Pictures from my birthday

This post I guess is more for personal/posterity reasons, but anyway I thought I would share a few things from the time around my birthday (19th January). Wanna catch up with what I’m doing art-wise? You can find some recent drawings on my tumblr. Most of my drawings done in Japan are using cheap felt tips and cheap pens since I don’t want to spend too much on art supplies, which would take up space/be a pain to transport.

5 packs of white hot chocolate mix, 1 pack of raspberry hot chocolate mix, photographed on my bed

My kind coworker bought me some delicious hot chocolate mix from the import food store and gave these to me a few days before my birthday. These are from Italy I think and they are lovely. I buy them from time to time for when I finish my workday.

photograph from 4th floor of apartment building, the view is of a snowy city residential area

On my birthday I decided to head out for a wander and it was very snowy.

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hamburger with avocado and salad

I really like the hamburger chain here: Freshness Burger.

photo of a lurcher (dog) on video chat (iphone facetime)

I got the chance to speak to my family and caught a screenshot of my dog.

photo of a mug which bears the slogan 'good luck' along with gold polka dots. In the background there is a laptop and another, smaller mug which contains stationery

I got a cute mug for my birthday from my lovely friend, perfect for drinking tea. I only just got into drinking milk tea after getting to Japan. Maybe my new love for milk tea has come hand in hand with my newly discovered patriotism…

photo of steamed rare cheesecake

This is my new favourite thing lately: steamed rare cheesecake from the bakery near the station. It only costs 170 yen (£1) and is soft, spongy and delicious. I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photograph of a table at a yakiniku (Korean BBQ meat) restaurant. There are 2 plates of meat, 1 bowl of rice, 1 plate of sauce and some other plates without food on them yet

My kind coworker strikes again! On the evening of my birthday we went to a yakiniku restaurant and I tried gyuutan (grilled beef tongue) for the first time. It was alright but not something I would order for myself. I myself ordered karubi – apparently short ribs according to wikipedia. It was super tender and yummy. Oh man, I feel guilty for posting meat on my blog. I still want to be vegetarian. I’m sorry I’m not making a good go of that! For the record, I usually don’t cook meat at home but once I go out this (possibly) evil meat eating beast emerges from within and orders whatever… (please don’t consider me criticising anyone who eats meat, it’s a choice!)

photo of a yakiniku (Korean BBQ meat) grill in the centre of the restaurant table. 3 pieces of meat are currently being cooked on the grill

Our last photo of the yakiniku grill. Not much to say here except that yakiniku restaurants are fun and I enjoy being able to BBQ it however I like. I’m glad we got to go on Monday 19th since we hadn’t been for a long long time.

 

Well, that’s my mini-photo haul. I hope that it was interesting for some of you! Now, it’s Monday 26th. I’m on my day off and tomorrow I’ll be back at work (I do Tues-Sat).

I’m feeling the urge for mini steamed cheesecake now so I might take that opportunity to cycle to the train station… Or perhaps I’ll stay home, haven’t decided yet. Should probably stay home since I need to save my 8000 yen in my wallet to pay my lovely coworker for the internet. Otherwise I’ll have to draw out more money… gah… cheesecake.

double-trouser weather

Hi friends,

It’s been a while; my first post since November. December was a super busy month as I had to help out as usual at the kindergarten, plus I also had to prepare my own Christmas party lessons for my students. I worked until 20th December, and after my final shift I packed, and my coworker and I took the night bus to Tokyo. The next day, we had our flights to the UK. I had a transfer in Copenhagen, which I thought would be 11 hours. Turns out that I had not really read my ticket properly and it was actually 15 hours overnight. I wandered around for the first few hours looking at all the nice food in Copenhagen airport. Then I holed up in a corner of the transfer lounge on a crickety sofa with my blanket and tried to sleep while many people walked past staring, airport buggies drove past and occasionally parked right next to me.

But anyway, I finally got to the UK eventually and was able to spend 9 days with my family before returning to Japan. I got to Japan on 1st January and my coworker and I spent a night in Tokyo. We got the chance to explore Shinjuku (probably fashionable or something), Akihabara (electronics and stuff for people who are very very into anime) and Ginza (crowded, expensive place for window shopping). Now I’m back in Morioka (cold, Northern place) and I start work tomorrow.

As expected, it’s cold here and there’s some snow… but it’s not too bad. Not as bad as it was in December. Today the sky is clear blue and I can even walk around without my coat zipped up. That’ll probably change soon though, I’m sure. In my post before last I was celebrating ‘trouser weather’, but now we’ve reached a point of ‘double-trouser weather’, and maybe we will even reach ‘triple-trouser weather’ soon. I’m not really looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to March when hopefully it’ll start to get warmer. I miss not wearing heavy clothing, and I miss not spending money on heating. The winter months are going to be expensive since a tank of kerosene costs £10 and I’m not sure how long one will last me…

I don’t have that many updates for you all, since I have been off work and resting at home lately, but by tomorrow I expect my life will become hectic once more. I’ve been keeping my tumblr mostly up to date with my drawings and so on, so for the art front you can find all the stuff there. Today, I suppose, is mostly just a regular, everyday life kind of post that probably only my family (and a handful of strange friends) will be interested in. But I’m okay with that!

I suppose I should talk about my new years resolutions. Of course, we all make loads of resolutions and then they all flake away in January. Maybe we hold out to February, even. And some brave souls even manage to keep up their resolutions throughout the year. At least we can see how far I get. I have a few but I have tried to keep them very easy for myself.

  • Work hard and survive at my job, try to be as good as I can possibly be – but of course without burning myself out.
  •  Once I eventually return to the UK I want to give a proper go at working towards being an artist. I don’t expect to be able to be a full-time artist or anything like that, but I hope that I will get my shop going, keep drawing regularly and try to take part in more cons, competitions and so on.
  • Make soap. This is perhaps a strange one but I would really like to try making soap, because it seems like fun and I like things that smell good.
  • Try to save money every month by sending some of my wages into my English bank account. I already do this, but I want to keep doing it, because I would prefer not to be broke once I am in the UK.
  • Try to do stretches before bed. I am bad with anything to do with exercise, and healthy things. I reckon that if I have ‘do exercise’ as a resolution, it won’t happen, but maybe I can at least start, get 1% there, by beginning to do stretches. I know it sounds very tiny and simple but I have never exercised regularly in my own free time before so… baby steps.

Anyway I hope everyone had a great new year and I hope that 2015 works out well for us all. Let me know if you have any resolutions too :)

Yuucho blogging

Hi all.

11.20AM

I’m just in the bank (name: yuucho). It’s my day off. I’m attempting to send a little bit of my money here back to England so that I can put it away for savings. To do this I got a form to fill in, on which I made multiple mistakes (as I do with English forms too since I seem to often forget which field to fill in and put stuff in the wrong place). I just got called up to negotiate the amount to send back as well as to hear about the fee for the transfer. The lady also said some other stuff but I can’t say that I totally understood. I think it’ll be ok! Wouldn’t be good to have my £500 floating around in nowhere land. I’ll need it at some point for plane tickets or something.

I feel pretty wary about handling my money, budgeting, and unsure how much emergency cash to keep here. I’m probably weird about it all since this is the first time I’ve been truly financially independent. Anyway, it’s the tenth today so it’ll be another eighteen days until payday, so not too long I don’t think. I will be fine until then and will hopefully have some more money spare at the end of the month, too…

12.10PM

I spent about half an hour or so here just going back and forth between the desk. Then the post office people said that I needed an IBAN code, so I had to cycle home and rush to find it on the HBSC website (their guide to finding the code on their internet banking site was outdated of course), and now I’m back here waiting again to get my money sent over. The post office is a lot more busy now, lots of murmuring and friendly elderly people about. One lady talking to me about an expensive-looking umbrella left by the seats.

Oh hooray, I’ve been called up!

I talked to the lady. I think it’s all ok. Just waiting again now. I asked about fees and with ゆうちょ銀行 (yuucho ginkou), the fee is ¥2500 (£14) to send and also I think my bank might take £5 too. Just gonna have to wait and see. And then see if I ever want to do it again. I hope HSBC are nice and don’t decide to sap my money :(

I finished the whole process at 12.30pm.

Anyway, aside from all the money talk… This weekend has again been pretty busy. On Saturday after work my colleague and I decided to be lazy and eat at Freshness Burger, a chain fast food place. After that we had a brief bout of shopping since she had discovered some cheap fleece tights in a store (which later turned out to slip down all the time while wearing).

On the way home we discovered a group of other foreigners, a couple of whom we had already met before. We chatted and were promptly persuaded to join them at an izakaya. There was 飲み放題, all you can drink, for ¥3000 (£16.50) plus various free dishes to share. The dishes included pizza covered with salad, pasta, soup and also some chicken which was pretty much raw. It tasted how I imagined it to taste – not something I enjoyed that much, I don’t think I’d eat it again! Anyway, it was nice to meet and chat with people from America, the UK, Ireland, and some lovely Japanese acquaintances too. I hope we can meet them again.

On Sunday, the weather was bleak and grey. I ended up waking up early automatically, at 7.30. I can’t remember what I did, really… Oh. I went out to the shops although I can’t remember what for. But on the top floor of Kawatoku department store, I made the lovely discovery of a food event featuring loads of stalls from Hokkaido. As I made my way around the 7th floor, I was handed many, many samples of cheesecake. The food was a little on the pricey side for me so I focused on getting as many samples as possible before returning home.

 

When I got home, I cooked some risotto and ate together with my coworker, while watching The Darjeeling Limited. I really enjoyed the film but then also was wondering if there are any films of Wes Anderson’s where the protagonist is female. I remembered the girl in Moonrise Kingdom as well as Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums. I think perhaps his films are pretty good when compared with other contemporary Hollywood films. I’m not sure though, and perhaps this is a thought to continue on another day!

I forced my coworker to come back to the food stalls with me again and we did a second wander, together, and bought a couple of sweet treats. The event ends tomorrow though so I really want to go and at least buy something significant, since I don’t know when or if there will be another.

12.45PM

Risotto with parmesan cheese

I know I’m supposed to make food pictures look good and stuff but I was never one for presentation. Anyway, it tasted good, I promise. Lots of chilli, some carrot, some left over tofu (I know, not a regular ingredient but I needed to use it up), lots of mushrooms, garlic and more.

I’m just eating up my leftover risotto for lunch but after that I am very tempted to make a quick trip to the aforementioned fair and buy some cheesecake. There was also this strange stall that had pumpkin flakes which could be mixed with milk to make a delicious soup. Since it has pumpkin in it it feels like it has the illusion of being healthy, although I doubt that it actually is ;_; It tasted too good to be healthy.

Later on today, I have a 1 hour lesson to teach, and then my coworker and I are meeting a friend for ramen. After that, who knows? We were going to go for karaoke although I’m not sure if that’s the plan anymore. I would quite like to retire at home and play World of Warcraft for 2 hours, read some Jane Austen and get loads of sleep in time for another busy week ahead.

Art

I hope you all don’t mind, I haven’t been blogging so much about art lately, mainly about life here, since it’s all so different and there are many new experiences constantly happening. That is not to say I’ve stopped drawing though, far from it! I try to update my instagram account with artwork whenever I can, which you can find on the sidebar to the left. I have been drawing more than usual this week and am fairly pleased to feel that I haven’t regressed too much.

drawing of a girl with short brown hair and blue facepaint lines across her cheeks, with a halo of grey smoke around her head

Thanks everyone for reading my blog!

daruma san ga koronda

21.10.2014

Hi all, thought I should make an update since it’s probably been a while. As per usual with life here, lately I’ve been extremely busy with my job, and have also doing a reasonable amount of stuff during the weekend too. Right now it’s 8.30am and I’ll be starting work from 9.15am and finishing at 6.15pm. After that I will be going out with my friends to a restaurant… probably will not stay out late because I am very tired every day. Going to bed early has become a treat for me, not a punishment as it used to be. I love getting into my warm bed and reading a book… What have I become?

So, work is very busy, that’s nothing new I suppose. From this weekend the week of Halloween themed party lessons begins, and so over the next three days or so I will be quickly trying to do all of the preparations along with doing my usual lessons and admin work. We (my colleague and I) have been here just over two months, and it feels like we started ages and ages ago, but I still feel like there’s so much more I need to learn.

——–

26.10.2014

I made it through the week, and the first two Halloween parties were successful! What a relief. There are a few more, maybe 4-5 next week. This weekend I hope to rest lots. Today I was a little ill so I stayed in bed until after 11am, a really rare thing for me since lately I’ve been waking up automatically at 6.30am every day.

Written from later in the evening… For the remainder of my day, after finally getting up, I ate some indulgent chocolate corn flakes breakfast with milk (the milk here is really good). I then decided to cycle up the main street where I live to find a pretty river lined with a few super shops and cafes. I was recommended by one of my students to check the area out, and found a shop that I loved. I wanted to buy loads of their stuff, but want to save my money until payday… Unfortunately I didn’t have much time and had to head back home in order to eat lunch and make it to the Halloween event on at the place where I work.

I made pasta with pesto and salad for lunch, a dish that I eat almost any time that I cook (not every day as I often have odd working times), because I am lazy and I still haven’t gotten round to buying that many ingredients. After that, I cycled to work to spend a couple of hours observing, participating in and helping at the event there. It started to get a little cold at around 5pm so I decided to cycle back home, put away some stuff and then head to the train station to wander aimlessly around the shops. At the post office, getting cash out, I ran into two Russian ladies I’d seen before around town (there aren’t many foreigners up here!), so I said hi and chatted to them a bit. We exchanged contact info, and they later added me on facebook. Maybe we can become friends?

Anyway, I headed to the station, taking a quick detour to one of my favourite stationery and homeware shops. I am looking forward to future paydays so that I can buy some of the lovely things from the shop; indoor shoes, letter writing kits, even a few zines – although from a quick look I realised I’d have trouble trying to read the handwritten, tiny Japanese. Worth a shot though, right?

At the station I wandered a little, video called my mum and sister, giving them a tour of the shopping centre. I showed them all the dried squid snacks and curry packs in Muji, along with a couple of my favourite other shops, and then gave them a tour of the underground food section – restaurants and grocery stores. I have to admit now that I went to McDonalds for dinner and had a hamburger… after that I bought a cream puff from Beard Papa’s (strange name, I know) and then decided it would probably be time to head home.

At home I showered and got into my slacker clothes, a pair of black tracksuit bottoms and a men’s jumper I bought super cheap on sale in the UK. I watched the film Fargo with my colleague and now here I am, typing away. I enjoyed Fargo and definitely want to make a point of seeing the TV drama version too. I loved the Minnesotan accents and the snowy bleak landscapes. Steve Buscemi is a cool actor too, although I pretty much disliked all the main characters except for the main police lady and her husband. I felt sorry for the lady who was kidnapped and I felt sorry for the man who pretended his wife had died. I think he needed a good friend, or some talking therapy.

Who would have thought that I could spend so much time writing about a fairly uneventful day? Oh well, no need to worry about whether or not I sound boring, because if I am boring then people simply won’t read this, and I’m fine with that!

I hope to go to bed early tonight, reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, maybe call my boyfriend and my family too, and then wake up nice and early tomorrow. Then, I can take my bike and have a more extensive exploration of the bridge/river area. There’s also a shop I want to check out by the city station, although odds are that I won’t be able to afford any of the products actually there. It’ll be nice to look though. I’ve been avoiding spending money lately, afraid maybe, or simply too self-restrained! I’m trying to loosen up and I would like to do a little bit of shopping tomorrow if I may.

It’s trouser weather!

Dear friends,

This past week has been very busy for me, but I’m happy to say that now it’s Sunday and I’m on my two days off. Then, on Tuesday, we finally get paid… of course, from Tuesday onwards we will be at work all day and I usually finish at 8pm or later, so I won’t be able to spend that beautiful yen… however next Sunday my fellow teacher and I will go on a Treat Yo Self day inspired by Parks and Recreation’s Tom and Donna.

Anyway, Autumn is slowly rolling in and here up in the North East it’s finally the weather for trousers, jumpers and cardigans! I’m excited to start wearing knitwear and tights although I will definitely miss being able to walk around in shorts and sandals. I’m hoping to pick up a chunky cardigan next weekend since I only have one small, thin cardigan from Uniqlo. Up here it gets to -10c sometimes and there is frequent snow. I know it’s not that cold compared to my Norwegian friends’ -30c winters, but it’s colder than back home!

My Japanese is progressing nicely, although I’d like to put more effort into it. I found the international centre last weekend and I signed up for them to look for a language ‘supporter’ for me. And just today I went back there, found some advert for somebody wanting to meet English speakers and sent them an email. Mostly because I fear that my social life will be non-existent for 11 months unless I force myself to make some friends…

Hey, did I ever show a picture of my completed donut? Please see below, along with my as of yet unfinished hot cross bun. I hope to do some more needle felting tonight. I’m not sure what to do next. I wanted to do a pretzel but maybe that would be too difficult?

a needle felted donut with cream icing and brown sprinklesneedle felted hot cross bun Hmmm… I started writing this post early in the morning of today, and now it is 5pm and I’m not sure what else to add to this. In a bit I’ll head to my colleague’s flat to watch something or other. I’m not sure if it will be a film or some episodes, who knows? I’m going to take my needle felting and Japanese text book up so I can do some bits and pieces while watching. I’m not somebody who can sit through a whole film without fidgeting, unless it’s at the cinema…

Anyway I’ll finish up here. I don’t have many plans for tomorrow, except that I have to go in to work briefly to try to understand the office printer before next week starts, as everyone will be expecting me to use it and in my past attempts the printer has decided to eat every piece of A4 paper I carefully fed into its mouth. I hope tomorrow pays off. Aside from that maybe I’ll do some wistful window shopping, the day before pay day. And psych myself up for another busy week ahead before our most exciting indulgence day in a week’s time!

Thank you for reading and support and everything.

E

Mini post ☆ ミニポスト

Hello friends.

I’m in bed, about to do some reading. But I thought I’d make a mini post beforehand. It’s my sixth week of work here (or so I believe) and I wanted to write a little update to say what I’ve been up to. This week my parents have been in France and so I have had less time chatting on skype with people from home.

So recently, where to start… Work has been as usual, always challenging and always learning new things. I’ve had several difficult lessons lately that hurt my confidence a bit. But each time or rather each lesson I am learning and improving, I feel. I want to be good at my job. Some of my challenging issues are classroom management, discipline and time management. I’m usually good with time except when there happen to also be disruptive kids, as that slows everything down.

I’m expected to be researching more about my job during free time but since starting I have always found that I’m pretty tired after work and don’t want to do too much requiring thinking. I did listen to a couple of question and answer videos by a well known youtuber called gimmeaflakeman. I’m not really sure why he’s called that but he’s funny and friendly and has a lot of videos about his esl career so I watched a few of those on my day off.

As for the Japanese language and how that’s going, for a while I felt like I was only improving in tiny amounts. But yesterday I finally got back into my kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese) study and I feel a bit better about my progress. I’ve started studying from a book called Genki 2, very popular among Japanese language learners. It’s mostly been revision for me so far, which is good. It’s helped solidify certain things which my other book left a bit flaky.

… Man this post is dry. Sorry friends. Don’t worry though! One day my posts will be swamped in beautiful drawings and exciting tales and news, or so I hope…

I also managed to find the international centre yesterday, hooray! It is at least a half hour walk from my apartment, not so fun. But it’s in a really fancy, giant building which also has several cafes, an environmental centre, uni library, etc. maybe I’ll take some pictures next time I go there! I signed up to look for a Japanese language supporter to help me study but maybe I will do better to get private lessons once I get paid?

… Yep, I’m counting down the days to pay day and already planning which days I will go out shopping. I have a carefully curated list of items I want to buy including a giant cardigan, leggings, shower mat (actually my shower is broken at the moment but I want to buy the mat in the hopes that one day it’ll be fixed), shoes, more shampoo, lush soap, etc. I’ll probably end up buying a tiny amount of the stuff which I fantasised about since I feel guilty whenever I spend money. We’ll see. Maybe I can take photos of my haul?

Bleh. I should finish soon. Next post will have pictures probably. Hopefully! Lastly I will just say that Broadchurch TV series was great, and I’ve almost finished the anime Durarara, which is pretty good. I’ve also started on American Horror Story season 3. AHS is pretty problematic and very tacky at times. It is like a guilty pleasure. However I appreciate this third season as it’s mostly about women’s stories and interesting lady characters. I think I’ll finish AHS off and then consider resuming Twin Peaks.

As for books, I finished the third book in Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, and am on the final book of the series. I will be so sad when it ends. Luckily I brought my dad’s kindle with me, including 100+ books that I want to read. Tad Williams is also planning writing three more books within the same universe so I’m excited!

Anyway, I’ll go now. Thanks for reading this somewhat blah post, if you managed to get through it that is! I’ll just say this is mostly for my family and the few people who seem to enjoy reading about the mundanities of my life! Lots of love.

E

Settle

Dear friends,

I’ve been in Morioka for about a month now and since I managed to get hooked up to wifi at my apartment finally, I thought it would be a good time to write an update post. I can’t say this is going to be a very picture heavy post at all so I won’t be offended if you don’t stay to read this. But to those who want words and are happy trawling through my long ramblings, thank you for sticking with me! If you are looking for more pictures, less talking, I have posted some sketches I’ve done since arriving in Japan on my regular art tumblr. Also, if you turn your eyes to the left of the site there is my instagram feed. I haven’t posted many personal/Japan photos, just art.

So, this is three or so weeks on from my last post. I have been at work for four weeks and am mostly working independently now, which can be frightening, but I’m getting to grips with it a lot more now. I have a few difficult classes, and teach from age 2 to 90. My work is fairly varied and as I said before, the hours can be a bit weird as it’s a private language school.

I’ve been walking around the city a lot and finding my bearings over the last few weeks. I know where most of the useful places are now. For example, there’s a super shopping centre about an hour and a half’s walk from my house (or a 20 minute journey if I walk to the station and catch a bus). Inside there are lots of nice shops I’ve never heard of, plus Muji, Uniqlo, Baskin’ Robins ice cream and a Mexican themed shop with loads of lovely clothes and accessories. My friend and I also found some good cafes nearby plus a wonderful Italian restaurant.

mexican and/or central american inspired shop front. clothing store within a shopping mall

Mexican/Central American themed shop – sorry if I got the specifics wrong, I don’t know enough about the culture. But I would like to learn more and learn to speak Spanish ><

I still need to find out how to go to the doctors’ surgery if ill and how to get my teeth cleaned by the dentist as I didn’t have time to have a checkup etc. before flying off. I need to find the international centre too, because I’m in serious need of Japanese lessons. My Japanese is very patchy which is a pain, so I have borrowed a text book (Genki 2) from a colleague, but also want to get some lessons to speed up my learning.

I had a few problems with things not quite working in my apartment but I am slowly smoothing those out now. Hmm. I’m not sure what else to update on regarding everyday life…

Oh, lastly, there are several fabric shops around here which makes me feel very happy. The biggest one has a small section dedicated to needle felting, and I have wanted to give it a go for a very long time since my amazing friend inspired me. I managed to budget enough to be able to afford a small starter set this weekend, so I’ve been playing around. This is my first attempt. I found it pretty difficult and I get frustrated easily with craft – probably because I’m so messy but I really admire and want to make cute, clean work – however it was fun and I enjoyed watching the TV series Broad Church while making it. My next needle felt item will be a donut!

needle felt soft sculpture tiny loaf of bread. beige and cream

My attempted needle felted bread loaf.

Anyway, today is my day off (I get Sunday and Monday off) and I am finishing off this blog post and then have some letters to write. After that I just want to slack about now that I have internet, cook my dinner, etc. I started a drawing in my sketchbook which I’d like to finish. I’ll probably take a photo of it very soon for tumblr and instagram. It’s been difficult finding time/motivation to draw much, but I have managed to do a bit every day or two. I don’t have many materials here but I plan to get hold of some more pens and colours after I get paid.

I’m not sure what to say next, so until the next post, goodbye! Thanks so much for reading. If you have any questions about expat stuff or whatever please let me know in the comments.

E