Sunday, December 11, 2005

Photos of snow & other random stuff

As I mentioned before there was great excitement at the arrival of snow in Hiroshima this week, albeit for a short time. Here's some pictures to give you some idea of what it was like

Therese has been out and about with the camera this week, snapping whatever quirky things catch her eye. This weeks entries are:

Mobile Phone Promotion Girl with Yellow Balloon strapped to her back

Mobile Phone Promotion girls are a common site in and around the centre of Hiroshima. They are invariably dressed in ridiculous costumes, but the huge yellow balloon deserved a photo. They are also always very upbeat and smiley, despite the thankless task of pestering shoppers and as you can see they are quite happy to have their photo taken. Of course once Therese had asked to take her photo, every tourist within 100 yards decided they wanted a photo too, so the poor girl was stood there for 5 mins before she could escape.

Over Priced Food Hampers

It seems to be quite common to give everyday items like food, drink and even washing powder as gifts, just as long as it is nicely packaged. Sticking to our theme of food, here's a fine example of what you might find under your Christmas Tree in Hiroshima - a Melon, 2 Apples & 2 Pears. Price £33.50, bargain!

And just to prove we weren't joking about the washing powder....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Snow !!!

There was great excitement on Monday morning this week, when we were greeted with a fresh covering of snow. Of course it was all gone by lunchtime, but it managed to stir up many stories among the locals of how this was going to be the coldest winter ever. Also on Monday our lease furniture arrived so the flat is looking much more homely and not quite so spartan.

As you might have guessed from the snow, it has turned distinctly colder here, and when the wind comes from the North (i.e. Siberia) it would cut through you. This has put a hold on my cycling to work, as it is just that bit too bracing.

Therese managed to snap some pictures of the snow and other random stuff so those will be added in due course.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Therese goes to the supermarket

Dear friends
For the past week i have been a computer widow. Every night when Martin came home from work he would spend ages at the computer trying to get everything connected, this inevitably led to many angry Martin moments. Although, i have also suffered from the odd lapse of patience, particularly with the excessive amount of wires and computer paraphernelia cluttering up my home. Thankfully things are now back to normal, i have a calm, loving husband ( the computer gear still looks messy though) and life has continued as usual for Therese in Japan. Hopefully, the following snaps will give you a glimpse of everyday grocery shopping in Hiroshima.

Therese gears up for another supermarket adventure

There are many weird and wonderful fish around

...and more soy sauce than you will ever need.

Bento boxes-TV dinners the Japanese way

and the infamous three slice loaf of bread.

a little piece of Essex in Japan!

computer problems.....

Dear All,

Apologies for the break last week, but since last Friday I have been trying to sort out the new computer. First I couldn't connect to our broadband service - and after a weekend of banging my head against the computer screen I discovered that my passowrd was typed wrong in the modem setting ( I have a # in my password which was coming up as a £, because the keyboard was set to UK instead of US - aaaaaaaargh!)

Then we couldn't access Therese's hotmail account - this is now resolved but only after hours of fiddling with different settings of the computer, wireless base station and modem. The modem was particulaly trying as all the setup screens are in Japanese!.

Anyway we're back on-line!

As requested here is a picture of Therese with her bike, just for Louisa.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Unfortunately no funny stories this week. Time is zipping by and it seems like yesterday I was writing about Miyajima and getting my hair cut. Our bikes arrived this week, so I’ve been cycling to work dodging the crazy school kids who never look where they are going. The weather is perfect for cycling – dry, crisp and sunny and it is only 3 miles so I don’t arrive at the office too sweaty. Hiroshima is built on a river delta so it is completely flat which makes cycling not too difficult.

Yesterday we drove to a town called Kurashiki (see pictures). Dubiously titled the “Venice of Japan” (I counted only one canal), it was once the rice trading centre of western Honshu. Nonetheless it does have an attractive, historic town centre, with the old rice warehouses converted into craft stores, cafes & galleries. We enjoyed the pleasant autumn weather and the sight of many of the leaves changing colour. Lunch was a set menu in a little bistro – pumpkin soup, steak with vegetables and side salad (and rice of course) and coffee for £6.75 each. Eating out is can be great value in Japan! After lunch we visited the Ohara Museum of Art, which has an impressive private collection of impressionist and modern art. The Museum also had a traditional Japanese garden (see photos). Along the way, we also came across some turtles sunbathing on a rock in the middle of a pond in case you were wondering what they were doing.

Also we have decided to go down under for Christmas. We are off to Sydney and the Blue Mountains for the week leading up to Christmas. We are staying in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains first, before heading back to Sydney for Christmas. It will be strange to be on holiday at Christmas, but waking up to a view of the Opera house and the harbour bridge (in the middle of summer) should make up for it. Maybe we can have some barbequed turkey!

The best surprise though this week was a very unhealthy supply of delicious chocolates courtesy of Anne & Paul – Thanks!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Every day is another adventure

As promised another week, another update.
My big adventure this week was going to get my hair cut. With some trepidation I randomly selected a barbers in the centre of town, and strode in. After the customary introductions, we managed to establish that I wanted a “cut only”, and I showed my ID Card picture as a guide to length and style (if you could call it a style). 10 minutes later and I was pretty happy with the outcome, and was all ready to leave when I was whisked over the sink for a rinse & shampoo, followed my a head massage, then a shoulder massage, then some nice hot towels, then a close shave of the neck & side burns, blow dry and final check over. I felt fantastic, and was looking better groomed than ever. They even trimmed my ear hairs with one of those Remmington trimmer things. I was wondering if this was a “cut only”, what else was available? The cost for all this five star treatment – 1700 Yen, approx £8.50. You have got to hand it to the Japanese, they really know how to do customer service!

Another adventure this week, was our first attempt at a traditional Japanese restaurant. We had pinned our hopes on the restaurant having a set menu deal, which is pretty common. Unfortunately, after some busy searching through the phrase book, we ascertained that it was all “a la carte”. Neither my nor Therese’s Hiragana abilities were up to reading the menu, but we managed ask the waitress to bring us as much food as she could for 5000 Yen. Our surprise menu, started with some stewed pork & lotus root with miso soup, followed by a delicious prawn salad. Next up was a fantastic platter of sashimi, which was super fresh and beautifully presented. Then came a couple of pork dumplings, followed by Therese’s favourite, some sort of steamed fluffy pancake, which you stuff with roasted chicken & salad, kebab style topped off with a creamy mustardy sauce. Next was the obligatory bowl of rice – ours was fried with mushroom, egg & tiny fish, although Therese was perturbed by the fact that the fish still had their heads on, eyes and all. Dessert was coconut flavoured bean curd, which tastes much better than it sounds. Before you think we are greedy gluttons, the portions are really quite small.

Hi, it’s Therese here, Martin has just had an “angry moment” with the computer and needs to chill; I think that my constant proof reading over his shoulder was just a bit too much. Things are going pretty well, I have almost finished my intensive Japanese lessons, it was tiring doing six hours a day, one on one, but I managed to pick up loads – I bought Martin a mobile phone, ordered curtains and exchanged a too small shower curtain and bath mat at the DIY store. It is very odd but everything seems to come in miniature in this country, maybe this is because the people are smaller? Carrots come individually wrapped at 75p a go, although I have managed to track down a wee man who sells 3 for a £1! You can even buy baby Kiwis, they are only slightly bigger than an M&M and the mind boggles at how you would even try to eat them. Melons are square, wrapped in a giant bow and obviously a luxury at £20 a pop. I saw the most expensive mushroom in the whole wide world the other day, one mushroom all wrapped up in cellophane and measuring 7cm in length and 3 in diameter was £24 – it must have been one serious magic mushroom. The slightly cheaper version imported from America was only £12.

Everyday is a bit of an adventure at the moment, I always see something that makes me stop and think. I saw this girl today and she was dressed liked Queen Victoria but wearing Dennis the Mennis striped socks and 10 inch high built up shoes (as you can imagine in Japan this made her head and shoulders above everybody else- I was standing at the traffic lights once and even I was taller than everybody else). At a different set of traffic lights this woman just started talking to me and walked the whole way to the supermarket with me speaking Japanese, I think she was trying to say that she thought I was American and that her Grandfather had gone to America. I have no idea what else she was rambling on about but was pretty relieved to get to Fresta and buy some more hideously expensive food. Did I mention that the good old pan loaf is also a luxury – it is normal to get 4 slices in a loaf and this will cost about 80p, the most you can get in one go is eight slices but this is very rare.

Clothes are also very tiny, these girls are so thin I think they must have to run around in the shower to get wet. However, there was great excitement amongst the western fraternity yesterday when Zara opened in town. I found a pair of size ten trousers that fitted, which makes a change from the day that I tried on a pair of size large trousers and they wouldn’t go up my leg – that was a low moment in Hiroshima.

I will have to sign off now as my enthusiasm for writing anymore is fading fast and the house still has to be cleaned – though I hear you can hire an OAP for £2 an hour and they will clean the whole house!!! (Martin reckons this can't be true and must be some form of slave labour)

Bye for now, see you next week.

Ps. My bike arrives tomorrow, it is my first new bike ever and has a wicker basket with a leather seat but no gears – I can't wait!!! Pictures will follow. Oh, Martin has calmed down, just in case you were wondering.

Monday, October 31, 2005


to all our avid blog readers for the shockingly poor record of posts in the last few weeks. As you can imagine it has been rather busy, but that is no excuse. From now on we have set ourselves a target of a minimum of one update a week, normally on Sunday night or Monday. To make up for it we are going to add some pictures of our trip to Miyajima Island today.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Miyajima Island

Today (Sunday 30th October) Therese and I headed off to Miyajima Island, just off the coast to the south-west of Hiroshima. Miyajima is No. 2 on the Hiroshima tourist trail (after the Peace Park) mainly because of the famous 'Torii Gate', but also because it has an ample supply of shrines, temples and some beautiful scenery. There are also lots of very tame red deer getting fat on all the treats given to them by the tourists.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tired, but ready to go...

It's been a crazy last few days - from a long weekend of farewells, our anniversary, two very tiring moving days, then back into the office to clear up the last few things but we are finally ready to go. Tomorrow morning, we get picked up at 9:15 and fly at 13:00 to Tokyo, before our internal flight down to Hiroshima. All in all I reckon it will take 24 hours door to door. Thankfully we have a day's rest on Monday as it is a public holiday in Japan.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Preparations & Goodbyes

Well things are getting busy, as we prepare for the move. Therese has left work - saying a tearful goodbye to the House of Commons for a couple of years. We've started our round of goodbyes and farewell outings as well, culminating in the official London bash at the weekend in Vinopolis, followed by Maggie Jones's.

We're scheduled to move out next Tuesday & Wednesday, so you might not hear much more from us until we are moved into our flat in Japan the following Tuesday. I'll make sure to send everyone the address and phone no. before we go.

As if this wasn't enough, it is our first wedding anniversary on Sunday - amazing how quickly a year goes by! We're celebrating by spending a night in the Great House in Lavenham,, the place where we got engaged almost 3 years ago.

BTW if anyone fancies buying a delightful, 2 bedroom, terraced cottage then we'd be much obliged - check out The photos don't do it justice, it's actually much nicer than that - honest!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Home in Hiroshima

Below is a photo from the window of our new flat in Hiroshima. As you can see we're by one of the 7 rivers in Hiroshima, Enko-gawa in our case.

In contrast here are some pictures of our home in Kelvedon, we will really miss it, especially since we have spent so much time and effort in doing it up.

Up & Running....

Welcome to Martin and Thérèse's blog!!

This is going to be our online record of our adventures in Japan over the next two years. That is until I sort out a better website...but in the mean time, we hope you like it.