Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Hello all!!
I realized I hadn't really posted much from my school, so here are a few shots from Halloween week!
They don't really celebrate Halloween here, so for most of these kids it was their first sort of Halloween experience. Let me tell you - trying to teach Japanese children how to SAY "trick-or-treat", let alone teach them the concept, is not an easy task!!
It was a long and busy week, but we all had fun!

I made green icing for the cake, in the spirit of Halloween, and while some kids found it hilarious, most were just disgusted and didn't want it....guess they didn't quite understand that Halloween is SUPPOSED to be gross and scary.

My two favourite Pirates -(besides Johnny Depp!!)

Hugh keeping a watch on the horizon

Anyways, in non-Halloween related news, you may all remember Ian's last message about NOVA's troubles? Well it seems they have finally gotten what was coming to them. Last Friday all schools were closed until further notice (they have about 900). The president of the company has been MIA for months, and teachers and staff have not been paid for almost 2 months now. Most likely this week they will declare bankrupcy. Its been quite a big deal over here, since the company employs almost 5000 foreigners, and 2000 Japanese staff, as well as having 50% of the English market. Looks like Ian and I were very fortunate to get out when we did.

Well, that's about all from me for now. Keep posted - We are having a halloween party on Wednesday which means more pictures!!

I miss everyone!!

Love Tara

ps- only 48 days til we return for Christmas!!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

From Across the Sea

Hey, remember that company "Nova" that Tara and I came over to Japan with? Well at the time we signed on for our year in Japan, we had done a great deal of research online, finding that the company had it's problems - there were endless reports of people who simply didn't like working there - but generally was easy to work for. The same Google search of "Nova Japan" today produces these top two results:
1. Nova's official company website - the one through which Tara and I applied for our first jobs in Japan, and that by quick perusal appears to be unchanged from that time.
2. An online discussion forum stating "NOVA UNABLE TO PAY IT'S EMPLOYEES". This is, unfortunately, nothing but the truth. I really feel for my ex-coworkers and students, who are being dragged into their own financial conundrums by the crashing company. Nova failed to pay it's teachers last September 15th (the regular monthly pay date), and a recent letter issued to staff informs them that they will not be payed on October 15th either. Meanwhile, students who have put down large sums in tuition, are almost definitely out of luck.
Once again, although I'm car-less and hence biking 1-3 hours/day, I can't help but feel very fortunate to have jumped ship when I did.

Speaking of good fortune, let's have a look at THE BIGGEST BUDDHA IN JAPAAAAAANNNN!!!

Ah, but first... THE BIGGEST KEVIN IN JAPAN!!! (perhaps)

The very big Buddha has a very big house (a.k.a. Todaiji in Japan).

Or at least the type of house to which people become increasingly smaller as they approach it. You can see Kevin and Dad in the midst of becoming relatively smaller here.
In fact, this 1692 reconstruction of the original is only 2/3rds the original size, but still blew us all away.

Now I will give you a list of numbers which will not do justice to this picture. Though we purchased postcards, we all agreed that the picture just could not convey the absolute grandeur of this behemoth.
The dimensions of the Daibutsu --
Height : 14.98 meters
Face : 5.33 meters
Eyes : 1.02 meters
Nose : 0.5 meters
Ears : 2.54 meters
Weight : 500 metric tonnes
In other words, he's a biggie, and if he didn't want you in his house, could swat you like a fly.
For me, this was one of the highlight sights so far, out of everything I've seen in Japan. Anyway, it really is hard to give an impression of the size, so I would like to ask the many engineers who read this page to recreate the Daibutsu in South-Western Ontario, so that you all might enjoy the experience.

This fellow, in the back corner of the big house, was my personal favourite. Decked out in complete traditional armour, but holding a brush and scroll, he seemed to epitomize the adage "The pen is mightier than the sword"... Which some of you may know better through the parody "I'll take penis mightiers for 200, Trebek."

Leading up to the Big Buddha's house, Tara - queen of the forest - gathered a following of woodland friends. There are hundreds of deer living in Nara park, and they can sense a rice cake from miles away. They look nice but get quite agressive when food is up for grabs.

This is one of my favourite pictures from the trip, although when I look at it now, I realize that if Dad had stood a bit more to his right, it would have looked like they were both wearing very tall and silly hats. Ahh well, you'll have to make due with this nice picture of them, and imagine them in silly hats on your own time, or edit in silly hats using Photoshop, or draw in pictures of Arlene in the background. Really, do as you please now, my work here is done for now...


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend Itinerary

Saturday Morning: Tara and Ian caught an early train to Osaka

Saturday Afternoon: Tara and Ian wander Osaka's trendiest shopping area

Saturday Night: Tara and Ian check into a hotel with a room containing a private swimming pool, karaoke, movies, videogames, and a Jacuzzi

Sunday Morning: Ian takes one last dip in their private pool, and they both check out

Sunday Afternoon: Tara and Ian wander through what are possibly some of Osaka's most expensive shops
*Sidenote* Shopkeeper tries to sell Ian Tom Cruise's leather jacket from War of the Worlds. Ian tries on that as well as a 100000 yen ($1000) lambskin jacket but decides they are not quite up to his standards.
In thanks for purchasing a pair of pants, Ian and Tara recieved a coupon for the suprisingly affordable in store restaurant. After entering the restaurant they were asked for their preferance between sitting at a table OR, on a bed. Naturally they enjoyed dinner and ice cream on the large cushioned surface surrounding the restaurant.

Sunday Evening: Tara and Ian make their way back to Ichinomiya

Monday: Renound hair model, Tara, is picked up by her driver and whisked off to Nagoya for an intensive evening long photoshoot.

Tara and Ian hope that everyone had a lovely and fashionable Thanksgiving Weekend


Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I missed chicken


Came Blowing In

On the second day in Kyoto, we headed out to nearby Nara, stopping at Fushimi Inari Shrine en route. Fushimi Inari Shrine is well-known for it's roughly 2 million red torii gates, recently made famous in the film "Memoires of a Geisha". This is definitely one of the nicest and most impressive shrines I've seen in Japan. It manages to be big and impressive, while maintaining the peacefulness you'd hope to find in such a place.

Kevin in the midst.

Old man, young boy.
Come on, this is poetry in motion! They're making it too easy here.

Well framed Tara.

Here Dad is caught becoming not-the-first pilgrim to unexpectedly happen upon enlightment only to stop and think "... how the hell did I get here?"

After much walking through gates we moved on to Nara, home to many deer and one really indescribably enormous Buddha...