Last day in Kisarazu

29 03 2010

Our apartment inspection went quickly with no troubles apart from being told that some items we had put in non-burnable rubbish were actually burnable. Eww too much rubbish incineration.

During the inspection it started to snow.

After dramas at the post office trying to post our stuff home (they wouldn’t accept our suitcases so we had to pack stuff in boxes to send home. Now we’re stuck with suitcases while ‘backpacking’ shoganai), we caught the express bus to Tokyo and met Emma for dinner at the vegan pub, Non. It will close for good soon, so we went one last time. And that was our final meal in Tokyo (this time, anyway!)

Fuji-san shows his face

21 11 2009

While Fuji-san was well and truly hidden while we were on his doorstep in Hakone, on mum and dad’s last morning in Kisarazu he popped up above the clouds and we were able to see his snow covered peak. We were able to see him as we walked to the school bus stop on Tuesday morning.

Across the port of Kisarazu, over Tokyo Bay and about 150km away sits Mt Fuji.

An Introduction to Kisarazu

10 05 2009

Today we rode our bikes around Kisarazu, following the temples and filming sites from the TV show Kisarazu Cat’s Eye.

We rode up a hill past a video rental store, and then beyond the train station with a statue of a tanuki and to a small temple called Komyo-ji Temple. Not that exciting- on to the next one.

Yatsurugi Hachiman-jinga shrine seemed quite popular- several young Japanese were offering prayers. The shrine contains one of the largest portable shrines (mikoshi) all coated in gold and used in festivals around July. Out the front of the shrine was a small fish pond with one of the largest koi we have seen. It totally dwarfed the rest of the gold fish in the pond.

We went down the “Mimachi Shopping Street” which was used for a lot a filming in the Kisarazu Cat’s Eye show. Unfortunately most of the shops that featured in the show are non-existant now. It’s a bit said to see all the closed shops and empty streets. One thing that has stayed are the little stone statues of Kisarazu’s animal mascot, the Tanuki. Every statue features large balls. The statue of Ozzy the Tanuki (from the show) is still in the street.

We had a little rest in the Shojo-ji Temple where we looked at the large bell they ring.

Then we crossed the river thinking we might see the strip club from the TV show, but all we saw in the street were closed-up shops and houses. We rode on past the fake chapel for getting married in and past Hotel Christmas (huh?) to the Red Bridge (Nakanoshima Ohashi Bridge). The bridge doesn’t really go anywhere- just to a made made island that is a park for people to picnic in. It seemed to be a popular spot as there were many families with picnic baskets and fisherman lined up by the water. There were some stalls and we ate a toffee apple. It was really warm spring weather today – about 24 degrees and humid but nice weather for a leisurely cruise around the city.

We rode back home past the Kisarazu Touei cinema (it also featured in the TV show and is looking very neglected now, although it was open).

We had miso-seasoned grilled eggplant with carrot flowers, cauliflower and rice for dinner. I also made peanut butter and banana biscuits for our lunches this week.

Who needs language skills?

24 04 2009

Week three highlights:

The weeks are flying by. Soon enough we’ll be on Golden Week holidays and that’s almost the first school term gone…

Monday: I got paid on Monday- pay day is always a good day! Especially when you have a Disney bank account?!?

Tuesday: So, with yen in hand we went out to buy some more furniture. We went out riding in the rain to 2nd Street after work. We have a TV, TV cabinet and washing machine waiting to be delivered after Golden Week. The TV should help Benno acquire more language since he doesn’t leave the house much.That might change now that we have signed up on the Tokyo Vegan meetups group that have regular dinners out.

Wednesday: Benno was busy at home when I came home early from school at 4pm. So, I rode my bike to Nitori (a furniture store) on my own to buy some furniture for Benno. I went in, and with a combination of no, yes, here, thank you, and, where? spoken in Japanese (i.e. not very much at all) I was able to select, order, arrange delivery and pay for a desk and chair for Benno. Awesome!

Friday: The desk and chair were delivered. Benno’s office is complete!

Second Week Highlights

18 04 2009

Monday: Going to the town hall after school to get a health card and not being able to get mine because they a) didn’t believe me that I lived at the address I said I did and b) didn’t think I looked like my passport photo. So they posted it and I got it in the post the day after. Dinner was curry and brown rice.

Tuesday: Benno’s birthday, eating oven baked fries for dinner and drinking soy chai lattes at Starbucks, doing 3 practicals at school with very low supplies and hearing Low Rider on the radio (*the* birthday song if you’re from Manila). Dinner was tempura stirfry.

Benno’s birthday cake

Wednesday: I decided to read some books from the Inter library and ended up reading 4 novels in as many days (they are fairly basic English novels after all). The most interesting was reading the sequel book to Howl’s Moving Castle called The House of Many Ways.

Thursday: Freedom Machine here we come – Benno bought a bicycle – with uber trendy front basket and 3 gears (about as high tech as bikes go. Shopping bicycles are practically the only bike available- in the one colour and style). Dinner was salt and pepper tofu with rice.

Friday: Getting internet installed (finally) at our house. Fibre Optic to the door is something Australia is gonna have to wait about 10 years for – pity we were so impatient having to wait 3 weeks. Dinner was mushroom stroganoff with udon. Benno stayed up until the wee hours playing on the internet while Lara went to bed as on Saturdays she starts work at 7.25am.

Saturday: Up early for a 7.30am lesson – at least the bus stop is not far from home.

ourhouse_frombusstopThis photo is taken from the bus stop, facing in the direction of school. You can see our apartment the on the ground floor of the yellow building, straight in front.

Second Freedom Machine – Lara got a bicycle from school that wasn’t being used. It has a front basket and 3 gears and is similar in style to Benno’s except that it also has a back carry rack. Benno rode his bicycle to school and when Lara finished around 1.30pm we both rode down the hill home.

Benno and Lara’s bicycles outside our apartment. It’s very safe so we can just leave them outside and no one will steal them, even in town if we’re out shopping. This photo was taken with my pink slide cell-phone/mobile/k-tai.

Yay! One day weekend!

12 04 2009

What should everybody do on their day off? Sleep in and have pancakes for breakfast.
benno_kitchen_pancakesBenno making pancakes in the kitchen.

In the afternoon we walked past the 100 yen shop to a large park up the hill called Odayama Park. We visited a traditional Edo house, the Old Anzai Family house. It was a restored farmhouse from the early 1800s. A lovely old Japanese man (volunteer tour guide) took us for a tour and spoke slowly so Benno could understand. There were two tatami rooms, dark (almost black) wooden floors in the rest of the house and massive black-wood ceiling beams with bamboo ceilings. There was a sunken pit in the middle of the room for a fire to cook food and traditional oil lanterns lit the room. In the lower half of the house it was a dirt floor and the rest of the cooking and heating water was done here.


We walked to the top of the hill and climbed Kimisarazu Tower to see the view of the city. You can see the red sign for Ks electrical store (3-5 mins walk from our house) in the distance but we couldn’t see far across the bay because it was smoggy/foggy/dusty/glarey. There were lots of drunken young punks at the tower, disturbing the serenity.


On top of the tower is Prince Yamato Takeru and Princess Ototachibana, extending their arms to each other. There’s a story that goes with it about how the prince was sailing across Tokyo bay when a storm hit. The princess threw herself into the Tokyo Bay waters to appease the water gods and saved the prince from his destruction.

We saw a wild butterfly on our walk and ate sweet potato ring chips.

Dinner was spaghetti with garlic bread and brownie with strawberries for dessert.

Benno’s birthday brownie, ordered over the internet from a veg* organic store in Saitama.

Week One of Teaching: the highlights.

11 04 2009

The starts can be a little early – on the bus by 7.10 to be at school by 7.25am with the first lesson at 7.30am. At least it only takes around 10 minutes on the bus and the bus stop is 2 minutes walk away.

On days when I don’t have the first lesson (which is 3 days out of 6) I can catch the later bus at 8.05am which is a bus for elementary school students. The first time I caught the bus the little kids looked so cute with their berets, blazers and socks pulled high. The seats still had plastic covering on them so the kids were sliding around everywhere when the bus stopped. The elementary teacher quickly helped the students to put their seatbelts on so they didn’t fly out the window.

The work load is fairly easy – 20 lessons a week with 3-4 lessons to teach in a day. I only have 2 homeroom duties filling in for other teachers. So, that leaves a lot of preparation time. Also, the class sizes are 6, 9, 6 and 8 (for J-1, J-2, J-3 and H-1 respectively – equivalent to years 7, 8, 9  and 10)

During some of my lessons the principal or vice principal walked in and looked around – checking up on the new teacher I guess. That was a little intimidating but since they don’t speak English it probably didn’t matter what I said.

Benno made hot cross buns for Easter – not that we have any holidays for Good Friday or Easter Monday. In Japan Easter is not celebrated – we’ll have to wait until May 2-6 for Golden Week holidays.

Benno’s handmade hot cross buns.

On Friday after school Toshy came and we went to a local doctor for a pre-employment compulsory medical. The three new Inter teachers pee-ed in cups, had heart scans (involving about 12 sticky electrodes), had x-rays of our lungs, the doctor listened to our heart and took our blood pressure. My health was perfect (of course) so the school is happy to employ me. I have to pay compulsory health insurance anyway so I’m not sure what the big deal is. Every year teachers and students sit compulsory health checks, but I’m not sure if there are any consequences if you fail.

Working on a Saturday:

The first time I’ve had to work on a Saturday (apart from detention supervision, but that’s not actually teaching lessons). The school bus had me home by 2pm to enjoy the sunshine and be lazy for the rest of the day…we had roast vegetables and gravy for dinner followed by a strange not-dessert – black sesame and tofu japanese-pudding (that was fine on its own) with miso topping (bad addition – next time we’ll throw out the miso dressing and use straight sugar).


Fun things and strange things

31 03 2009

Fun things about our apartment
– heated toilet seat with a hand basin attached to the top
– clothes dryer function on the bathroom fan so clothes can be dried in there
– intercom doorbell with a video display
– working out the heater function on the air con
– auto fill of the bath to a set level and temperature (at a particular time, if, for example, you want to have a hot bath waiting for you when you come home from work at 6pm)
– sensor controlled opening of the main door when you walk up to it to go out

Strange things about our apartment
– no drawers and only one shelf in the bedroom built-ins – all hanging space
– no plug (that we can find) for the sink so dishes are washed under running water
– 6 different types of rubbish, collected on different days in different coloured bags

Handy things about our apartment
– 2 minutes walk to the Apita supermarket and shopping mall
– 2 minutes walk to the school bus stop

Fourth Day in Kisarazu

30 03 2009

Ran around trying to find out about Internet for our apartment. It’s turning out to be more difficult and time consuming that we first thought. We spent ages on the pay phone to the ISP and NTT (the phone providers), called Toshy but she was in Tokyo on business, tried to get Maya’s help but she was in bed with a fever…

So we went and had a look at the Buddhist temple that is across the street from our house.


We think we need our alien registration card before we can get a home phone or internet. So we will have to wait until Wednesday. Then it takes over a week for the connection as it is moving season and there is a back-log of connections to be done… oh well.

We had pasta for dinner and chocolate self-saucing pudding for dessert, made in our new convection microwave (which means we can have roast vegies, pudding, cakes, slices, biscuits and many other yummies that can’t be cooked over a gas stove top).

Third Day in Kisarazu

29 03 2009

We ate some dehydrated tofu for lunch and decided it tasted like eating a rubbery sponge. Maybe it’s meant for in stews and soups instead of stirfry.

We decided to go for a long walk in search of internet. One of the helpful school mums had said there was internet behind the train station. So we went for a long walk for about an hour to Kisarazu Station at the other end of the main street. We went into the shopping mall behind the train station and up to level 6 to the games level. After joining/becoming members we were able to use the internet in the ‘PC Gaming’ section, right at the back behind the table tennis, practice baseball, arcade games and so on.

We have now got a computer monitor, keyboard and mouse so Benno’s work computer is set up. However we don’t have a desk or internet yet.

We also ordered a second hand fridge that will be delivered on Wednesday to our apartment.


Benno walking home from the shops.

Fit’s brand of gum – there’s a TV in the supermarket that plays this jingle 24 hours a day.