Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 5

This past week turned out to be a bit less frantic than the previous week. The big social event this week was a tour of the Asahi Beer brewery in Suita, Osaka with the Wednesday tour crew.

The brewery itself was easy enough to find. It's plainly visible from both JR and Hankyu Suita train stations. Unfortunately, if you're coming from Hankyu station you end up at the rear gate and need to walk another kilometer, all the way around the outside of the complex, to get to the visitor's entrance (which would have been okay if we hadn't been running late at that point.) The tour itself was well presented and, although it was in Japanese, everyone who came this time spoke enough Japanese that I didn't need to translate. Fortunately the tour started with a movie (which we missed all but the last 30 seconds of) which was followed by several walkthrough exhibits of the brewing process. After that we got to see the factory floor where they brew and bottle the beer. At the end of the tour portion we had 30 minutes to sample up to three free nama (tap) beers. As brewery tours go, I think Asahi does a great job of explaining the process as simply as possible and seeing the exhibits before seeing the actual factory floor allows for a better understanding of what you're seeing.

Saturday I corrected a small issue I previously overlooked by asking the girl I've been dating to actually date me (and anyone who has my facebook info knows, she accepted.)

Last night (Sunday) I met up with some of my Canadian friends and we played board games (10 days in the americas, fluxx, and freeloader) all evening which was really fun and reminded me how much I used to like playing board games. I'm now thinking of setting up a monthly (or more often) board game night (ever the "Gamer's Guild President" am I.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Week 4

2011 is turning out to be a busy year so far. My social calendar has filled up more-or-less through mid-February. This past week I had two dates, two factory tours, a nomikai (work party), and a concert. All that plus work and studying for the JLPT N3 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, Level New 3) makes Dockett a busy guy!

Much to the disappointment of a few of you (I'm sure), we're going to skip over the juicy part of that last paragraph and move on to the two factory tours. Six co-workers and I started at the instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda, North Osaka Wednesday morning. As the name suggests this wan't actually a factory, but a museum built near the site where the founder, Momofuku Ando, invented instant ramen. No reservations were needed for the exhibit hall which explains (in Japanese) about the history of the food. Also open to the public is a station where you can design your own Cup Noodle package and choose what "soup" flavor gets put inside. If a proper reservation is made (which somehow I missed) there's a second floor kitchen area where you can make your own noodles from scratch as well. All in all it was pretty fun for being free (+300yen to make the ramen package.)

After a lunch of cheap Chinese food (not ramen) three of our party left to go to work and we picked up one more. Our second destination of the day was the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery for a whisky tour. This time it was a tour through an operational distillery. The tour guide gave the tour in Japanese but between my listening skills, some signs written in English, and my years of working at a liquor store, I was able to translate the gist of what was going on to those in our party wo didn't understand. As might be expected at the end of a factory tour we got free samples of the 10 and 12 year old whiskeys as well as a type of Japanese liquor made in the same distillery. After sampling time was over we were shown to the gift shop which in turn exited into the "Whisky Library" were you could sample various whiskeys (and scotches) from all over the world (15ml-30ml (~1/3 - 1/2 shot)) (priced from 100yen to 2,500yen).

Friday night I went out after work with the staff of the high school I work at. It was my first time attending this kind of afterwork staff party and I've gotta say it was pretty fun seeing everyone relaxing and having a good time (though these teachers are pretty laid-back and fun to begin with.)

Last night I went to a concert at a venue just down the street. It was a "cosy" place that might only hold 100 people at full capacity but really let you get up close to the bands. It was a variety night so I got to see five new bands I haven't seen before. And this time I remembered to bring ear plugs so me ears aren't ringing this morning.

Looking forward, this week actually isn't too busy, with the highlight shaping up to be a tour of the Asahi-beer brewery in North Osaka on Wednesday.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week 3

Going to a concert last Tuesday led to a party invitation last night. Dinner at a friend's house led to a date tonight. Who knew that being social led to being more social?

I didn't end up doing much of anything last Monday (no work, a national holiday) but it was good that I had some time to rest as the next day was a long one. I woke up at 8am Tuesday morning, packed my camera in my backpack and headed out. My first stop was Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast (luckily there wasn't a line that early in the morning.) Next I took the Kintetsu train and a cable car to the top of the mountain range that divides Osaka and Nara prefectures (Mt. Ikoma.) After taking some pictures of the amusement park at the top (which was closed for the winter) I headed into Nara city for lunch. Fed and watered I took the JR train line North to Uji. Uji is in southern Kyoto near the boarder to Nara and is famous for the Phoenix Hall of Byoudo-in temple which in turn is famous for being on the back of Japanese 10 yen coins. After touring Byoudo-in (which had a lovely museum) I wandered around Uji for a bit before finally taking the Kaihan line back into Osaka. Back in the city, I headed to the evening's concert venue. It was my second time seeing the band (The 50 Kaitenz) and I, again, thoroughly enjoyed the show. After the concert a bunch of fans went to a restaurant near the concert hall for an after party (which ended with an invitation to a New Year's party being held the following Sunday). It was quite the long, rewarding day.

As for the story of the dinner that became a date... well the story's not over yet...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 2

No big adventures this week. Instead I decided to get a clean start to the year and sold my two year old Mac-Mini (computer) and bought a new one. I also visited a friend of a friend at the Nikon service center in Umeda (North Osaka) and got my camera cleaned.
Other than that, work started up again... slowly. There were surprisingly few (adult) students in my (adult) classes this week. I guess some people were still on vacation.
Today's day off (to mark "coming of age day") is the calendar start to another great year full of 3 day weekends (at lease one a month for the next three months, anyways.) Now, what to do...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Week 1

A new year and a fresh start on the blog. This year's goal is to expand on last year's success with updating every week. I hope to include a picture of myself as well as a brief summary of what I did in the previous week. I also plan on bringing back the longer posts about the various trips I take (of course with photos.) As they say in the neighborhood "Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!"

To start, the highlight of this week was definitely my first experience going to a shrine on new years day. This is called hatsumode and is done to pray for a good new year as well as to receive one's fortune. I received the best fortune (daikichi) which bodes well for this year.

In other news it snowed twice in Osaka in the past week, once with flurries and once with big fluffy snow flakes (no accumulation though.)