My Very First Earthquake 私の最初の地震

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So this morning I was awoken at around 5:30am by a queer shaking and an emergency beeping sound coming from my phone. Disorientated from sleep the first thoughts that came to my mind to comprehend what was happening was either I was dreaming, seizuring or this is an earthquake!

Later this morning I discovered that it was in fact quite large at 6.0 magnitude striking at 5:33am near Awaji island in the Seto Inland Sea southwest Kobe, from where I live the quake was felt at around 3.5 magnitude.

The most amusing part of the ordeal was within 2 minutes of waking up, my phone began to echo said earthquake in an hour long constant stream of updates on facebook and texts threads, if there is anything that can wake up the entire Kobe JET community and get them on facebook at 5:30am on a Saturday morning, its a couple seconds of relatively gentle vibrating.

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On a more serious note however, Kobe is pretty much renowned for two things when mentioned to those who don’t live in Japan, Kobe beef and Great Hanshin earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1995, and levelled the city of Kobe where I live. Echoing this mornings tremors, its focus was was located 16 km beneath its epicentre on the northern end of Awaji Island, 20 km away from Kobe. All Kobe JETs are required to visit The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Museum as part of our orientation shortly after beginning our contracts so we all have an understanding of the seriousness of earthquakes in Japan and the steps taken to reduce their devastation  the following are a couple photos of just how much damage was done to Kobe almost 20 years ago.

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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.

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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!

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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’!

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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.

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

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Neo-Tokyo with a kawaii android.

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Native America with an Indian.

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And finally Ancient Rome with a spartan warrior.

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

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Sexy and we know it (^∇^)

Mintia ミンティア Reviews Part 2

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So there shall be a part 2 (and probably a part 3) to my Mintia ミンティア reviews, mostly as I’m completely addicted and there just seems to be a plethora of obscure flavours available if you keep an eye out for them!

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Mintia – Relax Shower

Honestly I’m really unsure as to what this flavour is supposed to be, they are certainly one of the mint based varieties of Mintia however the flavour is weak up forgettable.
Lets just say if Relax Shower was a going to a Mintia Hollywood party it would be the one to arrive after all the coke had been finished and their was already a dead stripper floating in the pool. Oddly enough it’s vaguely spicy at times but not in a good way.
To its credit the name Relax Shower did amuse the Daniel. Still Fail.
2/5

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Mintia – Miracle Cherry
ミラクルチェリ

Now these I had high hopes for based on the fact it has miracle in the title and the shininess of the packaging, donning holographic stickers, sparkles and the promise of rekindling the joyful memories of ones childhood.
Unfortunately the mints themselves tasted like something more akin to the cherry candies that kids tend not to like as they taste like something akin to cough syrup.
Also as a side note some of them have little Sakura shapes imprinted into them but for some reason oddly not all….
That said their not horrible, just kind of a meh and deflated weak artificial cherry taste. Whats worse their kinda gritty to the point it feels like your eating flour at times, needless to say they certainly don’t live up to their implied promises of unicorns and rainbows, leaving my childhood vigor unkindled.
3/5

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Mintia – Honey Ginger

I love EVERYTHING about the Honey Ginger Mintia! I truly believe these could possibly be my favourite, which makes me a little sad seeing as they are quite hard to come by!!
Anyhow to begin with the packing itself is a pleasant opaque mustard colour matching the feel of the flavour.
This is one Mintia that dominates in an area where most others fell short, it has the perfect balance of a subtle sweet honey flavour whilst occasionally a secondary ginger note finds its way through. Hardly seeming like a mint at all the experience is more akin to eating candy, and so I find myself vacuuming these delicious honey treats up!!!
If you come across these bad boys BUY BUY BUY!!!!
(Daniel hopes a Mintia marketing manager will come across this post and send him a crate of these)
4.75/5

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Mintia – Dry Hard

Now these fiery little balls of pain have got to be if not the strongest mints I’v ever tried then at least strongest Mintia flavour.
They also have this written on the front of the pack
カフェイン・カフセル配合
which translates to caffeine formulation, so the kick they give you is not just the insane amount if mint but also a Caffeine one also, just how many mg each brings to the table I can not tell you as it is not written on either the pack or the website. I often put a couple different flavored Mintia in my desk at work and chuck one of these in as a minty Russian roulette of sorts……. Yeah I get bored.
3.5/5

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Mintia – Cassis Orange
カシスオレンジ

Cassis Orange is one of the more pleasing Minta flavours, very sweet and addictive not entirely unlike the Aqua Sparkle ones and so often find myself devouring one after another!
Underneath the name on the front it reads オレンジ果汁+オレンジアロアビース配合
apparently this means blended orange juice and orange aroma beads were used in the ingredients.

The pills themselves have a nice pink colour fitting to the flavour, however although I enjoy them thoroughly and will certainly buy them again they are still nothing to write home about.
Just as a side note Cassis is the French word for black-current which the Japanese adopted, I only mention this as it was months before I worked what the hell cassis berry were myself XD
4/5

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Mintia – Lemon Ginger
レモンジンジャー

Unfortunately unlike its other Ginger cousin Honey Ginger these do not pack anywhere near the same punch.
I found the ginger to be all but a frail aftertaste and the body to be nothing more than a weak lemony taste.
Although not entirely unpleasant these wouldn’t even make it into my Top 10 Mintia flavours.
2.5/5

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 10 – Kaki Mochi 柿餅

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Welcome to Chapter 10 of the Mochi Diaries, Kaki Mochi 柿餅!

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During a recent trip to Nara I picked up one of these boxes, having quite the affinity for anything Kaki 柿 (Japanese Persimmon) related I was quite excited to have a nom these guys.

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Now firstly upon opening them I was completely taken aback at the intricate detail that went into producing every single mochi in the box!

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Made to resemble the fruit of which they are flavored the mochi consist of four separate ingredients.

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I translated the important bit of the diagram above that came in the box explaining what they are made of.

Essentially they are mostly kaki flavored mochi filled with a core of kaki an 柿あん (persimmon flavored red bean paste).
The leaves are made of dango 団子 held in place by a thin piece of konbu 昆布 (dried sea kelp), honestly the konbu is some what annoying since you must remove it before eating each mochi being inedible.

So you ask, ‘but Daniel what is the difference between mochi and dango?’
Well they are pretty much the same thing, the only difference being in the technique used to make them.

When making mochi, you begin by grinding glutinous rice to a paste which is then steamed and l finally pounded into a sticky dough.
Dango on the other hand is made from rice flour that has been mixed with hot water to make a dough, before being boiled in salted water.

Anyhow beyond the novelty of the mochi, the taste was just ok, that said it was more than made up for by the awesomeness of the presentation of the sweets!
3.75/5

Want to read more Mochi Diaries Posts?

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 9 – Mochitsuki Special Edition 餅搗き増刊

<———– Last

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 11 – Kagami Mochi 鏡餅

Next ———>

Post-Apocalyptic Party in the Yamas

So with all the crazy hype about the end of the world prophesied t to be arriving on December 21st, last weekend we had a Post-Apocalypse Party up in Hanayama 花山 (the mountains north of Kobe’s CBD Sannomiya) where many of Kobe’s ALTs live.

As the name implies guests were required to dress up as something with a Post-Apocalyptic theme to it, think zombies or raiders.

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Forget milk n cookies, ima nom your children’s liver and lower intestine whist they sleep

I decided to go with the least classy costume I could possibly come up with……. Zombie Santa! Lets just say that the pretense of the end of the world made for a very very sloppy drunken night……. the occurrences of which will be lost to the world until next Friday when it all ends…….. Apparently

Here are a couple photos of some of the amazing apocalyptic costumes that were sported by the attendees on the night!

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Christmas Pug Board

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I have a certain affinity for pugs, perhaps because I’m missing my one Fuki-san that I left back in Australia. I frequently sneak pugs into my lesson plans and all my students know the Fuji’s name.
This is the Christmas version of my English board featuring ‘Fuji-clause’ seems to be a hit with my kids!! ^_^

Handsome Daniel Drawing

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A good friend of mine and a Hyogo JET by the name of Pete surprised me the other day with this awesome sketch he did of me. I was fair impressed!