Friday, February 27, 2009

Le Playground

Me, Simon and Dereck, we decided to go on an adventure during the weekend. We were trying to hike the 2nd highest mountain in Tohoku with snowshoes to go down snowboarding. But when we realised it was going to snow all night and day, we started reconsidering... but we quickly decided that the adventure had to go on and that we were not going to back down, even if we were told by Japanese people that it was ‘crazy’ ‘dangerous’ and ‘a really really stupid thing to do’.

So we woke up at 6, after 4 hours of sleep, and headed out west... After driving forty minutes, Dereck’s car, the Bravo, decided to stop working and we were stuck on the side of the road, with no mountain to climb in sight. We were near a train station but the next train was 90 minutes later. That’s when Dereck remembered this mountain he went to with his teachers. We walked there and we went up as high as we could, and headed out in the forest with our ‘snowshoes’. I had powder up to my waist and it was snowing like crazy. So we walked (very slowly) up a hill and rode our snowboards and decided to go up another hill and that’s when we discovered ‘The Playground’: a slope of virgin territory never discovered by mankind, which was perfect for snowboarding. It was meters of fresh, dry snow... if you looked up the word ‘perfection’ in the dictionary, it would probably feature a picture of this place. We spent the day going up and down, vowing to return as soon as possible. We came back to Sendai and partied the night away, with our head full of beautiful memories. I fell asleep (drunk as hell) with 2 bags of ice on my knees but a smile on my face...


Moi Simon et Dereck, nous voulions gravir la 2e plus haute montagne de tout le nord du Japon, en raquettes, pour la redescendre en snowboard. Nous étions mal équipés, mal préparés et ils annonçaient une grosse tempête de neige. L’amie de Dereck, une miss météo de la station locale, nous à vivement déconseillé, nous traitant même au passage de ‘fous’ et nous incitant à la plus grande prudence.

Lorsque nous nous sommes réveillés à six heures du matin pour réaliser qu’il neigeait abondamment, nous avons rempli le van et nous avons commencé à conduire vers la Mer du Japon. Après 40 minutes sur la route, l’auto de Dereck (une Bravo) à décidé de rendre l’âme au milieu de nulle part. Après avoir paniqué un peu et pensé que c’était la fin d’une bonne idée, Dereck s’est rappelé qu’il avait fait du snow dans une montagne avoisinante. Nous avons donc décidé de s’y rendre, et qu’une fois en haut, nous sortirions du sentier pour aller trouver quelque chose de plus intéressant. Après 10 minutes dans de la poudreuse jusqu’à ma taille, je commençais à trouver que c’était une mauvaise idée et que toutes les blagues que j’avais fait sur ma mort prochaine allait peut-être se concrétiser. Mais après un heure de recherche, nous avons trouvé la Terre Promise, un spot que nous avons baptisé : ‘Le Playground’. Un flanc de montagne sans arbres, avec des mètres et des mètres de neige jamais découvert auparavant. Nous avons passé la journée à descendre et remonter et descendre et remonter, c’était de toute beauté. Je remercie le ciel de m’avoir fait rencontrer ces deux mecs, qui me poussent à faire des choses que je n’oserais jamais accomplir. Ce soir là, je me suis endormi (bien saoul) avec de la glace sur mes genoux et un sourire accroché au visage…
On est loin du mont Saint-Bruno sti

Sunday, February 22, 2009


When I learned I was going in the Sendai area, I quickly got turned off by the specialty dish that they serve here: Gyutan. I mean, from Montreal, one of the world’s culinary capitals, a fried beef tongue seemed pretty awful. I would try it for sure, but I was probably going to hate it. Well look at me now, I’m actually showing up at Sendai station to have gyutan by myself. It’s like barbecued liver, with a little salty taste. It is delicious. Each and every person that will come and visit me will have to accompany me for some tasty tasty cow tongue... Most of the people that have tried it liked it... Some ginger headed people don't apparently, that's too bad! Hmm Hmmm Hmmm

The other must have is for the sweet tooth: TAYAKI. It’s a fish shaped pastry filled with either cream (ku-li-mu) or red bean paste. My favourite is the cream one. They have line-ups outside, as if I was buying smoked meat at Schwartz! Apparently, they serve it all over Japan, but the Sendai version in apparently the best (That information comes from a very friendly, but probably biased source of mine). So that will be stop number 2 for everyone who comes and visits.

So yeah: I lost weight when I got here, but have quickly gained it back

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Went to Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, here are some pictures:

Je suis allé à Hokkaido, l'île la plus septentrionale (le géographe en moi ressort) du Japon. Au menu, Sapporo Snow Festival, Snowboard à Niseko et bière, beacoup beaucoup de Sapporo! Voici les photos!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yes we (fu*king) can!!

Look, I’m not saying I dislike Barack Obama. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t think he’s the Savior, the new Jesus, the best thing since sliced bread. I mean, you’re supposed to judge a man by his actions, and he hasn’t done much yet. I wouldn’t start carving his face in Mount Rushmore just now.

But the reason he really aggravates me is this: in the past 6 months, 50% of my 1700 students (read: all the boys) have told me ‘Yes we can!’. They think it’s hilarious, I think it’s actually pretty laaaame. When you think about it, it is a pretty meaningless 3 words when it comes out of the mouth of a Japanese 9 year-old. I wondered: ‘Maybe I look like him...’ but NO.

So I’m guessing it’s a geography thing. As a geographer, it pisses me off that these kids think that Montréal, Québec, Canada is the same thing as Nashville, Tennessee, USA. On the other hand, when my soccer buddies learned I was moving to Japan, they said: ‘So you’ll hook up with a lot of Chinese girls you piiimp??’ (so so wrong). When I pointed out that Japan and China are quite different, they impressed me with the fact that the only thing they knew about Japan was the movie ‘Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift’. I just wish Obama had chosen a better slogan, something in the lines of : ‘P-Y you rock and we wish you were the king of the world’ or ‘P-Y can’. That would have been bitchin'!

I think I need a vacation, which is why I’m leaving tonight, on a boat, to Sapporo! Yeah! Snow festival, parties and snowboarding at Niseko ( are on the program....for five days.
You know you’re jealous.