Monday, 30 November 2009


I like to see the back of my students.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

I have a coupon...

Last week my students were practising an important conversation, how to shop at Duty Free, when one student introduced the phrase, "I have a coupon". This got a big laugh. Shopping with discount coupons has become popular in recent years and in the big cities you can pick up coupon magazines like the ones above. They give details about restaurants, shops, nail bars and beauty salons together with photos of the premises and the various menus on offer. Japanese people like to see exactly what they are getting in advance.

The Japanese government wants us to spend money too. This week I received from them my 12,000 Yen spending money (that`s 82 pounds, 75 pence at today`s rate). Every Japan-based taxpayer can apply and receive this. Apparently if we all go out and spend it we will jump-start the economy. I`m buying books. I have a coupon ...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

One Lump or Two ...

Thanks to 'Yuusuke 2' from my Culture and Society seminar for this photo taken at a shopping centre.(In Japanese it says, 'It is forbidden to bring in any dangerous items'.)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tokyo Subway Manners Poster

I once asked students how long it took them to get ready in a morning. The girls took one hour on average to blow dry their hair and `make up`. If they were running late, they would finish on the train. It is very entertaining to watch Japanese women whipping out heated tongs and applying them to their hair on a crowded subway. And I once watched a schoolgirl use electric eyelash curlers on a fast moving bus.

At least they`re making an effort. Some of the ojisan (older blokes) on the subway can clear a carriage in seconds. First there`s the enthusiastic nose-picking ... and flicking. Then there`s the coughing and sneezing without even putting their hands over their mouths. And a couple of weeks ago, the ojisan next to me had such appalling bad breath I had to hold my scarf over my mouth and leave the carriage at the next stop, followed by several other nauseous women.

Granted, I also feel somewhat sorry for the ojisan. These guys have spent their lives in soulless smoky offices, working from early morning to early evening and then having to go out with colleagues, drinking and visiting hostess bars. They eat junk food, get drunk and throw up on the last train home. Their putrid breath is a sign of dangerously poor health.

Younger guys are shunning this lifestyle. A salaryman friend of mine, sick of having to go out drinking alcohol most evenings with his ojisan colleagues, being denied orange juice and having to inhale their secondhand smoke, simply quit.

So I don`t have a problem with women or men (some men shave their whole faces and then pencil in Beckham style brows) making up in public. In fact I sometimes do it myself. It`s important to look presentable in this country.

Monday, 16 November 2009

BreadBowl Pasta

Dominoes Pizza Home Delivery present the BreadBowl Pasta: a 23cm breadbowl base filled with the pasta of your choice. From 9 pounds sterling (I don`t have a pound symbol on my Japanese keyboard). Is this just for the Japanese market or is this muck available elsewhere? Food this sickly shade of orange cannot be healthy.

If Jesus joined a gym ...

Signs above the counters at a local fitness centre.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Tokyo Subway Manners Poster

Here's the latest manners poster on the Tokyo subway. The poster reads:

Please do it at home.
Regarding eating and drinking on the train, please be considerate of those around you.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Special K

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, ex-student K has written a hip hop song - in English. And he`s allowing me to alert you to the video because he wants to "communicate all over the world". I`m sure you`ll want to communicate with him too. Me, I`m speechless.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Job Hunting Handbook

Yesterday, whilst I was trying to teach, two students were sitting at the back of the classroom perusing a book they seemed to think was a lot more interesting than what I had to say. And they were right! This is `Youfuku Visual`, a photobook showing job-hunting graduates how to dress, stand, sit and generally comport themselves in job interviews. I immediately set the students an essay-writing task, confiscated the book and took these pictures. Circles indicate correct postures, crosses indicate incorrect. This is one thing I love about Japan. It`s so strict. No yob culture here.

Please sit properly when reading my blog.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Had to work this weekened, interviewing high school students for possible admission to the university next year. Uni provided this obento (lunchbox). A mini hamburger, 1 inarizushi (rice in fried tofu), two types of rice: plain with a pickled plum and also rice with azuki beans), two pieces of deep-fried squid with a slice of lemon and a small bottle of soy sauce, a piece of salmon on a plastic leaf, a piece of renkon (Japanese radish - looks like a wheel), a slice of yellow omelette, bamboo: raw and also cooked with some pieces of cooked carrot, and various pickles. Delicious.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tokyo Fashion - Winter New Arrivals

The window display in Hanae Mori in Omote Sando last night. Think we`re in for a tough winter.