28 April 2009

Tutoring, Taiyaki, Teddies

Tomorrow I am teaching Nodoka again at 10am. I've set up tomorrow's time for another dose of grammar, and some more reading from the English book "White Star: A Dog on the Titanic", which they have asked me to help her read. I did think it was interesting though, when I asked her a while ago, "So do you like to read books?" - to which she replied with a smile, "No".

So...she doesn't necessarily care about reading the book herself, she just wants me to read it to her. Which I don't mind, in the end. I'm still getting paid, anyway. So, it won't matter when Japanese people stare at the crazy foreigner-lady is seen in the cafe, waving her arms about, trying to convey this story to a junior high girl. I can always tell when they are staring and probably thinking, "What is that foreigner doing? What are they talking about??"

Recently, a new little 'food stand' popped up not far from our apartment. This little squared-shaped building has been several things in the past, Takeshi tells me. This time around it has been bought up by a family who sells nothing but taiyaki. And it's different from the usual taiyaki. Instead of being made out of pancake-like batter, it's made out of mochi. You can get three types of "batters" - white, green, and pink (strawberry) colors. You can also get different types of fillings - strawberry, white bean paste, red bean paste, chocolate pudding, regular pudding, and chestnut. Each taiyaki is about 140 yen. I have also seen them sell little mini taiyaki, but I don't know the price! The other thing about this new food place, is that Takeshi's mum has gotten a job there! I swear that lady picks the weirdest jobs. Well not the weirdest jobs, but I think she can get better jobs than working at a takoyaki stand in the food court at the mall, to working out of a van outside making takoyaki (did I mention that the van-business was owned by yukuza members?), to this - a small family-owned food stand, making and selling yet another Japanese "treat". Oh well!

TK's grandmum gave us these the other day - all gone now :) yum

On another subject - I have found some things in Japan recently that I have really grown to like, and want to collect! One of these things is a line of collectable toys (not for playing with) called Be@rBrick. I first saw them in a local store, Rush, which is a store that sells wacky, mostly used, toys, games, and clothes. There was this huge wall of these little stylish, artistic bear figures hanging up, and I found them rather cute and unique. I have 4 bears so far, and I'm not made out of money, so maybe I'll be able to save up and buy more - each of these little dudes cost 500 yen ($5). The design of the figures is sectioned into different categories, such as "Cute", "Pattern", "Flag", etc.

Be@rBrick figures!

Do you see the boy and girl kissing? It took me a while to spot them!

Another thing I've come to collect is phone charms! Oh my gawd, I never thought I'd be someone to collect little things for my phone to hang off of them, and jingle, and such - but here I am, with my own stash already. I guess I started finding so many charms to collect, because the Japanese are crrazzzyy about them! They're everywhere! Tons of them. You can even get little cheapo ones, with soft drinks in convenience stores!

Subject switcho! Just recently, I have re-visited something that I've been putting on the back-burner for a while now. For my birthday last year, Takeshi bought me a figure/collectable toy called a 'Teddy Trooper', manufactured by the company 'adFunture'. They sell all kinds of unique, wacky, sometime creepy vinyl toys, figures, and dolls. There is a line of vinyl figures called Teddy Troopers, which are already colored and such, but they also sell a blank teddy and helmet figure, for people to customize and paint themselves! This idea is really cool and I started to paint mine when I got it. I originally painted it with acrylics, and I think I did ask the dude who sold the figure to Takeshi - are acrylics OK? What should I do, yadda, yadda. He said, "yeah sure acrylics - whatever you wanna' do, blah blah." So I thought, cool.

But I found that once I painted the whole thing in one coat of paint, it was so difficult to put the helmet on, and take it off. And it also scrapped off some paint every time I did it! Well, I didn't like this at all. But time went along, and I forgot about the teddy for a while. Now, I'm seeing what other people (granted, they are mostly professional artists) are doing with their Teddy Troopers, and I want to try to fix mine, and come up with another design for him! Huzzah. So I've been scrapped the acrylic paint off of him, lately, use some sandpaper to smooth the vinyl out again, perhaps use the vinyl part as part of a design. They keep stressing that "you can do whatever you want with the teddy", so there are no rules for designing him. We'll see how it goes!

scrape, scrape, scrape

The whole ensemble

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