Halloween Jack ‘o lantern drawings

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My Halloween lesson plan at my JHS had my students creating their own original Jack ‘o Lantern characters. A couple of my 3年生 (Year 9) girls were inspired by me in their character design 😄

Japanese Autumn Beers 2012

Being a country that is ever enthusiastic about the turning of the seasons, there are many Japanese cuisines that are strongly tied to each and beers are no exception.

With the coming of Aki 秋 (Autumn) three of the largest breweries Kirin, Asahi and Suntory released seasonal variants of their flagship beers.

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Kirin Aki Aji 秋味 (Autumn Flavour)

Compared to many other Japanese beers which tend to be weak, inoffensive and forgettable. Kirin Aki Aji 秋味 (Autumn Flavour) was a nice change, being a lager it tasted like something akin to an Asahi dry, the mouth-feel quite strong and dominating. Was quite a full bodied beer, with a deep golden colour and a good amount of head, leaving the mouth with a slightly bitter after-taste. At 6% alcohol the content is slightly noticeable and lets just say I can’t imagine the average Japanese businessman being able to throw back too many.

Compared to the other autumn seasonal beers, the Kirin offering was about 35% more expensive at 217¥ a can since it is real beer. Would I be drinking it again through the autumn season though? Well probably not as it’s a tad expensive and calorie ridden, also I have lived in Japan long enough to become accustomed to bland tasteless beers so this is a bit too strong for my palate.

3.5/5

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Asahi Akiyoi 秋宵 (Autumn Evening)

Asahi Akiyoi 秋宵 (Autumn Evening) is the autumn offering from the ever popular Asahi brewery, like the other Japanese Autumn brews it too comes in themed packaging with the seasonal slightly elevated alcohol content of 6%.
At only 141¥ a can as opposed to the somewhat pricey Kirin Autumn Brew, Asahi Akiyoi scored points in my books from the get-go! However the cheaper price is actually because this is a ‘third-category beer’ know in Japan as dai-san no biru 第三のビール第三のビール (or Daisan for short).

Basically alcoholic beverages in Japan are taxed on a sliding scale not according to alcoholic content but in fact the malt content!  ‘Second category’ Japanese beer known as happoshu 発泡酒, which is a term referring to a beer-like beverage with less than 67% malt content, these beverages fall into the lower tax category and are priced accordingly. The ‘third-category beer’ or ‘dai-san no biru’ has no malth malt at all and is instead made using substitute ingredients such as peas, corn and soy beans. Unfortunately more often than not happoshu and dai-san no biru beverages are less than tasty sporting an unpleasant metallic like taste.

Anyhow the beer itself was a light straw colour, smooth and refreshing with a very strong carbonation  that said nothing amazing. Its kind of worrying how a beer with a 6% alcohol content can be so easy drinking however so if you cross paths with this one go easy 😛

3/5

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Suntory Akiraku 秋楽 (Easy Autumn)

Last and possibly least is Suntory’s Akiraku 秋楽 (Easy Autumn), despite the alluring packaging, dark maple colouring and short lived creamy head, shortly after cracking it open it quickly went flat leaving it unappealing and tasteless.

Similar to the Asahi Akiyoi it was priced at ¥141, as this is in fact once again not real beer but another Daisan (third-category beer) being made from roasted malt. Along with the other Autumn beers it sports an alcohol content of 6%, although not entirely undrinkable its hardly worth the yennies, would be best to give this one a miss.

2/5

二十四節季 Nijushi Sekki

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This morning I was rudely awoken in the wee hours by whining winds. Grumpily I dragged myself out of bed and looked over to my calendar, glancing the date to be October 23.
A little note Soukou 霜降 sat in the box meaning ‘descent of frost’ thinking of the storm raging outside my window I chuckled to myself and though ‘yeah sounds about right’.

Unlike much of Asia the Gregorian calendar has been in use in Japan since 1873 when it superseded the Chinese lunisolar calendar which had been in place for almost 1200 years.

The Chinese calendar divided one solar year into twenty-four points signifying significant celestial events such as solstices, equinoxes and the beginning of the seasons or natural phenomenon. In Japanese these are referred to as Nijushi Sekki 二十四節季 and are still retain some importance in modern society.

The Nijushi Sekki or seasonal days are as follows:

Risshun (立春): February 4—Beginning of spring

Usui (雨水): February 18—Rain water

Keichitsu (啓蟄): March 5—Awakening of Insects (from hibernation)

Shunbun (春分): March 20—Vernal equinox, middle of spring

Seimei (清明): April 4—Clear and bright (skies)

Kokuu (穀雨): April 20—Grain rain

Rikka (立夏): May 5—Beginning of summer

Shōman (小満): May 21—Grain Fills

Bōshu (芒種): June 5—Grain in Ear

Geshi (夏至): June 21—Summer Solstice, middle of summer

Shōsho (小暑): July 7—Little Heat

Taisho (大暑): July 23—Great Heat

Risshū (立秋): August 7—Beginning of Autumn

Shosho (処暑): August 23—End of Heat

Hakuro (白露): September 7—Descent of White Dew

Shūbun (秋分): September 23—Autumnal Equinox, middle of Autumn

Kanro (寒露): October 8—Cold Dew

Sōkō (霜降): October 23—Descent of Frost

Rittō (立冬): November 7—Beginning of winter

Shōsetsu (小雪): November 22—Little Snow

Taisetsu (大雪): December 7—Great Snow

Tōji (冬至): December 22—Winter Solstice, middle of Winter

Shōkan (小寒): January 5— Little Cold

Daikan (大寒): January 20—Great Cold

Many zassetsu days occur in multiple seasons:

Setsubun (節分) prefers to the day before each season, or the eves of Risshun 立春 (Spring), Rikka 立夏(Summer), Risshuu 立秋 (Autumn), and Rittou 立冬 (Winter). However it is most commonly attributed the day before the first day of spring (risshun). Setsubun falls on the 3rd or the 4th of February on the calendar today.

Doyō (土用) refers to the 18 days before each season, especially the one before fall which is known as the hottest period of a year.

Higan (彼岸) is the seven middle days of spring and autumn, with Shunbun at the middle of the seven days for spring, Shūbun for fall.

Shanichi (社日) is the Tsuchinoe (戊?) day closest to Shunbun (middle of spring) or Shūbun (middle of fall), which can be as much as −5 to +4 days away from Shunbun/Shūbun.

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Nunobiki Herb Garden 布引ハーブ園 & Nunobiki Falls 布引の滝

20121016-午後031214.jpgA couple weeks ago towards the end of summer my good friend Matcha-san (a fellow Melbournian) and I spent a day exploring Nunobiki Herb Garden 布引ハーブ園 and the Nunobiki no Taki 布引の滝 (Nunobiki Falls) next door for a chill and relaxing Friday adventure. Situated a couple minutes walk from Shin-Kobe station (the stop the Shinkansen 新幹線 (Bullet Train) passes through) it’s insane that such beauty and wilderness exists literally on our doorstep here in Kobe.

The Nunobiki herb garden sits on the side of Mt Rokko, consisting of a large café and rest house at its peak, further down a sizable greenhouse and a long path lined with every herb imaginable. The easiest way to reach the peak by taking the Shin-Kōbe Ropeway 新神戸ロープウェー (colloquial known as the Kōbe Yume-Fūsen 神戸夢風船 (Kobe Dream Balloon)) a 1.5km cable car for a brisk 10 minute trip to the top of the mountain then walk the casual slopes down. In my opinion view of Kobe granted from the peak of the Herb Garden is far superior to that of Port Tower and I highly recommend a day up there. At 700¥ all the way up it was certainly not expensive also!

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The cable car entrance point.

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The view of Kobe on the way up was fair amazing.

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Matcha and I on the way up.

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Sample of steel cable that supports the cars.

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A model of the Herb Garden

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Sights along the walk back down.

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Here are a couple photos of the views from Nunobiki Herb Garden,

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After a relaxing morning casually strolling around the gardens we decided to head off to see the Nunobiki Waterfalls which is considered to be one of Japan’s one of the greatest divine falls alongside Kegon Falls and Nachi Falls.

Much to my amusement I forced Lady Matcha to go bushwacking (its an australian term) to the nearby waterfalls next door, a task she was not at all dressed to embark on!

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In the end it was totally all worth it as quite clearly Nunobiki Waterfalls are a little bit amazing ❤

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A couple funny little signs I spotted along the way.

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To add to the awesomeness of this place there is also a little traditional Japanese restaurant on the top of the mountain overlooking said waterfalls.
We ended up talking to the little old obaa- chan that runs the place for a good half hour! She’s meccha sweet!

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Here are some photos of the menu for the place which specializes in ramen, the item labled おすすめ (recommendation) is their specialty Nunobiki Ramen 布引ラメン (Thread-pulling Ramen) which I tried.

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After devouring this bowl whist looking out at an amazing view it too has become my おすすめ and at 500円 why not ^_^

Australian Cultural Festival Board

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With today being the eve of the Bunkasai 文化祭 (Cultural Festival) at my base JHS, I have been hard at work all week creating an Australian cultural booth, this is my sign to point visitors in the right direction tomorrow 😀

Did I really need to colour in the entire thing blue……

Well lets just say there are 2 ways to do things, the right way and the Tako way!

500¥ Coin Collection + Luffy

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I guess Luffy finally found One Piece!!!

Low and behold my 500¥ coin collection, every day since I arrived in Japan I have tried I save one, today is my 142nd day and I have accumulated as many ^_^

That’s about 7万 in yen or almost 1000$, not to shabby if i say so myself!

Rainy Day Licorice Pug Tea

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During the parentals visit to Japan last week Mother gifted me a huge pouch of my favorite licorice tea and bought me this amazing pug tea set on the streets of Gion!

After learning the true meaning of the phrase びしょびしょ (soaked through) during my bike ride on the way home from school, this amazing tea was the perfect remedy for my chattering teeth.