Thursday, 24 September 2009

This Week Had A Silver Lining

I've probably said this before, but a lot of things in Japan are undersized. Except bugs. Everything from spiders to cockroaches and wasps are huge here. I love what spiders do: they keep down the insect population. But some of the spiders here are just plain huge and scary. I just saw a spider the size of my palm in the toilet at work this morning. Eight-legged freaks indeed.

This weekend, a number of schools around my area had their undokai (sports day). Mika had to work on both Saturday and Sunday. She gets daikyuu (time in lieu) next week on Monday and Tuesday.

Eddi stayed with her cousin from Friday night until last night (Wednesday). On Saturday, I spent the day at home. We finally had the last of the airconditioning installed, and I managed to clear out the living room (lounge) closet and rearrange some things. Since then, we have cleaned up a few more things, including our bedrooms upstairs. There is still a space issue and a number of items don't yet have homes, but progress has definitely been made.

I baked a carrot cake on Saturday night and iced it in the morning. We had our monthly birthday lunch at church, where we also paid respect to the elderly. My cake was a real hit. I was proud of how it turned out; it was as yummy as it looked. I stopped in at Kitanokawa chuugakkou on my way home to see Mika.

As a reflection of May's Golden Week, we had Silver Week from Saturday to Wednesday. It was nice to be able to spend a full three days with my wife and no work. We were able to relax without worrying about rushing around, trying to get things done by a certain time.

On Tuesday night, we went camping out by a beach near Nakamura. We wanted to take our daughter, but she wanted to stay another night at her cousin's. We had a great time, with a starlit walk along the beach and sitting around a campfire in the cool Autumn night air. Even the steaks that we barbecued for dinner were delicious, as I had marinated them earlier in the day.

Yesterday, after packing up and visiting the beach once more -- and a ham and egg English muffin breakfast -- we took off for Kochi city. It was time to buy some furniture, and we finally purchased both a dining table and a double bed for ourselves. We are going to get Eddi a set of bunks this weekend. Our new furniture will be delivered next month on the 9th.

We picked up Eddi from Aki-chan's house in the afternoon, and drove back home at a reasonable time. Both Mika and I were very tired by the time we got back, but we managed to get everything away, and she even cooked a proper meal.

Suffice to say, we had a fairly early night last night. I'm glad that I have no classes today. Yay for no school. ;)



Monday, 14 September 2009

Sometimes it is Free

The week before last isn't really worth noting, save for the fact that it was my first week back at school. That weekend, the only thing of note was that we went into Nakamura to do some shopping; items for the house and all that.

Then came last week, half of which I was out of commission. I felt very weak on Monday, and the last period at Tokawa shougakkou was very difficult. Once I got home, I went straight to bed. Turns out I had a bit of a fever, and my body ached all over.

The following day, I called in sick and went to see the doctor. After a battery of tests and two hours spent at the medical clinic, they diagnosed me with tonsilitis and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I took the Wednesday off as well, but wasn't able to get it off as sick leave; rather, I took a day in annual leave.

The rest of last week was ok. I am not sure just how serious my sickness was, but Tuesday was the worst day of the three. Once the weekend came around, things were pretty much back to normal.

On Saturday, we went into Kochi city, as planned. Mika had to get her two-year shakken (car warrant of fitness), and we borrowed a courtesy car to go to Aeon mall while that was taking place. After a little shopping we went to Yamada Denki and I got a wireless router so we can set up the network at home.

We got my wife's car back and went to her brother's house to have dinner together. As is usual with going into the city, we got home rather late.

Yesterday, we went to a town in Ehime, between here and Uwajima (out on the west coast). We have visited the aquarium there before, but this time we went to the onsen (hot spring). I'm not quite Japanese enough to go full monty, so I took my laptop to watch an episode of Stargate SG-1. I had a massage in one of the chairs there and spent the rest of the time dipping my feet in a hot pool and reading a book.

On our way to the town, we had grabbed some drinks from a vending machine. 60 yen for a can of Aquarius -- with an extra 150g! So not only was it the cheapest I have ever seen a drink from a vending machine, but it was one of those special, oversized drinks too. Bonus!

We went for a walk and let Eddi play before heading to a restaurant for dinner. She fell asleep on our way home, so we put her straight to bed. Mika shopped online while we watched a movie.

And that brings us up to date. Today, I only had classes this morning, after which they invited me to eat the school lunch. So yes, sometimes there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Here in Japan, people are not big on turning on their headlights. Whether it be overcast or raining, driving under a canopy of trees or getting darker because the sun has gone down, it seems to be the norm to brave the elements (and oncoming traffic) and keep your lights off. And woe betide any driver who has their lights on at the slightest hint of light in the sky. For he shall be flashed by oncoming traffic as a reminder that, "Hey mate, what have you got your lights on for? It's not pitch black yet!".

Then there is the issue of MLS*. It turns out that it is indeed a global phenomenon. I'll bet it's illegal to not have two working headlights here, too. But there isn't much opportunity to find out, considering the somewhat fanatic aversion to switching them on at the threat of appearing weak.

*Mono-Light Syndrome. See my original blog post on the subject.

But hey, let's not generalise. I'm sure that just as there must be people who won't go to onsen, there must also be people who switch their lights on at the first sign of lower visibility. Perhaps the two are connected somehow...