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Kyoto January 2, 2007

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Kyoto StationCorridors of San-ju-san GendouMain Hall of San-ju-san Gendou

Kyoto’s just half an hour from Osaka, so on New Year’s Eve we decided to stop by. It was my second time there, the first time being six years ago. Very little appears to have changed! The area around the station, with it’s modern architecture and heavy traffic, certainly contradicts the tranquil “old Japan” marketing the travel bureaus put out. But once you leave that vicinity there are literally hundreds of temples, shrines and gardens to visit. This being just a quick day trip (and having seen them all in my last outing there) we decided to visit just one this time – my favourite, San-ju-san Gendou.

It is a beautiful place, with the traditional orange-red pillars and gates, bamboo gardens and small shrines. But San-ju-san Gendou’s main attraction is the 1,000 buddhas contained within the main hall. Quite spectacular to see.


HAPPY NEW YEAR! January 1, 2007

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Wishing you all the best for 2007!

Traditional Japanese New Year Decoration

A British Christmas December 29, 2006

Posted by urbanblue in Adventures.

LeftoversMince Pie

Seeing as I wasn’t able to get home for Christmas this year, I decided I wanted to have the most Brtish Christmas possible at my place. I had three friends over – one Australian, one Canadian and one Japanese – and rather selfishly banned them from requesting anything vaguely resembling food from their own countries. They were also banned from the kitchen while I was cooking under threat of pain. I made:

– Whole roast chicken (a tiny one the size of a sparrow sadly, and not a turkey..)

– Roast Ham

– Roast sausages in parma ham

– Savoy Cabbage

– Brussels Sprouts (could NOT believe I found them!)

– Garlic mashed potatoes

– Roast potatoes

– Buttered baby carrots

– Chocolate Fudge Brownies

– Mince pie with brandy sauce

– Mulled wine

Plus there were chocolates and shortbread all over the place, alongside Baileys, Brandy, champagne, wine and beer.

Tell you what, it’s bloody exhausting!! However my mother and, in more recent years, my brother do this for 10+ people is beyond me.

Full of festive Albert Square spirit December 27, 2006

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What with my fast new internet connection and all, I was very excited to watch a bit of Christmas Eastenders. And true to form, Christmas in Albert Square this year consisted of misery and death. RIP Pauline Fowler!


MERRY CHRISTMAS! December 23, 2006

Posted by urbanblue in Day-to-Day.
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Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Christmas Monkey

Happy 18th Birthday to my nephew! December 21, 2006

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I hate sounding like the typical cliched uncle, but he’s grown up flippin’ fast!! I’ve missed an awful lot of family birthdays since I came to Japan, but this is one I’m particularly sorry I’m not going to be there for.

Wishing you an absolutely brilliant day Alec, make the most of it! There should be a little something heading your way from me. 😉

Technophobe December 17, 2006

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 Home necessities

I’ve been using a kind of mobile wireless internet connection for the past couple of years, and yesterday, finally, I had ADSL installed via an optic fibre. Things (and by that I mean episodes of EastEnders and Coronoation Street) that used to take 15 hours to download now take less than ten minutes. My desk is now full of little flashing green lights and gizmos. Bloody complicated to set up, but hey it’s done now. I also got a home phone included (an IP phone anyway), and all this is almost HALF what I was paying for the stupid mobile thing. I seriously have no idea about this kind of stuff, so a big thank you to the NTT (Japan’s equivilent of BT) man who came round yesterday to drill holes in my wall and set it all up.

And here they are! December 10, 2006

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The finished products

The finished products. I have to say I didn’t actually glaze them, somebody at the centre did that. Nice, ne?

A man needs a hobby. December 4, 2006

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 A very crucial momentMy flying fish chopsticks holder

Which is why yesterday I went to my very first pottery class. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have amazingly talented hands. From a mere lump of clay I fashioned a beautiful sake cup, a decorative chopsticks holder in the form of a flying fish, and a thingy for keeping your bits and bobs in. All under the watchful eye of Konoji-sensei, who really was a lovely guy and a fantastic teacher. And only a few times did he take whatever I was supposed to be making off of me and fix whatever horrendous pottery faux pas I had committed.

Bizarrely this class takes place in the Toto toilet factory in Kanagawa. Well in the same building at least, there weren’t any bidets or bedpans lying about the place. I have signed up for next week’s class too, when I shall be learning how to make that little ridge thing on the bottom of mugs.

One thing though, I will be drawing the line at making decorative plates with pictures of kittens or similar. There really is no excuse for that kind of nonsense.

Happy Birthday to my dad! November 26, 2006

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Things my dad can do well:

  • making tea (seriously, it’s good!)
  • weekend breakfast
  • fixing ANYTHING around the house (I have no memory whatsoever of my parents ever calling in a repairman)
  • decorating (again, no painter/decorator has ever set foot in their house)
  • washing up after the sunday roast
  • walking in when you’re watching TV at the exact moment a rude bit comes on

Have a fantastic birthday dad! Wish I could be there for it. 😀