Martin In Japan

Our Man In Japan

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Photos Published

It's been a while, but I've finally added some photos from the last month or so. If you go to my photos section and click on the big red button, a new window will open and you can browse the new photos.

You might notice that the pages look a bit different. Well, I've been doing a bit of spodding and changed the system I use to publish photos. Not much has changed (you still get to see the photos) except it's easier for me to put captions on each photo so I can put some photos into context. Another benefit is that visitors can now leave comments with each photo, so please let me know what you think of any photo.

Happy viewing!

(PS. I should also point out that If you feel any of my photos are unsuitable or inappropriate, or if you simply do not wish to have your photo published, please email me and I will resolve the issue as soon as I can)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

They'll find you in the end

I was studying this afternoon and heard tap at my door. I opened and found a smartly-dressed Japanese woman with a pamphlet in her hand. She offered it too me, asked me to read it and see what I thought. I took it, said thank you and she left. I looked at the pamphlet and it had a familar design to it; picture of war in one half, pictures of smiley people in paradise in the other. I looked for something to confirm my guess and there it was, in the corner on the back page. The web address for the Watchtower.

I guess the Jehovahs Witnesses in London weren't kidding when they said they were all over the world.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fecked Fridge

When I was getting my dinner ready on Wednesday, I noticed that everything in my fridge was warm. I hadn;t tripped over the cord and unplugged it. It wasn't obviously broken because the light was still on. Maybe I'd left the door open all day? So I turned up the coldness, closed the door firmly and hoped that would be that. I checked on Thursday morning and the fridge was still warm and I noticed a gassy smell. Coolant leak, which equals knackered fridge.

So I ring my supervisor, explain the problem and he tells me that we can't do anything until Monday because the guy at the school office who looks after my apartment is on business trips until then. Brilliant.

So, over the last few days I've slowly seen everything in my fridge melt or rot; the ice-creams in teh freezer, the frozen mince, milk, margarine. The most scarey thing was the ton-kotsu soup I made on Tuesday. When I went to throw it out today it was bubbling! Must have been something to do with the miso.

Looks like combini food or eating out from now until the fridge is fixed. I can hear my belt straining already.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Big weekend for Hull

I was idling round my usual sites and found out that this weekend is quite important to the two rugby teams in Hull; Hull FC and Hull KR. As with all cities that have two teams for the same sport, there's a lot of rivalry between Hull FC and Hull KR. It stems mostly from the fact that Hull is divided into two by the River Hull; Hull FC is in the west and Hull KR is in the east. Also, with the richer districts of Kirkella and Willerby in the west, the rivalry also takes on a conflict in class. (for once, religion doesn't come into it but that's probably because pretty much no-one in Hull is bothered about going to church). Anyways, back to the rugby.

Years ago, Rugby League in England got remodelled by Sky money in the same way English football became the Premiership. One of the major changes to rubgy was that it became a summer sport, meaning the climax of the season occurs in October (more specifically this weekend). Another change was that the top teams of each league enter a playoff competition and the winners of each playoff final, the Grand Final, are crowned champions.

Today Hull FC will be playing St Helens in the Super League Grand Final. The winner will be crowned champions of Rugby League and, if they can pull it off, it'll be the first trophy for Hull FC in a long time (probabaly since the 80s). It's almost tempting to get up at 2am and listen to the radio commentry via the web.

Yesterday was the Grand Final for League One and Hull KR beat Widnes in the National League Grand Final. As well as being champions, Hull KR will be promoted to the Super League next season, where they'll be playing against Hull FC.

Which leads to the interesting situation of Hull FC versus Hull KR, East versus West. I can hear the policemen rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of overtime uring the two city derbies. And during those derbies, where do my allegencies stand? My dad was a Hull FC fan and he took me to see matches, including the 1984 Cup Final at Wembley against Wigan (lost 28-24) when I was young. But I was born and bred in east Hull, so I should support Hull KR. Should I follow my heart or follow my postcode? Or shoudl I say "Sod it! Bunch of egg-chasers! How are City getting on with the footy?"

Friday, October 13, 2006

In the papers

One of my teachers came into the English office very excited this morning. She told me that I was in the Asahi Shinbun, one of the national papers in Japan. I was in it because a journalist, researching English teaching in Niigata, had come to my Base School last week and sat in on one of my lessons with the junior high students. At the time I was really annoyed with my school cos they told me about the special visitor just one hour before the lesson started. Luckily, the lesson I prepared went down well with the students and I think he got a good impression of how English lessons are taught, at least how English lessons with Martin are taught. So in the end, it turned out alright.

I'm not sure exactly what the whole of the report says, but there's an interview with one of my students who describes how in my lessons we have quizzes, games and team competitions and that she enjoys the lessons a lot. It also goes on about how the class is half a normal class and how having smaller groups to teach might make teaching more effective (I think). I really hope there isn't anything bad in there!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Batten down the hatches

Just had a scary thought. The last time I scored a goal in a competitive footy match was Saturday 16th October 2004. I was playing for Kawaji FC and slotted home a cut back from eight yards. A week later, we had the massive Chuetsu earthquake.

The goal I scored in Nagano was a slotted home cut-back from eight yards. Is history repeating? If so, expect a big earthquake next Sunday.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Saitama-bound again!!!

We had the Nagano Footy tournament this weekend and I can be proud to announce that we qualified for the Champion of Champions Tournament Saitama in January! That's the third time in three years! And what makes it all the more amazing was that we did it with only twelve players. As a result, I think everyone in the squad is feeling a lot of stiffnes and pain in their legs, but the knowledge that we'll be playing in Saitama again more than makes up for it.

So how did the weekend go? Well, I had to give an open day lesson at one of my school on Saturday, meaning I had to miss the games on the first day. I drove up after the lesson and met the team for dinner, where they told me the fantastic news that they had won all of their games! Also, even without a proper keeper, they'd kept clean sheets in every game! So, we were seeded second for Sunday's knockout tournament, giving us a bye to the quarter-finals and time for a lie-in.

The quarter-final was against Yamanashi prefecture. Will opted to keep the same defensive line-up that had shut out teh teams on Saturday, and put my fresh legs at left-midfield. The game was quite tight until Will burst into the penalty area towards the goal line. I met his low cross eight yards out and poked the ball past th e 'keeper. First goal for me for Niigata and 1-0 to Niigata. Unfortunately, just before half time the Yamanashi winger chased a ball that almost went for a throw. A mazy run later and Yamanashi equalised. 1-1 half-time. In teh second half, we where determined to get another goal. Niigata kept pushing but couldn't find the net. In the dying seconds, Rich carved out a chance for himself on the edge of teh box, only fo rteh referee to blow for full-time. 1-1 full-time, penalty shoot-out. Will got his, Yamanashi missed! Luke scored his, as did Yamanashi. Rich's penalty went just wide, Yamanashi scored. James got his, Yamanashi scored though Glen got a hand to it. Dechy scored his, Yamanashi missed, 4-3, Niigata go through the the semi-finals and qualify for Saitama!!!

The semi-final was against Saitama, our rivals and victors of this years Champions of Champions tournament. It was a chance to set the record straight and a chance to play against an old team mate too! Saitama were strong from the start. Niigata did well to keep them from scoring and even had a couple of chances too. It ended 0-0 so another penalty shootout. Will, Luke and James scored all of their penalties. Saitama missed one and it ended 3-2, Niigata go through to the final!

We had a break until the start of the final. We had dinner (obligatory curry and rice) and tried to keep warm as it started to rain. By the time the final started it was clear that fours hours of footy in two days between 12 players was taking it's toll. Niigata were very tired, but determined to put in a good show. Alas, Chiba were too strong and quickly scored two goals. Niigata held on until half-time, where we regrouped, got our selves together and put in a determined second-half display. We conceded another two goals, but that didn't stop us regaining our confidence as Will led us forward and Chiba started to tire in the last ten minutes. We had a string of corners and a free-kick which Will rattled off the crossbar. The final whistle blew, Niigata were defeated, but we took heart from our last ditched rally at the end and the prospect of playing in Saitama in January.

So, in the end, job done. We have a place in Saitama. The new squad has a proven core of 12 players and a fantastic team spirit. All that's missing is a few subs and a bit more fitness, both of which I'm sure we can find in the next three months. ANd I'm sure we can rustle up a set of genki supporters to build us up and scare the other teams!


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