Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What is healthy, anyway?

I read this the other day, and it got me thinking. I mean, we talk about being healthy, and think about being healthy, and do all sorts of things in the name of getting healthy, but what does healthy actually mean to you? You see, I think being healthy means different things to different people. My take? In no particular order....

  • Eating good food. Food that tastes good, not food that is good for you but tastes like cardboard. There is a whole world of healthy food that actually tastes good and has vitamins, and yet people insist that I should eat  konnyaku. Why? Well, it has no calories. That makes no sense. Air doesn't have calories either, but it won't get me through the day. Also, konnyaku is grey, I don't do  grey food. 
  • Having a balance of good for me stuff, and good for the soul stuff. About 80/20 works, I think, although sometimes 70/30 is more realistic, and let's be honest, we all have those 50/50 days once in a blue moon, and that's OK, it's not every day. We all need vegetables in life, but a little chocolate for dessert is also important. Also, pizza, sometimes pizza is the only thing that will heal all ills.
  • Which brings me to my next point. Being healthy means having enough energy to do all the things I need to and want to get done in a day. Of course, there are days when I take to my bed at 8.30 because I'm totally shattered and nothing else will make me happy, but, most of the time, on an average day, being healthy means having energy, which I get from eating good food and getting enough sleep. Not konnyaku.

  • Sleep. It's important to give my body the rest it needs to get me through the day. It's also beneficial to those around me, because I'm a proper cranky pants if I don't get enough sleep. Everybody wins!

  • Being active. Not just in the sense of working out, but also in the sense of enjoying lots of different things. Enjoying my job is important to me, I love what I do, and I'm one of those annoying people who doesn't mind Monday so much. But, what I do outside of work is important too. Cooking, running, reading, general shenanigans, they all help me to leave work behind me and that can only be a good thing. Just working makes my soul sad, and that can't be healthy.
  • Doing actual proper exercise a few times a week, but only the type that I like. Forcing myself to play tennis because it's good for me doesn't make any sense, but going to a Zumba class and dancing like a loon is good for me, and I enjoy it. I'm calmer and happier when I've had a good work out. At the same time, not worrying about it if I haven't worked out for some reason is just as important, it's supposed to help relieve stress, not cause it.
  • Talking with family and friends. As my relatives make me laugh a lot, they're very good for my health, laughing is good for the soul. Did you know  laughter yoga is a thing? It's supposed to be good for all sorts of things. Either way, a good chat with a few laughs thrown in always makes me feel good.

So, there you are. My idea of what makes me healthy. None of it is crazy, not drinking snake blood to preserve my youth over here. Just simple good health.

What does your idea of healthy look like?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Marvellous in My Monday: Spring style!

Hello! How are you all this fine Monday? Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. As it is Monday, I'm linking up with Katie to get the week off to a marvellous start.

  • Spring has begun! Not only because Friday was the spring equinox, but also because the cherry blossom has come out!

    No, sadly, this is not the Eiffel Tower, it's TV tower thingy. Which is the technical name for it.
    See, cherry blossoms. Pink flowers everywhere.

    • I went to see Dallas Buyers' Club this weekend. What with all the Oscars, I thought it was worth a look. If you don't know the story, it's about a man called Ron Woodroof who found out he had the HIV virus at a time when people still believed it was an illness only gay people could contract, and in a place where the people around him, and him included, were incredibly homophobic. Without ruining the story for you, he found ways to increase his life expectancy, and helped a whole lot of people in the meantime. It was a really powerful film, and I liked that the story didn't try to make him seem like a saint. Anyway, a good film, that got me thinking.

    • My morning run this morning was beautiful. I'm trying all sorts of new routes to see where is best, and this might be a good candidate. Not only was it nice and peaceful, with a cycle path that meant I wasn't listening out for cars the whole time, it was flat. No hills at all. A rarity in these parts.
  • I got a new bicycle yesterday. A nice blue one. Not being particularly mechanical. it took me a while to decide what I wanted. In the end, I got it from a shop nearby, which means that I can take it in once a month for maintenance, and if I get stranded somewhere because my bike is broken, I just call the shop and he'll come and pick me up, kind of like the AA. Pretty good service, right?

  • My weekly shop was very exciting last week, I found porridge! I couldn't find it before, because, weirdly, it was in the baking section not the cereal section, but I was so happy, I bought 2 packets. You can never be sure in Japan if things will get restocked, so I thought it would be safest to buy a couple. Sadly, I burned the first lot I made, but I ate it anyway, because I didn't want to waste any. 
So, that's my Marvellous Monday! How was your weekend? What's Marvellousness did you experience?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday randomness

As I've slightly fallen off the blogging wagon since I've been here, I thought it would be easier to just give you a random selection of what has been going on in my world lately.
There's been lots of tea drinking in my life of late. I found a selection of these Pukka teas in a shop in town, and I had to give them a go. As you can see, it's not really a cup of tea, it's more of a bucket. Saves me getting back up to boil the kettle, you see. These mugs should have that written on the label. 

It was a nice sunny day yesterday, so I toddled off to the castle for a walk. The trees are not quite in bloom yet, but it won't be long now.

While I was there, I partook of a local delicacy, ikinari dango. The yellow thing is sweet potato, the white wrapping is mochi, a kind of rice paste, and the pink bit is cherry blossom paste. It was really good. There are a few different flavours, so I will have to try them all and see which one is best.

I have no idea what this tree is, but it does look nice and spring like, which we are all ready for, right?

It was Kumamon's birthday last week. Who knew he even had a birthday? It was clearly an excuse for an event, and these flags were up all over the centre of the city 

Kumamon does not only have a birthday, he has an album. Yes, an actual musical album. I haven't heard it. I might not bother, if I'm honest.
I also put some flat pack furniture together, with quite some success, despite mostly ignoring these instructions. I felt very accomplished. We have to celebrate our achievements, and I make a point of it!
So, as you can see, I've been having a jolly old time of it here in Kumamoto. Things are ticking along, even though I can't find porridge in any shops, which I never thought would bother me at all. I guess you always want things you can't get. 

So, what have you been doing lately? Any flat pack furniture success?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fried Brain Sunday, from Kumamoto!

Well, I arrived in one piece, last Monday, so Kumamoto is my new home, even if spell check keeps underlining it in red. To get you all caught up with my goings on this past week or so, I decided to do it bullet point style, which has the added bonus of not requiring paragraph structure. I'm struggling enough with spelling at the moment.

  • My last few days in Ehime were lovely. I stayed with my friends, and their cute little dog. I went to the hot spring a couple of times, even though Kumamoto also has lots of hot springs (thanks to the volcano). On the way to the ferry, we went to my favourite sushi place, and then for ice cream, which is always the best way to end any day. I made it to Kumamoto without incident, and the estate agent drove me to my new place, which was helpful because I had no recollection of where it was.

  • The first thing I noticed was the hills. Everything here is up. Literally, with the exception of the road to the supermarket (thank goodness for that, uphill with groceries would not have been pretty), to get anywhere, I have to go uphill. I guess it's good exercise...

  • I'm finding my bearings slowly, with the help of Google maps. I need to get a new bicycle (my old one was really on its last legs, even the brakes were about to go, so I decided to get rid of it and get a new one here), and as everything here is uphill, I'm going to need some gears and possibly a motor of some description. My next challenge, then, is to track down a decent bicycle shop. Wish me luck!

  • The phone company sent two gentlemen out to set up my internet, which was very kind of them. Now that I think of it, they were both wearing suits and were in their 50s, which in Japan is a sign that they were office workers. Usually, staff that call at peoples' houses wear uniforms and are a bit younger. It makes me wonder if I was getting special treatment after calling the English service line countless times trying to get the modems sent to the right place at the right time. I think the last time I called, wondering if the cables I'd been sent were the right ones because they didn't seem to fit anything (turned out you needed to take the cover off, how was I supposed to know?!) was the last straw and they realised that if they didn't come and sort it out, I would just keep calling and they'd never be rid of me!
So, yes, I'm a Kumamoto resident now. So far, so good.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fried Brain Friday

As I'm going to be a little busy for a few days while I move, I thought I would entertain you all with a few photos of spring flowers. It may not feel like it, but spring is almost here!

Plum blossom is the first to bloom. A sign that winter won't be here for much longer.

A beautiful blue sky, and some nanohana. I think it's called rape seed in English, but I like the Japanese name better.

A one man train, that operates like a bus, going to stations so small there is no ticket office so you buy one from the driver.


So many daffodils!

So, there you have it, spring is really on the way! I'm not sure when I'll be back, hopefully soon, with all my adventures from Kyushu. No doubt Kumamoto will be just as full of "huh?" moments. 

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Japanniversary Number 8

It's been 8 years since I arrived in Japan. Well, technically, it was 8 years on 23rd, but I was busy then, telling you about all the gifts I've been showered with, so we're talking about it today. OK?

A lot has happened in the last 8 years, I almost don't recognise myself.
 I took up running. This is me nearing the finish of my first half marathon. I don't look very happy, because I wasn't. I was much happier when I had finished and could have some lunch.
Actually, I ran a lot. This is me at Shodoshima Olive Marathon. I've been there about 6 times now. Sadly, this year, I'll have to miss it, it's too soon after starting a new job to start trying to travel, but I'll be there in spirit.
I couldn't not mention the one time I completed a full marathon. Yes, technically, I have dropped out of more more marathons than I finished, but I did finish one, and I will never let myself forget that!

I climbed Mount Fuji, in the rain I might add. The sunrise was amazing.
See, told you.

Actually, I've climbed a few mountains. I've been very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. 
I've eaten food I never would have considered in the past. I'm still not completely sure what this is, but it tasted good, which is pretty much my motto when it comes to Japanese food.

I've been to all sorts of dancing festivals, which are always really loud and crazy. I love them.

Although, the autumn festival here in Matsuyama will always have a special place in my heart.

But, even though it's cheesy, the best part about the last 8 years are the things I can't show you pictures of. The things I've learned, laughed at, cried at and got frustrated at and the people who have helped me with all of that. It's sad to leave Matsuyama after 8 years, but I'm hoping Kumamoto turns out to be just as amazing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Marvellous in My Monday!

How  was your weekend? Do anything nice? Mine was quite emotional, to be honest. I'm linking up with Katie again today to start the week off with a bit of sparkle.MiMM MIMM #88 4 Word Pic Style

  • I had a haircut on Saturday, I wanted it cut before I move. I've been going to the same hairdresser for pretty much the whole time I've been here. He started off at a local hair salon chain, which my friend recommended to me after I had a disaster somewhere else (if you're in Japan, avoid Earth hair salons, unless you like your roots being a totally different colour to the rest of your hair). Then he opened his own shop, and I figured I'd stick with him, to avoid all future disasters. The new place is pretty small, only three staff, so it's quite nice to go there and chat together for a bit while they do my hair. Anyway, Saturday was the last time I'll be going there, at least for a while, so they bought me a coffee maker. Isn't that sweet? How many people get leaving presents from their hairdresser? Lucky, I tell you.

  • Sunday was my leaving party, at a nice little cafe next to the Inland sea, near where my friend lives. We hung out for hours, made pizza, including a fruit pizza which surely is an "only in Japan" thing. One of my friends just got back from a trip to Greenland, which sounded amazing, and she had clearly spent a fair amount of her holiday finding disgusting licorice sweets to torment us with. The Gummy Bears are in my bag, ready for the ferry ride to Kumamoto. I got more gifts, so I'm feeling very spoiled.

  • On the way back from the cafe, we went to see some daffodils that have bloomed up on one of the mountains. When we were there, we spotted a group of paragliders. We spent ages watching them, and got quite invested in their safety. We ended up driving back down the mountain to the beach to watch them land. It's not a big beach, so we were quite nervous for them. I'd say it's an expensive hobby, but it would be fun to try, just once.

  • I spent today packing, I'm getting there. I'm hoping most of it will be done tomorrow, so I have Wednesday to clean up and check a few things. The moving company is coming on Thursday, they'll let me know what time tomorrow, and then I'll be staying with friends for a few days before heading to Kumamoto.

So tell me one wonderful thing about your weekend. If you do, I'll share some photos from the weekend. Deal?