Monday, September 28, 2009

Silver Week Vacation - Goza Beach

Last week, there were three national holidays in a row, making it a 5 day weekend. Hate Japan when I have to take a vacation day at Christmas, but love Japan when I get 5 day weekends for "Respect for the Aged Day," "Autumnal Equinox Day," and according to my calendar, an unnamed "National Holiday." Amazing. So, 9 of us in the Fuji family + a few cousins made our way down to Mie-ken, a big south/west of where we live. It was a fabulous weekend/week of relaxing on the beach. We rented two bungalows and rented "futons" which really turned out to be more like blankets on a hardwood floor inside the bungalows, but a snooze here and there on the beach made it okay.

It was nice to take in a few sunsets at the beach. Sunsets by where I live aren't much to write home about. Above Liz and I are taking it all in. We grilled almost all of our meals. The guys were gracious enough to cook almost everything. We did grilled pork and beef with Japanese style grill sauce, hamburgers with all the fixings, jerk chicken, and even eggs and sausages in the morning!! Note the inflatable bananas hanging in the trees behind the grill and shower building. I really wanted to take them into the water!!

Since the guys were doing the grilling, the girls became the designated vegetable choppers. Liz got a little bored and became threatening...mostly cuz the pumpkin was so hard to cut!

We grilled pumpkin, onion, peppers, cabbage, mushrooms, and eggplant almost every night! A few meals we ate at a small Japanese restaurant by the beach.

We did a lot of just hanging out, swimming, reading on the beach, playing beach volleyball, doing fireworks -- nothing all that eventful, but just the way we wanted it. Here's a semi-candid of most of the group down by the water on the first day:

The owners were super friendly. They brought us to the grocery store almost every day (the beach is pretty far away from anything civilized...not in walking distance anyway). He brought a few of us out on his boat and they gave us fresh oyster and shell fish for our grill outs. When we were out on the boat, he stopped at one point, got out and came to talk to us. He pointed one way and said, "This way: America." It was quite Christopher Columbus-like.

It was a great weekend, though the trip there and back was tiring since we had to take a ferry, limited express train, the shinkansen bullet train, taxi and local train. It was a great week with the Fuji Family, can't wait til the next great adventure!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Quick Update

This past weekend was filled with social affairs! On Friday night I got together with my "Fuji Family" -- a group of friends in our area and a few "cousins" from about 40 minutes away. We got together for dinner and drinks. It was a good time had by all! Here's a few pics of me and the ladies (though there were men too, I just don't have photos of those!).

Most of us are also headed for the beach this weekend. This week has three public holidays, so we're leaving Saturday until Wednesday for some serious R&R. Going to go for a few runs with Kari, read on the beach, have a BBQ and hang out with most of my best friends in Japan! Can't wait! We rented bungalows right on the beach!

On Saturday I was off to Fuji again, this time with Kelly, one of the other private teachers in my city. She is heading back to America-land next week, so we had to send her off right :) It was a good time and a great opportunity for me to meet a lot of new people!

Sunday we had a huge BBQ with almost 40 teachers and Japanese friends. I was quite impressed with the cooking -- there were tons of chips and dips, kabobs with meat and veggies, hot dogs, brownies, etc etc etc. It was almost like I was in America! Again, a good change to catch up with some others I don't see so often.

At school I have been keeping busy! The essay grading has again begun and I'm on about my third lesson of the semester. I dont' teach much the next few weeks, but that will give me a chance to catch up on those essays! Before I know it, it will be midterms and Dawna will be here so I can have another mini-vacation!

I have also been busy planning a few AJET events -- check out our website. AJET is a group of volunteers that plans activities and outings for the teachers in Shizuoka area. So far this year we have put together a beach day with fireworks (see Atami Fireworks Post), Costume Karaoke, a Mt. Fuji Climb and coming up is White Water Rafting, some people running a road race and some people going to watch a soccer game. I did the white water rafting last year, but I think I'm gonna give it another go this year :) hoping to see Mt. Fuji this year from the river!

Also, I'm studying up to take my driver's test to get my Japanese driver's license. I have to take the driving test next week, the day I get back from the beach!! I'm quite nervous for the test, as I have heard most foreigners fail the first time! I'm going to one of the easier places, but am still a bit nervous as I'm not sure I'll understand everything that is going on! I have a friend coming with to help with the paperwork and interview questions, but I think I'll be on my own during the driving portion. Wish me luck, as I'm gonna need it!!

I've also started taking a Japanese class in my city. It's a bit basic for me as I have studied a little bit on my own, but I still have learned new things each class - especially vocabulary! I'm a little embarassed to be in the beginner section of the class as I've been here a year, but I suppose it's better than not going to the class and ending my second year here at the same level I am now!

Note that I have added a new pictures thing on my blog (see right side bar near the top) and my Twitter status updates. I'm sure very few of you know what Twitter is, but I update a few times a day so you can see what I'm doing! Check it out!

I guess that is about all that is going on here! I hope all is well at home! Take Care!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fujinomiya Fire

After sushi on Monday night, I was at my friend's house and all of a sudden we heard a bunch of sirens and announcements over the city speakers. We didn't know what was going on, so we went into the hallway of her apartment and everyone was running down into the street, so we followed, not knowing that was going on! There was a huge cloud of smoke going into the air from what looked like a few blocks away, and turns out, it really was only a few blocks! Several fire departments were called in to help with the fire and the whole city it seemed was outside watching the fire. I heard today that no one was hurt, though the building I am sure is destroyed. They were rerouting traffic for hours. I took a few videos - check it out!

As I said before, if you get my blogs in an email, you'll have to click here to watch the videos!

Monday Night Sushi

Sushi is quickly becoming one of my new favorite foods, and I've been eating a lot of conveyor belt sushi lately. It's really popular in Japan. Different kinds of sushi go past your table and you can grab whatever you like! It's around a dollar a plate. Decorated plates are wasabi free (like the three of mine below with the yellow rim). My new favorite is the bottom left corner: rice, shrimp (cooked), avocado, onion and mayo on top...soooo wonderful!

Here's the sushi going around and around. See anything you like?

If you don't see something you like, you can do a special order and it's delivered on a mini Shinkansen, the Japanese famous bullet train:

Hope you enjoyed your Kappa Sushi lesson! That's a lotta plates!

Oh yeah -- if you get this by email, you'll have to go to my actual site to see the videos. Click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Down by the River

On Friday night, a bunch of us go together for some quality time down by the river (in the pale moon late....anyone?). We went to the convenience store and stocked up on junk food and hung out for a few hours. It was really relaxing and good to catch up with people! I've been going out a lot more lately on the weekends and it's been nice to keep up with everyone. Since I live on a separate train line, I always gotta leave early, but I suppose in the end that's better for me anyway!