On my day off on Friday I was invited to Teru’s apartment for a gyoza making session, which was extremely welcome, as I love gyoza and normally find any opportunity to eat them, therefore I really wanted to know how to make them so I could satisfy this habit. We made three different types, one with a typical pork stuffing, another with prawns, and the last with a Japanese herb called “shiso”. We ended up making a total of 60. This made lunch an absolute feast as, on top of the gyoza, we served miso soup, rice, and spicy fish roe. The fish roe I was a little worried about trying at first but its spicy red pepper seasoning made it incredibly tasty. I ate so much to the point of feeling almost quite sick, but nonetheless it was an amazing meal. After letting lunch settle a little bit we went shopping in a local shopping centre. I managed to buy some new vans shoes after getting the sales clerk to find the largest pair they could find, as my size shoe almost seems unheard of in Japan. This definitely reinforced the fact that I feel enormous in Japan.
On my next day off on Sunday I decided to go to Tokyo and have an explore. I headed to Shinjuku, an area I had been before but when I did not have much money, so this time armed with a lot more cash I wanted to do a little shopping and explore the many busy streets that it possesses. Although before I delved into the hustle and bustle I tried to find Shinjuku-gyoen, a large city garden. This proved to be harder than I thought. I had managed to come across the large metal fence that surrounded the garden perimeter, although I was clueless how to get in. After asking some locals, I was told I had to follow the fence for around another 20 minutes. By this time I was getting quite pissed off because I had been walking for ages and was starting to get blisters from my fresh shoes. So when no one was looking I hastily jumped the fence, and after emerging from some bushes I found myself in Shinjuku-gyoen. It was really quite a beautiful place to walk around. The autumn time had caused the trees to drop their leaves, twice the size of my head, to layer the ground. The traditional Japanese garden with a pagoda over looking a large pond was rather spectacular and it was fun to watch the koi carp fighting for scraps of bread. Despite this there was only so many pictures I could take and flowers I could look at.
When darkness approached I left the park and started to walk around central Shinjuku. It is an interesting place with almost too much going on to take in. From wandering around I found a man dressed in a Pikachu onesie working in an arcade and I tried to take his picture but it was not well received. I was not happy to be rejected by Pikachu. After this I seemed to get lost in the more seedy side as there were lots of people lingering around and I was asked several times if I wanted a “sexy massage”. Later I witnessed a procession that was making its way around tightly guarded by the police. I did not make much sense from the chanting or shouting coming from the crowd, although many of them were holding signs saying “no nukes” or such like. This was quite interesting as most of the passers-by started to follow in unison taking out their camera phones to get a quick snapshot. Eventually I had managed just to get lost for hours walking around absorbing the strange happenings that Shinjuku has to offer.
Then back at work, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, was all quite normal again. Although not to say it hasn’t been entertaining. On Tuesday morning at Kuki Kindergarten we were practicing fulling requests requests. We had handed out a card with a different food on it to all the children in the class. I was acting like a hungry king and had to order the children to come give me a certain kind of food by saying “can I have some…please”. It so happened that at least one little girl in each class burst into tears when they had to come give me their food. Clearly I am still some scary strange looking man to these small innocent Japanese children. Also what has been quite entertaining is that I have been teaching clothes, which I must teach in American English, meaning “trousers” are “pants”. Like English, underwear in Japanese can be understood as “パンツ – pantsu” so all the little kids have been finding it hilarious when I have been asking them to shout out “pants”!