Saturday, May 23, 2009

Paul's Visit to Japan

Here's a sampling of the rest of Paul's visit to Japan.

Biking around Kamakura -- Paul loves the Japanese bikes ;)



The Daibutsu - Big Buddha - Kamakura


Eating yakiniku with Andrea and Joe - Fuji

Hiking at Lake Kawaguchi...while eating ice cream....

At the top of the Mountain at Lake Kawaguchi
Swan Paddleboats!! Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Tanuki - Fujinomiya
Shiraito Waterfalls - Fujinomiya

Giants vs. Dragons in Tokyo Dome

One of the first things we did when Paul was here was go to a Japanese baseball game -- here are some photos from the big event!
The big screen:



The stands:


The cheerleaders:


Beer kegs on their backs!! There's a way to sell beer to the salary men...and apparently foreigners too haha!


The crew - Joe and Andrea (and Jenny...sorry babe haha!)


Kari and Jenny

The boys - Kory and Paul



Giants win! Kelly's happy and Andrea's sad because she was cheering for the Dragons!

Giants Win!!

video

Ashley and Paul Take on Kyoto

Though three weeks late, here's an update on me and Paul's trip to Kyoto...might post a few more pics from the other places we went!

First, we went to Fushimi Inari. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines. Inari is the god of business, so each of the Torii (the orange gates) is donated by a Japanese business. The torii line the path up to the top of the mountain -- pretty cool!!


Next, we biked off to Kinkakuji, which is no small feat! It's allllllllllll the way on the other side of Kyoto, which we realized is too big of a city to bike across. Too bad for us, we still had to get our bikes back to the hostel on the other side of town after! Quite the workout! The name for the temple in English is The Golden Pavillion -- the top two floors are covered in pure gold leaf. The pond in front is called mirror pond...you sorta see the start of the reflection in the pond.
Next we were off to Ryuanji Temple -- Here's the zen garden. One of the most famous zen gardens in Japan!
After feeling all zen, we had to bike back to the hostel! Quite the trip! On day 2 to we went to Arashiyama Park to see the monkeys! Here we are posing in front of Kyoto with one of the monkeys!


And here I am feeding one...though he kept throwing the banana peels back at me! Kinda backwards, you had to feed the monkeys from inside the cage. Pretty crazy!



And here's Kyoto station with the reflection of Kyoto tower in it. What a good trip!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Six Weeks!

6 weeks until I come home for a visit!! I can't wait, though I know those six weeks are going to just fly by. I don't have a whole lot going on in the middle, I need to stay home and save up money!! I seriously went through a stage where I didn't go anywhere for months, and then all of a sudden was going going going every weekend! This month especially! So anyway, looking forward to seeing everyone, please drop me a line and let me know what you're doing in July!

I started back up with teaching again this week after midterm exams, things are good. It's still my usual slow schedule with only 1-2 classes a day, but it gives me something to look forward to (or dread and the love once I'm there, that's more my process). I have been using a lot more free time to read at work and at home as I'm coming across more and more interesting books. There are a lot of random books in my apartment...but lots that I'm not really interested in! So I've been doing lots of book trading with other ALTs, and it's been good.

Though I have been reading a lot which is good, I have not been studying Japanese. I decided I need to get a tutor for my second year, because then I will be forced a little more to study. I'm really one who needs someone to hold me accountable for things like that. And it's hard to be motivated to study when I make it through with the basics, especially at school and around my city without any problems. So...tutor it is for the second year so I don't leave Japan ashamed at how little Japanese I actually know! I don't expect to walk away an expert...but some basic conversation skills would be good.

This past weekend I went down to the Black Ship Festival in Shimoda -- It's where Commander Perry's ships forced the American's way into Japan...an interesting thing to celebrate. I drove down with a friend, so this was one of my farthest driving adventures. Adventurous it was on narrow, windy, and mountainous roads!! Left us feeling a little car sick as we were trying to get there before the fireworks began on Friday night! The fireworks were amazing, definitely worth the trip there. I realize I come from small town America where the fireworks are a bit lame, but these were the best I've ever seen. And on the Japan scale, they probably weren't necessarily that spectacular. But I enjoyed them. The rest of the festival was pretty low-key, but it was nice to hang out with the ladies and have a big slumber party for the weekend. Since we all sleep on the floor on futons, it really does have a slumber party feel!

Yesterday we had our Regional Meeting for ALTs, so it was nice to get out of a day of school and spend some time with the other teachers in my area, even though the content of the meeting was a little dry. Still pretty informational, and we talked about textbooks and I'm in the process of picking out next year's book! I kinda want to stick with the one I've got, it's so much better than last years! But there are a few that are similar and I'm hoping they get whichever one I recommend, since I plan all the lessons!

Hope all is going well at home. See you in 6 weeks!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finally!!

Alright, so here comes the stream of updates that you probably dread reading all at one time, sorry!!!!

Things are going well here. The school year is in full swing, in fact it's midterm test time, so just getting into the meat of the semester. Which means my first year students will soon lose their eagerness to learn once they realize that high school tests are much harder than junior high and that they have to spend every last minute they have studying. Ahhhhh Japan. I shouldn't be pessamistic, but it's probably true. For the time being, classes are going well. I have a little break this week from teaching classes, which has been filled with correcting essays instead. Makes for some interesting reading, however after awhile it gets super redundant. Highlights: my students think I'm 30 years old, one of my students has an obsession with dictionaries, and many girls want to be perfect wives, which is why they are in the "homemaking" club/cooking club/home ec club. I have another stack of second year essays, but for my sanity, I am putting them off until at least Friday!

My adult conversation class is just getting going. We have had three classes now, and I'm enjoying the mix of old and new students. I'm trying improve on the class from last session, and so far I think I've been successful.

I got sick last Tuesday, and today I think I am really on the road to full recovery. I still have a bit of a cough, but overall, everything else is feeling pretty good. But basically that means I have done nothing but sleep, eat and read for most of the last week! I did decide to try to run my 10K race on Sunday despite being sick, but it didn't go so well considering I could barely breathe just walking. I ended up walking about half of it, but I guess I finished :) and got my "free" t-shirt and certificate for finishing. And there were plenty of people who walked it, so I guess I shouldn't feel too bad. I still feel like I want to run another race in June to redeem myself. Sucks after training awhile and knowing you can run that far...and then still having to walk half cuz you're sick. I have a few random ideas of races in the future, but they are sorta far off dreams, so maybe I shall share them later :)

So that is the rundown on my general life these days. Miss you all!!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Non-Update

Sorry I suck at updating lately. Have been trying to spend less time on the computer, and I had my first visitor a few weeks ago!!! Busy with traveling and playing tour guide. Will update on my adventures with Paul soon. Hope all is well at home!!!!!!