Sunday, November 28, 2010

jackets, a long walk, autumn leaves and talented people

i feel that lately i didn't really put anything personal up here (= trivial things like clothing, likes&dislikes and so on). soooo, i'll just throw random stuff at you and you'll have to filter out what interests you. ha!

since it's not really warm here (although i feel it got better again), i had to buy some jackets cause, being the intelligent person that i am, i didn't take anything like a woolen pullover or even just more than one old sweater with me from germany. there's just one little problem: the sleeves are way too short, it's so hard to find something that at least covers most of my arm (not to speak of the trousers, it's simply impossible to find something that is even close to long enough (for those who don't know: i'm 1,80m tall)). but, after some searching, i got me a puffy down jacket from uniqlo and a very pink sweater from my favorite store, which again proved that they have everything i'm looking for.

last thursday my boyfriend (who doesn't like to have his name in the www) and i went to arashiyama, which is close to kyoto, to enjoy the autumn leaves. and even though it was a regular working day, it was pretty crowded. but luckily, the leaves are usually above the people, so that didn't really disturb us.

we also went to see ryoanji temple and it's famous rock garden (being an ignorant person, i didn't know about it, but i'm not a buddhist, so whatever). they say, the longer you look at it, the more your imagination makes out of it. which would actually be really nice, it's just that you can't do that without people trying to squeeze past you so they can take pictures. which, of course, i did as well.

since my bf seems to have difficulties in estimating distances (only in kyoto, he sais), we walked A LOT. also, arashiyam/kyoto seem to have banned any conbinis (convenience store) , we didn't eat anything but some sweets until five pm and so, by the end of the day we were both standing in the train back to osaka (of course, all seats were taken) and felt like the walking dead. we have to find some way between doing absolutely nothing and killing ourselves by sightsseing.

browsing through the illustration annuals at the office, i found this really great one:

and i found this page as well, this is just insane:

not insane but i love it

k, enough randomness for today! tell me about the things you recently discovered or that you like!


Monday, November 22, 2010

how to cure luxurious discontent and autumn leaves in mino-o

there's a good cure against arrogance and the thought of not having everything you want.

every time i walk through the park between the subway station and the office, i see a lot of homeless people. they're living in selfmade huts at a corner of this park, made out of sheet iron and plastic bags and this is almost the town center. i saw them washing with icecold water at a temperature at which i was wearing a woolen dufflecoat. in the morning they sometimes dry their clothes on the guard rail of the small artificial lake. and a few days ago i saw one of them sitting by the entrance of the subway (it is a bit warmer there), eating raw meat out of aluminium foil and really don't want to know which animal that was, the ribs were pretty small. 

and i bet there's people living under far worse conditions. so, everytime i start to think "ah, my apartment's so cold", "the food's so expensive" or "i wish i wasn't an intern anymore", i just think of the people living in ogimachi park and my problems shrink to embarrassed little dustflakes.

ok, now from the unpleasant to the pleasant. 
last tuesday we went to mino-o, which is in the north of osaka, to admire the colourchanging of the leaves. we were a bit early on purpose, cause next week the place would be so overcrowded with people trying to capture the beauty of autumn with their mobile phone cameras. 

there's a nice path/street leading through the forests by the side of a river, passing some temples and shrines and ending at a waterfall. i really enjoy how in japan each season is celebrated with some traditions like special food or decoration. people here seem to be a lot more aware of the nature surrounding them. not that in other countries people don't enjoy autumn leaves, it's just that here the fascination you had as a child for some things doesn't get lost or buried under the stress of daily life.


Monday, November 15, 2010

a castle made of concrete, job or no job and peaceful temples

the last week flew by and i didn't even realise it was going so fast, thanks to my hun. we explored the city a bit more. i applied for a job. and i can finally cook in my apartment! happy!

on tuesday we went to see osaka castle. walking there we got soaked thanks to the rain, but in the end that was a good things cause all the tourists were gone and there was hardly anybody left to stand in the way. osaka-jou is, like so many things in osaka, made out of concrete. the original was built 1583, 32 years later it got destroyed but was rebuild, then again destroyed and finally rebuild nearly 80 years ago.

we then crossed the whole city by foot and finally collapsed in a cafè/bar that made you instantly want to smoke a cigar and drink scotch. which, of course, made it impossible for me to just lie on one of the couches and sleep. when our energy was a bit restored by sugar and coffee, we went to ride the ferris wheel that is on top of a building. we had a great view (and it was very romantic^^).

it does look a bit scary, though

i had applied for a job as a bartender at a place called zerro, about a 15min walk from my place. since i only worked as a bartender for two months before, we agreed that on friday evening i would have my trial and decide afterwards if it would work.

so i started at 7pm. they were really nice and showed me everything and then, surprise, i was told that for a start i would only have to wash the dishes. yay ... erm, not. there was a lot to do, but i also talked to many gaijin (non-japanese) people and i had to drink a lot of shots and beer because someone was always buying the whole staff a round. by the end of the night i was totally drunk, my back hurt and actually i really had fun. so i was offered the job and i was swaggering back home happily at 5am.

five hours later i woke up and was feeling like i just died but wasn't allowed to sleep in eternity. my right arm hurt so much i almost couldn't move it because of all the scrubbing off dirty dishes. and that was when i realied, that, if i should take the job, i wouldn't have enough energy left to do anything else for half the week. but since i did come to japan to see the country and also to start my mini-career as a graphic designer, i think this wouldn't be a good idea. and talking to the people in the bar, who all seemed to have ended up as something totally different than they intended (and not in the good way) also helped me not only with my decision, but also with the focus i want to put on certain things in my life. so, i'm not a bartender and i won't be and the money is getting less every day.

anyway, on sunday we went to further explore the tennoji area with all its temples and shrines. it was so peaceful and relaxing there, we stayed for hours and took thousands of pictures.

this morning a guy from the gas company came to switch on the gas for my apartment. since i decided to stay here for at least three more months (because, even if there isn't a bathroom, i love the area i'm living in, also the swimming pool being so close has become really important to me and finally, it just feels like home), i wanted to be able to cook again. after work i bought a cooking pot and went to the ghetto supermarket (not my invention) to buy some basics, vegetable and noodles.

there's a blog called whatkatieate, you seriously have to have a look at it! the pictures there make me hungry everytime i see them. one of them made me want to eat roasted pumpkin for days, so today i could finally do that. it's soba (japanese buckwheat noodles) with pumpkin, onions and lots of fried garlic. omnomnom.

this is just a cheap imitation of katie's stuff, so go there!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

first month has passed and my head (and my belly) are about to burst

today it's been exactly one month since i arrived in japan. and have to say: i like! in general, but also in particular. maybe it's best i divide my thoughts on japan in five parts, one for each sense.

as you might already have guessed, there is a lot of delicious food in japan. my experience on it is a bit narrowed because most of the dishes contain meat, fish or seafood, but i can nevertheless say that i really enjoy it. it's just that they know how to cook. rice with egg is not simple rice with egg, but something you never want to stop eating because of the taste. or rice with tempura (vegetables/anything coverd in batter and deep fried). i don't know what flavours they use, i really have to find out. i want to dream about this food.

but, of course, the main thing for me still are the sweets.

i hope i don't end up as a huge muffin, but i can't help it, they're just too good. and they are a lot cheaper than vegetables or fruit. maybe if they didn't wrap up each single orange like that, they wouldn't have to be so expensive.

but those are my favourites: inari sushi. it's flavoured rice wrapped in thin fried tofu. simple and delicious.

everywhere you go, there's a certain smell in the air, not always good, but most of the time. sometimes it's food, sometimes flowers, maybe perfume or just something you have no idea where it comes from, but still it is so pleasant you don't want to leave the place. there's always a feeling of life to the surroundings, whereas in germany i most of the time feel like i'm trapped between huge dead stones and dead air, at least in the cities.

against what is often said about japan, i think that it's not noisier here than anywhere else. in general. if you choose, however, to visit a book/dvd store, you won't have time to concentrate on what you were searching for, for every shelf screams at you with another message. or if you walk past a pachinko-hall and you are unfortunate enough to do that in a moment the doors open, you think hell just opened up and tries to devour you. i don't know how people do not get deaf from this raging amount of noise. maybe they do.
yesterday i caught myself whistling to the melody of the rubbish truck. yes, it does play a melody. over and over again.

the only things i have to say about that are that eating udon (fat noodles) with chopsticks is something you really don't want to do. and i try not to touch anything, cause i don't want to catch a cold. there have been a lot of ill people on the streets lately, since it's getting colder.

and finally: see
there's so much to be seen, if i start on that, this blog entry will become a book. but what strikes me as the most interesting at the moment, is the discrepancy between the traditional buildings and and what the cities actually look like. today i got the best example for that.
my boss invited me to come to kyoto with him, because there is a huge antiques market once a month and he wanted to show me a bit of the city. so i got up at 8 am (not a nice thing to do on sundays) and took the train via kyoto. people always say: ah, kyoto is so nice, you should go there, it's really beautiful! well, this was my first impression of that city:

and this is what the whole town looks like. but, of course, there are the temple areas. and this is where it gets beautiful and green.


there's a big gap between japanese aesthetics and the places they actually live in. maybe it's because of the earthquakes, maybe because of the wars.

now, having finished the one-month summary, i'll tell you a bit more about my day in kyoto.
at the antiques market i bought some old japanese coins (takahashi-san helped me finding them). at one stand i got ten for about twelve euro. while i was paying, the guy threw some more coins into the bag like they where popcorn. now i'm really exited to see what he put in, cause i didn't have time yet to find out.

we then went to see some temples and, after driving around for forty minutes, we got to a korean restaurant. and this was the most styled place i've ever been to. you could just randomly point your camera anywhere and you'd have a perfect picture for an interior design magazine. oh, and they had a wonderful vegetarian dish! yay korea!

after lunch we went to two little in-shop museums which displayed some old kimono designs. this one was by far my favourite:

we visited some more temples and shrines and i felt like my head was going to burst from all the cultural input. but that's good, i feel like i really should do more of the tourist stuff.