Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oui! Oui! A Thousands Times Oui!

This meal makes me feel like I am back in Paris. Meat gratin and pot-au-feu, which are both very popular choices in the motherland (if your mother was from France). For dessert, there are two slices of sandwich bread with chocolate paste. Bonne!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I'm sure all of us know someone who is awkward during telephone calls. Maybe it's a misspoken word, an inappropriate comment or an awkward 15-second silence that leave you wondering why you didn't just send a text message. 

Thankfully, phone conversations are covered in our curriculum. But of course the first lesson was difficult. 

Daniel:  Hello. This is Daniel.
Student:  Hello. This is Takumi desu.

(desu is a verb that would normally take the place of 'this is')

Student:  Can you play?
Daniel:  Yes I can. What time?
Student:  Uh...5 people. 

Daniel:  Hello. This is Daniel
Student:  Hello. This is Monkey.

(fairly sure this was a joke unless his name is もんき)

Student:  Can you play?
Daniel:  No I can't. I'm sorry.
All students:  I'm sorry. He's sorry. We're sorry.

This last one is thanks to a Japanese comedian that I have not been able to identify.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Sesame flour bread with a cinnamon and sugar topping. On the plate we have 'German' potatoes sans schnitzel. Finally, a 'Chinese' cabbage and meatball soup.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Google Translator Saved My Life

This week, while holding a chair, my 1st graders pretended to attack me. So naturally I pretended to whip them. We were learning about animals.


 Today I was playing at recess. When I say playing I mean being chased by 1st and 2nd graders around the playground. Once caught I became a human jungle gym until I could break free again.

And then...a miracle happened. One of the teachers, undoubtedly feeling sorry for me while watching from inside, used Google translator and sent this message with a 5th grader.

'I play tag'

A game of tag was formed and I was no longer the only one being chased. Thank you mystery teacher! I am glad that someone has had more luck with translators than I have.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When In Doubt, Add Sardines

Mushroom soup with udon noodles. Sweet potatoes that are cooked with soybeans and served cold. If only they had stopped there. Instead they added dried sardines. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homegrown Meal

Today's rice is actually from Ibaraki prefecture and is mixed with some vegetables.  The salmon is marinated and fried and quite delicious. The vegetables are boiled and mixed with soy sauce and dried fermented tuna flakes. And to get that taste out of your mouth, an orange.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nagano Retreat

We recently went on a Foreigners Retreat to the Hakuba Valley in the Nagano Prefecture. There were little to no crowds since this area is primarily used in the winter for skiing, snowboarding, etc. We all stayed exclusively at the B&B Santana Hakuba which I would recommend to anyone visiting this area.

It was a relaxing time of playing cards, reading books and getting massages. Unless you are like me and decided at the last minute to go hiking in the mountains. First I made sure I had all of the essential gear...

- 1 pair of Converse shoes
- 1 messenger bag (with Kindle)
-  1 pair of jeans and 1 t-shirt
- 1 empty stomach
- 0 packed lunches
- 0 bottles of water
- 0 experience hiking trails

We left mid-morning and headed into the dense fog...

Navigation was a constant challenge.

But then we made it above the clouds and fog which made a world of difference.

So after 4 and a half hours of hiking, several blisters and a few plain flavored snow cones our group had reached the summit. This particular summit is 2007 meters (about 6500 feet). There was much rejoicing.

We made it down the mountain to enjoy a great barbeque that night!

The next day, on our return trip home, we made a detour to Matsumoto Castle. It was built in 1594 and is Japan's 2nd best castle.

It was very crowded and many of the stairways were built at ridiculous angles. But don't say they didn't warn you...

After visiting the castle it was time to head back to Ibaraki!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Simple Things

In The Maloneys Baloney blog, humor based stories are considered especially hilarious. In Japan, the dedicated foreigners who report these happenings are part of an elite unit known as the Assistant English Teachers. These are their stories...

5th grade student:  Mr. Daniel
Daniel: Yes?
5th grade student: How....(eto) long are you?
Daniel:  Excuse me?
Teacher: No no. Tall! Long is for hair. Tall is for height. Right? (in Japanese)
Daniel:  Yes.

Yesterday I played volleyball with my teacher, parents and students. As you can imagine, my height was a topic of conversation.

After making a block...

Teacher:  Daniel sensei, did you play volleyball in university?
Daniel:  No, I am just tall.

I am so happy to be in a place where my height is an accomplishment. Sometimes you just have to appreciate the simple things.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It Tastes the Same (If You Close Your Eyes)

Tofu with a variety of vegetables in a hot pepper paste. Also, some type of namul. Namul is a Korean dish and usually means some type of boiled veggies with sesame oil and salt).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sweet My Life!

We bought this at Daiso (Japanese equivalent of a dollar store) to help with grocery shopping. I was instantly attracted to the color and strange English phrase.

It started as a joke but has evolved into an expression of frustration or a tasteful substitute for vulgar phrases. For example...

Staci: A package of strawberries is 500 yen.
Daniel: Sweet my life!

Staci: There is so much traffic!
Daniel: Sweet my life!

Feel free to use it but you will maybe, but most definitely will seem strange.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Under the Sea

Unfortunately, I started taking pictures with my phone for a few weeks so the picture quality is not great. ごめんなさい!

If I had a top ten of my worst least favorite lunches this would be in the top 3 (if not number 1). In the little cup you have natto which are fermented soybeans. You can eat them with rice or use the complimentary mustard to mask the bad smell. 


The interesting thing is that natto does not taste all that bad...if you can get past the smell and texture.

The plate has a generous helping of braised seaweed with a few diced vegetables. My main apprehension with this dish was the color. Like natto, it does not taste that bad if you can get over its looks. In the bowl there is vegetable soup, which on this occasion is mostly seaweed.