Friday, 26 October 2012

Halloween '12: Part I

While a bit early, the work Halloween party last weekend was a lot of fun - me and my housemate dressed up as two members of KISS (Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons). We'd been trying to recruit two more teachers from work to complete the lineup, and most people weren't into it, but the night before the party a couple of teachers phoned me and said they were in Don Quijote (a big discount store in Japan) where they were selling official KISS masks. So in the end we got all four members, which was cool.

On the night of the party me and my housemate finished work, and while most teachers went straight to the party, we wanted to take our time and get the makeup right, and it paid off. We hadn't bought the official KISS masks, we'd bought white and black face paint, which allowed us to get a more authentic look. My housemate's girlfriend and her friend applied the face paint and then we added black wigs, a spandex leotard which we'd bought at American Apparel, a leather jacket and black jeans.

We caught a taxi into Shinsaibashi, and immediately people started staring, and one group of office workers asked us for photos. We visited my friend who works in a vintage clothes shop in Amemura, and she took a picture of us.

We then went to the American Apparel store, as my friend works there and she'd sold us the spandex at a discount. She wasn't there, but all the other staff took photos of us. Then we headed over to the party, which was at a bar called Azure in Amemura. We found the other two members of KISS, and the constant photo-taking began. 

It was free drinks for the teachers, and we all had a lot of fun. In fact, it's probably the best Halloween party I've been to. Both the students and teachers made a big effort and there were some great costumes on show.

Doing a group costume is always the most fun. I did Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles three years ago and that was good, but the reaction we got this year topped that.  Me and my housemate will be doing it all again tomorrow, although we'll just be a duo this time.

I barely have a spare moment these days. I'm pretty busy with work most of the time. But today I don't work until 6pm, so I'm do some of my TEFL course and study Spanish.

On Tuesday I was working in Shinsaibashi and on my break I walked over to the burrito shop I usually eat at, but for some reason it was closed. So I ventured over to Shakey's and saw that it was only 990 yen for all-you-can-eat pizza. To say it was the evening and not lunch time, that's a great deal. I stuffed my face with pizza, and the staff even said I could order a custom pizza. Japan doesn't tend to do a lot of meat pizzas, so I requested something with pepperoni, bacon and sausage on it. The pepperoni was really thick, so a bit different from what I'm used to, but it was good nonetheless.

I mentioned Shakey's dessert pizzas in a previous post, and below you can see what they look like. The photo doesn't make them look that appetising, but they do taste pretty good. The base is custard flavour and you get toppings like chocolate, whipped cream, icing sugar and sweet potato. Shakey's serve fruit salad as part of the buffet as well, so combine that with some dessert pizza and you get a fully-fledged dessert course to end the meal with.

I think Shakey's is gonna be my new go-to restaurant in Shinsaibashi. It's not the best quality pizza, but for 990 yen you can't go wrong.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pay day

I finally got paid on the 10th. I celebrated by ordering Domino's pizza. It's nice to have some money again but I'm still gonna have to be careful with what I spend. 

At the weekend we went drinking in Shinsaibashi again. A couple of the teachers from my school were putting on a night at Cafe Absinthe, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. At one point the DJ played some hip-hop beats and everyone had a go at grabbing the mic and free-styling. Pretty funny. Everyone from work was there, and I somehow bumped into loads of other people I know. For example, later on in the night we went to another bar and I met a girl who I haven't seen since we studied together at Kobe Uni. Then I randomly met a woman who works at the other school I work for. Osaka has a population of 2 and a half million people but it feels smaller sometimes. 

I've been preparing my Halloween costume. The Halloween party at work is this Saturday and it should be a pretty big event. The teachers get to drink for free, so I'm gonna get my money's worth.

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Monday, 8 October 2012


Today is a national holiday so we have the day off work. It's called 教育の日 - 'Education Day'. It's good that Japan has so many national holidays. It's the only time the Japanese people take a break.

I had quite a lot of hours at work this week. On Tuesday I was teaching at our Shinsaibashi school, and after a recommendation from a couple of mates I went to a tasty burrito place nearby. It's called El Zocalo and it's good value for money. Most of the burritos are around 600-650 yen.

On Friday night it was a couple of guys from works' birthdays, and to celebrate we had a big night of pizza and alcohol. It began at Shakey's in Shinsaibashi, where you get 食べ放題 (all-you-can-eat) pizza, pasta, salad, curry all night and 飲み放題 (all-you-can-drink) alcohol for one hour. I'd heard differing opinions on Shakey's from different people. Some said it was amazing, but one person said it was the worst pizza he's ever eaten.  We paid 1500 yen each and got stuck in, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't the best pizza I've ever had, but it was far from the worst, and when you throw in all the other food and beer it's a great deal. I enjoyed the dessert pizza as well - I think it was cinnamon apple.  Seeing all the pizzas lined up reminded me of when I used to work the lunchtime buffet at Pizza Hut, and how customers would be like rabid dogs when they knew they could eat as much as they wanted. At Shakey's it was much more chilled, probably 'cos Japanese people are a bit more reserved. And after Shakey's we headed to a popular gaijin bar in Shinsaibashi and drank till the early morning. Fun night.

Yesterday I played footy with the guys from work. They have a team in a league in Kobe, so we all caught the train to Rokko Island, very hungover. It's the first time I've done any real sport since dislocating my shoulder in May, but I've been doing push-ups every day and that seems to keep it strong.  My touch on the ball was a bit rusty, but I think I'll start to play a bit more football from now on. We lost the game 7-1, by the way, but apparently the performance was a lot better than in previous weeks.

During the past week I met up with a Spanish guy to start a weekly language exchange. I've been wanting to learn Spanish, so I put an ad in a local magazine called Kansai Scene and got a reply.  We met at a Starbucks and he taught me some beginner stuff from a textbook, and then we chatted in English after. Learning a new language like this showed me how students probably feel when I'm teaching them English at work, so it was an interesting experience. As today's a holiday I'm probably gonna study a bit more Spanish and then work on an online TEFL course I'm doing.

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