Wednesday, June 29, 2005



Monday, June 27, 2005

My Interesting Weekend

Well, I went to the JET Pre-Departure and Training weekend in Toronto. It actually continues until tomorrow, but considering that for me most of the information has been pretty useless. I mean, I've dealt with culture shock before, there is no language barrier for me - actually the only worthwhile one was the finance/investment seminar. Met lots of people. A lot of the women were shocked at the inequality of gender in Japanese society. To which all I can say is, "Hello?" I can't believe that some people haven't even done basic research on the country they're going to live in. And the people who keep on asking money questions - "So I can't use my debit card? OK, will they take a cheque?" NO THEY WILL NOT. Get it through your heads - cash is now the way to go!

But I digress.

I worked until 10 on Friday night and couldn't get to sleep until about 1:30 ... and then I had to wake up at 4:15 to shower and catch the casino bus to Toronto. I arrived in Chinatown at about 6:30, so another 2.5 hours until the weekend started. Here's a picture of a street sign in Chinatown: Spadina in Cantonese

So I walked all the way up Spadina and then halfway down Bloor to the Japan Foundation and the information centre. Hey, there was no point in taking a streetcar/subway, since the whole objective was to waste time until the place opened at 9. I found a Tim Hortons, so that was good. We met members of the Japanese Visitors Association and had lunch with Taichi from Hokkaido, who was studying in Toronto. After the Saturday session ended, I went to Pacific Mall to meet Jiemei, my friend from Brock who was attending the Taste of Asia festival.
me and my foxy Chinese friend! yeah!
We had dinner at an imitation Thai restaurant (run by Hong Kongers, of course), which was not very appetizing, but the wine contained alcohol, so that was good. THEN we go to watch the fireworks, and as we're getting ice cream NOT ONLY are the customers in front of us Japanese, but the guy selling ice cream from his truck is too! And the guy in front of me is from Owariasahi, where the Suzuki family that I taught lives!
After that, I headed back to Bloor Street to stay at the Loretto Residence or something, part of St. Michael's College that offers single rooms for $25 a night. And they were nice rooms.

Next day (this morning, actually), I woke up at around 8:45 and showered, then got on my way to another day of JET orientation, which was useless. But the morning skit, illustrating all the problems that will befall the hapless Canadian JET, was goddamn funny. In one scene, "Jeff" was attempting to ask how to use the ticket machine for the train, and all the passers-by said stuff like "英語分からん!" and "外人怖い!". Eventually he gets saved by the Japanese-speaking Token Black Guy.
Welcome to the classroom!

The rest of the day was pretty bland from there, so I skipped out with Sachiko to see the Pride Parade.
Air Canada!

After the end of the weekend, I hopped on the subway, transferred to the streetcar at Spadina, then went down to the casino bus office at the end of Chinatown. Came back home, been on the computer ever since.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Ok, so I've been having weird dreams lately. I dreamed that there was no wall next to the sushi bar - just the outside - and waitress Chihiro was asking me in waitress Aya's voice if I liked Mt. Fuji. That was last week. Then a few nights ago Yukiho heard me talking in my sleep - I said "何それ?", then a long pause, then "京都". And last night, dignitaries from China, Taiwan, Tibet, Korea, and Japan were meeting in a parking lot, so I had to run to the flag store across the road, but they had all the wrong sizes and colours, like the Japanese Naval Ensign being brown and red instead of white and red, and I couldn't find China, and then the Tibetans started getting mad ...

I am NOT having 4 puddings before I go to bed again for a long time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Okay, Chris asked for more stories of stupid customers. Well, here's one from Sunday.

A family of three came in and, after looking carefully at the sign that says "Please Wait To Be Seated", proceeded to saunter into the dining area. Since Lisa is making noodles and Yuuko is preparing tour stuff in the back, I had to run up and greet them. それをするのがいつも嫌いだ。

Me: "Hi, are you looking for a 鉄板 table or more traditional dining? We also have a sushi bar ..."
父: "Sushi."

So I lead them to the sushi bar. They follow, look down, and say "We want a table. We'll sit over there," motioning to the closed section where nobody is. I bury my desire to cleave their necks with the menu and lead them back to the dining section and seat them.

Now, they were stupid. Well, no, to be fair, it was only the mom who was dumb, but the thing that compounds it is the fact that I'm the only Japanese-speaker on the wait staff right now. So when the mom begins to ask her questions, I notice that the Japanese couple are confusedly looking at the menu and attempting to understand May (the other waitress, English/Thai speaker, very good at her job), the five Japanese guests are waving their tea cups around in an attempt to attract my attention, and I have to deal with:

母:"Yakitori ... skewered chicken with teriyaki sauce. What is this?"
僕:"It's skewered chicken with teriyaki sauce on it."
母:"I see. Ika mushi ... steamed garlic squid. What is this?"
僕:"It's squid that's steamed, with garlic."
母:"I see. Una-kyu maki ... eel/cucumber roll. What's in this?"
僕:"Eel and cucumber."
母:"I see ..."


And the kid upended all the toothpicks and broke them into tiny pieces during the course of the meal as well.

Abandoned Restaurant

I managed to sell some furniture today. Somebody actually saw the post I made at 京マート, if you can believe that. So I no longer have my mini-bookcase or chest of drawers. Since I consider the floor to be a shelf, this is not a problem. Now, if I can just get that damn scooter sold, things will go well. And yes Jeremy, the PS2 is ready to go, I'm just waiting for a ride.

As the title implies, I found an abandoned restaurant today. Next time I go downtown I'll take a picture of it. It's next to the Daily Planet (otherwise known as The One Spot of Life in downtown Niagara Falls), and is/was called 金喜. I thought it was interesting to find a closed-up Chinese restaurant despite my walking/biking by that location many times before.

And I got an email from The Race Queen today.


Update (June 26th 2005): Finally got a picture of the restaurant!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Just Call Me "帝國羽之助"

So if I ever have to make a completely Japanized name for myself like 有道出人, I think I've come up with a good one.

帝國羽之助. 「みかどのくに はねのすけ」はいいんじゃない?すごく偉い役人の名前だね(それとも、全然その感じじゃないかもしれないな)。理由は、日本の国籍を取れば日本人みたいの名前は必要です「充分日本人になった事が入民局に見せられるため)。

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Blog Name + Fuck You, Windows

As you may have noticed, I changed the name of my blog. It's no longer 大日本帝國, "Empire of Great Japan" in reference to the nineteenth and early twentieth century imperialism that I spend so much of my time on, but 羽朝帝國, a moniker that combines the characters from my personal name (羽刀) with that of "empire" and "dynasty". So, the new name for this blog is "Empire of the Ha Dynasty". And the only reason I came up with it was because I needed something to replace the ganguro girl's picture of my MSN avatar, since that period of hilarity has been long dead. Yeah. I suppose I could call it "Empire of the Yu Dynasty", but that's too Chinese (sorry everyone, Japan's my first love, though China is a close second!), and "Feather Dynasty" is way too ... well, you know.

On another note, Fuck You, Windows. Fed up with Internet Explorer crashing on me EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN DAY, I downloaded and installed Firefox and am very pleased with it! But of course Microsoft's incredible farsightedness saved the day, as the Japanese IME running on this hunk of junk OS (still Win98) doesn't come up for Firefox. It doesn't come up for MSN or a whole bunch of MS applications either. Of course, who would want to use Japanese for anything other than IExplore, Outlook, or MSWord??? Yet another reason why my next computer will be a Mac. The current Jet in Ichinoseki tells me that there's a Yodobashi Camera in Sendai - I think I'll have to make a trip there in September. Ugh, I hope I can survive two months with no computer.

But yeah, go Firefox.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


The purpose of this post is to see if the blog will accept Chinese and Japanese posts on the same page. Yay Unicode.


Friday, June 10, 2005


Lisa decided to hold a staff barbeque on Monday, with most people coming. It was a nice hot day, and I was just outside reading when 社長 saw me from the next yard and told me to come down and test the barbeque! The ignition button didn't work - and keep in mind I have NEVER lit anything using gas before and I thought it would explode - and the wind made sure that any match I lit blew out in a microsecond. Yuuko was there too and we eventually lit the damn thing by lighting paper and sticking it into the drift of the gas. Foom. Yay, the thing works. Then I went to the restaurant and helped 社長 load up the van with ice and beer (hardly any of which was drunk anyway).

The food was AWESOME. モリさん cooked everything, and he made 焼肉 that tasted sooooo good - I think I ate most of it, jealously guarding it should others attempt to consume the precious meat. After, we went to the game centre and played pool. Lisa won. Arrrgh!

Oh, and as of yesterday morning I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with First-Class Standing in Integrated Studies (History) from Brock University. HAH! VICTORY!



Monday, June 06, 2005


So now I'm doing some translation for one of my professors. It's kind of difficult because you need to know a) prewar Japanese b) Russian place names and personal names c) Chinese place names and personal names. The first sentence reads as follows:


Damn, it's hard. Oh, I can do it though. Believe me. It just might ... take a little while. I admit that I deal mostly in manga - and compared to academic reports or novels, the Japanese in a manga is literally for children. Now I'm dealing with the big stuff. If I ever hope to be a translator I've got to increase my proficiency with these kinds of texts. Unless manga translation earns me 70万円 a year, of course!


Sunday, June 05, 2005


We had two Stupid Customers last night. Wow.

First was the black girl. I knew should would be trouble. "Why can't I have the red menu?" "Because it's the exact same as the black one you're holding." "Well," she said defiantly, "Where are the rolls and things, then??" I swear, she was SMIRKING at me. I sighed, flipped the page of the menu she was holding, and say "There". "Oh," she says. Then she rallies. "Where are the pictures??" I sigh, go to the sushi bar and return with one of those placemats that has pictures of the food on it. God, if you're not going to eat teppan food, don't sit at the damn teppan table. Anyway, she ordered a roll, fried rice, shrimp on the rice (whatever), and miso ramen. No problem, I thought. Then she tried to order the extra toppings. No, I said, they already come with the ramen. See, it says extra.

When coming by the table later, I find she's eaten the roll and nothing else. "Why didn't you tell me this noodle soup was as big as my head?" she complained. Moron. How big did you think a ten-dollar ramen would be? Look at the damn picture. See those eggs? Those are not quail eggs or any other kind of miniscule egg. Chicken eggs, the kind we normally eat. Compare that to the size of the bowl.

And there was the other woman. Took forever to decide what to drink, what to order (only sushi - at the teppan table! Die!!), eventually getting a california roll and one piece of unagi and hamachi. Then she wants steak, you know, sliced beef. Those are NOT the same thing! So I put it on for her, checking with her to make sure that she just wants the meat - no soup, salad, rice, vegetables, nothing. Because she doesn't want to spend a fortune on dinner. The chef is cooking, puts vegetables on the other guy's plate - and what do we hear? "Hey, where are my vegetables? Why don't I get any onions?"


Friday, June 03, 2005

Quite Possibly the Worst Dream Ever

Wow. It definitely grew directly out of the dental conversation with Lisa yesterday at work.

I dreamed that I was late for my exam, so I rushed to find a toothbrush. All I could find was my old one, so I jammed it into the electric base, turned it on, and started brushing ...

The high-powered motor of the electric toothbrush (which I don't own in reality, by the way) caused my two bottom teeth to fall out and disintegrate. Which began a chain reaction within my mouth. My ride then called the house, asking where I was, and she was going to the exam without me. Then I realized that I had forgotten to book off work on the busiest night of the season. So there I was, holding my teeth in my hand, attempting to speak on the phone to call for a taxi, before I had to call the university to let them know that I would be late for the exam I had to write in seven minutes, and call Lisa to let her know that I could'nt do opening.

What exam was I late for, by the way? The Apocalypse.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

DDR and Information Sessions

Turns out the Great Canadian Midway at Clifton Hill has a DDR machine. Went with Lisa and her cousin two nights ago and had a lot of fun, except that Lisa LIKES TO PUSH BUTTONS WITHOUT READING INSTRUCTIONS!!! But hey, it was a fun wine, salad, and spaghetti-filled evening.

Yesterday I went to Toronto to attend my first JET information session, which was pretty useless for me since I knew just about everything. But at least I got to meet a few of the other people, and I didn't loathe them immediately, to my surprise. Since the session didn't start until 6:30 I walked around downtown with Akiyo, Chiharu, and eventually Tony once his film classes finished. The girls tried on clothes (all we did was go to Gap, fcuk, Zata, fill-in-strange-store-name-here), Tony and I watched. So it was somewhat fulfilling, I suppose.

I also really really hate Toronto. Every single time I go, I get lost. Coming back, I got lost trying to find the bus terminal (and NO ONE in Toronto knows where it is - "a bus? what's that?"), and missed my ride back to Niagara Falls by five minutes and had to wait almost two hours for the next one. But I also by chance met Jeremy, my balcony-mate from first-year, who was coming back from North Bay! Nice!

The next JET session is at the end of June. Only 59 days until departure, now.