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.

We shall think of you as we steam them.

Name that Root Veg

Ok then, here’s a little research project for you: what are these?

They are labelled “Kogashira” in Japanese, and I have no idea what they are.

Answers on a postcard, or in the comments section. 🙂

– EDIT –

Thank you for the feedback, both to Bibi and to mum no.2 and her extended network. I now have compete cooking instructions which I’ll be giving a spin in the next couple of days. Will let you know how it goes!

‘Free’ broadband in Japan

One thing I’ve really enjoyed since arriving back in Japan is being able to watch online videos without having to make numerous cups of tea in order to pass the time they take to buffer. The throttled connections we had at university were probably amongst the slowest in the UK, slower even than my parents’ broadband which runs off a remote rural exchange that continues to utilise highly trained rocket-propelled swallows to transfer packets of data.

A recent survey showed that Japan’s internet was the fastest in the world, something I can believe having seen adverts for services offering 160mbps connections. Ours runs at about 18Mbps.

3G, as used by mobile devices, is also impressively fast. I regularly clock 1Mbps on my iPhone, which is about 30 times faster than the wireless in the university library back home… (tee hee)

With the contract for our current broadband connection finishing at the end of the month we’ve been looking around at what’s on offer, and have been pretty surprised by how generous the ISPs are. So generous in fact that we’ve found a deal that essentially means that we almost make money – just by signing up for the connection.

With Nifty we get the first four months free of charge, then pay 6000 yen (£30) per month after that. However, we also get 20,000 yen (£100) in Sakura Store points (which we’ll spend on the ink and stuff that we need to buy anyway, exciting huh?), thus by the time we move out next Spring we’ll technically be 8000 yen (£40) better off for having signed up for it.

I guess I do feel a bit warmer towards Sakura now. Maybe that’s what they’re paying us for.

The only negative in all this is the downtime between contracts – up to two weeks without broadband. …but as we’ve got an iPhone I don’t really see this as much of a problem, and if we’re desperate for a connection for our laptops we just need to stand outside Shibuya Station – the whole area seems to be covered by free Wifi.

It’s funny how Japanese technology is so far ahead of the UK in some ways (broadband etc), yet so far behind in others (web technology, such as that connected with online banking. You know, if you lose your password for your post office savings account you have to print out a form and send it to the customer service centre in Yokohama…!)

Ho hum. Better go and tell the fridge what to order us for supper from the local supermarket.

Photos from the local area, Saucepan Scenario and our Big Issue Friend

Woke up early feeling a little sad today. I wasn’t sure why, but I was sure I didn’t want to feel sad for the rest of the day, so I quietly snuck out as *Twinkle* slept, and wandered the surrounding streets, camera in hand.

Here’s a few of the shots, interspersed with tales from today.

Home grown aubergines outside our door

homegrown aubergine_9565

street cleaning_9623

This evening I had an interview for an agency that’s recruiting teachers for the ex-NOVA schools that were bought up by C-communication. I didn’t know this until I reached the office – it had been difficult to ascertain exactly what the deal was when arranging the interview via email. It was all conducted in Japanese, and I really enjoyed it once I realised that it paid far too little for me to consider. CELTA was once again highlighted by the interviewers as one of the main reasons they’d contacted me in the first place – it’s good to know that it has an impact in the real world recruitment.

I’ll email them tomorrow to let them know that whilst I can’t teach for them, I’m more than happy to be a proofreader – boy could their website do with it!


Made another beautiful loaf of wok-baked bread today, even if I do say so myself. We recently found 6 brand new jars of jam that were two years out of date in a friend’s fridge and offered to eat them – they really are yummy yummy.


Tonight had a bit of a cooking conundrum – how to get the lid off a saucepan? Two years ago we invested in a set of proper saucepans that should outlive us. They have an amazing ability to keep moisture in (means you can cook most vegees with just a few drops of water, boil an egg just by placing it on a piece of dampened kitchen paper – I thought that was a joke until I did it myself), but as soon as the temperature in the pan drops a vacuum is created, clamping the lid down.

It’s not normally a big problem: the lid will come off without much effort. But tonight I’d put too much rice into the pan, and for some scientific reason this made the vacuum extra-extra strong once I’d switched the gas off.

We battled for no less than 20 minutes to lift the lid off the pan! The vacuum was so strong there was no way it would shift. Banging it from the side as hard as I could made no impression on it, and pouring boiling water over it didn’t help either. In the end we had to put it back on the cooker for a further 10 mins, and only then did it shift. Still, I thought it was a good advert for the pan’s airlock feature.

panda ride_9587

I bought a beautiful Guatemalan wallet today in the little hippy shop in Shibuya. Ooh it is so lovely. Made me so happy.

morning flower_9569

After that we met up with our homeless friend who sells the Big Issue outside Shibuya Station. *Twinkle* befriended him a few months ago, and we often stop to chat with him. He’s a really nice chap, used to own his own company. There’s quite a large community of people that are trying to help him get back in his feet; we’ll all meet up at the weekend to get to know one another.


Anyway, best get on. Got another trial lesson tomorrow, which I hope won’t turn into a counselling session. I’ve been feeling a bit ‘used’ by doing these trial lessons, and am considering changing my part-time employment strategy.

Ho hum, tatta.


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

THIS EVENING someone came to my house, and having eaten White Rice

Tomorrow I shall focus on one million pounds.