Monday, February 20, 2006


I spent my entire morning doing taxes, but I got them done. Phew. I'm glad it's over with. We needed to be home anyway, because we had a malfunctioning heater and I was afraid the house would burn down, taking all my kimono with it. Oh, I guess I was worried Chris and the cat would fry, too. Yeah.

Anyhoo, our main heater in the livingroom kept cutting out due to some malfunction and when I got up on Sunday morning, the ambient temprature downstairs was about 39 degrees. Not good. We managed to Macgyver the heater to get it working until today, when the landlady could come out and look at it. The fix consisted of soundly thumping the kerosene tank feed, which we had done already. We knew to do this, because our neighbor had problems with her tank, too, and the gas company repairman told her that sometimes the valves stick, so thump it. So we fixed it ourselves and the repairman said if it sticks again, to call and the heater will be replaced. You'd be suprised how many things a sound thumping will fix, everything from heaters to a husband who leaves his dirty boxers on the bedroom floor (heh heh heh).

People ask about the kerosene heat a lot. It doesn't smell bad like most people think--I think the heating kero is more refined. It makes the house really dry though and for some reason, causes a lot of dust to be generated. No, we don't have central heating. There are small heaters in the upstairs rooms and the downstairs has one big heater in the corner of the living room. The cat totally hogs the space in front of it, too. The kitchen and bathroom are unheated. Fine for the kitchen, because how often am I in there? However, an unheated bathroom royally sucks, so we have a 900watt halogen heater to heat it. The toilet seat is heated, too, which is nice--most of the time (except when you have a misadventure).

After the heater checked out OK, Chris and I ran some errands. On the way to my kimono lesson, we stopped by a local car dealership to purchase a vehicle for me. During the course of this, Chris managed to get the truck stuck in a snowbank. And I mean stuck. The amount of snow hid the steep slope of the back lot, so the RVR went in and didn't come out. The snowbank just scoffed at our 4 wheel drive, and all the usual tricks (cat litter for traction, blanket, traction grips) did NOTHING. After fighting the good fight for 45 minutes, we finally relented and got the dealer to tow us out. Unbelievable. Chris was pretty embarassed, but all that matters is that we got unstuck without having to wait for a spring thaw (which would be, oh, about JUNE).

So now I am the almost-owner of a cute black Pajero Junior. I got 730 dollars off the sticker price. I'm happy with that, but now the paperwork begins...urgh.

Because of the whole RVR excavation, I was sort late to my lesson today, but I did call and let Eiko-san know. The last time I was late (I thought I was supposed to come at 2pm and she thought noon) Eiko-san got worried about me. Hell, I worry about me. Anyway, my kimono lesson consisted of being shown two crazy-ass obi knots. I can't even describe the first one, but the second one is a big bow-like affair. I managed to tie that one okay after a few tries. Poor Masako-san got yanked all around, because you really do have to wrestle this one. My bow looked like this:
Tomorrow, Eiko-san is teaching a yukata-wearing class. I get to help. Hoo boy.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Hakama is a kind of kimono skirt, that are pleated and may or may not have a center divider.
While men may wear hakama on many formal occasions, nowadays women rarely wear these skirts over their kimonos except at their own college graduation ceremonies. Hakama are also worn by practicioners of Kendo (like me) during practices and bouts.

Today's kitsuke practice was kimono and hakama. I dressed Masako-san in the kimono and then the hakama. The hakama easy lesson, since I know how to deal with hakama thanks to Kendo.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Man, I am so cranky lately I can't stand it. I feel barfulous and like my brain is trying to ooze out of my ears, which feel like they're stuffed with dryer lint. I apologized to Nic and Paul because I've been a bitch-on-wheels at work, although Nic claims he couldn't tell the difference. In addition to feeling like I'm gonna do the technicolour yawn at anytime, I get headaches. I can't describe the headaches, they're awful. Not like migrane awful, it's totally different and very unpleasant. In case you are wondering, I am not gestating a sprog. Gestation is creepy.

But enough about that, it's boring and I sound like a whiny titty baby. Chris and his new ginch went snowboarding and took the truck, because he was planning on driving a bunch of people (this ended up not being the case, though it wasn't Chris' fault). I was sort of annoyed because I wanted to do some grocery shopping and then go for a kimono lesson, but I wasn't gonna walk. I think it's time for a truck for me. It's been two years and a lot of inconvience. To be fair, it is more irritating for Chris, because he ends up driving everywhere.

So I was home alone today, and slowly got the house cleaned and took care of some stuff that's been in a waitstate for some time.

My home network is all jacked up and I really don't feel like dealing with it, so I'm putting up with some weird shit, including some bottlenecking on my feed, but whatever, I can still download pR0n. Actually, I don't even need to do that, I just go to Kelly's site and look at the nekkid ladies, already downloaded.

Chris got back early from snowboarding and we ran errands and did the grocery shopping at the Japanese market and now the house is filled with much yummy things. A lot of Japanese food is really good, but Maple Buns are the devil. I'll write about those some other time.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Today was a day off for most folks on base, including us, although we had to take it without pay.
We didn't do a whole lot of anything, which isn't suprising. Actually, some of it is that lately I just feel like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.

We picked up a new jacket and snowpants for Chris, since his LL Bean one is on its last legs. It looks really nice and we got both items on sale. Chris was worried that they were a little expensive, but I wasn't. He will get a lot of use from them and look stylish whilst doing so.

Oh, before shopping for jackets, we did go to the gym and that helped a little. And later in the evening, I got my hair cut and highlighted, which takes FOREVER and always gives me a headache, even though it looks nice, I hate having it done.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Kitsu Katsu

Kitsu Katsu can be loosely translated as "I'll win". Of course, the Japanese would shorten it and get Kit Kat! A bit of serendipity for Nestle! And guess what? The candy bars are used as a kind of good luck charm, kids taking exams will eat one right before their tests. At any rate, Nestle is making a killing in Japan! Did you know they have flavoured Kit Kats here in Japanland? The flavored ones are seasonal and quantities are limited, which suits the Japanese temperament, but does not please the Bakagaijin at all, since she can no longer find the Green Tea ones.

In case you were curious, during my time here, I've tried various flavours:

Green Tea
Passion Fruit
Merlot wine <--suprisingly tasty and extremely popular with my co-irkers.

And now there are Sakura (Cherry Blossom) flavoured ones for springtime. I was a bit disappointed with these. Plus the color was sort of odd, it made me think of mannequins or other flesh-colored things, like prothestics. I just didn't find it visually appealing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine II

Look what I got in the mail on Valentine's Day!Vielen Dank für meine warmen Socken!
Susann sent me wonderful hand-knit socks! It was such a nice suprise! The socks are so warm and toasty. The heart-shaped things are called "thrums" and are made from puffs of unspun wool. On the inside of the sock, the thrums make a puffy and warm lining.
Sneaky Susann wrote about the socks in her blog, which I read!

Interestingly enough, Susann's choice of colours echoes my most recent kimono purchase.

This kimono was my souvenir from Sapporo (along with a weight gain of two pounds from beer and chocolates). Here's the kimono. You don't want to see where I gained the weight. Seriously.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Earth's the right place for love. I don't know where it's likely to go better.

Birches by Robert Frost

Valentine's Day in Japan is a "Hallmark Holiday" introduced by a chocolate company in 1958, as a way to sell chocolates to women. There are actually TWO Valentine Days in Japan, one on the 14 of February and another, known as "White Day" on March 14th.

In Japan, on Valentine's Day, women give chocolates to men. In a typical Japanese fashion, you can't leave anybody out, so even if you don't like your male coworkers, you have to give them (inexpensive) chocolates. These "obligatory" chocolates are known as "giri-choco". If you really like a guy, then you give him "honmei-choco". Since a lot of the women consider a gift of store-bought chocolates too impersonal, the honmei-choco are often handmade by the woman herself.

A month later comes "White Day" introduced by yet another candy company (a maker of marshmallows) and taking complete advantage of the Japanese sense of obligation. White Day is when the guys are supposed to give the girls candy, usually white (like marshmallows or sugar almonds) or at least packaged in a white box. This is a much newer holiday and isn't quite as popular.

More than half the chocolate sold during a year is sold around Valentine's day, making it important to the candy companies. Prices do seem go up around Valentine's and White day. However, some Japanese manage to save a bit of cash by brining in a box for the whole office to share, rather than buying individual boxes for coworkers.

Japanese chocolates tend to be darker and less sweet than American chocolates and even the "cheaper" brands tend to be good quality (I haven't met a Japanese Chocolate that I didn't like--unfortunately for my figure). The packaging of course is always pretty, regardless of the price point.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I know I haven't posted an update. I'm behind! I have housework and work work and taxes to do and ARRRGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 05, 2006


We are off to the Sapporo Snow Festival for four days.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Chris and I celebrate Setsubun, which marks the lunar new year, mostly because it's fun to throw mame(beans) around. A gentleman at work, who is fluent in Japanese language and culture, described to me how to celebrate Setsubun in a modern style:

"You throw the beans around the house, then you get your soji (vaccuum cleaner) and vaccuum them up."

To which I add, you continue to find the mame hiding behind the sofa, the sideboard, the TV until July.

Traditonally, you're supposed to eat one bean for each year of your age. Last year I was 33, which is considered an unlucky age, so I made sure to eat my beans. I'm not sure it helped, but one can't be too careful.

At the end of January, displays of the beans pop up all over, at mall stands, department stores and conbeenies. We got our beans at the conbeenie. I bought it because it had Otafuku (also known as Okame)on the box. I think the cashier was suprised, because when I showed Chris the box, I said "Mitte! Kochira ga Otafuku, desu neh?" (Look! It's Otafuku!)

The Shinto goddess of mirth and sensuality, ever-smiling Otafuku is believed to have restored light to the world-by doing a humorous dance. It was comedienne who saved the world! Otafuku is also known as Okame and Uzume, in more recent times she has become an entertainer who performs during the lunar New Year celebration.

In Japanese theater she represents an abundantly happy woman who brings good fortune to any man she marries. Because she represents luck, laughter and happiness (fuku in Japanese) Otafuku is a much-beloved deity here in Japan. She's represented as a plump, cheerful woman who's not quite put together (her hair is mussed or the combs are falling out or her kimono isn't quite so), but she's always depicted as smiling (possibly laughing) and is so charming you can't help but smile back. It's as though you know you can always get a hug or a kind word or tea from her. You may have known certain women in your life who were like that-a great-aunt who had seemingly bottomless cookie jar and would let you help yourself, the godmother who was plump and gave the best hugs, the crazy college friend who could always make you laugh, even at the worst times--people who offered kindness and comfort and made you feel happy and lucky and loved.

The optimism of the deity is indicated in a temple explanation leaflet. "Otafuku assures that failure always becomes success, that misfortune becomes good fortune, that one's heart's desire will be accomplished. That is why she is called Otafuku -- "Much Felicity."

According the Japanese, spring officially starts the day after Setsubun. Ha. (see the 2/2 post)

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Some of us were fooled into thinking Spring might come early--sunny, mild, burds zinging in da twees, stuff like that.


We got 6 inches of snow overnight. And it got reaaaaaaaaaaally cold. Again.

Spring? BAH!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


is 12.
Logged anothe long day. Going to bed.

eta: I was so tired, I forgot the "r" in another.