Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from Japan. Next year I'll be celebrating with family and friends in America. Make sure you tell the people important to you today that you love them. It's one of those things you don't realize how important it is until you don't have it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December

Yo!

December has come and its more than half way over now. Christmas is coming up soon! As well as New Years. This holiday season I'll be in Japan for the 2nd time around. Next one I'm definitely going to be home.

My friend/old roommate is coming to Japan on the 29th, I'm super excited. Also my friend from Tochigi is coming for New Years. Most likely I'll celebrate with both of them in Nara.

Soon I'm going to buy a new camera. More pics and videos will happen after that. I'm going to start my search tomorrow at Bic Camera. Come home and maybe look online too. I want to get a point and shoot, not an SLR/big one I need a case for. Just something that's quality and I can put in my pocket.

I'm going to go to the neighboring prefecture on the 23rd. Should be fun, little adventure.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It has been a long time since I’ve updated. I guess that goes without saying, considering those who read my blog have checked my blog only to see that it hasn’t been updated hehe sorry. I’m also going to practice my Japanese too.

Today I have no classes but I have to be at school anyways from 8:00 – 4:15 pm with absolutely nothing to do. I thought it’d be a good time to update my blog. Also this post is a bit text heavy, sorry, I really like to include pictures and videos but my camera is a little messed so up I haven’t been able do that. I plan on buying a new one soon.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in Japan. For those in America today is Thanksgiving so, Happy Thanksgiving! This is my 2nd Thanksgiving I’ve spent away from family. Last year I was able to eat with a large group of friends and we had somewhat of a mock Thanksgiving dinner, which was really good considering it was in Japan. We actually had real turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and so on. This year was a bit different. I went to an all you can eat yaki-niku (grilled meat) place with Matt, our friend Yui, and her friend we met for the first time. Nothing like a regular Thanksgiving dinner but it was nicer than cooking for ourselves. Basically at this place you pay for one hour or so and you can order as much different meats as you want and you grill it yourself. We all got our fill.

I definitely miss eating dinner with my family. Ohhh turkey… drool. And then leftover turkey sandwiches… sigh, I can’t believe I’m missing it again. They don’t even have any form of turkey here. The only place I’ve found turkey is at Subway, on a turkey sandwich. Basically unless you maybe go to some specialty store, you can’t find it here. I’m surprised I’ve survived this long without losing my food sanity. Food is getting so redundant here. I constantly eat a list of no more than 10 things. The couple that I’m getting tired of are curry and rice, ramen, gyudon (or grilled beef over rice), some form of chicken or pork meal. There’s only so much I can eat considering that I don’t like seafood. Matt also doesn’t like or care for an array of vegetables. Since we almost always eat together I feel like my eating habits have gotten worse because of him.

I wanna go back home so I can actually eat decent food, like family meals. The food here is definitely healthier than American food but I’m getting tired of Japanese food. Matt has lost 40 pounds or something like that without even exercising. I’ve stayed around the same weight but that’s because I think I ate healthily even in America. Also it’s probably impossible for me to lose any weight because I’m small as it is.

My fourth month of life in Osaka has come to an end. Osaka is a nice place. Definitely distinct from Tokyo and for that matter all of Japan. People are certainly different here. The mind set is a bit different. People’s expectation and reactions are different. The people here tend to be slightly more eccentric and outgoing. That doesn’t mean that everyone here is like that of course. There are plenty of boring people too. The ones that stand out, stand out more here. Osaka isn’t the best place in the world. The place I live is in the middle of downtown so as you can imagine it’s pretty dirty. When I say pretty dirty I mean its Japan dirty which means it’s probably cleaner than an average city in America.

Also my third month teaching in Osaka has come to an end. It is quiet different from teaching in Tochigi (where I used to live). The teachers and students have different personalities and outlooks than those in Tochigi. A noticeable number of the students don’t seem to care about English. It’s a bit frustrating but I don’t let it get to me. Its really only the 2nd and 3rd year students. Unlike America where you have a choice of what language you want to study, here they have to study English.

I remember studying Spanish when I was their age and after 3 years I didn’t really like it anymore either so I can understand how they feel. The textbook is just so dry. Its like teaching is crossing the desert. Even for me it’s boring so I know they can’t be having fun. I kind of wish I could change the way they teach here but they have to use the textbooks I suppose. Also what is important is reading writing and grammar. There’s no real focus on speaking at all. Speaking is pretty important I think, but there is no test on it. The kids study grammar and probably know more than me about English grammar but what good does knowing the rules do if you can speak simple sentences. My Japanese sucks too and I’ve lived here for over a year. In America you have to become good at English quickly to survive, but here you can get away with speaking English, that sucks! I really want to become bilingual/fluent in Japanese but it’s tough.

Recently I’ve started teaching private lessons, and it’s a lot of fun. I want to teach more, but need a way of getting students. I have an interview next week for a company that helps you get students. If will make 3000 yen per hour teaching private lessons. That is about 32 dollars an hour or so!

I think Matt and I will move to the apartment above the one we currently live in next week. To be honest I want to get out of the building. Our place absolutely sucks. There are only two things I like about our place. The location is pretty convenient, and it’s a pretty large place considering its Japan and its in a city. Other than that our place is an absolute shithole. There are holes in the wall. Wires of which have no use hanging out of places. Despite our cleaning efforts it just looks dirty. Thinking back I can’t believe Matt convinced me to live here. I think it actually makes me sad I live there. It might even be affecting my mood. I know about how your environment can have a serious impact on you, and I’m starting to see it. I’m irritable and feel sad when I shouldn’t.

Something else that may be contributing to that is the fact that Matt rarely cleans up. He cleans up if I ask him to, but even then sometimes it doesn’t happen. For example usually one of us cooks the other one does the dishes. When I cook the dishes aren’t done usually. I don’t know its something I shouldn’t really care about, but since our place is already so dirty it’s just frustrating to have it feel any dirtier than it is. That’s one of the tradeoffs of having a roommate. It’s great because you have someone to talk to or hang out with 24/7, but if they don’t clean up after themselves you have to put up with it. I much rather live with a roommate and have a dirty place than live alone I suppose so it isn’t as bad as I make it seem.

This time of year in Japan many people go to see the autumn leaves. A lot of people leave the city and head to shrines or temples and go leaf viewing. I went to Kyoto with Matt, Seiji, and Asuka. It was really nice, I didn’t do it in Tochigi so it was a good experience. Asuka too pictures and I got them from her camera. Finally I get to post pictures! We got to Kyoto and saw a full rainbow. That's rare to see the entire arch.


I really want to start taking advantage of being in a city more. I want to join some classes or groups and meet more people. I feel like I’m not taking advantage of being in Japan!

久しぶりやなぁ。ごめん、毎日読んでくれる人には言わなくっても分かるけど最近新しい日記を書いてなかった。すまん!

今日は期末テストなので授業がない。 暇いっぱいあるから日記を書きたいと思った。この日記では写真とか動画あまりないけどカメラがちょっと故障してしまった。もうすぐ新しいカメラを買うつもり。

昨日日本では感謝祭だった。アメリカに住んでいる人に今日は感謝祭だから感謝祭おめでとう!今年の感謝祭は僕にとって家族なしで2回目。去年栃木県の友達と10人以上集まって祝宴を催した。アメリカの本物の感謝祭祝宴と日本の感謝祭祝宴が違うけどなんだか結構美味しかった。本物の七面鳥とかグレイビーマッシュポテトなど食べた嬉しかった!今年はちょっと違う。マットさんと悠依さんと悠依さんの友達と食べ放題の焼肉屋に行った。安かった!1880円で80分食べ放題だった。食った食った。

家族なしで食事を食べるのが寂しいなぁ。七面鳥、絶品だよ!感謝祭の後毎日残り七面鳥でサンドイッチを作れる。日本では七面鳥は余りない。日本のSubwayというレストランだけで七面鳥を見つけた。特別な店に行ったらあるかもだけどどこにある分からない。牛丼とかカレーライスとかラーメンばっかりだから日本の食事もう食べたくない。シーフードが嫌いなので日本の食事はちょっと。

アメリカに帰りたい家族と食事を食べたい。確かに日本の食べ物は体にいいけど種類があんまりないからもう飽きた。マットの体重が結構減った。20キロだっけ?私に増量は無理なようだ。

私の大阪での生活は4ヶ月もう経った。確かに大阪はいいところ。東京とまったく異なった、普通の日本と違う、独特なところ。人々の考えは違う。大阪人が直接、風変わりな人々だ。もちろん皆がその感じじゃない。結構つまらない人もいるけれど風変わりな人々いっぱいおる。大阪はいいけど世界中で一番のところじゃないと思う。僕の住んでいる辺はちょっと汚い。日本の汚い場所とアメリカのそれを比べると全然違う。アメリカの方が汚い。日本の汚い場所はまあまあ。

大阪で英語指導の助手をしてから3ヶ月が経った。大阪で教えるのは栃木県と比べて違う。先生と生徒の性格とか考え方が違う。10%~20%の学生は英語に興味がない。ちょっといらいらする。1年生はいいけど2年や3年はちょっと。日本では必須だけどアメリカでは好きな言語を選べてそれを学ぶ。例えばスペイン語やイタリア語やドイツ語や中国語。

僕の高校のとき3年間スペイン語を学んだ。年を経るごとにスペイン語の興味はどんどん減った。生徒達の気持ちよく分かる。問題は教科書。教科書の所為で生徒の興味減った。私に取って教科書はめちゃつまらない。学習の方法変えたいだけどできへん。読むことと書くこと文法を強調している。話すことでは欠点。生徒達が文法の規則よくしってるけど話せない。話すことは大切だよ。日本に来たからもう1年以上経ったけど私もまだ日本語はまだまだだ。もし日本人ならアメリカに行って1年間アメリカに住んだらもうぺらぺらになる。日本だったら1年日本に住んでもまだ日本語まったく分からない。ぺらぺらになりたい、僕は日本語をマスターしようとあらゆる努力をしているだけどまだまだだ。

最近個人レッスンを始めた、楽しい。もっと英語を教えたい。来週就職の面接試験がある。会社が先生たちに生徒を紹介する、そして生徒が好きな先生選ぶ。時間給3000円。それは1時間がドールで$32ぐらい!

来週から新しいアパートに引っ越するつもり。正直に言うと現在のアパートのビルから引っ越したい。今の家は最低。2つしかいいことが。アパートの場所が便利で結構広い。その二つの理由だけ。

マットさんがあまり掃除しない。掃除のお願いを伝えたら掃除するけど自分で掃除しない。文句を時々言うだけど間違えない、二人暮らしの生活は一人暮らしよりいい。いつでもだれかと話すことできるし、寂しいにならないし、やちんとか費用を分けることができるからルームメートと住んでいるのがいい。

Sunday, November 08, 2009

On Stage

My School's culture festival went really well. I don't think I can upload pics from it because I would have to get permission from all the students parents. At the end of the festival I performed Umiyuki (in English Sea snow)(a Japanese old fashioned song performed by an American) on stage. It was alot of fun and the students loved it. I'll try to see what I can share and put it here.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween

Halloween was freekin fun. 2nd one in Japan. This one was 10 times as fun as last years in Tochigi.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life in Osaka

What up!
It's been a while since I updated so I figure I would. By the way my camera's picture function is a bit wacky so that's why I haven't been taking so many pics lately. The video function works just fine, but when I take pictures its a bit grainy/blurry. I'm going to bring it into a shop to get it fixed soon.

Over the past few weekends we've been staying active. One day Matt and I made free hug signs and went to some high traffic areas around Osaka. We got lots of hugs from random people and actually made a new friend. He lives north of Kyoto a bit and he's gonna come hang out from time to time when he comes to Osaka.

Other things that happened were I went to explore more of the city, sang karaoke alot, met some friends and went drinking a few times and played ultimate frisbee.

Wednesday was my first payday from my new company. I was happy to finally get paid, wow after almost 3 months. I can finally decorate my "relatively" new house. Once I get my camera fixed I'll get photos of that up.

That same Wednesday I played a softball game with the staff of my school. We played against another Junior High School. I thought we were gonna crush them, but it turned out we lost! I batted 6th and played right field. I caught a few fly balls. I got a couple base hits and 1 pop fly. There was one play where I should have dove to catch the ball but I didn't. Next time I will. Also one time I held on to a fly and didn't throw it back in time to stop the runner from tagging up and getting a run. I'm looking forward to the next game.

This weekend I might take a trip somewhere seeing as how I finally have money. Also I'm very happy that Matt got paid, now he can contribute more to the house and now him and I can get actual nice dinners, not just crap to survive haha.

Last night Matt and I were shopping at the 100 yen store(dollar store) and a random Chinese girl came up to us and asked to be our friend lol. Kind of random but it can't hurt to have another friend. I think she is just lonely after moving to a big city and living alone in an apartment. I don't blame her, I think shes brave for coming up to Matt and I and asking hah.

I'm looking forward to my first weekend with disposable income. I'm also glad Matt can afford to do things now haha.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Silver Week

In Japan we recently had silver week. This is a stretch of holidays from Monday to Wednesday. So the last weekend I had was a 5 day weekend. I tried to take advantage of it as much as possible and I think I did.

On Saturday Matt and I went to the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri. This festival is known throughout Japan and is pretty popular. A lot of famous people come from all over to watch it. It’s the only festival where people have died from celebrating. During the day the men pull these giant wooden floats around the city in celebration. (more on it)

I posted a video on facebook of the day.


On Sunday Matt had a sports festival at his school. My sports festival isn’t until the 2nd of next month so I joined some friends that I met through my company on a trip to Himeji Castle. It is the most famous castle in Japan.

I also made a video of this on facebook.


On Monday Matt and I went to a BBQ at a friends house. It lasted all day and was a lot of fun. We got there at around 3pm. Then we went to the store and all bought some stuff. It was around 11 people and more people joined later. Later it turned into a drinking party.

On Tuesday we relaxed and recovered.

On Wednesday we went to Kobe. We met some friends there and walked around the harbor. We also watched some acapella groups perform while we waited for our friends.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Longest Update Ever

After a long, long, long wait…….

Finally I am again connected to the world again though the wonderful thing known as the internet. I finally got internet on Saturday after not having it for about one month. This is the longest I’ve gone without using the internet and man, it is rough without it. I didn’t realize how much I use it, how important the internet is to keep in touch with people, and how much time I spend on it.

First off I missed a couple birthday wishes due to lack of internet so, Happy Birthday to Luke my biggest brotha (he’s 5 now I can’t believe it), Mike my uncle, John, Becky, and Hiromi. I hope you all had nice bdays.

After that being said, it’s time for a pretty big update. Since it has been so long I’ll break it down into easier to read Chapters haha.

Things that have happened over the last month….

Chapter One

The Move

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up I’ve moved to Osaka now. I first moved here on August 3rd, but into a guest house. After talking with Adrian and Yu (friends from where I used to live) they convinced me, living in a guest house would be a good move because I could meet many people in a short time, the cost was low and it was half way between my school and between downtown Osaka by train. The location was great, the price was decent and there seemed to be no reason not to move there… until I actually moved in.

After living there for a week or two, it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined. I thought people would be hanging out in the common rooms and people would stop by my room knock on my door and say a group of people are going to a bar or club and ask me to join. A lot like what I though college would be like too. Despite my high hopes this didn’t exactly happen. After moving there I realized how small and dirty my room was, how important to me it is to have access to free laundry, my own kitchen, bathroom, and shower. Also one of the main reasons I moved to Osaka was to meet lots of people. The town the guest house was in wasn’t exactly happening. It was more like suburbs than the city that I imagined. Also everyone in the guest house was European for some reason. A lot of people from France and Germany in particular, a Nigerian family, and random Japanese people and a few others lived in the guest house.

Everyone pretty much kept to themselves and did their own thing. Those that came to the guest house together hung out together but other than that nothing really happened.

It was also really hard going from knowing everyone in town, to knowing no one in a place I had never been before, and of course that got to me a bit. I didn’t really make any friends in the guest house. I had a few people who I knew by name and talked to occasionally but we didn’t do anything together. Regardless I wanted to move out after two weeks.

This is a little unrelated but I did this while I was living in the guest house so I thought it’d put it in this chapter lol. In my free time I visited my school that I knew I’d be teaching at, but didn’t go inside. I just went there to figure out how to walk there from the station and see what the outside looked like. It was pretty interesting. I even saw some students and said hello, but didn’t tell them I was going to be the next ALT.

Chapter Two

The Second Move

Anyways luckily and by coincidence a friend I had met two years ago when I studied in Tokyo was in the middle of changing jobs and wanting to move to downtown Osaka. His name is Matt, Matt told me he was looking for a new place so I suggested we get a place together. After I suggested it he said he was going to say the same thing. After searching and visiting a couple apartments we finally decided on one that was furnished, in a really good location, but a total dump.

After seeing the apartment I thought “Man, I don’t think I can live here”. I had never seen a place so dirty but still “ready for new tenants to move in”. Since I was tired of living in the guest house I just said ok whatever lets move here. So we did on August 15th. I knew the place had a lot of potential, and the location was unbeatable so I told myself I’ll fix the place up and make it livable and nice even. It will take a few months but I still think Matt and I can do it.

After we moved in the cleaning process began. First thing on our agenda was cleaning the fridge as that was important to keeping any food we planned on buying. Unfortunately the people who lived there before us were a total slobs. I was told they lived there a total of 3 months, and from what I saw, I don’t think they cleaned the place once over the whole 3 months they lived there.

Anyways, cleaning the fridge took about 3 hours… that’s how nasty it was. Matt and I took a video before the cleaning process began, please enjoy.

video

The refrigerator inside smelled like someone spilled a bunch of soy sauce inside closed the door wait a few hours and then opened the door, let a huge fart out then shut it.

The freezer was a whole other story. As for the freezers smell, I am unable to put into words how putrid it was. Matt described it as Satan’s Taint. I on the other hand liked to describe it as a dead carcass of a yak in the grass lands of Africa that had been rotting in the sun for days and then other animals vomited and pooped on it plus the smell of raw sewage. It was probably the 2nd worst smell I’ve ever smelled in my life. Only to be trumped by the maggot filled dead rabbit Harry and I found in the gutter one day.

The reason the freezer smelled much worse was because the last people who lived there left some type of meat or something in the freezer and it just got nasty. First we put our gloves and masks on then we brought the thing into the shower area. We hosed it down, scrubbed the hell out of it, bleached it, let the bleach work its magic, then scrubbed it again and rinsed it. Matt and I agreed the whole process was like a bonding experience haha.

With the fridge out of the way we started sweeping, cleaning the walls, deciding what dishes to keep and throw away, and how to arrange our rooms. From there we kept working until the place was decent enough to call a house. We’re still in the process of decorating the place, it looks pretty bear for now, but both of us are poor from having to move twice in such a short time and due the fact that neither of us have been paid in quite some time.

Chapter Three

My Birthday

After moving into the new place and being so far away from all my family and friends in both the US and Tochigi I was starting to wonder what I could do for my birthday. Luckily I’m part of a website known as Couchsurfing.com, if you’ve never heard of it, it’s a website where you can post your information on where you live and people from all around the world who are traveling can stop by and visit you. You are supposed to be a host who can offer anything such as a person to get coffee with and talk to, or you can go as far as offer a place to stay for travelers and be their guide while they are visiting. It’s a pretty interesting concept and website if you’re interested check it out. Anyways enough free advertising, on that website I found a BBQ that was taking place the same day as my birthday. I suggested to Matt we both go to this BBQ because it looked like a lot of fun and was a good place to meet a lot of new people.

We got to the train station where it was taking place around 7ish. We met the host of the party and got a ride to their house. Her name was Saori. After we got to the party we hung out ate and talked to a lot of people. There were around 25 people or so at the party so it was a nice size. The thing is a good portion of the people there were travelers so that was interesting too. It was nice to meet such a diverse group of people considering Japan isn’t that a diverse at all. We met people from Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, France, and Japan lol among other places. Everyone there was surprisingly good at English, now I know why it’s known as a world language. Everyone who came from countries (that didn’t speak Japanese) would speak English. So it was interesting hearing a French guy talking to a Taiwanese girl and they’re both using English.

I showed a couple people some magic tricks and they really liked it. A Japanese guy played the guitar but sang a song in Spanish haha.
At the end of the night we had a cake because Saori’s birthday was actually 11 days before mine on August 11th. It was really nice to get a cake and have a bunch of 20 or so strangers sing happy birthday to me haha. It made my birthday feel more like a birthday, since I couldn’t spend it with people who I really wanted to, friends and family. Thanks to Saori for hosting the party!

Since then they have invited us to go to Karaoke, which we tried but showed up late so we missed it, but I plan on doing more things with the Osaka couchsurfing community again soon.

Chapter Four

Training

Training with Interac began on Tuesday the 25th. There were actually two group training sessions, one of which started the 18th the week before. I chose to do second group session because I thought I was going home and that would have given me more time to be at home, sigh. After meeting a few of the people from the first one I’m glad I chose the second one.

Anyways training went really well. Since I had experience I actually taught everyone else who didn’t a lot of good/important things. They were pretty appreciative. A lot of the things training tried to teach me I already knew but a couple things were pretty useful since they are specific to Osaka. Also each Board of Education operates a bit differently and that was to be expected. We never actually visited the BOE like I though we would, but instead we had a big group meeting with teachers and discussed various topics to help things go smooth in the classroom.

It didn’t take long though and everyone I met in training seemed like really nice people. After training was finished on Friday we had a big party in Namba (downtown Osaka). We did a big group karaoke (like almost 30 people) then finished at a bar later.

Something funny that happened was, the last tenant in my apartment who left it looking like crap is working for the same company as me. He told my landlord he had returned home for some family emergency, which obviously was a total lie hah. I told him I moved into his apartment and he said get out of there, it’s a craphole. I didn’t say it but I was thinking, it’s because you let it get like that.

On a different note, I’ve hung out with the group from training randomly (on the night I was supposed to go to karaoke with the couchsurfer community). Matt and I were walking around Umeda (northern Osaka) and randomly I heard my name and I looked behind me and it was a group of 6 friends from training. It was pretty lucky we ran into them. We went in search for dinner then went to a bar afterwards and hung out and talked. Matt and I wanted to go home that night but the rest of them wanted to stay out so they stayed out past last train and were in Umeda until 5 am.

Chapter Five

School Starts

My first day was on September 2nd. When I first got there I had a short meeting with the schools principal and 3 other new assistant staff, who are university/graduate students. After my talk with them they though I was bilingual or fluent in Japanese. I’m still far from it, but I appreciated the compliments. After that short meeting I had a big speech in front of all of the students for my introduction. I went ok, but the students weren’t very receptive. This wasn’t much of a shock because it was the first day back from summer vacation, which no one likes, and it takes a few days or conversations for students to warm up to you. After the big speech I gave another to the staff, but pretty much the same speech.

The first day I didn’t have any lessons to teach so it was a little boring. The students didn’t have any classes either which was weird; they just had the morning meeting then went home. I just studied Japanese and talked a bit to the teachers. About 8 of the teachers all went out for lunch together and invited me. I was nice to get to talk to all of the teachers and see what kind of people they are.

The school size is pretty small for being in a big city. There are probably only around 300 students or so in the whole school. There are 3 grades in Junior High here equivalent to 7th 8th and 9th grades in America. In Japan every year they go to a new school they become 1st graders again, so in this case Junior High 1st graders. Even though they are really 7th graders the teachers call them 1st graders or 一年生 ichi nen-sei. So for each grade there are only a total of 3 classes so for example 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 are the 7th grade classes, 2-1, 2-2, and 2-3 are the 8th grade classes.

Anyways so far I really like the school. Everyone is nice and the English teachers are great. Mr. Funada is really good at English, I think he told me he lived in America for sometime, or went to High School in LA. I’ll find out more tonight because we have an Enkai (dinner banquet thing) and that’s the best time to get your teachers to tell you all about themselves. Mr. Kano is really funny and likes to make jokes every chance he gets. Both Kano and Funada are the 1st grade English teachers. Ms. Nakabayashi and Ms. Kitani are really nice too. I worked with Ms. Nakabayashi for the speech contest we had last Monday. We helped one of the students for the speech contest by practicing pronunciation and intonation. Apparently her sister participated a few years ago and got 2nd place.

Although my student didn’t place 1st I though she did really well and I was proud of her. I want to get her something for her hard work, but I’m not sure what I can get for her. I’ll have to talk to her and find out what she likes. Last year in Sano I had three students in the speech contest and gave them all something for their hard work. So I’d also like to give her something too.

Tonight is an Enkai which I’m really looking forward too, it’ll be the first one I have with my school. I brought my camera so I’ll take some pictures if I can.

I’m looking forward to this weekend too because Saturday night Matt and I are holding a party at our place in celebration of getting the internet.

On Sunday I might go to Umeda and play Ultimate Frisbee so that should be fun.

Today I don’t have any classes because it’s a big assessment test day. So I’ve been writing this blog all day hah. I’ll probably study a bit today too since I have so much free time.

Sorry for such a long blog but it has been over a month since I’ve had a real update. Thanks for reading. お疲れ様でした。

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Internet

Sorry I haven`t updated lately, I moved into my new place with my roommate Matt. I wont get internet until the 13th of Sept possibly. More to come then!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Osaka!

I moved to Osaka today. It looks like a nice city. It took me a while to find the guest house I'm going to be living in but I finally made it. More to come soon I'm busy unpacking!

EDIT!

So I finished unpacking but, I might have to start repacking. A friend of mine has recently come to Japan. He tried to get a job but they ended up screwing him. Now we are looking for a place together. It seems we might get a place right in central Osaka. If that's the case that'll be great.

Right now I'm staying in a guest house. Let me tell you, it's livable, but it's pretty ghetto. I'll take pics when I move into my new place because this guest house isn't really worth taking pics of lol.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Time in Sano is Coming to an End

Over the last week I had all my final days at my schools. The students were all shocked and didn't believe I was leaving. Many students wanted me to write my signature on their stuff so it made me feel like a celebrity lol. I think secretly the Japanese teachers were jealous haha. I have tons of pics with the students, each of my final days at the schools I brought my camera and took alot of pics because I never want to forget any of my students.

I got tons of little gifts from all the students and even some from the teachers. I gave my farewell speech at all my schools too. I put a joke in the beginning of my speech even though it was supposed to be kind of serious everyone liked it.

I was happy to get all the love I did. It shows that the students really appreciate me and everything I've done here. I will really miss the students the most.

I have alot of stuff to do over the next week and a few days. First I need to get a plane ticket home because I told everyone back there that I'd be coming home for some time. I'm gonna make that happen even if it ends up costing me alot of money and making it difficult for me when I get back.

After I get the plane ticket I need to go to immigration and change my visa sponsorship since I'm changing companies. That will probably take a day since I have to go to Utsunomiya to do it.

After that the packing starts, and finally the move to Osaka. I've decided to live in a guest house for the first month or so and see if I like it. If I do, then I'll continue to live there. If not then it will be much easier to find a place while I'm in Osaka, then out of it.

Once I move to Osaka, things will be alittle easier, but it won't have any time to settle in since I'm going home. I'll be so happy to see my family and friends, its been a year. This is the longest I've gone without seeing any of them.

On top of all that I'm starting to get sick. I'm not worried though, I'll be able to do it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Final Month / Feelings / Beach

First, Important news: I've accepted the job in Osaka and I will be moving there after my contract is over in Sano. I'll be teaching at one junior high school in comparison to the 4 Elementary schools and 1 JH right now.

I'm having a difficult time deciding where to live though. I have a few options. I could live in the center of Osaka but have a 30-40 minute commute by train everyday. I could try to live inbetween my school and central osaka, and have a 17 minute commute both ways. Or I could live by my school and have a bike commute to my school and a 30-40 minute commute to central Osaka.

A friend of mine that grew up in Osaka recommended living just outside central Osaka and taking a 30 minute commute to school. Another friend said that she does that commute and she doesn't mind it. Since my contract is only from Sept - March I might just try to live really near central Osaka and deal with the commute. My company reimburses travel so thats not a problem, also I'd be going to the outskirts of the city vs coming into the center so it wouldn't be so crowded on trains. I'm having a really hard time deciding.... what should I do?

Next: I can't believe almost one year has passed since I came back to Japan for the second time. I'm sure my family and friends back home can believe it though. It's going to be hard to be away from them for a while again.

It seems the older I get the faster every year goes by. 2008 kind of sucked, but this year has been better to me. I think this year has gone fast because I've been keeping very busy. During the week I work all day, then once I get home I stay busy until I go to bed so the days go fast.

I also can't believe my final month in Sano has come. It seems in my life, every time I move somewhere new at first I don't like it or it isn't that great. Over time every new place I move to I get used to and like it. The problem is once I get used to it and like it I move again. This seems to be a reoccuring theme in my life.

I remember complaining alot about Sano when I first got here. Now after a year has passed I've gotten really used to it. I've actually come to like it. I've made many friends here and had alot of good times.

The other thing I've realized is that in Japan, you can never go back to the place you've been and have it be the same as it was. What I mean is even if I go back to Tokyo the friends I had there when I studied here won't be there so the place won't be the same. I think that Sano will be similar to this because alot of people are going home. I plan on coming back to Sano eventually and I do hope to see the friends I've made here that are going home again someday.

The other good thing about living here is the range of friends you make. They come from so many contries that 5 or so years from now I can go anywhere in the world and have a friend hah.

Other News: I went to Nakoso Beach in Fukushima prefecture over the last weekend. There were a total of around 30 people that went. We left early Saturday morning, got there, checked in and had a BBQ on the beach all day. We had the whole beach to ourselves. It was cloudly all day, but that was ok because the temperature was great. The water was freezing but I still swam alot. I went all the way out to some rocks that were a ways out there. At night we had fireworks and relaxed. Sunday morning we went for a walk on the beach and then cleaned up. We headed back to Sano around 1 or 2. There are so many pictures on facebook its ridiculous... Here are just a few.

Cloudy, but still nice

Monday, June 29, 2009

Job Offer

I have a job offer in Osaka!

Today I was called at school and Interac offered me a position teaching in Sakai City in Osaka. Sakai is located roughly 20 mins south of central Osaka by train (its a suburb).

Sakai (堺市 Sakai-shi) is a city in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. It has been one of the largest and most important seaports of Japan since the Medieval era. The city has grown further and is now the fourteenth most populous city in Japan, with 833,414 residents

Location of Sakai


Picture of City Hall



Park in Sakai

Sakai Station


I haven't accepted the job offer yet. I'll have to think about it, but I think it's a really good opportunity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hiroshima 広島の旅館

Hiroshima! So over the last weekend I went to Hiroshima with Carrie. We left early Friday night. I actually left school 15 minutes early.


After I got home I finished getting ready then headed to the bank. At the bank I finally got to transfer money home. After that Carrie and I parked our bikes at the station and took a taxi to the bus station to go to Tokyo from Sano.

Once we got to Tokyo, it was off one bus and onto another. We had 30 minutes to find the bus station to go to Hiroshima. This sounds like plenty of time but we barely made it. We had to search in Shinjuku, at Shinjuku station, a place where over 5 million people go through in one day. Shinjuku station is one of the busiest and most confusing stations in all of Tokyo. I would go into details but it would just confuse you and me ha.

Anyways we finally found the bus maybe 5 minutes before departure. We got on and could finally relax. It took a total of 12 hours to get to Hiroshima from Tokyo by overnight bus. I tried looking out the window to see things because we basically went across all of Honshu, Japan’s main island (Tokyo in the east to Hiroshima in the west).

The problem was it was night and the view from highways in Japan is awful, there are big walls blocking them off so you can’t really see anything.

We arrived at 8:00am. After a little confusion on figuring out where we were we found how to get to our hostel. The hostel, I think it was called K’s House was really nice. I haven’t stayed in many hostels over my life but it was the nicest I’ve seen. Everything was really clean and our room was nice. We got to check in earlier than normally allowed. We got to take showers after that 12 hour long bus ride, which felt great. Once we showered we started our day.
Here are the picture links:

Hiroshima Part 1

Hiroshima Part 2

We first headed for the Peace Memorial museum. The peace memorial museum was pretty amazing. Everything was displayed in about 5 to 6 different languages which was great. All of things in the museum were very moving.


8:15 the moment the bomb was dropped


This is a replica of the city after the bomb exploded
The red ball is the bomb after 1 second
The white sign is where I am (the museum I was in)

Right outside of the museum are tons of monuments dedicated to victims of the bombing. Here you can see paper cranes.



After the museum we went to the Atomic Bomb dome. It was crazy to see a building that was so close to the hypocenter of the bomb but was still left standing. It was also weird walking around throughout the day thinking that 64 years ago around this time Hiroshima was an entirely different place. All of the people were different all the buildings were different..



Next we headed for Miyajima Shrine. Miyajima is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Japan. It’s called the floating shrine. (Look up torisen) It was a beautiful place. Unfortunately it was cloudy so I didn’t get as great pictures as I hoped but it was still an amazing sight to see.


Carrie and I caught the second to last ferry back to the mainland. Then we took the train back and walked to our hostel. After resting a bit and regrouping we headed out to search for some dinner and a bar. We looked for a place called Spuds which we read about. It was a bar with cheap beers baked potatoes and BBQ food. We search for literally 30 – 45 minutes for the place but alas we never found it! We got hungry at this point so we just ate a place which is famous for Okonomiyaki which in Hiroshima is special because its made differently. See picture:


After dinner Carrie felt a bit tired and so did I so we just called it a night. I would have gone out bar hopping but that would have been boring doing it alone. We headed back and stopped into a Seattle’s best coffee and got some dessert. Once we got back we went to sleep in our fashionable bunk bed haha.


The next morning we woke up got ready and headed for Hiroshima Castle. Carrie’s ankle was hurting so she didn’t go inside, but I checked it out. I went all the way to the top and it was a nice view. Since it was a reconstruction the inside was just a museum, but they did have the layout of the castle blueprints. They also had a few rooms set up as if it was the original.


After the castle we checked out a few museums. At the prefectural museum there was also a park. Once again Carrie decided to sit it out, but I walked through. I saw more wildlife, or variety of animals on this walk than I’ve seen since I’ve been here. There were tons of baby crabs, or small crabs walking around. There were tons of carp and turtles, and birds. A crab even followed me into the coffee shop, it must have been on me somehow.


After the museums we headed back to the hostel to pick up our stuff and catch the bus back to Tokyo, then another bus back to Sano.

Over all it was an amazing trip. I’m really glad I went, and I’m thankful to Carrie for organizing it. I recommend it to anyone who comes to visit Japan as it is an important part of the history and it holds two world heritage sites.


On a side note I can’t believe I’m less than a month away from leaving. I can’t believe a year has almost passed since I’ve been here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nice Sunday

Hmm the weekend. Update Style! Saturday was pretty lazy. Saturday at about 6 I went to Ashikaga to watch Matt and Adrian's band (The Vice Lords of Valhalar) play live. It was a good show despite the fact that their lead guitarist was sick and not there haha. Later that night I just hung out with people in Ashikaga.

On Sunday around 1pm Akemi and Emi came and picked me up. Earlier that day they had a big English test. So after they wanted to relax/celebrate.

We wanted to just hang out and do whatever, but we ended up taking an adventure. As I explain I'll put pictures lol. Emi driving

At first we went to Ashikaga because we were going to go bowling at Round1 (the name of the place). On the way there we invited a bunch of people but everyone was busy so once we got there we decided to change plans. They thought it would be a good idea to go to this amusement park in Ota ( 30 mins or so west). The place was pretty interesting they had a bunch of rides for kids ha, of course we rode them too. They also had a zoo and some other attractions.

Emi and I at the entrance


View from the ferris wheel

Looking off into the distance
Akemi and Emi being weird as usual
Let's go there's more rides!

After riding a few rides we went to the zoo. They had a couple cool animals, but alot were asleep or not out because it was near closing time.

A nice walk haha

After the zoo we went shopping. We went to a couple of Emi's favorite shops.
Posing infront of a department store

After shopping a bit, we went to get some dinner. We had tonkatsu or fried pork cutlet. It's really good. We had it at Akemi's favorite place in Ashikaga. If I go back I'll definitely go there, it was really good.At the tonkatsu place

After eating we relaxed a bit then went back to Round1 (the original place we went to) Still no one could join us so we just played ping pong for an hour and a half or so. The girls were both really good, and Akemi even played in high heels, how? I have no idea.

In Japan they have these photo booths that you can take pics and add craziness to them. They call them Puri Kura which is short/cute for Print Club I think. Anyways its really popular with girls from age maybe 13 - 25 here. We got a bunch and uploaded this one.



After finishing at Round1 the night still wasn't over. We went to sing at Karaoke in Sano. We stayed out until like 12:30am or so. Singing at Karaoke

My weekend started on Sunday.. at least event-wise. It was a really fun day.. hope I can have many more Sundays like that hah.

This weekend I'm going to Hiroshima with Carrie. I'll take my camera and post about it when I get back.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vice Lords

On Saturday night I went to Utsunomiya to see the Vice Lords of Valhallar (my friends band) play live. It was also an event to help raise money for my friends to go to India with Habitat for Humanity. Here are pictures posted on facebook

It was a fun night. After the event we went to a bar called Lion's Head, then to a club.

On the Way with Matt, Kristine and Carrie

Got a rainbow mohawk

Warming up before the gig

Gig time
Clubbing Afterwards
We ended up staying all night at the club. I got home at 7:30am. I slept until 4:00pm. Got up and recovered on Saturday.

On a different note I can't believe its June. I have less than 6 weeks left here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Long Weekend

Good Day to you Sir/Madam. Here is a summary of my weekend.

Friday I went to Adrian's after school. There was a few people over for drinks and hanging out. Kristine and Matt left early. I decided to spend the night there. We went to Karaoke and Lance (Adrian's friend from Australia got out of control haha. On the way back home Lance was bush diving. All in all a fun night, we got back around 4am from karaoke then slept. Karaoke Pic
Bush diving

I woke up at Adrian's around 10. I got dressed and cleaned up a bit then headed back to Sano. Got home took a shower and then headed to an Indian food restaurant for an all you can eat lunch buffet (best indian food place in Sano). I met Justin, Carrie and Kristine there and had a long lunch. After we still wanted to hang out so we went shopping. Went to a couple places then went to a place called Coco's (a restaurant). We had some drinks there (non-alcoholic) then the girls decided they wanted to get their hair done. We went to Kristines favorite place and the girls got their hair dyed and cut. Justin and I explored some stores around the salon.

After that we all went home. Then I got an invite to a party in Ashikaga. It was a friend of mine's birthday (Gary) and we wanted to celebrate. The place was a club in Ashikaga I've never been to, it was called Gokuraku 極楽 which translates to paradise. My friend Zishaun was DJing, and a friend of his was playing some live music. The guy he knew (his nickname) is Micky. He's a drummer, I kind of wish I could take lessons from him. I've wanted to learn how to play drums for a while now.

I got home late from Gokuraku then went to bed. Sunday was a little bit of a lazy day. I just slept in a little, then went grocery shopping. After that I studied for a bit. Around 5:30 Akemi picked me up to go see a concert. We were going to see one of the people we met last night who was in a band. Turns out we went to the wrong place. We thought it was at Gokuraku, but it was at BBC South. Anyways after that we met the others for bowling. 24 people, not including me met at Round 1 for bowling. We took up 4 lanes, it was alot of fun. Here's a group pic I got for getting a special strike.
Mistuo after getting a spare haha, I told him to pose.
Akemi won 2 things with one try!
Me in the girly pin costume haha.
bowling ball overload