Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Some photos from our kids party and parade today:

parade towards the main shopping street

my motley group (the ghost group)... most of the girls chose to be witches

pumpkin cupcakes that we made at cooking class this week

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Apple pizza!

We took a short trip to Shimose apple orchard (map: Shimose Ringomura) in nearby Tokusa on Monday (one of our 'weekend' days off). Not only do they have 3 different groves of 3 different varieties of huge, delicious apples... they also have:

A bunch of awesome chickens with attitude (and style, clearly) roaming about

Two very large, very furry, and very friendly pet dogs (the one pictured above liked to be helpful by carrying things in his mouth and punctured my umbrella in a few places with his teeth). The building he's walking out of is their on-site café.

After picking and eating some of each kind of apple and purchasing some to bring home for homemade apple pie, we had a quite tasty lunch of apple-cheese pizza (handmade on-site and cooked in a brick wood-burning oven!)

our pizza in the oven...

our pizza. complete with mini apple and apple syrup.


Friday, October 23, 2009

$6 grapes


this is so sad because they're tasty but too expensive!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eco-Friendly Japan

Let's face it. I'm a passionate person, and I tend to switch the object of my passion quite frequently. However, the environment has been one constant. Hooray for trees!

Japan is in so many ways a very eco-friendly place. Rice is grown in your own neighborhood, so the carbon footprint is relatively low. Many farmers still even plant by hand! You can wash your hands with the water that flows from the pipes into your toilet when you flush (before it enters the bowl of course). Many people bike to work everyday here. Trash is meticulously separated into burnable, plastic burnable, recyclable plastic bottles, recyclable glass, magazines, newspapers, cardboard, etc.

But the one thing that Japan really could improve on is plastic use. True, most large stores now don't hand out plastic bags for free and encourage the use of your own grocery bag, but convenience stores do. Not only do they give out a plastic bag with everything, but all the food comes in layers and layers of plastic.

I'm not trying to complain about it, but rather present a solution. For all my friends in Japan right now, consider carrying your own chopsticks (hashi) with you to avoid getting both plastic AND wood every time you eat out and think if you really need to take that plastic bag. If you're really into saving the environment and happen to be a big oden fan too, bring your own plastic container to the convini. The girls at my local convini think it's really cute that I bring my own, and I feel good about getting a warm vegetarian meal for only $3.50 with no plastic at all!!

Oden in Fukuoka at a famous night ramen stand by the river accompanied by grilled scallops.
Clockwise from top:
Tofu pouch stuffed with meat (that I gave away), a half-eaten daikon, atsuage tofu, and a heaping of wasabi mustard.
And yes, it's hot enough to make a grown man cry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Last weekend Mia found the perfect burger joint... too bad its so far away.

I sampled Hakata ramen (above). Hakata and Fukuoka are basically the same place, so either name can refer to the same area. I visited the place pictured above with TK while the girls were shopping in Tenjin (essentially a neighborhood of Fukuoka). We all went to a famous ramen stand along the river in Tenjin and had ramen, oden (boiled veggies and egg), and yakitori (grilled chicken on a stick). Apparently, this place liked to serve theirs with a generous portion of fat still on the meat... and there was a whole boiling pot devoted to nankotsu (gristle/cartilage).... yuk.

I woke up at home with a bad cold... probably from getting an extremely poor night's rest sleeping in an internet cafe, half on a chair, half on a floor mattress. So now, in keeping with Japanese manners, I'm wearing a mask to protect my students and fellow teachers. Not sure how much protection it provides since germs can infect people in all sorts of ways, but wearing a mask is the generally accepted thing to do when you're sick and have to go to work.

Is my English getting worse? I can't tell.