ben griffiths
an insight into the mind of a genius

Archive for January, 2006

The end is nigh…..

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

No I’m not talking about life, but the end of my birthday :( But more about that later, I have a week or so to catch up on.

It seems no one believed me (dad :p) when i said i have been working very hard, but it’s true! Everyday I have been spending hours at a time working on my Japanese book and trying to get everything copied across. It sounds like quite a simple task, but the thing is, I originally wrote it all in English characters, but of course, now need to convert it all across…. (well, i guess i don’t HAVE to, but it would be silly not to…)

So all week this has been going on, hence the lack of updated.

One important thing this week though was my visa related tasks. I had almost forgotten that when you leave Japan, if you don’t have a re-entry permit, you cant get back in! Not wanting to leave anything until the last minute ;) - Tuesday morning, i went with Shimpei to the local immigration office. I say local, but it was actually 40 minutes away, but we went in the car, so it wasn’t all bad :)
The system to actually get the permit was so strange, first, you go in on the ground floor and get the forms, then you have to go to the 7/11 to pay for the permit (£30 for a multiple, a single is £15 - but figured i might as well be sure and get it all) - before finally heading up to the top floor to take a ticket and await your turn.

Once you actually get seen, it’s only a 2 minute job - and as they seemed to be zipping through all the applicants, we actually finished the whole thing in about 20 minutes! Awesome! :)
Following our success, Shimpei then suggested we try out a new burger joint he had found “Baker Bounce” - so off we set. Now, as you know I have always been quite sceptical of the food here, so wasn’t expecting much - however i’m delighted to say i was very pleasently suprised :) Quite a large burger with added bacon, cheese, avocado and mushrooms - yes thank you very much, hurrah!

The rest of the week was uneventful, though, woops, I’ve forgotten about Sunday night…. doh! Last time I wrote, i was just talking of going out right? Well we went to a restaurant in Shimo to eat proper traditional Japanese food… I even had some raw fish, which was actually quite nice (shock horror!) - i had intended to take a load of photos, but not so many actually materialised (read 2!)


So, on to the weekend - as per usual, I wasn’t going to be able to make going anywhere on the Friday night, so stayed at home working :) Later on, Seiko came home, so she was helping me out - before at about midnight or so, Shimpei came over, so we ended up watching TV (though I did still carry on writing!). Finally, I caught Helen on Skype, so spend the next few hours or so talking to myself (she didn’t have a mic, so was typing responses, lol)…

But enough of that, as you may notice, my story seems a little impatient, well, for good reason! I want to get onto Saturday….!

So Saturday is the same old, same old, wake up freezing, put on my little blanket thing and get on the computer. However, this is where it changed….. a few minutes after I woke up, Seiko pops in the front room telling me to look outside, ok, sure….


Wowza! Proper snow! This hasn’t happened for ages, the last time i can remember was when I lived at Kingston, so thats at least 2 years ago!!! So I was very excited and got ready as fast as I could, to get outside and get some photos taken …. first stop, the roof!


Before heading outside to the park, which suddenly didn’t need grass to look good …


I do apologise for any camera blur, but it was freezing, so very difficult to hold the camera still :) There’s loads in the gallery, including this Tom inspired arty attempt :)

This snow was deep too (especially on the roof) and really soft and powdery, a good start to the weekend …. :)
Seiko then had to go off to “prepare for tonite” - so I wandered back home to work a bit on this site (you will notice now there may be some video clips online, though they might take a while to load up…..)

Finally, at 6:30 it was time to go and meet Seiko and Shiho @ Shibuya, where I was then ushered into a Taxi and whisked away to Ebis to a very swanky looking restaurant called Kitsune…. there we met up with Yumi, Chie and Akie.

Before the meal however, it was time to open the mystery box, which contained inside it one of the most delicious cakes I have ever eaten! Just full of cream and strawberries….. oh my, i want it back NOW :)

So the food arrived and the alcohol flowed and a great time was had by all - it was great to be spending such a good time out with everyone :) Even better was the fact that everything had been planned for me, all i had to do was turn up :) I don’t think I’ve ever had a birthday like this, usually I have to do all the organising - Seiko’s birthday is in March, so I will need to work with Shiho to think of something special to do for her….

Just before the main course arrived (a mixture of meats and pasta) it was “present time” :) hehe…. in true to birthday tradition, I opened the cards first - which of course were all in Japanese. Cue 10 minutes of me trying to translate all of them (which i couldn’t quite do - but got the main jist) before opening my bags…. hehe …. i know a lot of you reading this are going to be thinking WTF?!? But, I am happy with them, so ner ner :p

The Miffy stuff is from Seiko, Shiho and Shimpei, the flower from Chie and the Moomin Mug from Akie.

I also want to show you this, along with all my individual cards, they also wrote one big one for me - it’s things like this i think are cool about Japan, some of the stuff is just so cute :) Even more amusing is Yumi’s choice of words, I promise you Gowry, there is nothing going on… haha…


So after we were all done, it was time to find somewhere else to go - everyone wanted to know what I wanted, but i was at a loss and was just happy going where everyone else did. It was therefore decided that first we should head to the local arcade to get some photos taken in one of the phot me machines…..


(There were more, but they got dished out to the others :))

Before finally heading for a karaoke room, which for 3000yen was infinite drinks for about 5 hours! :eek:
To start with, everyone was pretty fresh faced with some amazing moves in action…


….but after a few hours, things were going a little downhill ;)

Come 5am, the trains started and it was time to leave - though once home, the party continued (much to our neighbours delight I’m sure ;)) until about 8am when we finally all crawled into bed (not with each other, obviously :D)

So did I have a good time? I think that should be obvious :) I had a great time, and many many thanks to Seiko and Shiho for organising it all, I know they felt guilty for new year, but this completely made up for everything - it just puts on the pressure for theirs now …. hmmmm….

Happy Birthday Me !!! :D :)

Next Update

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Hello all! Extremely busy at the moment with my Japanese, so expect an update around Saturday at the earliest :)
I can’t believe I am actually studying…. w00t!

The Secret Room

Monday, January 16th, 2006

I figured this deserved a seperate post as it’s kinda special, but to save confusion, the photo’s were taken a mixture of last night (hence Seiko being in one) - and the rest taken just now when I went to get her some ice cream from the store and wanted to go back and get some day time shots.

Ok, so, let’s start with the simple, walking down the road and, what’s this?

A tiny little shack thing tagged onto the end of the block.


We get a bit nearer and see it has a little opening…


Strange, but what it be? The sign doesn’t help too much, I can translate - “Burusera …… ko-na-” - so something corner (well state the obvious)


A closer look and we discover it’s a vending machine corner, ah no problem, so Seiko goes inside to get a cup of coffee….


BUT WAIT! That’s not coffee for sale? Infact, that’s not drinkable at all…. can anyone guess…? (to stop me getting told off by mum, you need to click the links to see what’s inside……)


Well I never, fancy that ….. only in Japan :D


Sunday, January 15th, 2006

Sitting home waiting for Seiko to return, so figured I might as well get on with writing a bit more - though at present - I am talking with Helen on MSN, so progress might be a little slow, in fact, I may not finish by tonite - so you may well find two different accounts here ….

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble, let’s onward and avarst ye young see dog… :D
Today as I wrote yesterday, I had to give 3 kids lessons, 2 of them kinder classes (which I was quite looking forward to) - though getting up early was horrible. I don’t know if anyone else gets this, but if i don’t have enough sleep i feel all grotty and like my hair is all itchy - which then causes my head to break out in mini one day spots…. arrgh….

So anyway, first lesson was kinders which i was looking quite forward to, but maybe also a little nervous as it would be a full class. It started off well enough, we were going through the colouring books and getting on with the flash cards - but I soon saw why teachers don’t like the kinders - they seem to get bored quite easily and start just climbing up the walls?!? haha… you then don’t know how firm you should be with them to get them to stop - like properly shout, or just go with the passive approach.

I dont like telling off kids, so i stuck to the “try and just coax them over” technique, which while worked, certainly isn’t the fastest method - though we did get through the whole class without too much of an issue and it certainly is easier than doing an adult lesson.

So do I recommend it… hmm, as long as they are well behaved it can be good fun, though if not, you might come into issues. The second class seemed to have a few more trouble makers in it, but still, it went ok… :D
Second class was a man to man kids lesson, but I hadn’t been given the correct material to take home, so was kinda a bit lost in this one - I managed to follow the plan as I went along, but didn’t manage to cover all the curriculum as it was in really small and i missed it - however he did very well and got it all done :)
Lunchtime didn’t come soon enough, and it was off to the AM:PM to get a microwave meal of spaghetti and sausage. When paying, I did my usual “arigatou”, but this time the woman asked me “…..nihongo….” (i didn’t get the rest), however it was pretty safe to assume she asked did i speak japanese…

I told her a “little, tiny” - at which point she then started asking me some (basic) questions - where was i from, how long had i been in Japan, where did I study etc…. ok, so again, it wasn’t much - but it was still a lot more than i could have done if i knew nothing. She also got the other assistant to join in, who is quite cute ;), which was nice … haha …

So back to school for the final half (at least the day is split exactly into 2, 4 lessons, lunch, 4 lessons) which was 2 voice classes and 2 groups of 4… usually i run away from such a schedule, but today, i seemed to have some extra power in me, and gave I think some very good lessons :D
Something needs to be done about Usuke though, yet again he sent Yumi into a flood of tears …. I don’t know what to do … but really, this cannot go in. I know she doesn’t want to say anything, but if she is going to leave the company anyway, she might as well go out guns blazing !

And heareth lies the cut - Seiko came home, so went out ….

Being quite tired, we figured we would just go and find some food and then hit an izakaya or something, so off we went. Seiko reckoned there was a good restaurant up the road, so we set off …. on getting to the top of the hill, we realised there wasn’t so decided to walk down the Setagaya-dori…. 15 minutes later we had reached Sangenjaya (where we had decided we definately didn’t want to be) - it was now 12 midnight and i was starving, so Seiko suggested we walk to the next station along (Ikejiriohashi)…..

20 minutes later (:eek:) we finally got there to be greeted by ….. NOTHING ….. haha … not wanting to walk around any further, we just went into a local ramen place, which to it’s credit was actually really nice, however, there is a perfectly nice ramen shop at the end of our street - go figure ….

Seiko seems to have caught quite a bad cold, and unfortunately it started to come out quite badly last night. I must admit it was quite funny, as her voice went really high pitched as she coughed each time she tried to talk, but I mustn’t be too mean :) - Upshot is, we caught a taxi home… but you know, we did nothing, but I won’t call it a waste of a weekend as it was really nice to spend quality time with her.

We have agreed that once I come back, we are going to make a real effort with each other, there should be a sofa by then, so we can watch movies together and stuff…. w00t!

So anyway, back home now and gonna toddle off to bed in a moment…. :) Night!

An English school you say…

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Can’t write much as I have these 3 kids classes tomorrow to revise for, but couldn’t resist posting this up….

This is from the kinder class textbook - can anyone see anything odd?


Oh, and also just found out that due to “the regularity bonus” - which is only awarded if you are punctual 100% of the time, due to the mishap on the 4th I don’t get it …. so, Januarys pay is like this:

Normal pay £900
- Unpaid leave : -£90
- Closed for new years : -£90
- Late one class + 2 class penalty: -£30
- Regularity Bonus : -£125 :eek:
So total pay for Jan = £565 … rent = £350 so £215 to live (including to pay my £150 japanese school fees!!)…. I can’t believe it, £155 penalty for being 30 minutes late?!!?!?

Aparently it’s not always enforced, but I think at the moment they will be doing everything they can to reduce my pay…. swines….!

Ah well, better be orf to study for the kinders :D