Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold weather, among other things...'s cold! Okay,'s like, Georgia in the winter cold. But compared to this summer we're all freezing. It's in the 50s in the day and probably low 40s at night. Al and I actually just now turned on our heater because it stays pretty warm in our apartment (so far). The sun is still really hot and it streams into the house in the mornings and kept things nice and toasty. But now the heater definitely stays on. Winter. Bah. I guess it's nothing compared to the giant snowstorm WV just got...neener. It's actually funny because Al and I were talking and we're like "it's kind of early for a snowstorm isn't it?" and then we realized that it's 3 weeks until Christmas. The trees still being half green and the not-too-wintry temperatures have me feeling like it's October or something.

So my mom came to visit about a month ago. She had a pretty good time, I think. She got on all the right buses and trains and everything. I think she liked some of the food. She didn't care for udon but I think she liked ramen and yakiniku pretty well. We did all the touristy things...temples, shotongai, Ritsurin and even went to Hiroshima. Now that's an interesting place to visit. It was seriously haunting to see that one building that was left standing after the atomic bomb blast. The museum was only 50 cents to go through and we were in there for over 2 hours. It was relatively unbiased, which I found surprising. Even though I maintain they started it first with Pearl Harbor it was still horrifying to see the damage that bomb caused. So many people died and all the effects from radiation is just nuts. You kind of need time to decompress after you get through the museum. 

So the one thing we're looking forward to is Thailand! We booked our trip a few months ago and are headed there December 23 until January 5. Al, Christa and I are flying into Bangkok on the 23rd, staying the night (we don't arrive there until 1:10 in the morning) and catching a 7:30am flight to Udon Thani, Thailand right on the border of Laos. Us three are meeting two friends, Jared and Rachel in Udon Thani then we're all crossing the Mekong River into Laos together. We're taking a bus to Vang Vieng, Laos and staying there until December 27. Vang Vieng is a very small river town but it's famous for  backpackers. You rent tubes (like the giant tractor tire innertubes) and there is a start point on the river and about it's about a 2km floating trek to the end point. Along the river are restaurants and bars and music and all kinds of mad fun. I'm not talking about something's a bunch of shacks full of foreigners dancing to loud Western music. They locals throw out ropes in the river and if you feel like stopping, grab one and they'll pull you in. This is how I will be spending Christmas Day 2010. Here is a picture I found online of Vang Vieng and the river:

A little nicer than what we're expecting, I think, but it's a pretty picture all the same =D  After Laos, Al and I are catching a plane from Udon Thani to Phuket, Thailand and Christa, Jared and Rachel are going their own ways. Christa is trying to get to Cambodia I think. Once in Phuket, we'll spend the night there then catch the ferry the next day to Phi Phi, a very small island off the coast of Phuket. We're staying in a beach hut there until January 3. It's going to be complete Heaven and we all send daily texts to one another counting down the days. Our job gets pretty monotonous and boring and we definitely need a long vacation. It's now 2 weeks until we leave. Picture below is the view from our hut. The island in the background is Phi Phi Ley, an uninhabited, unspoiled, (claimed as one of the world's most beautiful places) island where we can go everyday if we want and also where they filmed the Leo DiCaprio movie "The Beach".

Needless to say, we're pretty excited. Thailand, Phi Phi specifically, has always been on my "Top 10" places to visit and to be able to cross one of those off is exhilarating.

Nothing too new on the job front. Al and I are most likely going to be coming home to the USA in April for a few months. Our tentative plan is to move to Okayama (the next big big train stop from us now, but across the bridge onto the mainland). We're going to stay in Japan for 1 more year (about 95% on that) because the money is so good here. We both really like Okayama and it's so much bigger and way more people and we have access to the Shinkansen (the bullet train), which is great. So once our contract is finished here in April, we'll head home for a few months and then head back to Japan in late June or early July. Preferably early July as I would like to spend a July 4th in America for once. So we'll see. Any changes to be made will be put on here!


Monday, September 27, 2010


The weather is cooling down! I've now worn a pair of jeans three times! THREE! I have not put on any type of pants, let alone thick, hot jeans since June...only skirts, shorts and dresses for almost three months but it's actually cooled down enough in the past two weeks or so to wear jeans. The bad part about the cooler weather (and when I mean cooler, I mean it's hovering around 75) is that I'm getting paler. Nobody looks good in the winter and tanning beds don't exist here. I'm hoping that the sun is still strong enough for me to be able to lie outside a few more times and get some mini sunburns or something to hold me over another month or so. Bah.

We went to a baseball game yesterday! Baseball is HUGE in Japan. I think baseball is one of the most boring sports ever but it was fun nonetheless. One of the office workers in Ota (one of my schools) and her husband had tickets so they took Al and I and Katie and Lisa. In America, the 7th inning stretch everyone stands up and sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". In Japan, everyone blows up and lets go of these giant balloons that strongly resemble sperm after a traditional song that is played in the stadium.

Now, the game we went to was very empty (they had just won the league championship the night before so nobody came to our game) so letting the balloons go was cool but somewhat underwhelming. Now, if you go to Osaka to a Hanshin Tigers game (they are huge like the Yankees or something) there are something like over 50,000 releasing these balloons at the same time so it's like one giant balloon ejaculation.

We plan on trying to make it to one of those games next year...hopefully. Tickets are near impossible to get.

That's all for tonight...Al is whining for me to go to sleep :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Atarashi Louis!

Just thought I'd post that I added a new addition to my LV family. I got this gem at a used shop (aka Heaven) for $900 LESS than what it retails for. They still sell the same bag in stores, albeit a slightly updated version, but it's still the same bag nonetheless. It's such a good, big size but the condition isn't even close to being new. The leather has already oxidized into the caramely brown it is now but other than that it shows very little signs of wear. I'm very, VERY happy with it and one of the main reasons I bought it was that Al and I both can use it. As we speak he is spending the weekend in Ehime (next prefecture over) and took it as his overnight bag because it "completes his outfit" as he says. (Do you doubt why we are together?) It usually sits in the closet in its dustbag but we do travel a lot and it's the perfect carry-on size for planes. I also just figured out how to put pictures on this thing so this will be my first one! <3 <3

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things I Love

Excuse me for my writing absence. It's been well over a month since I wrote last and I apologize. It's not because I don't want to write but because there really isn't much new to write about. It's a lot of the same day-to-day things that never change going on over here. Still working for the weekends and that's about it. I also like being alone when I write and (darling, you know I love you) Al is always around so I don't get much time to just sit down with my thoughts and bust out an entry.

I thought I'd put together some things I love and some things I hate (next post) about Japan. And I actually can't even say that I hate anything about this place...there are simply certain things that are terribly inconvenient that make my life more difficult. First, things I love:

1. The train. I absolutely love the idea of a train system. America needs one nationwide, though I don't think it would work out so well. I love being able to walk down the street to the station and hop a train nearly anywhere. It's also really relaxing, though in an odd way because it's loud and bumpy but there is something calming about turning on my iPod and letting someone else take me where I need to be.

2. My bike. The last time I rode a bicycle before coming to Japan was sometime circa 1999. I had always felt a little silly on one, even when it was just my family and I on camping trips. But now that I have a cute purple cruiser I've wondered why I never enjoyed it before. I can get to the market and put my groceries in my basket, go for a ride to the park or simply just escape the smallness of my apartment for a while. Though, if I really think about it, that's (unfortunately) not really an American lifestyle. One can't fit the vast amount of groceries bought from a Super Wal-Mart in a bike basket.

3. Celebrity status. Okay, not really celebrity, but closer than I'll ever get to Hollywood. Being in the smallest prefecture in Japan, the locals don't see many foreigners. I live in a very rural area. (Think rice paddies and shrines, not Tokyo) Al and I get stared at...a lot. I really love it though, makes me feel like we're Angelina and Brad or something. Sometimes it does make me want to roll my eyes because people are NOT bashful about the staring. I mean I'm standing on the train platform and someone sitting on the train very blatently leans to the window and strains their neck to just gape at me. I've also gotten a lot of free stuff too. A lady in the park selling handpainted postcards called me Britney Spears, played with my hair and gave me one of the postcards. (Many compliments on the hair. They think it's my natural color. I let them think that.) I also seem to get free dessert of some kind every time I go to my favorite Indian restaurant in Marugame. I've also been told that I'm a hot commodity when it comes to companies wanting teachers because I have the "ideal blonde hair and blue eyes". Sweet. Ah, the life of a blonde in a black haired country.

3. Vending machines. They are everywhere. It's a way of life in Japan and if you don't believe me google something along the lines of "Japan vending machines" and you will get article upon article about them and how Japan and vending machines go together like PB&J. But you can't get food in them ooooh no. (Besides the few rice machines scattered here and there and the one that sells vibrators down the street from my house) It's all drinks and they are on every corner. At least a few every single block, down cramped alleyways, in people's yards, and rows and rows of them in front of large places like department stores and train stations. The best thing to get out of one is...

4. Milk Tea. One of my favorite things I've discovered about Japan is this delicious, sweet tea drink that comes hot in the winter and cold in the summer. I'm from the south dude we don't put milk in our tea but I've discovered the amazingness of it and I'm already thinking about how I'm going to make some once I get back to the States. I guess it's pretty simple...brew a cup of a tea and put milk and sugar in it. WHAM BAM the best thing ever. I'm completely addicted and I can't seem to be able to pass a vending machine without getting one.

5. All the Louis Vuitton. See previous post.

6. Shopping. The Japanese people thrive on shopping whether they can afford to or not, so even here on my little island the shopping is abundant. Anywhere I go I can buy clothes...or anything really. There are little shops all over the place and malls and department stores and machis the list goes on and on.

Now onto the things I really dislike...

Things That Inconvenience My Life

Now onto the things I really dislike. Mostly a list of complaints. There are a lot of things in Japan that are so completely ridiculous that the foreigners have an acronym for the question we ask so often: "Why?" B.I.J. or Because It's Japan. That is the only reason we have for the nonsensical things we run across.

1. ATMs. Japan is mainly a cash-driven country. I guess a few places will take a credit card if they absolutely have to, but I dont' think I've ever seen anyone use such a thing since I've been here. But now we get to the fun part...the ATMs close at night. That's right, you heard me. There is no such thing as one staying open past 7pm, let alone 24 hours. If you need money at 9:30 at night you can forget it. You won't get any until the next morning. It's something I've had to learn to do...make sure I have enough cash on me at all times.

2. No trash cans. With the superfluous vending machines come the scarce trash cans. They seem to all have a specific dwelling such as bathrooms, train stations and McDonalds and rarely will you find them anywhere else. On the street? N-O. In Japan you are expected to take your trash home with you and throw it away in your own house. Um, okay. Even at the beach...campgrounds...forget it.

3. Laundry. I have a miniscule washing mashine outside on my porch and no dryer. But no one in Japan has a dryer. Everyone hangs their clothes outside and I really hate it. It takes forever to do laundry because I don't have much real estate space outside so I can have maybe two loads hanging out there at a time. I have to wait hours for it to dry then do more. I'm not even sure how it works in the the clothes just freeze?

4. Shoes on/off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. I don't see the point of having cute shoes in Japan because I have to take them off wherever I go. When I go to work I have to take them off and so I'm barefoot the rest of the day. Everyone is. Or everyone has special indoor slippers that go on the second the shoes come off. Going to a house party? Forget wearing those cute pumps you just got that perfectly complete your outfit because you have to take them off at the door and no one will ever see them. I found it quite comforting when I first arrived here running around work in my slippers but now it's become one of those things that is way more of a nuisance than a comfort.

5. Drivers. I've already posted how much I hate Japanese drivers and it hasn't changed unless it's just gotten worse. They are always in my way, going too slow, or taking up both lanes...or all three at the same time, which happens often.

6. Food going bad quickly. I guess this a good and bad thing. My fruits and vegetables start going bad incredibly fast and I've been told it's because they aren't full of preservatives like in the US. Fair enough. But when I bring bananas home I have to eat them the next day basically or else they will be too ripe by the second. Occassionally I can get maybe 2 1/2 days out of my fruit but that's pushing it. Bread is the same way...5 or 6 days out of it maybe? Not much more than that. A lot of the food actually has these little fresh packet things inside the packaging so as to keep the food from going bad even quicker. I guess a little packet of something is better than preservatives loaded into whatever I'm eating.

I'm sure I'll be adding more of these love/hate things as I live here longer...stay tuned...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Louis Vuitton

If you know me well enough you know how much I ADORE Louis Vuitton. I have had two small clutches to call my own and I'm very proud of it. I don't like LV because it's "popular" (if you can even call it that) or because everyone in the world once a piece of it. I like it because I like it and that's all there is to it. I can appreciate the immaculate quality (which is why I refuse to buy fake...which is tacky anyway) and I'm always anxious to see the new collections they come out with.

The reason for this post is to say that Japan has been making me one happy girl because there is LV Everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. The Japanese have a very high standard for quality and they love designer everything here. Just about everyone seems to have something or other LV and it's great. The area where I live is also swamped with consignment (secondhand) shops. Can you see where I'm going with this? Okay...while in Japan I can significantly increase my Louis Vuitton collection at a FRACTION of the price of paying retail because of all the secondhand stores around here. There are these big chain stores called Hard Off that are always guaranteed to be chock-full of designer anything all behind glass cases. There are also the smaller consignment boutiques just about everywhere you look and all these places have LV coming out their ears. I can get $1,800 bags for $300 and $400...sometimes cheaper but the better the deal the more used the bags are. I saw a giant Keepall 60 (a big duffle bag) that probably goes for about $1,300 for $250. Granted, it was very, very, very used...the leather was incredibly dark but it was still in good working condition. If it's still there in a few paychecks I was thinking about getting it. My goal before leaving Japan is to aquire maybe three or four used bags and maybe, just maybe, for a going away present for myself I'll walk into the store in Takamatsu and buy something brand new.

Just a side note...I guess when you resell your used LV (or any other designer items) to places like Hard Off they give you crap for it. An office worker at one of my schools told me she used to have tons of LV but had to sell it to consignment. She said she had about $10,000 worth of it and they gave her under $2,000. Now I'm not sure how consignment works from the selling end but that sounds terrible to me...maybe it's normal...I really don't know.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sorry Y'all

Sooooo I haven't written in a while! I really do apologize but it's not from being too busy to write...quite the opposite...I just feel I haven't had enough interesting things going on to write about. But I'm going to try to blog about even the little things to keep everyone informed on the life here.

Lately, it's been a lot of the same. Working for the weekends, basically. Classes are going well...I can see improvement in some of my students which just warms my little heart. A lot of them are still pretty dumb and I see no hope in sight.

Weekends are AWESOME. It's been a long time since I've had endless things to do and people to see and meet. Any weekend there is something going on in one city or another. Someone is always having a huge party or a lazy castle day where we just go lay on the grounds of the Marugame castle and do nothing all day but eat and chill. Always a get together of some sort and I'm making some friends this way which is nice. I've met two new girls, Vivian and Isabel (from Quebec and England, respectively) and I adore them. Vivien is so nice and sweet and Al loves her because they can speak French to one another and Isabel has that wicked awesome British accent so she can make even the most boring topics sound absoultely riveting. They both are extrememly fun to be around but it sucks because they won't be around for as long as Al and I plan on staying. Boo.

Al has met some other guys that he's getting closer with so things are always improving. Every person we meet is from somewhere awesome or has an interesting story. At one of the castle days we had maybe 20 people there representing like 5 or 6 countries or something. This may sound lame to some people that I'm getting excited over something like that but being from WV it basically comes down to...I don't get out much. Sure I lived in Canada but that's not too cultural.

Boring topic #1: I have discovered my favorite type of Ramen: Tonkatsu. It's ama-za-zing. If you want to wikipedia it and find out what it really is, go ahead, but it sounds disgusting. It is so delish I could eat it daily.

Not-so-boring topic #2: Japan is noted for the cockroach infestation of their country, I guess. Since the day we arrived everyone has told us about how cockroaches are in every single household regardless of the luxury or cleanliness of the place. I've been crossing my fingers for a month but I kept hearing, "Oooooh you wait, they're coming". It happened two nights ago. I closed the lid of the trash can and that monster thing came running out from under it and I screamed bloody murder and had Al get the can of spray and kill it. I had a full on panic attack. I guess he is the start of many but I've found out how to ask for the proper cockroach killer whatever stuff at the store so I will be getting some of that ASAP.

Interesting (to me) topic #3: WE GET PAID TUESDAY!!!!!!! Our first paycheck has finally arrived and I could cry from happiness. We've been barely scraping by since we got here but we're finally getting paid. My first purchase will be an awesome YSL lipstick that I've been dying to get and a bicycle. Al is going to be getting a driver so he can go to the driving range and hit golf balls. I'm getting 290,000 yen and Al is getting 286,000 yen. *happy scream*

My mom sent me some packages and in one of them was two giant bottles of Hidden Valley. I am now going to make some chicken just so I can dip it in it and die from the deliciousness that is ranch dressing. Good night.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

American stuff!!

I've found a few stores around that sell imported goods from North America. It's heavenly. One store in the mall here (Aeon) is called Kaldi Coffee Farm and it has a lot of imported wine and food. It's all usually pretty expensive but totally worth it, generally. I bought three boxes of Kraft box Mac n Cheese at $3 a pop, two cans of root beer for only $1 each, Skippy peanut butter for $4, a bottle of Bertolli alfredo sauce for $7 and Al a pack of Big Red gum for $2. A few other things but I don't really remember...they sell Old El Paso taco kits which is really nice because Mexican food is literally non-existant here. I've also found a few places that sell cleaners like Scrubbing Bubbles, Downy, Chlorox and Shout. Obviously they sell these things in Japan but I can't read the labels so I never know what to buy. Finding these things was a Godsend and it's amazing the little things that make me ridiculously happy =)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Stop lights here are the longest on the face of the planet.

Japanese drivers are the worst in the history of life.

It takes, on average, at least 30 minutes to drive 10 kilometers (about 6 miles).

End of story.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Karaoke, Driving and Pastry Shops

Well, I've survived driving in Japan. It's not as hard driving on the opposite side of everything as one might imagine. I'm quite okay if I'm on a highway or a road with a dividing line. I don't really feel the need to have to think too much about which lane I should be in. But once I get on the back residential roads where there are no dividing lines forget it, I will always be on the right-hand side, guaranteed. A lot of people have tried to pull into that road and nearly ran into me because I'm not on the correct side...oops :) If you (person reading this blog) has seen my facebook pictures you have seen the little white midget car that was going to be ours. But it's not bahahahaha!!!! Thank God. We actually are now the proud "owners" of a Daihatsu Cuore...a 2000 I believe. It's the cutest little car and it half reminds me of a Mini Cooper. Everyone says we have the nicest car at GEM School which is nice thought because it IS pretty nice I find. The cars around here are sooooo small. The other day I was driving alone and actually laughed out loud at the thought of my dad's giant truck trying to get around here. The roads are narrow and the parking spaces are miniscule. I had a nice chuckle. Actually, the cars themselves are a strange breed. There are definitely a lot of names and makes that I've never seen before like the Toyota Noah minivan, for example. Also, a lot of the Lexus cars I've seen don't have the "Lexus" symbol on them. It's the exact Lexus vehicle but with a Toyota symbol on it because Toyota owns Lexus.

So it's become clear that the only fast food that is around Japan (Or at least just around Kagawa) is McDonald's. No BK, no Taco Bell, no Wendy's...McDonald's only. So normally I'd think "Wow! Amazing! I'm going to lose so much weight from not having fast food around to eat!" WRONG. In place of the BKs and Taco Bells are the most delicious pastry shops in the entire world. Just bakery after bakery with scrumptious, evil smells wafting through the air to lure in the passerbys. My favorite one is in the Shotengai in Takamatsu. I make a point to stop every time I'm in there to buy a loaf of bread and some sort of sweet. My favorite thing is a round shaped sweet bread with a dip/hole thing in the middle. In that middle dip is cream cheese, custard and strawberries and blueberries. Delish. I also just discovered that there is one of these destructive pastry shops ON MY BLOCK. Bad, bad, bad.

We went Karaokeing!!! Karaoke isn't that big of a deal in the USA but considering this is the land where it was founded it's amazing and sooo much fun. This isn't like Karaoke back home where you pick a song from a book, tell the karaoke guy, get two mikes that are hooked up to an amp and read off of a tv screen. When you get to the Karaoke bar/club wherever you go they give you a little portable screen that you take to your table to pick songs from. You pick whatever, whenever and then it will come up on the screens in the order they were picked by you or the other people around who have the little screens. The place I went to was one big room but I guess most of them are a bunch of separate cubicles that you and a group of people go into and sing. Al and I had a very nice duet of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and Al did a stellar redition of Kanye's "Run This Town"...rapping and all. I have a video. He won't let me put it on Youtube.

Our phone number here at the house is 1-304-581-4573. Anyone can call, it's a WV phone number just watch the hours that you call since we're 13 hours ahead.


Thursday, May 6, 2010


Scratch what I said about the air condtioner. It's on and on full blast. It got hot quickly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just some randoms

It's now in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, just past midnight actually, and it's the first night that we've had to keep our balcony door open because it's too hot in the apartment. It wasn't unbearably hot today, just in the 70s, but the sun is baking the building I guess so it's definitely too hot to sleep. We have an air conditioner! YESSSSSS. FINALLY!!! I've missed having an air conditioner the past few years in Canada. We haven't turned it on or anything, the night air will suffice for the next month or so I think. I guess this part of Japan has oppressive heat and humidity in the summer months...awesome. June is, what I hear, the rainy season, so that's not going to be fun walking/biking in to and from work/the train station/the grocery store. It's really peaceful up here on the fourth floor looking out over our little town at night. I can barely hear the cars on the highway over by the mountains, it's nice.

The past few days Al and I have been staying in Saijo with Bret and Angelina at their place. They live a good two or three hours driving away and about an hour and a half by train so our train tickets were ¥5,800 (like $60) per person each way. Expensive trip but we had so much fun and met a lot of new people. I met a Japanese girl, Remi, who lives in a town close to Saijo called Niihama, Derry from Ireland, TJ and Dave from Florida, a few other Canadians, a dude from New Jersey...and a few more than I don't remember names or where they're from. There is a beautiful wide, shallow river running through the town and people go and set up tents and picnic stuff on the bank and just hang out all day and night. I'm really glad we spent the money and went.

Japan Facts of the day:

Health insurance is amazing here. The taxes are very low and yet they have universal health care...someone told me they can provide such good care to the people because the country has little or no national debt whatsoever. Amazing. When we went to sign up for our Gaijin Cards (next topic) we also signed up for our health insurance cards and Al asked when our insurance will go into effect. The response? "As soon as you landed in Japan!" As soon as a foreigner lands in America with or without a visa he's screwed health insurance wise. Makes me feel very lucky to be living here.

Gaijin...definition is "outside person". It's what the Japanese call us white folk. I guess they can use it for all foreigners but from what I know/read/heard it's generally just the westerners they use it for. There is also a thing called the "gaijin smash". Urban Dictionary defines it best: Gaijin Smash: 1. A technique used by foreigners, or gaijin, in Japan in order to impose their will on the Japanese 2. To art of getting away with douchebaggery in Japan and being an ignorant obnoxious foreigner by simply pulling a gaijin smash on their Japanese asses. Example: "I was supposed to give up my priority seat on the train to that old bag but I totally gaijin smashed her ass and acted like I didn't know what the fuck she was bitching at me about". (Thank you Urban Dictionary for being such a help) As of right now I really don't know what's going on most of the time so I look all confused all the time, but it is a pretty effective technique of getting things done. I've seen it in action.

Beds: So I guess Al and I are pretty lucky to even have one in our apartment. Most, or all of the rest maybe, of the teachers don't even have one. Generally the Japanese people sleep on the floor. Imagine that "mattress" on a futon. The have that thing on the floor...that's it. Since we took Andrew and Christa's old apartment we have their bed that I guess they had to fight to get in the first place. I guess the modern Japenese people have beds but most of them sleep on the floor. Sounds wickedly uncomfortable.

Highways: So the highway (or interstate-like thing) here you have to pay to drive on. It's always depending on how far you drive as to how much it is...kind of like one giant toll road all over the country. So if one needs to get somewhere in a hurry instead of taking the normal route through town you're going to be paying for it. I think to take it to the next town it's like 6 bucks or something. It's not very crowded ;)

That's all I have for today...BTW I miss my cat. I'm dying without him.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monkeys on Shodoshima

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days, to be honest I've only done a few interesting things in like a week to even write about.

Sunday Al, Christa, Andrew, Bret, Angelina (two new friends) and I took a ferry to a nearby island to a town called Shodoshima to play with the wild monkeys they have on the island. The mountain they live on is pretty much THEIR mountain and they just built things around it so people could come play with them. They're so tame they just climbed all over us. I haven't exactly figured out how to put pictures on this blog yet so until then you'll have to see all the monkey pictures on Facebook! After the monkey mountain we went to a veeery nice onsen on the island. It wasn't as big but it was sitting on the side of a mountain looking over the ocean. If you can imagine, the view from the outside hot tubs was spectacular.

Monday Christa, Angelina and I went across Shikoku to the Naruto Whirlpools. It's supposed to be this huge whirlpool in the ocean and the pictures are awesome and all that. Whatever. It didn't do anything! We were pretty disappointed.

Japan fact: We have to take our shoes off everywhere. It's kind of annoying but everyone wears slippers at work. It's def comfy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Onsen Day

I'm obviously not going to be writing every single day, but I'm hoping to be doing enough interesting things to at least post a few times a week. Right now I'm all excited about everything so will probably be posting more often. Today was JOUR DEUX of work. We only work in the evenings during the week (usually 3-9 or so) because the children we teach are coming to these classes after they get out of school, so we have all morning and some afternoon to do things or get things done. Andrew and Christa have been staying with us the past few nights because they are moving and are currently kind of homeless. (Actually they live with our boss, Miyuki, like two hours away or something crazy so they just crash here) This morning we all woke up around 9 and got ready and went to a place called an Onsen. It's AMAZING. It's basically a spa but it's only hot tubs. There are big ones, small ones, deep ones, cold ones, still or bubbly ones, outside ones, ones that send shockwaves through the's great. It's apparently THE past time of the Japanese people. I know most Americans would be totally freaked by this but Onsens are a naked past time. You pay like 5 bucks, go in, get naked, shower and get clean, then go wander about the place soaking in the hot tubs of your choice. The Japanese people are ridiculously clean. Some of the older ones will sit there for like an hour scrubbing every inch of their bodies before even going near the hot tubs. Most of the Onsens are not coed. I think the nearest one to here is like two hours away. Al and Andrew go in one door and Christa and I go through another. In the sauna room there is a huge barrel of some kind of salt and you rub it all over yourself then rinse. My skin is STILL unbelievably soft right now. I plan on being a frequent visitor to the Onsens. Just a side note: the Japanese women have some huge bushes.

Just a few quick things...gas is about $5 a gallon here...usually around $1.35 a liter. Doesn't matter though, we get reimbursed for all our gas so I don't care how much it is.

Also, I had my first squatter toilet experience yesterday. Awful. I nearly peed all over myself.

<3 <3 <3

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Day!

Today was our first day of work! We went to the main office in Kanon-ji for the weekly meeting this morning and we got to meet the rest of the teachers. Everyone seems so nice but a lot of them are leaving and we're taking their places or they are waiting on new teachers to get here, so we'll have to meet brand new people here in a month or so I think. We're observing for a week so after the meeting I went with Christa to the school in Kokubunji for four classes today. One is a one-on-one conversation class with one student named Keiko; a class of like 3 year olds who know nothing and just stare at me; a class of three 6 year old boys, one of whome is very disruptive but incredibly smart and another who is so dumb it's funny; and the last class is two 10 year old girls who are so smart and very eager to learn and can have conversations with me. That's just my normal Thursday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are all at the Kokubunji school, Friday I'll be in Ota and Saturday I'll be at the school in Sakaide which I love because it's just around the block from our apartment. I really can't wait to meet the rest of the kids. Al's day went pretty good with one of his classes he has two boys one who is named Harry and the other is Potter. LOVE!

I'm definitely on Japanese time. I barely had jet lag, if at all. I really don't think I could even call it jet lag since the time difference never affected me because of the time we arrived. It's more exhaustion from the long trip because I do get tired in the eveings. I think today I'm officially over it all. It's 11pm right now and I feel normal...I'm tired after a long day but just the normal tired-after-a-long-day kind of tired.

I'm actually very, very tired right now and I know this was a pretty boring read so I'll write something more interesting later because I can't really think straight :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Made it!

Here we are, living in Japan. It's been a long few days. The journey over went relatively smoothly and we actually slept most of the trip. The first leg from Pittburgh to Chicago was like any other flight but then we had a five hour wait there which was super boring. Our flight to Seoul, South Korea left at 1am Friday night/Saturday morning whatever and thirteen hours later we landed at 5am Sunday morning. Very weird. I was probably only awake maybe four or five of those thirteen hours and slept the rest so it was a pretty short trip. I never got bored or antsy but that plane SUCKED. Seatguru liiiiiied. We were on a terribly old plane with a tiny, crappy TV with an even worse movie selection. The "From Seoul" movies were like Avatar and New Moon...ones I would actually watch...while the "To Seoul" movies were God awful things like Alvin and the Chipmunks and Whip It. After another five or so hour wait in Seoul we had our last flight to Osaka, Japan where customs and immigration were a breeze. Makes me realize how uptight and mean the Canada/US immigration officers are. Once we got to Osaka we had to take a three hour bus ride to Takamatsu. We actaully got off the bus at the wrong stop thanks to the douche bus driver (his fault, honestly) and our friends that live here, Andrew and Christa, were supposed to meet us at another bus stop. Well we finally figured things out, Andrew came and got us and we had to take a taxi to the Takamatsu train station where we finally got on a fifteen minute train ride to Sakaide, our town. Remember we have four giant suitcases, a big duffle, and three carry ons dragging along with us. We finally get to our apartment at around 8:30pm Sunday night which all in all makes it around 40 hours worth of travelling. Miserable.

Today, Andrew and Christa showed us around, took us to the grocery stores and the mall. Grocery shopping is going to be either really easy or really hard. Obviously, I don't know what the labels say which makes everything terribly difficult but it's also nice because she showed me what to buy and what not to buy and if I can't read any of the labels I pretty much just go in, get what I need and get out. I liked perusing around the grocery story at home but I probably won't be doing much of that here. The food isn't bad, just a lot of the same thing. Meat, rice, noodles and maybe some vegetables here and there. I thought moving here would be a fast track to skinniness but there is junk food everywherrreee. I don't know how these people stay so thin. There are bakeries and pastry shops all over the place. Andrew said a lot of people actually end up gaining weight. Bah. I refuse.

Al thought he was some kind of man beast and beat the jet leg already but it hit him today and he's zonked out. It's only 8 at night but I'm heading to bed. I can't wait until I feel normal!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tickets booked!

Well, I guess it can't get any more official than this. Our plane tickets are booked and they are the cheap, nonrefundable kind. Cheap being $2,000 but at least we get half of that back a few days after we get settled in there. We fly out on April 16th and our route will be Pittsburgh-Chicago-Seoul-Osaka. The flying is a 30 hour trip in itself and then we have a few hours on a train to get to our town, Sakaide. All in all it takes two days to get there. We'll have about 3 1/2 days of resting before we start our training on April 22. Right now I'm just focused on getting moved home. I can't wait to just sit around WV for a month and a half. Sad? Yes. Do I care? NO. *Excitement building*

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Don't worry, we haven't left yet.

So, I figured a blog would be a good way to keep everyone updated on our Japanese life. For the time being I'll just use this post to let you know the preliminary stuff until we actually get there and I can really start writing. We are leaving Canada (!!!!) and moving back to Weston on March 1. My dad is actually flying one way here to Moncton and helping us move our two cars and a uhaul back to WV. We're putting all our furniture and boxes of stuff into storage and basically just chillin around WV until we leave for Japan. We fly out of Pittsburgh probably on April 18th and arrive in Japan on the 19th. The route we will more than likely be taking is Pittsburgh-Chicago-Tokyo-Osaka. In Osaka we take a train to Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku and someone will meet us at the train station and take us to our apartment in a town called Sakaide. Our jobs start on April 22. I was hoping to have at least a week between arriving and starting work but I guess our apartment won't be ready until the 19th so boo. I wanted time to adjust to the time change (we will be 13 hours ahead of you folks in the Eastern time zone), get used to the train system, learn to survive...the basics. But alas, that's not the case. I guess I'll just be very, very tired for my first few days of work! But come to think of it, it might work out better this way. It will force me to stay up during the day instead of wnating to sleep all day so maybe I'll get used to the local time faster? Not sure...the most time zones I've ever been away from my own is four and that's hard enough. If I think of anything I'll else I'll post some more :)