Monday, September 26, 2005

Living the good life in Utsunomiya

I am constantly reminded recently about just how simple and good life is here. This morning, I rolled out of bed at a leisurely 10AM, showered and headed out to Tully's to meet up with Scotto for a coffee... we sat outside in the lovely sunshine for an hour or so watching life go by near Parco, a busy shopping center located accross the street. I even took a few candid pictures of some of the folks walking by. In the last few weeks, we've done this Tully's thing quite a bit and it's a great way to chill out between classes or in the morning before work. Sometimes people look at us a little strange for sitting outside in this "cold" weather but we find it quite enjoyable. I will soon be whipping out the old leather jacket for any nightly activities... getting down to around 12 degrees at night now... I LOVE IT!

Little segway here on the Japanese obsession with set dates and deadlines for seasonal transitions, regardless of environnmental conditions. It seems that everything here is very scripted and not really flexible. Logic does not seem to enter into the collective conscience. Weather related activities are a perfect example. This week was the "official arrival" of Fall. Like clockwork, the students are now required to wear their "Winter" uniforms, with heavy wool sweaters\jackets\cardigans and stuff... if they wear their "Summer" uniform, they are sent back home. At the same time, the buses have turned their heaters on, as Alex can attest to after sweating it out with a group of rush hour commuters the other day... Now, the weather in the evenings has in fact begun to be a little nippy... but the days are still getting up to the mid-20s or higher... it's certainly odd that a date in some manual dictates when people have to start acting like it's Winter out here. Thankfully, they haven't turned on the heat at work... yet... lol Apparently they go through the same cycle in the summer... with having to wear heavy uniforms and suffer without Air Conditioning until a specific date... difficult to understand...

So yes, today was a lovely day out here, nice and clear after the high winds of the last few days brought on by the most recent Typhoon. Took a run out to Yamaya with Scott and indulged a little bit, bought some wine and stuff... then we met up with Alex for a quick Indian curry lunch.

Here are some shots from today... but first, another cooking with Michel in Japan moment... lol Made this lovely pasta and sauce the other night... mmm The leftovers are what I'm having for dinner tonight... the only thing I would change is to get some ground beef to throw in there...

Lovely day in the big city.

That same taxi was there the entire time we were having coffee... they certainly have patience!

Good old Parco, 10 floor mega shopping center... complete with it's own outdoor shrine... will try to get some kind of shot with the old Shrine and the Parco sign lit up at some point.

Good old Tully's

Another popular Japanese hobby is to complain about the lack of sun, and then when the sun DOES come out... to whip out an umbrella and hide from it! lol Kidding of course, I understand that some women prefer to keep their complexion "just so."

Yamani Cleaning... and something is apparently "OK"!

So that's about that, probably no plans tonight... dinner with a friend tomorrow night though... and Kanako and the Praktica people have booked me for dinner on November 3rd at a really good French place somewhere around here... guess they like to scope out the competition!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must be nice to have a coffee shop on the way to work across Parco...It must be even nicer to be able to walk to work. I miss that. I used to be able to walk to work and go home if needed to during the lunch break and that was even before we started with the reduction in working hours. I commute for quite a while these days. In Japanese the expression would be 'shoganai'. I guess the literal translation would be 'it can't be helped'. Speaking of Japanese, how is that coming along? I know that the first year that it was hard to study or even use any Japanese. These days, it is a little better, but it still could use a little work if you know what I mean.
On another note, I like your pictures of cooking. Ah, the fond memories of cooking on an electric hot plate...and only one at that! In summer, that was the worst. I didn't mind it so much in winter because it helped keep the room a little warmer. I noticed that you had to boil the water, then make the sauce. Man, you have a lot of patience. Just like that taxi outside of Tullys! My advice would be to get one of those 'gas burners' for the nabe that you see at the izakaya. The gas can is about a 100 yen each and cooking with gas is the way to go. Eventually, I used that right on top of the electric hot plate since it was so much better. Only when I did major cooking when I need two burners did I use the electic hot plate. The portable 'gas burner' shouldn't be more than a few thousand yen. Check out your local supermarket/department store like Ito Yokado/AEON-JUSCO/Daiei or something like that.
So, when are you going up to Yamadera? Go up to Sendai, transfer there and take the local like. You can go with Leah. Take Steve and Cleve with you? You can all go to a hot spring together...maybe a separate one would be better...

10:34 AM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Yes, we are ideally located here... the office is central and our apartments are all nearby, which makes life pretty damn sweet.

How is my Japanese coming along? Daijobu desu I guess... I pick up a little bit as time goes on, but I am nowhere near actually having any kind of conversation with anyone. I can pick out certain words in conversations though, and have learned enough of course to survive with every day things.

Yeah, cooking with only one element SUCKS! I am used to 4, plus an oven... now I'm down to 1. Makes making beef strogannoff a little difficult\impossible... know what I mean? I have been thinking of getting a second burning element of some kind... will definately check out your suggestion... THANKS!

Yamadera will likely be a last minute rush trip... so it might be a little difficult to plan things out with anyone... but I will do my best. Both Scott and my social calendars have recently gotten pretty busy so it'll depend on what's going on when. We may just have to make plans now and keep a weekend open... as difficult as that may be to our many admirers... lol

As for the hot spring, no problemo on my side... I loved going to my first hot spring in Nasu, it was just... I dunno... natural? not weird at all... like a locker room but not.

Anywho, off to bed with me, thanks for the comments and suggestions! Notice your blog doesn't allow comments? too bad...

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try it again. I turned it on...

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mystery solved the van says delivery OK. The taxi probably wasnt waiting for anyone. Ive seen them taking anap or filling out papers, so I think its a break.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Big M. If you haven't heard, Desperate Houswives has started again on Sunday nights. I really need you back in the lunchroom. Me with all of the girls and the television gossip is driving me nuts. I hope you're having a great time. I enjoy reading about your activities. Thanksgiving is coming up. I'll save you some turkey...NOT! Take care...


8:50 PM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

HA! Hey there Bradman!
Sorry I can't be there to divert the conversation to other topics... I certainly do miss those lunches though. Now I am forced to mostly sit outside at a coffee shop watching beautiful women walk byb and making innapropriate comments with my friends.... quite sad really.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Smee said...

Pasta Sauce eh? Trying to re-create my Kitchen Sink spicy spaghetti sauce? I'd pass on the recipie, but you would have to source out very spicy Italian saussage, about 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef, plus my secret spices.

6:16 PM  

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