Friday, February 25, 2011

Abashiri Drift Ice Trip

This year, the drift ice decided it wanted to come out and play.

A few weeks ago, 5 of us piled into my car and headed east to see the drift ice that we had only heard about because last year it refused to come out for us.

This time, after a stop for onsen and Indian food, we made our way to the dock to see what we could see.

First, we spotted our boat!

2011-02-05 Drift Ice 01

We went out just as some friends came in on this boat (we didn’t know though).

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After we left the dock, we saw the ice in the distance.

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Slowly, we got closer.

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Until we were surrounded.

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My thoughts, of course, went to the Titanic. Thankfully, we didn’t go down in the icy water!

After the cruise, a few of us got drift ice flavored ice cream. (The right side is blue and Japanese soda flavor)

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I spotted this after I separated from the group in Asahikawa.

2011-02-06 Travels 06

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tomamu Ice Village

Last week a friend in town, Kana, invited me to go to Tomamu Ice Village with her after work one day.

We started at her place for dinner before heading out to Tomamu.

2011-02-09 Tomamu Ice Village 01

Before leaving Kana’s we bundled up in ski-wear prepared ourselves for the cold. We got there, parked and entered the ice village through a long tunnel.

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They have a restaurant,

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and some sort of café. I loved the way the tables lit up

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The bar has heart shaped glasses

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Isn’t Kana adorable?

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(The wall was much higher than either of us expected).

The tunnel changes colors.

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Both of us!

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I think the chapel on the water was the most beautiful part. 2011-02-09 Tomamu Ice Village 20

And the ice chapel.

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It was a fun night. Kana and I had some good conversation on the drive there and back. Probably the part that sticks out the most was when she asked me where all the other people our age are. I think she’s the only other person I know in town who is my exact age, though there are a couple of teachers who are close in age, but they are either shy about English or seem to always be busy working. It’s kind of interesting because there are very few young adults in town, most everyone is either a parent/grandparent or a young child/student; most people in between don’t seem to stick around.

Friday, February 18, 2011

God’s awesome sense of humor.

I came home and was doing the last of the random things I needed to do before having a friend over this weekend, when I knocked my water bottle all over the table . . . and my JLPT results (they’re partially coated in plastic, so they’ll be fine). So much for the dry, clean towels that I had just cleaned!

As I’m laughing about what a klutz I am, I go to the kitchen to find something for dinner. When I smell something not right. I think it’s the nama-gomi (the compost garbage) I forgot to take out last week and is now near the end of week two. When I open the cupboard and behind a few non-perishables, is a bagel I couldn’t remember eating, but couldn’t find. It’s now at least a month old and covered in bright green, smelly mold. Ick!

Then I re-tell the whole mess to a friend (you can’t be a complete klutz and not laugh at your self – who else looses a bagel?) when this song comes on.

God has a wonderful sense of humor. “In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.” That sums it up pretty well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another snow adventure

Today’s snow adventure brings us to the field with another one of my tiny elementary schools. It was another teacher’s “Waku-waku” time. I don’t have any clue what “waku-waku” time is, except that it means whoever is in charge of it (student or teacher) they get to choose what we do, and it’s usually something active.

Today Yamada-sensei got to choose. She’s a tiny little 22-year-old from Asahikawa (she’s absolutely adorable!).

So everyone headed over to get their snow gear on . . . except the ALT. Unfortunately, I only got to watch today because I hadn’t know we would be going out and didn’t bring snow gear or a change of clothes. It was still fun to watch.

We started out with the customary, line up. Yamada-sensei addressed all 8 kids that go to this school and told them the plan.

Shimokin Snow Soccer 002

The plan was to do a relay with a soccer ball, going out to the cone, bringing it back and then handing it off.

Since I couldn’t even out the teams, the principal decided to take pictures instead.

Shimokin Snow Soccer 003

The snow was deeper than he anticipated!

M runs with the ball to the end.

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Yamada-sensei is up to her knees in snow.

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Owari-desu! (It’s over).

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today’s fun in the snow

Last week the main English teacher at one of my elementary schools invited me to build snowmen with the students, and told me to “wear ski gear.”

So today I arrived and found that we were indeed making snowmen. But of course, it had to be more organized than just “we’re making snowmen.”

The goal: make the tallest snowman in 20 minutes.

First we spread out all over the field.

2010-02-15 Ochiai Snow 04

Then we began packing the snow to make snowballs. The snow in my area is light and fluffy. I was having a terrible time at getting it to pack.

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But N knew just what to do to make a giant snowball.

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So did S.

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He was having about as much luck as I was.

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The vice principal had the right idea. He piled up lots of tiny snowballs to make a big snowman!

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In the end, the kids picked up their snowmen and carried them over to decide the winner.

After the snowman building contest, we had a very organized snowball fight. I didn’t catch the rules but we had two teams and had 2 minutes to make snowballs before the “fight'” began.

It was a fun afternoon in the snow!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Minor Surgery

Last week, after a good, but small eikaiwa class we were cleaning up the chairs and tables when I caught my hand on a table, removing along with my hand a giant splinter.

I couldn’t get it out and one of my students tried to help, but ended up just breaking off the end. With about 6 people trying to crowd around and see if I was ok, I just brushed it off and said I was fine.

I stuck my hand in my glove and then had to be very careful with it for my walk home, as it hurt to even make a fist (it was right in the palm of my hand).

When I got home I discovered it was not going to be easy to get out. It was the kind of splinter that the last time I got one, I ended up on dad’s lap screaming because it hurt so much and him using a needle/pocket knife/other objects to get out.

I knew this: I did NOT want to get an infection. So, to prepare for my inevitable minor surgery, I pulled out a needle, the antiseptic and some Neosporin.

I tried to get it out with the needle, but it wouldn’t come out. So I asked a friend on skype what she thought. She suggested a knife. I sanitized that and tried it. I managed to cut a hole above the splinter, but not enough to get it out. Eventually I got the skin opened up to find that I needed the tweezers – which I also sanitized.

Eventually I had success! I put antiseptic on it and then rubbed some neosporin on top before applying a bandaid to the palm of my hand – what a pain!

But today, almost a week later, it is almost completely healed – horray!

Below is the splinter – and my minor surgery set up.

2011-02-07 Minor Surgery 2

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I passed!

Back in December, I took the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) level 4 (one up from the lowest). After a very long wait, I came home from Sapporo yesterday to find, my results.

I passed!!!

2011-02-13 Pass

Friday, February 4, 2011


Today I begin the Journey to Abashiri to see the Drift Ice. Tomorrow, with a total of 5 friends in the car we’ll treck from Asahikawa to Abashiri, taking four hours or so. Should be a fun journey with friends I haven’t gotten to see much since Christmas break.

Last year we made the journey across Hokkaido only to find out that there wasn’t any and the Sunset Cruise was cancelled.

Will there be any this year? Stay tuned to find out!