Khaos

Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Big River

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

I have been busy rehearsing as part of the ensemble cast of Big River.  The musical opens on the 19th May, so not long to wait now.  The city is getting warmer and I am finding it hard dancing in layers of clothing in hot rooms.  It will be hot on stage, so I will just have to get used to it.  I am so glad that during the performance each dance only happens once, unlike rehearsal where the point is to keep doing them until they are right.

It’s been fascinating doing theatre work again as technology has changed so many things.  Now rehearsals are organised with web-based project management tools.  Nearly every cast member is carrying a device capable of recording the rehearsal.  Choreography steps are videoed so you can review them at home.  There are apps to help you run lines.  And microphones are everywhere.  I’m not completely thrilled about the microphones, as it changes vocal technique, but I love most of the other changes.  Now if we just had air conditioners that didn’t dry out the throat…

 

Black Stripe Theater – SEVEN

Friday, April 15th, 2016

I went to see the documentary play SEVEN last night, which was put on by Black Stripe Theater as part of International Women’s Month.  It’s an upsetting play to watch as it deals with rape, domestic violence, enforced prostitution, poverty, and human rights violations.  I won’t say that I enjoyed the play, but it was not supposed to be entertainment, and art can certainly make us feel uncomfortable.

I had not read about the seven woman before going to see the play so I was surprised that one of the seven was a portrayal of Inez McCormack, a human rights and trade union activist from Northern Ireland.  It was strange listening to a voice from my own culture and trying to work out how it fits with stories from woman from Afghanistan, Russia, Guatemala, Cambodia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.  I found myself feeling something like imposter syndrome for my home country as we do have a tendency to downplay what happened and the impact it had.

One of the aspects of the show that I really liked is that it depicted all seven woman together, in a way that they could not have been in real life.  It was beautiful in that it clearly showed that woman are the same all over the world.  That we all love, we all feel pain, and that we are more alike than we are different.  That there is hope for change.

Winter Trip

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

We spent three days at Niseko Village. I love Hokkaido in the winter. It doesn’t remind me of home, though lots of people in Japan think that Northern Ireland should be a snowy wonderland in winter. It looks like the sort of winter you see on old Christmas cards – more like Narnian winter than reality. If it wasn’t so cold it would be perfect.

We had wanted to try using a snowmobile for a while and this time we managed to hire one.  I didn’t have to drive, M did that, I just had to hold on.  That mostly worked but towards the end of the drive we managed to get stuck in a snowdrift and we both fell off the machine.  We were out with an instructor who was able to come to our rescue.  It’s certainly safer to fall off than a motorbike as the snow was very soft and deep. We also weren’t going very fast at the time as we were driving up the mountain.  It took a lot of effort to get back up as snow is surprisingly heavy when you end up buried in it.  It would also have been easier if we hadn’t been laughing so much.  It was a lot of fun and I would certainly try it again.  Maybe next time I’ll be braver and will try driving.

Niseko Village

Christmas Preparations

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Christmas always feels strange to me in Japan.  It’s a time for couples.  It’s a time for eating chicken and white sponge cake with strawberries.

Just like in the U.K. the shops are playing Christmas music but they are doing it in their own crazy Japanese way.  My local grocery store was playing four things at once today.   “Sleigh Ride” at a really fast speed, “All I want for Christmas”, some squeaky J-pop song, and someone was giving store announcements.  And then at the checkout area the “calorie mate” adverts were playing on little T.Vs.  I should really take earplugs when I go shopping to prevent the feeling that my head is going to explode.

I saw one nativity scene that made me laugh as it had polar bears and penguins. Odd looking Christmas trees are appearing across the city but I haven’t seen any yet that are actually made of tree.

Christmas Tree Eating Spider

Christmas Tree Eating Spider

 

Eating Out

Friday, December 4th, 2015

I still get amused by the concept of food courses in Tokyo.  Last night I had a nine course meal.  We started eating at around 7pm but by the time I got home shortly after midnight I was feeling hungry again.  The food was lovely, but the courses were incredibly small.  I’m not sure that in Northern Ireland you would get away with describing one small mushroom as a course.  Or one grilled scallion, or two tablespoons of shredded radish, or six ginkgo nuts.  Thankfully the eel, which was the main part of the dinner, was a decent size.

I wonder if the “no photographs” policy was to ensure that pictures of the tiny courses didn’t appear on the Internet?

 

 

Parcel Season

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Coming up to Christmas we get a lot of post.  The Japanese postal service and the various couriers that are used are impressive.  I have received many parcels addressed incorrectly in English.  Sometimes these find their way here because the couriers ring the apartment in advance to check the address.  Lately we have received quite a few parcels with the wrong apartment number, and they usually work that out without asking.  My favourite though was a parcel addressed to:

MINAMIZE JUST

Which is the strangest spelling I’ve seen yet of Minami-senju.

 

I <3 Garbage Room

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

When I first moved to Japan I found it hard to understand how to sort out garbage.  (I used to call it rubbish, but no-one knew what I was talking about.) There were so many things that need separated.  Burnable waste, non-burnable waste, PET bottles, glass bottles, cans, cartons, cardboard, paper, and white food trays.  There is also a separate garbage collection for items that are bigger than the 45L bags that we are expected to use.

We’ve been renting in Tokyo for a while and lately have been thinking of buying.  When we went to look at new houses I saw a yellow basket sitting outside one of them.  I haven’t had to deal with communal recycling baskets since we moved to this apartment.  I stared at it trying to remember if it was for cans or bottles… and then all the horrors of garbage came back to me.  I have learnt how to separate garbage but I no longer have to worry about when it needs put outside.  In our current apartment we have a garbage room.   It’s an amazing place full of bins for all the different types of garbage.  I no longer have to wait for the two days in a week when I can get rid of smelly food stuff from my apartment, and I don’t need to know which days are the right ones for different types of recycling, and I don’t need to store garbage in my apartment unless I’m too lazy to move it.

If I had a house I would have to learn the garbage cycle again.  Every day I would be putting out a different type of garbage.  I could end up responsible for washing out the baskets in the street, there would be crow nets, wild cats, and cleaning garbage off the street when a mess was made.  I would end up cleaning other people’s garbage off the street as I’m sure just like the last place we lived that they would blame the foreigners every time a crow attacked or some other person put their garbage out too soon.  I don’t actually mind helping out if there is garbage lying in the street as I love living in a clean city, but I disliked being blamed for this.

I did like the giant crows.  They seemed to know the schedule better than me and would sit on the electric cables outside our home just waiting for something tasty to be taken out.

Free Crow Nets

Free Crow Nets

Maybe houses are a better buy, because of the associated land, but I would miss my garbage room.

Silver Week

Monday, September 21st, 2015

It’s Silver Week.  A wonderful week that occurs every six or so years when 2 national holidays turn into 3.  Japanese law stipulates that if there is only one non-holiday in between two public holidays, that day should become an additional holiday, known as a Kokumin no kyūjitsu (Citizens’ Holiday).  Today is “Respect for the Aged Day” and  “Autumnal Equinox Day” is on Wednesday.

Major holidays are not a good time to travel in Japan so we have opted for staying at home.  We had friends over for a lazy weekend of playing games, eating junk food, and watching movies.  (I wasn’t expecting to like Zoolander, but it was O.K.)  We may venture out tomorrow to see a new apartment building but I won’t be surprised if we sleep late and forget all about that.  Marty is crazy about Splatoon, so much so that I’ve started to see squid creatures in my sleep, and if he plays to 4am again we may not get much done at all.  That’s not a problem though as I’m happy to be still for a few days.

It’s just a pity that the next one doesn’t take place until 2020!

New Vegetables

Friday, September 11th, 2015

I had a house guest recently, who was trying to find cilantro, and they asked me to identify some of the leafy green things in the store.  There were quite a few that I couldn’t identify so I took pictures of their names to translate them at home.  A translation hasn’t helped me much as I didn’t recognize their English names either.  I can buy  Malabar Spinach (つるむらさき), Jew’s Mallow (モロヘイヤ),  Angelica Keiskei (明日葉), and Japanese Honeywort (三つ葉).  My next task it to work out how to cook them.

Local Travel

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

One of the lovely things about YAPC::Asia being held in Tokyo is that it brings international speakers to the city.  And then I get to play tourist in my home country.

I remember the first time I went to Nikko in 1998.  We were looking forward to seeing the famous bridge but we couldn’t find it.  It was being restored at the time, so was completely covered up.  Thankfully this time it was on display.

Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko

Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko