Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My name is your dad.

For all you Blackwoodphiles out there (I’m sure I still have fans, right?). I’ve put a rather extensive update to my bebo account. Last Thursday I uploaded about 170 pictures of my trip around South East Asia last Christmas. It was a mammoth task, uploading five pictures at a time, but I completed it in one night. I hope you all take a look at them and enjoy them. Just remember, the time that you spend looking at my photos now is time you won’t spend watching slideshows when I get back to KDY and Aberdoom. And please, please comment.

In other news, Crabu-Sama has started a blog. And it’s in English! After two years of avoiding this crustacean menace on the streets of Gifu, you can now keep yourself up to date on his movements via the interweb. Maybe it will be useful to you, maybe not. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Crabu-Sama’s work, he’s essentially a giant crab that has been killing and maiming more or less at random for about 90 years. This blog, written by the beast himself provides some insight into his comings, goings, and butcherings. It can be found at
Please everybody add him as a friend.

Also, this Saturday Kaki and I are off to Okinawa to reward ourselves for surviving another dour winter in cold buildings made of slabs. We are visiting Miyako-jima, an island which has a reputation for harbouring the worst drunks Japan has to offer. I hope to see if this is true. I expect to be eating a lot of swine and turning impossibly red, swimming in the ocean and attempting to instruct Kaki further in the art of not sinking like a stone to the bottom of any body of water you happen to find yourself in. Just kidding, she’s getting much better. Every time we go swimming now, I’m at least 60% sure that she isn’t going to take on water. I am, after all, in the Business of Education, at least for now.

I have hit a small snag though, my fabled Union Jack swimmies shrunk a bit in the wash, and I now have trouble pulling them up past my ample buttocks. So, at the weekend I decided to go and buy another pair. Unfortunately, it turns out that nowhere stocks them right now, because it isn’t swimming season yet. Now, don’t get me wrong here, I would say that right now it’s not yet quite warm enough for a dip in the sea, but surely, with the abundance of indoor heated swimming pools, swimming is an all-year round activity? Am I right? Do you mean to tell me that swimming shorts can only be bought from June to August every year? What if I go off the diving board wrong at the municipal pool in January, and end up dangling from my grotesquely stretched swimmies? I’d be fucked, that’s what I’d be. I mean, what if I sit down to fast and bust a hole in them? Do you mean to say I can’t replace them until it’s the official swimming season? Is this the whole of Japan or is it just the malls near me that are fucked up?

This sort of links in to something that really gets on my nerves about Japan. However, other people have told me how much they love the same phenomenon so there you go. But anyway, my particular problem is the fact that everything has its own particular season. Japan is a country that is extremely proud of its four distinct seasons (some people to the extent that they don’t believe spring and autumn exist in other countries) and has some very important traditions that rely on seasons. Cherry blossom viewing or Hanami parties, for instance can only take place for one week in springtime when the cherry blossoms are blooming. This of course is a beautiful tradition. But there are other things that I don’t think need to be seasonal, take fruit for instance. Japan doesn’t import much fruit, and relies largely on domestic stock which costs a bomb, and is largely seasonal. This means that you will eat persimmons in autumn and oranges in winter, because that’s when they are plentiful. What if I want to do this in summer? You can’t, or at any rate you can’t without paying through the nose. There are even seasonal menus in restaurants. For instance, what would happen if I wanted a summer vegetable curry from Coco Ichibanya in February? OK, not that I ever would while there is still a manly beef katsu curry on offer, but what if? Answer: I couldn’t do it. I would ask, and the waiter would smile benevolently and think “Silly foreigner! February isn’t for summer vegetables!” Well get this asshole, buy the vegetables from somewhere it is summer or just freeze the motherfuckers in July. We have the technology. In Japan, beer gardens close on pretty much the first of September. It doesn’t matter if it’s roasting and people are still thirsty, it’s just what is done. It’s what they call “atarimae”. I’ve heard it translated as “common sense” but it really means doing things in the manner that they have always been done and sticking to routine at all costs.

I know, I know I’m moaning. And I love Japan really. I should let it be known that I’m letting the whines out here so I am able to remain positive and not cripple my students, teachers and innocent passersby who invoke my ire. Thank you for your patience.

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