Hisashiburi everyone! (Long time no see!)
Sorry that this post has been such a long time coming. Summer vacation came on fast and strong and I haven’t had the time or energy to post until now. Even then, this post isn’t as impressive or comprehensive as I would have liked. A lot has happened and I have hardly an idea of where to start. I suppose I’ll just start with what I said I’d write about in my last post. My fishing and hot springs trip with the teachers from my favorite school.
I met up with my teachers at 1:45 am then we drove for a couple hours to the place where the boat would depart in Miyazu. The boat set off at 4:30am just around the time the sun was coming up (they don’t call it the land of the rising sun for nothing). We settled down and watched the sun rise before starting on our first net. It was slow going and a lot of hard work, but we managed to pull in the first one without too many problems. We caught a lot of different kinds of fish, including a little puffer fish (fugu). They couldn’t eat him but they kept him out of the water so he was going to die, so while no one was looking I took him to the other side of the boat and set him free. The one teacher who noticed laughed at me. After all of the fish were caught, we moved onto the second net.
By the time we finished our third net, we were all exhausted and the summer heat was starting up. We were also starving. As part of the fishing trip we got to eat some of what we caught. We did not get to eat the swordfish since it is apparently very rare and very very expensive in the area (we’re talking over $1,000 expensive), but we got to have tons of squid (ika) and other assorted fish. Of course, the fish still had eyes and bones and pretty much nothing done to them before they were thrown on a grill so they looked like something a horror movie would spit out. After covering the eyes of the fish I somehow managed to make it through, but it was a challenge….Little did I know that was not the only food challenge that would be offered to me that day, but more on that later…
After breakfast, we piled back into our cars and headed toward our second destination.
Our second stop was a little tour boat that took us around to look at all of the old boat houses that line the water in the area. I didn’t understand the significance of them then, but after looking into them, I found out that most of them were built during the Edo/Tokugawa period (1600/1603-1868) and that 10% of them are currently unoccupied since most of the owners refuse to rent them out to anyone who is under a certain age and isn’t planning on living there for the rest of their lives. The average age of the residents is also the highest in Japan with almost no young people living there. The area is absolutely gorgeous though and I wish I could speak enough Japanese to convince them to let me live in one of those places….
Once our little tour was done we moved onto our third and final destination, Aburaya.
Aburaya is a hot spring situated up on a hill on the peninsula. It’s an absolutely stunning place and I found out afterward that it’s the most famous and popular hot spring in the area. It’s also the most expensive. Thankfully, we didn’t stay the night, but we did finally get to shower and get the fish scales and grime off of us, then we relaxed in the hot springs. Well, I relaxed in the hot spring for about 5 minutes before overheating and having to sit on a bench the rest of the time……
Then we moved into a traditional styled room with a wonderful view to have lunch. Everyone had the oyster platters except me and one other teacher. We ended up with a whole mess of stuff. Lunch lasted for 2 hours and consisted of about 10 different courses.
I was full after the second.
It was quite the challenge, especially because the teachers made me try oysters which I did not enjoy one bit. This gave them a fun idea so the game became ‘let’s see how much and what weird things we can make the foreigner try!’. As you may have guessed, I was not a fan of this game. They even said afterward that “She’ll never trust us again…” This is indeed correct.
After that we headed home. It was a great experience and I had a blast getting to spend time outside of school with my favorite teachers.
There was one week of sitting at the Board of Education (BOE) then summer vacation started!
I left almost immediately for Tokyo where I stayed for 11 nights. It was quite the culture shock to be back in Tokyo and it felt like nothing in my life had changed since 2011. I didn’t particularly like it. They also moved some of my favorite stores around which made for even more walking. After driving in Japan for 5 months, walking everywhere was a pain in the butt. Trying to make the trains and having to deal with the delays was also a major irritation. It was, however, really nice to be around things again and to know where everything was. Though I did get some strange looks when I didn’t think about how I was saying things and spoke in the Fukuchiyama dialect….(we sound like rednecks to the Japanese ear…)
Since so much happened over break, I’ve broken it down into a smaller more organized post for both my sanity and yours. So here’s the stuff that happened over break, one day at a time.
Starting off, one would think getting to the station would be the easy part of the trip, especially when you only live 20 minutes walk from said station, however this was quite the nightmare this time.
I set off walking with my suitcase, on the hottest sunniest day we’d had in a while, after not being able to contact either of the two other ALTs that were in town with cars. I made it half way to the station or so before one of the wheels fell off my suitcase. I was of course surprised and frustrated, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I made it a ways further but then the wheel was falling off every few seconds. I tried to contact the others to come and get me since walking back was going to be a huge challenge, but still no response. Finally, getting tired and frustrated from being in the heat and sun with a broken suitcase and missing my first train, I managed to maneuver the suitcase back to the house.
I switched everything into a different suitcase then started on the trip again, still not being able to contact the two. I made it to about the same point and the same thing happened to the same wheel on the new suitcase. I was not a happy camper. I gave up and just took the wheel and put it in my backpack and figured out how to maneuver the suitcase without it. I had already missed two trains, I couldn’t afford to miss another. Finally, I got to the station, got my ticket, then piled onto the first of four trains I needed to take to get to Tokyo.
This is, of course, the moment I heard back from the other ALTs….both at the same time too….
The broken suitcase was a pain, but was not unbearable. I ended up having it shipped back to the apartment instead of trying to maneuver it on my own though.
On the 1st, I met up with Rachel after she got out of school and after getting my hair permanently straightened like I’d been wanting to do since the start of summer. We hopped on the train and headed down to a dinner that was being held by our college in the world trade center.
The president of the university was in attendance and we got to talk to a lot of different people and I got to ask someone with my major what exactly they’re doing with it. It was good to hear that he didn’t regret it.
The venue was beautiful and had great view of Tokyo tower. The all you could eat food and drinks were nice too…
On the 2nd, KCP had their speech contest which I was invited to. When I attended KCP the contest was cancelled due to the earthquake so this was a first for me. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would though. I got to talk with some of the teachers too and was even invited back to judge for next time.
After the contest, I went to Omotesando to meet up with Naomi, a lovely wonderful girl I met back in 2009 while visiting Trisha. We ate and watched a man in drag do a tv spot outside of the restaurant before walking to Shibuya and meeting up with Rachel. The three of us did some shopping then hunkered down in a nice cafe to relax and talk for a while.
On the 3rd, Rachel and I went to Ikebukuro to have a fun adventure around all the used shops and the Sunshine Building.
A new addition to Ikebukuro was J-World, which took over the top floor of Namco’s Namja Town. I didn’t expect it to be as wonderful as it was. There were characters you could take pictures with and everything was themed after the different Shonen Jump manga. My favorites were of course, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, and Prince of Tennis.
We played lots of games and even did Prince of Tennis purikura(picture booth pictures). We took tons of pictures and had some really great themed food as well. It was by far one of the nerdiest things I’ve ever done and I loved every minute of it.
On the 4th, Rachel and I met up to go to the Tokyo Skytree, but as this was a Sunday it was so crowded it would have taken us 2 hours just to have the opportunity to buy tickets….This was not something we wanted to do. So we simply had lunch at the McDonald’s there then headed out.
The 5th was a day that I had originally planned to have as a day of rest and hiding in my hotel room, but it was the only day I could meet up with my friend, Koei, so I went out to Yokohama to spend the day with him. We ate at Friday’s then hung out and did bit of karaoke before he got called into work. Then I went back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day hiding from the awful heat.
The 6th was another wonderfully nerdy day.
For breakfast, I went across the street from the hotel to the Bach Cafe. It was a very expensive choice, but I have to admit it was quite tasty and how often do you get to eat at a place like this?
After, I met up with Rachel and Jill in west Ikebukuro and we did cosplay karaoke for a couple hours. We all wore Rikkai uniforms and changed our wigs and such around periodically. It was so much fun and the stares were quite amusing every time we went out to get drinks. It was also super cheap which was a nice change!
The 7th was the release date for the Dream Live 2013 dvd. This was the Musical Prince of Tennis show that I saw back in May. Unfortunately, they didn’t put the show that I went to on the DVD like is normal practice. I was really disappointed, but it still makes me happy to have it. The DVD came with a fan, a photo book, AND a pop up book….The rest of my evening was spent watching that with Rachel.
On the 8th, Rachel and I decided to take advantage of the after 5pm special summer passport at Disneyland (the normal starts at 6pm). Unfortunately, it seems that half of Tokyo decided to do the same thing. We were there for 5 hours and we managed to get on 3 rides before the park closed at 10….
For anyone curious, those were, in order: The Haunted Mansion, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Star Tours.
In Star Tours, we ran over a wookie.
On the 9th, I hid in Rachel’s room until she got back for dinner then we went out with her and some of her dorm mates to a nearby Chinese restaurant. Somehow, I inhaled something that fried my throat for a week…
Early on the 10th, Rachel and I gathered our bags and headed to Tokyo station to take the Shinkansen(bullet train) to Kyoto. As we got off the train at Tokyo station to transfer though, we passed my favorite actor who was waiting for the train. That was the perfect way to say good-bye to the area….
In Kyoto, we found our hotel and dropped off our bags then headed to Osaka where we went to the Pokemon Center and met up with a lovely girl named Emma. We hung out for a while then headed off to Shin-Osaka to watch Musical Prince of Tennis(Tenimyu): Seigaku vs. Hyotei.
We had 3rd row seats, though with where we sat they became second row seats. On the aisle too. They were incredible and a lot of fun. It was wonderful to see the boys live again and it definitely helped that Atobe (Aoki – the one on the right in the above picture) seemed to recognize me and decided to make faces at me through the second act and nearly gave me a heart attack during the encore. I love that guy. I eventually got revenge though…
On the 11th, Rachel and I wandered around Kyoto and then headed back to our respective towns. The sad part is it took us the same amount of time, despite me living in the same prefecture as Kyoto…. -_____-;;;
See Part 2 for more!!