Monday, August 29, 2011

Post...I lost count!

I went to a lovely small tea shop/restaurant last saturday with my friend Samantha. We had a nice early dinner of the house special, called "wagamama curry". Some of you might have heard the word wagamama, since there is a chain of restaurants in the US called wagamama. It means selfishness, self-indulgence, etc. I think that, at least for the curry that we ordered, it is a play on words, waga meaning "our, my, one's own" and mama meaning...well, I'm sure you can guess.

Our Mother's Curry! Served with lassi, homemade pickles
and Darjeeling tea. 
 The curry was delicious! It was a tomato-based sauce with chicken and vegetables (onion and green peppers). It was a little spicy, but it was more flavor than kick. Served over a bed of turmeric rice (short-grain!). Really, a nice combination.

close-up with pickles 
The pickles added a nice sour kick to counter the sweet-savory curry. I didn't really care for the lassi (it wasn't sweet enough for me!), but it had a nice pinch of cloves on top, which gave the plain yogurt a nice kick.
Decent food photo for a cell-phone camera
They also served us a kokotto, which I am assuming is from somewhere in Europe, but I do not know the actual name...just the Japanese version. It was constructed by putting cheese (and some sort of milk-based sauce?) and broccoli on top of a raw egg then putting it in the oven to bake. It is simultaneously the weirdest and most amazing thing I have ever eaten with curry. Maybe even ever!

I will find the name of the restaurant later but it's in Morioka so unless you live there...


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day ??- I am so tired...

...I have been getting home at 9 pm these past few nights! I guess this is what it's like to be 社会人 (shakaijin-a working, "full-fledged" member of society).

Enjoy pretty pictures!

Had  a lovely dinner at Nutmeg! Green curry with eggplant and bamboo.
It was spicy, creamy and generally delicious.
And, I got a free show because Ossan's band was practicing! This place
is like my second home and if I can't go twice a week I get very upset...
I was tickled when I saw my English Conversation student's
 political campaign poster! (It's the white one)
I would vote for him. At least he doesn't have those annoying
vans driving around the city shouting his
name and saying "ONEGAISHIMASU!!"

Zero calories but 70 lemon's worth of vitamin C!
This is how I am going to stay healthy despite the stress
and work that's piling up!
So, I hardly have any downtime at work because I'm always at class, grading or doing cheer practice. I'm super tired and after work I'm teaching, having meetings or catching up with friends (while discussing lesson plans!). I like being busy, but I get so tired and I don't have time to clean my gross, disgusting, tiny apartment. I want to post recipes! I want to write about interesting things!

Give me time!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 9 and 10-Stress! Busy!

I am so busy! Who would have thought that having a 8-4 job and a part-time English conversation job would keep me so busy? I'm behind on posting and I'm going to cheat!! THIS IS TWO POSTS THAT I OWE!

Yesterday I gave my speech in front of THE WHOLE SCHOOL! Otobe JHS was around 290 students. No big deal, right? Right. Mirumae JHS is OVER 500 STUDENTS! What a big difference those extra 200 kids makes...Not to mention twice the number of teachers. But I had a decent speech. AND a super nice 3rd year gave a welcome speech in English on behalf of the whole school! He did a great job and his excitement made me excited!

I met four of the five 3rd-year classes yesterday. What a range of personalities they had! The first class I went to was super excited and good at English, while the second class I went to was super shy and quiet. The other two were a mix of slightly shy but also chatty.

At the end of the day was ooen practice. Ooen is cheering. In American schools we have cheerleaders. In Japan they have the Ooen-bu (Cheering club) that leads the WHOLE school in cheers. It turns out next week is the city-wide track meet, and each school will come a cheer for their students. The whole school goes. So, all 500+ of my students will be there (plus 290+ of my old students). I got to cheer with them yesterday! The English teachers stuck me with some third-grade girls and I followed along, in my skirt and button-up shirt. It must have been a sight to see!

Today was a testing day so I got to sit at my desk and reply to the 3rd-year student's self-introductions. There were a lot of "Nice to meet you, ~~" and "What kind of music do you like to listen to?" and "I'm glad you like English!" replies from me. A surprising number of kids actually wrote "My favorite subject is English. It is interesting" so I *guess* that's a good sign.


boring post, gomen!

Look what I found on a recycle bin:
oh so famous!
p.s. Interesting (boring) note: My Otobe students call me Miss Forman, and my Mirumae students call me Miss Lydia. I will always be able to tell where my students are from even if I don't recognize their faces! This is great news (except, I've pretty much got all my Otobe student's faces memorized...I think ~_~::)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 8-Sunday Sansa Festival!

Sunday I went to my first Junior High School to watch their Sansa Dance Festival. My school is pretty well known for this in Morioka. Go Otobe Chuu!

I was only there for a few hours but I got to watch four dances! I also saw a bit of their sports festival which happened before the dances started.

It was good times. 

One of my new co-workers said they saw some Otobe students perform their dances at the hugh All-Japan Middle School Culture Festival Conference that was held HERE IN MORIOKA! I didn't go, but I hear it was pretty cool! A lot of really talented students performed some interesting traditional dances and such.

Short post!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 7-I discovered fashion!

This is my post for Saturday, August 20th!

Friday I bought two skirst and a shirt at a second-hand clothes store (古着屋 or furugiya) and I wore one Saturday a.m. It's a really cute black and white striped skirt! I wore it with a white button-up and a brown belt. Then in the afternoon, my friend and I went to a different furugiya and got a shirt that would go with it, but be a bit more casual. This is the following outfit:

super-strong chuu-hai that I never got to drink :(
I am queen of weird faces.
Intentionally clashing horizontal stripes with vertical strips! The shirt is also black and white with a peter-pan lace collar. It is super cute, right? The shirt, skirt and belt are all from furigiya, the shoes I bought in Tokyo's Marui (0101) department store. They are 'model size' which means they are for 'big feet'. I have size 8.5/9 feet, which I think are pretty average, right? Okay, enough about fashion!
waa! Look! Look!
Another weird face :D
We did puri-cura after our long day of shopping, to make it an official girly date!

Last night was also a work nomikai. We went to a really nice bar on the main drag called Qzo. They have a food+nomihodai course that included fondue! It was a really lovely night of overeating. Here we all are! Photo quality is not the best, in case you haven't noticed, because I've been using my cell phone's camera.
Well, that's it! I'm sorry about the terribly delayed post...

I have to do two today >.<


Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 6-Not much to say...

I have a feeling that this is going to be my downfall...Not much to say!

I went to work at my new JHS again today! Basically the same as yesterday, minus the tour (although, I could definitely use another tour!). Finished the information for "Miss Lydia's English Board" which I hope will be interesting...I color coded it, so it at least should catch student's eyes...I guess I should post a picture of that? I will do that in another post...sorry -_-;;

Tonight I went to two different nomiyas. Nomiya (飲み屋) quite literally means drinking shop, or bar.

The first was Igo's bar, which I went to with Damon. Igo loves metal music, in particular Metallica and Slayer, both bands I know little about. But the atmosphere is always great. We went there quite early tonight, so the bar was empty until half an hour before we left. If we had stayed longer, I am sure we would have met the other customers. As it was, I left totally sober (had a beer and lots of tea) so I went onto my friend Meg's restaurant.

First, a picture from Igo's bar:

The chef (Takumi?? Takkun!) makes decent Italian food, and started us off with some lovely onion rings (not that I am claiming those are Italian...). He also made Damon a carbonara pasta dish and, although it wasn't on the menu, it was so good! Interesting note: although I kinda knew Takkun from previous excursions to Igo's bar, I never actually knew him until I went to Meg's restaurant.

Which brings me to the next part of my night! I went to Meg's restaurant for girl talk and, of course, Ossan was there! Ossan (おっさん)is actually quite a rude term for older men (it's like calling your father "my old man" but more rude). I used to call him Take-chan (and we all know chan is a suffix you add to names of younger children or people you're really close to) because my friend Meg calls him Take-chan (they have been friends for a while). But he is almost 20 years older than I am, so one day when I was talking to him, I was joking around and called him 'old man' but HE LIKED IT! The nick-name stuck and now many people call him that. 

In general I had a great night! I spoke more Japanese than I expected, ate some delicious food, and it wasn't raining so my bike ride back home was smooth and safe! It's nights like these that I really love Morioka <3


Sorry for the crummy post...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 5-New School! New Food!

Today was my first day at my new JHS, Mirumae! It is much bigger than my last JHS. Otobe has around 290 students, and Mirumae has over 500! WOW! That's a lot of students! There are 5 classes in each grade, Otobe only had 3 per grade...So, that's 15 classes versus 9! I'm going to be teaching a LOT more than I did last year. Mixed blessings, I think. I *would* rather complain about working too much, than working too little. At least this way I'm actually doing something!

I was only at Mirumae for half a day, and I did not do much. After a tour of the school (I'm going to get super lost, I already know this), I wrote out a small intro profile about me (focusing on where I am from).  OH quick side note: My school is so big, I get to post "Miss Lydia's English Board" in THREE DIFFERENT PLACES! One on each floor, so the different grades don't have to share one board.

After I wrote out my little "I'm from Kansas..." bit, I worked on an English recitation with a 2nd year student and his English teacher. This is the same guy who gave me the tour around the school, but boy was his personality different. I can tell that the second years won't be giving me any lip at this school. I can honestly say I am a little relieved, although the student we were working with was obviously becoming increasingly upset every time the teacher told him his pronunciation was okashii (strange). All I could do was to tell him "good job" after he said a word with [what I judged as] good pronunciation. In the end, with me telling the him "good job" and his teacher telling him "okashii" I can only imagine he is even worse off.

My first day of work. Lasted a few hours. Got home by 1 and had lunch!! I made tumuric rice and served it warm with natto. In case you don't know what natto (納豆) is, it's fermented soy beans. It smells like it sounds, fermented beans. You know that really smelling cheese? Limburger? I always think of that and blue cheese when I eat natto. I mean, I don't know what limburger tastes like, but despite the way it smells, people still like it. That's what natto is.

Doesn't that look super appealing?
I know you want to try comes with shiso tare (perilla flavored sauce)

Natto is always one of those things that comes up in a conversation with a Japanese person you've just met (most likely someone older, like a co-worker, or a principle of a school)

Japanese Person: Oh, you're Japanese is so good (lie)
Lydia: No, no...I'm still learning.
JP: Well, what sort of Japanese foods do you like?
L: I really like beef, so some of my favorites are sukiyaki and gyudon.
JP: Oh, well, don't you like sushi?
L: Of course, but I don't eat shellfish. Only fish, like salmon and tuna.
JP: So you can't eat raw food.
L: No...I like raw salmon and tuna. I'm Jewish so--(*think twice about trying to explain being kosher*) I don't like shellfish.
JP: I see. Well, what sort of Japanese foods do you hate?
L: (Oooh, I see where THIS is going. But I wont let you win this one, I've been training with natto the way a marathoner trains for long distance! By JUST DOING IT!) OH YOU MEAN NATTO?! I LOVE THAT STUFF (lie).

Ask any ALT (exchange student, worker) in Japan. They have had this conversation many times. Whether or not they like natto depends on the person, but the conversation generally follows the same path.
My masterpiece: Turmeric rice with natto.
The ingredients in the rice: rice, water, some chicken bullion, red pepper, tomato.

This was one of those recipes that made itself. I decided I wanted rice (since I had my lovely rotten soy beans), but I didn't want plain rice. So I threw a whole red pepper (minus the seeds and stem, of course) and a few mini-tomatos into my food processor and added them to the cooking rice (half cup) with a few shakes of turmeric, some chicken bullion and set the lid on. I added water and stirred as I saw fit, so it ended up like risotto in consistency, instead of the Japanese-style sticky short rice I wanted. BUT it was still good. And it went surprisingly well with the strong taste of the natto. Tomorrow I will just make normal rice and natto...Maybe throw some kimchi on it. That's a good, simple way to eat natto

Well, I hope this wasn't a terribly gross update. 

Eat more natto!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 4-Where did day 3 go?

As long as I write 30 posts in 30 days, it's ok. Right? Can I re-write the rules to this game? Challenge? Is this cheating?

Post comments below.


I kid! I kid! Did you think I would just leave it at that? Of course I'm going to post something. This is the next post of the rest of my life! I'm not going to mess around with that sort of thing.

Who here knows about gacha machines? It's ガチャ (gacha) in Japanese and they are probably the coolest thing ever. Just a little dispenser machine where, for 100¥ to 400 ¥, you can get some sort of key-chain, toy, or in the following case, a basil plant!!
Rerakkuma adorns my lovely basil plant :D
 I spent 200¥ ($2.60) on this really cute Rerakkuma (Relax Bear) potted plant. I wish I had taken a picture when I first got it, but I didn't. This is about two weeks of growth! The set came with a little pot, a disk of dirt that grew when I first watered it, and 5 little seeds. It was so fun to watch them pop out of the dirt, and as you can tell, some grew faster than others. I can't wait to start using the basil, although it seems cruel to eat something I raised from a seed...Does that make me a sort of anti-vegetarian? "I refuse to eat anything I've grown myself!"

I want to go to the mall and see if this gatcha machine is still around! I want to get Italian parsley and the chamomile plants, but I would be happy just to get a few more plants to keep my basil company. I wonder how long they will live? I guess as long as I continue to water them and put them in the sun, they will keep growing. Until winter, that is (dun dun DUNNN).


I was invited to go out to dinner with a friend last night and before we met up, I went to a book store to do tachi yomi ( 立ち読み) or reading while standing. This happens in the US, particularly at bookstores, so it's not an unheard of occurrence. But, I heard that it is especially common in convenience stores with young men who live alone. It is really common to see 3 or 4 men standing at the magazine racks, especially later at night, reading a comic book or magazine. I guess there is a sense of camaraderie, just standing next to another person and reading. Maybe they feel like they are being social, without having to actually talk? Who knows, all I really know is that, despite the fact that these men (and women) might not actually buy anything at the convenience store, they aren't forced to leave. However, some stores wrap their magazines in plastic to prevent this from happening.

The were a lot of people at the bookstore, doing the tachi yomi thing, especially around the girls fashion magazines, so I went to the next best thing. COOKING MAGAZINES! I grabbed the following magazine:
Curry Magazine!
This magazine is called 料理男子 (ryouri danshi or "cooking men" or Men who cook?). This issue is, as you can see, ALL ABOUT CURRY! I am super excited to try making ALL the recipes! Who knows, maybe I'll make one on Friday! I have a friend who LOVES curry, and she has infected me with the curry bug. I have currently loaned her the magazine, and together we will make some delicious curry! I will post step-by-step photos of the adventure, so keep an eye out for that!

Which brings me to the best part of the night: yakiniku! 焼き肉 is absolutely my favorite interactive dining style. You pay ridiculous prices to cook your own meat and veggies, wear a silly paper bib, and leave feeling full and smelling like meat. What's not to like?? Can you see the bib in the picture? I have to say, we looked quite cool.
This lamb really wants me to eat it.
The restaurant was called Ra mu (羅夢) and it serves...lamb! I think the name of the restaurant is sort of a pun...what do you think? The Japanese word for lamb is hitsuji (羊)so I am not really sure...Maybe it's a clever play on the owner's name? Maybe he/she is Ramu Takeshi or Kikuchi Ramu? I'll never know, because the restaurant is closing! So sad! It was super good, and would turn any lamb-hater into a lamb-eater. We also had some really delicious eggplant, another under-appreciated food. Eat more eggplant!

After two and a half hours of eating and socializing, I was BURNT. OUT. I had a lovely, half-asleep bike ride home and, despite how tired I was, I tossed and turned in bed for an hour before finally falling asleep.

I blame it on that one sip of Red Bull I had.

That's a drink that is over-appreciated. I don't think I like that stuff...

That's it for now! Tomorrow I start work at my new school! Can you guess what I will write about?