Work work work

28 06 2009

It’s just been work work work and nothing interesting. There’s only a few weeks left until summer holidays so it’s a busy time – finishing topics, having elementary school parents come visit, writing end of term exams, writing reports, marking, setting holiday homework, writing tests for assessing the holiday homework, designing the newsletter to go home with reports, doing day duty again, finding out they will extend maths and science to senior high school so a new teacher will be employed next year…

The weather is warming up – high 20s and very humid. However, the airconditioners are on at school so in the office it actually feels cold.

There is a tune that plays every night at 6pm. It comes from speakers on the electricity poles. The city council plays the music to remind any children on the streets that they should be home by 6pm. Very community minded. Apparently at different times of the year the tune changes and the time is earlier in winter.

Adzuki Icecreams

25 06 2009

vegan icecreams made from red bean (adzuki beans).

Only in Japan

22 06 2009

The Japan Times newspaper today had two articles that perfectly depict Japanese culture.

Number 1: Celebrating Time Day.

Time Day is celebrated “throughout Japan, when everyone is supposed to keep their watches and clocks on exact time.

The movement started several years ago in order to increase the general efficiency of the public and to promote promptness. The Time Day Committee have organized a large group of persons to go on the streets today to propagate their ideas.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Number 2: Mind your manners in the Metro

“It doesn’t take a genius to realize that public spaces in Japan are filled with numerous audible and visual reminders about the importance of maintaining personal decorum.

Over the past year, some of the catchiest have been the “manner posters,” by graphic artist Bunpei Yorifuji, that appear in the 168 stations and the carriages that serve the nine lines of the Tokyo Metro subway system.”

Read the rest of the article here.

You’ll find our photo of his most recent manner poster on our blog. You can see the whole collection here.

Only in Japan.

Bento from beneath the Trap Door

21 06 2009

…there’s something down there… do you remember the kid’s tv show, the Trap Door? Maybe these meatball monsters might be from down there.

Soy-dame ("meatballs") with nori and sweet potato eyes with lettuce, carrot and cucumber.

Soy-dame ("meatballs") with nori and sweet potato eyes with lettuce, carrot and cucumber.

Steamed sweet potato, raw cashews and a rice triangle with nori flower and sesame seeds.

Steamed sweet potato, raw cashews and a rice triangle with nori flower and sesame seeds.

Actually, it’s probably more of a spring theme than a scary trap door monster theme… too many flowers and not enough ghosts.

Cherries from Sendai

21 06 2009
Cherries from Sendai, northern Japan.

Cherries from Sendai, northern Japan.

After the school holiday break Maya-chan brought us some cherries from her home town. She comes from Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Her family sends her cherries every season. And although cherries must be terribly expensive, she came around and gave a beautiful punnet of fresh Sendai-cherries. They were delicious.

It was back to school on Wednesday – lessons started again at 7.30am so I definitely knew holidays were over quickly…

Saturday was Parents’ Day. I was prepared to have flocks of parents in my room, one set for each child. However, my 7.30am lesson had no parents (not surprisingly, it’s much too early) and my 3rd lesson had only 2 parents. They just sat at the back of the classroom reading a book – maybe they weren’t that interested in food nutrients and digestion…

I got to go home at 11.30am and even though it was a short week I still felt exhausted by lunchtime.

We made some anzac biscuits on Sunday and took some to Maya to say thank you for the cherries… so she came out with yet another gorgeous punnet of Sendai cherries. Yum!

It’s gradually getting warmer here. Next week is predicted to be high 20s, low 30 degrees with about 70-80% humidity. It has rained the past few days – it is the rainy month – and I’ve decided that I don’t like humid weather for the sole reason that clothes never dry.

Nokogiri yama travel information

20 06 2009


While not featured in many travel guides, Nokogiri yama hosts the largest Buddha in Japan – much larger than the popular Daibutsu in Kamakura or Nara’s Todai-ji Buddha. Hiking to the top of  Nokogiri yama (Saw mountain) will prove you worthy as pilgrims to see the sacred Daibutsu, the two hundred shaku kannon and the 1500 Arhat statues. The villages around the mountian give you an insight into local farming communities- a much more laid back Japan to the one normally experienced in Tokyo.

Getting there and away

Nokogiri yama is easily accessed by train. The Uchibo line from Chiba will take you south to Hama-kanaya station and the base of the moutain. From Kisarazu, at the end of the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line, it is Y570 to Hama-kanaya station with a travel time of about 50 minutes.

If you wish to enter on foot from the southern side of the mountain (closest to the Daibutsu) take the train one stop further to Hota station. From there it is about a 20-30 minute walk to the base of the mountain where you can enter through the main approach to the temple, Nihon-ji.

There is also a ferry direct to the town of Hama-kanaya (40 mins, Y600) from Tokyo Ferry bay to Port Kanaya.

Getting Around

From Hama-kanaya station walk about 10 minutes down the road along the shore until you reach a road on the left with a big red gate. This is the entrance to Nokogiriyama.

The ropeway starts here- enter the white building at the top of the car park. Adults Y900 return or Y450 one way. It is a 4 minute trip up to the lookout. However the ropeway is not open during strong winds or at certain times of the year. Opening hours 9-4pm.

The other way up the moutain (unless you have a car and drive up to one of the 2 carparks on the mountain) is to hike for 40 minutes up the mountain. From the ropeway building follow the road beyond the carpark up the hill. Take the left path at the first junction (the right path is for cars) and then turn right into a small opening with mossy steps. Follow the stairs along the narrow path until you get the ropeway end (with a small shop for buying ice cream and drinks).

From the ropeway end it is a 90-120 minute return walk to all of the sights. Alternatively, it is a 80 minute walk past the sights and to the south side of the hill where Hota train station is about 3km south.

Things to do

While the fishing town is famous for its seafood, it is just a small village so dining and accommodation options are few.

On the mountain there are numerous sacred sites to visit. First you will need to enter the park – Y600 for adults and Y400 for children.

The two hundred shaku kannon is a tall carved relief cut into the rock.

The Ruriko Observatory is a lookout from which there is a sharp drop (329m) to the bottom. On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji across the Bay.

Walk down the stairs past the 1,500 Arhat statues and along the Daibutsu-mar approach to the Daibutsu (the Giant Buddha). Follow the path down the hill to the Nhon-ji (Temple of Japan) with lovely manucured gardens and ponds.

A word of warning: there are many steps, often slippery or eroded. Wear sensible footwear and carry water.

Another crappy bento

17 06 2009
Broccoli, rice and inari totoro with carrot flowers on a bed of cabbage and lotus root.

Broccoli, rice and inari totoro with carrot flowers on a bed of cabbage and lotus root.

Don't know what this is...

Don't know what this is... but the cherries are from Maya.

I’m not so good at this whole bento art thing… I might give up trying to make character bento.