Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer in my small town

A little while ago, I went out and shot some photos of summer in my small town. So, if you were to go on a photo-ride around my town, here are some of the things you’d see.

Fields and fields of carrots.

2011-07-12 KitaO & Summer 19

Wheat or rice fields.

2011-07-12 KitaO & Summer 23

My neighbor’s beautiful flower garden.

2011-07-12 KitaO & Summer 36

2011-07-12 KitaO & Summer 37

(I love these ones, I have no idea what they are).

Summer in this tiny town is beautiful. Though I wish it were a little longer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tengu Matsuri

The Tengu Matsuri this year was for me, yet another photo challenge with my new camera. Last year, I managed to get a few decent shots by pushing my camera to the max and then playing with the shots a bit in Photoshop. This year, with a new camera, I was excited to see what would happen.

After last year, I knew that the Tengu would be walking through the fire. I also knew a good place to be able to see over the crowds (and being short, that’s important). But I hadn’t used this camera very much for this sort of setting yet. I don’t know how it handles with all the manual controls or what the highest iso that is acceptable to my eye is yet.

So, keeping those things in mind, out I went to experiment with the camera and have some good times with friends.

The evening of the festival we were supposed to have a barbeque at the campsite. When we arrived at the barbeque pits, we found a swarm of mosquitoes. We decided to head back to N’s house and have the barbeque there. But, the re-adjustment in plans meant we made it out to the scene of the festival later than anticipated.

R and I decided to go for the stairs that overlook the whole thing again, maybe people are put off by the fact that they have to move when the Tengu and floats come through, but it was one of the last places open where I knew I’d have a good angle on the activities.

Here are a few of my favorite shots:

2011-07-09 Tengu Matsuri 074

2011-07-09 Tengu Matsuri 0842011-07-09 Tengu Matsuri 1582011-07-09 Tengu Matsuri 161d

Friday, July 22, 2011

The 9 things platter

R, H and I were quite undecided as to what to order for dinner one night at an Italian restaurant on our way to a friend’s house.

We decided to share pasta, a salad and the 9 things platter they suggested as an appetizer.

The platter was full of delicious foods that came in tiny sizes such as this:
2011-07-08 Friday 20

Each looked amazing, but we debated the best way to share a platter of 9 tiny things.

After a bit of debate about asking for a fork or trying to use a spoon to cut it, we decided the easiest thing was going to be for each of us to take a bite.

And so, R, H and I shared 9 tiny things.

2011-07-08 Friday 23

Squid is not so easy to eat with braces . . .
2011-07-08 Friday 24

And then we got dessert . . .
2011-07-08 Friday 27

Cheesecake, apple tart, and caramel ice cream – yum!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A camping trip

Almost a month ago, several ALTs got together for our annual HAJET meet and camping trip. We headed out to the campground at Shinshinotsu for some fun camping times.

2011-06-25 Camping 22

Because the weather was fairly cold for camping. Several of us headed out to Costco to do some shopping.

We also made a quick stop at Blue Seal (one of the best Japanese ice cream shops) on our way. Yum!

2011-06-25 Camping 38

L also came along, but she was not tempted by the rest of our less-healthy ice cream ways. She went for fruit juice instead.
2011-06-25 Camping 39

R showing off her battle wound from an encounter with a door the night before.
2011-06-25 Camping 45

Let the barbeque begin!
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A little too decked out for camping, don’t you think?
2011-06-25 Camping 51

It wouldn’t be camping without roasted marshmallows.
2011-06-25 Camping 63 2011-06-25 Camping 67 2011-06-25 Camping 69

Despite all the fun. We had to say goodbye to some awesome friends that night. S deemed herself as the big sister of practically every ALT in Hokkaido. We will miss her a lot.
2011-06-25 Camping 73

When we woke up on Sunday morning, it was time to pack up. K thought he might carry his tent all the way home . . . then he realized he had a 10 hour drive ahead of him.
2011-06-26 Camping 01

These guys were ready to play scrabble on a hot day.
2011-06-26 Camping 02

Monday, July 18, 2011


Despite a lot of craziness, we had an awesome weekend adventure and made it home safely.

It’s time for me to head to bed, but I’ll update about it soon.

Sweet dreams!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Today I'll head out with two amazing friends for one last adventure before H heads back to England. It should be a blast, but it's going to be bittersweet because we all know this is our last adventure together for a while.

Here's a picture of the three of us plus N, H's boyfriend. We took it last weekend before N's town festival.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sunday afternoon

I returned home after church last week to find this:
2011-07-03 Fire Training 04
I didn’t know what was going on, so I quickly parked, grabbed my bike and camera and headed out to see what was up.
2011-07-03 Fire Training 12
Turns out that it was a once a year training that happens in the Furano area for all the fire fighters.
Fire fighters from the 5 towns/cities in the area turned out.
2011-07-03 Fire Training 46
Even the mayor came.
2011-07-03 Fire Training 42
What surprised me most, is that many of the men in the area are volunteer firefighters so they were out doing the training. Many of the people in the neighborhood came to watch the events.
2011-07-03 Fire Training 16
It was a fun chance to see people from around town and to see some of my students.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer is here! . . . maybe

After all that snow and coldness we had in Hokkaido, it seems like summer might finally be here.

Here are some flowers that were blooming as I walked to the bank one day.

And here is the scene I drive/bike ride past on my way home from school. That field was mostly brown only a month ago.

Today, Hokkaido wants to pretend it's not summer. It's raining buckets today.
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Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Birthday!

One of the teachers I talk to the most had a birthday just a few days after mine, so the choir threw a birthday for her.

Here is the view, behind the wall of trees is the lake.

The food was really pretty. I loved the way this fish was laid out.

This is my friend from the bank, who has moved away, and the lady I now sit next to during choir - she and I are the ones who are never in the right spot. We always have a good laugh together.

Me and the birthday girl!

After we finished dinner we made my name in katakana with sticks. Here it is.

Everyone together in the bus on the way home.

I have to admit, I was surprised at how much more of the events at the birthday party I understood this year. I loved being able to just chat with everyone. Though, at the end of two hours of straight Japanese talking, my brain was fried.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another reason I hate Katakana

Today, I discovered another reason to hate katakana.

Katakana (カタカナ) is the Japanese alphabet for loan words, words that come from other languages. banana becomes ba-na-na (バナナ), pineapple becomes pine (パイン). Sometimes this makes learning Japanese really easy, because it's just a very broken up way of pronouncing English. On the other hand, it makes my students believe that we will understand them when they speak Katakana English to us (not true).

But, other times katakana words come from other languages. Stapler, for example becomes ホチキス Ho-chi-ki-su, from the name of the guy who invented it. Part time job becomes アルバイト, a-ru-ba-i-to, from the German word for it.

Even other times, Japanese is put into katakana, because it looks cool. I think these are the most difficult words, because I sit there sounding them out trying to figure out what English they could be and they're not (I'm as bad as all of my kids, I expect katakana to always be English words). The Japanese words are the hardest, because they're not usually in the dictionary like that.

So today, my students are supposed to be practicing "Do you . . ." sentences. I look over one's shoulder and he's written "Do you play fagot?" I ask him what he means (assuming it's a mis-translation) and he says it's a katakana word and does the motion to show me it's an instrument. We can't figure it out and even the teacher is thinking I might be crazy for not knowing this word, but I know that this word cannot be what he means. I'm not completely sure of it's meaning in English, but I know it's a pretty bad insult.

After class, my teacher pulls out her dictionary and looks up what he means, bassoon, it comes from the word in German. She also looks up fagot and is surprised to find that it's such a terrible word in English.

Yet another reason why I dislike katakana.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!


At home, Fourth of July means barbeques, sunshine, fireworks and a day off to be spent with family and friends.

In Japan, on the other hand. It's just another day. I'll celebrate by going to the Junior High School and teaching English. It will probably be fun, but it's definitely a holiday I miss being home for.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Question of the day

On Wednesday, myself and several other ALTs have been contemplating this question, "Why do Eggs in Japan come in a 10 pack rather than a dozen?"

10 Japanese eggs
Any thoughts?