Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Callie in a Tokyo Gym

Look what amazing surprise awaited me in my Tokyo hotel's gym!!!

I instantly fell in love with Japan.

(yup.... those are 2 mechanical bulls!!!! no freeweights - just 2 treadmills, a stair climber, some mats and 2 bulls!!!!! i was speechlessly in heaven)

Hokkaido JETs

A bunch of the JETs going to Hokkaido went out together for a Japanese style dinner - all you can eat and drink within a 2 hour time frame.

All I can say is that I finally had my first good nights sleep in 3 days!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Japanese toilets...

I finally had my first encounter with the infamous Japanese toilet! oooooh.... ahhhhh.... Below is a photo of my hotel room toilet's control panel which honestly left me a bit baffled and bewildered.

Since this my first time in Japan - I want to do as the Japanese do... So even though my arse was shaking with fear I decided to play around with these buttons... and holy schmoley I just about hit the ceiling with a yelp when a very hot and strong stream of water aimed precisely at my butthole came squirting out at full speed. Wow. I know the Japanese are known for their cleanliness - but this is a little OTT (over the top) if you ask me. Maybe tomorrow I'll try the pink lady button. That looks a little more calming..... maybe????

1st meal in Japan

1st night in Tokyo!

Trying to find a light bite to eat after arriving in Tokyo's Shinjuku was a bit more entertaining than I thought it would be.

I asked someone at our hotel where I could eat and they were convinced I wanted good American food. After wandering around the dark streets of Shinjuku - I finally found the American restaurant - GUT'S GRILL!!!!! um.... thanks but no thanks....

So instead I found a little conbini (convenient store) where I was bombarded with Japanese kanji, Hello Kitty, Elmo and other cartoon shaped food containers, but had no clue as to what was what. So I settled on something that had a picture of blueberries on it and a egg/tuna/corn salad (with raw cabbage- eww). It was the only thing i recognized. (and to my suprise there was NO SUSHI!) oh well... Mmmm..... Better than guts if you ask me!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sayonara Chicago!!!

Thanks to everyone who came out to my Sayonara farewell BBQ bash! I will miss you guys - but hope to see ya in Japan!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Amazing Video

matt is my long lost twin brother i think....... only he is the smarter half and actually videotaped himself dancing everywhere. my dances are only in my head :)


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Leah and I are sooooo DOING THIS!!!!!!

leah (a fellow peace corps kenya volunteer who is also going to japan) and i are going to do everything humanly possible to get on this game show!!!!! http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=PB3Ir3sRIJo&feature=related

and then theres planning the choreography for our japanese matrix performance: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=D-TCU-uUt64

man oh man... we are going to be busy!!!


Thought I would share one of the lastest topics Junshi and I discussed during our Japanese/English tutoring session.

We normally start each session with any random questions we might have.

This week Junshi brought up a question: “I want to talk with my American colleagues about something, but I don’t know how to talk about this topic with them…”

Before I continue – let me give a little back-story for those of you who aren’t so familiar with the Japanese culture. I’ve never been there, but from what I can sense so far is that the Japanese are INSANELY hard workers. By that I mean once they start working for a corporation they STAY with that corporation normally until they retire. In addition to being loyal to one company they also work insane hours. Junshi for example goes into work around7:30am. We have our tutoring session from 6:30-9pm (he comes straight from work) and after we finish he goes straight back to the office!!! Not only that but he works every Sunday evening so he can do conference calls with Tokyo and I’ve even caught him working on Saturday. OK… I know some Americans also do this – but the difference is that Junshi and the other Japanese people I’ve talked to are content and perfectly happy doing this!!! OK… I think you get my point… back to my story…

“OK Junshi, what would you like to tell them?” I asked.

“Well… I’ve noticed Americans do not like working hard on Fridays.”

Hahahah… I think he’s got a point… “Well, um, I don’t think this is something you should tell your American colleagues. They might get upset.” I mean – he does have a point – I don’t know any American in their right mind who enjoys working on a Friday! But Junshi’s company was trying to hold meetings on Friday afternoons at 5pm. I told him honestly that if he wants full concentration and participation without rush from his American counterparts then he should think about switching the meeting to earlier in the week and at a different time. Hahahah...

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Today I introduced Junshi to The Taste of Chicago. Wow. It’s always entertaining showing someone from a different country/culture your hometown. You kind of realize how ridiculous things are when you stop and look at something from a new set of eyes.

Such as American FOOOOOD. Holy crap we are greasy hoofed pigs. Junshi politely asked me to explain the typical American festival foods:

  1. Funnel Cakes – “Ooooh…” he says, “What’s that???” “Oh!” I reply, “It’s a batter that is deep fried in oil and then you sprinkle sugar on top and sometimes pour sugary surapy strawberries on top.”
  2. Deep fried Twinkies – “Ooooh…” he says, “What’s that???” “Oh!” I reply, “It’s a sugary sponge like cake with frosting inside which is also deep fried in oil.
  3. Twisty potato chips – “Ooooh…” he says, “What’s that???” “Oh!” I reply, “It’s like a bag of potato chips, but it’s a mountain of them the size of 2 heads which are freshly deep fried so that the grease eats through the plate and moisturizes your hands.”
  4. Giant BBQ turkey leg. I don’t really need to explain this one… he simply asks: “How do your turkeys get so big and one person can finish all of that???”
Hrmm… I nudge him to look around at the crowd surrounding us and he bows in slight acknowledgement now understanding why Americans are so obese.

I’m not a big fried oil fan… but I know I will miss hamburgers, Chicago dogs, BBQ ribs, turkey legs, corn on the cob, and and and and… let me get back to you later so I can clean my puddle of drooooool. I love America! (and I think Junshi does too!!!)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Furano Belly Button Festival

I’m so depressed today. I realized I will miss the amazing opportunity to dance in the Furano Belly Button Festival.

Furano is a town in Japan located in the middle or “belly button” of Hokkaido island. The locals of Furano decided that since they are the ‘belly button’ of Hokkaido – then it only makes perfect sense that they should hold an annual belly button festival!!! (so ingenious!) At this festival they strip their shirts and paint their belly buttons into a face with a crazy costume, props and dance the day away!

What makes matters worse is that not only will I miss the chance to SEE the belly button festival – but I will miss the chance to DANCE IN the festival! Yup… I received an e-mail from the Hokkaido JET forum which said: “Furano Tourism is recruiting members for its international dance team that will take part in the Furano Bellybutton Festival July 28 & 29. No dance experience is required, and anyone looking to get involved in a Japanese festival is welcome to join… Participants will have their bellies painted!”

I sadly arrive in Hokkaido July 30, 2008! So no belly button dancing for me this year. But at least I can start practicing for 2009.

YouTube video of the Furano Belly Button Fest

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Learning Japanese with Junshi

I met Junshi a few weeks ago through my Dad’s Japanese friend. Junshi moved to America only 2 months ago. We have teamed up to tutor each other – I help him with his English and he helps me with my Japanese.

He’s helped me tremendously with my then non-existent Japanese. Not only does he help me with grammar, but he more importantly gives me quite a few pointers on what a REAL typical first conversation with a Japanese stranger will be:

“Are you married?” (Kekkon shitemasuka?)

In which you reply: “I’m single” (Mada dokushin desu.) (single in Japan simply means you’re not married – so the next progressive question would be…)

“Do you have a boy friend?” (Kareshi wa imasu ka?)

But then he told me to be quite careful with the word boyfriend. If you say “kareshi” it means boyfriend, but by changing one vowel to: “Karashi” it then becomes mustard.

So if I’m asking a local vendor for some mustard, I better be darn careful what I say! (unless of course he’s hot – then it’s a win win situation)

I also remember asking Junshi a few classes ago on what the dating protocol is… For example whether or not I can ask a male colleague to go out on the town with me – or if that would be considered a ‘date.’ Junshi humbly replied: “Well… if you ask a male collegue to go out with you. I think he will be very happy.”

I think I got his point.