The living onigiri

_onigiri_joseph552 Originally uploaded by Joseph Tame Joseph the riceball. I’m just using this picture to test Flickr’s ability to publish direct to my blog.

Six-week time management and productivity course

Last night’s weekly tandem learning session, in which I teach my friend English for an hour in exchange for her (a qulaified teacher) teaching me for an hour tunred into a session for us to express our mutual frustration at not being self-disciplined enough to make much progress in our studies. For me, the main […]

‘Christmas’ message

Just a brief note to those of our friends and family who have not received a card from us – you are not alone, as we have not sent any this year. We’re not really doing Christmas, as it’s just a normal work day here. It doesn’t mean we love you any less, and we […]

The best night bus ever

If travelling anwhere in japan by night bus, I thoroughly reccomend Willer Travel. Check out the sexy head gear – it means you can fall asleep without your head falling off, and you can dribble in privacy. Lots of legroom too – even I was able to sleep! Willer travel ate bookable through Rakuten travel.

Back on track

Mondays, my “day off” are fast becoming the busiest days of the week as I try and pack in everything that’s been put off from the other six days due to time issues. Today’s been good though. I’ve successfully trialled a new cake, washed the carpet, done another load of washing, tidied up, planned for […]

Sometimes it’s best not not to think.

Last night I blogged briefly about the many things I’m up to now, and inferred that I was ok with doing so much. Ironic then that the very act of writing that led me to a state of feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all! I’;ve since remove the post although it will remain in the […]

The power of sliding doors

It may be dramatic, but it's not unusual. Here, a salary man has become wedged between the closing doors of a packed subway train. With this a frequent occurrance at this time of day, there are about 20 white-gloved staff lining the platform, ready to either push people on, or, as in this case, wrestle […]

Lunch in Kitanomura park

I've just found a beautiful, big, moat-surrounded park not three minutes from the office here in Kudanshita. I can see this quickly becoming one of my favourite spots for reflection and relaxation 🙂


I'm missing blogging. There's a lot going on that I'd like to share – events, people, thoughts, feelings, and a lot of photos. My desire to blog grew stronger on the way home tonight as i checked my rss feeds on my iPhone – a lot of my blogging friends have been very active over […]

Third anniversary

We're sitting at the kitchen table, eating third anniversary curry. Happy anniversary us! (insert appropriate photo of happy couple)

Sunday morning, 7am

These days make me feel so happy and fortunate to be alive. Last night's event was something I won't forget, although I think I'll remember it more as some kind of mirage as all throughout it I couldn't quite believe it was happening (if I had believed it I would have panicked!). I'll write more […]

Twinkle Twinkle

Just had our hair done, nervous excitement on the rise as we learn our lines.

Tokyo bean harvest

We're delighted to announce the completion of the Tokyo Bean Harvest 2008, which resulted in a mammouth crop of, er, beans. Our sincere thanks to Y&M for investing the time and effort in getting them through the first few precious months of their life up until the point that we took over the Himonya Homestead. […]

The law of Brolly Attraction

THIS MORNING as I was soaked to the suit by a leaking penguin umbrella I said to the universe (and to twinkle) I NEED A BIG WATERPROOF UMBRELLA. THIS EVENING someone came to my house, and having eaten White Rice said to me, IS IT OK IF I GIVE YOU MY BIG WATERPROOF UMBRELLA? Tomorrow […]

The hazards of being gadget boy

It's not easy being such a big fan of technology. Take this morning for example: I got so absorbed in fiddling around on the Internet on my phone that I completely forgot that I only needed to go two stops. When I realised I'd gone too far I got off, crossed the platform and absent-mindedly […]

It’s all good

I’m a big believer in Synchronicity, experiencing its benefits on a daily basis. It’s taken me a while to reach this point, where it’s no longer just something to smile or say ‘wow’ at, but actually a tool to be used when deciding which path to take. I’ve been using it quite a bit this […]

Coming soon to a club near you: My driver’s license

This is really weird. I just found out that my driver’s license is being used as an example of acceptable proof of ID on a poster at a club at Arlie Beech, Australia, and I’m assuming other clubs too. My friend who went there recently has just sent me a photo of it – shows […]


This is a summary of this month’s Mumble. Thanks to Natasha for the link, and Sabine for making me want one! Create your own at

Hamsters and Shrews

A few moments ago, I woke up clutching my stomach. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure why, but then I remembered! My friend’s hamster! It was in a little plastic tub with a loose lid, and it was my responsibility to make sure it didn’t get out, thus I had my hand on it. I’ve drawn […]

Round Up

This is more a record for myself of what I’m up to. You’re better off looking elsewhere for entertainment todayBusy times. I’ve spent most of today in the CILASS office trying to finish off the website I’ve been working on (very part time) for the past 6 weeks or so. It’s pretty exciting as it’s […]

End of the degree

Post exam photo, taken at the tram stop. Wow. We did it. We got here. The end. That was the best exam ever. It went so well (and that seems to be the general consensus). I even had time to write my Japanese essay on euthanasia TWICE, as after I’d finished it the first time […]

An act of altruistic kindness

Into the home straight then – 45 hours until the end of my final exam. Needless to say, I am somewhat excited at the prospect of finishing. Since my mumble a few days back about the difficulties of being in a long-distance relationship (in which I described the hoops that need to be jumped through […]

SeeChange Residential Event: Day 2

It’s been a long day today. I was going to get up early, but when the alarm went off at 6am I thought “stuff it”, took the battery out and went back to sleep. The program started at 9am, with a plenary analysing the current situation. It was such a long time ago I can’t […]

Transformations in nature

A bland picture taken in the park on my way to Beanies. But there’s a point to it. Isn’t nature incredible? The way it does things with colour… And how quickly it changes. I just can’t stop looking at the trees everytime I leave the house. That churchyard has gone from infancy to maturity in […]

The importance of Kite Flying

With the sun rising so early, and mornings so peaceful, I’ve been trying to get back into the early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine. It takes a few days. I have my phone set to wake me every morning at 6am: I get out of bed, turn it off, and then take a moment to judge how tired I […]

Summer Fitness Campaign launches

Inspired by my friend Tom who at the weekend finished an impressive 11th in a charity Runathon around the Imperial Palace (the grounds of, not the emperor’s corridors that it), I’ve restarted my morning exercise routine which had been sacrificed to ‘bad weather’ ‘tiredness’ ‘not enough time’. The sun is warm and happy at 6.30am, […]

Björk postpones gig so I can write my dissertation

Photo: A few moments ago I got an email from Björk, saying that she’s decided to postpone tonight’s gig at Sheffield City Hall. That’s a right shame, I was just starting to get really excited what with it only being 3 hours away. I popped down to the venue to make sure it wasn’t […]


Today has been one of those days that has had the usual context removed. One of those days that exists outside of the routine and framework that I’ve built. Most days when I wake up I have a list of certain things I need to do. Each of these things usually comes with its own […]

Notification from the Embassy

Well well well. Just got a phone call from Mother to let me know that I didn’t get the job as CIR on the JET program. The letter finally arrived this morning. Initial reaction is of course one of disappointment. They don’t disclose why they turn people down, but I’m guessing it’s either because I’m […]

Competition Winners!

I don’t have classes on Wednesdays. It’s useful to have a weekday free, as it gives one a chance to do all those non-academic things that can’t be done at weekends. Like, visit the dentist for the last time here in the UK. This particular dentist has dealt with my cavities for about 4 years […]

tied up

But quiet round here lately eh? Pretty tied up with ‘stuff’. I can almost smell the freedom though. tatta

Photo fest: International Cultural Evening

I went to the International Cultural Evening tonight to film the Japan Soc dance troupe do their great Soran Bushi routine. I arrived ten minutes before they were due on stage, only to find that the program I had was wrong, and they weren’t to perform for another 90 minutes.  Initially, I was bit stressed […]

Pedalling my police car

Today, I’d like to spend the day pedalling my police car around and having meals made for me.

Joe in Japan: Day one

Joseph in Hirosaki, 8 years ago. Somehow I don’t think I was very happy that day. Yay, business plan complete! Even if we don’t make it through to the final, it will all have been worthwhile, as I now have a very nice template to work from for any future start-up! Forgot to mention earlier: […]

Buying a coffee plantation

I think March 2008 will go down in history as the month which saw the lowest number of Mumbles Ever (well, in 6 years anyway, last month having marked the sixth anniversary of this epic wonder). There was me thinking that I thought I had a lot on. Then I met my dissertation supervisor, and […]

Twittering away

Been a good week. Progress with a number of projects (CILASS, publishing company, dissertation) thanks to the fact that I finally gave up resisting actually making a start. It’s a wonder I haven’t learnt yet that the bad feelings associated with not doing something can be completely alleviated by doing it. Oh yeah, real rocket […]

Me and drink

I never thought I’d see the day: an hour spent procrastinating by doing instant messenger – with my mum and dad. Just show how times change, and that you can teach old parents new tricks! It’s been a pretty full on week. Lots of meetings for this that and the other, and then there was […]


Bloody hell! We just had an earthquake! Strong one too – we’re talking creaking walls! Arts Tower still standing though. That’s only the second one in my entire life I’ve felt in the UK… Update: BBC News

Anne Tame the Artist

Two years ago my mother picked up a paint brush. She’d not really painted before, other than the walls, so I was pretty surprised when she started producing these great pictures. I’ve uploaded a selection for you to have a look at. Once the album’s loaded click the buttons bottom left to change the way […]

Oraganic Vegees, our Wedding Date, and Peace

A mixture of thoughts tonight, starting with… Weekly shopping Delicious homemade organic potato and onion soup for supper. Tuesdays are shopping day for me. I only shop in one place – Beanies – it’s a privately run wholefood shop that in addition to having a fantastic range of natural foods, has the freshest local organic […]

A new lease of photographic life

It’s amazing what an effect that podcast has had on my feelings towards photography. It’s really got me excited, makes me want to just take photos all over the place! Having an understanding of where digital photography is now and where it’s going in the future is also very exciting. I love taking photos, and […]

The Case Studies Project

It’s been a good day. I spent about 90 minutes on my kanji this morning, after my 20 minutes of exercise and two bowls of porridge, then off to uni for Angela’s class. I like that class. We’re all together, all 17 of us, for the first time ever (usually we’re split into two groups). […]


Podcasts really are great. I was just thinking the other day how much I have learnt about Macs through listening to Macbreak Weekly (which admittedly is more rat hole that mac-info, but that adds to the charm. I feel the presenters are my private fwends, private in that no-one else that I know personally knows […]

My Emissions

We gave the first in a series of presentations in our Japanese speaking / listening class toady. The theme, Global warming, was a nice gentle one to warm us up before we move onto euthanasia in a couple of weeks. I’ve yet to seriously consider my feelings on that topic and look forward to having […]

How to lose someone’s trust in less than 10 seconds

I’m really very grateful to that student from Eastern Europe whom I met in Japan last year. I’ve talked about her before – she’s the one who unintentionally taught me that speaking badly of someone behind their back is fundamentally wrong, and to do so in order to somehow make oneself look ‘good’ in the […]

Embracing variety

So, good news re. the Business Competition – we’ve made it through to the next stage with our publishing company. We’re going to need to put a lot of work into preparing a full, detailed plan for submission in April to ensure we make it to the final in May – but it will all […]

GTD: Omnifocus

So having made my timetable, and having stuck to it pretty well, I felt satisfied …but at the same time something was niggling at me. This To-Do list, whilst based upon my own judgment as to what was most important in my life, felt somewhat restrictive, it was robbing me of my freedom to act […]

Friday Night

Caw blimey gov, tough week. Thursday was particularly difficult and saw me spending much of the day stifling tears, staggered by the power of emotions I’d not felt for many years. It did get better though, as I met a close friend who told me of their plan to present their partner with a ring. […]

Message from the dying

I asked the dying what they wished they’d had more of in their lives. Their responses came, “Laughter…” “…Love…” “…Less worry”. None of them said, “MacBooks”.

Interview at the Japanese Embassy

Few. That’s that over with! I’m sitting in a pub next to London Victoria Coach Station, waiting for my coach back to Sheffield, and breathing out after that interview experience. Had a nice journey down with course-mates Jon and Jenny. Sat in the cafe together next to the embassy for a bit, before Jenny went […]

Not having enough time

You know you’re back at uni when your calendar suddenly becomes so full of meetings and deadlines that you have to switch from monthly view to weekly few, and even, dare I say it, daily view. Twelve this week alone, plus classes. Arrrr jimlad, love it. When I feel stressed about ‘not having enough time‘, […]

The Star Thrower

“There was a man who was walking along a sandy beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. The man observed the boy for a few minutes and then asked what he was doing. […]

Reasons to smile

Tee hee, I’m so wicked. Earlier today I spotted that someone was inadvertently sharing their private printer over the university network (thanks to Apple’s Bonjour networking capabilities). I thought it might be quite amusing to send them a message – that is, write a letter to them, and send it by selecting to have it […]

To be a Bee

Seems I’m not with only with with goals in sight for Spring.

Post-exam relief

It’s been another fabulous day. I’ve been having a mild case of culture shock, having not really been here for 7 weeks, but I think now I’ve got my room tidied and all last semester’s work filed away in my archive, all’s good. Oh, hoovering helped clear my mind too, as did reporting the faulty […]

Poorly cow meets giant baby foot

BUT! Before it met the Giant Baby’s Foot it was given some poisoned cheese by a naughty mouse! For those of who especially interested in the final moments of Cow, here’s some still shots from the video:

The end starts here

OK, so we’re back online after a couple of days in the wilderness in search of the correct DNS settings. It was pretty handy actually, as with no access to my server I was able to learn quite a bit about population issues in China for the exam which starts in, er, cripes, 13 hours. […]

The Japanese Speech Competition

What a day it’s been! One I shall never forget. A real highlight of my Japanese Studies degree course. Four years ago, I never would have believed that in February 2008, I’d be one of the finalists on stage in a national Japanese language speech contest. Looking back on the day’s events, I can still […]

Travelling with my parents

Well then folks. This is it. Final bit of shut-eye before the big event, which kicks off in about 13 hours. I’ve reached that stage now of having gone beyond preparation, a kind of, “Well, if I don’t know it now, I’ll never know it!” type waiting-stage. Yesterday I gave a performance for mum’s #2 […]

Interview: 12th February at the Embassy

Caw blimey, it’s all happening. Just got a letter from the embassy – interview on the 12th February for the post of CIR. I called them a few minutes ago to confirm that I would like to attend. No problems there. Then, about 30 seconds later my Skype phone rings – it’s the Embassy. “We […]

Giving up the mobile habit

As you can seen, my mobile phone is quite an old model, requiring a cable and long extension lead My phone’s battery is flat, and my charger is in Sheffield. Perhaps this is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve long struggled with mobile phones. They give people the ability to jump into your life at […]

Getting married in Japan

I’ve been trying to find out more about marriage in Japan. After a while I found the well-hidden homepage of Koshigaya city, our local ward office (town hall). They have a great translation engine on that site. Here’s some choice extracts: “Please cooperate and donate blood of love” “news pack … is rare with this […]

The cost of marriage

Talking to *Twinkle* this afternoon via Skype, we got on to the subject of marriage, or more specifically, our wedding. We’ve been thinking of marrying in the UK first (in July), and they getting our new family register sorted in Japan when we get back there. Today however, I spoke to a couple of local […]

The Family Archives

Recently, I’ve been fortunate to have the use of a very high-quality negative scanner. Thinking that I had time on my hands/ in a bid to make my procrastination productive, I decided to make use of this opportunity, and scan in a bunch of negatives that I’ve had in storage for 14 years. The original […]

The Japanese employment system

Having just spent three hours writing eighteen 3 essays (18 A4 pages) on Work and Society in Japan, I don’t feel too inclined to write another on the subject, but I do want to mention how studying the subject has influenced my take on Japan. Until I started revising for this topic, my view of […]

90 minutes to blast-off

When I find myself in this kind of situation (surrounded by notes, attempting to remember basic essay outlines for an exam due to start in just under 90 minutes), I find it relaxing to remember that I only need to Pass. Despite what my ego says.

Colour spaces

Sorry to go on about this, but just LOOK what Firefox (left) does to my colours! Safari (right) shows the true colours in all their glory (I understand that Internet Explorer is also unable to read color spaces and so will mimic Firefox). Does anyone know of any plugin to get Firefox to read color […]

Welcoming the oldies into the information age

I think this is probably one of the most intense periods of my life to date, in terms of stress-inducing events (excluding those times full of events connected with relationships of course). A 3500 word essay. 3 x 3 hour written exams. One interview exam. One speech contest final. One (possible) interview at the embassy. […]

A series of fortunate events

Digging around in my recently-resurrected computer bag today, I rediscovered the safe place I’d put my engagement ring last November. I was pretty dismayed when I couldn’t find it back then, and spent quite a while asking around in the places I’d been, but to no avail. But I was sure I hadn’t ‘lost’ it, […]

We’re diamonds, covered in horse shit, with a layer of nail polish on top

Something funny happened to my lock jaw a couple of weeks back. It had steadily been getting worse, to the extent that I couldn’t eat things like apples that required wide mouth-opening. Then, one morning, I woke up, and found that that side of my jaw was really painful, as if it had been through […]

I’ll Be Dead Soon

This video dates back to 2005, but it’s only today that I found out about it. It’s the first time I’ve heard Apple CEO Steve Jobs talk about himself, and found it pretty relevant. Quotes I like from this: ‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help […]

Scag and Twatface Wilksy

Ha. I just love that film. The Bourne Ultimatum. Love it. I love the technology. I Love his cunning planning, and I love the way the baddies are made to pay for their crime at the end. It would be fantastic if that sort of thing happened in real life, and people like Bush and […]

Wig sees me through my first exam

That was gooood. In the league tables of non-panicky exams, I think that was number 1. I don’t think there was a single moment when I thought “Crikey O’riley, what on Earth does that mean?!” Hmmmm, I am very happy to declare it a success. Not based on outcome, because we won’t know that until […]

Audiobooks Rock!

Wow. Audiobooks really are amazing. I signed up to again the other day. If you take out a 14.99 subscription, they give you two free audiobooks (no matter what the price) in addition to the two that you’re entitled to with that deal. So I ended up with 4, which together would cost £60 […]

Incident on the line

I’m back in Sheffield …for the next 48 hours. We weren’t far out of Hereford this afternoon when the train came to a halt at a signal. We must have been waiting for about five minutes when suddenly, the chap in front of me got up, kicked open the emergency door release, jumped out onto […]

Revision Resistence

It’s been a good day. The intention was to spend it revising for Monday’s big exam. As it happened, I only got started at at 7pm in the end. I don’t know what it is, but I’m putting up more resistance to this Japanese language exam than any up till now. I have no reason […]

A most extraordinary experience

I’ve just had the most extraordinary experience. Completely unexpected. Looking back at it now almost makes me laugh. A while ago, I met up with a friend who was having a very difficult time. They had been made redundant, the victim of a personality assassination campaign carried out by an individual (their boss) who felt […]


Nothing like a bit of air pollution… Listening to that Heathrow Airport worker on the BBC earlier today, my hair all stood on end, and tears came to my eyes. He was reporting a brief conversation he’d had with the pilot of the flight that crash-landed at the airport this afternoon. The pilot had described […]

3500 words later…

Everytime I see this photo I like it more. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps the blue of the tarmac in the evening sun. It doesn’t look so good in Internet Explorer or Firefox (Safari being the only web browser to read the color profile correctly … I think) Everytime I see this photo […]

Hollow Sheep

That’s what it is. More Hollow Sheep pictures in this month’s photo album. ‘Hollow Sheep’ is a part of TDM Death Series

Advice to the living, by the dying

What would you do if today was your last day on Earth? BBC Radio 4:Advice to the Living People who only have a short time left to live give advice to the rest of us about what matters and what doesn’t, and about enjoying every moment. Article here. Downloadable as a podcast from Or […]

Big views

This is what I miss when in Japan – the English Welsh countryside. Not the floods though (note River Monnow that has burst its banks in foreground). And Skirrid. The mini-mountain that we lost Toby-dog’s blue lead on about 17 years ago. Never found it. The famine is slowly moving on. I’ve managed to write […]

Another reason to go Mac

Introducing, MacBook Air. The world’s thinnest Laptop. And sexiest.“There’s a few things we’ve done on the environmental side. It’s enclosed in a fully aluminum case – it’s easily recycled, highly desirable by recyclers. It’s our first mercury and arsenic-free display. All of the circuit boards are bromide and PVC free. We’re very happy about that […]


I’m just about to embark upon the writing of what may well be the final essay of my degree (that is, apart from those written in exams and my dissertation). It’s a jolly subject – death in China. With an ever-increasing amount of death around me as friends age and cancer springs up all over […]

A Year in Japan – Episode 13 Out Now!

As usual, I seem to have exceeded my monthly bandwidth allowance, thus you can’t download episode 13 via iTunesfrom the usual place until February. Instead, you can download it manually here: MP3 / M4a Oh yeah, it’s full of wigness, at least after the first 37 minutes it is. Most of it was recorded in […]

I’m 30

Hmmm, well 27 minutes into my thirties, I don’t feel that different. Last time I had a birthday like this, I was, er, 20. I can’t have changed much since then. Let’s check shall we? Twenty-year old Joseph does look a bit young I suppose. A little on the innocent side. Mind you, that’s hardly […]

Speech contest: It’s all in the mind

I promised myself I’d learn that speech before I turned 30. I’ve done it, with 52 minutes to spare. Now I have twenty days to perfect it. Whilst the learning of the actual words is of course vital, I also need to put some thought into how I’m going to deal with the psychological side […]