Monday, December 05, 2005

Glorious Defeat

Well would you believe it - after my last post begging for snow my prayers have been answered. This morning I woke up to find Fukui smothered in an unseasonably early covering of white - snowboarding season here we come! Roll on the weekend! If you want to see the snow for yourself then head to http://info.pref.fukui.jp/hozen/yuki/index.html - if you click on a coloured part of the map, then click on a traffic camera you can see an (almost) live picture of the snow conditions in that area. I live in Asahi (now Echizen-cho, the pink area on the left), but check out the crazy amounts of snowfall in the mountains around Ono (the pink area on the right).
 
So anyway, winter has definitely arrived. It was two degrees centigrade in my bedroom this morning, and when I went into the kitchen I discovered that my olive oil had frozen. Yes, that's right, my olive oil had frozen . It's all very well having a big old wooden house all to yourself, but the big disadvantage of having a house against having a tiny flat is that you don't get to bathe in any of that lovely heat coming from your neighbours' apartments. It doesn't help that my walls are paper thin either. Or that my windows have big gaps between the frames and the window panes. Having said that though, the walls must be doing something, since when I looked at the thermometer by the side of the road it said one degree, which means the temperature in my house was double what it was outside. Hurrah!!!
 
In other news, I went to Nagoya yesterday to fail the Level 3 Japanese Proficiency Test. I didn't have a hope in hell of passing, since I've been far too busy with work to study, but it was nice to get away from Fukui for a bit. Plus I encountered lots of weird and wonderful new Japanese words and phrases I'd never seen before whilst taking the test, so I have an exciting amount of textbook-combing and dictionary-checking to look forward to as I endeavour to undrerstand what the hell the whole thing was about. Maybe next year I'll be able to approach the exam with a much more advanced strategy of actually knowing what the questions mean and being able to fill in the correct answers, as opposed to my current strategy of making pretty patterns out of the boxes on the multiple choice answer sheet and hoping for the best.
 
Following the glorious defeat we stepped out into the Nagoyan rain and headed for a bite to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe - my first time inside the mighty chain's hallowed doors. You get the feeling that the restaurant's glory days may have already passed it by - the novelty of hanging random things nailed up all over the walls surely must have worn off at least a decade ago. Indeed, I was transfixed by the decor as I strolled in, in much the same way as an Egyptologist might be when walking into a mummy's tomb: "Aaah, this is what restaurants used to look like... Fascinating."
 
Still, you can't fault the food - the veggie burger I had was absolutely amazing. You just can't get veggie burgers anywhere in Japan, so taking my first bite of delicious mush in a bun was utterly divine. I imagine heroin addicts have the same kind of feeling after going back on the needle after rehab (only veggie burgers are a little bit healthier than heroin, or so I believe). Yum.

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