Monday, October 31, 2005

...let there be packaging...

here is yet another diversion from luke in japan.

Random happenings.
I got a call from my umm agent(who i seem to have acquired from my movie job) asking me if i wanted to audition for a television commercial. It was an ad for curtains, and my role would have been to look out the curtains at some girls standing outside. Despite this being the only job conceivably easier than teaching english I had to turn it down as I already had work on the day of the audition.

Last friday was my birthday, and I am having a party this saturday, to which you are all welcome to attend. Might be abit out of the way for most of you, however there will be cake.

If you are the sort of person inclined to feel bad about not wishing me a happy birthday, please dont. My email account was bouncing all incoming messages so I dont know who actually did:) and besides, i have either forgotten, or will forget, most of yours anyway...

So that its easier for me to send pictures and things, Ive decided to turn these emails into a blog. The address is:

This way people can comment and point out any of my glaring inaccuracies.

EMAIL 5: Japans packaging fetish.
Since getting here ive noticed that most stores are abit overzealous when it comes to how they pack things.

First an example of what I mean, lets look at the traditional sushi you can buy in nara. The only thing making this sushi more traditional (and expensive) than regular sushi is the fact that it is wrapped in persimmon leaves. This was a nice enviromentally friendly form of packaging in the days before plastic.

But moving to the present things have changed, first you take your traditional leaf wrapping, and then wrap in a layer of paper, place in a box, wrap again in paper. Now add chop sticks (also wrapped) and place in a plastic bag, finished.

Five layers of wrapping means you probably shouldnt order this if your in a hurry to eat, or if you actually like the environment, but it does taste good once you get to it.

Things arent normally this bad, but generally anything you buy is given to you in a plastic bag, even if its something you are obviously about to eat as soon as you walk out the store or something that is in a bag already. I think the strangest thing so far was when i bought a table, somehow they managed to find an extra large bag for it:(

Because of this it took me less than a week to work out how to say "I dont need a bag", but still I have abit of a collection in my room from all those times where i just wasnt quick enough. This wouldnt be so bad, but most japanese families go shopping everyday...

well ive got to get up before 5am tommorow to get to the movie on time, so thats enough for now. cya


This was the third scene we shot of us crossing a bridge, so far we have been tired, happy and sad. Strange Movie.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

In the beginning...

It may simply be an overdose of hello kitty shapped chocolates, but I thought it might be a good idea to turn some of my emails into a blog.

Of course eventually i will run out of chocolate and go in search of real food, so please dont expect me to post regularly, but in the meantime here are some random photos:

A very umm, natural, looking japanee garden.
The overly friendly and rather hungry deer from Nara park.

The robots at the toyota pavillion of the Aichi EXPO.

Alas, the chocolate wore off.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


As pointless emails go, this one has reached new heights, please disregard it.

The only things of any real interest are the following two japanese english sentences:

"Once you try our pizza, bouno gonna shoot you!" (ad at the local pizza shop)

"Please go back to the places where you were tommorow" (instruction from my movie job)

Email 4: Lukes random friends

There isnt that many european foriegners in japan, so the ones who are here are treated as abit of a novelty by some people. These are some examples of interactions I have with the locals...

Primary School Trips.
Alot of schools come to nara on school trips from osaka and their teachers march them around the city like minature armies (the military style school uniforms really adds to the effect). Now alot of the time the teachers make them wait in one place for ages, for reasons known only to the teachers, and the students look desperately for some relief from the boredom. So you can imagine their relief when a foriegner comes by, for this is there chance to display their amazing english skills (consisting of "hello", "how are you?" and "Im fine, thank you"). This of course takes courage, so generally it start with one or two kids (invariably boys) who call out "hello", now if their prey shows signs of responding, ie smiles, waves, the chorus of hellos spreads quickly. But god help him if he actually says "hello" back...

The Super Market Sample Lady.

Its her job to give out free samples of products to shoppers, which would have been enough to make her my friend, whenever she see me she calls me over and gives me something to try. If it looks like i like it, she gives me another sample, followed by another, until i run out of hands. We also talk (in japanese), and im reasonably sure our last conversation ended with her telling me details of how to get to a cheaper supermarket down the street and pointing out that this one was a rich peoples supermarket.

Helpful Unemployed Guy.

I always run into him when im shopping, and like the sample lady, he also occasionally offers me samples of things (however unlike her, they are not his to offer). I met him when studying in the food court oneday, he came upto me and just started talking, asking me if i had any questions about the japanese, what i thought of nara etc. Then he found out i spoke german and I had a new best friend.

There are lots of other people as well, like the highschool girls who wave at me and then trip over the gutter if i wave back, or the english students who got school 6 days a week and also goto cram school for 6hours a day 4 days a week (in addition to english class) or little kids who shout "gaijin gaijin" (foriegner foriegner) and go hide behind there parents. Yeah, some people are strange, but there all friendly. luke

Friday, October 21, 2005


Just a short one,

EMAIL3: ice cream.

Summer here must be nasty, i only caught the tail of of it, but this still
often ment leap frogging from one air conditioned building to the next if
you wanted to go anywhere in the middle of the day. Temperatures were
often 30+, but the real killer was the humidity that was not at all

To overcome this, there is of course, icecream. Now like every other
western seeming thing in japan, it has been subtlely changed into something
japanese, that would occasionally be unrecognisable to most westerners.
With ice cream, this process has produced a real interesting assortment of

Since being here i have tried the following:

black sesame seed
sweet potato
red bean
green tea
red bean and green tea

There were also to others which i have no idea what they were, but im sure
you ive never seen them before. Greentea is actually really nice, sesame
is good if you dont have to much, but then it just starts tasting weird.

im sure ill find more,



hi, yes, i know its been 2 months and i havent written anything to most of you, i sat down about three times to write a nice long email describing all the unusual things ive done but never had time to finish it so i gave up... Hence lukes new plan, short emails that dont really mention much of what ive been doing, but that will hopefully be more plentiful. EMAIL2: Luke new job. Well i quite my old job at berlitz for reasons that ill explain elsewhere and have been looking for something that will let me have time to explore and learn japanese. My first new job is a teaching position that i got offered last week, it pays $200NZ for a 7hour shift once a week. Is a teaching job, and isnt overly interesting, so just imagine luke sitting somewhere encouraging a room full of old ladies to practice speaking english. However my other job, which i started today is slightly more interesting, the only downsides being crap pay, long hours and the fact that ive got to travel over an hour to get there. I got a job as an extra in a movie:) And a low budget world war one movie at that:P So after coming all this way to japan, what ive ending up doing is pretending to be a german POW in a japanese prison camp. There are of course a certain lack of people who look anything like germans here, so it was eay to get the job, all i said was im from new zealand and speak some german and they hired me over the phone. First day today, go to the studio in kyoto, they dress us up in really low quality generic uniforms, that look more like british army than german ones, and then asked us to wait for two hours, then we walked over a bridge looking unhappy, then we had lunch break, followed by 15mins of practicing a chant, followed by an hour break, and then for something a little different we walked in a straight line looking unhappy. Its great, i have loads of spare time to practice japanese, they feed me lunch, and the other people are an interesting mix, because most of them are people who cant get english teaching work, which just means theyre non native speakers. Including as many german speakers as the company could find in kansai, which was good practice for me. We were supposed to take photos, but we all did anyway, ive attached a small one of some of the people in uniform. I also have an interview for more teaching work on the weekend, but the cool thing about this is i can just do it on whatever days i have free:) ill write more soon, luke summary: i am having fun as a prisoner of war...

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