Friday, 29 May 2009

The Legend of Pocky

My couch arrived today. Yay! My beautiful, black leather 3-seater. Mika and I are going to test it out later tonight (watching a movie, of course).

At Tokawa chuu on Tuesday, classes were as normal in the morning, but in the afternoon, the students from both chuugakkou and shougakkou cleaned the pool. I think I was supposed to join them but no one really communicated with me properly and I read a book in the office for a while...

On Wednesday, I was taken to Shiwa shougakkou, which is very small. The town itself is about 25 mins past K-town, and some of the road is very windy, downhill and narrow (ie. a normal Kochi mountain road). Shiwa is a coastal village and the area is quite beautiful. The classes themselves were fun. I stayed through lunch (with my obento) and took a combined class in the afternoon: of all eight students.

That night, I started working on a two-page Pocky comic strip. I finished it last night.

--Click to enlarge--

Page 001

Page 002

Who knows; it could turn into a regular thing. Imagine: a webcomic about a Pocky ninja (the Pocky Ninja). ^.^

Yesterday was just an average day at Shouwa chuu. I hadn't been there in three weeks, so it was good to see everyone. Nakaoka sensei and I refused to speak any Japanese in our ninensei class. It made things really interesting; especially since the girls were trying to trick me into speaking Japanese. >.<

This morning, I taught gonensei at K-town shou. Afterwards, I was able to do some quick shopping while in town before heading back. I'm going to make a lolly cake for Sunday. We have a lunch at church and Mika is making tacos. XD

Well, now that my couch is here, all that is left for me to get is my car. I am still unsure as to whether I will be going into Takamatsu tomorrow (the dealer won't transfer the car to Kochi, but it is still in the lot). We haven't heard back from Katsu to see if he is free to go there with us. I really need his expertise and input if I'm to make a decision regarding buying this Torneo. So yeah, it is still on the table. More time to pray about it, too. :)

Peace. (Eat Pocky).


Monday, 25 May 2009

Go Kart, Go!

For the second week in a row, I had no school on Thursday. Some sports day or something. We went out for yakiniku in Tokawa that evening.

I taught at two shougakkou on Friday: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Friday evening saw us go for a great run in the wonderful sun. I cooked some sort of Italian dish for dinner and we tutored Mika's student, Mei. Baked a chocolate cake after Eddi went to bed, and just chilled out like a normal Friday night.

On Saturday, we went to a go-kart track somewhere between Nishitosa and Nakamura City. Mika's brother Katsu has a go-kart. We had fun driving around the track on it. I must have got up to 70km/h.

Ready to go

Tight corner


Saturday afternoon saw us enjoy a late pizza lunch in the city, followed by donuts, and then we did some shopping and furniture browsing. That night was similar to Friday night, except we iced the cake before relaxing in each other's company.

Church on Sunday. Okonomiyaki for lunch, and a little time in the park. We visited Mika's grandparents at the hospital. I went home for a little while before joining Mika for dinner.

And that was last night. So now I have been sitting in the office all day again, intending to do Japanese study but spending time on Facebook and not really making any sort of worthwhile contribution to the world or my life.

More information on my car buying progress when it is available. For now, I am waiting to see if the Takamatsu dealer can transfer the car to a dealer in Kochi. If all goes well, I won't have to travel so far to test drive it and make a buying decision.



Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A Torneo in Takamatsu

On Saturday, Mika took me to see an opthalmologist so I could get my eyes checked. It turns out that there isn't anything they can do about the twitching muscle in my left eye (annoying) and the black specks that I see are pretty normal (also annoying). So unless things get worse, there isn't anything that can be done.

That afternoon, we took Eddi to a party at the church in K-town. There were about twenty kids there. We left her to go and do some shopping. I organised for the furniture store to pick up my couch again, which only arrived on Thursday. I am getting a different one: a black, leather 3-seater that is merely a couch, not a fold-out bed as well.

On Sunday, it was church as usual. We had a picnic lunch at the park, with Laurel and a friend of Mika's, whom she had worked with at a school a couple of years ago. Just had a relaxing evening.

This week it has been very nice. Following a good weekend, it is enough to make anyone happy. I taught at Tokawa shougakkou on Monday afternoon, and at a new school, Nanasato shou, this morning.

Yesterday, because I didn't have afternoon classes at Tokawa chuu, I took two hours of nenkyu and went home for the afternoon. I ended up sleeping for a few hours. Talked to my sister and her husband on Skype in the evening. Mika joined me for a little while, but I had my regular Bible study meeting at 8pm, so she had to leave. :(

I won't be getting my new couch until the end of the month, and I obviously haven't bought a car yet. But there is one car that I am very interested in, which I hope to go and check out this weekend. We have plans to go camping on Saturday, but if things work out, on Sunday I may be able to travel to Takamatsu -- three or four hours away -- to check this car out; provided it is still there and no one else has staked a claim on it!

So now I have the rest of this beautiful afternoon to sit in the office here and find interesting things to do. Facebook quizzes and Wikipedia browsing, here we come. :p

Almost every day, I frequent the following sites:
Bible Gateway

On Monday, I checked out these webpages / sites, among others:
Maze Maker
Wolfram|Alpha -- Computational Knowledge Engine
British Comedy Guide



Thursday, 14 May 2009

Holy Birthday Barbecues Batman

On Friday, I spent most of the morning preparing for school in the afternoon. It went really well -- both preparation and classes. I actually made a whole lot of flags and cards with flags and country names on them. It allowed for a fun, card-exchange game with the kids that practised "I am from...", as well as a bit of geography.

Mika and I took Mei-chan for an English lesson (after okonomiyaki for dinner) on Friday night, and afterwards we did a whole lot of baking for Eddi's birthday. I made a chocolate fudge cake frosted with delicious chocolate icing, and Happy Birthday written with yellow white chocolate icing. The cup cakes turned out pretty nice, too. So much sugar!

On Saturday, I spent the morning doing my own thing (*cough*playing WoW*cough*), then Mika, Eddi and I went to K-town. We met Mika's brother and family, and some ex-neighbours of hers, and had a barbecue at the park. It was a beautiful day and was good fun.

Somehow, we managed to send Eddi off with her uncle to stay with her cousin for the night. So Mika and I were able to spend time together. XD We watched a movie at my place and just had a relaxing time.

Mother's Day
Sunday morning saw us head into K-city, to attend the pentecostal church there. We spent the afternoon child-free, which made it easy to go shopping. Furniture stores, Aeon mall and Starbucks were our main points of interest. All in all, it was a nice afternoon, and I know that Mika appreciated the break.

We had dinner with Katsuhiko -- Mika's brother -- and family, at a kaitenzushi restaurant. We left the city quite late, so weren't back in Taisho until late. What a weekend. :)

On Monday and Wednesday mornings I taught at K-town shougakkou, and on Wednesday afternoon it was Tokawa.

I was very tired on Tuesday. so it was good to have a bit of a break between my chuugakkou classes. That night, I just watched stuff and had my regular prayer group / Bible study meeting. Mika and I didn't see each other at all, for the first time in three weeks -- since we started going out. And I lived to tell about it! :p

Also on Monday and Wednesday, we went for our usual runs. It has been lovely weather all week and running feels so good (despite how hot it is getting). Oh, and I went to the dentist yesterday, for what has become my usual monthly checkup.

Today, Shouwa chuu have some sort of field trip for the students, so I have been in the office all day. Yet again, it is beautiful outside. Would be nice to go for a run, but I have my couch arriving after work, and I want another day of just staying at home, relaxing (after a hard day's thumb twiddling...).



Tuesday, 12 May 2009

2009-05-12 Announcement

Photos have been added to my Golden Week post. A Mother's Day weekend blog entry to be added soon.

In the meantime, check out one of my Tobe Zoo videos, complete with commentary by Mika (just to embarrass her :p):

I will upload more to YouTube some time.



Thursday, 7 May 2009

Golden Week

Edit: Photos have been added!

Current weather: stormy. Hopefully it will clear up by running time this evening. That's right, seeing as I have been pretty busy, we haven't run once this week. It was beautiful this morning and I really looked forward to slipping into my running shoes tonight. Guess it's just a matter of waiting to see how the weather turns out a bit later.

Ok, so let's back up a bit. In my last blog entry, I talked about my change of relationship status. That's about the most personal I have been around these parts, and it is unlikely to be quite so again. That said, things between me and Mika are going very well. Glory to God. ^^

Last week, I didn't have any shougakkou. Wednesday was actually a holiday, but Mika had to work, and so Michael and I went out to Katsurahama beach, near Kochi-shi. We shopped at Aeon mall and stopped in at Starbucks for some dark berry mocha frappuccinos.

That night, Mika helped me with my final beginner's course Japanese test, from the sixth book. Inevitably, I stayed as late as usual, too. ;)

So the rest of the week was uneventful. I had lunch with Mika last Thursday because she didn't have work, seeing as she had had to work the day before: the public holiday. I cooked chicken carbonara for us for dinner that night and made an apple crumble. We watched a movie together. Hey, this is starting to sound like my diary.

*Ahem* Let's get back on track and look at... wait, my life consists of a bit more these days. I have a girlfriend and that part of my life can't help but flow into my blog entries. And so it is.

Friday: day in the office. Survived. Went for a run. Mika, Eddi and I had dinner with Michael -- yakiniku. We talked about our Matsuyama trip, which was to commence the next day.

Golden Week
And so, Golden Week arrived. Early Saturday morning, the first day of this much-deserved time off, Michael, Eddi, Mika and I left for Uwajima, out West in Ehime prefecture. We visited the castle and had a brief look around the town. It was proving to be a very nice day, too.

Isn't she cute?

Uwajima Castle


We travelled up the highway to Matsuyama, the biggest city in Ehime. After a ramen lunch, we went to Matsuyama castle (I still have to get my photos from Michael's memory card), up on a hill overlooking the city. We took the gondola up. Michael and I rode the individual seats back down instead of taking the gondola.

After checking into the hotel, we all rested up for a bit before heading out for an okonomiyaki dinner at a nice place just next to the hotel. Mika and I started watching a movie together in my room (I always take my laptop with me when I travel), but she was pretty tired and took Eddi back to their room to sleep. I finished the movie alone. :(

On Sunday morning, we all went to Ninomaru historical garden. It was very nice, and had some interesting pools that were in place of where the buildings of a house had stood many years earlier. We could see the castle from where we were, too, as the original property had been part of the wider castle town.

Ninomaru Garden

At the gardens, we watched a performance by about a dozen ladies playing taisho koto. The koto is a Japanese stringed instrument. It was interesting to listen to.

Taisho Koto Performance

The bulk of our day was spent shopping around the local shopping arcade. I bought a couple of expensive shirts, which will be nice to wear out during the Summer. We all rested yet again at the hotel. Walking around all day sure tires one out!

I took Mika and Eddi out for Italian and then we rode a huge ferris wheel that sits on the ninth floor of a large department store -- actually on the same level as the restaurant we had eaten dinner at.

Watched a movie with Mika -- all the way through, this time -- as Eddi slept. We both enjoyed it.

Monday saw us pack everything up after breakfast and check out of the Check-in Hotel. We went to a nice park up on a hill across from the castle, where there was a western-style castle structure. It was very cool, and afforded an amazing view of the city and the harbour.

The Castle

The Gazebo

The City (Matsuyama)

That afternoon, we visited the Tobe Zoo. We had lunch at its restaurant and enjoyed the afternoon, walking around looking at animals.

So big!

Just like a puppy... with a horn





We travelled all the way back down to Kochi-ken and stopped in Susaki for dinner. It is a small city about 30 mins from K-town.

Two more days of golden week remained!

Tuesday saw the three of us go into Kochi-shi. I drove. We enjoyed a late lunch at the Indian restaurant that Michael and I have been to many times: Masala. It was Mika's first time to eat there and she was impressed. We headed over to Aeon mall and met up with her brother and niece to do some shopping -- and eat donuts; cuz you gotta have donuts.

I went on a bit of a shopping spree. It seems that spending money comes easily when you are out and about; even when you are determined to save up for a decent car.

We arrived home late, and I dropped all of my purchased goods off at my apartment. Mika and I hadn't seen enough of each other, so I stayed at her place until late; though not nearly as late as other nights in the last fortnight. >.>

Spent quite a bit of time cleaning yesterday. I even went so far as to clean out my drains and wash the floor. And with the mosquito deterrent and cockoach poison, I should have an easier job of handling insects this Summer!

Had a very late lunch with Mika and Eddi and then played chess with Mika. A chess set is one of the things that I had bought the previous day. We went to K-town late afternoon and I ordered a couch / bed from the furniture store there. I can't wait! Having a couch will be nice; having one that doubles as a bed will be a blessing!

We did a bit more shopping around Kubokawa and then came back home. Ramen for dinner, and then I made some chocolate dumplings. It's a dessert that I had never made before, and they turned out pretty nice. At least, they tasted nice. Not sure it was my best baking effort, but it worked.

Did a little Japanese study last night; but I must say that I much prefer French. :p

Thus ended Golden Week. It was actually five days, but I'm sure that if it had started on a Monday, rather than a Saturday, it sure would have made for an epic week. Ah well, the weekend is now very close!

And then today arrived. I've been in the office all day; except when I went home for lunch and sorted something out at the post office bank. So now I just need to wait for 4.30pm to arrive, whence I can go home and pray that the clouds will drain themselves and move on, to allow for a rainless run.

It might pay, also, to plan for tomorrow's afternoon lessons at Shouwa shougakkou, huh. But then, that would be work. :p