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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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

Flu Battlezone

All who come near, be warned.

All who come near, be warned.

Every year in the states my friends, family, etc. get flu shots. Every year, I turn up my flu-resilient nose at them and refuse shots or even daily cautions. I’m a snob about growing up on orange juice and having the immune system of an alligator (google it). Typical Floridian, the flu isn’t a huge deal for us as we have warm weather and enough vitamin C to cure scurvy and have enough left over to make juice.

And then I experienced flu season in Japan.  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

Just One of Those Days

DrivingYesterday, a group of friends and I decided to take a trip two hours north to our nearest ski slope, Hunter Mountain. As we drove, we noticed bad weather was moving in, but decided to give it a try regardless. Up in the mountain pass, my little car wasn’t cutting it, so we took a cab the rest of the way. This should have been our first sign.

We had an awesome time skiing, despite the bad visibility and somewhat icy slopes. Around lunchtime we saw friends posting pictures of our home towns further south covered in snow. Our second sign.  Continue reading

Couch Surfing with Friends

Stupid me forgot to take a picture of our hosts. So here is a picture of cake!

Stupid me forgot to take a picture of our hosts. So here is a picture of cake!

When trying to book hostels for Christmas in Hokkaido, we ran into a glaring problem: everything in our price-range was booked. After much panicking and researching 24-hour McDonald’s, Carolyn and I decided to give couchsurfing.org a try.

For those who don’t know, you basically get to crash on the couch of someone you don’t know on the good faith that their recommendations are truthful. It’s actually a very well organized, thorough site. So far, everyone we’ve met through there has been nothing shy of amazing.  Continue reading

Bucket List Accomplishments

The Slopes of TeineOver my two-week break, I managed to tick two items off my bucket list:

[x] Skiing/Snowboarding in Hokkaido
[x] See the hotel from Lost in Translation

These have been on that list since long before arriving here. Granted, it’s an impressively long list that is always getting added to, but I’m glad to have at least made somewhat of a dent in it!

Here’s a few pictures from those accomplishments!  Continue reading

Kurisumasu 4 – German Town

写真 H.24-12-16 18 34 36Sunday, after an long night of partying, we dragged ourselves out of the house just in time for the sun to set and the illuminations in German Town to switch on.

This was probably the biggest illumination display I’ve seen outside of Disney World’s Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. In someways, it was better because it didn’t look like lights we’re just thrown willy-nilly over everything. The ground was blanketed in a mural of lights showing rainbows, hot air balloons, turtles, octopi… you know, the usual.  Continue reading

Kurisumasu 2

Tokyu PlazaLast night, while shopping for survival clothes (a.k.a. sweaters for my Florida wardrobe) I got to see Harajuku officially all lit up for Christmas. The top of Tokyu Plaza, at my favorite Starbucks in Tokyo, is a huge Disney-themed light display out on the deck! It’s an amazing addition to an already amazing location! There were little disney characters everywhere too, so I hunted for Stitch, the Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan. (Success)  Continue reading