14 December 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Yatta! In exactly one week I’ll be touching down on South African soil in the hopes of defrosting this Christmas. But before then, I have a few exciting things lined up. For one, Marty and I will be squeaking some takkie in Seoul, South Korea for a few nights of freezing city fun. In the meantime I’m enjoying crazy parties with the co-workers and fun end of year lessons with the students. My English club girls and I devoured this batch of cupcakes yesterday for our little Christmas party. I’ve never heard the word “amai” (which means “sweet”) used that many times in one sitting before. Every time they took a bite they’d say “amai” which I’m hoping meant sweet and delicious and not “Is my teacher trying to kill me with this rich chocolatey cupcake?” I used this recipe from Kim’s gorgeous foodie blog, but I added a slab of grated dark chocolate to make it taste just like the cake that Bogtrotter eats in the movie “Matilda” … “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” The recipe makes about 20 good size scrumptious cupcakes. The buttercream icing is from allrecipes.com but it is reaaallly sweet so beware!

Japan has taken Christmas to all sorts of commercial levels: they made it cute! I unfortunately couldn’t resist the cuteness and picked up these felt Christmas gift bags at Daiso (Japan’s number one 100yen store) probably while tapping my foot to some cheesy rendition of “Last Christmas”. I love that Christmas Eve is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s best night for business and that the supermarkets are selling fresh strawberries displayed with their own personal tubes of condensed milk (I’m yet to try that lethal combo). From what I’ve heard from my teenage students, Christmas here is not a big family affair, but a time to spend with your special someone. New Years on the other hand, is when Japan shuts down and everyone returns to their home towns for a few days of family time, traditional food and shrine visits. 

I’m looking forward to some friends and family time of my own, and although I loved the winter wonderland that Japan’s Nagano Prefecture presented last year, I’m definitely ready for some South African summer sunshine. Hope you enjoy the pictures! From me and my photoshopped nail polish, take care this festive season xoxo.

10 December 2011

Markets, tea and obligatory cake

Some late November sunshine drew me up those Onomichi hills to Hodoji temple, where the annual handicraft market was being held. My first thought was: “I have never seen this many well dressed kids in one place before.” The items for sale were all true to the quirky, artsy, cute vibe that seems to emit from every nook and cranny of this little town. All I ended up leaving with was a tasty miso and sesame muffin and a big smile. I later ended up at a gorgeous wooden table with a lovely group of ladies at Pontefract, a cute little tea shop near the water.  Herbal tea, cinnamon cappuccinos and great conversation were the orders of the day.  A day out in Onomichi is never complete without a glance into the donut shop and a cake at the always cosy Yamaneko café.

5 December 2011

48 hours in Osaka

6 hours – travelling (bus it)
23 hours – partying (risky risky - where dancing is illegal)
1 hour – karaoke ing (one song each)
5 hours – eating (oh dear)
3 hours – sightseeing (Umeda Sky building observatory – magic!)
2 hours – shopping (Topshop you warm my heart)
8 hours – sleeping (the bare minimum)

Ooooosaka… we love you

30 November 2011

Evening Dreaming

You’ll find me here during all seasons. It’s my escape, a place to think, to people watch, to laze in the sunshine, to picnic at, to run through bubbles (yes there’s a bubble machine!) on a freezing winter night with blinking Christmas lights. It’s the Popolo Music Theatre, and as I’ve said on the blog before, my favourite spot in Mihara city. It’s known in the area for its architecture, grassy park (grass is rare) and cute café called “Maru2tasu”.

28 November 2011

They don't make 'em like they used to

A gorgeous leather pullover I picked up on this particular trip to Kloof SPCA, Durban, South Africa. Each diamond is hand crocheted to the next. It’s done so brilliantly I wish I’d thought of the design myself! Also, some good ole Mr.Price shoes thrown in for kicks. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown in the store when I realised how much cheaper home is compared to Japan! Picked these floral babies up for the equivalent of 600yen!!

21 November 2011

Hiroshima Baby

A weekend in the city never fails to provide a sweet escape from work and the general blandness of regular routine.  This particular tale begins in the cutest little coffee shop where Marty and I unashamedly devoured half a loaf of bread soaked in syrup, then toasted and filled with vanilla and chocolate ice-cream and fresh fruit (I’m still at the gym trying to work that one off!). Next up, dress up and party the night away! The weekend escape concludes with Marty winning a rosy cheeked llama and then coffee and quiche at Starbucks where we contemplate life while watching people walk around on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Um, can I live like this every day please?

18 November 2011

Daiwa, Old people and Real Meat

Daiwa is such a beautiful area in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.  One of Marty’s high schools was taking part in a festival that had the oldies out in droves. I loooove old people in Japan: A) They play croquet B) They’re so cheeky, and they’re not shy of physical contact: yes I got me some granny hugs woohoo! Highlight of my year: witnessing a crowd of oldies (all over 80) watching a Japanese rock band play Linkin park. A couple got up and left but the others all just sat there apathetically as if it were a classical music concert. It was a memorable and possible one of those “had to be there” moments. We also pathetically attempted hammering away at some mochi, a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice that’s pounded into a paste. After that we rewarded our “hard work” with some festival food and sunshine. Gorgeous day!