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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another note on transportation

A few things I forgot to mention. Over here people don't lock their bikes to anything when they leave their bikes, instead they just lock the bike. I put a lock on my back tire and I hope that that is all I need to prevent theft. It didn't really make sense to me when I first got here and it still doesn't cause if someone wants the bike bad enough, they can figure a way to get ride of the lock. Oh well, do as the Romans do I guess.

Another reason why biking is kind of scary here for me is the fact that some of the drivers are kind of crazy here. It is very normal to see people run red lights, in fact I think it's expected that they will run the light right after it turns red. So when I was crossing the street here in the first month it was frightening because not only would i look the wrong way out of habit but i wouldn't expect a car to be going through when it wasn't supposed to. Riding in a car here for the first time was a bit weird. I'm looking forward to being a passanger when I get home cause it will probably feel just as weird after being here for a year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


My main form of transportation in Japan, like many others, is my bicycle. I use it everyday to go to work, get groceries or just do whatever. So many people ride bikes here but no one wears a helmet which seems a bit crazy coming from a place where wearing helmets is the law. I enjoy riding my bike but sometimes it feels like a bit of a death sport since the sidewalks are very bumpy and not very well lit. I don't know how some of the ladies ride their bikes with tons of groceries strapped on the back or a couple of kids on each end of the bike, now that's talent.

Taking the bus here is pretty much backwards from what we know about buses back home. You get on the bus in the back and take a ticket. If you do not have the right amount of change there is a change machine at the front. When you leave the bus you toss in your ticket and your fare will be shown. So you pay for how far you travel, you don't pay a standard rate. Also at the front of the bus they announce each stop and have it displayed in lights in Kanji and Romanji (Roman letters) if you're lucky.

The subway is quite an experience. When you know which subway you want to catch you line up in a specific area and wait for the train. It's not like the C-train or Sky train back home where you would just wait on the platform. If you were to do that here it would be considered cutting in line. During rush hour things can get a little pushy. I remember thinking that I was getting shoved on the subway only to look behind and see some granny shoving me on. They kind of shove you in like sardines, so if you have a long way to go it can be rather uncomfortable.

The trains are pretty much the same as the subways only the trains have reserved cars for people who have purchased tickets ahead of time. The same rules about lining up apply and shoving etiquette is pretty much the same too.

Miso Soup

Last night I made some Miso soup. The picture on the right is the before. That is the past that I purchased from a local market. Basically I took about a tablespoon of the paste and let in dissolve in about a cup of boiling water. Add some chopped up green onion and you got miso soup. Miso soup is usually served with breakfast but I perfer it with a lunch or diner. Also it is served in a small laquered bowl, as shown above on the left. It was very easy to make and very delicious.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jazz Festival

Over the past weekend (November 4th and 5th) Okazaki had the Jazz Street Festival and it was exactly what it sounds like. There was music being played at every corner of the streets. There were solo artists with their guitars, school children with violins, or older gentlemen with saxaphones, drums, tubas and trumpets. One of the main stages happened to be behind my apartment in the park which was where I saw a really good jazz band perform. One of the guys in the band said that he noticed me right away. I guess I never really thought about being noticed in a crowd like that but being tall, with blonde hair and wearing shorts and a tank top when everyone else in shorter, with black hair and wearing fall clothing, it's not that hard to see how I get picked out of the crowd. Over at the castle they had other performers and the flower of the season, chrysanthemums, on display as well as children performing dance numbers. It was a beautiful day and it seemed like everyone in the city was walking around enjoying all the sounds and food of the weekend.

The day after that I went to watch a Japanese teacher from Peppy Kids perform flaminco dancing with her club at an arts centre in Anjo. It was neat to see all the costumes and the music was great but the performance was about three hours and some of the material seemed a bit repetitive. After the show I went out to diner with other english teachers and some Japanese teachers as well.

Apparently Okazaki has a lot of festivals so I will be sure to update you about the next one that I visit.