I haven't written on here for ages which is a bit rubbish of me. Then again i haven't really done any travelling and i've been messing about with flags (see below) and conversations (see right).
New Year was a fun ordeal in navigating my way through thousands of people to see a couple temples. Everybody here seems to enjoy queuing for hours to get into a shrine or temple and then spend five minutes in it praying for family health and happiness and then paying for a New Year's fortune that you don't believe in anyway. I guess everybody does stuff at that time of year not because they like doing it but because it's just become a tradition.
Another winter tradition is skiing which, in Japan, is awesome. The snow i've experienced so far is the finest powdery substance i've ever been on. It's like skiing on dandruff. You can hardly hear the skis as they turn through the snow and get tangled together and send you head first into the stuff reminding you of the dandruff comparison quite abruptly. Winter has been unusually cold and it's claimed dozens of lives in the north as houses have collapsed under the weight of the snow and people have been injured or worse clearing tons of the white stuff from their roofs. Last month there was one metre of snow overnight in Niigata prefecture. The trains are still running though.
Hopefully this year i'll have some travelling to write about. I finish my job at the end of March and then i'll be spending April travelling around Malaysia. I'll be working back at a university somewhere from May and then the summer should include a bicycle, a tent and Hokkaido. Autumn and winter will be back teaching again somewhere in Tokyo. It'll be next year soon...