Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sakura begins!

Day 3! Attempted the Japanese breakfast.

So, I never thought fish, rice, tofu, egg and miso soup for breakfast would be a good idea, but it was all nice! We did have some problems though... what's the acceptable way to cut the fish using o-hasi (chopsticks)? How do you eat the egg and the tofu? What are the vegetables/fruit on the right? We didn't know. We still don't. But in a week or two I will laugh at myself.

We found Tiffani at breakfast, and went out to explore some more. We went to ACT city, a large orange building (for large read "the tallest building in sight") full of shops and restaurants. In there, we bumped into Dan! Everybody recognised each other from the Facebook group, which is pretty magical. I'm also becoming convinced that we gaijin send out some kind of telepathic signal or scent, which is masked in our usual societies - because we were later approached by another Interac girl, and then they just all appeared at once, from everywhere!

Using my bad sense of direction, we tried to find the castle. We walked for a long time, and found what could have been a castle in the trees - but was a shrine. There were a few shrines, but I felt wrong being there... another part of the Japanese secret society thing! We're foreigners, we shouldn't be here!! But we did find a 100 Yen store, where everything cost... 105Yen. One thing that really struck me in this shop was... well, SuDoKu is Japanese, right? So why is it actually called...

Bryan can read katakana (must learn!!) and said that it says "nan bon", which we jointly remembered meant "what number?"! (This clearly merited a high five!) .... Number place best selection.... heh. *On later reflection, it says Nan-pure, as in a shortened form of "number place".

Anyway, upon getting directions back to the train station from a nice old Japanese lady who could speak great English, we fell upon the castle and the park!! The first cherry blossoms have just opened, and so I have managed to take some amazing pictures. Behold.

Pretty, desu ne? I was impressed. This will look AMAZING in a week or so when the blossoms are in full bloom, and I hope to be invited to hanami (party under the blossoms!). By the way, cherry blossoms in Japanese = sakura. Just so you know.

The evening... well!! I was invited to a Facebook group for HangMates after my first night, by one of the guys that I met. It's an exchange group for westerners who want to hang out with Japanese friends! So, I inadvertantly ended up bringing about 10 Interac-ees with me (well, we bumped into more in the corridor and in Starbucks), meeting 2 other ALTs and 5 Japanese! I felt a bit guilty for bringing so many people, but they didn't seem to mind, and we ended up in a traditional style restaurant upstairs from an arcade!

We had to take off our shoes and put them in lockers... and the tables were low, although ours turned out not to be one you knelt on - there was actually a massive empty space under the table so you could sit "normally" (good, kneeling HURTS me!)... we had shabu shabu! It's a broth that's cooked at the table, and you pick your slices of thin meat and hold them in the boiling broth/stock with chopsticks until it cooks (which is about 10 seconds). Yum! It did end up being quite expensive, but it was a great night. I especially loved the fact that a couple of the guys had just arrived at the hotel, stepped out into the corridor hoping to meet someone, and been grabbed by us - and an hour later they're in a traditional Japanese restaurant, drinking and eating with a bunch of colleagues and some real Japanese people (who have great English by the way, and are lovely!)!


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudoku

    It doesn't solve the nan ban mystery, but maybe it explains a little more...

  2. WOW!!!
    i want a traditional Japanese meal so much!
    Trust you to find so many people and start bringing them together!

  3. I wondered the same thing for ages, especially when I asked a Japanese colleague if they liked 'sudoku' and they looked at me strangely...

    Sudoku is an English word loosely based on 2 japanese words. Sudoku has no meaning in Japanese, and Japanese people do not understand it. Sudoku in Japanese is 'Number Place'. Obviously that didn't sound exotic enough so we changed it to sudoku ;)

    The book reads ナンプレ = na n pu re . this is a shortened version for 'number place' in Japanese meaning sudoku.

    In case you are wondering who the hell I am, I'm a interac-to-be :) (coming august 2010). Good luck with everything!