The Return (お帰り)

I distinctly remember the rain on my last day in Japan, May 13th, 2013. After a few weeks of lounging around Kris’ spacious Kamigaya apartment, it was time to finally say a sad farewell. It wasn’t all terrible; I was Malaysia bound, with 8 weeks of travel ahead of me. Nonetheless, I will never forget saying “Goodbye” for the last time at Haneda airport.

In June of 2016 I finally returned. After years of dreaming I would someday return and practicing my Japanese, I made it back.

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Final Destination: San Francisco

Well, it’s done. It’s over. My grand tour of Asia 2013 has finally come to an end. After traveling for so long, the thought of being able to acquire items and not wonder how to get rid of them in a few months time is an odd thought. Even more strange, that I sleep in just one bed, “my” bed. Stranger still, I have to get a job. Now that’s the tricky part.

A lot happened over the last three months, as I’m sure you’re aware. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you. I could never forget about you. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to play “catch-up” with you as I post some of my recent adventures. I’m happy to report that nothing devastating happend while I was wandering around these countries. So sit down, strap in, and no arms or legs outside the vehicle. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Teasers:

  • 50K in one day in the 2013 Yamathon
  • Tokyo from 440 meters up
  • Street food in Malaysia
  • A duck race on the beaches of Langkawi
  • Living it up in Singapore
  • Celebrating Buddah’s birthday
  • Hiking in for 7 days in the Himalayas
  • A new fear of leeches
  • Working with an orphanage in Pokhara
  • A Buddhist meditation and yoga retreat

Farewells

Omotesando PartyLast week began the farewells, as I said good-bye to my third-years at my other school for the last time. It took some coaxing to get them to understand that they won’t see me again, but once they got it, they were clearly really sad about it. And these guys would get a “good-bye” whether or not I was staying.

It’s been a lot harder than expected! I’m not one to cry, but I can feel my self getting emotional at the farewell parties for the students. They gave me those lovely flowers and a small board with notes from students saying how much fun they had with me. The kids were honestly the only reason I really loved teaching here. I like my schools and my company, but what made me smile, what made me love it, were the kids.    Continue reading

A Year in the Life

Ha Long BayTomorrow marks one year since I embarked on this journey. Well, it would be if it was a leap year and February 29th existed. But rather than dwelling on the mysteries of the Gregorian calendar, let me take a moment to highlight some of my favorite parts of this journey.  Continue reading

First World Problems

GinzaThe tag #firstworldproblems has been making it’s rounds for quite some time now. If you don’t know, it’s basically the issues we have living in a first world country. The silly things we get upset over. I.e. not having internet for 2 days. For me, that’s similar to torture. I love #firstworldproblems cause it kind of reminds you where your priorities lie in the scope of things. It’s also a bit of a chuckle when you think about the fact that, in all honesty, those stupid #firstworldproblems matter to us.

Of course, living in Japan (a first world country), I’ve uncovered some interesting problems that cause me grief regularly. If I sit back and think about these problems on a whole, I should probably admit they are simply #firstworldproblems.

So, here’s my list of fresh #firstworldproblems acquired in the Land of the Rising Sun.  Continue reading

Sapporo’s Famous Snow Festival (雪祭)

Side viewEvery February, Sapporo holds it’s biggest event: the Snow Festival. Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost prefecture, and is famous for two things: snow and open space. It’s no wonder artists from around the world spend a whole month working on these massive masterpieces of snow. The main stretch of the park had huge snow carvings, one of them was even a life-size replication of a Thai building. Every year the festival attracts millions from around the world to see the amazing creations, then go skiing and enjoy famous Hokkaido food.  Continue reading

My Tiny Apartment a Year Later

From the doorThis post is more for pictures, but perhaps you read my post from about a year ago when I arrived in Japan. Now, I’ve definitely collected more… things. It’s going to be hard to decide what to take and what to leave. Clearly, there is a lot to choose from. I may have bought a few too many books, also. I better start getting picky!

Despite being a really small apartment, for my brief duration here, it definitely felt like home and I made it my own. I’ll be sad to leave all it’s crafty strorage spaces and easiness to clean. It’s been fun, Leo Palace. If only you were wired for fiber-optics, we could have been better friends.

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The Moriya Half Marathon

Group poseTwo weekends ago, I dropped by Moriya to cheer on the ALTs running in the Moriya Half Marathon. Being a runner myself, it was really fun to check out the running scene in Japan and, for the first time, be on the sidelines! Just watching them made me tired, but I managed to snap a few cute pictures of the crew giving it their all. Paul ran the fastest (of the group) at 1 hour 27 minutes… wow. Second place to Greg, third to Becky the Banana. Good work guys!

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The Japanese “Conbini”

The Candy IsleEvery time I chat with friends, I always talk about the magical “conbini.” Even in Japanese, the word for convenience store is konbiniansu sutoa but they often shorten this to conbini. In typical Japanglish fashion, we native English speakers have also adopted this fashionably short word. Often, in Japanese, names of stores or restaurants are shortened to just a few syllables. For example: Starbucks becomes staabaa, McDonald’s becomes Makku, and my personal favorite, First Kitchen becomes fahkin (say it out loud).  Continue reading

A Little Mexico in Tokyo

Mexican in Japan

Props to Taiki for always remembering to take pictures!

After a long day of on-going training on Saturday, a group of us decided to stay to play in Tokyo for a little bit. We shopped in Ginza and quickly visited the Apple store, then headed to Tokyo station to try out a Mexican restaurant and celebrate Taiki’s 21st!

I’ve eaten Mexican food in Japan before and it’s all been less than impressive. I realize now that it’s a very American thing. Well, for obvious reasons, it’s Mexican too. You know what I mean.

So, my hopes were high, but my fears were that it would be same old “Japan mexican.”  Continue reading