Sunday, August 29, 2010

Korean Cuisine at ZenKimchi

I suppose I normally save "shout-outs" for videos on You Tube (and I will do this shout out later in video form), but I wanted to let you guys know about a wonderful website. Now of course I live and work in Japan. I really love Japan as well as the food and culture. The people rock as well!

If you have been following my blog or You Tube (Busan Kevin) or (jlandkev) channels for some time you will also know I lived in South Korea for more than five years. Korea was great too. Comparing the two countries is like comparing apples and oranges though and to be honest, I normally steer very clear from comparing them anyway! There were many things I liked about Korea. The food, the inexpensive transportation and of course the fact that I met my wife (she is Japanese) there as well!

I am a of Korean food. This love for Korean grub is something my wife and I have in common. Unfortunately, unless you can get to Korea town in Osaka, Korean restaurants in Japan are a bloody fortune to eat at!

For all of you who live anywhere and have an interest in Korean culture and food, I want you to take a long look at the site This site was started by Joe McPherson several years ago and has grown into the premier Korean food website out there. Joe has become somewhat of an expert on Korean cuisine and a major force in promoting it outside of Korea. He now even has a team of writers creating content about Korean food in America and elsewhere.

The Zen Kimchi website has grown from a personal blog about Korea to THE place to go for information about where to eat Korean food and about Korean food itself.

The site contains the ZenKimchi Food Journal. This has news, information about different food and a lot more. My suggestion; take a few house and just get lost in the site. There is so much to explore!

An example of some of the awesome information contained in the Food Journal section is Korean Food 101.

The ZenKimchi Korean Dining Guide is exactly what you think it is; lots of information about restaurants that serve great Korean cuisine.

ZenKimchi Adventures is Joe's blog about life in Korea and life as a Korean food writer/podcaster.

You also can't forget Joe's podcast, the Seoul Podcast. With more than 100 episodes in their catalogue, this is the ideal podcast for English teachers in Korea or aspiring English teachers. I suppose it is also great for anyone with an interest in current affairs in Korea as well.

Simply put, if you are interested in Asia and specifically Asian food, this is a great site to spend some time on. If you live in South Korea or in Japan and plan to travel there, you need to check it out. The site just keeps getting better everyday and the amount of content is constantly growing.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Starbucks Does Kobe

I suppose this isn't completely new news since these cups actually hit shelves a few months ago, but I have decided to spread the word. Starbucks スターバックス, the Seattle-based coffee shop chain is of course very common throughout most parts of Asia. You can find them in China, Korea (not the Northern part), Taiwan, Japan, etc. In Sannomiya, the downtown core of Kobe, there are several locations (always packed to the rafters on a weekend afternoon).

Most major cities in Japan have their own special Starbucks coffee mug. I have a few in my Starbucks mug collection (yes, I am an unabashed Starbucks fan). I have wanted to buy a Kobe mug because I really enjoy the city and know I won't be living here forever. I wanted one as a keepsake I suppose. The Kyoto one I have is wonderful as is the Tokyo mug. Unfortunately, the Kobe mug has always looked nasty! It simply looked cheap and poorly designed. Until this year.

The new and much cooler mug of course has Kobe Tower as the main focal point. When lit up at night, the scene around the Kobe waterfront, with Kobe Tower and the ferris wheel at Kobe Mosaic are icons of the Kobe skyline.

On the back side of the mug you of course see the ferris wheel as well as scenes from Mount Rokko and the really wonderful Starbucks located in a historic building in Kitano Cho.

This is a great mug to drink some coffee from. My next purchase will be the Osaka Starbucks mug which came out last year. that one is even cooler than this one!

Earlier in the year I made a video about the very cool Starbucks located in Kitano-cho in Kobe.

Kobe at Night

A couple of nights ago I went for a run. I ran from Port Island where I live downtown and along the waterfront. i really love the way Kobe looks at night. there are so many wonderful European style buildings and often they are lit up for tourists and locals alike to admire. I snapped a few pictures with my iPhone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

iPads for Sumo Wrestlers

I thought this was great. Two things I and Japan.

iPad the right fit for giant sumo wrestlers
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's ancient sport of sumo is embracing the latest high-tech, with its governing body set to distribute Apple's iPad to wrestlers who often struggle with smaller cellphone keypads due to their giant hands.

The sumo association said it will hand out iPads to Japan's 51 "stables," or the clubs the wrestlers belong to, with the aim of improving communication among the roly-poly grapplers after some in the past had missed information sent by fax or telephone.

"We will hand out the newest iPads to all the sumo stables to swiftly communicate what we need to," association vice chairman Hiroyoshi Murayama said.

The iPad tablet PC, which starts at 48,800 yen ($570) in Japan, was likely chosen because many stablemasters do not use computers and wrestlers are not good at punching in messages on their mobile phones with their big hands, Jiji news agency said.

Sumo is trying to overhaul its image after being rocked by a series of scandals including an illegal baseball gambling racket, assault and drug use. See original here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Heat Waves, Starbucks and the Blackberry

We've ben suffering through a very nasty spell here in Japan. The summer was drawing to a close and good ole Mother Nature decided to give us the proverbial bitch slap with a heat wave. The temperatures all last week were in the mid 40's with the humidex. it was utter hell! Thankfully things have cooled down to the high 30's. It still sucks, but I think it is slightly better.

Japan is great, but the summers suck. i think many a person would agree!

Looks Like Canada 7: Battle of the Blackberry is now online. This is episode 7 of my new podcast series about all things Canadian. This week I look at one of the most popular smartphones in the world. I also look at the recent controversy RIM (Research in Motion) are facing in the Middle east with many countries wanting to ban the Blackberry.

On a lighter note....i have a new haircut. I'm living in the middle of a heat-wave and decided to have it taken down nice and tight. Feels good!

I saw this sign outside of a Starbucks in Sannomiya. I had a brief chance to head downtown today. These days, with the new baby, leaving the house is something I don't have many chances to do!

I used to drink Starbucks 5 pr 6 times a week. I don't have so many chances these days. this was my first "Bucks" in more than 2 weeks. I really enjoyed my tall latte!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Japan's Oldest Woman Missing in Kobe?

105 centenarians missing in Kobe, including Japan's oldest woman

KOBE - The Kobe municipal government said Tuesday that 105 centenarians registered as living in the city are unaccounted for, including a woman registered as Japan’s oldest female aged 125.

The municipal government of the western Japan city said it has also been found that 22 other people aged at least 100 have not used nursing care insurance or the medical insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over.

Local governments across the country are confirming the circumstances of centenarians registered in their jurisdiction following the discovery in late July of a mummified body, apparently of a man who was registered as being 111 years old.

The findings in Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, are in addition to the total of 88 centenarians in 20 prefectures, including Hyogo, who have been found to be unaccounted for.

Just so you all know, Episode 5 of Looks Like Canada is now online. This episode is about the Shag Harbour UFO incident which is one of the most famous UFO incidents in the world. It happened in 1967 in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Some recent videos

Here are a few of my recent videos on You Tube. For the most part, they are filmed in Kobe, Japan.

Delicious Japanese Lunchbox おいしい弁当

A delicious Japanese lunch box I ate for lunch. I have always noticed that food videos tend to be my most successful. I need to make more food videos!

Japan Blows Up

here is a video about the Kobe City summer fireworks that went off on Sunday evening.

Beau's Brewery

Here is a video I put together using footage I took while in Canada during my Christmas vacation. Beau's Brewery is located fairly close to my parent's house in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Want To Teach in Asia

I normally don’t talk about teaching ESL in Korea or these days in blog posts or in You Tube videos. To be honest, I feel pretty disconnected from the whole ESL industry and from life in Korea. I left Korea in 2007 and when I left Korea, I left the ESL industry.

I do however still receive loads of emails from people asking me about teaching in South Korea and Japan. Sometimes I think my knowledge about Korea is now pretty dated. Like most aspects of life in South Korea, the ESL industry changes quickly and unless you are there on the ground and have some sort of vested interest, it is impossible to keep abreast with those changes. I have also never taught English in Japan so any knowledge I have of the industry here is purely second hand. I listen to stories from my friends who have or do teach ESL in Japan and read about it in newspapers.

That being said, I wasn't to impart some basic information to those interested in making a career in ESL or just taking a year or two to try teaching. The advice I am about to share is general stuff that basically doesn’t change with time. Most of it simply has to do with being professional. I suppose this will be some advice that could be used for many different professions.

1. Do I need a university degree to get a teaching job?

If you want to work legally as a teacher in Korea or Japan, you must have a university degree. You must have a degree in something (doesn’t matter if it is Science, Arts, Business, etc.). This is not a great global plot to keep those without degrees down; it is simply necessary for visa regulations. These governments consider teachers to be skilled/white collar workers and they need degrees. Besides, wouldn’t you want your child’s teacher to have a degree as well? In order to be a teacher in the United States, Canada, U.K normally you need more than one degree to be a teacher. Long story short, there is no way around this. If you want to teach in Korea or Japan, but have no degree, you will have to take a few years and get it!

My first job in Korea (2002) was at a large franchise operation. I didn't care for my first job, but the folowing year I worked at a great school.

2. Once you get to Korea will I screwed by an employer?

I would like to say no, but it does happen occasionally. You also have to remember that that sort of thing happens in Canada and the United States as well! I did meet a few people that did get screwed out of pay by employers and it even happened to me on two occasions, but those cases are still relatively uncommon. There really is no way to prevent this from happening. Most large schools are franchise operations so where one branch might be an awesome place to work, the next branch might be a crap –hole! If something does happen, the Korean Labor Board is very good at going to bat for teachers. If your case is legitimate, they will certainly put the crews to the school owner. For more on dealing with the Korean Labor Board, there is a great podcast on it here at the Midnight Runner Podcast website.

3. Is teaching ESL an easy job?

Teaching is never an easy job. It can be challenging and very rewarding at the same time. You may at times find yourself frustrated with the cultural differences though. Koreans generally push their children very hard and education is far more important in their eyes than in Western culture. You have to realize that you cannot change Korean/Japanese people to think the way we do about education. You simply have to go with the flow. You are a guest in their culture and paid by them to teach the way they want you to. As far as the teaching goes, it can be intense. Please remember that you should take your work seriously. This isn’t a part-time job at a shopping mall or a fast food restaurant. You are doing a serious job that takes time and preparation, often outside of your contract hours. Welcome to teaching! In fact, welcome to most professional jobs anywhere in the world. Being ask to show up 10-20 minutes before class (contract hours) is not unreasonable, it is the way companies around the world work. As a teacher in Canada and now Japan, I put in countless hours of preparation work outside of my contract hours and I never complain because I take pride in my work!

Teaching adults during my 3rd year in Korea. I personally prefer teaching children, but it was a great experience for one year. I certainly learned a lot about Korean culture!

4. Why do I come across so many negative people online/in person?

There will always be a lot of negative people online. Welcome to the land of trolls. It is the perfect hiding place for disgruntled teachers who need to vent about work. Many folks who head to Asia to teach would never be interested in teaching in their native countries. It is a means to an end and many don’t like the work they do. Mind you, some people may have legitimate gripes about things. You will also meet many negative people once you get to Asia, especially Korea. I don’t think there are so many negative people in Japan because many who come to Japan to teach are already enamored with the country and culture long before they get here. As for Korea, I think many people simply go there for work purposes. Many of those people are simply not cut out for lie in another culture and get easily annoyed by the differences in language and life. Some others you may meet complain often simply because they are young and inexperienced in life. Many new university graduates arrive in Korea expecting to party all year and treat it like “University Year 5.” Those are the people who give all teachers and foreigners a bad reputation in Korea. They are also the ones who are simply unprepared to have a full-time serious job and complain the loudest. Often they see their job as something that gets in the way of the party!

5. How should I behave in my host country?

Remember, you in a way are not only an ambassador to your own country. You are an ambassador for all foreigners living in Korea and Japan. If you misbehave or cause trouble, Koreans/Japanese don’t se you as an American/Canadian/Australian. They see you as a foreigner and they will judge. Just as we do in our own countries, people in Asia will brush you with broad strokes. If you act like an asshole in front of Koreas/Japanese, some of them may assume all foreigners in their country are assholes! Don’t miss around. Act the same way you would in your native country. Have some respect for your hosts and they will happily return that respect!

For current and useful information on teaching in South Korea I’d recommend some great video blogs by teachers who are there now doing it!

Simon and Martina: They are a married couple from Canada and work as public school teachers in Korea. They are serious professional teachers who make the most entertaining and useful videos for those coming to Korea. They have many “how to” guides. Their website is amazing too:

Qiranger: Is an American ESL teacher living outside of Seoul. He is a serious teacher and a very fun video blogger. He makes useful and informative videos about many different aspects of life in Korea. He also has some other fun travel videos!

Zenkimchi is a wonderful website about Korean food.

Myargonauts: For great videos about the JET (Japan Exchange for Teachers) program in Japan, watch myargonauts.

If you are working and living in Korea and are having problems with your school, don't complain about it on You Tube or your blog. Korea is one of the few countries in the world that has criminal liable laws. If your school finds out that you are bitching about them online (and mentioning the school's name) they can press charges! You can actually be arrested and sued!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Canadian rock band Sum 41 singer hospitalized in Osaka after attack

Deryck Whibley, lead singer of the famous Canadian punk band Sum 41, and former husband of Avril Lavigne, has been hospitalized after a bar fight in Osaka last night. Band member reported on Twitter that he was attacked by three unknown Japanese men last night in a bar.

Sum 41 was performing a concert in Osaka. There were two remaining tour dates left in Osaka before the band was to play more show in the U.. and Europe.

Sum 41 singer and front man Deryck Whibley.

Here is some media coverage from CBC.

Canadian rock band Sum 41 singer hospitalized in Osaka after attack
TORONTO - The frontman for Canadian rock band Sum 41 was reportedly attacked Friday night in Japan and hospitalized with injuries.

The band said Friday on their website that Deryck Whibley was attacked late Friday night. They posted on their Twitter account that Whibley was attacked in a bar by three unknown people and Japanese police are investigating.

The band had two remaining tour dates scheduled in Osaka, before closing out the summer with shows in the U.S. and Europe.

The alleged attack follows Sum 41’s cancellation of several Warped Tour dates in the U.S. because Whibley had come down with a serious case of bronchitis.

Whibley, 30, was married to fellow Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne but the couple announced their separation last September
. Japan Today

Fireworks Tonight in Kobe

Summer fireworks season is sweeping Japan. Tis hot, humid and time to sit outside with friends, beer, and pyrotechnics! Across Japan, every summer, people enjoy "hanabi" はなび which means fireworks. What is so great about hanabi is the fact that even small cities have very elaborate displays. Another great thing about the firework displays in Japan is the party atmosphere that goes with them. Many folks go with the school of though, "Why should I enjoy fireworks alone when I can enjoy them with booze!?"

During the previous two summers, my wife and I enjoyed the Kobe Fireworks from in front of Kobe Gakuin University 神戸学院大学 on Port Island in Kobe 神戸. This year however, we have a newborn baby. We will be watching the fireworks from our balcony and should have a good view. I will take some video later this evening to show all you folks out there. I have to admit that I am very excited to be watching fireworks for the first time with my son!

I am also pretty pleased today because I posted Episode 4 of my new podcast "Looks Like Canada." In episode 4 I looks at Popular and Weird Canadian Summer Festivals!

You can listen to/download the episode on the website (Looks Like Canada) or subscribe to the podcast directly on iTunes.

Although I will have new footage of this year's Kobe fireworks up online tomorrow, here is some footage from last year's fireworks for all of you to enjoy. I think this was before I bought my HD camera so bear with the quality!