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 🙂

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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.

Thought Bubble Convention

I am sorry to say this but my camera wasn’t charged enough so I did not get good pictures of the convention! I will however supplement my photos with stuff off the internet and apologies mixed in. Oh, and I can take photos of the things I bought!

leeds thought bubble convention

Photo from The Guardian.

Where to start… so last Friday (22nd) I headed on the train to Leeds, for the convention beginning 10am the next day. I prepared most of my ‘wares’ the week earlier so all I had to do was price the felt badges after checking with people about what price would be appropriate. As usual, I probably underpriced my work. I sold the Jake (from Adventure Time) badges for £4 and the other badges were mostly the same or lower… apart from the wolf badge which I sold quite quickly for £6. Perhaps a sign to produce more! I’d decided not to price them very expensive as I am really new to crafting. When I’ve made more maybe I can price them up a bit more for putting on the etsy shop, once that’s set up. Not much higher though…

On the morning of the convention, I arrived at 9.30am with my friends Corinthia and Luke. We set up really quickly ’cause we accidentally arrived later than most others. I felt pretty embarrassed with my stock, as I felt like I hadn’t given myself enough time to create relevant items… and I was unhappy with the quality of the work – no change from usual then 🙂

badges

The giraffe badge was for me by my friend Vera, and the Espeon badge I bought from Amai Studio’s stall in Thought Bubble.

 

The first day was good, it mostly involved sitting at our shared table, talking to the occasional customer who walked by and browsed. Actually getting to walk around the convention was really exciting because there were so many stalls. There were three halls to explore, and lots of friendly artists. I bought a few presents for Christmas, comics, badges and stickers to send to people by post… I also bought a lot of stickers for myself.

cute sticker

I don’t normally buy lots of cute stuff, but I really like the way the hair was drawn 🙂

cute sticker

The colours are really nice too. I don’t want to stick these on anything though, I want to keep them…

I met a nice couple of people running a stall in another area, they had feminist slogans and quotes from TV shows on their items. I hope I can see them again! Not sure whether I appeared to be a crazy enthusiastic desperate person looking for companionship or just a nice artist person. Hopefully the latter.

lsp card

Here is one of their cards for sale… you can find more on their facebook page.

 

The second day was pretty much the same, with more meeting of nice people. Gemma Correll was selling at a table, but I was too shy to go up and tell her how great she is, maybe next time! I also was fortunate to get to meet Fiona of Fiona Creates, a cool illustrator who also put work in to Ladyquest zine. It was great to hear about her experiences setting herself up as a freelancer and I hope that with the motivation she gave me, I can work a little harder and progress too.

By the end of Sunday I had made about the same as my train fare in cash. Taking back £60+ from a shared table at a comic convention without actually having any comics to sell seems fairly good to me. I’m sure more established and better prepared people would make a lot more money, but I will try to prepare more next time and hopefully at the next opportunity my work will fit in better.

Hope you all don’t mind that this was quite a wordy post, I just thought I should document the weekend for myself and anyone who happens to be interested (I’m sure that reading this journal isn’t for everyone though, and that’s fine too).

November begins

commission

Dear all,

Yesterday I got back from a short stay in another town, and today I have been getting back into creating artwork… I haven’t drawn much as of late, but since returning and looking through tumblr, pinterest and various blogs, I remembered that oh yes, I want to be an artist…

So I thought I’d make a blog post today with a few images of what I have been working on. Above is the family portrait commission which I mentioned in my previous posts… I think I’ve almost finished it, I’m just waiting for the person to reply to my message and let me know whether they are happy with it.

comic

And here is  little comic book page that I started, it’s for the computer game that my friends and I made for the competition. We have agreed to work on completing the original game, and decided that it would be cool to have each diary page drawn out as a sort of comic. This is page one of the diary… there are perhaps about six or seven pages, so I’ll be working on those next. I think I’ll shade this picture a little bit more too, and then it’ll be coloured in photoshop.

It’s good to be back and actually working on active projects once again; also I’m glad to have the commission as I need to raise money for transport for the Leeds Thought Bubble convention on 23rd – 24th November (it’s on for longer but my friend and I are only doing two days). I’ll have to make some new work as well for the convention… time is running out and I’m scared that I’ll end up bringing our team down with sub par goods… thankfully from the previous exhibition I have some stickers and zines which would probably fit in at the con. Just need to get even more stuff done! Today I ordered some felt squares from etsy and some safety pins too, so that I can create some felt brooches.

While I’ve been working I have been watching a couple of different anime series, including K-On, which was recommended to me by a friend, and another new one called Kyoukai no Kanata. I also downloaded the first season of BBC’s Merlin – an extremely cheesy series about the wizard Merlin and his daily struggles in trying to keep Prince Arthur safe from harm – think bad jokes, funny CGI and so on.

I think that’s everything for this update. Tonight I’ll be shading the afore mentioned comic book page, fretting about the convention and whether my brooches will look awful or not, and watching more Merlin. I will finish up this blog post with an updated to do list; I hope you don’t mind.

Oh – also – I applied for a job as a graphic designer and unsurprisingly I did not get it. I think I would do okay although my portfolio is in dire need of a renovation and I need to learn more about Adobe Illustrator. It was kind of the guy to consider me though!

To Do List

  • Finish up family portrait commission
  • Comic strips for the game
  • Contact friend about poetry/art book collaboration
  • Illustration for friend’s tabletop RPG campaign
  • Thought Bubble convention preparation
  • Arrange driving lessons – or – study theory first

Anyway, thanks again for reading. Hope you are all doing well. Feel free to share your recent art or link to your blogs or whatever =)