Posts Tagged Mishima

June 18, 2017 – Rakujuen

This morning I took my 3 year old son Tiny Dog (TD) out for an adventure by myself. Our destination was Rakujuen park in nearby Mishima.

Rakujuen is a large park in Mishima which was built in 1890 by Crown Prince Akihito. As you can imagine, the park is beautifully landscaped with impressive thick forests and a beautiful lake. More importantly for the under 5 year old demographic there is a petting zoo, miniature train, merry go round, and coin operated rides and games.

Remember all of those coin operated rides for young children that you used to be able to find in front of malls and supermarkets? Rakujuen is the place where classics go to retire alongside some high tech Pikachu games.

TD was totally overwhelmed with his options and didn’t know where to start. We rode the train and merry go round and rode a few of the coin operated rides before he found the most exciting game in the entire park: Pirate Blasta.

The object of Pirate Blasta is to aim a water cannon towards different pirate themed targets to make them move. Up to 4 people can play at the same time, and there are step stools provided for the young children.

To say that TD loved this game would be a complete understatement. He ended up playing it 5 times in a row before I got him to check out some other games with the promise of snacks. I even got him to go to the petting zoo for about 3 minutes, but not even the opportunity to pet some adorable guinea pigs could keep him from dragging me back to “water game”. I reminded myself that we were on vacation, and paid for a few more plays. Thankfully it started raining which I used as an excuse to head back to the station.

I’m sure that Crown Prince Akihito never intended for his park in Mishima to become home to a bunch of children’s games, but I’m hoping that he would be happy that it has become a fun place for families to visit and leave with slightly lighter wallets. Highly recommended if you have kids under 5.

 

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January 1, 2006 – Part of the family

Happy New Year!

Today I went to Mishima Taisha with The Penpal and her parents. The weather was beautiful; sunny and 10 degrees ABOVE zero. Usually in Winnipeg it would be sunny and somewhere around minus 20.

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As usual, the shrine was completely packed with people going to pray for good luck in the upcoming year. As a rule, Japanese people are not religious, but they do regularly visit Shinto shrines for big events, likely more out of tradition than religious obligation. We worked our way through the crowd up to the front of the shrine, dodging flying coins from people who didn’t have the patience to get all the way to the front. As I clapped to get the attention of the gods of the shrine, I decided that 2006 was going to be MY year.

After surviving the crowds, we returned to The Penpal’s house. The Penpal and her mother went into the kitchen to prepare dinner, while The Penpal’s father and I watched TV and talked. I got some good Japanese practice, and felt like I was part of the family, which was pretty great.

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October 28, 2005 – Nihongo benkyou shimasho

As of today I am officially signed up for Japanese lessons provided by the city of Mishima! My Japanese has improved a lot since I moved here two years ago, but I seriously need to get better.

(2015 Update) If you live in or near Mishima, check out Japanese lessons here.

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October 25, 2005 – Yes, we understand the word gaijin

Today was one of those days filled with minor annoyances that all added up to make me grumpy.

Recently some of the teachers learned that the City of Mishima was offering free Japanese lessons to foreign residents, with signup at city hall. I got up in the morning to meet a group of teachers so we could all go sign up together. It took me about 15 minutes to find my belt, and then when I got outside, I found that my bike tire was flat again. I ended up being late to meet the other teachers at Numazu station.

Finding Mishima City Hall was a bit challenging. There were no English signs (not entirely surprising considering we were in Japan), but we had no idea where to go once we got into the building. Since I was voted to have the best Japanese skills, I went to ask the man at the information desk. He didn’t really understand what I was asking about, so he decided to call the one person who speaks English on staff. He told the person on the other end of the line that there was a group of gaijins asking about Japanese lessons. Upon hearing the word “gaijin” we all laughed, while he seemed legitimately surprised that we were familiar with the word.

The word gaijin literally means “outside person”, and is used when referring to foreigners. The word itself is not inherently offensive, depending on how it is used.

Realizing we could understand a bit more Japanese that he expected, the information desk man referred to our group as “gaikoku no kata” the next time. This literally translates to “foreign country person”, and is a much more polite / politically correct way to refer to a foreigner. The suddenly much more polite man directed us to another building across the street, where an English speaking city worker helped us sign up for Japanese lessons.

After the adventure in signing up for lessons, I rushed home, got changed, and hurried to work. I was not supposed to have any group kids classes on my schedule, but things changed and I had to teach 2.

In the evening I talked to The Penpal. We had been planning to go to Canada for Christmas together, but it sounds like she will not be able to get the time off anymore. Our trip is not looking very likely at this point.

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October 11, 2005 – Three schools in three days

Today was the first day of 3 different NOVA branches in 3 days. Today I demonstrated my conversational English teaching skills in Fuji city. Tomorrow I will be enlightening my students on the finer points of conversation at my usual branch in Numazu. Thursday I will be expertly educating at my old branch in Mishima.

I thought that 3 branches in 3 days was pretty impressive, until my thunder was stolen by Alice, who had just somehow completed 4 branches in 3 days. Thanks for stealing my thunder, Alice!

After work I went out for pizza and beer at a really cool place in Numazu. Sleep is really overrated.

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September 3, 2005 – Farewell party 9085km away

My coworker Angie had her farewell party tonight. She was finished teaching in Japan, and ready to return to Scotland. Everyone loved Angie; she was a lot of fun to work with and to spend time with outside the office. When I left Japan suddenly to visit my sick sister in Canada, I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it back in time for Angie’s farewell party. I am proud to report that despite starting my day off in Canada, I managed to make it to the party!

I started my day in Winnipeg at 5:30am on September 2 (7:30pm Japan time). My flight left Winnipeg at 7:00am (9:00pm Japan time) and arrived in Vancouver at 8:10am (just after midnight September 3 in Japan). After a few hours of waiting in Vancouver airport, I was back in the air and bound for Tokyo Narita airport.

My flight was smooth and uneventful, unlike the flight to Vancouver a few weeks ago. I landed at 3:30pm Japan time and proceeded to the lines for immigration and customs. My magical gaijin card allowed me to pass through the resident line, which is always much shorter than the foreigner line.

From Narita airport, I took the Narita express to Tokyo station, the shinkansen to Mishima, and Tokaido line to Numazu. With memories of pulling my giant suitcase fresh in my mind, I decided to treat myself to a taxi from the station to my apartment.

For those who are unfamiliar with Japan, addresses are really only meaningful to mail carriers. If you are going to take a taxi, be prepared to give landmark directions. I told my taxi driver to drive towards Seiyu, turn left at the lights, and my apartment was across from 7-11 in a yellow building. The taxi driver complimented me on my Japanese and tried to engage me in a conversation, which was a bit beyond my skill level. At least I got home quickly.

Once I got home, I started to get a second wind. I had a quick shower to wash off the now 24+ hours of travel, pounded back an energy drink, and then rode my bicycle to Numazu station. For the second time today I boarded Tokaido line, this time towards Mishima. From the station it was a short walk to the izakaya where Angie’s party was already in full swing.

I arrived at the party, 9085km from where I started my day, and received a hero’s welcome. Angie was particularly happy to see me, and Koalako had saved a seat and made sure that my drink order was attended to quickly.

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Fun fact: I was wearing a new t-shirt that said “kiss me I’m loaded” across it. This both started a fun debate on whether loaded meant “drunk” or “rich”, and also got me several kisses, mostly from women.

Like most farewell parties, the second party was at a nearby karaoke room with more drinks. Karaoke lasted until the last train came around, and I got a big hug from Angie before we left. I was exhausted by the end of the evening, but happy that I was able to make it to the party. I am going to miss Angie!

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March 10, 2005 – Massage?

In the morning I went for a much needed haircut. The last time I ended up with a bizarre soccer hooligan haircut, but I decided to give QB house another chance, mainly because it is close and cheap. This time worked out much better, and I got exactly the haircut that I wanted.

Tip for everyone getting a haircut in a different language: bring a picture of a time you got a good haircut.

Work was pretty typical, but something interesting happened on my way home. Mishima NOVA is located across from the south entrance of Mishima station. I was waiting at the corner to cross the street, when I was approached by a woman. She asked me in Japanese if I wanted a massage. I politely said no, and she went back to the corner and continued asking men who walked by.

I have never seen anything like this before in Japan. Also, I am no expert on the massage business, but I suspect most legitimate massage places don’t advertise face to face on street corners at night.

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