Monday, February 23, 2009


Sorry I've been so busy lately!

Goals in the next two weeks while things are slower at school:

-- Go running 3 times a week!

-- Study Japanese!!!!!! EVERY DAY (okay, maybe take the weekend off haha)!

-- Call people at home! Sorry, I swear I still love you all!

-- Plan trips for 3 day weekend in March and for Golden Week in May!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Marathons, International Festivals and Earthquakes

I've been extra busy this week working on the committee I am on for It Takes Two. Every free moment at work was spent working on it and a lot of hours on my day off on Wednesday (go Japanese holidays!) and the weekend too. BUT there were a few fun highlights this week. We had our school marathon. All the students in the school have to run in the marathon, which is really about 3.5 miles (5.5 Km) for girls and about 5 miles (8 Km) for boys. Everyone has to run it and they get cards as they finish. The top 30 boys and girls got cups, the top 10 medals, and the winner a trophy. It was kind of fun to see and felt like one big track meet. First the girls run, then the boys, two separate races. Some ALTs run in their school's marathon, but they didn't ask me to, and I wasn't dissapointed by that, so I didn't ask to run either! Here's a few photos from the marathon. The poor person in back is followed with a bike that says "last" ... poor kids! The top picture is the girls starting out and the one below is the boy winner, crossing the finish line.

Also this week, I went to an international festival. They had food from all over the world (I came too late for the tacos, I was dissapointed!) and had a bunch of different Japanese cultural things to try: bonsai, tea ceremony, calligraphy, kimonos, flower arrangement, origami. I did calligraphy (see photo) and the guy pounding the mochi (pounded rice...makes a sort of fluffy ball that looks like marshmallow, but doesn't taste like it!!) is one of the guys in charge at the community center where I teach adult conversation (eikaiwa). It was a nice afternoon!

Finally, tonight I was on the phone with my mom when I heard my windows rattle. I just thought it was the wind for a second because it's been windy the last few days until I realized my bookshelf and the chair I was leaning against was shaking! I jumped outta my kotatsu table and ran to my doorway (maybe a little too frantically in retrospect) and then it stopped. It probably lasted 5 seconds, but it was enough to make my heart start beating fast!! That was the first earthquake that I have noticed and realized that's what it was while it was happening. I guess Fujinomiya got the most of it. Check it out:

The weather her has also been super nice the past few days, which apparently puts us at risk for a mudslide. Mother nature apparently isn't on my side. But I'm not too worried for the moment. If you're feeling into news today, you can check it out at:

Alright. That's all for tonight. My schedule got thrown off this weekend when I was staying up late and sleeping in and today I took a nap from 5-8 pm after the exhaustion of only a few hours of sleep last night. So now I am up late again and the cycle will probably continue all week long! No more naps for me!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri Snow Festival

The first weekend in February I went to a famous snow festival in Sapporo, on the north island of Hokkaido. This was a three day trip that required a flight from Tokyo, but was well worth it in the end!

Hokkaido famous (because every place in Japan has a signature food or two) Butter Corn Ramen. That's a hunk of butter on top, not cheese. Can you say healthy?! It kept me warm and filled me up fast though!

Here are a few of the sculptures. Kosuke Kitajima, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist swimmer - Japan really wants to host the 2016 Olympics!! Some cartoon character, because apparently they show up everywhere in Japan. And Tokyo Disneyland sponsored sculpture. Don't miss tinkerbelle next to the castle ;)

Last but not least were a trip to the Chocolate Factory and the Sapporo Beer Garden at the Sapporo Beer Factory. All you can eat lamb and all you can drink beer. Too bad it wasn't all you can eat chocolate.

Overall, it was nice to be back in some real winter weather. It was a bit cold where I lived without central heat, but it's already turning to spring. Being in the snow for a few days reminded me of home, but I was glad I only had to be in it for a few days. Any longer and I woulda been complaining again!

Monday, February 2, 2009


Sunday was a nice girls day all around. Andrea and Kelly and I went strawberry picking near Fujinomiya. Most people that I have talked to around here haven't been there, but it was nice that it wasn't so crowded like it probably would have been in Shizuoka City. Strawberry picking is different here in that you don't pick the strawberries to take home, but rather it's all you can eat in a half an hour. I had 26 strawberries...pretty pathetic next to the 45ish that Andrea had! We brought our Hershey's chocolate syrup and it was glorious. And we may have snuck a few home with us too. Don't tell ;)

After strawberry picking we stopped up at Lake Tanuki to get a nice view of Mt. Fuji. We had gone up to Lake Tanuki before, but it was too cloudy to see Fujisan, so it was nice on Sunday. It was a little cold up there, but beautiful nonetheless. And we became celebrities somehow, and about 10 photographers with huge lenses started snapping pictures of the three of us ladies in front of Mt. Fuji. Apparently they don't see three American ladies there every other day they go to snap pictures :) We almost couldn't get away, it was crazy. And this picture reminds me not to slouch when standing next to people who are shorter than me. Shoot. Anyway hope you like it :) This weekend is busy until I leave for Yuki Matsuri! Hopefully catch up after that at work!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Weekend Fun!

So far good weekend. Much needed relaxation time, although maybe it wasn't all that relaxing. On Friday night, Dion cooked me dinner in return for me driving him to get groceries :) It's quite a nice system we have worked out. I tried Mabodofu for the first time - it's like hamburger and tofu and sauce that you eat on top of rice. It was good. I'm not a huge fan of hamburger, but Dion told me I had to brag it up, so it was "Oishii" - he also made gyoza, which we all already know I love. Then I made him suffer through Hitch, which I thought maybe he would think was much funnier than he actually did. Oops!

Today I slept in, and it felt amazing. But then I frantically ran around cleaning and cooking for my Mexican dinner party tonight. I had 3 friends over for dinner, and it was their first time ever eating Mexican food (apart from taco rice, which is popular in Okinawa, but I have a feeling it isn't really like Mexican tacos haha). So I made Mexican rice, refried beans and enchiladas and we had chips and salsa and guacamole. I'm not sure they were a fan of the refried beans haha, but they liked the enchiladas and guacamole, which were the two most authentic things I made, so I think it was quite successful! They also tried peanut butter, which they have here, but most people eat peanut cream, which is more sugary than salty like our PB. They didn't say much, so I think they don't like it :) Oh well. Skippy is still my friend.

Tomorrow I am headed strawberry picking with my Fuji girls that I usually go to onsen with and then having dinner and a movie with my newfound girl friend in Fujinomiya. We got together for dinner once and hung out a bit on my birthday. It will be nice having another American girl in my city to chill with.

Sometime I need to find time for my commitments to It Takes Two committee. I am the sort of final editor, so on Friday I got two emails full of attachments. Lesson plan hell, here I come :D I am excited to be busy lately though, probably because of the familiarity that comes with it :) No more falling asleep at my desk at work haha!

I have also been contemplating running for AJET Block Representative for my second year here. AJET is an organization run completely by teachers in the country. They plan events for ALTs and are the go-between for the organization that runs JET and the teachers that are in the program. If you asked me a few months ago, I would say I'm definitely running, but as busy as I have been the past few weeks, I don't know about adding something to my plate. But I think if I look at the norm of my teaching in Japan, things to fill up my worktime wouldn't be a bad idea. So I'm continuing to contemplate. One of my good friends is actually the representative right now (for Shizuoka and the surrounding prefectures), so I can get plenty of advice from him :D I'll keep you posted.

It seems I am getting more used to Japanese winter. I got an electric blanket for sleeping. It's still not so fun crawling out of the covers into the cold air in the morning, but it's starting to suck less :) I also am feeling a bit more normal about wearing so many layers to school and sometimes bringing my coat to class cuz the classrooms aren't heated. Still not used to the cold air when having to shower though...I'm a baby and preheat my shower by putting my heater in the shower for about 10 minutes to warm the air before going in and warming up the water haha.

Hope you are all having a great weekend. I tried calling like 10 of you, and no one answered :D So you must be doing something fun. Or sleeping in haha.