Monday, September 19, 2005

Tokyo Game Show 2005, 千葉

Yesterday we checked out Tokyo's annual video game exhibition in the leafy surroundings of the nearby Chiba prefecture. There were a few sneers and cries of 'A-Boy!' or 'Aki-baki!' from our peers but it was definitely a sense of 'when in Rome...', and also a chance to road-test the impending X-Box 360 & sneak a peek at the new Playstation 3! And as the photos we have from the day such as the one below testify, it was definitely us who had the last laugh!

Rather than give you a blow-by-blow account of the day here, I point you in the direction of my good friend Ryan's blog for an run through of the days events!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Summer Sonic Rock Festival, 千葉

Summer Sonic is the equivalent of the V festival in England, with one line up playing on Saturday in Osaka and Sunday in Chiba (next to Tokyo) and vice versa for the other line up. Oasis were the headlining act this year on the Sunday and followed The Ordinary Boys, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Kasabian and Weezer on the main stage albeit 40 minutes late due to a power failure caused by a faulty generator. That was the 5th time I'd seen Oasis and although the banter on stage wasn't quite as entertaining as usual and perhaps their performance wasn't the best I'd seen, they went down really well with the Japanese crowd and the new songs sounded great, especially 'Lyla'.

Oasis's set was as follows:

Fuckin' In The Bushes / Turn Up The Sun / Lyla / Bring It On Down (dedicated to the generator that broke down) / Morning Glory (dedicated to any lesbians in the audience) / Cigarettes & Alcohol (dedicated to the audience) / The Importance Of Being Idle / A Bell Will Ring (dedicated to boxer Ricky Hatton) / Live Forever / The Meaning Of Soul / Mucky Fingers / Champagne Supernova / Rock 'n' Roll Star / Wonderwall / Don't Look Back In Anger / My Generation

Friday, July 29, 2005


I was thinking about creating some kind of Top 10 of things in Japan, and if I did, Chu-Hi drinks would definitely be vying for the number 1 spot. Close to the hearts of many teachers, they are a Japanese equivalent of the alcopops back home and are a cheap yet oishii source of comfort on the train ride home after a hard day teaching 7A students!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Japanese TV debut

This week I made my debut on Japanese national television! My friend Chris and I appeared on the morning TV show Tokudane on Fuji Television, one of the main terrestrial channels in Japan.

Kumagaya was the hottest city in Japan last year with the maximum temperature recorded at 40°C. However the other day the temperature reached a sweltering 41°C, and it seemed a camera crew had been sent to cover it. We were standing outside Nova on our break when they came over and asked us a few questions, but when they left we thought nothing more of it.

Then the next day at work lots of students came up to us saying how they'd seen us on TV! So it was a bit of fun, being a mini-celebrity for the week and joking how we'd probably been seen by a few million people on TV! (^-^)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Summer Matsuri, 鴻巣

It's festival time here in Japan! All over the country at this time of year every town and city holds a traditional festival, and this weekend was the matsuri in my town, Konosu.

The main celebrations centred around a procession along 旧中山道, the main street in Konosu, of several groups of people, one group from each ward, carrying portable shrines called mikoshi. I invited a couple of other teachers Greg (l) and Mick (r) to take part in carrying the mikoshi for my area 入形町. It was pretty hard work, it was a hot day and the mikoshi was very, very heavy! But it was good fun, everyone was in high spirits and it was a good experience to be able to take part in something so Japanese!

Friday, July 08, 2005


I've returned to Saitama after my holiday to Okinawa. What an amazing place! Our hotel was fantastic, very luxurious and we were lucky that we went just after the rainy season finished but before the summer holiday season starts in earnest so we had lots of space to relax around the pool or on the private beach. As you can see from the photo, the weather was nice and the ocean was incredibly blue and clear.

I tried different types of local Okinawan food - goya champuru (stir-fry of egg and goya, a bitter green fruit), soki soba (buckwheat noodles and pork ribs served in a clear broth), shikuasa (a very sour fruit which is making my face screw up just thinking about tasting it again!) and even mimiga (thin shavings of pig's ear served with mayonnaise!). We also tried snorkeling which eclipsed any previous attempts I had at snorkeling in England where you'd be lucky to see your own hand in front of your face in our murky sea let alone any tropical fish or corals!

*sigh* and now back to Kumagaya...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Star Wars Episode III

Yesterday I went to an advanced preview showing of Revenge Of The Sith, 2 weeks ahead of the scheduled release date in Japan (this sounds more impressive to people in Japan than those reading from home where Star Wars has been out for about a month already!!).

I thought the film was by far the best of the three 'prequels' - the story was more fast-paced, the plot was a lot darker and it was really satisfying to see the two trilogies come together with the foundations being laid for Episode IV.... go and see it!

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Today I booked my summer holiday to the Japanese island of Okinawa in July - can't wait!!

Staying in the 5-star Busena Terrace hotel!!

Saturday, May 28, 2005


On May 25th my beloved football team Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties to win the Champions League, the world's most prestigious club competition!

What made it extra special was the way in which we won it; 0-3 down at half-time against a team that was touted as the best in the world defensively, yet Liverpool produced a courageous, passionate second-half display to fight back to 3-3 and ultimately win 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out!

Possibly the greatest final of all time, and I was 6000 miles away! d'oh!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fish Market, 築地

The Tokyo Central Wholesale Market in Tsukiji is one of the biggest markets in the world, handling around 2 billion yen's worth of marine products (£10 million) every day! I'd been wanting to check it out for ages having heard from other teachers what a unique place it was and it was true - having visited the typical, touristy sightseeing spots in Japan, it was fascinating to see the other side of Tokyo, being amongst the hustle and bustle of this heaving marketplace at 4:00 in the morning.

Making our way there was quite an adventure. All the trains in Tokyo stop around midnight and don't start again til around 5 in the morning, by which time the main action in the market would already have finished, so we took the last train from Konosu at night into central Tokyo and went to karaoke in Ginza til around 3 a.m. It was quite surreal making our way to Tsukiji afterwards - walking through central Tokyo on foot with hardly any people or cars around was a strange experience!

We were unsure what to do upon arriving at the market - after all, this was a place of business and visitors aren't particularly welcomed - but we wandered into where it looked like the action might be: a warehouse stretching as far as the eye could see with dozens of motorised carts buzzing around. Making our way through the maze of stalls and crates of fish was quite perilous seeing as the cart drivers were driving as if any gaijin casualties wouldn't spoil their day, but eventually we made it to the main auction hall.

Before daybreak, wholesalers had lain out hundreds of tuna in preparation for the start of the auction, and when we arrived to take some photos several traders were carefully examining the quality of the tuna and estimating the price. Feeling as though we'd outstayed our welcome and not wanting to get in anyone else's way, we soon headed out into the early morning light for a sushi breakfast!