Japan Time

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A visit to the park and the beach.

Sorry I've been a blog slacker. It took me a while to get back in the groove of things after Golden Week, but now my life has resumed its normal routine of work and very short weekends.
Yesterday I went to a park and beach near Fujieda with Hiromi and Rob. The park was really pretty with many different kinds of flowers and herbs, and a huge lawn with beautiful grass that we laid in for a while. And the beach was glorious.

My first time to the Statue of Liberty in person...in Japan. Strange.

Okay, so here's one of the most bizarre things I've seen in my six months in Japan:

Man pulls up to the beach and parks his truck.

Man opens a cage in the bed of his truck and pulls out a live chicken.

Man puts the chicken into a box and sets the box on the ground.

Man pulls out a somewhat professional looking camera and begins photographing the chicken in the box.

This continues for about five minutes.

Man puts the chicken back in its cage, the box in his truck, himself in the driver's seat, and drives away.

Oh, Japan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Japan...the land of cuteness.

There are so many cute things just waiting to be bought in Japan. 100 yen stores (the equivalent of dollar stores back home...only much better) are filled with adorable little trinkets that I can't help but admire every time I visit one. Little anime characters with big blinky eyes are around every corner...usually cute, sometimes a little creepy.
I myself fell victim to cuteness yesterday while perusing a cheapy clothing/random stuff store:

Seriously - it says "photographer" AND has a cute monkey thing holding a camera - how could I resist?
While in Hiroshima, I became acquainted with another one of Japan's cute cartoon characters, Mameshiba:
Mameshiba is a little bean/dog that tells gross trivia facts so that people lose their appetites and Mameshiba doesn't get eaten.
We discovered him in an arcade in Hiroshima and made it our mission to try and win Mameshiba memorbilia like phone straps (crazy popular in Japan) or little stuffed animal Mameshiba. We had little success in Hiroshima, but in Himeji, we completely cleaned house in another arcade and walked away with an entire Mameshiba family of about twenty-five phone straps, key chains, and other various Mameshibas.

Yes, I used to think phone straps were utterly insensible, but now I have fell victim to the trend. Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so.

Check out Mameshiba's commercials - he really is quite cute. And these have English translations:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Golden Week - Barbecue.

On Monday I went to a barbecue with some students and teachers to celebrate the recent wedding of two students. There was a lot of good food and I ate way too much. Afterwards we headed back to my favorite maneki neko karaoke place and sang for a few hours. A good time was had by all!

Kanpai! (Cheers!)

The happy couple - in stripes.

Golden Week - Wisteria Festival.

On Sunday I met up with Hiromi to catch up on life. She had just returned from a trip to England so we had a lot of stories to tell about our respective trips. We went to Rengeji where there was a wisteria festival happening. Since Children's Day is during Golden Week, there were many carp flags flying in the park, along with many people walking around and lots of wisteria, of course.

Lotus flowers are finally blooming - I've been waiting to see them.

Hiromi and I also exchanged Starbursts - hers from England (with black current flavor) and my Starburst jelly beans and candy from the package my mom sent.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Golden Week - Himeji.

On our way back to Shizuoka on Friday we stopped at Himeji Castle, also known as "White Heron Castle." It's ginormous and really beautiful. We walked through it all the way to the top where there is a small shrine and admired the view of Himeji before we caught the shinkansen back to Shizuoka.

Golden Week - Miyajima.

On Thursday we took the local train and the ferry to Miyajima. Miyajima is an incredible island off of Hiroshima famous for Itsukushima Shrine and its floating torii gate. Deer walk freely around the island (which, being from Michigan, the deer hunting capital of the world, was so weird for me to see). After we walked around and took photos for a while, we took the ropeway up to the top of Mt. Misen, the highest point on the island. Apparently you can see monkeys there, but we had just caught the last trip up to the top and we only had about ten minutes to look around, so we didn't see any. But the view was amazing - even without the monkeys.
Miyajima is one of the most beautiful places I've seen and my favorite place in Japan so far.

Maybe it was good we didn't see any monkeys - one of these signs says, "We do not like to be stared at in our eyes. If you do so, we will not be responsible for what will happen." Yikes!