This is not the squirrel I saw. The one I spotted this morning seemed to prefer travelling on foot.
Back in Toronto you can't drive more than two meters anywhere in the city without spotting a squirrel either scampering across the road, or making it his final resting place. In Japan however, squirrels are a lot harder to come by. In the nearly three years that I`ve lived here I have never once seen a squirrel. Living in the 'inaka' as I do, I often find myself driving alone on mountainous country roads. As a result, I have spotted quite a few rabbits, foxes, weasels, plenty of tanuki(s?) and even a few monkeys, but never before a squirrel. Why are there so few of these fast breeding rodents in this country? Is it because of a lack of nut bearing trees? Is it because Japanese cities have so few parks? Perhaps they just don`t stand a chance here against the ubiquitous murders of giant crows.
Anyway, I certainly feel blessed that I was able to see live and in person one of Japan`s most elusive creatures before I return home. Perhaps there is still hope for me in my ongoing battle with Luke to be the first to photograph a wild bear. Maybe after work today I'll cover myself in honey and hike up Eboshi mountain. I have a good feeling that today might be the big day!
The clothing department at Noheji's Max Value never disappoints.
A new addition to Max Value this week is the purikura machine grave yard.
No, Max Value doesn't have a Starbucks. This picture is actually about a month old and is from Tokyo's Narita airport. I figured while on the subject of shopping that should point out for you Starbucks mug collectors out there that now you can buy all the different mugs without having to travel all over the country.
As a certain uncle of mine likes to point out whenever he visits his former homeland, there's nothing Canadians like to do more than talk about money. That's why I feel it's my patriotic duty to bitch about today's currency exchange rate between Canada and Japan. When I came to Japan three years ago one Canadian dollar was worth roughly eighty-six Japanese yen. Now as the title suggests, the balance of power has shifted and the CAD is worth more than the JPY.
The Canadian dollar keeps getting stronger and stronger, and since most of my wealth is in Japanese yen, I'm not all that pleased about it. By my calculations it now costs about
$35$160 more for each 100,000 yen ($1000) I bring back home from Japan than it would have cost when I first came here. In fact the Canadian dollar is at its strongest level since 1978! Unlike my brilliant economist cousin, I don't know much about money stuff, but I'm willing to bet this has something to do with oil prices. Canada is a huge exporter of oil, while Japan on the other hand imports over 99% of its oil. If oil prices continue to go up, soon everyone in Alberta will be driving around in Cadillacs and wearing Rolex watches (unless of course they already are).
With many economist types predicting that oil prices may soon go as high as 80 or even 100 dollars a barrel, I guess it's good that I'm getting out of here with my yen before it becomes as worthless as my pile of Vietnamese dong. I suppose instead of wishing for some natural disaster to strike Alberta as I've been doing, I really should just be happy for the economic success of my homeland. If things continue the way they are going, maybe soon I'll be able to get a gold rimmed Caddilac of my own. That is of course assuming Alberta doesn't separate from Canada and keep all its oil money for itself.
Not only is there a kitten and a chicken, but this time there's a monkey too! While it may seem like a bit of an abusive relationship, at least it's not as bad as this.
Enjoying a 'Spicy Whopper' and fries in Shanghai.
I mentioned a few weeks ago in this post that the Forbidden City in Beijing is actually home to a small Starbucks coffee shop. While there was no McDonald's or KFC along side it yet, they weren't too hard to find outside its foreboding red walls. In fact, western fast food options in China are just as good if not better than they are in Japan. Here are some of the other chains Kate and I spotted in Beijing and Shanghai:
I always like it when animals set aside their differences and learn to be friends. It gives me hope that maybe someday humans will learn to do the same.
Last week, my wonderful parents stopped by Noheji after a grueling month long tour of Asia and I had the pleasure of showing them around the joint.
This is my third spring in Japan, but only my first time ever to see the much hyped Hirosaki Sakura Matsuri. Actually, that's technically untrue as I did in fact go once last year, but it turned out to be more of a barren branch festival.
Well I'm pleased to report however that this year the festival actually lived up to the hype, and the park was really quite impressive looking. While I'm glad to have finally seen the trees in full bloom, I'm not sure if it was worth the cost to my health. Ever since last weekend my throat has been killing me, likely the result of some kind of cherry blossom allergy I never knew I had. Unfortunately, Noheji High School is surrounded in cherry trees as well so it looks like I'm going to have to endure this torture for some time to come.
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