Around the Tokyo area, Ramblings

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

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Around the Tokyo area

Japan + Disney Stuff = Love

These are all different hats modeled by Kris

I grew up with Disney world in my backyard and I went nearly every weekend for the first 9 years of my life. I’m serious. Thanks to being raised by a family in the media business, I enjoyed so many theme parks by the time I was 9, I actually didn’t want to go to Disney. Nowadays, of course, I’m a die-hard fan who can’t get enough Disney.

That said, if there is one thing that stands out to me as insanely different from the American Disney’s, it’s the merchandise.  Continue reading

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Ramblings

Mixing it up

So in an effort to keep myself motivated, I’m changing the pace of this blog. You can still look forward to my verbose “insights on Japan.” But from here on out, the plan is to write more often, write shorter posts, and show more. You’re also going to get to know me a lot better.

Did you know:

  • I’m a fitness enthusiast. Not to be mistaken for someone who is actually fit. I just enjoy learning about fitness and trying new workouts.
  • I’m really into photography and art. You may have guessed this already, but I’m going to let it show more than ever.
  • I have an inner fat-kid. I’m a foodie who loves sweets. Be prepared to hear about amazing food/recipe discoveries.

So, it’s going to turn into more of a “daily-life” blog, with some longer posts about culture and the like sprinkled around.

This is also an attempt to motivate myself to look for inspiration and positives in my daily routine. Hopefully you enjoy some of my findings as well!

 Yoroshiku!

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Around Koga

Japanese Fall Festivals

Between late September and mid-November, at schools all over Japan, Culture Festivals are held. Each school has their own spin on festivals, some doing bazaars, others (like mine) doing chorus contests.

At one school, the agenda was all singing, with a morning of competition (I’ll explain that in a minute) and the afternoon as an open mic sort of thing. Students put together dance routines, preformed as bands, or just did abstract performances. It was entertaining to say the least. The last number, was a band comprised entirely of teachers, with the head English teacher as singer. Naturally, he sang all 80’s rock music.  Continue reading

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Around the Tokyo area

Climbing Mt. Fuji (富士山)

From the top of Fuji looking down

Before coming to Japan, I compiled a list aptly named “Top Things to do in Japan.” As you can imagine, this included mundane things (drink bubble tea), exciting things (visit Hokkaido), and adventurous things (climb Mt. Fuji). Someday, the plan is to show you the list in detail. Until then, just know that I am working checking off every last thing. Back in July, I knocked the ominous “climb Mt. Fuji” off the list.

Actually, in all honestly, since I knew so many people who’d climbed it, I figured it was an easy task. In fact, I imagined well paved roads and information signs every 10 feet. Needless to say, I wasn’t fully prepared for the 8 hour climb up a nearly vertical gravel slope in the middle of the night at near freezing temperatures.

Continue reading

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Around the Tokyo area

Tokyo Disneyland vs. Florida’s Magic Kingdom

In this picture, it almost looks the same as Magic Kingdom!

Last Thursday, a few local friends and I decided to go out for drinks in Koga. Three glasses of wine and one Melon/vodka mix later I found myself agreeing to go to Tokyo Disneyland the following Saturday. Saying that I am a fan of Disney is quite the understatement. Give me some liquor, and apparently my love for Disney knows no bounds (to my wallet’s dismay).

Drinking parties aside, I have a long history with Disney World. You see, being from Orlando, Florida, I’ve been there more times than I can count. Nearly every weekend, in fact. By the time I was eight or nine, I actually complained about going to Disney. Today, I’m a huge fan and regular Disney goer. This was my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland. Continue reading

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Travel

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

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Around Koga

Shopping Spree in Tokyo

We finally got paid. What was the first thing we did? Karaoke, then shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya. Obviously.

I bought some much needed work clothes… and some play clothes too. Our friend Kris (remember him?) showed us the back alleys of Harajuku. It’s off the beaten path, with plenty of affordable, often more fashionable shops. Some of them carry second-hand items, but you would never know it. The Japanese are known for a) shopping a lot and b) taking really good care of their clothes. Most of the second-hand stores had items I would still consider new. Continue reading

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Travel

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

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Around Koga

Mono no Aware (物の哀れ)

This past weekend was all about “mono no aware.” This idea is a very important part of Japanese culture, and the aspect that I respect the most. It literally translates to “a pathos of things.” Basically, appreciate the things in life that are fleeting or impermanent. The best example I can give is cherry blossoms. They bloom once a year and only last about a week. That is why hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is so popular here. The Japanese have a festival for nearly everything that is notoriously short-lived.They have plum festivals, peach festival, cherry blossom festivals, and even snow festivals. It’s always about taking the time to enjoy life, because it is truly, very brief. So, I invite you to try “mono no aware.” This weekend, gather a group of friends an family, take out a picnic blanket, and go celebrate the most beautiful, yet brief, part of spring in your town. This idea stretches beyond physical things, but you get the jest of it. Continue reading

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