Monday, March 30, 2009


It being Spring and all,the primary seasonal colour is naturally pink.Be it on advertising hoardings,clothes,or desserts pink is everywhere.

If you look carefully above one can discern a small cherry petal to the left of the strawberry in this dessert.Again the main colour is a resounding pink.There is a clear gelatine like layer under which the aforesaid cherry blossom is embedded.Below this is a layer of custard.

Across from my apartment block in Osu Kannon there is a small tree bearing an unusual combination of blossoms.

As well as blooms that are a standard ordinary dark red colour the tree also has flowers that are white with a dash of pink in them.The white and pink stippled blossoms contrast with the no nonsense red blooms.Set against a clear blue sky such as we got today the effect is quite striking.Im pleased to say I wasnt the only passerby who stopped to snap a photo and admire its short-lived beauty.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Windy Spring Day

Very windy today.Hats flying.Bicyles upended.People leaning at 45 degrees into the face of gale force gusts that ambush them as they head round the sides of buildings.The barely opened cherry blossoms and magnolia blooms took a battering from the winds today after enduring a miserable grey wet day yesterday.
Up in Tokyo a FedEx cargo plane crash-landed and flipped.Judging from the film of the landing and speculation on NHK it seems wind shear had a part to play in the accident.

I saw this new Haagen Dazs flavour recently.Green tea latte.I found it pretty bland.The green tea flavour isnt strong enough to overcome the accompanying vanilla tasting ice cream which nullifies its strength.An uneasy mix which I wont be trying again.

A couple of Hello Kitty bottles that I spotted in the Sanrio shop the other day amid the pink decor and other Hello Kitty merchandise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Flash..A Few More Flower Photos

A few more shots from last weeks Flower Dome held at Nagoya Dome.

Another shot of one of the bigger orchid displays.

A floral umbrella using ferns and colourful pansy flowers.

A planter made from a canvas bag with some nicely shaded flowers.

A topiary horse feature made from ivy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flower Dome 2009

Once again Nagoya Dome,home of the Chunichi Dragons baseball team,was the venue for this years Flower Dome.Apparently its the largest annual show of its kind in Japan.It would be hard to argue against this assertion if the size of the crowds are any indication.

Even though I got there shortly after the gates opened at 9:30am there were already a large number of people crowding the exhibits and the walkways between the various display sections.The crowds multiplied steadily throughout the morning making it increasingly difficult to get a good view of all the plants and flowers on display.The fact that it was a sunny Sunday must have helped draw the throngs.It may have been quieter and more accessible during the weekdays.

As was the case last year there were different competitions and exhibits open to companies,professional designers and individuals.
As well as stands of individual plants such as orchids there were displays of tableware,paintings that used plants and flowers as well as paper flower creations and even lead glass based flower products.
The number of commercial stands seemed to have increased.There was a South African tourist promotion stand complete with a small garden of native plants.

One of the more popular stands was the eco food display.Tomatoes grown over a trellis provided the entrance to the exhibit while vegetables grown using "green" methods such as this basket of tomatoes attracted many "ohs" and "ahs".

There were several spectacular displays of orchids.One had orchids hanging in pots,while another had the orchids suspended from a fishing net which was an original space saving idea.
A few of the larger orchid displays such as the one above had streams and waterfalls incorporated into their landscape.
Flower Dome 2009 runs from March 12 to March 18th.Admission for adults was 1,800yen at the door.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Flash..A Few More Auto Trend 2009 shots

A few more shots from last weeks Auto Trend 2009 show in Nagoya.

One of a number of highly customised Hummers on display.This one had expensive interior fittings and a huge stereo system.The paint work shone like glass.

Another photo of a set of models who drew hordes of admirers vying for a photo or an autograph.

A nicely finished and detailed Mini.There are a number of kits available to accessorise and customise these cars such as bumper bars,muffler sets and various audio and video equipment options.

This model was standing near one of the audio stands.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Nagoya Auto Trend 2009

Nagoya Auto Trend 2009
Once again the annual Auto Trend show was held over March 6th,7th and 8th at the Port Messe Centre near Nagoya Port.Below you can see a Datsun sportscar that featured in the Datsun Sports Car Club of Japan stand.

Two of the many girls that attracted the camera toting hordes.Not sure which company or products they were promoting.There were numerous companies that had displays of their products including mirror finish mufflers,tv and dvd kits for your car,stereo systems and custom built kits.There were also companies showing off their paint and lacquer finishes.

Not only four wheeled vehicles were on display.There were three wheel motor trikes and custom built scooters and motorcycles like the one below with its own customised paint job.

Some more models posing beside some upmarket foreign cars that had been given a sporty look with carbon protectors and over fenders.It seems theres a coorelation between the size and type of cameras and the amount of attention one receives from the models.Last year I only had a small pocket digital camera.This year armed with an admittedly level entry SLR digital camera I seemed to have more success.Or maybe I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

There didnt appear just from looking to be a noticeable absence of companies or even smaller crowds than last year which is surprising given the current state of the car industry here in Japan and the Aichi region in particular.But then the locals are known to be fond of their cars.
The shot below shows a custom built truck.Im just not sure how you get into it.Presumably the purchaser receives a free stepladder to enable access to the vehicle.

Monday, March 02, 2009

KitKats...Going Postal

Surprisingly I havent seen these at my local post office.Despite the fact that the pack can be mailed.On the reverse side there is space for a stamp and room to put the name and address of both the receiver and sender.The pack contains four regular single stick kitkats so apart from the packaging the contents are fairly unremarkable.

Now Its Personal

The icy winds of the current economic climate reached me last week with the arrival of two contract renewal offers.
I need to put them into perspective to see what they mean.
Currently as you see below I'm on a salary of 325,000 yen a month.Five days and forty hours a week.Well above the average salary being offered nowadays.However you must factor in that I've been here a while and got some increments.Im fully aware that the economic circumstances now are not good.Some students I instruct are having to do without over-time and even in some cases have gone to a four day working week.
A friend had done a spreadsheet taking into account exhange rates and possible salary changes.My current salary and details are below.

So to the two new contract offers.The first was a four day on,three day off contract with a base rate of 168,000 yen.Topped up with regional and shift allowance it came to the grand total of 226,000 yen a month.
The second contract offers 3 full days and 2 half days a total of 5 days or 34 hours a week as opposed to my current 40 hours.Obviously the base rate(186,320 yen) is lower than Id predicted nor had I factored in a loss of employment hours.These reductions were explained in terms of the poor business situation.
While the regularity allowance has been reduced there is something called a skill allowance included in the new salary structure.
Its also worth noting that there are 37 and 40 hour contracts available but I wasnt offered one.

The second new contract offer means that Ive lost working hours and around at least 80,000 yen a month.I know I should be grateful.I at least received a contract renewal.On the other hand you have to bear in mind that the salary is less than what I received when I first arrived here and that there are other jobs available offering more in terms of conditions and salary.Hardly a great incentive to remain either in the job or Japan given the reduced economic conditions and the increased competition for the decreasing number of lower paying jobs available.