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August 31, 2010

ALTA’s finale

Filed under: Sapporo Summer, So Japanese — RICKY @ 6:09 pm
Today is the last day downtown department store ALTA is open. Built in 2002, it originally catered to fashionable twentysomethings but the concept was eventually changed and it became a shopping haven for late-teen-girly fashion. Not a smart move: The number of teens has been decreasing slowly but steadily and hence the mini-mall went out of business. ALTA was opened shortly after I started living in Sapporo, and in the beginning I was a regular shopper and window-shopper for it hosted some very cool stores. Among them a boutique with sophisticated party dresses on the first floor, the coolest shoe store in town that ordered my size from Tokyo in case they didn't stock it here, and "Shoop" which is a Japanese brand designed for black women even though there are very few black women in Japan, let alone Sapporo! So the concept was really cool and in a way it was modeled after the famous 109 store in Shibuya, with dance music playing and cute store clerk girls. It seems Sapporo was not ready for this kind of funky stuff and, sadly, it closed down. 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 30, 2010

Jazz & Flamenco at the Art Park

Filed under: Sapporo Summer — RICKY @ 4:51 pm
Positive surprise yesterday at the Green Stage in Makomanai's Art Park: What we expected was just another jazz concert, but what we got was much more. First of all, the stage is built in the middle of the woods at the foot of a hill which is perfect for picnics - and that's what everybody did: Finding a spot in the meadow, lounging, eating and drinking. Paella Express had a stand there, and so did Buddy Buddy, and there was Rioja wine and tequila. I got there late afternoon and the first performance was a Japanese flamenco group. Not necessarily impressive but a nice warm-up for Aguilar de Jerez, a Spanish flamenco singer and guitarist. Great performance and he even came to say hello to us after the show. The highlight of the night was the final act, a huge Japanese orchestra with the tongue-twister name of Shibusa Shirazu. There were dozens of artists on the stage, all playing different instruments and doing different things, creatively crazy, orderly chaos, we didn't know where to look! A fantastic concert in the middle of the forest at the end of summer. 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 29, 2010

Our party van

Filed under: Sapporo Summer — RICKY @ 1:35 pm
We parked our party van in the middle of Susukino and had a party ........... fun at its purest. The driver stuck to non-alcoholic beer of course. ;) 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 28, 2010

Odori Park at dawn

Filed under: Sapporo Summer — RICKY @ 6:44 pm
Posing with statues and drinking beer in the park at dawn: Only in Sapporo! The boys had a cooking event at the TV Tower last night and well, work is work but after they were done with their duties we had our own private party in the middle of Odori Park. That included an entire open air bar with a cask of Sapporo Classic beer, Rioja wine and a fresh handmade Spanish tortilla. About an hour into the party and shortly before sunrise a bunch of young rappers who were practicing in the park joined us and rapped for us in Japanese ... great memories! This is one of the things you can only do in Sapporo. Having a party in a park in the middle of the city in the middle of the night, and it makes this city truly special and unique. The photos are underexposed unfortunately but I think you get the picture. 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 27, 2010

That WAS the undercover mouse!

Filed under: Zafiro — RICKY @ 7:38 pm
Zafiro's summer That WAS the undercover mouse. My three destroyers reduced it to pieces within a few weeks. And I had it shipped here all the way from the US ... that's life with cats. 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 26, 2010

Changing nation

Filed under: So Japanese — RICKY @ 7:53 pm
Tired of being cute (left). Is this what Japan will look like in the future? (feminist demo, right) What do YOU think? The new Miss Universe was crowned in Las Vegas yesterday, and while in the Americas this was a huge event, in Japan it went unnoticed. There are even voices and organizations in Japan that call for a general abolishment of the Miss Japan contest. Their argument is that women should be judged by their brains, not by their looks. True, that's a strong point, but American Hollywood culture and beauty obsessed Latin America would not be what they are without beauty pageants. Girls train from pre-school age to become beauty queens and once they take home the crown they move up in society to the highest celebrity ranks. Having lived in Japan for about ten years, I feel this country is increasingly becoming like a Northern European nation. The recent feminist movement demanding a ban on swimsuit competitions is just a tiny indicator. What already exists is a health and welfare system that rivals those of Scandinavia in progressiveness. Unemployed citizens receive monthly paychecks that allow them a more or less comfortable lifestyle. Anybody living in Japan is entitled to public health insurance at a reasonable cost. People over 65 enjoy decent lifestyles due to relatively high retirement pay, low healthcare fees and free public transportation. Parents receive a child support allowance of 13.000 yen per month per child - this was enacted by disgraced PM Hatoyama. Signaling a shift in the structure of society at large, Japanese women are becoming increasingly independent from men. The current generation of female twentysomethings is active and highly productive in the workplace, a sharp contrast to the generation of their mothers who were dependent stay-home moms. The term "housewife" is so unpopular with young Japanese women these days that it seems to have vanished from their vocabulary completely. This tendency of active, hard-working women striving to be equal is very similar to what happened in Northern Europe decades ago and what has now manifested as one of the most advanced civilizations on the planet. In Scandinavia, beauty pageants are viewed as exploitation of women and feminist groups regularly protest against them. On another note, now that Japanese women are becoming increasingly self sufficient they just need to take it one step further and get real equality by gaining access to executive positions in the workplace because the percentage of decision-making women is still very, very low. Japan is changing, and this is a very exciting time to be here. Let me know what YOU think OK! 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 24, 2010

Best summer, best BBQ

Filed under: Sapporo Summer — RICKY @ 8:44 pm
Thanks everybody for coming to our BBQ. The weather was perfect and so were the US steaks and Chilean spareribs, Sapporo Classic beer and Spanish Rioja wine. This summer is just fabulous! See you at DLS or at our next party :) 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 23, 2010

More female power

Filed under: About Me — RICKY @ 6:33 pm
These pictures were taken today: Our new fabulous female teachers! Picture above, from right. Catherine from France: She fills in for veteran teacher Maryvonne who has so many loyal DLS students now that sometimes it is difficult to book a lesson with her. Catherine has also lived and worked in Beijing and Moscow, and she has loads of great stories. Julie from China has just arrived in Japan, she has three years experience teaching Chinese and English at a college in Shanghai. Her students used to call her "the lovely teacher" and she is indeed lovely! Kyungshil from Korea has been with DLS for a while now and she has an impressive number of fans who take her lessons several times a week. Charisma times professionalism, a winning formula. And on the far left (top) ... that's me! We hope to see you soon at DLS!
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August 20, 2010

Takkyu at the RSR

Filed under: Sapporo Summer — RICKY @ 4:40 pm
Azure blue sky and not one cloud to ruin it, I wish it had been like that during the Rising Sun Rock festival. Rather than perfect summer weather it was heavy rainfall the day before the concert, and since Ishikari Bay is shaped like a pond, go figure what that did to the ground. Crossing the vast area between the stages, seven in all, was like trudging through a muddy marsh. Some of my friends arrived in Ishikari ahead of me and warned me about the soil condition. I was therefore equipped with robust rainboots, without them walking around would have been a disaster, if not impossible. To be honest, I don't know many Japanese musicians but one artist I used to listen to about ten years ago is Takkyu Ishino (band Denki Groove, genre techno pop). At that time his first big album, "Throbbing Disco Cat" came out and it caught my attention because the cover depicts a bodybuilder. I was bodybuilding back then and well, the rest is history. Takkyu (=pingpong) started spinning at 1:30 AM in front of about 5000 people under an unfortunately starless sky. He's as good as he was then and was my highlight at the RSR apart from the giant paella of course. 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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August 19, 2010

Giant paella serves 500

Filed under: Sapporo Summer — RICKY @ 8:07 pm
THE eye catcher at the RSR: Vincent, Carlos and Raf with their giant paella. 私は英語とスペイン語の先生です。
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