Tuesdays Tune

Good day everyone; I hope you all had a wonderful Monday. It’s Tuesday already here in Japan, so I thought I would post a little tune for you to enjoy. Unfortunately, I cannot get this out of my head, so I though I’d bring you all down with me. Enjoy.

Think it’s not addictive? If you don’t wake up singing this tomorrow morning, you are clearly some sort of superhuman.

You’re welcome,

R

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Cycling the Shimanami Kaido

Our adventure began early Saturday morning when we caught the train to Imabari, where our cycling journey would commence. From there we caught taxi’s for the short distance to the bicycle rental shop. (Short distance, but we wanted to save our legs, not knowing how they would be holding up at the end of the day. Turns out they wouldn’t hold my body up, but that comes later.)

on the train
If they don’t look like people ready to cycle 70km then I don’t know who does.

After renting our bikes we were ready to begin! The 70 kilometer cycle took us across 6 islands from our home prefecture of Ehime on Shikoku over to Hiroshima Prefecture on the island of Honshu. The photos do not do this trip justice. The sights were gorgeous, and it was definitely up there on one of the best day’s I have had in Japan so far. The weather was cloudy and foggy at the start of our trip, but the fog cleared up later. Thankfully the clouds remained but without rain, leaving us beautiful cycling temperatures. A lot of ALT’s came out for the cycle, so although everyone was cycling at their own pace, we managed to all see each other for lunch stops, and of course a quick stop at the pirate museum on the first island. Not to mention ice cream.

shimanami kaido cycle
Between bridges, we cycled through the islands at sea level.

I only have one thing different to add, which none of the websites on the cycle seemed to mention, and that is this ride is HILLY. I was told it was fairly easy, and although I managed to complete it without walking (which must mean it was pretty easy), I can’t mention the cycle without mentioning the MANY hills we had to cycle. Getting on each bridge was a feat in of itself, as you have to cycle practically straight up to get to it. Of course that means once you’ve crossed it you get to cycle straight downhill, going amazingly fast. That part is every child’s dream come true. Then the beautiful cycle along the seashore of the islands is flat for the most part. About the 4th island in, we came to some of the worst hills ever. We were distracted by this dinosaur statue that we didn’t built up a desired amount of momentum for the mega hill that was around this corner. Fortunately Katie & I (who did a great portion of the trip on our own, as we seemed to be cycling our own pace) turned out to be much better at cycling than we thought, and managed to make it the whole 70km without walking, although I will admit that at the top of dino hill my legs were literally shaking, and we stopped for a break before making the cycle up to the bridge.

dinosaur statue
There to distract you from the most painful thing you will experience this trip.

The day was wonderful; an amazing experience. Although I had a brief moment after dinner in which my legs almost gave out, I managed to awake Sunday morning pain free! We took the bus back across the islands and arrived home by 2pm Sunday afternoon! A great trip, and a recommendation for anyone visiting Japan who likes biking. It’s a great way to get a feel for the country and see some of its most beautiful islands!

bridge
I now love cycling over bridges, too.

cycling downhill
Going downhill: the best part of cycling.

bridge
Beautiful!

Be sure to check out all the photos on my flickr. Thanks for reading!

Rice Cooker Banana Bread

As I previously mentioned, I finally got around to doing some baking in Japan with my rice cooker! So for anyone in Japan wanting to try it out, here’s a simple recipe that’s hard to mess up! Happy baking!

Rice Cooker Banana Bread

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 mashed bananas
1/3 c. softened butter
1/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon

ingredients
Ingredients, Japanese-style. Beer in background optional but recommended.

Directions: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix. Add bananas, butter, milk, and egg and mix well. If needed, coat your rice cooker with butter to prevent sticking. Poor mixture in, and hit start!

the mixture
The mixture.

My rice cooker has a cake setting, so I clicked that, and put it on for about 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and take it out when it looks done!

into the rice cooker with youInto the Rice Cooker

Simple & delicious! Enjoy!

all done!
Looks delish, if I do say so myself.

The Healthiness of Japan Revisited

No. No I am not a healthier person. Despite the overwhelming odds, I have maintained my lazy lifestyle. It wasn’t easy, but it just goes to show you how dedicated I am. Take the road less travelled, my friends; the path of least resistance. That’s my motto. (Actually you all know my motto is “you win some you lose some”…) You can shove veggies in front of my face, but doesn’t mean I’ll eat them. You can tell me to cycle to school, or I can just call a cab! Although in all honesty, I have never taken a cab to school, I do always cycle… so I guess that’s good. But, I tell myself, my cycle to school counts as my exercise and thus I am able to feast on Oreo cookies and cheesecake.

“Oreo cookies and cheesecake?” you say? “But you said that chocolate and cheese was impossible to come by.” Yes, my friends, I did say that… I said that back when I was the equivalent to a baby. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t talk, and I didn’t understand what was going on around me. Things have changed, if only minorly.

First of all, I will admit, not having an oven to bake my delicious cookies and cakes posed a bit of a challenge. Also, I couldn’t find flour, baking soda, or any other ingredients baking required in the grocery store. Not because these items didn’t exist, but because I couldn’t read and thus did not realize they were right in front of me all along! Now, with my new fangled reading ability, I am able to easily pick out these items in the grocery store (well, easily is a bit of an overstatement but I am trying to be impressive here). In reality, I stood in the aisles of the grocery stores staring at each individual item and taking my sweet time trying to sound out each one, until I stumbled upon “fuuuu raaaaa waaaa”. Flour! Horray! Next, “bayyyy keyyyyn so da”. Yes! Score! I also managed to find Philadelphia cream cheese in the store. And those weren’t the only great achievements of the day. Here comes the real shocker, I managed to figure out how to make cheesecake and banana bread IN THE RICE COOKER. I know, I am like Martha Stewart. Please hold your applause until the end. This ability also resulted from my reading skill, as there is a mode on the rice cooker called “cake”.

rice cooker oreo cheesecake.
Delicious Oreo cheesecake made by yours truly

That is just one way I have maintained my unhealthy habits. Here’s another. I mentioned the school lunches and how healthy they always are. Students always have to eat everything, but DID YOU KNOW: teacher’s don’t. You can just dump what you don’t like in a bin and it is taken away, out of sight (I assume it is just thrown out). Students watch you discard half of your disgusting looking screaming fish and say “why are you allowed to do that?” and all you have to say is “sensei”.

school lunch fishes that look disgusting.
Eat these? No thanks.

However, I’ll take seconds on the 6% milk, please.

Cue applause.

Monkeyin’ Around

This past weekend brought another great adventure to my Japanese life. I visited Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture, a trip I was extremely excited about because of the opportunity to see wild Japanese monkeys!

We arrived Saturday, late afternoon, after spending the morning driving to this lovely island (and taking a ferry, of course). Our hotel was convienently located right next to this beautiful sight:

angel road on shodoshima island.
At low tide you can walk out to that island

As we arrived right at low tide, we took the opportunity to walk the beach and take it all in. After a delicious dinner at a local hotspot, we went back home to rest up for an exciting Sunday.

On Sunday morning our first stop was to see the monkeys! Not too far from our hotel, we drove up a mountain where there were 2 tribes of Japanese Macaques living. It didn’t take long before monkey’s appeared on the road, unbewildered by the cars and people around them. After paying a small fee to get into the park, it was only minutes before I was scared for my life. Walking in front of us was a young child, carrying a bag from a convienence store. At this point there were no monkey’s in sight, and the child opened the bag to take out some water. Before I knew what was up, a monkey had jumped out from the woods beside us, pushed the small boy over, and grabbed his convienence store bag from him and took off into the woods! I was so alarmed! The kid was having none of it, and took off into the woods after him, arms flailing. That was so amusing. His father went and grabbed him, and we all peered into the woods to see if we could see the robber. There, not far into the woods, was the monkey, trying to eat the plastic bottle. I was both amused and frightened. But that turned out to be the worst the monkey’s could do.

wild japanese monkeys on shodoshima island.
Me? Scary?

The monkey’s were definitely not afraid of people, and were fed by people who seemed to work there. And by people, I mean an old man, who seemed to flawlessly fit in with their tribe, and whenever he didn’t he kicked them or hit them with a giant stick. Observe:

Although they could get a bit aggressive with each other, they mostly seemed to ignore me. There were signs around the park though that informed the visitors “not to look the monkey in the eyes” and “don’t be afraid, they can sense your fear”. That kind of just made me more afraid. But, after a short time I felt comfortable enough to get close and have my picture taken.

wild japanese monkeys on shodoshima island.
Wish I could be, part of your world. (But not really.)Some of the monkey’s were even, dare I say, cute.

wild japanese monkeys on shodoshima island.
“I’m just a wee babe”… is what I assume this monkey would say if he could talk.

The whole experience was quite fun! But that’s not all Shidoshima had to offer us! We also enjoyed some olive flavoured ice cream and a ride up the ropeway which provided another beautiful view of the island, as well as stopping at a little piece of paradise before our arrival on Shodoshima. For these photos, and more photos of monkey’s (I assume you want to see more of those) click here!
And also check out this other video of a baby monkey riding on the back of it’s mother. Adorable. And, as I obnoxiously note in the video, is what I would be doing if I was a monkey. Which I am not. Just to be clear.

Thanks for reading! Until next time,