Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mt. Rokko Goodness

Today was to be a relaxing day and a relaxing day it was indeed! After purchasing some onigiri (rice balls) at the local Family Mart, I headed towards the "wilds" of Mt. Rokko. It's easy to get there, just find Shin Kobe Station and walk under it (there is a passageway, I didn't do it through the use of magic!). I hiked for about 2 hours around a fairly well-beaten path. Aling the way there are a few houses and some people who turn their houses into restaurants during the busier Spring/Summer/Fall hiking months.

I love this old shop? Restaurant? In the months that I've been hiking the trail, it always seems abandoned. If so, I assume it has been only within the last 2-3 years. It's a big scruffy, but not a complete wreck.

This restaurant on the other hand has definitely seen better days. It's now ben fenced off and looks as if it's about to tumble down the side of a ravine. I love the Coke sign and the discarded can of Coke close to it.

This is the same place. You can see that there's not much left. I thought about buying it, but I think it's just TOO much of a fixer-upper!!!

Of course, whenever you're hiking in the "wilds of Japan" you beware of the illusive, yet dangerous Wild Boar. I haven't seen one yet, but often see news stories on TV about crazed, if not totally scared boars storming into town, knocking people off of bikes, ramming through doorways and often holding up gas stations with knives!

Oh yeah.....don't feed them! They'll only rob more gas stations if you do!

Monday, December 29, 2008

When YouTube Gaijin unite!

Another day on vacation, another day to sleep a little later than usual. Good stuff, but I did get up relatively early. There was some editing to do on some footage I took the other night when we were out at a Korean restaurant. It's been a long time since I've had some decent Korean food soI was pretty pleased to have some great "gamjatang" 감자탕 (spicy pork and potato soup) and "pajoen" 파전 (green onion pancake). You can see the finished product here:

Some Great Korean Food

The restaurant is called "Salongbang" and is located in Sannomiya, downtown Kobe. It was a little pricey, but apparently Korean food normally is in Japan.

Today was also quite cool because I had a chance to meet another fellow You Tube vlogger. "Marlogum" came down from Nagoya with his wife Antonette. they have been spending a few days traveling around Kansai and stopped by Kobe this afternoon to see some of the sights and say hello. I acted as their tour guide for the afternoon and had a very cool time hanging out in Motomachi, Meriken Park as well as Ikuta Shrine.

Here's what Ikuta Shrine looked like this afternoon. This tree is a decoration for "Oshogatsu" 正月 (Japanese New Year). There will be a big countdown celebration there on New Year's Eve.

I took some footage of us all hanging out together in Kobe this afternoon. If time allows, I'll edit something together and post it here later this week.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

oshogatsu 正月, Big Burgers and World Wide Features

It's another weekend and the New Year is quickly approaching. This will be my first "oshogatsu" 正月 (New Year season) in Japan and I'm excited. We'll visit a local shrine with family in the Japanese tradition, but won't be downtown for the countdown. Watching it on TV from home with some bubbly and suds is always the best way for me!

Lots of craziness around town this week.

McDonald's has finally unleashed the Quater Pounder hamburger on Japan. McDonald's is VERY popular in Japan and now this will be their biggest hamburger. Thousands of people stood in line in Osaka this week to get one. Funny thing was; it was leaked to the news that more than 1000 of the people standing in line were indeed PLANTS! Yep, they were actually paid by MacDonald's to stand in line and make it look like more of a spectacle. Funny stuff. You can see some pictures and read more about it here.

In less "burgerish" news. Congrats must go out to Japan-based You Tube vlogger Fatblueman. His original song and video "Christmas in Japan", just got featured worldwide on the You Tube front page. Yesterday he had less than 90,000 hits (which is damn good anyway) and when I last checked a few minutes ago, he was pushing 320,000 hits! AWESOME. Of course I'm really partial to this cause I have a small part in the video.

Tomorrow will be a day of cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. One Japanese tradition, "oosouji" sees people all over the land doing a MASSIVE and hardcore house cleaning just before the new year. Well, my lovely wife informed me today that tomorrow will indeed be the day. I'm by no means looking forward to it, especially since I've been on vacation for the past 2 weeks and have grown lazier by the minute. BUT, I will of course do my best to clean and help out.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and the Kakogawa Marathon

Greetings and salutations everyone. It's Christmas Eve here in Japan and most of you are just stirring back home. I hope you are getting ready for a wonderful Xmas day.

Things are great here, Mai and I have had a wonderful Xmas Eve celebration. Gifts exchanged and smiles all around.

Yesterday was the Emperor's birthday and a national holiday here in Japan. Emperor Akihito celebrated 75 years.

I celebrated the Emperor's birthday by running in the Kakogawa Marathon. I didn't do the full course since I hadn't rained properly. I ran the 10k and surprised myself with a faster than expected time. I did it in under 50 minutes. I'm by no means a speed demon! I did it in 49mins 53 seconds.Long distance running fits me well cause I'm slow, stubborn and have a high pain threshold...hehe.

That's me after finishing the 10k at the Kakogawa Marathon....wish I had done the full course run!

I also just realized that an older You Tube video I've made is now going viral! I made a vid last year while I lived in Ottawa. It was about a Ron Mueck sculpture. It was of a piece called "A Girl" at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa.

Check it out....one month ago it had less about 15,000 hits....as of today....more than 53,000!

One Giant Baby

See the original here....on my BusanKevin Channel....

Merry Xmas to everyone!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Turkeys and Japanese Music

From the time I woke up yesterday morning until late afternoon I was a cooking machine. A Christmas cooking machine. The turkey it into our oven nicely and everything went off without a hitch. Folks came to our place, were well fed and drank their fill of beer and wine. A good time was had by all and the "Kevin in Japan 2008 Xmas Party" was a success. I think I'll do it again next year! If not, I'll still order a turkey and cook one.

The beautiful bird! Bought this fella from the "Foreign Buyer's Club"!

Here's some of the spread. Turkey, stuffing (a batch cooking in and one cooked out of the bird), carrots, salad (not in picture) and a boat load of mashed potatoes and gravy. Good old fashioned "comfort food."

This afternoon I slowly kicked around downtown. I was taking a lot of footage for a video I'm currently in the process of editing. BUT....here is some footage of a cool band I saw playing by Sannomiya Station. I would have filmed more, but my camera battery died.

See the original here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Kevin...Forest Gump Style

I have been running and running and running and running! That's what I've been doing for the most part this week during my vacation. I honestly don't want to be a lazy-ass so I am still waking up at the same time as I normally do when I have to work, say out of the way of my lovely wife as she gets ready to go to work and then I run. I'm so happy with my new found route. Running to Kobe airport is a great hill workout since the bridge to get there goes UP....then it goes DOWN! So far, since Monday, I've logged almost 65km. I'm pretty pleased and REMEMBER everyone...I am a hobyist....not "hardcore."

Tomorrow is a big day in my little world. I'm hosting a Christmas party. You can see in my early vlog, the turkey I bought. I also bought a pile of potatoes and will be peeling, boiling and mashing throughout the morning. Various coworkers and friends will arrive throughout the evening and I will delight them with Kenny G Christmas tunes..haha....just kidding about the last part. My house is a "Kenny G free ZOne!"

The menu for Kevin's Xmas party:

1. Turkey
2. More turkey
3. Mashed potatoes
4. Stuffing
5. Boiled carrots
6. Booze (BYOB)
7. Christmas music
8> Can't think of anything else to write here...

For some guests, this will be their first time eating turkey. For others, the first time in a long time.

Oh yeah, btw.....Japan is joining the World Economic Recession Bandwagon. I suppose they felt left out. Sometimes it's just cooler to stand on your own and not be like all the other kids!

Also...I read a weird news story. A JR (Japan Rail) conductor, dragged a young high school girl into a toilet and assaulted her. He stole her underwear as well and when police apprehended him close by, he said he was going to sell her underwear to pay his debts! How weird it that???? Check out the story here....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ninja Hot Dogs in Japan

A couple of days ago I was at the local IKEA doing some shopping with my wife. She pointed something out to me and it was pretty cool...if only "small C" cool! Normally IKEA sells hot dogs in it's little diner area near the entrance. I've even been known to partake in their 100yen hot dogs from time to time. They won't win any awards, but for the price, they're not bad.

What my wife noticed were the new "Ninja Hot dogs"! That's right.....let them stereotypes fly! We realized that the Ninja Dogs are longer than the normal ones. What does this mean?

Where Japanese ninjas of old more well-endowed than the average Japanese male? Was this part of their selection process? Part of their training?

According to Wikipedia a Ninja is:
"...a warrior specially trained in a variety of unorthodox arts of war. These include assassination, espionage, and other martial arts."

This said nothing about extra long "Shlongs"!

Ah well....

I started running in a new place this week as well. I was reading my "Run 2 Kobe" book and I realized I could run over the bridge from Port Island to the island that Kobe Airport is on. I didn't know that! I ran it yesterday (about 10km's) and it was a brilliant run. The bridge is a great "hill" and awesome for my hill days when I train. I liked it so much I ran over to the airport today (about a 13km run). I think I may even head over there tomorrow morning. I might gun for a run between 10-15k's tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas in Japan: The Music Video

Just posted on YouTube last night "Christmas in Japan: The Music Video"! Fatblueman, a Japan-based vlogger wrote the song and put the video together with the help of YouTubers from all around Japan. It's about the foreigner experience in Japan around the Christmas Holidays. At about 53 seconds in you can see ME! That's right, I'm wearing my Santa beard. My YouTube handle is "BusanKevin" and I have a bit part. Feels really cool since there are some pretty big YouTube names in the video like TokyoCooney, Gimmeabreakman and Applemilk1988.

Check it out!

Christmas in Japan (日本語字幕)

Again...watch this vid. It's funny and very cool! And like I said...I have a small part in it...I'm singing with KansaiPJ....wearing quasi-Santa costumes!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Train Station Fights and Bicycles

Yesterday was a day for shopping and dealing with hordes of people in downtown Kobe. It is one of the last nights for Kobe Luminare so there were tens of thousands of people on the streets to take in the lights. Luckily Mai and I went there last Friday when there were far less people.

After a day of shopping we deserved a beverage, but soon found that most of our normal haunts were booked with bonenkais. Almost every izakaya, restaurant and pub in Japan is booked up on Friday and Saturday nights in December with year end parties. Eventually we wandered into The Avery's which is a wonderful and wonderfully small Irish pub close to Tokyu Hands. We met several friendly folks, and had a great time.

On the way home we were a little startled when a group of Japanese men were chasing a really big and bloodied man into the JR station. They jumped on his back and continued to wail away on him. Don't know what was going on, but I knew I didn't want any piece of that action. They looked like some pretty tough dudes...probably sporting some big dragon tattoos under their clothes!

Ah....this morning I came across this REALLY COOL video from Danny Choo.

Japan Bike Storage

I actually haven't sen a device like this and neither has my wife. Man....damn cool technology. Check out some more cool Japanese stuff at DannyChoo.com.

Oh yeah...my from PJ and I made a "Bad Beer" review video. Actually we reviewed 2 bad beers. I'll post the vids here tomorrow...or later today.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bōnenkai Time

Last night was my school's bonenkai. A Bonenkai 忘年会 is a year end party that most companies in Japan hold. It basically means "forgetting the previous year. I suppose it's a whole "out with the old, in with the new" sort of thing. We had our party in Osaka. Fukushima is an area close to Osaka Station and it's a neighborhood filled with trendy restaurants. Teachers and employees from the 4 branches of my school met at a nice Italian restaurant and hung out in a private lounge. Loads of food and even more booze...all free! Good times, but I was a little late on my way out the door and didn't make all of my trains. Luckily I was able to make it all the way back to Sannomiya Station in Kobe, but the Port Liner (train to Port Island where I live) was already shut down and I had to take a short, yet expensive taxi ride home.

The other day I was in a 7-11 buying my lunch and I noticed a new beer on the shelves. It's apparently the 120th anniversary of the Kirin Brewing Company and they've put out 2 news beers to commemorate the event. They've made both a Pilsner and a Lager. I review one in my latest YouTube vid.

In this vid I review the Pilsner.
Japanese Beer Review: Kirin Pilsner

Happy Bonenkai season to everyone out there. May your hangover be small!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sleepless in Kobe...

Ah....Kevin's sleepless in Kobe! How sweet. Wait...no it isn't. He's sleepless in Kobe because he has a horrible cold and every time he lays down in bed, his lungs fill with goopy green crap and he starts coughing!!! Nothing romantic here at all. One of the downsides of being a teacher is that you're sick a lot. There are far more rewards than negatives, but it's true...you get sick a lot. More so here in Japan than in Canada and for a few reasons. I didn't get sick so much in Canada since my students weren't sick as often as the kids I teach now. Why? My students here are a lot younger. In Canada, I spent my time being ignored by 3rd and 6th graders. In Japan, it's senior kindergarten kids who choose to ignore me. Little people who's immune systems aren't fully developed therefore they often have colds. They also tend to sneeze, cough and generally drip fluids all over the place. I have taught them to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze, but it's really just a drop in the bucket...a bucket filled with germs and other cooties!

So, long story short, I have another bad cold. What has been frustrating me so much this Fall/Winter is that I have been basically sick the entire time. Luckily and I mean VERY luckily I was healthy for both my wedding and my marathon, but those were basically about my only "ailment" free days of the entire season.

So, I'm sleepless in Kobe because I can't stop hacking and wheezing in my sleep. I was however able to go out for a nice little run this evening. I am running a 10k run on December 23rd (that's right...the Emperor's Birthday). The Kakugawa Marathon is about 30 minutes away by rapid train in....you guessed it, Kakugawa. I'll be there bright and early on the morning of the 23rd. The great thing about 10k is that I can run it in less than an hour and not be tired afterward. I think I'll even bring my camera along and take some footage for a video blog.

Ah well...back to writing my student reports. Now,since I feel like crap, I'll just write a few tonight and they'll be some of the better students in the class. those are always the easiest reports to write. The lazier kids or ones with behavior problems are always the tough reports to write.

Oh yeah...3 more days til my vacation starts. 3 weeks of work-free bliss. My plans...spend a lot of time studying Japanese (my Japanese class resumes on January 7th)since I have started to fall behind my studies because of my work schedule. Also..some hiking, a lot of running and maybe a few short trips.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Turkey in the House

What's a Canadian boy to do at Christmas when he's in Kobe? Well, I have to admit that I happily eat Japanese food on a daily basis and enjoy it. I live in Japan and enjoy it, but...I am not the sort of "gaijin" who's "hardcore" about Japanese culture and that's the only thing he cares about. To be honest; it's the Christmas season and I can't wait to have a nice turkey dinner with gravy, stuffing and loads of wine! But, where is a Canadian guy to get this sort of meal? Well...luckily there are a lot of ways o get my fix.

During my years in South Korea (5+) to be exact (or not), I only had one serious turkey dinner. That was the year I taught at Pagoda Foreign Language School in Shinchon, Seoul and myself and a large number of coworkers ordered a cooked turkey from the Hilton Hotel. It was a bloody fortune, but wonderful comfort food.

At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. It's comfort food. It's what you know and what you love. it's what you expect and enjoy. Although I really enjoy life in my new home in Japan, I still crave what I know. The same way my wife, when we lived in Ottawa, Canada, craved Japanese food and baked goods....it's comfort food.

Well....my fix arrived at my door this evening.

These are some of the makings of my Christmas 2008 dinner. Later this month we'll host a party.We'll cook this bad boy in our oven and feed about 15 fine folks a "Canadian" style Xmas dinner. It'll be GREAT!

I ordered this food from FBC. The Foreign Buyer's Club. It's a mail order foreign food store based here in Kobe on Rokko Island. there is quite a large foreign population here in Kobe and a lot of services to cater to them. Of course this turkey cost me a king's ransom, but it's worth it.....comfort food.

Oh yeah....here's something from left field. Have you ever had a Swedish beer? WEll, neither had I, until this evening. My wife was shopping at IKEA which is on Port Island in Kobe. I live on Port Island, nice and close. She called me and asked if I'd like to try a Swedish beer. She could pick one up for me. I said "Hell Yeah!!!!" Here it is...beside the Kirin. It wasn't bad. A very light and smooth taste. It's a Christmas blend with %5 alcohol. Not bad at all, but I do like beers with bolder flavours!

Ah yeas....check out my latest YouTube vid. KansaiPJ and I were kickin around Sannomiya in downtown Kobe on Saturday afternoon and what didwe see?

A major fashion train wreck!

You can see me on YouTube as BusanKevin.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Japanese fascination with "American" Christmas

For the first several months that I lived in my current apartment in Japan (the only apartment I've lived in), I had no television. Eventually, I decided I wanted one and was able to get a great deal on a small used television through the Kansai Flea Market, a local English publication. I had to get basic cable in order to recieve any channels, but with basic cable comes no English programming or channels at all. Many folks I meet here have CNN, Discovery Channel, etc., but I have none of those. Sometimes I wish I did, but it's a good thing that I don't. I have only Japanese channels because I want to improve my Japanese listening skells. I fear that if I did indeed have those English channels, I would become lazy and at the end of the day only want to watch Larry Kng as opposed to stretching and pounding my grey matter like it was a bucket of Japanese mochi 餅 (rice cake).

Over the last week or two I've noticed a distinct pattern with many stories on Japanese news. Not hard-hitting news stories, but those "feel good" sort of stories.
I've noticed that Japanese people seem to have a very serious fascination with all things "American" about Christmas. There are constantly news stories with Japanese reporters standing in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, etc., looking at Christmas lights (or "illuminations" as they are called here) and discussing what American families do for Christmas. Ah well...I suppose we all have to have a hobby.

Christmas display in Sannomiya. Kobe, Japan (this afternoon).I like Santa swinging on Kobe Tower....like a jolly Godzilla!

The Christmas/shopping spirit is in the air in Kobe and throughout Japan I'm sure. As I was kicking around downtown earlier this afternoon I saw countless throngs of shoppers out and about. Young women wearing Santa Claus-like outfits (but cut well above the knee) were handing out free tissue packets and shop keepers had happy if not somewhat crazed smiles on their faces.

We went to a store called Nitori this afternoon and bought our Christmas tree. It's a small one, but it does the trick. Nitori is Japan's answer to Ikea, but with more muted colors. It's a cool shop. If you're just moving to Japan and need some furniture and housewares at an affordable price, check the place out.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kobe Luminare

Another week and another Saturday. "Hello Saturday! Nice to hang out with you!!"

Yesterday was the big day for our school. It was our school's Christmas celebration and it was great. It went off without a hitch. The kids were awesome and all of the parents were happy.

Last night, Mai and I hung around in downtown Kobe. Kobe Luminare started on Thrusday. Luminare is a big light display set up in Sannomiya. It began in 21996 as a memorial and tribute to the more than 6,000 people who died the previous year in the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The earthquake which was more than a 7 on the Richter Scale, destroyed Kobe.

Here's a video I made for my youtube channel about the Luminare.

Bright Lights Big City Japan

Today I'll be meeting up with my friend PJ, aka "KansaiPJ" t o work on a collaboration video for Youtube.

5 more working days til Xmas vacation. Yay!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pepsi White and Whatnot

Things are busy in my little world. Tomorrow morning is my school's Christmas concert. We've been rehearsing for weeks and I've been spending too many hours to count making stage props and Xmas decorations for the theatre where we'll have it and the lobby of the place as well. Things are hectic at school and I'm definitely REALLY tired. Luckily, Christmas vacation starts on December 13th. Even though Christmas is an adopted festival in Japan, they seem to take their kindergarten Christmas concerts far more seriously than back in Canada.

My friend PJ just posted an amusing video blog on Youtube. He's a fairly well known Japan vlogger and usually has some great stuff.

In this video he reviews to scary new beverages on the market in Japan. Pepsi White (a yogurt based Pepsi) and Calpis Premium.

Kansai PJ's FLV # 123 - Japanese drinks

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Metro Manners, Salarymen and Fires

This will be my first Xmas/New Years' season in Japan, but I've been told, by numerous Japanese people, that soon things will be winding up as far as good times go. With year end parties (very common with Japanese companies) about to begin (throughout December) I've been told that I can expect to see huge crowds in Kobe's drinking areas and lots of really loaded people stumbling about. Most of them will be office workers and "salarymen" getting knackered to celebrate the "out with the old and in with the new."

This afternoon I was surfing around some news in Japan and came across this poster. The Tokyo Metro is already gearing up for this years' festivities by posting subway "manner posters" throughout the city's underground network!

The perfect way to ring in the New Year!

Check out this VERY entertaining video that explores the "salaryman" drinking culture in Japan. It's from a BBC television show called "Adam and Joe Go Tokyo."

"Adam and Joe Go Tokyo: Salaryman night out"

"It's a field trip day!!" Wow! A long time ago, when I was new to the teaching business, I used to think field trips would be wonderful. They'd be an easy day compared to the juggling one normally has to do in the classroom when teaching. A great chance for both teachers and students alike to get outside of the school and stretch our legs.

Now I know...I was a fool. With more experience under my belt I realize that field trips are often far more stressful than any day I the classroom. You are out of your element and so are the kids. Normal routines and rules seem to fly out the window and often chaos begins. Head counts, squirrely kids, general confusion... a wonderful recipe for ulcers!

Luckily today wasn't one of those days. I went with my class to a fire department. It was a cool little trip. We were able to experience an earthquake simulator as well as look at some cool fire trucks. I was in charge of a happy group of kids.

The only disappointment was that we were scheduled to ride a fire truck, but once we got there, they told us we couldn't. The weird thing was, the kids were far less disappointed than I was!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Time in Japan

The Christmas Season is here and it's here in a big way! Now, since it's December 1st, I finally feel like it indeed isn't too early and I can rightfully get in the festive spirit. Today is December 1st and I finally feel that I can hold my head up high and rightfully get in the festive mood. I love this time of year. I love the Christmas season. So many wonderful memories of my childhood come flooding past me and I feel like a happy child again. Apparently everyone else around me though has felt the same way, but they didn't wait until December 1st. In the city I live in, Kobe, the Christmas "spirit" was turned on in full force the day following Halloween. Actually withing seconds of Halloween being deemed "over" by retailers.

Now, what sort of freaked me out recently has been the bombardment of all things "Christmasy." Everywhere I go, I hear Christmas carols being blared over speakers. Illuminated trees are everywhere as are Santas and reindeer. It's Christmas hardcore and I'm in Japan. that's what I find so trippy...I'm in Japan. The fact that I'm in Japan itself isn't trippy, it's the fact that the Japanese do Christmas in such a HUGE way.

Growing up, the Christmas season was not just a time to look forward to gifts and great food, but also a time to spend "a lot of time" in church. Every year, we good Catholics did the "overtime" church thing. For me, there was a larger reason for celebrating the season.

Now, when I first started to see the Christmas season celebrated so much in Japan, I was a little pissed. How can this Christian holiday be hijacked? It's not right! It's not fair! Then I thought about it some more and realized, it's not really a bad thing at all. Not completely anyway.

Of course, pretty much the only Christians kicking about Japan who will be in church celebrating the birth of Christ and whatnot probably all have foreign passports, but that's alright. People will of course say that Christmas in japan is a purely commercial event, but isn't that the case in Canada and America now? It may not be a complete commercial event, but it's pretty close! Every year in Canada, the attendance numbers in churches plummet and less people seem to practice their faith. Yet, I'm sure most of these folks not attending church have Christmas trees in their living rooms, exchange gifts, dink eggnog and get pissed over the Holidays.

So, I suppose I have no reason to be upset about a non-Christan nation celebrating Christmas. The Japanese have embraced the gift giving aspect of the season and look at it as a time to have fun with family and friends. I think those are great reasons to celebrate any festival. Is it all commercial? Pretty much, but isn't it the same way in Canada for most people?

So, here I am. I'm in Kobe for my first Christmas in Japan. As a very wise Japanese person said to me, "Kevin, Japanese people love festivals." That's why they celebrate this one as well! So, when I celebrate Xmas here in Japan; it's going to be nice to walk around downtown Kobe and hear Christmas carols, see lights and feel the Xmas vibe. The only difference between this year and last will be the fact that it's a lot warmer here than in Ottawa!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Shoes are back on!

When I moved to Japan earlier this Spring, I was somewhat plumper than I am now. A year at grad school had made me a litle soft around the edges. I set a goal for myself when I arrived. I would run a full marathon in 2008. I started running in early Summer and found a simple training plan in Runner's World magazine. I choose a race and resistered. Earlier this month I ran the Osaka Yodogawa Citizens Marathon in 4:44. My watch time was 4:41:51...I like that one better.

Here I am at 40km into the marathon. I saw the cameras and put on a brave face. I was in absolute agony at this point, but happy as a little clam!

Running has been something I've fallen in love with and Kobe is a great city for runners. There are some great places I've discovered and running has been a great way to get to know the city a lot better. I'd taken a break after my marathon. The following week, my family came to Japan to visit and the week after that I got married.

The shoes are back on though. It's time to start training again. I'm registered for the Kakagawa Marathon, on December 23 (The Emperor's Birthday), but will only run the 10k. In January I'll run a 10k on Rokko Island and in February the Port Island Half Marathon.

Yesterday, before heading into Osaka for some shopping,, I stopped by Junkudo bookstore in Sannomiya (the main shopping area in Kobe) and stumbled across this great book.

This is a great resource guide for runners living in Kobe. It lists all of the races in the city as well as maps of good places to run, including distances and elevations! It is in Japanese though and my Japanese skills are minimal at best. Luckily it's very visual and my wife has been helping me translate.

So, today was my third training run of the week. I ran 50 minutes from Port Island to HarborLand and back again. During my 3+ week layoff from training my feet have softened up so unfortunately I'm battling blisters. I'll be out on the road again Tuesday night...or possibly morning before work.

Day 1...in Kobe...the blog begins!

What's it like to be a Canadian living in Japan? What's it like to live in the cool city of Kobe? What's it like to balance my family life, career and passion for marathon running? These are some questions I may answer throughout the weeks and months I add to this blog space.

I'm a professional teacher (both in Canada and Japan), an avid runner, and someone who is loving life here in Japan. I've been here for almost 7 months have have now decided to write about my experiences.

For the last 2 years I have been an avid YouTuber and under the handle "BusanKevin" have created more than 130 videos about my life in South Korea, Canada and now Japan. I'll show some of those videos from time to time as well as talk about life here in what I think is one of Japan's coolest little cities...Kobe.

I also plan to write about my love of running. Little blurbs about my daily training and races I'm getting ready for.