This is me standing half way along the third graders area, serious amount of bikes
Leaving a white Aomori in March and returning to a brown one (with bursts of green) in April was very odd. It feels like a new place, my eyes can’t get over all the things and people to look at, bits of buildings, roads, gardens, pathways, trees, cars, a tennis court, the river and its bridges, ponds, puddles and flower pots. I wonder did I even have my eyes open at all last summer. So they are not the most exciting things I’m re-seeing but it’s the fact I can see them that is very excited. The metres and metres of snow has vanished and the world beneath it is really very intriguing to behold. The weather is evil its warm and cold, the rain is light and heavy and even a little bit slushy. But even with the mean weather there are signs of spring everywhere, the change of food in the shops ….STRAWBERRIES, the green bursting from the ground (even just the sight of the ground is impressive), the people on the streets and of course their bikes, they and their bikes, they are back. Pretty much anybody and everybody cycles here in Japan. I’ve been home to Ireland twice since I got here last July and I keep promising I’ll cycle places instead of drive but it just doesn’t have the same pull. It seems Japan and its bikes have a greater friendship. I love my bike.
The bike cover in school was completely hidden with snow for the whole winter and the joy of seeing it jam packed with wheels on my first day back brought a great smile to my face. There must be only a hand full of students that don’t cycle at least some of their journey to school everyday. Some kids actually keep their bikes at the train station close to the school for the whole spring/ summer/ autumn and use it to travel from the station to school. If it rains no problem, you were given two hands, so use em both, one to steer and one for your brolly.
This is the bike park at Aomori city train station after a few days of sun in February these poor bikes got a glimpse of life
Also found this photo of my crazy neighbour clearing his roof during a rare blue sky last January
is hana in kanji ( traditional Chinese characters used in the modern Japanese writing system) it means flower, and is a direct translation for my name, Hannah. (It also means nose but I picked flower and ignored the nose part)
My supervisor Saido Sensei teaching me the stroke order for Hana
I learnt to write my name in Kanji in calligraphy during another end of term lesson at Namioka school. It’s amazing what great teachers these kids are, all they want to do is help you and make you happy.
Students concentrating on their calligraphy pieces
High schooler working at Calligraphy
Kappa Maki (Sushi Cucumber Rolls)
At the beginning of March I had my last lesson of the year (Japanese school years change in April) at Namioka Special Needs School. Two Wednesdays a month I hop on the train out to the quiet countryside and enjoy what is usually my two favorite days of the month. I get to wear crappy tracky bottoms to this school which is always a great start to the day 🙂 . The kids at this school adore me like the Brits love their queen….. I don’t really deserve all the love/ affection/ adoration (sorry to any queen lovers). I love them back without a doubt but it seems they just have so much more to give me than I can ever give them.
Every class with this school starts with a questions/ answers game. Without fail the first question is ‘What is your favorite food?’ this question always comes first all because the first time I answered it resulted in great amusement. It gives them endless entertainment when I tell them it ‘s ‘Kappa Maki’ (cucumber sushi rolls) I think it’s kinda like saying you like shredded carrots or something just as insignificantly boring. I’v moved on and have many new favorite foods but it’s the sheer pleasure of watching them roar laughing that makes me answer ‘ I love KAPAAAAAAAAAAAA MAKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’.
Cucumber, Seaweed and Rice.....the essential ingredients
And so on my last day they surprised me with a lesson on how to make my own Kappa Maki. They were worried when I returned to Ireland I wouldn’t be able to find them so we set about on the most important lesson that they would ever teach and I would ever learn.
Watching the Rolling
They got so excited about it we had to split the class as they all wanted to help me, so I actually had two lessons!
I’ll hopefully never forget how to make these little gems but it’s the memory of how I learnt that will stay with me forever.
My very own kappa maki..............a little shaby yes I know but its alot harder (to keep em neat) than it looks
Twisty Rolls before their fillings
Alot of pople have asked me what exactly I was doing when the big earthquake hit here in Japan, well I was in work just about to click ‘publish’ on this. The power cut out after the earthquake and I thought I had lost it but I just found the post in my draft folder it must have saved automatically. It would be rude not to post it and so on the day I return to school from a break in Ireland I bring you my last normal memory from March 11th 2011.
A twisty turny pan class to lead us through March. We made twisty rolls, cinnamon Danish pastries and good ol Swiss roll. I could not help but remember the distinct eggy smell of the Swiss roll the minute I saw the menu. It brought back memories of making it at home in ‘Cherry Lawn’ with tones of nutella or cream, strawberries, raspberries and kiwi. All three of us arrived unusally tired but once again we left pan class all smiles and bulging bellies.
Swiss Roll before the rollin
Swiss Roll with Amazing Apricot Jam
Next is the beautiful twisties
Shaping the twisty rolls around cones
Fresh from the oven, filling the nostrils with beauty smells!
- Wait for em to cool then fill em up and pack it in!!! Custard or Choccy
Following the twisties came Cinnamon Rolls, both little and large…
Beneath the layers of a cinamon roll
Roll it up and either make a cirlce (as photographed) or keep as a long line
If making one large bread make into a circle and cut with scissors as shown
Spread out cut pieces as shown above, let each piece overlap the last
Baked and glorified with almonds and sugar icing
OOOOOR you can make these minis by keeping the roll as one long piece and simply slice off a small section to make each mini
Enjoying the feasting, filling the bellies