Ever since I arrived in Japan, one of my goals has been to visit an onsen, or Japanese hot spring. I often regaled my students with tales of my beloved Miette Hot Springs back home, so I was quite often given recommendations as to nearby places to visit. (Although one student advised me that the better ones are up north in Hokkaido.) So, when one of my fellow foreign teachers started putting a day at an onsen together for the entire staff, I readily signed on board. But, there was one thing holding me back. There was one tiny thing giving me a slight reservation about going along. For you see, tradition dictates that one goes into an onsen naked.
Continue reading The Full Marky
Hey, folks, I hope you don’t mind if I take a break from my wackadilly Japanese adventures to bring you a little rambling about the Christmas season. Longtime fans will recall there was no Christmas rambling last year, as I was still embroiled in recounting my Vancouver adventures. My stars, that seems so long ago now. One year ago, I was still in shock at the biggest trip I had ever taken in my life, which was a measly hour-and-a-half flight to the coast. Now, I live and work in a foreign country, and I take it all as the norm. Sadly, there are some things I have to learn to live without. For example, there are no Cool Ranch Doritos in Japan. So, as I write this, I’m munching on my sister’s Christmas gift…a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. I guess the one thing that you can appreciate about being in a foreign country is that you become cheap to shop for.
Continue reading Christmas 2002
I’m sure that when most of you think about Japanese food, your mind fills with images of rice, noodles, and sushi. At least, that’s what I was thinking when I first arrived in this country. Soon, I was slowly exposed to more and more Japanese food by my co-workers, as we occasionally go out to dine some nights. At first, most of my suspicions seemed to be confirmed when the usual hangout was the Chinese restaurant up the street. (I know, eating Chinese food in Japan. Saying the words sounds kind of odd.) But then, one warm summer evening, one coworker suggested something that the gang hadn’t done since I arrived. He suggested going to the yakuniku place two blocks down the street. Naturally, I was intrigued. What is this yakuniku?
Continue reading What I Like About Japan #1: Yakuniku Restaurants
One of my most treasured possessions is a little plastic dinosaur. It’s a triceratops, to be specific. It’s greenish in color and glows in the dark. It looks exactly like one you would get at a dollar store, or for 99 cents in some museum gift shop. In fact, that’s exactly what it is. Now, why do you suppose that this little dinosaur is special? What vast, emotional attachment do I have to this beat-up old toy that I hold on to it dearly? Well, it was the first token of affection given to me by a woman. Actually, it was given to me by four women. And, more to the point, they were girls. Hey, it all stems from that emotional turmoil that is known as the fifth grade.
Continue reading Little Plastic Dinosaur
When Star Wars: Special Edition hit theaters a few years back, I read the statistic that the average man has seen Star Wars 7 times, and the average woman 5 times. You can imagine my shock when someone mentions that they’ve never seen Star Wars (or, as it is now called, A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. I doubt that they have never seen The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, as they were pretty big movies the past few years. Now that the summer of Episode II is behind us (and with all the columns I have stockpiled, it probably just came out on video by the time I publish this), I thought I would take a moment to sit back and reflect on the phenomenon known as Star Wars and how it’s affected my life
Continue reading The Long Awaited, Eagerly Anticipated, Star Wars Rant