The funny things kids say

Okay, this post is long overdue. I’ve been working at my new job, an international kindergarten where all students are Japanese, for the past few months. During this time, I’ve learned a lot.

Firstly, I’ve discovered that kids are wonderful. I mean, I was the person who used to say I didn’t like them. That wasn’t technically true, but I wasn’t sure if I knew how to handle them. It turns out, neither do some parents. Sometimes I have to admit that the physical act of having a child does not make you a good mother (or father if we’re not talking physical). Truth be told, most parents have no idea what they’re doing when they first start out. There isn’t a manual on how to ‘operate’ a child and thus, most people just make it up as they go along. Life is similar; just a collection of trial and error moments.

Anyway, tangent aside, I realised that not only am I actually a natural with kids this age, but I relate to them in a way I never have with adults. They’re honest. Brutally so sometimes. Somewhere along the way kids are told to stop being like that.

“It’s rude to say that,” they’re told.

“You can’t say that,” they’re told.

“You shouldn’t feel that way,” they’re told.

Fuck adults, I say.

The second thing I’ve learned is that you are utterly exhausted after a day with them. I come home most days now and fall asleep on my floor before dinner, wake up, eat and then crawl into my futon which I’ve barely been able to set up.

Perhaps the best thing though is that I’ve learned kids are hilarious. I mean, laugh out loud kind of stuff. Hence, this post.

Here is a collection of anecdotes I’ve been compiling since I started.

 

 

  • Friday is Snack Day. The kids get a snack if they’ve done good work and have been well behaved that week. Like a reward. Anyway, the other day I sat them down and said, “Why do we get snacks?” One little boy looked at me like I’d asked the dumbest thing ever (he might be right) and replied, “Because it’s Friday?” That wasn’t the response I was looking for, but yeah, he had a point…

 

  • I wear my glasses all the time and the other day I stopped to take them off to rub my eye. One boy started yelling, “Put your glasses back on!” I did because I wanted to stop him from yelling but was surprised when he said, “You’re not Jade without them.” His response was exactly what I wished some adult men and women I know need to hear. I have been told by some stupid people, “Oh, you have such beautiful eyes! You shouldn’t wear your glasses.” And the best one (by a stupid woman AND family friend I might add!): “Men would be more attracted to you if you didn’t wear your glasses.” Since I’m a contrary shit, that just made me wear them more often. Plus, A. Why would I want to attract a man who was that superficial? And B. I wouldn’t be able to see him anyway without my glasses. J

 

  • Ah yes, swimming. That brings up a whole new topic of conversation with the kids. I was telling my mum the other day that I have now seen more penises than I need (or want) to see in my lifetime. Four-year-old boys are obsessed with theirs and as I told the manager of the school, it gets worse as they get older. Anyway, the first week one boy jumped in front and me and said in Japanese, “Jade, look at my chin-chin!” Chin-chin is a slang word for penis. The thing was though, he used the honorific term with ‘o’ in front of it. Thus, he was basically saying, “Look at my magnificent penis!” That alone made me laugh and so I had to explain not to refer to his own as magnificent but that it was perfectly acceptable to say it to someone else. I may have scarred this boy for life… Dear God.

 

  • Second swimming penis story… The next one involves a different boy who decided to jump in front of me totally naked whilst I was supervising them getting changed and yelling, “Jade, look at my penis!” At this point I was so sick of them saying it that my response was, “You know what? I don’t care. Every week I see it and every week you want to show me and every week it looks the same. I’m not impressed.” He gave me a very adult male look that said I’d clearly hurt his ego and then tucked it back into his swimmers and said, “Ah okay, fine.”

 

  • The next swimming story involves a boy and a girl. The kids were changing after swimming and I turned around to find one of the boy’s eyes literally a few centimetres away from one of the girl’s pubic region. I yelled at him, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” He stood up, puzzled look on his face and asked, “Jade, why don’t girls have chin-chins?” In the two seconds I searched for an answer I found myself saying, “Because they’re girls.” It satisfied him and he said, “Hmm, okay,” and wandered off to continue changing.

 

  • We have a song and dance activity during the week where all classes sing and dance together in a circle with the songs they’re learning that month. One of the songs involves the words, “Baby shark, mommy shark, daddy shark,” etc. The other day during play time in the morning one of the boys told me he was daddy shark. Another little girl piped up she was mommy shark. I said, “I’m baby shark.” The boy shook his head. “No, you’re not. You’re grandma shark.” Shut down.

 

  • The last story happened just last week when the weather was getting hotter and the kids needed their hat to go outside. He was walking out of the classroom to line up with the others when I called him back to get his hat. He said, “Jade, it’s partly cloudy today, I don’t need my hat.” WHERE THE HELL DID YOU LEARN THAT LANGUAGE?! I thought to myself. Turns out he actually does listen and reads the weather chart we do each day. It was such an adult thing to say I had to laugh. And yes, I made him take his hat.

The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 1

DaisoHeader

Happy Midsummer or Litha! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read on. If you do know what I’m talking about, read on anyway… this is The Daiso Diaries. You know it’s going to be quality stuff. 😉

Wednesday 21, as in two days ago was the Summer Solstice. For all you hippies out there, you know this and most Japanese people know this too simply because they’re so into seasons. My Western counterparts, however, may not.

The Summer Solstice is the height of summer in that it’s the longest day (i.e. longest amount of sunlight) and the shortest night. Lots of Pagan festivals centre around this and our ancestors would have celebrated it, but for us living in the modern world, we’ve mostly forgotten.

Why am I talking about it here? Well, because like the rest of Japanese society that is obsessed with the seasons, Daiso too uses it to maximum advantage.

Thus, this week’s column and the first official chapter of The Daiso Diaries is about the great summer products now available.

Living and working in Japan you cannot help but be influenced by what’s going on around you. That means that sometime ago I started decorating my apartment for each season and special event on the calendar.

I picked up a great little summer decoration for my front door the other day that features a very summer pastime: catching goldfish or kingyo (金魚). At any matsuri (祭り) or festival you will find pools of water where you can scoop up your very own goldfish and take it home.

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Daiso also has sensu (扇子) or foldable fans, hats and those crazy long arm protectors that many Japanese women are fanatical about.

Fanssummer

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Clothing and accessories aside there is also a great collection of fake sunflowers and the beautiful blue hydrangeas or ajisai (紫陽花) as they say in Japanese. Yes, in nature there are also pink ones, but these don’t seem to be as popular and aren’t featured as fake flowers to buy for summer from Daiso. For those gardening geeks (or just interested people), hydrangeas change colour based on the pH level of the soil. The more alkaline, the pinker they get. Therefore, to make them extra blue you need to increase the acidity of the soil. Wow, the things you learn from The Daiso Diaries. I can feel how impressed you are through your computer/smartphone.

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Heading to the kitchen section I also found this great summer drinks glass. With its candy stripes and thick straw, it reminds me of summer days at the beach or festivals with icy, sticky drinks from my childhood. It’s a little difficult to see in the photo, but it actually says, ‘Country Fair Drinking Jar,’ on the glass. Exactly. At the moment, I’m using it to drink iced tea from, but I’m fairly sure I’ll be using it for something alcohol related in the next few weeks. 🙂 Oh, who am I kidding?! I’ve been using it for awhile now with alcohol. I feel it makes me a little classier than sipping chuuhai (チューハイ) from the can when I’m at home.

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Oh and if you like smelling good all the time and are sweating like a pig in this summer humidity (and thus, not smelling as sweet as you usually do), then the scented body sheets are for you. Most are usually cool and refreshing, as well as being scented and so you end up feeling a little like your body just brushed its teeth and then drank water. Yep, that slightly stinging/burning sensation, but refreshingly icy, minty, cool and clean feel too. For just 100 yen (+ the obligatory 8% tax), that’s a bargain and much, much cheaper (and just as good, if not better) than some of the ones you can buy at places like Wants.

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So there you have it… the essentials you can find at Daiso to keep you cool, calm and collected (and your apartment well decorated!) for summer.

Stay cool and I’ll back again next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daiso Diaries: Prologue

おはようございます!(Ohayou gozaimasu!) Good morning!

Yes, today is the day when I can finally reveal my secret… the column that is shrouded in mystery and…

Okay, okay, to be honest, it’s probably not that exciting for you, but for me and for those who share my love and slight obsession with a very Japanese shop, you will understand.

Introducing… The Daiso Diaries!

Yes, this is the new column that brings you all the lovely, interesting, fun, sometimes useless, sometimes very helpful items that can be found in that ‘Warehouse of Warehouses’ (no my fellow Aussies, I don’t mean Bunnings!) now loved by people all over the world:

Daiso.

Wow.

Where to begin?

Well, possibly with a little history of the whole endeavour and enterprise that is the brainchild and true love of Mr. Hirotake Yano, the Daiso President. But before all that, a quick introduction as to why I decided to write about Daiso.

Firstly, this column has been in the pipeline for awhile now. I first mentioned my interest in writing about Daiso last year back when I was writing for GetHiroshima magazine and of course, writing my weekly column for their website. I had jotted down various notes on pieces of scrap paper, typed notes on my phone and just mulled over the idea. I didn’t pursue it.

This year I was happy and content to finish up my konbini [コンビニ] column but I must admit, something was missing from my life. I was writing every single day, but I didn’t have a passion for something like I did last year with konbini. I remembered Daiso and let me just say, it was the first thing I’ve been truly excited about in over a year. That alone means more than anyone could possibly know.

Okay, getting back to the Daiso story and Mr. Yano…

Yano-san was born in 1943 and back when Daiso was still a glimmer in his eye, he had a history of owning and operating a small shop called, ‘Yano Shoten,’ which specialised in… you got it, 100 yen products. In 1977, he founded Daiso and the rest they say, is history!

Daiso now operates in over 26 countries and has over 3000 stores. For a man who regards himself as nothing special, that is a major achievement. Perhaps it is his humble nature combined with his love for good quality products and the belief that he can always do better, is what makes Daiso the worldwide success it is today. Mr. Yano is adaptable in a world that is constantly craving new and innovative new products that will keep them entertained, surprised and most of all, products that are fun. In fact, many Westerners are often surprised by the very traditional and sometimes completely irrational (to them/us anyway!) ways of thinking that sometimes mean things are done in an old-school fashion instead of adopting new methods that are more efficient. In that respect, Mr. Yano is way ahead of his other Japanese business counterparts and is it possibly this, that is the main reason for Daiso’s domestic and international success.

I won’t continue to bore you with factual stuff; you can read about that for yourself on the websites at the bottom of this. I will say, however, that the purpose of this column is much the same as my konbini one: I just want to share with others the fun and useful products I find at Daiso, do product reviews, recommend things I think are cool or quirky and tell you what things I’m not so keen on (i.e. I think they suck- I’m fairly sure I won’t have that issue with Daiso though!) Many people (especially Japanese people) won’t understand why I am so interested in Daiso, but I’m hoping that those who love/loved my konbini column (or have an interest in Daiso and/or other awesome aspects of Japanese culture) will follow me on this new and always exciting, life-changing journey and exploration of all things that are…

The Daiso Diaries!

Oh and for those of you who might be curious as to the missing anpan [あんパン ] or sweet red bean paste bun that 7-Eleven whipped off their shelves with lightning speed and no explanation…

It seems from my sources and careful investigation (meaning I nabbed myself a copy of their latest in-store products catalogue for June) that it has indeed vanished with possibly no return. What’s interesting though is that they’ve decided to release two new products featuring anko [餡こ] or the sweet red bean paste. I hate to say it, but one of them is a direct copy of another very famous product from the Yamazaki brand and bakery. Another dumb business move from 7-Eleven. I’ve given up I think. He, I mean, they, clearly need to be ditched. Moving on. You will never, ever be Number 1 in my heart again 7-Eleven.

We.

Are.

Over.

See you next week!

Click here for the official Japanese Daiso website (in Japanese… obviously, DUH!)

Click here for the English version.

 

Japan may look idyllic on the surface…

But the longer you live here and the more you read their newspapers, the more you learn.

These are just two articles I read this morning this made me grit my teeth and think, Japan, you say you are modern, but you’re backwards as fuck and never admit or say sorry when you’re wrong.

The first is about LGBTG people and the second is about The Rape of Nanking which according to many Japanese never happened. As an old boss of mine once said, “I don’t know why the Chinese are so angry, it was only 200,000 people, not 300,000 like they’re saying.” Oh fuck, what a moron.

One year anniversary

I have to be honest. I’ve been dreading the lead-up to this week.

Let me explain.

This Friday is the first day of Toukasan, the biggest festival in Hiroshima and one of the oldest yukata, or summer-style kimono festivals, in Japan. It is also recognised as the official start to summer.

And, it is the one year anniversary of when I had my first date with my ex.

For weeks now I’ve been waking up and thinking, today was the day he first sent me a message asking if I was interested in a date. Today is the day I replied. Blah, blah, blah.

I have always hated Toukasan simply because of the crowds of people, but this year is a whole new level. I have also said every year that I would go, wear a yukata and have fun. I know it will never happen. My hatred of the crowds far outweighs my desire to be a girly girl and dress up.

I have been contemplating for weeks to get the fuck out of Hiroshima for the entire weekend so I don’t have to think about it, but to be honest, we all know that problems follow us wherever we go and no matter how much we run. It’s funny because I don’t think I have a problem going there on the Saturday or Sunday to check it out; it’s just the Friday night that bothers me.

Ironically enough, I have another date this Friday afternoon. A first date if you will. And it’s with a guy who I actually met at the same time last year. I was just beginning to get involved with my ex and we weren’t official, so I’d ended up having a lovely night (and overnight stay) with this other guy. No, it doesn’t make me a slut and no we didn’t sleep together, but we both knew we liked each other. He wanted more and at the time, I said no. I’m hoping this is a second chance.

I even remember people warning me at this time last year. I didn’t listen then, but I sure as hell am listening to them now! 🙂

I finally opened up yesterday to my mum and told her how I’ve been feeling and also about my date and her reply was, “So what? Go make new memories!”

She wasn’t being insensitive. She’s right.

And so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I don’t want to remember last year. It was horrible. Just like cutting my dead hair, I need to forget dead stuff. I don’t want to resurrect that shit.

 

 

A ‘Vegemite’ Night to Remember

Last night I was the host of a Vegemite-inspired, Australian night at the rental space and kitchen, 20T in Hiroshima.

This is a link to their blog with a run-down of exactly what happened as we got creative and used Vegemite as a miso paste substitute in Japanese recipes. I detest Vegemite and yet dare I say, I actually enjoyed it! The company of course helped too!

The website is in Japanese, but you can use Google Translate to help you read it. Then again, the photos are pretty self explanatory. 🙂

 

Vegemite: the star attraction of an Aussie-themed night at 20T

Vegemite is an Australian icon and one of those things that many Aussies miss desperately if they move or even travel overseas. I say, ‘many,’ not, ‘most,’ because since speaking out (loudly!) and declaring my disgust for the food, I’ve found fellow ex-pats who hate it too. Unfortunately, most of them seem to be from countries other than Australia. Oh well…

That aside, let me describe Vegemite and give you a bit of a rundown on the product that can be found in every Australian house.

Vegemite was first created back in 1922 by a man named Cyril Percy Callister in Melbourne. He made it from sludge he found on the floor and added vegetables and salt. Okay, so I made that first bit up, but to be honest, it does look like sludge or perhaps something you’d find under a dodgy car. It does contain vegetables (according to the ingredients on the label anyway), but it’s always been a mystery as to exactly what else is in it. It’s like the Colonel’s ‘secret recipe,’ at KFC, except nowhere near as, “finger lickin good.” I think in the case of Vegemite, perhaps it needs to remain a secret because if we were to discover exactly what was in it, I suspect no one would eat it ever again. As for the taste… imagine eating miso paste or the saltiest thing you can find and times it by about 100 or maybe 1000. I’m not really sure. It prides itself on being high in Vitamin B, which it is, but it’s also extremely high in salt. It’s also rich in what the Japanese refer to as, ‘umami,’ or what us Westerners consider to be the fifth taste. The only thing I think it has going for it, is that being rich in Vitamin B, it is THE perfect hangover cure.

A Vegemite sandwich can be found in nearly every school-age child’s lunchbox every single day of the week. Think of it as the equivalent of an onigiri (riceball) in a Japanese bento. For some kids this brings great excitement. For me, I was always hoping that one day I would bite into my sandwich and discover that it was the sweet hazelnut taste of Nutella, rather than the salty vegetable taste of Vegemite. It never happened. It was truly one of life’s biggest disappointments or at least the life an eight year old has lived up to that point.

Vegemite is primarily used as a spread for sandwiches, toast or crackers but can also be used as a marinade, a stock base or in perhaps what scarred me for life thanks to my mum, soup. Yes, whenever I had an upset stomach she would insist on making me Vegemite soup. Basically, this consists of taking a HUGE dessert spoon of ‘black tar’ aka Vegemite and adding it to boiling water. I prayed desperately never to get a stomach bug and often pretended I was fine just to avoid having to eat it. If you know anything about Vegemite, it’s never, ever to eat that amount in that way. Arsehole Australians will often tell naïve and unsuspecting, trusting travellers that the way to eat Vegemite is to take a big spoon and eat it right out of the jar. It’s akin to telling a gaijin that the way to eat wasabi is to eat it like avocado. For the record, Vegemite is best eaten when it’s spread very thinly over a layer of margarine. It’s also good with cheese or avocado on bread or toast. Or atop vanilla ice cream. I kid you not. Even I was pleasantly surprised and possible even enjoyed it.

That’s why, after careful consideration, I spoke to Eiko Nishida, the owner and brainchild of 20T, a co-working space in Hiroshima. We decided to investigate whether Vegemite could be used as a miso paste substitute and thus, introduce it to the tastebuds of Japanese people through a ‘Vegemite/Australian Night.’ She declared it to be a great idea and so Vegemite will be the VIP of its own event next month in May. Stay tuned for details here or check out the 20T website.