Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake, Tsunami

Sad to be glad that I'm not there, hope the casualties are minimal.

Sunday, February 13, 2011




Sunday, April 18, 2010

Japanese Anime Movies

Hi up on my list of good movies are Hayao Miyazaki's anime (animated) classics:

Princess Mononoke - Monoke no Hime (1997)

My Neighbor Totoro - Tonari no Totoro (1988)

Spirited Away - Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind - Kaze no tani no Naushika (1984)

Laputra, Castle in the Sky - Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (1986)

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro - Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro (1979)

Kiki's Delivery Service - Majo no takkyûbin (1989)

Porco Rosso - Kurenai no buta (1992)

Howl's Moving Castle - Hauru no ugoku shiro (2004)

Just thought I'd post this so I don't lose it :)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Heaven in Nozawa Onsen Mura

Well as usual I've neglected the blog way too much. It's more like some ancient archive for which I might get some kind of memory jog from when I'm old n grey .. hang on .. I *am* old and grey.. !

Well the latest thing to add grey to my scalp was a near all nighter atmy favourite watering hole:
Bar Heaven
A local DJ turned up and kept us bouncing for several hours.
And next Sunday more of the same!  :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Japan by Train

If you happen to be heading to Hokkaido for the snow but also spending time on the mainland, and would like to see some of it while in transit, then the sleeper trains are well worth considering:

About Japan has some info

Here's Japan Rail's site.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Onsen's are cool... Dosojin's HOT!

Ok, so actually they are hot, often too hot until you learn to steel yourself to just diving straight in and NOT moving. On doing this, if you haven't scalded yourself into unconsciousness you will find you can bear it for some time before your inner temperature actually demands you get out. At which time you should probably crawl out and stay seated for a bit in case you are in danger of feinting. It's not the best place to feint. Aside from being found in a compromising position, and totally naked at that, the area around an Onsen is usually bereft of soft items that could nicely break your fall.

So I went down to the local Onsen for my usual luxurious layabout in the steaming waters, everything was just swell. Had my wash, got in quick and lay back with my head on the edge of the tub, then raised my eyes to the window sill above the tub to see a set of teeth smiling back at me!

Ok so some old fella has left in such a rush that he's forgotten his food processors, all good despite trying not to think about them having probably been found IN the tub I am also in.

Things turned more interesting though when I later heard that a old man had passed away in the same Onsen about a week before! Someone had found him face down doing the "I'm asleep on the space shuttle (arms akimbo)" type pose. So it's now I realise that those teeth had probably fallen out of his mouth and the paramedics or whomever comes to retrieve found-in-onsen-bodies failed to notice his lack of grinders and left without them!

They've since gone, either to that place where grinders go or maybe just some other old fella's mouth. Needless to say the Onsen was promptly emptied out and allowed to refill with fresh water, which I believe they probably to weekly if not daily anyway, being as preoccupied with cleanliness as this country is.

Lots of nice snowfall lately with gorgeous bouts of sun in blue skies under which to enjoy it.
Which brings me to my shameless plug for the current employer:

We have some rooms available in Nozawa from now till Jan 21, to cover the period of the Dosojin Fire Festival in Nozawa, Nagano!
one of three biggest Japanese festivals, and designated as a Japanese"important intangible cultural property"

Got an interest? Jump on our site and get cracking! There's no time to lose, this festival is crazy and certainly one-of-a-kind as the young (at ground level) and old (on the tier above) try to defend the sacrament from being burnt to the ground!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Village

Well last night I went down to my closest Onsen for the nightly bathe and I was asked if it might be too hot for me. Admitting that I couldn't take the heat for too long if I was actually being scalded the gent there ran cold water in to lower the temp a bit.

So when the next two regulars turned up he told them it was luke warm in deference to the soft white skin that was sharing their tub with them. And to my pleasure they both happily said that was fine. I think they must push their limits a bit so they can proudly be scalded hot tub veterans and any excuse for a break from the endurance efforts is welcome.

As many of you may know bowing is a customary thing in Japan. Today I saw a nice twist to that..
A couple of people met a friend in the street and I thought the person who had just showed on the scene was going in for the real nose to knee bow.. showing the utmost repsect, she was an elder - they do these things.

But no, something was stuck in the top of her shoe and she was just getting it unsnagged.

I'll have to remember that one next time I want to have a laugh, aaaaaaand down to tie the shoelaces... ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Well I made it to my destination, the sleep ghot-town-like village of Nozawa Onsen. Where the steam from the constantly running hot spring water emanates from a dozen or more classic little hot tub rooms which are dotted around the town.

The snow will bring the holiday makers from Tokyo but also from far and wide, foreigners as well.
The town has very narrow roads and rarely do you see anywhere to park a car, so car parks are used and people wander about from hotel to store to onsen (hot tub) making for an aura that is probably reminisce of decades if not centuries ago.

The nightly ritual of soaking in the onsen before going to bed is putting a smile on my dial every bed time.  :)

I have to get out today and try take some photos.. there is a sprinkling of snow on the highest points, a sign of what's coming.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back again

So arriving in Tokyo, yet again, after the life sucking ordeal of being in a passenger airliner for too many hours, was a relief.
I really do hope I can make the plan happen that doesn't involve using a plane to get home. ie. Boats, trains n buses to get back thru Asia to Aus.

Someone had offered to meet me and let me couch surf but they went underground at the last minute and so I hit my usual Internet cafe accom.

Wish I could get frequent flyer miles here ;)

Lots of alarms going off this morning as all the other overnight stayers here try to wake up and get ready to head to work or catch that home bound train they missed late last night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nihon, 2009 - Back to the snow!

Well I had a holiday to Japan earlier this year, remiss of me not to post pics n commentary to the blog but I've been whoring myself to FB way too much.

Hopefully this new move, back to the ski fields of Honshu (rather than Hokkaido), will result in more postings and news.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Monday, October 01, 2007

Japanese Names

Japanese surnames are all made from a small pool of some 70 or so Kanji.
Given names are much more varied and so will often be written with furigana (esp. on TV)

To help me I've written some of them here with their furigana.. using Firefox I can view these pages and zoom in to get a nice shot of the way the Kanji is drawn.




Friday, September 28, 2007

Japanese - Because. therefore

Today the subject is because/therefor.
[だ]から : so, therefore; since, because
なぜなら[ば] : because (なぜ meaning 'why')

our examples are:

英:I brought an umbrella because it's raining.
日:(あめ)()ってる - から - (かさ)()って()
日:it's raining - because/so/therefor - [I] brought an umbrella

英:There's clouds - therefor - seems like rain.
英:seems like rain - because - there's clouds
日:(あめ)()りそう - なぜなら - (くも)

This may seem fairly obvious/natural but to emphasis the "head last" nature of Jp here's a sample question answer:

英:Why did you bring an umbrella?
英:Because it's raining.
日:(あめ)()ってるから (raining because)

Now go back and read those examples :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Japanese - Head Last Language

Japanese, in my view, is easy to pick up.. ie. the early stages of your Pidgin Japanese shouldn't be too difficult, if you're a native English speaker. The phonetics are not hard and the basic words necessary for essential communication are not too complex.

In later stages you will come across more and more polysyllabic words. This is because of the limited phonetics in the language. Hawaiian is another such language.

As you start to learn more words and make sentences the most challenging concept with Jp (Japanese) is that it is a head last language.

eg. one might say:
Eng: I'm going to the shop, with Tom, at 6.
Jp: with Tom, at 6, to the shop, [I] am going.

Eng: I'll get that, and that, and those, and this. (for instance ordering food)
Jp: that and, that and, those and, this I'll get.

In the next post I'll get a little grittier :)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Back to Oz

In a bid to raise funds to finish my house and kill off my life sucking credit cards, I'm heading back to Oz to try my hand at work in Western Australia. Maybe I can hit the big bux there and get my house done in record time.
Then maybe I can take the next overseas trip with less financial stress about me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Japanese - Passive Verbs


Active: 先生(せんせい )は けいこさんを ()めました

Passive: けいこさんは 先生(せんせい)に ()められました

Conjugates the same as for Causative verbs

Japanese - Causative Verbs

Verb conjugation is complex and integral to speaking Japanese.

Today I'll take a look at causative verbs.
as in
make.../ let...,

~は ~に ~を [Vt Causative]

She made him eat.

Confusingly though, the same sentence in Japanese can also mean
"I allowed him to eat." OR "I let him eat."


彼女(かのじょ )(かれ)食事(しょくじ)()べさせた

丁寧(ていねい )()、「ます」 (ケイ)

彼女(かのじょ )(かれ)食事(しょくじ)()べさせました

Please let me... / Please allow me to...
[Causative て form] (くだ)さい

すみません。( かえ)らせて(くだ)さい。
すみません。( かえ)らせていただけませんか。

Group 1 Verbs

Group 2 Verbs

Group 3 Verbs

Wednesday, August 16, 2006






Hi welcome to my small attempt to create a space of my own that helps me, and maybe you, with reading and understanding Japanese.

Firstly I recommend using Firefox to view these pages. Other than loving this browser, my current fave, it also has an extension called Ruby, that allows my XHTML markup text to display furigana. That's small subscript hiragana over/or under Kanji so that you know how they are said.

Without that extension the Japanese text below should show the hiragana in brackets after the said Kanji.

The extension can be found with Google
and I last found it here
nb. It's unsupported but I haven't had any issues with Firefox (1.5 and up) since I installed it.

Let's hope Ruby markup becomes a norm online for helping us all come to grips with Japanese/Chinese characters.

I also use this site to both provide furigana for Kanji and it can also create the ruby text for you if you are making web pages with Jp content. Nb. I seem to need to edit the spaces out of the resulting text, please double check your html after doing the translation and inserting into your page.

Hmm now I just have to translate all of that into Jp!!! aaa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Folding Paper.

Kenji sent me some kewl links, one of some amazing origami

The other of an amazing desktop ornament


Friday, April 21, 2006


rainy season.

Spring is here, supposedly, in Hokkaido but it's slow to show its face. The snowy conditions have been replaced by rain. The mountains of snow on either side of the road are slowly subsiding, getting dirtier as the passing traffic sprays road grit to the sides. The temperature still isn't above 7C on a fine day so there's still ice determined to hang around the edges of houses and such. The rafting companies have started up but with all in dry suits to try and keep the snow-melt cold water from chilling them too much. The pension village, as they call the lower part of the village filled with mostly, as you'd expect, pensions is quite like a ghost town. One goes up to the convienience store to see the life of the town. To know that there are more people here than the ones you share a house with.
But the promise of a warm green island has me waiting, keenly. Apparently one can barely see the view for the growth that bursts up when the snow's gone and the sun can do its work.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

BBQ in the Snow

Twas a moonlight night, so some scrounged wood and kerosene later we were roasting meat under the pale moonlight.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Haru Ichiban

The First Winds of Spring.

Which are apparently hitting some parts of Japan now but although there have been warm days here on Hokkaido it's yet to stop snowing.

We've had our breaks from it to be sure, and there is, sporadically, a big melt on but this morning I had to sweep another 10cm of snow offa the car since parking it last night.

Of course all the tourists are happy but the folk that live here are keen to see the sun and green hillsides showing their faces. Keen to be able to open those long lost doors to cellars and garages where all the summer toys and such have been in storage. Keen to stop living with the smell of kerosene heaters that have to be run nearly constantly so that the rooftops have enough heat to self shed the ever building snow that threatens to collapse them.

Still no net for me at my residence but hopefully soon, then some more photos of course.

The view is definitely here, and I know you're all beautiful.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mid January in Snow Country

Been fighting a cold since last year, I think the frozen toes and constant runny nose make the environment a cold loves to grow in. But I spent a hundred dollars on new shoes yesterday and am spending my current 3 days off going slow. Eating, emailing and onsening. So hopefully near 100% when I get back on the road in 2 days.

Interestingly though, I do not find it seems cold anymore. minus 3 seems balmy after a minus 15 night.

Have had no snowfall and cloudless skies the last couple of days, and a full moon. Incredibly beautiful night scenery, not to mention being able to see the surrounding mountains, a rarity, both day and night. But moonlight snow covered landscape is something spectacular to be sure.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Snow Cats in Hokkaido

Went and helped a friend get his Snow Cat going today. Frozen Diesel doesn't work so well.. then we drove up to his house in the forest. SO much snow even the cat had trouble. The cat being designed to groom ski slopes rather than force it's way through deep drifts in the forest.
Then the bleeder valve, which was broken by another driver who meddled, started leaking air and we konked out and had to walk back home.
While I was diggin the cat out before we left, I stepped off into the 2m high powder snow and simply disappeared! No snow shoes (those tennis racquet things) no chance of standing or walking on this stuff. At least when we walked home we had the compressed snow the cat had made on our way up. 10 mins would have been over an hour otherwise I think.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


This pic doesn't do the setting justice. There are candles inside this hole in the snow, real cute Jack 'o' Lantern stuff.

Xmas and NY went by in a blur as I was working right up till 2005 ended but a few days off to let me chill have helped. Went to a fantastic onsen in Rankoshi, near Niseko, and then to Sapporo for a night.

Feeling better but still not sure about having to jump back in the saddle tomorrow oh well. Need the Yen.

More pictures of the whiteness here.

Hope your new year is all it can be.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Niimi Onsen Ryokan

Spent the 1st of January at Niimi Onsen, about an hour from Hirafu, Niseko. One of the nicest Onsen Ryoukans I've stayed in so far in Japan. The meal pictured is for two people, took us nearly an hour to work our way through it!

Hope you're warm wherever u are :)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Xmas from Niseko

Wow big day yesterday, a 16 hour tour of duty! Three times down the 120k track to the airport and back. But fortunately those days are rare and the revenue is welcome at the moment as I'll only get a half months pay on Jan 5th.
And to celebrate the new year I get Jan 1,2,3 & 4 off!! which is cool coz that's out of next month's pay.

We just had a rare chance to meet and chat about the business and the running, he and I seem to get on well. His family is in buses in Oz, he loves the internet and has been doing his research for his next push, shuttle buses for the 120 hotels in the Sapporo city area.
I'm impressed with his business savvy/push.
He seems to like my ideas and we've moded my vehicle to suit me and he likes it and the other comments/suggestions I've had for the biz in general.
This area is pumping, I think Hokkaido has Japan's highest if not only economical growth/foreign investment at the moment.

They also do cool things in Hokkaido like give no interest government loans for solar power and apparently there's a new solar cell coming out soon that's still 70% efficient under cloud cover, snowy conditions!!

Still not finding time to organise pictures, trying to meet people and find out the lay of the land from where the garbage goes to where the people like to eat and play and bathe.
I've just got my first garbage contract US$100 a month to do a the garbage from one of the pensions.

so going ok, the questions on my mind are how to maximise my earnings and how to live in two places at once, here and Oz with the project house/ land/ wannabefarm

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to y'all from a White white Niseko.


Friday, December 23, 2005


The local volcano, sleeping now, that we can see from Annupuri the mountain everyone here is skiing on. No lifts on Youtei so to enjoy the undisturbed freshness you need to hike for 5 hours up to the rim.

This is the view of Youtei from the J First Onsen.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Niseko or bust

OK, didn't find work to suit in Ibaraki Ken so I've ended up in Niseko Hokkaido for a stint as a bus driver between Niseko, New Chitose Airport and Sapporo.

This place is beautiful to say the least. Just got this blog goin, gotta run to work, pics soon.