Thursday, 31 May 2007

Food!! Glorious Food!! May

May 2007

This was the entree at a little Italian restaurant in Nagasaki.

And the main meal of tempura fish and couscous.

This was the best meal in Nagasaki- tender steak with a spicy sauce, salad and pasta. It was from a restaurant called Soul heart cafe!

This is famous Castella cake from Nagasaki and its green tea flavoured - it is so good! Especially with ice cream!

Tina and I both make good banana cakes so we thought it was time to try her oven. It is a small oven which also works as a microwave. We managed to work out what ingredients we needed, considering they are in Japanese! We cooked it and it turned out really well just a bit burnt on top. So we let it cool and then tried to cut it - it was rock hard!! But it had only just turned hard, we soon worked out that we had the oven on the microwave setting! Oh well we will try again soon!

Making Okonomiyaki at Tina's house.

Okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) and gyoza (dumplings) cooking on my cool grill!

The finished product! Okonomiyaki is really good and is definitely one of my favourites!

This lemonade is really cool as it has a marble in the top which you have to push down so you can drink it. It tastes yum too! (You can buy this from the central markets in Adelaide.)

I bought this melon simply to try it as it looked so different! It was really nice but tasted like normal watermelon!

Onegiri (rice balls) on the BBQ!

Can't go to the baseball and not have a hotdog and chips!

I bought a Hello Kitty cake as it was so cute! You only had to add 3 tablespoons of milk to it! And you cooked it in the microwave! This is what came in the box - the mixture and a cake tin!

You cooked it for one and a half minutes in the tin sitting in the box!

And the finished product! It was just enough for Tina, Jodi and I!! (Well a very small piece each!)

Baseball - Hanshin Tigers!

26th May 2007

On Sunday Marie, Tina, Steve and I went to the baseball for the first time in Japan! The baseball coach at school was able to get me 4 tickets to a game. It was held at Skymark stadium which is about 15 minutes out of Kobe but it was the opposing team’s home ground – the Orix Buffaloes. We joined a line close to a kilometre long and eventually made our way into the stadium. We had fantastic seats and it was a beautiful sunny day. It was such an exciting atmosphere there was a mini brass band playing for each team! We had a great day – had hotdogs, saw students from my school, let off balloons at the 7th innings mark, Marie and Tina bought baseball bat clappers and I bought a fan and we got on the big screen TV! but sadly the Hanshin Tigers lost 0-7! We hope to see another game at Koshin which is the Hanshin Tigers home grounds. It was such an exciting day and I look forward to my next baseball match!

The entrance to the stadium.

The game!!

Steve, Tina, Marie and I.

All the balloons being let go!

The big screen that we got on!

Marie, Tina and I with our supporter gear!

Us with my students that we saw there!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

I’m sick!

May 2007

Well last week I had 3 days off work as I was sick with tonsillitis! I get it every year and you would think maybe not this year but it seems no matter where I am I get it! The medicine here doesn’t seem to be that strong so luckily I was prepared and had some antibiotics from home. In Japan when people are sick they wear a face mask and well since I’m only here for awhile I thought I should too but I could only bring myself to wear it at Tina’s house for a few minutes! Tina, Marie and Steve bought me a lovely plant as I had been wanting one for my apartment and Jodi and Jono bought me some strawberries and chocolate sauce. So I was very well looked after! I am all good now and hope not to get tonsillitis again at least until next year!

The really sexy face mask!

My beautiful plant!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Takamikura Yama – Kakagowa

20th May 2007

Today Tina, Marie and I went to Kakagowa which is about 10mins by train from Himeji. We met Paul (an Australian guy who has married a Japanese lady) and some of his friends. We then went to Takamikura which is a mountain with a walking path. We set off up the mountain and as I am not that fit I went very slow at times and conveniently needed to stop to take photos! But it felt so good to reach the top and the view was amazing! There is a shrine at the top of the mountain which makes you wonder how they got all the building materials up there!

View from about half way (when I needed a break!)

View from the top!

Marie, Tina and I at the top!

Shrine at the top.

We then walked along the top of the mountains before starting our descent. On the way down we could hear horns being blown and Paul was telling us about the priests in a nearby temple who fast and are called Yamabushi (mountain priests). We ended up going to the temple where they were having a festival. Luck was on our side as this festival is only held every 50 years!! What are the chances of being there on the right day!?! The festival consisted of priests firing arrows into the air, chanting, blowing horns which were actually made of huge conch shells. They then set a big bundle of wood and green branches alight. It smelt amazing – like incense and the amount of smoke was huge! (This was to rid us for all of our sins.) We left the temple in wonder –thinking about how lucky we were to see such a great festival and considering if we missed it we would have to wait 50 years!

The arrow shooting.

The horn made of a conch shell.

The mound of branches and leaves that was going to be burnt.

The huge amount of smoke from the fire!

We then headed back to the park to have a BBQ lunch. Our first Japanese BBQ! The BBQ’s are a lot smaller here but have charcoal in them which makes everything taste really good although you don’t really have control over the temperature! Many things went on the BBQ – pumpkin, squid, chicken, hotdogs, chicken kidneys (I didn’t eat those!), beef (they were proud to say it was Australian beef!), corn, eggplant and of course onegiri (rice balls!). It really was a great BBQ and everyone just sort of ate off of it as it was cooked. You used your chopsticks to turn the meat and to pick it up which proved a little difficult!

Japanese BBQ

Rice balls on the BBQ - yum!

We then visited the largest torii gate in the world! It was enormous!!! It is made from titanium. We then walked through the gate to see another temple which was really beautiful. Each temple you see is different and unique and there is always a different way to pray to the gods. This one had sticks that you pick up the amount of your age and you do laps around the temple.

Worlds biggest torii gate!!

Steps leading up to the temple.

I had such a great day and we got to experience so much Japanese culture. I just have to say again “ 日本がだいすきです“( I LOVE Japan!!)

Himeji Yataii Matsuri

19th May 2007

Today we went to a festival which was performed to pray for rain and a good harvesting season in autumn. It is a new festival that has only been held in recent years. Many men in fundoshi (an outfit similar to sumo wrestlers) carry portable shrines from around the station to the castle. They paused at times to throw the shrine into the air and lift it up and down. Each shrine weighs about a ton and there are around 50 people carrying it. Inside the shrine there are four young people playing a taiko drum. It was amazing to see such beautiful shrines up close and to hear the drumming and the chants of “usho yataii” (similar to heave-ho!). The shrines were then carried into the castle grounds. We then went to the park nearby where many food stalls had been set up and had a shared lunch of fried chicken, takoyaki (octopus balls) and of course toffee strawberries and toffee grapes! I saw many students today and they seemed excited to see me too! (It’s great to feel like a celebrity!) Festivals are so exciting and then there is always amazing food too!

Yataii Shrine

Shrines in front of the castle.

Students from my school.

View from the top of the Egret centre.

How classic is this! There were so many guys walking around all day like this!!! :)

Friday, 18 May 2007

Golden week holiday 2/5/07 – 6/5/07

May 2007 - Fukuoka/Hakata

We had one and a half days in Fukuoka (also known as Hakata) at the end of our trip. Fukuoka is a large city and is quite spread out. When we arrived we had a bit of a look around and then we had dinner before going out. We were looking for a club called “Sam and Daves” but we walked around in circles before being shown where it was! It was raining when we went out so we had umbrellas with us. Japan is well prepared and there is always an umbrella holder of some sort. When we arrived there weren’t many people there but there were 3 huge umbrella tubs so we thought we would put our umbrellas together (Tina had a big clear one – very popular type and Marie and I had small fold up ones) outside a tub so we would find them. The club was great and had good music but there were a lot of foreign people there which is not always what you want. It is good to go to a place where mainly Japanese people go so you can meet new friends and sometimes attempt to practice your Japanese. When we decided to leave we realized that we hadn’t thought the umbrella situation through very well considering now the 3 tubs were full of about 50 or more umbrellas each!! Well I dug around in one and found Marie’s and Tina decided to take any clear umbrella as they are all the same but I was determined to find mine! It was a really good, really small polka dot one that I bought from Australia and I wasn’t leaving it behind! After pulling out about 100 umbrellas I finally found mine still hooked onto Tina’s!! Tip of the week – if your umbrella doesn’t stand out or is too small don’t put it anywhere near umbrella holders!!!

Our last day of our holiday we walked around Ohori Park which has a huge lake in the middle and a running, cycling or walking track around it. There is also a Japanese garden which we visited and it seemed the perfect time of year to do it, it was so green and beautiful.

Ohori Park.

Japanese Garden.

I had such a great holiday even though I got sick! And Marie and Tina are great to go away with! I am looking forward to my next trip!

Golden week holiday 2/5/07 – 6/5/07

May 2007 – Nagasaki

We went to the Atomic Bomb Museum which was very interesting but also sad. In 1945 on the 9th August a bomb was dropped at 11:02 on Nagasaki destroying nearly all of the city. This was just 3 days after Hiroshima was hit.

Paper cranes in the museum.

We then found a really cute Italian restaurant for lunch.

We went to the Urakami cathedral which has been rebuilt since the bomb but has remains of the church that survived the bomb out the front. It was once the largest church in Asia.

The peace park has a HUGE monument of a man which is pointing to where the bomb came from and is holding his other hand out for peace.

There were also more paper cranes.

The peace park has many sculptures and statues that have been sent from all over the world – these are my two favourites.

There is a huge fountain in the centre of the park which has been built for all the victims of the bomb as many died of thirst in the days after the bomb went off.

The hypocentre where the bomb hit is marked by a huge black column and there are many paper cranes that are still sent there today.

We finally found the one legged torii which is left standing after the bomb destroyed the other half of it.

We then went to the the spectacles bridge which is Japan’s oldest stone bridge as it was built in 1634 by a Chinese Zen priest. When the sun is in the right position the reflection makes it look like a pair of glasses.

We then went to Temple row which is a street lined with temples and cemeteries. It was an amazing place and I loved seeing all the different temples and the cemetery was fascinating – that does sound strange but it was amazing! The cemetery had huge marble headstones but they are different to what is in Australia – they are more like shrines and they have a little cupboard to keep a broom and cloth in so it can be cleaned! The cemetery just went forever up a hill and some parts were really old with statues covered in moss. It was just an amazing, peaceful and beautiful place.

The cemetery.

We went out for dinner and tried to go out afterwards only to discover that Nagasaki wasn’t a really happening place on a Friday night!

During Golden Week it is Children's Day and people have carp flags flying at home and we saw these at a temple which had a kindergarten attached to it.

Before leaving for Fukuoka the next day we revisited temple row and saw a few temples that we didn’t get to see the day before. Some of the temples are around 350 years old and many were founded by
Chinese priests.

I really enjoyed Nagasaki!