Surprise Birthday Party!

So Friday night I was told by my most delicious of friends lady Barbie, that I was to come round for dinner, as we were going to plan a seminar for an upcoming skills development conference together.

Quite hungover from the birthday festivities of the night before and weary from teaching 5 classes Friday at my JHS, I was looking forward to sinking under the kotatsu and eating a big pot of nabe. Whilst not the most exciting of Friday night plans it was what I was craving.


Now in retrospect there were many holes in the the fabricated ‘story’ which was used to lead me to her apartment, however so tired and trusting I didn’t think twice that things just didn’t quite add up until it was all over.


Queerly the front door of the residence which i usually burst through Kramer style was locked and there was apparently a ‘black out’. Taking a couple steps through the door I almost had a heart attack at the sight of 30 of my friends crammed into the tiny apartment yelling ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY CUNT!’

Here is an amazing onegiri takoyaki birthday cake おにぎりたこ焼きバースデーケーキ that was made for me by the ever amazing Ms Sandy!!
As it was Australia Day the morning after it was deemed that I had to drink the most foul of Australian beer, the ever gross VB.


The following are photos of some of the amazing friends I have who attended and the evenings shenanigans.

Photographic evidence past 11pm has been lost due which oddly coincided with the beginning of kings cup…..
Also the evenings photos were taken our new up and comer Richard, a late arrival from Canada that we have been ‘orientating’ these past 2 weeks!







Anyhow I am so grateful that I have found myself in the midst of such an amazing community here in Japan, Kobe I love you, I love you, I love you!


小学校サッカーロボ (Elementary School Soccer Robots)


Just spent the last 90 minutes building and playing with サッカーロボ (soccer robots) in rika 理解 (science class) with a couple dozen 10 year olds at my Tuesday elementary school, pretty much had the best time ever!


It’s Snowing In Kobe! 神戸で雪が降ります

Kyou wa Kobe ni yuki ga furimasu!!! 今日は神戸に雪が降ります(Today it’s Snowing in Kobe!

The above is a photo from the top of my JHS school this morning.
Last night Kobe was hit with a little snow, this is something that only happens a couple days each winter this far south in Japan so it’s quite the novelty.

Furthermore being from a country where the temperature rarely dips below 10 degrees I had never seen snow before. Having now experienced in the mildest of forms I thank god for that fact!


The park I ride though on my way to work everyday was completely white this morning, meccha pretty but the paths were iced over and slippery.


On a lighter note, when I arrived at school this morning a couple of the kids were making yukidaruma 雪達磨 (snowmen) in front if the school gate so I decided to join them. Obviously mine is the ranga one with the ninjin 人参 (carrot) top XD.


Five and Twenty – A Man Grown


Yesterday my years amounted to the well rounded number of five and twenty, which called for some none to hectic celebrations after school.

I returned home after a great day and a belly full of beer n sushi, pondering the how my position has changed since I blew out the candles this time last year. I remember thinking to myself at that moment ‘my 24th year will be the best of my life’ in retrospect I was right on the money.

Its crazy how much we can grow within a span of only 12 months. Looking at the reflection of the man I once was I now see what I was running from, a miserable relationship, an unfulfilling job. What I found in my escape from reality was a new home amongst people who care about me in Kobe. Furthermore my eyes have been opened to the importance of the love and support from a family I left half a world away.

To those who made my five and twentieth name day as delicious as a humble Tako could wish for, you have my gratitude and of corse in addition I thank thee all for your kind birthday wishes ♥



On a lighter note thank you lady Barbie for ‘Sparkles the Dolphin’ which I proceeded to sexually assault/ride free willy style the entire evening.

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 11 – Kagami Mochi 鏡餅


Kagami mochi 鏡餅 (Mirror Mochi) is traditional Japanese new years decoration for good luck. It is displayed in the family’s kamidana 神棚 (household shrine) throughout New Years period, up until the 11th of Janurary at which time it is eaten.


Kagami mochi is made from two hard oval shaped mochi of slightly different sizes. The larger one is placed at the base with the smaller one stacked on top, finaly a daidai 橙 (japanese bitter orange) is placed at the peak.

After the new years period has passed, on Janurary 11th a ceremony called Kagami Biraki 鏡開き (literally. Opening the Mirror) is performed in which the Kagami mochi is removed from the kamidana and broken into small pieces to be eaten.


Because the mochi has been sitting exposed to the air for several weeks, it becomes cracked and brittle because if this it is possible to break the mochi with a hammer, it is considered bad luck to use a knife for this task as it implies the ‘cutting of ties’.


I used a mallet to smash mine, anyone who has done this before knows this is no simple task, even with a little one like mine! However as opposed to most people making their own kagami mochi as was done in the past, today it is often sold in the shape of the stacked discs pre-packaged in supermarket, much like the one I myself obtained.


Now there’s two typical paths your mochi can take from here, traditionally kagami mochi will either end up in zouni 雑煮 (a savory New Years soup) featured above or zenzai 善哉 (sweet red bean soup).


I chose to make zenzai as I’m much too lazy to make zouni.
For an almost instant and incredibly simple zenzai soup start with a 210g can of yude azuki ゆであずき (prepared sweetened red beans).


Heat the contents of one can on a liw heat, along with 3/4 of a cup of water.
(Optional) I like mine a bit sweeter, if your similarly inclined, feel free to put a couple spoons of brown sugar in.


Once it’s boiled down to a thick soupy consistency, serve it up in an athletically pleasing bowl.


From here throw in your broken pieces of mochi into the piping hot zenzen soup, ensure it is as hot as possible as we want the mochi to dissolve until a sticky globby texture is achieved.
If you want to speed this up microwave the mochi (very briefly) just to heat them up to the point where they begin to become soft. This will speed up the whole process as you won’t need to leave it in the soup so long nor it be so hot.


This is what your finished product should end up looking like, this is the same recipe I used with the mochi I receive last December from my mochitsuki 餅搗 incase it looks familiar.

Want to read more Mochi Diaries Posts?

 The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 10 – Kaki Mochi 柿餅

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Mochi Diaries: Chapter 12 – Ichigo Daifuku苺大福

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Harder Better Faster Stronger


Harder Better Faster Stronger!

Came across this on one of my students worksheets when correcting last fridays lesson on comparatives vs superlatives, I swear this kid is a daft punk fan and trolling me!!

Gaijin Noses 外人の鼻


Look I realize that us gaijin 外人 (foreigners) tend to be generally better endowed in the nose department than our Japanese counterparts, but its no secret that the Japanese like to draw attention to this fact like there’s to tomorrow.
This was a poster I was up at one of my shougakkou 小学校 (primary school) today for a marathon, notice that a gaijin is featured. Alongside having the blond hair we apparently all sport, his nose is illustrated as no less than 16 times the size of the Japanese runners around him!

Just think for a moment about racist Japanese stereotypes, it would be something along the likes of small eyes, big teeth, flat faces right. Yet could you imagine over pronouncing those physical characteristics, in an advertisement featuring a Japanese person in any western country the exact way it has been done here for our gaijin friend…….. exactly…… because that would be racist! Oh Japan.

Anyhow I don’t have a particularity enormous shnozz but that ain’t stop my students from commenting on it pretty much every time I see them, the most common being the grabbing of the nasal bride between the eyes ours tend to be quite pronounced while I have seen many Japanese that can probably stare themselves in the eyes if they went cross-eyed.

This is a novelty set of gaijin nose and eyes that I have seen at ドン・キホーテ (a popular, variety store) on occasions. Obviously intended for dress up parties, its existence really highlights the cultural tolerance gap here in Japan for me, like think about it could you imagine rocking up to a costume party with your eyes taped back and a pair of fake buck teeth in, when people asked you what you were you’d be like ‘uh obviously I’m Japanese’. Case and point!

Look on a final note, this is an picture introducing the characters that feature in the textbook ‘New Crown’ that we use in teaching English at Chuugakkou 中学校 (Junior high school). Notice the ‘gaijin’ characters, all 3 obviously western ones have blue eyes and blond or red hair, so there hammering in there stereotypes to children from a very young age as to what foreigners apparently look like. Think to yourself, how many blond people do you know, unless your from Scandinavia or Sweden I’m guessing not many. In America it’s around 5% of the white population that sports naturally blond hair. Silly Japan, you have do much to learn XD


Gaidai Summer School

So I recently came across a large amount of photos from events I have yet to blog about that happened during the past 6 months or so, life as a Kobe JET during the summer months is so hectic I could hardly keep up with documenting all the amazing stuff I was getting up to!

Anyhow 6 months down the road I shall take you back in time to present to you Gaidai Summer School!
Basically during natsuyasumi 夏休 (summer vacation), us ALTs are generally left with pretty much nothing to do for 5 weeks. Yet due to our contracts, unlike western teachers we don’t get the holidays off and must still goto work everyday and twiddle our thumbs.

Luckily in Kobe our BOE takes good care of us and keeps us busy with a couple conferences, bonus leave and what is know as Gaidai Summer School.

Basically the 120 or so Kobe JETs get together for 3 days and run a fun English program for students whose parents want to ruin their childhood, insisting they have English crammed down their throats whilst they should be being kids!

The event is held in Gakuentoshi at Gaidai Daigaku a university specializing in English. This is crazy convenient for a good half of us as the university is only a couple minutes walk from our residences.


Anyhow under the guidance of the time lord The Doctor ‘Richard’ (pictured above) a couple of my friends and I created a Dr. Who themed time travel room!


Basically it was a take on a country themed game room, but instead of countries students would travel through ‘time’ with to different periods to play English themed games.
Each group was escorted by a ‘Time Travel Assistant’ the four of us are pictured above. I was the shinny red haired ‘delta’!

The entrance to ‘The TARDIS’

We basically achieved the dodgy illusion of time travel by splitting the room into four corners using boards and streamers. Students traveled around clockwise visiting each of the 4 time periods and playing the respective games in each with the ALT inside.

The four time periods included ‘Ancient Egypt’ with Cleopatra.

Neo-Tokyo with a kawaii android.

Native America with an Indian.

And finally Ancient Rome with a spartan warrior.

Finally here’s the lot of us that made the magic happen.

Sexy and we know it (^∇^)

Taiikusai 体育祭 (Sports Festival) 2012

A couple weeks ago my base Junior high school and 2 Elementary schools had their annual sports festivals. At shougakko 小学校 (elementary school) it is referred to as an Undoukai 運動会 and at chuugakko 中学校 (Junior high school) it’s a Taiikusai 体育祭.

I was lucky enough to attend both….. well in truth at least at the JHS level I had no say in the matter as it is part of my job.

Unlike their western equivalents the sports festivals in Japan are taken nothing short of absolutely seriously.
The event is typically run on a Saturday, with the day off being passed over to the following Monday.
Leading up to the even students have many classes dedicated to training, creating banners and rehearsing intricate marches for the day.
In fact classes are typically set aside the day before the Taiikusai to run a full rehearsal of the schedule.

Like most things in Japan, everyone is equal and participation is mandatory.
Lets just say they really drive home the team spirit at these things.
In JHS students are divided up into teams based upon their grade level and class, each set upon their most artistic classmates the task of creating an elaborate banner.
The following are a couple of my favourites (^∇^)





In ES the entire student body is broken into 2 large teams each student either being assigned Shirogumi 白組 (White Team) or Akagumi 紅組 (Red Team) accordingly who will face off against each other in comedic sports battles throughout the day.

Being the avid amateur photographer that I am an awful lot I photos were taken throughout the day, unfortunately I can’t freely post students faces to the interwebs without permissions so forgive my crude ‘editing’ to keep them anonymous.



A couple photos from the opening ceremony

Raising of the Japanese flag

Morning warm-ups

3-legged Race


Weight lifting endurance



Me running in the relay race against my students!

Giant skipping rope



Half time Ouendan 応援団 (Japanese Cheer Squad)


Half time suisougakudan 吹奏楽団 (Brass Band)

Track and Field Club 陸上部

In the afternoon the students paraded around the oval donned in their respective clubs uniforms.

Kendo Club 剣道部

Girls Tennis Club 女子テニス部

Table Tennis Club 卓球部 (poor kids the only member)

Basketball Club バスケットボール部

Boys Tennis Club 男子テニス部

Baseball Club 野球部

The whole lot marching


Club Uniform Baton Race (kendo club has a 100m head start to compensate the weight of running in full bogu, track and field starts 100m behind as they their club specializes in sprinting.)

Students vs PTA (Parent Teachers Association) Tug-of-war






Kumitaiso 組体操

Here are a couple photos from one of my shougakko’s 小学校 (elementary school) Undoukai 運動会, rather than being centered around individual competition, the focus is more on teamwork with the kids playing dozens of crazy games. Also instead of being segregated by year level and class the entire team is split into 2 huge teams Akagumi 紅組 (Red Team) and Shirogumi 白組 (White Team).


Giant Ball Race


In addition to the events the students also put on acrobatic type shows for the spectators that they practice for many weeks preceding the event.

The 5-6grade students annually do a kumitaiso 組体操 (coordinated group gymnastics) performance in which teams form pyramids or other shapes.





For the finale the kids form a 4 story pyramid, was freakin crazy and chotto dangerous…..