A Bit of Extra Blogging

teaching-dinoJust to stretch my blogging legs (fingers), I’ve started writing a little bit for GaijinPot.com. It’s a great site filled with all kinds of resources for those wanting to live in Japan or for us already living here. My first with them went live a few days ago, please check it out! It’s all about the strange relationship I have with my students.

Originally, when arriving at my school, I was like a rock-star. Students would scramble to get a look at me, or hang out of windows to get a “Hello!” Those who had more yaruki (doing spirit) than others, would run up and try to say in broken English various points about my appearance.

Read the rest here.

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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It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Kurisumasu

Japan does Kurisumasu (Christmas) very similarly to the west. Most importantly, they decorate for it. Of course, houses won’t put up Christmas lights (typically) but most major shopping/sightseeing areas put up special decorations.

All the shops are decorated and sell special Christmas merchandise, to boot. If you can imagine the fine, adorable quality of Japanese stuff, it’s like a Christmas shop-a-holic’s heaven.

All over Tokyo, special “illumination festivals” are held during December, and Disney goes all out, too. I’ve taken it upon myself to personally find all of them in the greater Tokyo area. Continue reading

Lone Explorer

In an effort for a change of pace and lone exploring, I decided to hop in my car on Sunday and head up to Gunma prefecture to see what’s up. My original goal was to explore Oze National Park, which spans 4 prefectures and is famous for sporting some fantastic fall colors. Earlier in the week, I checked to see what was going on in Oze and there were already reports of snowfall. But, never deterred, I decided to go anyways. Needless to say, both roads up into the mountains were already closed for the season. Not to mention, it seemed a winter storm was on the horizon, bringing in little snow flurries.  Continue reading

The Journey

20120629-144021.jpgIn reference to my post about summer from last week, I’ve done even more soul searching. More growing, more changing. It’s amazing how quickly things change, how much I learn every day.

Up until very recently, I was quite paranoid. You see, I have this problem where I try to please everyone. So, naturally, I was worrying a lot about what people were saying about me and it was causing a lot of heartache. In a culture where it is more polite to avoid telling someone directly what you think of them, this was causing a lot of concern. I felt like everyone was talking about me all the time.

And then, like lightening, my paradigm shifted.

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Sky Towns and Ice Cream Cake

Yes, ice cream cake.

Friday was Kris’ birthday, so I kidnapped Becky in the middle of the night to help him celebrate this weekend. We brought an ice cream cake. It was a Baskin Robbins mocha ice cream cake. Need I say more. I mean, I’m pretty sure he liked it, but I loved it! It’s the little things in life, right? Ice cream cake love aside, it was a fun-filled weekend. Continue reading

Interactive Forum

The whole of Ibaraki has begun practicing for what is known as the Interactive Forum competition. It’s basically 3 minutes of English conversation between 2 or 3 Japanese students. Every day at lunch, and for one hour after school, we practice. I’ve been promised compensatory time-off, but I’ll let you know when that actually happens. So far, no luck. Continue reading

A Festival, a Birthday, and a Tiny, Giant Buddah

By Kris Brackin

In celebration of the birthday of another fellow ALT, a handful of us decided to meet in Kamagaya for the weekend. Our top priority was the festival in Asakusa, the Sanja Matsuri. It’s generally considered one of the largest festivals in Tokyo and attracts around 2 million locals and tourists over the course of 3 days. It’s a weekend long Shinto festival, where three portable shrines are paraded around Asakusa. While those bad-boys are out and about, there is a large array of traditional Japanese music and dance to enjoy. We spent Saturday there on request of Joey for her birthday! Continue reading