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Showing posts from March, 2014

They came, they were seen, they conquered

Veni, vidi, vici. Latin for "I came, I saw, I conquered". How would you say "they came, they were seen, they conquered"? Vēnērunt, visi sunt, vīcērunt? My Latin days are long past; can anybody verify my translation?
The 2014 edition of the Annual Cherry Blossom Invasion has arrived, and I'll do my best to spam you with photos. I'll have fewer opportunities for walkpeditions this year, but yesterday, on a rare Saturday off, I went for a walk along the Kanda River from Nakanoshinbashi Station to Takadanobaba Station. I wanted to see cherry blossoms, but I wanted to avoid weekend crowds, and this was a good choice.
It's a quiet walk through a suburban area, with only one fairly busy, rowdy spot: Kandagawa Jōsui Kōen (神田川上水公園).
They trees are not in full bloom yet, so I'll focus on close-ups. I've become mildly obsessed with the little clumps of blossoms that grow directly from the trunk. It's a cherry blossom thing; plum blossoms don't do th…

Random rants, raves and ruminations

Readers seem to enjoy my rants, so here we go again, with arbitrary stochasticity. Might as well show off my vocabulary. Which is of a somewhat unusual size thanks to my compulsive-obsessive reading habits. If you want to test your own vocab, here you go: http://testyourvocab.com/
The best thing about shamelessly admitting your chocolate addiction is that others equally shamelessly feed it. This is Studentská pečeť, a chocolate from the Czech Republic that was given to me by a Tokyoite who hails from Slovakia. It's beyond sinful: very sweet, and it contains an unusually high percentage of raisins, peanuts and jelly pieces. I refuse to tell you how quickly I finished a very big bar. I'm not THAT shameless. Thanks, Adriana (again)!

It's incredibly irritating to watch YouTube in Japan, because very single video starts with a stupid Japanese ad (or CM as it's known here) featuring a stupid helium-breathing woman flapping about some stupid irrelevant beauty product. Godsdam…

The march of the cherry blossoms, 2014

They're here! Wheee! Ru dances a jig of joy, grins inanely, throws open all windows and generally doesn't act her age. When I saw this tree at Zōjō-ji this morning, I was slightly taken aback: it's earlier than I'd expected, but it's probably an early-blooming variety.

According to the official prediction, the blossoms will start opening on the 28th, and reach full bloom next week.

PS: Thanks, Adriana, for pointing me in the direction of this tree! I took these photos with my Sony Xperia smartphone, and the result isn't half bad at all.








Plum pox virus attacks Tokyo's trees

If you want to see the best plum blossom spot in Tokyo, you're in a race against a virus, and that means you need to cross the finishing line before the end of March.
To quote The Japan News: "The plum pox virus, or PPV, which causes fruit deformities and other issues in ume plum trees, has spread to 10 prefectures nationwide, with some famous ume blossom spots undergoing drastic measures to halt the disease."
"Drastic measures" = cutting down and burning all trees over a large area, including Okutama.
I visited top spot Yoshino Baigō twice this year: about three weeks ago and again ten days ago. Both times, true to my floating-on-cloud-eleven nature, I was unaware of the looming disaster. My conclusion is that my guardian angels, who usually protect me against my own obliviousness, were working overtime to ensure that I saw this garden in the snow and again during full bloom.

I finally realized what was going on when a kind blog reader, karellenn, left a commen…

I don't understand my students

Prescript: This is a rant. You have been warned.
During the last six weeks – the hiatus between the end of the old and the start of the new academic year – I've been teaching mostly at an eikaiwa. This happens twice a year, during the university's winter and summer holiday, and it kills me. Why? Here's why.
Please note that all these conversations were with upper intermediate to advanced students, i.e. you can't blame their poor English skills.
Topic: Small talk at start of lesson Female student: I was in New York for three weeks to study English. Teacher: New York? Great! What was the highlight of your stay? Student: I went to an outlet mall. Teacher: You were in New York  and your highlight was an outlet mall?
Student: Yes, it was very good. Teacher: o.0
Topic: The benefits and disadvantages of globalisation Student: Globalisation isn't good for Japan. Teacher: No? Why not? Student: We can import food, of course, so that's good. We can buy cheaper food. Teac…

Yoshino Baigo, Tokyo's very best plum blossom spot

Very important updated added on 18 March 2014: This year is your last chance to visit this garden for probably the next ten years. The trees have been infected by the plum pox virus and will be cut down at the end of this season. That's the bad news. The good news is that the trees aren't in full bloom yet, in other words, you still have two weeks to enjoy their full beauty. My thanks to karellenn for this update. Full story (in Japanese)here. When I look at my schedule for the next two months, I start hyperventilating and whimpering. (The new academic year starts in April.) Then I eat chocolate, tell myself to ganbare, and ruthlessly focus on whatever is the most urgent.

That's yet another excuse for neglecting my blog … and yours!
I meant to write this post a week ago, but I'm writing it now. Not to worry. There's still time to get your honoured selves over to this, the best plum blossom spot in Tokyo, because the blossoms are now in full bloom.

If I say "i…