Wednesday, June 29, 2011

International Festival

A group of us ALTs headed out to the annual International Festival. Kids from the nearby towns come out to see what fun things the ALTs have planned. This year was another fun year.

One of our honerary Americans is quite excited about our homemade Obama stickers.

L showing off happy UK-ness.

Not sure what happened here.

Proud to be an American.

The America booth.

A fun hat.

Celebrating the completion of another successful International Festival at the yummy Indian food place.


"That nan is huge!"


After dinner, we headed to 7-11 so R could try to win the Kapibara tea set from a drawing they were doing.

Wait, what? I won another GIANT kapibara?

Oh no!

What will people say?

Well, if you can't beat them, add them to your couch collection? :)
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Another birthday celebration!

Last week I got to celebrate my birthday, twice! A lovely couple, Y & M, who I’ve made friends with (the new baby in the photo is theirs) had me over for a birthday dinner, plus a few other friends of theirs.

It was a lot of fun. Y made curry for dinner along with many other delicious foods. As far as colors go, this salad was my favorite.
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They even lit up their wall with my name.
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Here’s the whole group (minus M, who is taking the picture).
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God has blessed me with some good friends here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A fun Japan Birthday!

My birthday was last week. Last year my birthday wasn’t so fun. A few people remembered, we had mini-fish salad for lunch and then everyone was busy in the evening. It was a hard day because it was the first birthday I had ever spent away from my family and on top of that, I didn’t get to do anything with friends.

This year was a different story, entirely.

The day started with a skype call with grandma for a few minutes before I left for work. She and I caught up – it’s been a few weeks since we’ve both been on skype as she’s been traveling and I’ve been sleeping in a bit.

Then I headed for work. The day was beautiful.
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My students and one of the teachers remembered that it was my birthday. My second grader (there are only 9 kids at that school) gave me a beautiful, pressed flower bookmark.

We spent the first recess playing badminton. Which is kind of crazy with first through sixth graders. Some of my kids are really good with their racket and others can barely get the birdie in the air.

During English the vice-principal and I taught English. We were supposed to teach my fifth and sixth grader numbers 1-20, but they already knew those numbers, so we extended it to 100 and played snakes and ladders (or shoots and ladders). They had a blast.

At lunch time, we said “itadakimas” to start the meal and I was immediately told to open my milk. I thought, “this is strange, there is never a milk opening rule.” I discovered seconds later that it was so that they could “kampai” (say cheers) for my birthday. It was so sweet!

After lunch, the students have recess again, and they decided they wanted to play "floor curling,” which is the same a curling, except the “stones” have wheels on the bottom, so you can slide them across the room.

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As with golf and several other sports, I had a terrible time making the stone move a certain distance. I was either way too far or way too short. I did manage to tie with two of my students for first, once. But other than that, I was in the bottom half of the group every time.

After school, I got to enjoy more of the beautiful weather as I drove home to change and head out to Furano.
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In Furano, I met J at M’s Café while we waited for K to get off of work. This Café has the best Chai in all of Japan (or at least what I’ve tasted) because she uses a good combination of spices and it doesn’t taste like Milk Tea with a tiny bit of spices, but real chai. I got an iced chai.
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J got a fun coffee.
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When K finished work, we headed out to dinner. The dinner was so good! J and I couldn’t decide so we shared Swordfish and pork. Yum! Though the best part was the company. J and K are just fun to hang out with.
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We ended the night with yummy dessert at another shop. 2011-06-16 Birthday 26

At the end of the night I headed home with a grin on my face after a fun birthday in Japan.

I had to stop for the train on the way home (the arms come down before the train even gets to the platform, so drivers get to wait for all the people to get on before we can go again). While waiting, I decided to see if I could get a cool train shot when the train came by.
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After I got home, I was able to talk to my mom, dad, a good friend at home and my sister. A wonderful ending to a very fun birthday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Soran! Soran!

The second weekend in June was spent with many good friends at Sapporo’s annual Yosokoi festival.

Yosokoi is a kind of Japanese dance. My understanding is the dance was originally made to mimic moves from fishing in Japan, since it was such a major part of life quite a long time ago.

With a few friends in various teams from Hokkaido, we all headed into Sapporo to see what was happening.

On Friday night, E, K and I stayed with N and J, two Sapporo ALTs. Friday night was dinner and mostly general fun hanging out way too late after a day of work. N made peanut chicken for us!
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Saturday started with a trip to the Station to pick up a filter for my second camera lens and then a walk to Odori Park where the majority of the festivities were happening.
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We weren’t so happy to have the rain start as soon as we got to the festival area.
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Even the Power Rangers came out to see the festival.
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As of that weekend, Hokkaido is finally beginning to look like summer.
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After a few minutes of wandering around, we found a good place to watch the festivities.
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Eventually, we needed a break. Most of us are located in pretty rural places, so we headed to a foreigner favorite – Starbucks!
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We eventually found the mix and match team. Which included characters such as Stitch, Pikachu and Santa.

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 Then we started talking about ice cream and of course, our favorite, Mint Crunky. Which we couldn't just talk about, we had to go find.
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We ended the day with a stop at the amazing Mexican Restaurant near N & J’s house.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An accident

Almost two weeks ago, there was a car accident on the highway near the school. It was fairly serious because they had to call for a helicopter to take the victim to the hospital.

My town is so small though, that we don’t have a heli-pad for the helicopter to land on, so they landed the helicopter on our school field. It made for an interesting afternoon.

First, our local firefighters came over to have a look and hang some sort of flag to tell the helicopter where to land.
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After that, it was a bit of a wait before we even caught sight of the helicopter.
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It landed.
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The joys of living in a small town. Our kyoikucho (Superintendent) came out on his bicycle to see what was happening.
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After a very long wait to see what would happen, they flew off with the person and a small child. But knowing what little I know about health care, I was surprised at how long the ambulance sat next to the helicopter before they transferred the person.
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The details that I heard were this: a bus and a small k-car (like a smart car) were in an accident.

As I heard what little I did and saw some of the aftermath, I was quite thankful that so many people advised me against getting a small k-car. My car is fairly huge and if I were in an accident, my odds would be decently good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A new toy!

A few weeks ago, I realized that I really wanted to upgrade my camera. I started talking to my parents about it to see what they thought – my original plan was to pay off my student loans before I bought a new camera.
They encouraged me to go for it.

After a lot of debate, I ended up deciding on the Nikon D5100.
(Photo found here)

When it arrived, I found that it came in typical packaging and that the Amazon box was about twice the size of everything I ordered. Then, it was shrink-wrapped and stuck to a piece of cardboard. Once I got that open, I also had the fun of opening all the tiny boxes that come in the big Nikon box. But the surprises were good and once it was finally out of the packaging, I had a new camera to try out. So I grabbed my camera and my bike and went out for a photo-ride.

Here are some of the results.

My first shot: a dandelion. I liked the way the light was hitting it. Though it surprised me because the thing I was most unsure about with the D5100 was the screen that moved. But it was super helpful with this shot.
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A rock
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I took a bunch of others, but these were my favorites. Keep watching my flickr page to see more recent photos.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring Sakura

Here are a few pictures of the spring Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) that were blooming in and around town a week or two ago.

The first two were taken in Furano on my way home one Sunday, along with one that was posted on flicker within the last week.

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This one was taken overlooking a part of town.

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This one is near our lake.

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I like Sakura season in Japan, but it’s very short and we don’t have a lot of Sakura in town. Apparently they aren’t good for potato crops.