A Note on Translation

I’ve found that, here in Japan among my ALT friends, “finding yourself” is a reoccurring theme. I’m not sure how much closer I am to that goal, but I’ve already learned so much in the 6 months I’ve been here. I’ve also learned a lot from what others have figured out in their time here. Probably the biggest lesson learned so far is how to live in the now. I realize this is a bit of a cliché, but I find it a rather rare trait. So many people are too pre-occupied with tomorrow and yesterday, they are missing things happening right in front of them. I know I’m guilty of this, regularly.  Continue reading

In the Corridor of a Vietnamese Train

Photo cred: Becky Sibson

I love sharing my odd travel stories, so I’ve got another one for you. It takes place in the span of 20 seconds. I hope I can make this longer than three sentences. You’re already laughing because if you’re here, you know just how verbose I can get. With that, I’ll begin.

Preface: before this stroll down the corridor, I had been sitting comfortably in an empty cabin with my travel mates Becky, Sam, Dana, and Paul as our train rocks merrily along. We were probably playing poker and betting with the bag of lychees we’d earlier randomly received. The train had come to a halt at it’s next station and new passengers were boarding. We were about 4 hours from our destination.  Continue reading

A Broken Train and a Lost Taxi

Photo cred: Juliana Mills

Getting to Koyasan takes about 2 hours from Osaka main. First you need to get to Namba station, then you have to transfer to the special Koyasan line that rattles along for about an hour through some very sleepy, remote towns. As if that wasn’t enough, once arriving at the final stop of the train, you get to take a nearly vertical trolley up the side of a mountain. Admittedly, it’s a beautiful trip through the rural mountains of Kansai, but if traveling by night, there isn’t much to see.

After a tiring day exploring Koyasan, we are working our way back to Osaka well past nightfall on one of the last trains down from the mountain. To pass the time, the topic of scary movies has come up and we are sharing the plots of our favorite horror flicks. Mind you, I’m fearless when it comes to extreme sports, but I’ll cry if forced to watch a scary movie of any calibre. Just as everyone is getting all worked up over Paranormal Activity, we realize the train has stopped. That’s when the fun begins.  Continue reading

7 Days in Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto for Cheap

A good friend of mine from America, Julie, was scheduled to visit me here in Japan at the start of my summer vacation. As much as I’m sure she would love hanging out with me here in Koga for 18 days, I decided to save that for another visit. So, in an effort to make the best of her time here and I decided to book a trip for her, Becky, Carolyn and I down to Kansai for 7 days. Mind you, we’re all poor, recent graduates/ current students, so we wanted to make sure we could maximize our visit for minimal funds. This is how we did the Kansai region cheaply and efficiently! Continue reading