Monday, December 21, 2009

IRON CHEF: Instant Ramen

1. Watch the movie Tampopo.. Seriously, you will love it.
2. Throw away that disgusting flavor packet. Use Miso, or if you can find dashi powder (should say hon-dashi or ほんだし、本だし) I think they actually might have it at rosauers, mix soy sauce and hon-dashi in your ramen to taste.. you only need a LITTLE of both.
there are other kinds, like Shio ramen (salt flavor) that is just dashi powder.. be sure and read the outside so you don't put WAYYY too much dashi in your broth
3. TOPPINGS! This is what really separates restaurant ramen from what most poor college students make. Chaa-Shuu ramen is really popular here, the closest thing you can find is the BBQ pork slices, safeway's are nice and fatty, and they usually cut them nice and thick. Green onions, frozen corn (best when microwaved a little first to defrost them, with butter and garlic for deluxe), a beaten egg (put it in while the pot is still on the stove if you dont like raw egg), canned bamboo shoots, kamaboko (the closest english description is fish cake.. basically Hot Dog-like texture but made from ground up, pressed fish.. they have it in the freezer at sunrise) get some of that chinese Hot Chili Oil, put a little splash in your ramen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy times in Cold Tsuruta

Originally uploaded by flashywordz
Almost 2 feet of snow has fallen already! I asked my driver Kamata-san how many centimeters of snow falls each year, and he replied "No, no, not centimeters.. Meters." I'm tempted to copy Temira and get a pair of cross-country skis.
The kids have been lots of fun, I am finally going to the same class for the second time. I teach at all the elementary schools and all the kindergarten/Pre-K, so I have many different classes of children.
All the other English Teachers will be gone after tomorrow, so I will have to make more Japanese friends. I hear the only proper bar in town is closing after the year ends, so I will have to sing lots of karaoke.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Here are some pictures I took on my nightly walk, these are all from last night:

More pictures (and full-size) available at my flickr page

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being One

I thought I'd post something different, some fun mental stimulation. I will periodically be updating my blog with quotations from the Zhuangzi, an esoteric Daoist text from the 3rd century. If you have ever listened to Alan Watts, these ideas may be familiar.. I might also post some quotations from the Bodhicaryavatara, the Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, written by Shantideva in the 7th Century; a Bodhisattva is one whose mind has the ability to transcend their body into Nirvana, but consciously chooses not to, instead utilizing their boundless compassion to delay the final transcendence until ALL living beings have become enlightened.
I am using the free, online, translation available at
and for the Bodhicaryatavatara

When Yang Zi was on his way to the state of Song, he spent a night in a local inn. The inn keeper had two concubines, one beautiful and one ugly. The ugly one was highly valued while the beautiful one was treated like dirt. When Yang Zi asked him why this was so, the young male servant at the inn replied:
"The beautiful one sees herself as beautiful but we don't pay attention to her beauty. The ugly one sees herself as ugly but we don't pay attention to her ugliness."
Yang Zi said:
"Remember this, my disciples: Behave in a virtuous manner, but get rid of any idea that you're behaving virtuously - then where could you go that you wouldn't be loved"
Now some quotes from the Bodhi

Anger destroys all the good conduct, such as generosity and worshipping the Sugatas, which has been acquired over thousands of eons.

It is better that I die today, than have a long, corrupt life. For even after living a long time, I shall have the suffering of death.
One person wakes up after enjoying a hundred years of pleasure in sleep, and another person wakes up after being happy for a moment.
Does happiness return to either once they have awakened? It is the same at the moment of death for one who lives a long time and for one who lives a short time.

Those who wish to protect their practice should zealously guard the mind. The practice cannot be protected without guarding the unsteady mind.
Untamed, mad elephants do not inflict as much harm in this world as does the unleashed elephant of the mind in the Avichi Hell and the like.
But if the elephant of the mind is completely restrained by the rope of mindfulness, then all perils vanish and complete well-being is obtained.

Hello from Tsuruta!

Hi everyone! I still don't have internet at home so I haven't updated my blog, I figure I should post at least one update a month, if not more!
I work in the Town Hall and also teach English to the Elementary Schoolers around the area. I have only been here for about a week so I am still trying to figure things out, but it's been great so far. The kids are so cute and full of energy, and I guess it's been a LONG time since anyone who spoke Japanese came from Hood River; there is a CIR from the JET program (run by the Ministry of Education) here, and all JET CIRs have to speak Japanese, but all you need for the sister city exchange is a college degree; you actually need a 4-year degree for ANY work visa to Japan. I am so glad to have found a job in my major!
Life is good here, things are very slow in Tsuruta this time of year, but Hood River is very similar. The weather is similar to HR as well, cloudy and rainy, and we are also close to a large mountain, but Mt Iwaki is only about half the height of Mount Hood. All the kids here are so cute, they are really excited to have a new teacher. The other day there was a little girl who was jumping up and down and waving at me throughout the entire class

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Here are some pictures! I put them up on Facebook, but you can see them without joining. If you DO have Facebook, please add me!
Japan pictures!

Monday, November 30, 2009


I'm here! Sitting in my chair in the Town Office, no work today, just touring the town, getting my bank account set up. Tsuruta really reminds me of Hood River, we are close to huge mountain that's already a little snow-capped. The rice fields are all bare, but the pine trees are evergreen! Yesterday I went with Eriko, my supervisor, and Karen, the JET ALT to a park near Lake Towada. We saw the LONG wooden bridge (the longest in Japan), but it's closed for the season. We also saw a cool little jinja (shinto shrine) and an area with a Buddha statue and 33 bodhisattvas. This place is awesome!
EDIT: After doing some quick internet research, I have determined that the smaller statues are 33 incarnations of Kannon-sama. Or Kwannon, or Avalokitesvara if you're into the Pali.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sign at the airport says "Please show me your alien card." I feel like a V.

and other observations about international travel

Old Japanese grandma with a Nintendo DS
Our airplane has Recaro seats. Must make it go faster.
Me gettin completely ignored / passed over when everyone got food on the plane. Not even a drink for Alex.
How much the attendants apologized once they realized what happened.
On our inflight video showing our progress, the map shows Eugene and Baker, but not Portland.
Seeing RIP Slyme on the radio playlist and then having to listen to it :D
Another channel was just Bebel Gilberto's album All In One.
Re-reading the hand book and noticing there is a "menstrual leave" clause for female CIRs. Really? Yes.
ALL national holidays are paid leave :)
My "hourly wage" is calculated by ¥3600000 divided by 1820. You do the math.
Realized that I'm actually allowed do this job for up to 5 years...... Holy sh*t...
Ah, the Great Circle route. SF-Tokyo takes us almost to Alaska, far north of both Oregon and Aomori-Ken
A dude tried to use the seatback pocket to hold his paper cup of coffee. Good thing he was reading a newspaper otherwise his pants would have been soaked.
Awwww there's an animal planet show about the Humboldt penguins at the Oregon Zoo. Can you say nostalgia?
As far as airplane snacks go, rice crackers > peanuts hands down.
The travel guide says that MiniDisc players are popular souvenirs from Japan. Wow, was the guide written like 10 years ago?
Frst time on a plane when I'm over 21. I'll be damned if I'm not having a drink. Authentic Asahi スーパードライ= うまい だよ

Goldfish crackers? I eat Mola Molas and Tuna

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Can I survive for a year on oyakodon? I think I've made that more this month than any other dish.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ready to go!

I leave Saturday morning at 6 AM. Looking forward to it SO much.

I'm ready!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


There is nothing inherently existent, and there is nothing permanent in this world. Thinking that a thing is permanent is known as the root delusion in Buddhism, for nothing is truly constant, unsupported by conditions, everything in existence is conventionally and inescapably linked by karmic bonds, not inherently, but because there is no way something can exist separately and distinct from the rest. Therefore everything is always changing, flowing from one state to the other, often with indistinct boundaries. When does a seed in the ground stop being a seed and become a "plant"? These designations certainly exist, but only because man, through language, has categorized and attempted to compartmentalize all of existence, in order to make order out of apparent chaos.
And thus, things change in my life. Finally got news about my departure date, my visa is coming in the mail and I start work on the 1st of December, until the 31st of July, maybe 2010, maybe 2011… I really feel ready to go now, and I have a month for final preparations. I really think I won't need to do much though. Let's just say I'm not too attached to Oregon any more.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Nikujaga and rice, Easy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Japanese Gardens!

I went into Portland the other day to send my mom off to Brazil and spend more time with my girl; I ended up going to the Japanese Gardens with my good friend Jordan, you can check out the pictures here on facebook

If you are reading my blog posts on facebook, you should follow the link to my actual blog and leave me a note in my comment box!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting ready for Japanese Cuisine!

Miso/soba stew, hiyayakko tofu, kyuuri salado


Thursday, September 24, 2009

new thoughts

Finally got confirmation from the University, paid off my student account, and now I'm expecting my diploma to arrive soon! I hope I'l be able to start work in Japan by October. I'm lookin for some arubaito (part time work) for the time being but there's slim pickings in Hood River now that all the tourists aren't swarming the area. Maybe I'll take a server job or work pizza again. Anything that pays, right?
Things are starting to slow down in Hood River which is sort of nice, but I am missing the busyness of Eugene, even if it's full of bright eyed naïve freshman. Lately I have been enjoying myself more in Portland. The Hawthorne district is way cool! Plus my girlfriend just got a veiled chameleon!

Monday, August 10, 2009

some thoughts

Wow, things are coming to a close. My last week of classes begins tomorrow; not even a full week, just 3 days! The week after that I have to move out, Sunday the 23rd! I'll probably move early, I'd like to hang out in Hood River and maybe get some pictures of the landscape to show off in Japan. The weather is starting to get cold, reminding me of the feet of snow that await me. I've been browsing the Web looking for videos and photos of Tsuruta, and I've found a couple cool ones, one of "Yayoi painting" which is more of a mosaic technique involving gluing seeds and beans, and also some cool rice field art from nearby Tsugaru. I am sad to leave all my friends behind, but I plan to keep in touch with all of you, and maybe meet up with some friends who also are planning to go to Japan. I have a house too, if anyone wants to visit!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

cleaning out the cupboard

I move out of here on August 23rd, and I thought I should try to eat everything here before i leave, including a big bag of white rice. So, I'm going to eat white rice dishes every day. I started off yesterday with some tamago kake gohan, and then some shrimp cha-han (fried rice) later. Today is going to start with bacon omurice. Sounds delicious, no?

Monday, July 20, 2009


1 month here, 1 month at home, 1 year in Japan!

Summer Dreamin'

Oregon sunshine streams through the window, lighting up my room and reminding me this is the last Summer I plan to spend in Eugene. I applied for a job in my hometown's sister city in Japan, and recently found out I'll be leaving around late September. Tsuruta町 will be a big change, presenting lots of interesting opportunities, and I'll miss lots of people that I love here. I'm excited to be around to enjoy the end of summer, although I do have a few things left to take care of before I go. I'm working on a Finance class online, and have one class not yet started. I was supposed to go to my first meeting of JPN 399: Reading Manga, but class today was canceled, which gave me the impulse to write instead. Lately I've been trying to read more Japanese literature, and read some Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows and some of his short stories, so I'm excited to study manga. It will also be nice to start having a class in person, getting ready for the daily schedule of a job. My thoughts about Japan seem so muddled together, but I've made up my mind a while back that this is what I want to do. I wonder how much my experience at U of O will help me with my duties in Tsuruta, and I'm intrigued by this country creature known as Tsugaru-ben, the local dialect. I hope I will be able to manage a room full of excited children, but I remember how fun teaching about magnets in Science Wizards was. Lots of fun times await me, and I'm off to conquer the day!