Saturday, November 25, 2006

Part Two!! Nagoya Station, all decked out for Christmas!



Well, they may not celebrate Christmas, but they sure like to decorate for it! This is Nagoya's main train station, and how Ian and I get to work everyday. The rest of the pictures are all from up top where those trees are.

There were a few main themes running through their decorations. Teddy bears, colourful mushrooms, and down on the street....dolphins.

This picture may be over exposed, but it suits the psychadelic theme beautifully.

These white trees were quite nice and tasteful.....

I find this picture amusing for a different reason though. Back somewhere in our Kyoto pictures is a shot of Ian lined perfectly between 2 tall white trees. He obsessed over how good that shot was for a long time, and I think that is why he requested to have his picture taken here....

Yatta, Yatta!! Teddy bears are cute. This one was sticking his butt out into the amused me.
It took me a good while to get this seat. He was a popular fellow.

The station is always packed, but since the lights have gone up its near impossible to move through. I like it though. The lights make me smile.

Its amazing how well these shots work sometimes. Maybe one day we will actually ask someone to take a picture for us...

I was amused by something here, though I am not sure what.

Probably the bear with the butt...

This little girl was too cute. She was trying to make a peace sign for the picture, but couldn't manage to get that 3rd finger out of the was a good effort though.

I decided I'd show her how its really done.

I was trying to get a shot of Ian with the decorations but this boy ran up super excited and it didn't seem like he was going any time soon...

And finally, what you've all been waiting for. That magical Christmas Dolphin that lines our streets year after year....or at least, the streets of Nagoya.

I just don't get it....Dolphins???

Friday, November 24, 2006

Much like Nagoya's Christmas decorations, these 2 posts have no coherent theme....

The Japanese staff from my branch are great! Helpful, friendly, and they even help me learn Japanese. Here's a nice picture of Tara with Mari, while Yoshi demonstrates a traditional Japanese silly face.

Incriminating photographs of your work supervisor are always good ones to hold onto for later.
Here's Piers and Ben caught in scandal. Piers is responsible for my on job observations. You can bet I'LL be getting good reviews next month!

This picture is good enough quality to make a magazine cover.
Hmm... now you're all wondering what kind of sick magazines I read...
Well, no turning back now!

This is about half of the people I work with every day. They're good people. Nathan (top beside me) is now back in Australia. Ben (second from right) is back in England. But they were darn good times while they were around.
Note how it looks like my head was pasted onto my body in this picture. Strange. I assure you I was really there.
Note the authentic American decor, also. This is one of many establishments that strives for an authentic Western atmosphere. Kind of nice for nostalgic-homesickness-remedy-purposes, though I actually prefer the Japanese izakayas... cheaper, and better food!

Its JEFF!!!!!
Yes, he really exisits, and he is really our friend. This shot is from the time him and I attempted to see Gifu Castle. We failed that goal, and got lost, BUT I did manage to sort of understand a bus driver's directions!! Woooo!!

These next few pictures are also from Gifu, though on a different day. Ian and I decided we wanted to see the castle. Once again, we failed. But it was a gorgeous day!! Bet it wasn't 17 degrees celcius anywhere in Ontario today!!! (Mom and Dad....I don't want to hear about Florida's weather..haha)

We started to walk up the mountain a bit towards the castle. Though we didn't get to actually see it, the scenery surrounding was well worth the trip.

Good job Ian for being tall! The sun was setting and the view was great, but the bushes were tall, and in the way of me and my camera.

This bridge was really nice, and there was a waterfall and little stream running around us. This is what is great about Japan. You can step out of the city, and into the past. You get the feeling that the area hasn't really changed much over time.

I think the path we were on lead all the way up the mountain, but it was getting dark so we didn't have much time to explore. You can also take a ropeway too the top, but this way is cheaper AND more exciting. One day we will actually make it to the top.

The leaves here really were some amazing shades. Its funny because "the changing colours" are like a national icon here. I never really got it before - the leaves change colour in Canada too. But people here really take the time to stop and admire it. And when you do, you realize how beautiful and amazing it really is.

AND: Finally a taste of Christmas in Nagoya. The next set of pictures will focus more on this, but I want you all to notice the brightly coloured mushrooms behind me. Apparently in Japan, Colourful mushrooms, and dolphins, are symbols of Christmas! Who would have thought....

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Day in the Life ... (Of a Monkey)

At long last I have for you the final installment of the Kyoto adventure. It's hard to believe it was exactly a month ago that we were in Kyoto. Time does move along quickly here.
Anyway, without further delay, here's what you really want to see...
Uninterrupted, non-stop, monkey action!!!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Where in the world are Tara and Ian?

Well, between the dates of December 28th and January 3rd, Tara and Ian will be found in SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA!

So, technically there are 2 winners for this one. Once again, you are too smart for my games. I will just have to be more sly next time.

Anyways, South Korea? You may ask how this came about. After realizing that our original plans were not going to work, we decided "hey...why don't we FLY somewhere??"
Of course the first thought after that was, "How much will it cost??"
So, we went to the travel agent with a list of places and said where is cheap! Seoul won that contest by a few hundread dollars. Interestingly enough there were also only TWO seats left on that flight. Fate I'd say. Someone wants us to go to South Korea.

Of course, Neither Ian nor I know the slightest about the country but we have been starting our research and requsting advice form other travellers. It actually sounds like it will be a neat place. We are attemtping to do a temple stay while we are there, though I am having a hard time making contact with the temple we are interested in.

Anyways, if anyone has any advice or knows ANYTHING about South Korea, let us know!!!

As for the winners : Arlene (though you did not follow rule number 5 we will let it slip! and Aunt Linda.....CONGRATS.
You will be contacted shortly with a skill testing question!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Who remembers Carmen Sandiego?

Well, here's the deal:
Ian and I have some 'new' New Years plans and I have decided to make a game out of it. Basically, its a guessing game. Whoever guess where we are going will win a prize. There are a few rules though:
1. The country name is not what we are looking for. We want a city, people!
2. For every 2 days that someone fails to guess, we will post another clue. Your prize will be determined by the amount of time it takes to guess.
3. Each person is only allowed ONE guess per clue, and THREE total for the duration of the game. If you go over your limit your will be disqualified!!!!
4. After guessing the correct country you will be asked to answer a skill testing question if you wish to claim your prize!
5. Please label your guesses "Guess"...


Two of the many main religions are Buddhism and Christianity

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

C'est la vie.

A brief note on coming and going:

Things within the company here change quickly. This can be a good thing, but it also has its drawbacks. Two of my favourite coworkers will leave Japan this week. It's a shame because just when you're starting to make friends here, it seems like they get shipped off to new shores. The Japanese staff changes even faster than the teaching staff. On one hand, it means that if you're not happy with how things are, don't fret...they'll change soon. But it also means it's hard to get to know people... Just when you're getting comfortable with them, somebody has to move on.

One student told me that I'm getting to be a better teacher. The lessons definitely feel more fluid now. Because the students can book into lessons at their own leisure, the students also change from day to day. Some people you see more than others. It's also a constantly fluctuating dynamic. On the one hand, you get to meet a variety of people. But the drawback is that you really don't see the same students so often, so it's hard to build up a good sense of trust between each other.

To end on a positive note: Japanese style going away parties are fantastic! All you can drink and all you can eat. Mmmmmm. Lots of beer and sake, and a brilliant variety of food. My favourite is takoyaki (baked octopus balls).

Anyway, that's what's going on here. More monkeys to come soon.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kyoto Day 3 - Arashiyama Monkey Park

Join us as we enter the monkey park. Admittedly, it was a little scary walking up the mountain path, which was well shaded by tall trees. We didn't know exactly what to expect, but we knew we wanted to see monkeys. We were not disappointed...

The final video installment of the Kyoto trip will be posted soon.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Kyoto Day 3 - The Golden Pavilion

Konnichiwa tomodachi.

Some of the Day 2 video was too dark, so I decided to skip ahead and show you something from Day 3. This one was hard to miss during the day, since its made of GOLD! Well...ok, it's covered with Gold Leaf, it's not really "made of gold"... but still, pretty impressive. Unfortunately, there wasn't much else to do on the grounds because the secret paths were all blocked off. This place was PACKED with swarms of school children. After taking a walk around the golden pavilion, we quickly headed towards Arashiyama, which was a beautiful site on a river. It was also the location of the monkey park!


Friday, November 03, 2006

I was going to post more Kyoto pictures.....

But then this happened:

It wasn't my fault!!
I mean really, they tasted fine, other then the few burnt parts...
And considering that I had no measuring utensils and only a tiny toaster oven to cook them in...would you turn me away if I showed up with these??

As for the recipe, I may have to put in a formal complaint. According to this "Angie" person who posted the recipe online, "These brownies always turn out!"