Christmas · Friends

A Merry Cheezmus Christmas

Yes I know it’s Feburary, but it’s dawned on me I forgot to write about Christmas here since I was in a funk for most of January. And since this blog is predominantly a diary for me to look back on in years to come, I still want to write about it here.

The huns.

This year with none of us being able to go home for the holidays, Team Dickcheese (Team Cheezus in polite company) decided to have Friendsmas this year at Ashley’s place.

Well, I say as a group. Ashley as per nearly gave herself a stroke preparing delicious food for us.
Matt politely offered to help. Me and Felipe watched, getting drunk and before long were gavreeting about in a very uncivilised manner.
You can take the girl out of Newcastle but you can’t take Newcastle out of the girl.

She made a fantastic buffet including home-made karaage, sausage rolls (Americans call these ‘pigs in blankets’ – in the UK ‘pigs in blankets’ are sausages wrapped in bacon. Who knew!) and the most delicous garlic-y breadrolls. As well as nibbles my mam calls a ‘picky tea’ of a cheese board (appropriate, given our name), crudités and dips.

She also mentioned she would get a traditional Japanese Christmas cake (vanilla and strawberry cake with a lot of whipped cream) and order something with less dairy for me (I’m lactose resistant) but she ONCE AGAIN took the piss and brought out an entire dessert table: a cheesecake, fruit tart and the best brownies I’ve ever had!

My mam loves keeping traditions alive, and although me and my sister are in our 30s (me) and 20s (her) she still loves preparing Christmas stockings for us.

While the Cheezes had agrred to not exchange gifts this year, I couldn’t resist sharing this fun family tradition with the huns.

I just got three ¥100 stockings from Daiso, and filled them with goodies. I got a bunch of UK, American and Japanese snacks from Donki as well as other treats traditionally found in them like some socks and a little toy. (I forgot to put an orange in!)

As a little extra, I found sweet little enamel pins with the flags of US states, which I ordered and pinned to the stockings: Nevada for Ashley, Florida for Matt and Texas for Felipe. I also found some cool iron-on patches to personalise them.

Otherwise, I just took it easy over Christmas break.
I really wanted to go to Tokyo and visit my friend Farrah again – but with ‘rona cases skyrocketing in the capital, it was safer to just stay in Hamamatsu.

I was also completely spoiled by my family and friends – my parents and sister mailed a box of goodies, and I also opened parcels from my friends Marie, Claire and Lauren. Thank you all so so much, it was such a surprise!

I also treated myself to something I’ve wanted for a while but always put off buying – an instax mini with a bunch of cute films and pens to decorate them.
I can’t wait to be able to take cute checkis with my friends!

I always get the January blues pretty bad as I love Christmas so much – but now it’s February I’m about back into the swing of usual life again in Japan.

Saying that – just 28 days left of term then it’s Spring break woo-hoo!

~ Carla


Japan Keeping Me Humble #16

Whiskey Business.

Today I was doing “What do you want me to do?” with my 3rd graders. They had to answer “I want you to bring _________” in relation to a BBQ, a birthday party or a school trip.

One student said: “I want you to bring me a highball.”
(A highball is a popular drink here consisting of scotch and soda water. It also comes in the form of a lethal 9% canned cocktail that TRUST ME leaves you with a pounding headache the next day.)

Nice try though, me little hun.
Aww, they know their ALT is from Newcastle.

I guess this is the Japanese schoolkid equivalent of “Can you gan into the shop for me…?

~ Carla

music · School Lunch

Life of an ALT: Lunchtime Jams

Me and Haruna covering for the lunch announcers who were on a school trip.

Schools in Japan have monitors in the top set whose job it is to do lunch announcements and blast some music while everyone is setting up. (Japanese school children serve lunches themselves.)

While at my junior high school this tends to be the big pop song at the moment, something from TikTok or off-season belters.

However in my elementary school, the same songs are played nearly every day, and I think they’re going to make me feel all fuzzy and nostalgic when I’m back in the UK.

So here they all are, for your listening pleasure!

Takumi by Suguru Matsutani.

To Love You More by Taro Hakase

Sanpo by Reiko Nakagawa (from My Neighbor Totoro)

Paprika by Foorin:

I first wrote about this frigging song over a year ago. It’s still popular.

Courage Dance by The Chorus ’13.

This catchy and adorable children’s choir song from 2013 is having a second wave of popularity in Japanese schools as a rousing ganbarou message in the times of covid.

The chorus is literally: 元気、勇気、ちから (“genki, yūki, chika-ra”“energy, courage, power”). Aw.

The theme tune from ‘Play Your Cards Right.’

There’s a short three question quiz during lunch and to announce it, they blast the theme tune from Play Your Cards Right. The show never came to Japan and it’s probably used for something else here, but it makes me think I’m missing a trick by not beginning my classes with “It’s nice to see you, to see you…NICE!” (RIP, Brucey)

They usually play the school song too, which is really cute at my elementary school.
Of course can’t post that here for obvious reasons but it also has a lovely message of camaraderie and being proud of the school’s local area. It’s a bop!

~ Carla