A new month a new blog/ger
Hello everyone! My name is Simon and I’ll be blogging on this website this July after taking over from my wife Sophie. I already know a little about many students out there as I have been reading Sophie’s blog every time, though I didn’t post a comment! I’m looking forward to getting to know you all much better and helping you to improve your English.
First of all let me introduce myself, I was born a long time ago in Rugby, England. Yes! Rugby! That was where the rules of the modern game of rugby football were developed and took its name.
When I was still very young we moved to the market town of Evesham in Worcestershire and I grew up there. I went to University in Coventry studying Urban Planning, which I really enjoyed.
Later I got itchy feet and I retrained to be an EFL teacher. The first country that I went to was Russia. I had always wanted to visit Russia and in 1995 I had been to Moscow to visit my pen friend Vadim. So after qualifying I went to live & work in Russia in January 1997. I went to a town outside Moscow called Pavlovski Posad, which was a garment producing settlement. I enjoyed living in this town, which had a very rural atmosphere. After that I moved into Moscow and met my wife Sophie (as you know!). Two years later we relocated from the cold of Moscow to the heat of Cairo. Living, working and holidaying in Egypt was an amazing experience. We visited as many of the ancient sites as we could, we camped in the desert and we swam in the Red Sea. All unforgettable! Next we decided to try to uncover the mysteries of the Orient and so we came to Japan and Kyoto. We have been in Kyoto for the past six years now. I worked for the British Council for a couple of years before I decided to move to the university sector because Kyoto is a famous university town with many job opportunities. Which is pretty much where I am now.
There is just time to say a special hello to Rosalba in New Zealand, I’m looking forward to communicating with you.
Rugby football 15 players in a team played with an oval ball passed from hand to hand.
Market town The main feature of these is a very wide main street or market place or square, with room for the market to be set up.
Itchy feet A wish, desire or even need to go travelling or walking.
Settlement Permanent community where people live
Rural Country or countryside away from towns & cities (urban areas).
Atmosphere The feeling, mood or tone of an area
Relocated To move or transfer to another place
Uncover To discover the reality of something or someone
Orient This means “east” and has come to mean East Asia.
Couple A pair or two of something.
Pretty much Practically.
posted on Tuesday, 01 July 2008 | comment on this post
Kyoto life & hello to you all
Hello again to you all and thank you SO much for your kind words, they are very much appreciated. Van Gogh! Well thank you Marianna, he is certainly one of the greatest painters in history but a little crazy? Another famous comparison from Habooba, I can only dream of Ibn Battuta’s travels. Bahij excellent point! Yes I think our experiences have really helped us to assist students with their communication. Naheed yes over the next month I’m sure you’ll notice many things about my teaching style; I hope they will mostly be positive. Guzin I’ll try and let you know over the next month about being a foreigner in Japan. Fuji knows that July is a very special & exciting month in Kyoto and I’ll talk about that soon. Cristina the education system is not so strict for younger children in Japan. I think that the pressure increases from after they leave elementary school and preparation starts for university entrance exams. Finally to Luis Rugby, the town is in the central part of England called the Midlands. The population is about 60,000 and it is 132 km North of London. You can also find Rugby settlements in (as you say) North Dakota and Tennessee.
Thank you all for your warm welcome.
I thought that a quick description of Kyoto would be interesting for people reading this blog because for many people Japan is a difficult and expensive place to get to.
First of all the name Kyoto…
Kyo-to (western capital)….. To-kyo (eastern capital)
I never even noticed that before I came to Japan!
Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868 and is set inland, which is unusual for Japanese cities. The city is surrounded on the West, North & East by mountains. These mountains have a profound effect on the climate, making the winters quite severe and the summers hot and muggy. It is about 45 km North of Osaka and Tokyo is 370 km to the East. The population is just under 1.5 million and the main things that people know about Kyoto are that there are a lot of temples and shrines and that it is home to the Kyoto Protocol.
So what is it like to live here? June is known, as the ‘rainy season’ so it is really humid. July is the start of the ‘real’ summer (why ‘real’ because for an English person I find June REALLY hot TOO!). As I live close to downtown my house is certainly hotter (because of the heat island effect) than many of my friends’ homes that are up on the hills overlooking the city. I’m not that jealous because when it comes to travelling around town and enjoying the city I’m at the centre of things. Plus in the winter they are freezing. Bearing in mind the city’s connection with global warming I always make an effort not to use the air conditioner. So far this year I have not used it, which I am very pleased about, as it will also save me money! I'm looking forward to posting again soon. Best wishes Simon.
Appreciated Valued, respected or cherished.
Inland Away from the sea or coast area.
Profound Deep, intense or extreme impact upon something or someone.
Severe A harsh or very cold winter.
Muggy A lot of water in the air, moist or humid.
Temples and shrines Places of worship for Buddhist and Shinto
Kyoto Protocol A rule on reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change, which was signed in Kyoto on 11th December 1997.
Downtown The city centre.
Heat island effect Change in the land surface to city development leads to higher temperatures.
Overlooking To have a view, usually from a higher place.
Jealous Envious, to want something that someone else has got.
Freezing Very cold, especially below 0C.
Bearing in mind Considering.
posted on Thursday, 03 July 2008 | comment on this post
19:00 Sunday K.O. time for the J1 game between Kyoto Sanga & Oita Trinita at Kyoto’s Nishikyogoku stadium. There are 18 teams in J1 and before KO Oita from Kyushu the most southerly of the four main islands are in a decent 8th place while Sanga are 15th. It seems bad but the difference is only 3 points so a win tonight will move Sanga level with Oita! I usually go to the games with my Japanese friends Miki and Takashi. Takashi is a big Gunners fan, while my team is West Bromwich Albion, we are both looking forward to the opening day of the season when our two teams will be playing each other. Anyway back to the game. Despite Sanga’s stadium being towards the edge of town and next to the river, it is very warm and humid and the play is is slow. The spectatures slowly cook. Not much happens until after 30 minutes Sanga score! Yeah! Offside! "NO!" go the Sanga fans but wait the referee has given it "YES!". Oita get a free kick one minute later and score, "oooooh!" The rest of the game seems to be Sanga having the ball and passing it around to try and make a shooting chance (and not managing it) and Oita defending and then breaking away to have an excellent chance which just misses or hits the bar. The crowd go home happy but not THAT happy. Attendance 12,533 pretty good for Sanga who usually get about 10,000. Maybe they counted all the babies and really small children who come to the game with their parents. I'm already looking forward to the next game.
Here is a photo of a typical Shinto shrine that you can see all over Kyoto.
Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan.
Some very interesting comments about AC (air conditioners) and their use, Naheed and Gazin I asked my colleagues about their use of AC and many who live up on the hills never use them at all. Lucky! Of those, like me who live in the city it seems that I am using my AC least. I think it depends on the location, orientation
and construction type of your house and your own personal feelings. As for earthquakes Naheed, generally Kyoto doesn’t get many bad ones (touch wood
). What tends to happen is that every few months there will be a shudder
lasting a few seconds, things will shake and rattle
a little and that's usually all. I have been in one medium sized earthquake in Kyoto and I have to say I have never been as scared as that. Jorge asked about religion in Japan and over the next few weeks I will from time to time try and give you an insight into this aspect of life in Japan.
Diema I too enjoyed the book ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. I live not far from the main area for Geisha in Kyoto, Gion. We can often see Geisha and Maiko going off to work in and around this area, which is really special to see. As for your comments about the length of this blog (already it is getting long…..) somebody wise once said “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Some people will like a longer in-depth blog while others might prefer shorter ones. I think that many people with busy lives haven’t got much time in their day to come to this site and read a long blog, so it seems to me that shorter is better. I'm really looking forward to reading your comments soon, best wishes Simon
Arsenal Football Club from North London.
West Bromwich Albion
Football Club from the West Midlands of England & the team I have supported since I was young.
Kick the ball at the goal.
To move quickly from defence to attack.
Part of the goal frame.
The number of people who go to the game.
The direction in which something (a house) faces, North or South for example.
If you want good luck to continue then you must say this.
Shudder Shake Rattle
Move and make a noise
posted on Saturday, 05 July 2008 | comment on this post
Snail mail shocker
I’m sure that many of you write letters and will post them expecing that they might arrive the next day or perhaps the day after or at least within the week. Perhaps if you are writing to someone in another country you might expect the letter to take ten days or two weeks or maybe even three weeks if you live far from a major city or town. But none of these things apply in this case! In May this year Sophie was in France visiting her family and friends and she sent me a postcard, nice. I received the card on the 3rd of July. “When was it sent?” I hear you ask. It is clearly post marked the 13th of May! Over seven weeks later! I couldn’t believe it! Of course it is as we say ‘Better late than never’ but still seven weeks! I wonder if any readers have stories of letters, which have taken ages to reach you or their destination?
Today I’d like to concentrate on our student blogger Rosalba.
Hi Rosi don’t think that you have been forgotten! Thanks for your fantastic blogs! I had a great time in New Zealand a few years ago. I travelled all over the country for a month. I did all the usual thing like tasting wine, whale watching and counting sheep, but no bungee jumping.
As for your blog well from the first I selected a section, which seems fine but actually contains numerous typical errors, I wonder if you can see them
“….I like suggestions and advices but I think New Zealand is not a very known country and it would be nice discover new places and traditions.” Which you could change to “…I would like any suggestions and advice because I think New Zealand is not a very well known country and it might be nice for people to discover new places and traditions.”
In your second blog I liked “I even saw raining cats and dogs!!!” In Japan it often rains like this as well! In total there is twice as much rain in Japan as the UK but yet students still ask me if England has any dry days! I have to agree with you that Spain were the best team of the 2008 European Championships and deserved to win. What are the chances of England winning the next World Cup? Because the last time Spain won (1964) England won two years later 1966! Now that we have an Italian coach maybe it can happen! I can dream!
In your third blog you asked about living in Egypt. Well to start with I only needed a light jacket on a few winter days! Winter isn’t something that people really think much of in connection with Egypt but many houses can be quite cold in the winter because they only have AC for heating which isn’t very efficient. As most people know most of the year it is REALLY hot and sunny in Egypt so you need to be especially careful to drink enough water. The main problem I found with living in Cairo were the terrible traffic jams, which can be really trying on your nerves. Also the thick smog can be really upsetting if you live there for a long time. On the positive side, however, the people of Egypt are cheerful and helpful and it is a great place if you enjoy a bit of haggling. Of course this all takes place in English. As for the sites well, going into the desert was a real highlight, swimming in the Red Sea was also amazing and oh yes don’t forget those ancient Egyptians as well, fantastic.
From your next blogs about Auckland, the Maori people and the Haka all I can say is “fantastic stuff!” I love the photos as well, really good camera work Rosi. Finally you asked me about the food in Japan.
Well that could take a LONG time! For Japanese people food is a BIG deal. Sushi is well known but Japanese people also love fresh vegetables and they won’t buy anything that is less than perfect. However, you might be surprised at the number of fast food joints in Japan and the many very high calorie Japanese foods that people here eat in restaurants. I’ll try and get some photos of various things so that you can see them. As for drinks beer is a favourite here in Japan and especially during the long hot summers when it is served very cold. The taste is very light and refreshing. I personally like Yebisu (pronounced ‘ebis’ by most people) or Sapporo, which is quite well, known. Sake is also famous as the drink of Japan, like gin from England or whisky from Scotland (or Ireland). Sake is about half the strength of these types of alcohol. Most people know that sake is served hot in a small cup and I especially love this in winter. However, the best quality sake is actually served at room temperature to maintain the delicate flavours.
For your homework I’d like to ask you to think about any communication problems that you’ve had while you’ve been in New Zealand, funny ones are ok too! I’d be interested to hear about any as I’m sure would many of the other readers.
Best wishes Rosi and I look forward to reading more of your blog. Simon
Better late than never It is better to get something or for someone to arrive than not to get something no matter what the time.
Post marked Print over the stamp with the time and date that it was sorted.
Bungee jumping Jumping from a high point, often a bridge, with thick elastic around your ankles!
Raining cats and dogs One of many phrases used in Britain to talk about especially heavy rain.
Traffic jams Very slow movement of cars, buses and lorries in cities
Smog Polluted air in a thick cloud, which is low over a city.
Haggling A discussion of price between buyer and seller. One wants to keep the price high and the other wants to get the price lower.
Sushi Raw (uncooked) fish on a small amount of rice.
Fast food joints Restaurant, cafe or diner.
Delicate Not strong, fragile, subtle.
posted on Wednesday, 09 July 2008 | comment on this post
The end of term blues
Stress is rising amongst the students and staff as we move closer towards the end of term and the final exams. In Japan the school and university year runs from April to January/February, just the same as the financial year. In fact many people start their jobs in April each year. I’ve been busy making tests for the students in the last few days and from next week I’ll be giving them and then marking them all! I’ll let you know how my university students get on.
Plants and flowers at one of my universities.
Thanks for your blog Rosi I loved your explanation on Maori carving it reminded me of the jade necklace I bought for Sophie with a twist in it when I visited New Zealand.
I wonder what has happened to your package? Is it in the corner of a vast sorting room somewhere in Italy like something from Indiana Jones?
Translating is something very hard NOT to do as Pary in Iran said. I remember I used to do that with French a lot. My problem these days, apart from not being very good, is what teachers call ‘second language interference’. Basically I speak and think in Japanese mostly (a second language) but when I go to France I need to access that language (a different second language) from the deep dark recesses of my brain but the other more prominent language ‘interferes’ and the words come out in Japanese rather than French. That can be pretty funny, when I went to a post office in Paris last summer I asked for “kitte hagaki kokusaiteki kudasai” which is something like ‘could I have a stamp for an international postcard please’. The counter staff looked quite surprised. Perhaps that is why Sophie’s postcard took so long to get here! Delphine I can answer your question, yes the postcard was in an envelope! Darkweed I think you were the victim of an Indiana Jones type conspiracy. But you should have had an apology at the very least. Cristina yes I think you can say “yesterday!” when you need something in a hurry, but you might need to be in a native speaker country for people to understand that! What do you think? Have you ever tried “ASAP”? But with both of these I think a little care should be taken as they both could be considered rude. The sound of your voice is very important when using them.
James beer is usually about 4, 5 or 6% alcohol, whereas sake is about 20% but whisky, gin and vodka are around 40%. I understand what you mean about the microbes, but they live in the guts of the fish, however, with sushi you only eat the ‘meat’ of the fish and usually only the very best parts. When you eat really good sushi it just melts in your mouth it really is surprising and tasty in a light way. All this talk of beer and sushi is making me hungry and thirsty!
These small Shinto shrines are cared for by the local people. This tends to be older people. You can see these 'O-gizu-san' all over Kyoto and they contain small stones which represent the local gods. Small offerings of food and sake or other drinks are left in front of the stones.
Ricardo yes it took me longer than I had realised to reply to Rosi. As they say in Japan ‘Gomen-ne’ (sorry about that).
Financial year The year from April in one year to March in the next year for the planning of spending and receiving money.
Vast Very big
Sorting room The place where letters and parcels are taken to be organised so that they can be delivered to the right people.
Recesses A place which is difficult to get to either physically or as in this case mentally.
Interference Interferes Gets in the way of, preventingsomething from happening or slowing it down.
Prominent More often used also easy to see "landmark".
ASAP As Soon As Possible.
posted on Friday, 11 July 2008 | comment on this post
Thanks Rosi, I know what it is to be busy at the moment, as you can imagine with setting and grading the exams, plus I have many end of term essays to mark. However, I don’t want to grumble too much because actually I enjoy what I do.
As for green fingers I’m afraid that in Japan we seem to have none! We have bought many different kinds of plants and kept them in many different parts of the house but they always seem to die! On her last visit my mother bought us a lavender plant and we thought it was dead. The last chance was to put it outside our house. We don’t have a garden but just to the side of our front door is a small tree so we thought it might survive there. Luckily for the lavender the landlady started to take care of it and I am happy to say it is doing really well now.
If I understand you it is better to eat more often than less often in the day. So I would imagine smaller snack like meals would be good, is that right?
I thought that Paulraj made an interesting comment about the traditional post service. There is a lot of competition for communication now and the sight of a postman with a smaller sack of letters should be something to worry about. What happens when there aren’t enough letters for the postal workers to keep their jobs and small local post offices close? Not every one uses email.
Thanks to Leila I hope I can keep you reading and commenting.
Delphine it does take time to go through the tests and essays and the teachers I know always take a lot of care with their grading. As for abbreviations do you mean things like this ‘SP’, ‘G’ and ‘WW’? These ones you might know ‘Spelling’, ‘Grammar’ and ‘Wrong Word’. So these are written down at the appropriate places so that the student can think about correcting what they have put. Have you any abbreviations in mind?
Marianna “I take my hat off to you” too! Actually I cannot claim to be able to speak &/or think well in Japanese, but it IS very useful to know how the language the students use (in this case Japanese) works (the grammar) and how this might effect their use of English. Also useful is an understanding of the way that English is taught, and the reasons for the way it is taught, in Japanese high schools. Thank you for your kind comments about my blog, I hope you’ll carry on reading and commenting.
I'd like to finish by showing you some of the many signs that you can see in the streets in Kyoto. Do you have any signs like this where you live?
The first one is the central part of the city with the shops. It means that people cannot smoke outside in that area, though most cafes and restaurants have a smoking area. So it is easier to smoke inside than out in Japan!
The second on is in the central area and near and train or underground station. It means that you should not park your bicycle (or motorbike,scooter etc)near there or it might be taken away!
Grumble To complain.
Green fingers To be good with making plants grow.
Abbreviations BBC=British Broadcasting Corporation. To remove all the letter but the first of each word.
I take my hat off to you When you want to congratulate somebody on their ability to do something especially difficult.
Taken away Removed.
posted on Monday, 14 July 2008 | comment on this post
The Gion festival in Kyoto
July is hot and humid in Kyoto, but there is something to look forward to, the Gion festival. This is one of the oldest continuing festivals in the world having started in 869AD. The festival (or matsuri) is to keep the spirits happy and prevent any plagues. The first matsuri successfully brought an end to a particularly bad outbreak and so the locals thought that it would be a good idea to keep the matsuri every year. The main festival takes place on the morning of the 17th when about 30 wooden decorated floats are pulled around the city centre. Fair enough, so far so normal, but don’t forget the heat and humidity and the fact that these floats are big, 10 tons big! They need about 50 men to get them moving. The other part of the matsuri is the building of the floats, which takes place over the preceding 3-5 days. People like to walk around in the evening and see the floats (or ‘hoko’) and they dress in light cotton traditional kimono called ‘yukata’. Where there are a lot of people there come stalls, games, food and drink. On the night before the parade (16th) which is called 'yoi-yama' at least 200,000 people wonder around the narrow streets of the city centre. I was in the city centre on Monday evening (yoi-yoi-yoi-yama) and the streets were closed to traffic and also a strict one-way policy was being enforced for walking in the streets too! Almost every shop is open and each will have a little stall out in the street selling something, not necessarily connected with their business. I saw a hairdresser selling beer! I found a great place that was offering you a chance to win a cup of sake for free. You had to win 2 of 3 games of ‘Junken’ against the owner. ‘Junken’ is the Japanese name for ‘rock-paper-scissors’ that is played all over the world. If you lost you paid the money for the sake, but if you won you got the sake for free! Guess what? I won! Unfortunately I couldn’t stay out long because everywhere was becoming more and more crowded it is just too much for me. On the night before (16th or yoi-yama) it is SO busy that you cannot walk in any direction except that in which the crowd is moving! Below are lights on a 'hoko' for the evening festival of Gion matsuri.
Yes Daniela it is true in the city centre of Kyoto and Tokyo (other cities may follow) it is easier to smoke inside a public place than outside. The main reasoning for this city centre ban on smoking seems to be in two parts, the first is on keeping the streets clean and the second is about preventing accidents. Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of publicity given to cases where children have been burnt by cigarettes in the street by the smokers holding their cigarette casually by their side, which just happens to be exactly the right height for children to be burnt in the face. City centres are very crowded and bumping and pushing happens all the time so a smoker wouldn’t necessarily be taking that much care because this situation (lots of people) is normal. Japan is something of a smokers paradise because the tax on cigarettes is still very low, a packet of 20 cigarettes in the UK might cost $12-$14 but in Japan they might cost $3 or $4!
Guzin and Mauricio I really enjoy being in class, it is the best thing about teaching and I learn a lot from my students too. I don’t like marking essays so much but it is nice to see students improve and start to use words and structures in their essay in the way you showed them. Are you born with green fingers? Perhaps some people are while others can learn I think.
Again really interesting points Paulraj. First I think we could blog till the cows come home about how poorly people behave with their mobile (cell) phones. Second is that if no one sends a telegram any more then why have a telegraph office? Excellent point sometimes things become redundant. Like the Pony Express in the USA, nobody uses that any more because there are better ways of communicating now. So can you imagine a time when there will be no more post offices anywhere in the world because nobody posts letters any more?
Thanks James in Taiwan for your information. I guess the streets are narrow and busy everywhere in Japan!
As for Rosi congratulations on your wedding anniversary! The Sky Tower is amazing. I visited it when I was in NZ. But when you said you and your husband were “breathless” I wondered if you had climbed to the top! Rather the view is ‘breath taking’. I loved your photographs and especially the one of the people outside on the top of the Sky Tower. There is NO WAY that I could EVER do that!
Tonight I'm not going to the 'yoi-yama' Kyoto Sanag have a home game so I will go to that instead. I will let you know what happens.
Best wishes Simon
Plagues Illness which spreads quickly to many people.
Outbreak Happening, occurance.
Ban Stop, prohibition.
Till the cows come home A very long time, or a least all day.
Redundant Of no more use, without a job to do.
Pony Express Was a letter delivery sevice across the USA using a series of horse relays.
posted on Wednesday, 16 July 2008 | comment on this post
No don’t worry this blog is not about hunting but a short blog about football.
Last night rather than forcing my way through the crowds of yoi-yama I chose the crowds of football fans instead, I went to see Kyoto Sanga against Kashima Antlers. Antlers are a BIG team in J1 and are top of the table. They are one of the teams that often challenges for the title here in Japan. But I don’t like them! Why not? Well I support the local team, which is Kyoto Sanga they are one of the smallest teams in J1. Antlers seem to have a bad attitude I think, they behave as if they should not have to come to Kyoto to get the points that they need to be champions. On the other hand I understand that it could be said that they are a big team with good players who are confident and expect to win every game and there isn’t anything wrong with that. The other reason I don’t like Antlers is that they keep beating Sanga the last two times by big scores too. However, Sanga have beaten Antlers before and guess what time of year those victories were? Yes in the heat and humidity of a Kyoto summer. So it proved again last night as Sanga and Antlers played a nice open attacking game with good chances for both side, but the Kyoto summer helped Sanga to a great 2-1 win and despite last night being yoi-yama there were still over 15,000 fans there to see it, that is a good attendance for Sanga. The next home game for Sanga is on Monday evening against FC Tokyo. I can’t wait! GO SANGA!
Thanks for all your comments Rafique good point well done. Adek I hope you daughter will come and visit you and help revive your plants. Marianna I’m sorry to hear about your problems I hope you can relax soon. Nono sorry I don’t know about your question you could try e-mailing University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations or TOFEL, which are the two main international testing boards.
If you have any questions I'm happy to (try) to answer them. Best wishes
posted on Thursday, 17 July 2008 | comment on this post
Heat beats blogger
Yes sorry to say that the city heat has finally forced me to put on the AC this weekend at least during the day, although I still haven’t used it at night and I am using it at 26c setting rather than 15c, which can be experienced in some shops. But I have to say good things are happening regarding AC use in Japan. 3 out of 4 universities have a set level on the AC machines so as to save energy and many places also double check that all AC units are turned off in empty classrooms. Public transportation also now has signs, which indicate that they are using ‘mild AC’. The government started a ‘Cool Biz’ initiative a few years ago whereby workers are encouraged to dress in short sleeved shirts and go without a tie and with the top button of the collar undone. All of these are positive signs that people understand about what has to be done to reduce carbon emissions.
I went to see Kyoto Sanga again on Monday evening against FC Tokyo. This time I went with my Scottish friend Mark and we enjoyed a warm evening at the stadium with many families, as this was a public holiday. GO SANGA! Habooba, the result? Well Kyoto scored in the first half and the in the second half defended and defended and in the last minute no the very last second they let in a goal! OH! NO! Kyoto! After nearly eight years of watching them (and SO many of watching West Bromwich Albion) I should be used to this kind of thing but it still hits you hard. Nevertheless Sanga should be able to stay up this season (I hope) and build on this season for the future. Naheed I’m not sure that Kyoto learnt the lesson of their win against Antlers, unfortunately. Hi Toni I listen to the football news from Europe all the time and I watched nearly every game in the European championships, congratulations to Spain. As for Ronaldinho it seems to me that he needs a new challenge so Milan could be right for him, especially if Kaka stays. Marianna Kyoto Sanga are certainly what we call an ‘underdog’ in J1, which means they are a small team that others will look at as a good chance to beat. However, Kyoto are doing ok so far! Fuji thanks for your question and the only thing I would add to it is ‘the’ before ‘UK’. As you know almost all countries do not have an article in front of them, however, a few do these are usually names of countries which are groups of places or have a common noun like republic, state or union in them like the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Netherlands or the People’s Republic of China. Silwal thanks for your questions. How did Kyoto beat Antlers? Good question and maybe neither Sanga or Antlers know the answer! Perhaps the humidity was too much for Antlers or perhaps Sanga didn’t let Antlers play or possibly Antlers had a ‘bad day at the office’. Which means one of those days where nothing goes right for you. As for Japanese fans, the main supporters who are behind the goals make a lot of noise with their singing and chanting. Passive would be a good word to describe the rest of the supporters in the stadium. I have NEVER heard of any fighting between fans in Japan it is a very family friendly environment. Maione you are talking about a great team called Fiorentina. Kyoto Sanga also play in purple because it was the colour of the emperors who lived in Kyoto. As I’m sure many people know making the colour purple was extremely difficult and expensive and so it was reserved for only the very top members of society.
I hope that you are having a great time Leila.
Rosi, that is such a funny signpost! Excellent! Then you post another one with a Kiwi! When I was in NZ I seem to remember that there were quite a few funny signs like those, they must specialize in them. I think Habooba is right. As you show us Rosi NZ is a bird watchers paradise, serious bird spotters are called ‘twitchers’ and they will travel all over the world to see rare birds. I’m sure many of them spend a lot of time in NZ.
I really enjoyed Wellington too Rosi. The Te Papa museum is excellent and the setting of the city is great too. However I think you forgot to say how windy it can be. I think the two islands force the wind through the channel between them and it can be quite breezy in Wellington. Oh by the way at the start of your blog you put “From today on the end of this blog I would like….”. Try this “From today until the end of this blog I would like….”. Or how about “From today onwards I would like….”.
Tomorrow I will post some of the photos I have taken recently but haven’t been able to use so far. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
Best wishes and carry on posting Simon.
posted on Tuesday, 22 July 2008 | comment on this post
Kyoto photo comments, questions, replies & answers
First of all thank you all so much for your comments and questions to the Kyoto photo section, they are very much appreciated. I will do my best to help you with an answer or at least my idea of an answer!
Rosi the photo of the bicycle and the umbrella seems to have got a lot of attention!
Actually I have never used this system but I guess it must work as you can see it quite often around town.
Ahhhh the Coromandel nice!
I too like walking in my bare feet it is so cool on the grass for my toes I love it.
As you can see we don’t have ‘naked’ feet but ‘bare’ and we usually need more than one shoe or sock! The next sentence is also interesting,
‘This is one of the strangest thing I have never seen’.
I’d change that to ‘This is one of the strangest things I have ever seen’.
I also LOVE ‘…you nosed out me!!!!’ nosey (nosy) means TOO interested in other people’s business that is in a bad way as we say in Britain a ‘nosy parker’. I think you meant to say ‘…you found me out!!!!’
But the funniest of all was ‘I work about 40 hours a day and so far I enjoy working here because I'm improving my English very fast.’ I’m not surprised that you are improving your English if NZ has over 40 hours in every day! Sorry about that. I have to agree with you about the distance that our countries of residence are from our home countries. It is a long haul for sure and my family would be much happier. They might even phone at the correct time of day!
Leila I think some of the ‘mystery’ comes from the way things in Japan look ‘private’ and not for outsiders (this is true for Japanese as well as foreigners). However, if you have an interest in anything Japanese there are a lot of people who want to help you enjoy and understand more about it that’s so great.
Habooba the no smoking sign is actually printed onto four very hard wearing ceramic tiles set into the ground. I like that stadium shot too thank you.
Maryam I think that Japan is changing quite a bit but there is even now a very clear cut split in Japanese families that shows how traditional they still are, men go to work and women stay at home and look after the family. There isn’t anything wrong with this but as Japan has a falling population there needs to be more flexibility in the workforce then I can see at the present. By the way, good luck to Iran for your qualifying group in the World Cup.
Guzin thanks for your post. I agree with your idea that small things with no famous inventor are often things that shape our lives the most.
Silwal I’m not sure how strong the umbrellas are in Japan! I think that when it is REALLY raining hard (cats and dogs you might say) then people tend to wait for it to ease off. The only time when the streets are empty is when there has been a typhoon warning.
Maione that is an interesting question. I’m not sure that any historic city can live comfortably with the modern part of itself. Unfortunately (as so often around the World) people in Japan are only now seeing the good things in their traditional homes and architecture.
Ana Paula the old houses are considered dark, small and inconvenient for modern living.
Marianna you are right it WAS one of the main reasons why a chose to come to live in Kyoto. I am interested in the problems that traditional cities (less so towns) have, the need to modernize, preserve and conserve.
Mariusz you’ll be interested to hear that sake is 20% so not as strong as Polish vodka. However, you should be a little careful drinking warm sake, as it seems to get into your blood much quicker than regular alcohol!
BanK, Jorge, Toni and Cristina thank you for your comments too.
Finally I have now finished term here at university in Kyoto. All the papers are marked and all the grades have been finalized and handed in to the administration department.
How did the students do? Well it shouldn’t be a surprise but the students who didn’t come to class usually failed the class. Nothing shocking there! There were only a few students who failed and it is always a difficult thing to do but there must be a standard.
Overall this term (called the Spring term in Japan) has been very rewarding and I (at least) enjoyed it very much. I am looking forward to a holiday now and then back to work in September. So on Sunday night I will be flying back to the UK to see Sophie, which I am REALLY looking forward to. I’ll also have time to see my family and I hope catch up with a few of my friends. Now I have to pack…never much fun!
As for the blog I will try and blog a couple of more times next week to let you know about how it feels to be back in Britain. I am looking forward to some cool weather, though I shall probably catch a cold knowing my luck!
Best wishes and I’ll post again next week from England!
posted on Saturday, 26 July 2008 | comment on this post
When is a delay not a delay?
When it is a cancellation!
Hi everyone as you know I was flying back to the UK on Sunday night and yes I am safely back in Britain but after an interesting few hours....
I was at the airport in plenty of time for the 01;30 take off time.
KIX or Kansai International is a brand new airport on an artificial island nearly a kilometre off the mainland.
It is an amasing building and I usually enjoy going there....
This time we all got on board and then we slowly moved around the airport in the plane but never took off....I thought we might be driving back to Britain for a change!
Instead we stopped and were served some sandwiches.
Then at about 3:30 we were told that the plane could not take off due to 'maintenance' problems.
Well I prefer to be careful rather than not when it comes to flying so I wasn't too disappointed.
Next the staff told us that the local hotels were full so that we would have to sleep in the airport terminal near the gate.
This being Japan there weren't too many groans, but I'm sure Thai air's reputation has suffered.
So by the time we are as comfortable as you can be in an airport terminal it was about 4.
By 6 the sirport staff were arriving and cleaning for the new day and by 7 there were lots of new passengers arriving too!
PLUS there was a terrible combination of music not just one type of music but two! So it was IMPOSSIBLE to ignore them both especially as they were completely different kinds of music traditional jazz and traditional Japanese!
So while the seats were quite comfortable the noise was not helpful for getting any sleep. BUT do you ever sleep on a plane anyway?
I was due to fly from Kansai and arrive in Bangkok at about 5, then wait for 6 hours before flying on to London arriving at 18:00.
But as luck would have it the Thai staff put me on the 10:00 JAL direct flight to London which arrived at......14:00 so saving FOUR hours!!!
So you can see that the answer to the question in the title is when you fly Internationally you might arrive at your destination BEFORE you thought so, not later than you thought!
Now that IS a funny thing!
The Thai air staff were very good and as helpful as they could be in the circumstances, I wonder if they can put me on the direct flight back to Japan?
OK I have to go to sleep now but I will blog again with a little of what it is like to be back in Britain.
Bye for now
posted on Tuesday, 29 July 2008 | comment on this post
From BBC Learning English
Time to say thank you Simon for your blog - surely I am not the only one who won't easily forget the nail-biting story of a time-cheating international traveller! We are not saying goodbye to Simon just yet - I hear he is busy writing his last blog right at this very moment.
From tomorrow this blog will be hosted by Amy Lightfoot who many of you will remember from a year ago. Welcome back Amy!
posted on Thursday, 31 July 2008 | comment on this post
A Very British Summer!
I hope that you are all well.
I have just about got back to 'normal' (whatever that is) after the jet lag and am ready for the final blog!
What have I been doing?
Well actually a bit of sightseeing!
Sophie has a presentation to do this Friday so I thought it best to not distract her, so I decided to stay with a mutual friend near London and do some sightseeing.
I have been to see Saint Paul's Cathedral, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Malaysia week in London (very tasty food), The London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery, Piccadilly Circus and the Chinese Embassy!
The last might not be on everyone's list of places to visit whilst in London but now I have a visa to visit China this September for a few days which I am very excited about. I'm especially looking forward to seeing the Great Wall of China and some Chinese food in China!
I LOVE sightseeing in London and the rest of Britain. I really feel that I enjoy Britain when I come back, the food the sights and the interactions with people.
Being back in Britain is also a bit of a challenge! Yes even for a native speaker you have to get back into the way people speak to you and joke and make comments. It is quite different from Japan where interactions are quite tightly controlled, most of the time.
The other great thing about being back in Britain is the weather!
Yes really it is so interesting and varied every day!
The other day was cold, sunny, hot, windy, cloudy, rainy and then hot again!
In Kyoto in the summer it is hot, humid and sunny when you wake up and stays the same throughout the day.
Now isn't that boring!
Is anything bad about being back?
I can't believe how much people talk on their mobile phones on trains and buses here that almost never happens in Japan! Maybe I will notice other annoying things as the days go by!
Finally I would like to thank everyone for their kind comments, challenging questions and interest in me and my blog this month. Writing a blog is a strange experience but knowing that many people are reading your thoughts is very rewarding too.
Of course I would particularly like to congratulate Rosi on her own wonderful blog which I have enjoyed reading very much. The photos were great too funny, beautiful and informative.
It only remains for me to wish the next bloggers the best of luck and I trust that everyone will keep on reading and adding to this great resource. Everyone who writes in is helping to make this site the special place that it is.
All my best wishes
posted on Thursday, 31 July 2008 | comment on this post