Monday, April 20, 2009


Hey all! We had a girls day this weekend and took some super cute purikura, so I thought I would share a few of my favorites!!! Will update this week with a real update :D

Monday, April 13, 2009


My most recent adventure (which I suppose is now about a month ago, oops, sorry for the late update!) was off to Osaka with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time! I had kept in touch with my roommate from Tokyo orientation for months, but didn't see her for a long time! So we decided to meet up in Osaka since neither of us had been there before. Osaka is one of the larger cities in Japan, but at first glance, doesn't really have a lot of exciting things besides your regular big city places. So, since I live so close to Tokyo, often I opt for going there rather than Osaka which is about twice as far away! It was a good opportunity to see a new place, and we discovered quite a few fun things!

Day One:

We visited Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium in the morning, apparently not early enough to avoid the big crowds! There were lots of kids running around and we had to push our way through the crowds to get up to some of the tanks. It's kinda cool, you start by going up to the 7th floor by escalator and then you spiral down around the tanks that are so deep you can see the sea animals at different levels of the "ocean". The aquarium is one of the biggest public aquariums in the world and they had a whale shark, hammerhead sharks, tons of stingrays and manta rays, dolphins, octopuses, oversized crab things, and so much more, that honestly, I don't know that much about :) But still really fun to see! Above is me and Danielle posing with the whale shark - they take one professional picture and one with your camera, and they had the professional one on display when we went to go pick it up - we were famous foreigners that morning haha!

Next, we ventured off to Osaka Castle. The castle was originally built in the late 1500s, but has since been reconstructed several times due to fires and such...and I would assume just general falling apart, because 400 years is a long time! We walked around the grounds and I caught my first glimpses of cherry blossoms.

There is a park with about 400 cherry trees, but most of them weren't blooming yet. There were about 10 of them blooming though, and each of those trees had a group of people enjoying Hanami parties. Here's me stopping to smell the sakura :)

Also, inside the castle you could try on warrior costumes from way back when, and some random Japanese guy saw that I was going to do it, so he waited for me to get my armor on so he could take a picture with me. Fun times :)

After the castle, we headed off to Tsutenkaku Tower. It apparently used to be the tallest building in Osaka or something amazing, but it's appeal has faded through the years. It was still kinda fun and we went up into the top to get some good night city views.

Last, but not least, we went on the Temposzan Harbor Village Ferris Wheel. It's 112.5 meters high and has a diameter of 100 meters, so really big! Above is me in the ferris wheel high above the city!

Day Two:

Since we had to get home on Sunday, there wasn't a whole lot of time for sightseeing. We started our day off at Spa World, a big building full of public baths. I do this pretty frequently as you know, but the kicker on this one was that it's got a European floor and and Asian themed floor, so the baths are quite impressive. This month the women's floor was the Europe, so there was a big mock Trevi fountain for Rome, and lots more for Spain, the Mediteranean, Greece, Finland, and Italy. You can see pictures of the different baths here.

After a relaxing morning, we were off to Tennoji Park, complete with Japanese style gardens, one of the things I love about Japan!

That concluded our Sunday, and I trekked it home by Shinkansen bullet train. I hope you enjoyed the picture tour recap. If you want to see more pictures, check them out here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Hey all! As your Easter Sunday begins, mine is ending. I had a fabulous day, although it definitely didn't feel like Easter. I spent today with a few friends from my English conversation class. We had a "hanami" or "cherry blossom viewing" party at one of the temples in my city. I hadn't been there yet because it's a little bit in the countryside. The trip was well worth it though! Here are a few pictures from the day!

We sat under a bunch of cherry trees with petals falling from the trees. We had petals all over our blankets and even in our food! Not only did we have petals falling around us like snow, but we got to see the snow on top of Mt. Fuji too!! Fuji-san was playing hide and seek a bit during the day, but in the afternoon, it was all clear, as you can see here! Apparently this is a photo that all Japanese people want to take - with cherry blossoms and Mt. Fuji, two of the major symbols of Japan. The photo isn't anything to brag about, but it makes me happy just because I love Sakura and I love Fuji!

We were near Taiseki Temple, which had a bunch of paths to walk around, lots of buildings, and an amazing garden like the one above. Azusa and I walked around for a little while while I snapped photo after photo :) I need to go back there so I can spend more time walking around at a leisurely pace. Did I mention it was over 70 degrees today?! It got up to 70 every day in the last week, Spring has officially arrived!! The afternoon got a little breezy when the sun wasn't directly above, but it was still fabulous!

So many petals are falling off now that they are starting to form little piles from the wind blowing them around.

Here's the clan! Harumi, Masayuki, Azusa, Me and Yoshihiro, all from my adult converstion class that I teach on Tuesday nights. We hung out all day, had delicious food, played a little badminton and volleyball. It really was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I have to admit it didn't feel like Easter...I remembered a few times throughout the day that it was a holiday back home...but it's different when I'm out and about and everyone else is sleeping!! So, while I am sleeping I guess, I hope you all have as good of a day as I had!! I love you and miss you lots!! Ash

Spring Beginnings

On Friday was my first Oral Communication class of the school year with the new first year students, and it went off brilliantly! The newly accepted students are feeling lucky to be at NishiKo and haven't quite been worn down with all the studying it seems. Last school year I struggled getting volunteers for anything, and in my first class I had almost too many volunteers! And they didn't seem too shy to speak in front of the class in English and actually do the activity in English. I'm sure it's a bit delusional, but I hope they continue to be so excited about my class! I sure it will fade a bit, but for the moment I'm just going to enjoy! And hope that the rest of the sections of the class are just as genki next week!

Today I went running at Lake Tanuki and there were tons of people out there sitting under the cherry blossoms. Lake Tanuki is always picturesque because of the lake and the trees, especially when the weather is nice and you can see Mt. Fuji, but it was especially nice today with the cherry blossoms and all the people enjoying the nice weather. It got up to 75 today, so the perfect day for enjoying time outside! It really was an enjoyable afternoon under the sun. On my drive up to the lake, there were quite a few cherry blossom petals blowing in the wind, it was almost like it was raining flower petals, it was really pretty. They sort of "glitter" the ground now in some places. I'll be sad to see them go. Tomorrow I will be going to enjoy another cherry blossom picnic, and that will probably be the last of the season.

It's hard to believe that it is Easter this weekend, time is just flying by! Before I know it, I'll be home to visit. I hope you all have a Happy Easter Sunday with your families. Love you and miss you, and wish I could be there to celebrate with you! And of the nice, big, juicy turkey and mashed potatoes (not complete without gravy of course)!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's Hanami Season!

It seems that Spring has officially arrived in Japan. The weather is getting progressively warmer and things are starting to bloom - namely the cherry blossoms! During cherry blossom season, there are many "hanami" or cherry blossom viewing parties. People get together in parks and at shrines (anywhere there are a lot of cherry trees), lay down a tarp, and have a big picnic. Everyone brings food and drinks and ours included some music and a lively discussion with my "Would You Rather?" game cards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

St. Patty's Day

A few weeks ago I went to a St. Patrick's Day in Yokohama, near Tokyo. They had a parade and lots of people giving out stickers and green balloons and people dressed up as cartoon characters! It wasn't so much Irish as it was just a big gathering of foreigners in Japan, but fun nonetheless. They had some of the military bands and dance classes and baton throwers (probably students from the international schools in Tokyo). It was a pretty short parade, even shorter than the ones in Round Lake for Sun and Fun Days haha!!! After we went to an Irish bar. It was a good time to catch up with some of the teachers around here that I don't see as often because they live a bit further away.

In our St. Patty's Day get-ups!

A mixing of Japanese and Irish Culture?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New School Year

I haven't been doing so hot with the blog updating lately, I apologize. It's been quite the adjustment period lately as the school year came to an official close and it's now beginning. I am looking forward to starting and finishing a school year with a class, as it's something I haven't done before! I will also have more classes this school year and a bit more responsibility at the school it seems, which I am welcoming with open arms! The opening ceremony for the school year is tomorrow morning. I am excited and nervous -- not only will I have all new students, but also I will be team teaching with three different teachers. Two of them I have worked with doing tutoring and stuff, but I haven't actually taught with them, so I don't know what their teaching styles are like, so I'm quite nervous! And one of the teachers I just met last week, so I know nothing about her and my first class of the school year is with her! I have some new ideas for the school year and the teachers have only had good things to say about them, so I'm excited to see how they work.

I'll post more about the other things I have been doing separately with photos - I went to a St. Patty's Day Parade in Yokohama (near Tokyo) one weekend, I went to Osaka for a weekend, and have been enjoying the cherry blossom viewing season with local friends.

I have also added pictures to my flickr, be sure to check them out! Click Here