Saturday, March 14, 2009

Karaoke and Purikura

Last weekend I went to "No Smokey Karaoke" with a few friends from the Fuji area. Before that, we had chili made by Joe, which was AmAzInG! It was the only chili I've had since I arrived, so it was a nice treat! Before karaoke, we did purikura -- for those who don't know it's really popular in Japan. It's like a picture booth, but you can take the pictures with all sorts of backgrounds and then decorate them afterward on a computer and they print off as little stickers. Here are a few of the ones we took! Usually you can do cooler backgrounds, but we had quite a few people, so it's hard to all fit into a "spaceship" or something like that!

Kelly's not really violent :P Just to clarify haha!

I see another year in Japan in the crystal ball!

Such a fun time!!! Hope all is well at home, will try to update more often, I haven't been doing so well at that lately!

Snow in Fujinomiya

It snowed recently in Fujinomiya, the only time all winter long! It was really fun to watch it come down while sitting by the window at school! This is the courtyard at my school, and as you can see it actually stuck for awhile! It melted by the next morning however.
These are the rooftops from my 2nd floor balcony!

It gave me a little reminder of home, but thankfully didn't stick around for too long! I don't need a Minnesota winter, but the snow for a day was good!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Oh it's a long one!

Well, I suppose it is again time for a post. It has been quite some time! Things are good; I suppose that’s why I haven’t been posting.

This past weekend was quite fabulous and a good mix of time with my ALT friends and a little Japanese culture. Friday Eri and I made enchiladas and watched a movie together and Saturday I went to her house where we had a big get-together and made takoyaki and sushi (with a side of CHEESE, guacamole and pasta…talk about random, but oh so delicious). Takoyaki are fried balls of batter with a piece of octopus in the middle. We got creative and made a few with cheese and tuna as well…oishii ne! Sunday was a festival at the community center where I work, so I went there and made a decoupage picture frame and aromatherapy bookmarks. Each class had some sort of booth I think to raise money for the home. So there is an aromatherapy class and a flower arranging class, decoupage class, etc. After that, Kelly and I went to onsen and I got a much needed massage and we bathed in the different baths for awhile. Then we gave ourselves manicures and pedicures and read cosmo, making it the ultimate girls day! AwEsOmE! We were missing our third lady however, as she had her graduation ceremony on a Sunday :( We’ll be back to our usual threesome next time!!

After onsen, we finished off with a dinner at the Indian restaurant in Fuji city with Kory and Dion. I went back to my car, which was parked in a paid lot. Drove up, paid, started driving forward, and realized I forgot my change (100 yen, about a dollar) so I backed up to get it. BIG MISTAKE! The arm came back down, and we were stuck in the parking lot on a Sunday night with no one around! I tried to go to the entrance gate and get another ticket, but there is some sort of sensor that can tell if a car is there, so I couldn’t get a ticket! So, thankfully Dion was with me so he called the help number…after several tries, they helped us open the gate with a code. I learned my lesson to remember my change or not back up to get it!! I don’t know what I would have done if Dion wasn’t there…leave my car and take the train home I think!!! My supervisors would have loved getting me out of that one the next morning!

I have also taken up running again, starting last week. I have been on four runs all between 2-4 miles! I am trying to run 3 times a week and I have entered a 10k in May, right near Mt. Fuji. It should be a race with a good view, if it’s not cloudy anyway! I hate how Fujisan plays peek-a-boo with me all the time! I suppose it makes it extra exciting when I can actually see her!

Graduation was on Monday of this week. It was interesting to watch the traditional Japanese ceremony. Many people comment on how different it is, but I guess to me it didn’t seem all so different (I must be in the “look at the similarities” stage of culture shock). Students cried, there were a lot of speeches, everyone was dressed formally…I suppose that was all the same. Instead of walking across the stage to get their diplomas though, the students are called one by one and they shout “hai” (yes) and stand up. Then one person from the homeroom class goes to the stage to get the whole stack of diplomas for the group. I read someone’s facebook status comparing the ceremony to a catholic mass, which I can definitely see. Lots of standing and sitting and singing slow songs in high octaves (the national anthem, graduation song, and the school song). And then bowing instead of kneeling! The whole thing was quite serious with no clapping until the very end when we stood and clapped while all 280 students walked out of the gym. That is a long time to clap!!!!

I suppose that is quite a long update – sorry bout that! I am sure there is more to tell, but that’s enough for one sitting. I hope all is well at home! Looking forward to seeing people this summer!!!!!!!