Thursday, August 30, 2012

30.08.2012 - Kamakura

Hello all!

Nice busy day today, heaps to write about.

I decided last night I was going to Kamakura today for a day trip.
I needed a minute (or 7 hours) out of the city, especially since I start work tomorrow (!) so I'll be stuck in Tokyo for the foreseeable future.
Tokyo it a really intense city, all cities are really, it's so busy and there are so many people, it can be overwhelming. I didn't even really realise I felt on endue until I left. And I went to a pretty busy tourist spot, it wasn't exactly deserted. But just the fresh air! and the bird song! there are basically no birds in Tokyo. Except the ravens. And man, I love ravens. But they don't exactly conjure up a peaceful image, you know? I just always think of Huginn & Muninn, of course.

Anyway! Woke up when my alarm went off at 5, immediately decided I wasn't going to go to class this morning. Ostensibly because I was going to get a mice early start on my little trip, but of course I still didn't leave the house until around 10.30, which ended up being good because I can only spend so long in the sun.

ate some breakfast (ever delicious Dorest cereal with apple juice, I can't buy soy milk here because it's so fresh that it goes off before I can finish it. Water's an ok replacement, but apple juice was a stroke of genius if I may say so myself. Mum, take notes!)  & Skyped with mum & Magnus, it was a delight as always.

Finally got my butt in gear.
Left my house, walked to Shin-Okubo Station, got on the train to Tokyo Station. That took about 40 minutes.
At Tokyo Station I spent a little while trying to buy a ticket I didn't need because there was a language barrier.
Eventually got on the train to Kamakura, which takes about an hour.
Passed the time by listening to Joel Plaskett and admiring woman's shoes. I will never, ever get over the shoes.

Got to Kamakura. Got an iced tea from Starbucks, in my first cave for western things. Well other than my cereal. But I just suddenly wanted something… that I knew I suppose? Sadly, it was oversteeped and thus, almost undrinkable. That's what I get for wanted Starbucks I suppose.
Walked around 'Shopping Town' for a bit, got some presents for my family, got lost briefly when I thought I turned back the way I came when I left a store, but turns out I continued on. Very confusing.

I like Japan for it's simple, straightforward way of naming things.

fan made of 10,000 Yen notes.

Went back to the station and found an information desk, got directions to the Giant Buddha statue, which is pretty much why I went to Kamakura to begin with.
Me and everyone else.
Got on the bus there, it was a nice ride though town! City, really.
Saw the statue, it was awesome. It's just so bloody massive, makes it even better. Everyone loves a giant statue, let's not lie here.
Got some girls to take my photo. I really may be the world's most awkward person in front of the camera in situations like this, but I preserved for my readers (bit presumptuous to call you that, but I'm rolling with it.)
I also got to go inside it! for a mere ¥20 you can enjoy that pleasure. Which really is a pleasure, it's fascinating to see how it's put together.

someone has to represent the deli in Japan.


Walked back through town for a bit, stopped for a 'Shaved Ice' aka snow cone. There are signs everywhere for these all over, and I just never really got why.
Now let me tell you why.
Because when it's eight million degrees and you've been walking in the hottest sun on earth (hotter than anywhere else, I swear to god) and you sit down and eat a bowl of ice flavoured with sickly sweet syrups it's the most delicious thing you have EVER had.
And they're all massive too, no pathetic one scoop for these snow cone eaters, no sir.
Just look at this horrible concoction of strawberry and lemon. Best ¥100 I've spend since I got here.

Continues walking until I became unsure of my exact whereabouts (look longer than normal, I'm quiet proud!) and jumped on a bus to go back to the station.

I didn't plan going to the various temples especially well, and I was tired of busses so I got back on the train and went one stop back toward Tokyo to, Kita-Kamakura. Got off the train and didn't cross the tracks. This is a terribly, terribly important point so don't forget it.

Now, my guidebook said that Engakuji Temple was a 'one minute' walk from the station. That normally means like, across the road. Super fucking close.

So I left the station, saw a sign for it with an arrow point right. Right pointing arrows in Japan apparently mean 'You were just really to where you need to be so just turn around and go back across those tracks and you will literally be at the entrance lalalalalala don't go right because there is nothing whatsoever of interest there'
But I didn't know that, so I walked right. For like, 12 blocks. Just through this random town.

Forever and a day later, I finally realise I've gone a done it. So I walk back.
Got back to my sign, though obviously I was now facing towards the tracks and not away from them. Massive sign, right on the other side.
Oh my god.

Went to the temple, for a while. Like, 3 hours.
Walked around through gardens and temples and statues and the most beautiful graveyard ever.

I also walked up about 8 flights of steep stairs to get to 'National Treasure'. I was, obviously, hoping Nicholas Cage had been sending my subliminal messages to get me there so we may adventure together, but no.

Alright view and a little cafe selling ridiculous overpriced…. snow cones! Someone is making a fortune though because after all those damn stairs I would have paid for a bowl of plain ice. I ordered a 'yuza' flavoured one, after being confidently assured it tasted 'just like grapefruit'.
Yeah, no. Tasted a fair bit like Limoncello. Which isn't my number 1 flavour at anytime, let alone when I want something refreshing and in the middle of the day.

it may look like ice with orange marmalade on top, but it was fully saturated with odd flavour.

Went back to the train and reversed my route there, got home and was actually for real hungry for the first time since I got here!
I was all set to make myself a sort of mexican meal with black beans and torillas… and that's it really.
But then I couldn't get the damn can opener to work. It's all weird and has a magnetic bit and a bit that you're meant to move and I dunno how.
I swear I am going to just go buy a normal one tomorrow of something.

In the end I ate spring rolls I got yesterday and watermelon, which is a bit less gourmet sounding (not at all, but humour me.) but was still delicious.

Now I'm going to go to bed because I have to get up at 5.30 to go to aikido and then gear myself up for my first day of work!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

study in fingertips

Pretty much stayed in all day watching Misfits and doing laundry, because I had a lot of laundry + some new gis that needed to be washed like, 4 times.
I also went to class this morning of course.
it was taught by Masuda Sensei, he's great.

Anyway, these are a few self portraits I took last night.

It's often hard to explain to someone how a self portrait can feel so personal, or just feel like nothing.
So many photos I have could be of anyone as far as I'm concerned, there's no real attachment to them other than the fact that I, personally, took them.

But these feel so personal, like some sort of glimpse into myself. I don't really know how to voice it.
it wasn't intentional, it never is really. I really just was playing around with my 50mm and a mirror and then these came out.

have a good day all of you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Went to class, Fujimaki Sensei was teaching.
Never heard of him? didn't think so.
But he's a 6th dan Shihan.
Just quietly teaching beginners class at Hombu.
He had a bit of a sense of humour, at least that's what I gathered from all the laughing after he spoke.
No idea what he was saying of course, probably something like "best of luck to those poor, sweaty westerners"


Skyped with mum and da.

I miss Mouse, too.

Went to meet Paul and to meet Keiko, she's nice. I'll be meeting her at that cafe every Tuesday, the tea's really good too.
So there's a plus.

Came back, timed how long it takes me to walk to Shin-Okubo & Okubo stations so I can properly time my trains.

Now I'm just taking a moment to re-pack my gi  bag and go meet Paul again to go to the British School to practice for a bit, and learn how to get there.


Went to Shibuya station, met Paul.
These are a few photos I snapped, just off the platform, while waiting for him. Since I was early, like always.

We walked to the British School, learned how to put down the mats.
Then we went over pretty much every detail of each class for about an hour.
Walked back to the station, he decided to take the bus but I just on my first [almost not quite] rush hour train. Pretty fucking packed.
Needless to say, I hated it.

Got off and on my way home I decided to stop and buy a present for my lovely aunt, Emma, who hand made me the most beautiful quilted jewelry case as a going away present. She's the bomb.
Anyway, was about to pay for it and I couldn't find my wallet in my bag, just about had a heart attack because I knew I'd put it in there because I can't leave my house without my Residence Card or I can be jailed. Which is something I'd like to avoid, for the rest of my life.
Walked home in a total panic, basically waiting to be stopped by a cop.

Got home, realised it was in my bag and had just sort of migrated underneath my gi, and saw a package from mum had arrived! I was thrilled of course, even if I did already know what was in it.

my face when I saw it.

you all remember that scene in Harry Potter (I can't remember which right now) where Mrs. Wealsey sends Harry a letter and it's just plastered in stamps because 'she wanted to make sure there were enough'?
Well I basically got that today.

Felt so inspired by my newfound joy I walked all the way back to the shop and bought the 'item' for Emma, then walked to Olympic for takeout. It was getting dark at this point, so it was also the first time I properly went anywhere after dark, big steps today for Signe in Tokyo.

So far one of my favourite thing's about Japan is the takeout. I mean, you go to a grocery store and get takeout for the equivalent of life, $7 and it's so good. And it's not just me that thinks that, a lot of Japanese people eat a lot from grocery stores, so the food is genuinely good. It's awesome.
As you can see below I put together a wonderful meal (still had to eat by myself, which is still depressing, but the food was good!) and I actually bought at least twice as much as I ate tonight.

inari, vegetable gyoza, fried rice, some sort of fried noodles with picked bean sprouts and not-pickled caabbage, and some picked ginger.
+ water, orange juice (pulp free, haven't seen able to find it with pulp yet.), and a soy sauce based dip for the gyoza.

Now I'm going to watch a movie or something to keep me awake for another 2 hours or so, so I don't wake up at 4.30 again like I did this morning.
Tomorrow I get to sleep all the way in to 6 because Paul asked me to come to the 8 AM class instead of my usual 7 so we can practice together. It's a sensei he really likes; we'll see how I feel tomorrow!


have a pleasant day all of you!

Monday, August 27, 2012

27.08.2012 - second video

still no ideas on what your name as a whole ought to be.
seriously considering Sad Sacks, purely because I think it's a pretty phrase, even if it's a bit morose.

today was a bit of a frustrating day because I had a very specific and lovely plan and life got in the way, you can read all about it below. With no photos, you'll have the read the last paragraph to find out the seriously not at all exciting reason why.


Woke up ay 5.30
Went to the 7 AM beginners class, which went far better than yesterday.
Since they do thing so differently here, I'm basically a beginner except I can fall.
It also just wasn't as intense a speed, so at the end of class I was sweaty and exhausted not dizzy and nauseous, so yeah. Much better in my opinion.

took a nice leisurely walk home, stopped to pick up some apple juice and some pasta from my favourite korean grocery.

after breakfast I Skyped with my family for a bit, though the connection kept cutting in and out which blows.
they're really sweet and Skype with me daily because it makes me feel better.
Can I gush more about how great they all are, or would it be a tad overboard?

I also made my second video, in which I basically say I may never make another. They're just more fun to make if Magnus is there. And I think because I blog daily that it's less interesting to then talk about it somehow.
Here it is in case you'd like to see it, I do give a [very] brief room tour, should you be interested in that.

Now I guess I'm going to go make myself some lunch, maybe some black beans to go with my tortillas I got at the International Store on Saturday.
Still hate eating alone, so depressing.

My uncle did send me a link about a vegan meet up group here, the next event is during the day so I'll be working but most of the past ones seem to be in the evening which I can get to. It'd be nice to know where to go for dairy free/vegan food here. And speak to other people.

This afternoon Paul's going to come over and take me to get my bike, which is going to make a massive different to me getting around. Much more pleasant and much less time consuming.


Oh jesus, this afternoon.
Went to the storage place to look at the bike, it was clearly too big.
But then Paul realized someone had broken the window right by the lock and had been in there, though nothing seemed to have been taken.
So I walked home because he said it often takes a while for police to arrive to stuff like this
That was around maybe 2?

Stopped at a grocery store on a way back in picked myself up some readymade noodle type stuff for lunch (didn't go with my original mexican idea) because I am finally hungry again (not really, but I don't have to force myself to eat now. Slowly getting there, oh poor body).
Waited around and passed the time by reading Anna Karenina which I started like 3 months ago, got halfway through and then just put down. But I'm proper into it again now!

Paul finally said he was done at almost 5. Apparently they've been having a bit of trouble with break ins in that neighbourhood, so they dusted for finger prints and everything.

Took the train over to where the bike store was, only to find they didn't have any cheap used bikes. Which they apparently (I feel like I'm over using that word in this post, sorry about that!) always have.
C'est la vie.

Decided I really wanted to walk (since today's plan had just been to go walk around a park) so I walked the 4ish kms home. Made me feel a bit better.

Tomorrow after class I'll be meeting with Paul + his family and Keiko, the lady who I'll be helping with her English by just talking to her. Apparently (!) she has a low knowledge level of English, so it'll be pretty basic stuff.

I spend about 5 hours walking around the city today and didn't have my camera for any of it since I kept going places I didn't want to have it. aka the dojo and then a bike ride, which obviously didn't happen. And it would have been perfect to have it then, the sun was going down and the lights were all turning on… really lovely.

Enjoy these two photobooth photos I took while waiting for Paul this afternoon. Like so it's not completely photoless today. I think having me post a photoless blog post would make the world explode or something.


have a pleasant day!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

26.08.2012 - Seiji Togo Memorial Museum

I always want people who follow my blog had some sort of name I could greet them with.
You know like, celebrities have. Directioners or Little Monsters or something.
Any brilliant ideas? extra likelihood of having your suggestion used if it somehow involves cats.


this morning I skyped with mum and voiced some of my fears and stuff and of course she made me feel heaps better because she's the best mother anyone could wish for. I lucked out on the parents.

Then I ate some breakfast.
then I took a deep breath in, held it for a moment, and breathed out.

Around 3 I decided I wanted to go out, but also wanted to be in an air conditioned environment.
Answer? Museums!
I went to the Seiji Togo Memorial Museum, which is in the Sonpo Building in downtown-ish Shinjuku. I even took the train there! Though only one stop, and I did walk back. But the walk back took me like 30 minutes.

I keep seeing these giant, sort of viking, robotic woman being dragged around in trailers.
apparently they're for a new, robot themed cafe that's opening in downtown Shinjuku.

Anyway, got out of Shunjuku Station and decided against asking for directions, unless I got properly lost. I had an ok map, but it's not like they can say "turn left onto such and such' since most streets have no names. Makes everything a bit harder.
It took me almost 45 minutes (it would take maaaybe 10 minutes now that I know where I'm going) but I found it!
Turns out it's on the 42th floor, so there's also an observation part, where you can a ton of the Eastern side of Tokyo, really lovely!

side of the building.

Unfortunately past that there was a no photos rule, so none for you!

They were having an exhibit on children's picture books, which was only semi interesting to me. They did have the work of a Japanese lady who grew up WWII. I can't remember her name, but some of her stuff was gorgeous.

They also had areas with prints from books from different countries.
As a whole I'd say Finland was the best.
Slight side note: but I did get to fulfill  my lifelong dream of reading "Where's my Cat?" and "The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar" in Japanese.

Their permanent exhibits were some of Seigi Togo's work, which was nice, but I can't say really moved me.
They also have one of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings! Sadly not the one so prominently featured in in the Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who, but a girl can't have it all. They also had a Gauguin, just to add some spice.

Bought some postcards, cause bitches love postcards.

After I was done I chose to walk home, slowly, looking at everything. It was a nice walk, especially since I just can walk straight and I get to my alley way.

experience my joy!

Tomorrow I'll be going to Hombu in the morning, and doing who knows what for the rest of the day. Might go to a park for a picnic lunch, if I can bare doing it alone.
(Fact: The only thing worse than cooking and eating a meal by yourself is a picnic by yourself, sometimes. They're either absolutely horrid or really calming a nice. All depends on how you feel I suppose.)

Anyway, tried to keep it brief, so it's not 'too wordy'. Didn't do terribly well, but it's the thought that counts?

have a pleasant day, since it's currently morning on the east coast.