching. Yaaay! We’re all officially *name*-sensei now!

The AEON class of April, 2007; (from left) Me, Lauren, Gerry (our training guru) and Christi. Don't we all look ever so spiffy?

We celebrated in the time honoured fashion of eating ramen, wandering the streets for a while, then walking into a pub. The fact that we had to be up, packed, dressed in formal attire and checked out by 10AM meant that the night wasn’t too wild, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. Even though I know I’ll see them around soon I’ll really miss having Cristina and Lauren around, there’s nothing like having friends around to take the edge off the culture shock.

Right, I’m gonna sign off because I have the (aforementioned) early start and full day of (watching) teaching tomorrow. Wish me luck.


Saturday, 14 April 2007

Practice makes perfect...

Training, training, training; I’m pretty much into the rhythm of things now, the city streets are becoming familiar and I’m into the swing of how things work, getting intermittently stared at by strangers is still a little disconcerting, but even that is starting to feel like just a ‘part of life’, it’s not menacing after all, just curiosity. Being an ethnic minority is still kinda novel and fun, I can see how it could get on your nerves after a while though.

Practice lessons are running smoothly now to the extent that I was comfy today ‘mixing it up’ by teaching the students how to say “he’s a bit of a prat” in my class on ‘describing people’. The students are really fun to work with, they’re enthusiastic and just soak up whatever you give them to learn. It’s great to just chat with them in the lobby and hear them open up about their lives. The classes are really diverse too; two days ago I had a club DJ and yesterday a civil servant.

Mostly life for us is still divided between training, food shopping and sleeping, but on Thursday we managed to get out and hit a bar with Kelly (the teacher who Lauren is replacing) she had a lot of great advice about the job, the company and the country so that was excellent. I continue to be amazed / appalled by the price of alcohol, I asked for a scotch on the rocks and the barman poured a third of the bottle into my glass and charged me 500 yen (about $5) schooners of beer cost 100 yen, how this country maintains any order on weekends is a serious mystery.

This one's for my dad, it's a Fukuoka telegraph pole; it looks messy to me, but maybe it's a work of engineering genius... it doesn't look very earthquake-safe though, right?

Other wackiness includes:

- Being ‘forced’ into having my photo taken with a child and someone dressed as sonic the hedgehog. Why the childs mother wanted me in the photo is beyond me.

- Having to explain what a ‘caravel’ was to a businessman in-between classes, it turns out he reads history textbooks in English as a hobby. Hmmm… strange, but at least it's a hobby that doesn’t involve schoolgirls I suppose.

- Meeting Yorn, the drunk Swedish student who wanted to know ‘where the cool parties where’… I didn’t know, but by the looks of him he’d already been to a few ‘cool parties’ that night.

- Going down a side street and seeing a group of Japanese kids dressed in full-on ‘streetwear’ (like puff-jackets, backwards baseball caps and insanely baggy jeans) having what I can only assume was a ‘rap battle’ while their friends breakdanced in the street.

Today was a half day so I got to wander, I window shopped for a while then went down to the Fukuoka museum of Asian Art in the afternoon… it was about 80% Indian works, with the rest from Thailand (I guess the other nations of Asia will have to wait for representation) but very interesting. Bollywood posters are great!

Tomorrow we all have the day off, so we’re going to meet in the morning and try to plan another excursion. So much to do… no time to sleep.

Much Fukulove,


Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Still on the Train(ing)

Training is intense; there’s so much stuff to learn and it all seems to be compacted into a tiny space of time: interviewing, lesson structure and teaching techniques, Business management, time management, corporate structures… it’s all interesting in its own way, but keeping up with the flow of information can be daunting at times. I guess I’ll just have to trust the manual which claims ‘everything will become second nature after a short while’.

We had our first ‘live-fire’ teaching practice today (that means we got to work with real Japanese students… ones that didn’t have to pay for the lesson). It mostly went well, although there are still some wrinkles to be smoothed out; I need to cut down on my ‘verbal static’ and learn to let the students take over more often, but overall the technique is there. I swear, this job will be the best public-speaking training exercise ever; challenges abound, but its nice to stand in front of a group of people who want to learn, and watch their eyes light up when they get something right. If I was half as motivated about learning Japanese as they are about mastering English then I’d probably be bi-lingual in no time at all.

Ok! It's Engrish! (or NESglish if you prefer) I wasn't brave enough to actually enter this establishment, but I'm still curious about the burger menu.

While my Japanese is still fairly shoddy (although I’ve learnt a new phrase every day) I’m slowly starting to culturally adapt; I don’t stop to stare at the individually shrink-wrapped bananas in the supermarket anymore, I’m getting accustomed to canned vending-machine coffee (endorsed by Tommy-Lee Jones!) and I’ve developed seriously awesome chopstick skills (one step away from Mr. Muyage, I swear!) Food is still fascinating; I had deep-fried pieces of cheese in broth today for lunch, yesterday I had tofu-ramen, as slurped (with gusto) by salarymen nation-wide. Big culinary horizon-broadening, yay!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Hi again!

I can`t stay long, because I`m on another insane time limit at the internet cafe, but Fukuoka is really amazing, and I`m having a lot of fun!

Sorry to anyone who`s tried to phone... Telstra propoganga was wrong, and my phone doesn`t work... groan, save those stories people! I`ll be back in communication soon!

I`ll edit this later, and tell you all about my amazing training adventures (I`m typing them out on my laptop to post later) but right now I`ve gotta go!

Much love,


Sunday, 8 April 2007

Training and Tourism

Happy weekend everyone!

The first (half) day of training flew by so fast it was scary; we basically just had an overview of our training process, got to watch Gerry teach a class, then we went out to lunch (in a ‘traditional’ Japanese restaurant) took a slightly extended tour of the downtown Fukuoka area hitting all the landmarks (I got to see the ACROS building! If you’ve ever seen a piece of anime called ‘Excel Saga’ you’ll be excited about that). Afterwards we got cut loose so we explored some more on our own (this time with less exhaustion and Lauren’s extra direction sense we managed to avoid getting lost). We wound up eating fusion ‘Japanese-style Italian’ (which means my pasta had little frankfurters in it) then we went and hit the ‘international rainbow bar’ (no, it’s *not* a gay bar, so stop sniggering). We got a bottle of sake-type stuff (it wasn’t sake but it tasted like drain-cleaner anyway) and chatting the whole night away. Lauren and Cristi are really great, even if my strange Australian/British English does befuddle them sometimes; it makes a huge difference to have people you can talk with about everything you’re experiencing, and training is a lot more fun with other people.

Fukuoka landmark the ACROS building, complete with Babylonian architecture.

Today we went down to the train station and jumped on a train (two actually) to Dazaifu (da-zie-fu) the ‘old capital’ of Kyushu province and now cultural capital of the area; the main shopping street is a really pretty cobbled mall ending at the famous Tenmangu Shrine, dedicated to Michizane Sugawara, ‘the God of Literature’; lots of students were there praying for luck with their school work (sheesh, I hope it works, I’d be too scared to stop studying for the hours it takes to stand in line and pray if I were a Japanese student), the grounds are really beautiful, although the fact that the temple complex borders an amusement park did seem kinda strange.

Tenmangu Shrine: well-funded thanks to hordes of examinees.

Afterwards we took a walk along a walking trail down to the Kyushu National Museum. It’s a myth that Japan is all urban sprawl, some areas are quite quiet and heavily forested, there was even a sign on the trail to watch out for snakes! (I’m sick of these motherf*^king snakes in this motherf%$king shrine!) It was really nice to get out of the city for a while though, and we got to see our first sakura (cherry blossom)! That was kinda a magical moment.

The museum itself was also really spectacular, we had a lovely young lady walk us through the process of getting tickets and audio guides, and then we wandered through the building (which is really, really huge) needless to say Japan has a LOT of history, we stayed for about 4 hours and didn’t even cover half of it. Still, that’s a good excuse to go back I guess. I had a very tasty cinnamon waffle and Lauren got some socks too, so that was nice. And functional. Or something.

So now we just got back, did some shopping in Daiei (the local supermarket, kinda a Woolworths/Tesco equivalent) and then came back for some much needed kip. Tomorrow we start training proper, excitement is running high!

Many good wishes,


Friday, 6 April 2007


I've just staggered into the hotel and I’m pretty wiped (in fact the room is getting a little spinny as I type this) but I'd like to get a few words down at least before I lapse into the sweet embrace of unconsciousness. It's been a seriously stimulating day, but believe me, rarely has a bed (complete with neatly folded sleeping garb) seemed so appealing.

The flight was as dull as flights usually are, it didn't help that I was fairly solidly pumped full of nervous energy and I have a chronic inability to say 'no' when offered coffee refills by flight attendants. Still, it meant I was awake to make the most of the movies on offer, I saw 'Flags of Our Fathers' (good), 'The Queen' (really good), 'Babel' (maybe kinda ok, but a bit silly) and 'Rocky Balboa' (really, really silly). I'm still not really sure what the movie situation will be, or whether I'll even be able to find anything in English that I didn't bring with me, but I'm guessing that I won't be visiting a movie theater anytime soon.

My experience at the airport was great; I met a really nice guy called Robert who works for the Daily Express, and reassured me that I’d love the country and wouldn’t have any problems (he’s been there for 20 years, still doesn’t know any appreciable Japanese and has no trouble making his way through life) he also pointed me in the right direction to transfer which was fantastic.

Tokyo, Narita International airport, note it's similarity to every airport ever.

One thing I learned fairly quickly is that people in public service are incredibly (even overwhelmingly and embarrassingly) helpful and friendly. After I checked in I wandered over to find the security gate so I’d know where to go (5 hours) later, the lady at the ANA check-in counter saw the direction I was walking and managed to have a member of the security staff (complete with drug-sniffing Labrador) fire-up the security checkpoint just for me. After that I couldn’t really say ‘no’ to being checked through, so I just wandered through to the lounge (I did get to talk to the security lady and pat her dog, which was called ‘Sumo’ though).

The instructions for how to use the toilets at the airport; I pushed every button once with hideous results.

When I got to Fukuoka I met Gerry, the local area trainer and one of my fellow trainees Cristina (who has swapped sunny San Francisco, California for southern Japan) We piled on the subway and took a ride into the city centre which gave us a chance to talk some, both of them are really nice and enthusiastic; big props to Christi especially for her valiant jet-lag fighting efforts, since she'd not only been on a flight from the U.S. West coast but had been sitting in the airport for a while.

After the nightmare of getting my cases into the hotel (there was literal blood and sweat and very nearly tears) Gerry took us on a brief tour of the immediate area, focusing on necessities like supermarkets, Internet cafes and karaoke parlors. Despite the temptation to just crash, Christi and I swung back by the hotel, showered off the detritus of international travel and changed into fresh garments and then went exploring.

Fukuoka was actually quite a surprise to me, it's not quite the jam packed neon metropolis that Tokyo appears to be; it's a pretty busy place, but it's not like you're shoulder to shoulder as you walk; I even managed to get a seat on the subway. The buildings are pretty high-rise (especially by Adelaide standards) and the city certainly has a different 'vibe' than anywhere else that I've visited, but it's not an intimidating place, just different (and often seemingly a little bizarre).

Tenjin, Fukuoka: pre-godzilla.

Anyway, we wandered through the city, chatting and occasionally pausing to marvel at things that will no doubt be totally passé by next week: vending machines selling beer, ‘parking lots’ where your car is ‘filed’ in vertical storage, politicians driving down the street in vans (filled with loudspeakers and young ladies) frantically waving as they go, pachinko dens blaring horribly garish music into the street… and a ton of other stuff I’ll save for another time.

Anyway, it was a great start to life in Japan because I found 1000 yen on the street! Not so great was the fact that we got lost and had to get a cab back to the hotel (there goes 590 yen). Still, lotsa fun! I got to meet the last member of our training group, Lauren (all the way from Denver, Colorado) for about 2 minutes tonight too… she too seems like a lovely, happy lady. I’m sure we’ll all work well together, or at least ‘bond under fire’ or something.

And now I’m gonna go and finally get some well deserved rest… I’ve got day one of teacher-school tomorrow! Miss me yet?

Ok, so finding an internet connection wasn't as hard as I thought. I've been in the country 15 whole minutes, and now I'm sitting in an internet kiosk in Narita airport.

15 minutes. In that time I have:

- Bought a can of cold coffee out of a vending machine (at least I think it's coffee, it says 'Aroma Drip Blend' on the can, which sounds coffee-esque; the rest is in Japanese)

- Seen a harigushu girl - she had pink dreadlocks, panda-like eye makeup and trousers that were uhh... indescribable.

- Seen a crazy commercial. It was on a TV in the louge, and featured a man bashing a fairy with feather duster while screaming.

- Deciphered a Japanese payphone. Which is waaaaaaaay harder than it sounds.

- Put 5 yen in the Airport suggestion box... because "the legend of this suggestion box says..." :P

That's about it for now... I'm still coping which is a good sign... now on to Fukuoka and more craziness! I promise pictures when I have a USB connection but bye for now! My time is up!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Day of Flight.

four hours until I fly, and the surrealism of this whole adventure is rapidly fading into concrete reality. I'm packed, my teeth are gritted and my resolve is set:

"I will go to Japan and teach the hell out of my native language."

The terror is still there in the background, but I'm offsetting it by keeping busy (why do you think there's been a new entry every two days this week?) I'm kinda dreading the actual flight because it's essentially one long 'chance to think', but hopefully in-flight movies, magazines and my shiny new mp3 playlist should keep me from over-analysing things long enough to get on the ground again.

The night before last I said my final goodbyes to my friends from uni who I am indebted to for their bold efforts to shore up my sanity and spirits during the more 'Lovecraftian' times at good-ol' Adelaide University. No crying on my part (thank Vishnu), but most sad nontheless, ah well I'm sure they'll just hold some sort of Bring It On-esque audition process and replace me soon enough. Mandy made a last-ditch attempt to shore up my language skills with a copy of the Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook (in which she helpfully highlighted the smutty phrases) Now I can find how to say "Do you want a massage?", "You're just using me for sex" or "Are you menstruating?" faster than ever! Thanks Mandy!

Juanita went the 'cultural education' road instead with Tabloid Tokyo which is indescribably hilarious . Seriously, it has to be read to be believed; stories of Salarymen working so much overtime they have to sleep at the office every night, cafe's with panty-less waitresses moving drinks across mirrored floors and mothers who are willing to commit incest with their children to 'improve their concentration' abound. I speed-read through the whole thing in one night and only stopped laughing when my jaw was distended... Many thanks! She gets bonus points for the haiku in the cover too (which is far more elegant than my effort in this entry)

Last night I went out for dinner with my parents then came home to start cramming stuff in suitcases; I haven't even left and I already miss them and the dogs pretty terribly. I know we live in an age of real-time video-communication, but what if I need a hug? I guess this is no worse than leaving home in any other way, but hey, I'm still a little wigged.

Ok, time to go get on a plane and do this thing; I don't know when I'll be able to write again, it's kinda dependant on when I have time and access to an internet connection. In the meantime, remember my phone still works (but watch out for those international charges if you actually call... texting is way more economical).

To end, a haiku:

Today I fly up
With much sorrow for friends
Your writing brings joy

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Translations For the Lost.

2 days 'til I fly, fly away to this mystical land called 'Japan' where I'm told I'm sure to be amazed, get married, 'experience an engaging blend of old and new' (I stole that from the AEON website), and binge drink. Excited? Yeah. Kinda terrified beyond belief? Ummm... lotsa yeah.

Anyway, I've managed to fight off the mind-numbing fear enough to actually get ready, I've gotta go get a haircut, pack a bit more, go out for dinner with my family one last time this year and choose an outfit to wear on my jet-plane odyssey. *gulp* Here's hoping I can actually calm down enough to actually sleep and stop manically trying to memorise my entire phrasebook before then.

I had an (off-line) request the other day to explain the headings of the page-elements on the left; yes, they're all in Japanese (or at least romaji) because we all know that using a foreign language to write artsy/obvious things makes your site 47% cooler, right?

- 'Mihari Kaki Dokei' means 'watching the clock' (y'know, like you used to/do in class) kinda appropriate huh? 'Cause that's obviously what you're doing if you're looking there.

- 'Kikan Onden Na' is 'temperate period', which is more hopeful than predictive; I'm hoping that after a week of seeing a perpetual 'storm cloud' on the forecast the irony of the caption might raise a smile.

- 'Shaun's Soramimi' can be translated as 'Shaun's ears playing tricks' or 'Shaun's misheard lyrics' depending on your preference. Anyway, it illustrates my constantly changing playlist nicely, as well as acting as another Azumanga Daioh reference (the theme song to the anime being the infectiously boppy Soramimi Cake)

- 'Sukina Toshokan Desu' means 'my library of favourites', quite simple really.

- 'Mugen Chishiki Kai' translates as 'endless sea of knowledge' which is the sort of laughably optimistic view of the internet that hasn't prevailed since it was still being used to fight the Cold War. 'Mugen Hentai Kai' (endless sea of perversion) might be more appropriate, but since I'm not linking porn I'll stick with what I've got.

- 'Shima Hanashi' means 'island talk' (it can also mean 'stripe conversation', but let's ignore that) Japan is an island (a chain of them actually), I am talking... witness my awesome logic!

- 'Ningen Yoso' is 'human factor', because what would a blog be without a blogger? Another ghost-blog is what!

And finally, the title; most people know that 'Kanji' are the Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system, but did you also know that the word can mean 'feeling', 'perception' or 'impression'? Any of which placed before 'For Beginners' sounds very avant-garde (or perhaps just massively pretentious). Duality of meaning! Subtext! Maybe all those thousands of dollars spent on that English major weren't wasted after all!

Ok, explanation over; there are now offically no more mysteries to reveal and we can all move along; travel safe!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Postcards = Reassurance, Murder = De-assurance.

Ok, I know this is a couple of days old but I'm still kinda totally wigged out by this.

Seriously, this is not what I want to hear five days before getting on a plane to Tokyo. At the same time it does help to validate all that company policy about not dating students (although my train of thought never ran as far as expecting to end up dumped in a freakin' sand-filled bathtub as a consequence).

I got a lot of fun mail today, all the staff at the school at Sasebo sent me postcards, saying how they were looking forward to meeting me. This is so cute that it defies words; I particularly liked the one by my manager Saori who writes: "I know very well around city and good bars :D" Ummm... smells like binge drinking to me! I also found out that I'm the only 'native' English-speaker at the school which means that I'll pretty much get dumped in the deep end as far as work-related responsibilities go... responsibility is cool, right? *nervous smile*

Also in the mail (about four years late!) Was my invitation/application to join the 'Golden Key' society; I must have done better in that Honours year than I thought, and so now I can join the ranks of seemingly every arts student ever. Seriously, I have a bunch of friends I've known since first year and every single one of them (at least the ones who didn't take the same brutally marked first year history course as me) has a membership. Still, I don't really care about being 'elite', I just want the same certificate, lapel pin and inbox spam that everyone else has.

Beauty and the Beast was very cool, especially considering the challange faced by adapting an animated movie (yes it was that version) into a stage production. Good performances all round, singable music and no one fluffed their lines, nice job all!

Time for me to go and say more goodbyes, write more lists and *gasp* even start packing. Be good world!