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It may seem obvious, but unsliced sashimi is available from every supermarket in Japan.

On the left is tuna (maguro) and on the right is salmon (sake).

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This is Yuko’s administrative assistant certificate (and accompanying wallet card) that she earned when she worked in the office of the president of Matsuyama University. It’s officially the 秘書検定, and is the Japanese equivalent of the CPS exam (which I didn’t even know existed until today).

It tests a variety of theoretical and practical skills useful to administrative assistants, including the stylized manner of serving tea that should be used when receiving high-ranked guests.

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Breakfast cereal isn’t consumed in Japan the same way it’s consumed in the States. Most Japanese people prefer a traditional Japanese breakfast including rice, fish, vegetable pickles, raw egg, and/or miso soup, with hurried professionals and college students recently starting to eat dry toast (by itself), but the drink is always green tea.

Because of this, the variety of breakfast cereal available here is very small, consisting mostly of corn flakes (in plain, frosted, and chocolate varieties) and a few varieties of granola, which is what I usually eat for breakfast.

You can get boxes of stuff like this in a few places around town, but it’s really expensive. This box was about $4.50, and is barely big enough for two days’ breakfast. You can see my cell phone there for size.

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Chocolate dog heads make great gifts in Japan.

I received these little treats from a student who was leaving the school where I worked.

They tasted quite good, very rich if that’s your thing, but the real artistry was in how they looked; crafted as you can see into three very distinct dogs’ heads.

Canines never tasted so good.

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My sister’s birthday is today, and my brother’s birthday is in a month. In honor of their birthdays, I’m going to post something each day between them, starting today. 😮

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I finally did it! I’ve been meaning to learn this song for nigh on twenty years now.

What finally motivated me was a friendly competition between several of the teachers at my school, to see who could get the most views in one month.

To that end I enlist your help, dear reader. Take a look, and if it stirs your nostalgia, inspires a singalong, or tickles your funnybone, then share the love!

Enjoy!

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Imagine, if you will, a grown man, approximately 30 years old. Now imagine him, running across a beach.

Now add an incredible downpour, take his clothes, and picture him leaping over suddenly-gouged runoff channels in the sand. Yep that’s me.

Last Saturday night I went to Imabari, a city near Matsuyama, for salsa night at a club there. They’ve recently moved; the new location was taken over from a burlesque revue (which I had no idea existed around here), so it was much bigger and brighter than the old hole-in-the-wall location and I was excited to see it.

Unfortunately, Yuko had already made plans with friends from work, so I went stag with Kevin. Manuel and a mutual friend of theirs rounded out the foursome, and Manuel drove us all in his minivan.

As the dancing was winding down, Kevin reminded me that I still hadn’t been camping on the beach, and he and Manuel both happened to have their camping gear in the car.

It seemed like a great idea at the time.

We left the club a little after 2am and stopped at a convenience store to get some supplies. By the time we finished setting up the tents around 4:30am, the sun’s first rays were just peeking over the eastern horizon, and the first small water droplets were falling pleasantly around us. In fact, I commented that the nice patter might help us sleep well for our anticipated day of fun, sun, and barbequeing.

Unfortunately, that small patter grew to a heavy drizzle, then a deluge. Manuel’s tent had not only been leaking while he slept, but it proved better at retaining water than shedding it, leaving everything inside soaked through. The tent I shared with Kevin was a little better off, we only soaked up a bit of water where Kevin’s lanky frame stretched the tent’s seams by his feet.

In the morning, Manuel was hell bent on getting off the beach as soon as possible. Because all his stuff was already soaked, it didn’t matter that he was taking down his tent in the pouring rain.

And because he was our ride, Kevin and I were faced with the difficult question of how best to keep our stuff dry while moving it from the beach to the car.

We eventually accepted the fact that it wasn’t going to let up any time soon. However, we only had the clothes on our backs, and didn’t want them to get drenched while we disassembled the tent and moved everything to the car.

Both of us being boys on an otherwise-deserted beach, we decided to strip down to our underwear and pack everything in the plastic shopping bags from the night before.

Cue wet, naked beach running.

After that, it was pretty easy. With our stuff safely in the car, Kevin and I even took a few minutes to jump in the sea. Heck, we were already naked and soaked, why not? The water was surprisingly warm compared to the cool late-summer rain falling around us, and unusually non-salty because of the downpour, but a few honks from the car reminded us not to stay too long.

Would I do it again? Probably not on purpose.
I’m glad to have the adventure, though. =)

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“Don’t they all move?” you may ask. Yes, but I mean “move” as in “Let’s go rent a truck for half a day and move this stuff in weather that’s so crazy all the schools are closed and the trains stopped running.” I helped Joe move his scooter, bicycle, and some miscellaneous stuff from Sakurai (a small town about 45 minutes away) to Matsuyama in gale force winds and driving rain. We actually had to take the panes off the second story window to lower the bed on a rope. Awesome.

I barely made it to work on time, and all our classes were cancelled today, leaving all the teachers doing administrative work in the office. Not so bad, but a little slow.

In any event, let’s hope this storm blows over like the last one did.

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I normally wouldn’t post about something about as simple as a haircut. However, in the span of an hour, I recently went from having the longest hair of my entire life to having the shortest hair of my entire life.

Looking in the mirror post cut, my first thought was “What have I done!”, followed closely by “Wow, the temperature out here is suddenly tolerable,” which is why I did it in the first place.

I’ve discovered a few other gems too, like not having to use conditioner. I still use a little shampoo each day, as opposed to soap, because I don’t want my hair to dry out. And last weekend I learned how wonderful it feels to be able to put your head under a faucet on a hot day at the park.

I don’t think I’ll keep it this way, but it’s good to know my head isn’t horribly misshapen under the hair I’ve always had covering it.

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MSP Mob at the Matsuno MarathonThis Sunday I walked in the Matsuno Tougenkyou Marathon, which translates to something like “Matsuno’s Fairytale Garden Marathon,” so named because the route took us through lots of blooming cherry blossoms. I only did the 10k instead of the half marathon (20k) on offer, but I felt like I could have kept going for at least another 5k.

I walked most of it because my knee doesn’t let me do much running. On the day though, I took 800mg of Ibuprofen and felt good enough to run on some of the downhill sections. As Rick sagely pointed out before the race, everyone gets caught up in the moment, no mater what your intentions.

I was a little worried about going over the time limit because I was only walking while everyone else would be running. On the day though, I actually saw people walking the half marathon, and a couple of the ladies from our own MSP Mob even stopped a couple times to take pictures.

If I do it again next year I’ll have to get some better shoes, because my old clunkers (~6 years old) really left my feet sore the next day.

Even still, I ended up finishing at one hour and fifteen minutes; fast enough to not be last, and slow enough to have enjoyed the scenery. 😉

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