Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back in the Adirondack's

One of the reasons I love Plattsburgh so much is because it's so close to the Adirondack State Park. This is 6 million acres of nearly undisturbed land, mostly mountainous. There are 46 peaks over 4,000 feet (1,219 m) and those that summit all 46 are called 46ers. Jon and I have decided to try to become one of those elite hikers.

The first hike we did this fall was to Indian Head. This one isn't a high peak, but offers spectacular views of the Lower Ausable Lake. It's an easy, short nice hike. We spent hours at the top to ourselves. We couldn't believe that we didn't run into a single other person.


The second hike I did was Noonmark with my friend Julie. This one was much more strenuous with the summit at 2175 feet.




The third hike I did this season was with my colleague/friend Cody. We drove a short distance to do another simple hike that leaves you with spectacular views. This hike is called "Silver Lake" since you get to see the lake that is called that.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Montreal

Plattsburgh is only an hour south of Montreal. I have always loved this city and clearly still do. After working about 70 hours in a week for orientation, my colleages and I had a bit of a "disorientation" in Montreal. My office is very small and we all get along really great. I feel I was able to easily walk into friendships because of this. So, here's a bit of an introductory blog.

The picture below is of Cat and I in front of a church in the evening in Montreal. Cat is my direct supervisor at work.

This is Cody and I in Old Montreal. Cody is a student advisor for issues mostly concerning visa and immigration. Him and i started at the same time. A great part of working with Cody is that he also spent time in Japan on JET for two years. It's helped with my transition back to America. We can share small stories about Japan and it helps keep it alive in my head!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sara's Crib Season 3

It's been a long time, but here it is - my home!


video

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Japanese things in America (1)

I got a new cell phone today, my first day back in Plattsburgh. I've already found some "Japanese things in America", and maybe I'll kind of do a series on that.

All Japanese cells phones have what foreigners call "ketai bling". I don't know the proper terminology for it. However, a ketai means cell phone...and bling..means bling as we know it in English. There are little hooks on the top of cell phones, which people put all types of souvenirs or memorabilia.

I was thrilled when I saw my cell phone has a spot for me to put bling on. I've got all sorts of bling as goodbye gifts and now I can use them.

My model and current bling is a gift that my ikebana teacher made for me as a goodbye present.



Honestly, I am so thrilled over ketai bling in America.

PS email me for the #!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

emotions

I finally lost all control of my emotions and cried tonight. It was the farewell party for my adult class and I couldn't hold it in anymore. When I left Plattsburgh nearly two years ago, I felt so full of life and happy. I came to Japan and felt that I lost a lot of that. But, as I am leaving Japan, it's true, I am again, full of life and happy. I didn't think I could find such real and good friendship as I had found in Plattsburgh. But, I did...I found it in my students, my young students and especially my adult students, I found it in the other foreign English teachers this year, I've built it with other Japanese people who mean so much to me, my friend Yumie, my Japanese tutor, my ikebana teacher and co-student, the people at the board of education who help me...the list goes on and on. I always looked at my photos from the end of my life in Plattsburgh as a student and felt that I was looking at a truly happy Sara. Now, I look at the photos I am taking now...with my students, with my friends with everyone around me.....and I see a truly happy Sara again. I made the best decision of my life by staying for a second year in Japan...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Office, Japanese Style

One of my favorite TV programs is The Office. I nearly died when I saw this clip from Saturday Night Life combining my favorite American TV show with my Japanese life. It's quite accurate! I love it!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The T's in Tokyo

I met Mom and Dad at the hotel since I had to work on that Friday. The time seemed to pass so slowly taking the train from Ishinomaki all the way to Ueno, the district in Tokyo I decided we would stay in. As I walked through the doors, Dad was there waiting to meet me in the lobby. He took me by surprise. We took care of checking in and I finally got to see Mom upstairs in her room. I was ecstatic that they were able to figure out how to get to the hotel by themselves. I was worried that they might get a bit lost and need to call.

Our first dinner was in a small alleyway in the streets of Ueno. Mom and Dad tried their first real Japanese food dining outside. They really enjoyed yakitori, grilled chicken on a stick, edamame, and other food that evening. A drunken old businessman that wanted "communication" with foreigners sat down at our table and chatted my ears off. I felt bad since Mom and Dad couldn't understand. I excused myself after about a 20 minute conversation with the drunkard.

Our first full day in Tokyo was jam-packed of sites and I am so glad that we did it all on that day. We woke up early and went to Asakusa, a district I have been to uncountable times in the past. There's a famous shopping street and very large temple, 5-storey pagoda and Japanese gardens. As always, the street and temple area was full of visitors and sight-seers from all over Japan and the world. Mom was in heaven, we must have shopped on that street for almost two hours.


Afterwards, we took the Sumida River Cruise from Asakusa to the Hama Rikyu Teien Gardens. Claimed to be one of the best gardens to see in Tokyo. The river cruise was interesting, you see the looming towers of Tokyo around you and I believe in only this one stretch, we passed under something like 13 bridges


It was about a half hour long until we finally arrived to the gardens. The garden/park was really big and a good get-away from the craziness of Tokyo. There's a pond in it, mini-Fuji-san, lots of Japanese flowers and trees and just a nice stroll.

After that, we had lunch in Shiodome. We had curry-udon which both mom and dad enjoyed. Then, we went to all the different districts of Tokyo. We checked out Shibuya, which has the potentially the busiest crosswalk in the whole world. We watched people pass over it a few times before going to join the crowd. It started raining while we were walking around.


From there, we went to Harajuku, my favorite shopping district and finally to Shinjuku, the part of Tokyo that people probably see the most photos of. It's famous for it's neon lights and towering buildings. Unfortunately, by this time, it was down pouring, so we had coffee in a Mister Donuts. I decided to take them to an izakaya for dinner.


The next and our last day in Tokyo, it was still overcast when we woke up. I was able to take them to Tosho-gu Shrine in Ueno which is one of the few shrines to have made it through all the disasters that Tokyo has been through.


It dates back from hundreds of years ago. As it was the first shrine Mom and Dad had seen, they were very impressed. The rain started coming down hard as we finished. So, we spent the rest of the day, until 6pm at the National Museum. I think it was a good introduction of Japan for them. Our last stop of the day was to Roppongi Hills, an amazing living, working and shopping complex that took over a decade to build. We only saw one tower of the whole complex and it was fantastic. I can't even imagine how much it costs to live there. The restaurant we had dinner at was so Western, I completely forgot we were even in Japan anymore.

That was our last adventure in Tokyo. The next morning we woke up early and rode the shinkansen to Kyoto.



for all the photos of Tokyo, click here

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My official return home date

I have put down a deposit and getting my tickets tomorrow. I'm flying back to the USA on July 27th. Whether I go straight to Plattsburgh or have time to go to Buffalo first depends on if I get my dream job. I had my second interview with them last night. I should know in a week or a bit more if I am offered the position. Either way, I am headed back to the USA on July 27th.


It's too soon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Maiko Makeover!

While in Kyoto, Mom and I had a "maiko makeover." Most Westerners will understand this as we were geisha's. In fact, a maiko is a geisha apprentice. As a maiko, we wore white make-up, bright red lipstick, black eye make-up and our kimono and obi (the belt around a kimono) is more vibrant than a geisha. Most Westerners see this and think it's a geisha but in fact it's not. We had our make-up done in about 20 minutes, then we got to choose our own kimono. From there, we were dressed up in the kimono and chose the obi. Next, came the wig which was heavier than I had ever expected. Last, we had to wobble in the proper sandals for kimonos. Then, we got to go outside for photos! It was really funny to see the photos! We look so different. The hardest part was taking all that make-up off. It took forever!



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Parents in Japan!

My parents are flying somewhere between NY and Japan right now. I will see them in like 16 hours. YAY YAY YAY YAY! I can't express my excitement. I am thrilled they will be here..so soon. How will I ever make it through work tomorrow? We're going to be in Tokyo for 3 days and then Kyoto for 5 and then they will come back up to Ishinomaki for the weekend to meet all my awesome friends here. :0)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Earthquakes scare me now

I was surprised to learn that my mom had no clue that there were so many earthquakes in Japan. As quoted from the BBC, "Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries and experiences thousands of minor tremors each year. " Certainly, I have felt many of them in my almost two years here. On Saturday morning, my time...there was a pretty serious earthquake measuring at 7.2 on the Richter scale only 50 kilometers North of me. I didn't feel it because I was in another prefecture planning on going hiking. When we learned of the earthquake and the severity of it's magnitude, we immediately drove back home...

In case you missed this news..

Click here to see it

Anyways, my prefecture is due to get an earthquake even worse than this one within the upcoming months. I only hope that I am out of Japan when it does occur. But, in case I'm not...I've prepared an excellent earthquake kit and my escape route. It still scares the shit out of me though. Blah.

On positive news, for those of you who haven't heard.... I have a phone interview this Tuesday with my dream job. If I get it...I'll pretty much be the happiest person alive. Wish me luck and cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Random Parades

One lazy Sunday afternoon I was laying in my apartment reading a book on globalization when suddenly very loud music started. It continued slowly that I finally decided to go out to see what all the commotion was. Ruth had the same idea and we found a parade passing by our apartment with dozens and dozens of kids in their traditional yukatas and floats of interesting decorations. Some of boats and others just cars decorated with traditional Japanese decorations.

Here is my terrible recording jobs...but enjoy anyways!



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

and the lasts begin...

I have already had 3 lasts.

1. Last day at one of the best elementary schools I taught at between the 15 different elementary schools I was placed at in the past two years.
2. Last day with my volunteer position as a Peer Support volunteer for other English teachers within Japan.
3. Last day teaching the advanced adult class on Global Issues that I started this past year.

With all these 3 lasts, I am starting to wonder if I made the right decision in going home?

Life's tough.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mount Asahi

In the beginning of May, there are quite a few national holidays that fall at the same time. This usually gives everyone a good chunk off of work to go places. As everyone gets these national holidays, traveling within Japan can be a nightmare because everyone is traveling. Japan isn't the only country that has this Golden week, but so does China and Korea and maybe others that I am not aware of. Thus, everything is hiked up and overcrowded at this time of the year.

I went on a 3 day and 2 night hiking trip during this time. I went with my two faithful hiking buddies and their family. It was Suzuki-san, Kimura-san and his wife and niece. The first day was probably the most difficult day for me. I wasn't used to having my big backpack on yet. We hiked uphill for about 5 hours on this day. We stayed in mountain huts both of the nights. (See pictures below, one from the inside and one from the outside)





I was overly sore after the first day, I was worried I wouldn't make it through all 3 days. But, surprisingly after resting a bit, my body started feeling a bit better. We were in bed really early to get up the next day. The second day was a lot of uphill and downhill hiking through the snow. We reached our highest peak at 1870 meters on the second day. The second day, at the mountain hut, the overseer man was a rather crazy man. It didn't help that he was drunk. The guy kept telling me to speak in Japanese and that English wasn't allowed. It didn't matter that I actually was speaking in Japanese, he kept reminding me. He was a bit crazy....





(from the highest peak)

And then, we woke up to a sunrise that I will never ever forget. There was a 'sea of clouds' with only the tip of the mountain we were staying on peeking out from the top. Then the most colorful, vibrant sunrise. It's one of my top sunrises ever. It was totally worth it.
The 3 day hike was great. :0)

Please click HERE if you want to see all my photos.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Takenoura Festival

Last Tuesday we had a day off of work for a national holiday. Don't ask me what the holiday was because just like in America - I really don't care what the holiday is as long as it's a free day off of work. Suzuki-san had invited all of us English teachers to his small community for a local festival. It was a beautiful Spring day for an outdoor festival. His small town is a hamlet with gorgeous scenery. The festival consisted of all the local boys and men carrying a mikoshi, or a portable shrine about town. The Shinto priest takes the 'Shinto God' from the main shrine and puts it into the portable shrine. It is believed that the local men are carrying God about town this way. A man walks in front of all these men carrying the mikoshi and sprinkles salt before them to make the ground purified. The mikoshi weighs one ton and is decorated with bells and orange rope. The actual little shrine that the God sits in is gold. Between rest stops, all the strong men indulge in sake. Following this are taiko drums and flute players. Also, there is a lion dance, where men (and women can now, too) walk about "biting" people on their heads. It takes 3 people to be under the costume to create this affect. In Suzuki san's small community, the make it mandatory at their schools that all the student learn how to play the Japanese taiko drum, flute and how to do the lion dance. This way their tradition will never die. Suzuki-san is a teacher of all 3 of these things. Japan is amazing in keeping it's culture and custom even as it keeps up with the changing global demands. After the festival finished, we all went back to Suzuki-san's house for lunch.

getting my head bit by the lion


Me, Jane, the Shinto Priest and Emily
The Shinto Priest putting God into the Mikoshi

The boys and men carrying God around town
Lunch at Suzuki-san's house

For all the photos, click here

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SPORN

Last weekend, I attended a benefit that raised money for a few popular Non-profit organizations amongst foreigners living in Japan. It was themed SPORN - which meant the attenders were to dress as either a SPORts star or as a PORN star. Ruth and I went as team Ishinomaki's Volleyball team.
Jane and Emily went as Ping Pong stars and Kyla was an Extreme Football Player. The benefit was held at a club with musicians all night long. It was also Jane's birthday.
It was a good evening, everyone dressing creatively for their outfits.
For all photos click here

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Happy Birthday to Lisa!

Friday, April 11, 2008

delivery

One thing that I really love about Japan is that my mailman delivers the mail on bicycle. He straps a tubberware tub to the back of his bike and rides about delivering our letters. Awesome!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Public speaking and sneezes

One class I wish that I took more seriously in college is public speaking. Japan is a country of speeches and I wish I was more comfortable with it. It's not that I am scared to talk in front of people so much anymore, it's just that these speeches I need to do are always impromptu. It's always like, Sara, please give a speech now...in Japanese. It's hard and I hate it. I had to do one of those fun impromptu speeches today and it made me stop and think how much I wish I had taken that class more seriously.

Another thing I learned today. Random Japanese culture fact:

Japanese people think that when you sneeze, it means that someone is spreading a rumor about you.

Interesting!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Aerobics

I joined an aerobics class last night. I've never done aerobics before last night and if I hadn't already paid for the 3 month course, I'm not sure I'd return again. To be honest, I absolutely loved the whole ordeal but I have next to zero coordination. Thus, I'm not as some would say a natural for this. If it were back in America, I'd probably never go back but as I have been somewhat conditioned to situations of complete embarrassment here in Japan, it barely phases me. I've joined with Ruth and Jane might come as well. The teacher is this woman who has so much energy and the biggest smile and positive attitude that it's just refreshing to be around someone like that. This class also reminded me how much I love exercise classes. Prior to Japan, I used to go to a core class at least 3 times a week. I haven't gone to an exercise class since that one ended in May of 2006. I miss it! I totally need someone encouraging me and pushing me along to get me to exercise like that. Hopefully this aerobics class helps me get in shape for my return back to America. I look forward to exercise classes back in America that won't cost me an arm and a leg.

On another note, today was my return back to my school after Spring Break. I was really nervous to go back today because I haven't been there in a while. And while I was away, 8 teachers left and 8 new teachers arrived. To my relief, it wasn't nearly as awkward as I had been expecting. It was even more of a relief as the morning progressed, I began seeing who had stayed. Much to my joy and mental well-being, the teachers that talk to me the most had stayed. In fact, one of them has even moved two desks away from me and I couldn't be any happier. And somehow, I felt my relationships strengthened in the time I was gone somehow. The new principal of the school is a lovely man which is a big bonus as well. While I don't realize at all the relationships that I do make, today was a good indicator of how I have made relationships without even trying. I even helped out a lot today, and it gained me some major bonus points. Out of the 8 new teachers, 3 of them I have already worked with in the past at other schools. I guess a bonus to working at so many schools is getting to forge acquaintances all over. I was shocked when I saw a face that I hadn't seen in 8 or 9 months - but was one of the faces that I had seen when I first came to Japan. He knew me since my first day in this city, since when I could speak zero Japanese, from when I was a complete awkward foreigner understanding very little of the culture and making all sorts of social taboos, all throughout my culture shock phases. I probably look like I've grown from being 5 years old to atleast 15 in his eyes. It's pretty cool.

I had dinner tonight with my friend Yukiko. I met her this past November at one of my elementary schools. She's the same age as my younger sister and just the sweetest girl. I wish I had met her sooner, but November is better than never. Her goal is to be living in Montreal one year from now. I really hope she strives and meets her goal because then she will only be an hour away from me in Plattsburgh.

I am having a day where I feel I have succeeded in my life here. I love the relationships I've built and I love seeing how far I've come. It's just so nice when I have days like these.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Longer days, warmer days

I am so happy right now. This is mainly because it is still dusk out and it's almost 6:30pm. In the winter in Japan, we have about 8 hours of sunlight and so when the days start getting longer, my mood immediately gets better as well. My weekend was nice and laid back - just what I need because I'll be starting to get hectic again starting this upcoming weekend.

On Friday night, I did nothing but lay in my futon all night, it was great. Saturday, I hung out with the girls' all day. In the evening, we all hung out in my apartment which looks as if an earthquake hit it. Prior I had purchased wine at the cheap liquor store. I really enjoy wine and wish I knew more about it. Unfortunately, I don't and thus rely on my major to pick out a brand. I look at the photo on the label and buy it that way. In fact, when Jon and I went to Napa Valley - which is what, the wine capital of the country or world or something...that's exactly how we decided on how to buy our wine - by the picture on the label. I bought one that said on the back "eat critters drink man" with a picture of a man on the label dancing or running or something. It was dry but enjoyable. We ordered pizza for dinner which is always fun to do over the phone in Japanese. Friendly arguments over who would be the sucker who had to call and order the food and deal with the foreign language barrier, I volunteered. We ate, drank and played a few card games before heading out to a karaoke bar. I am totally going to miss karaoke when I am back in the USA.

This afternoon I met with Tamo for some coffee. She just got back from a trip to Borneo and I wanted to hear all about it. I waited for her at the train station where I just felt so happy about the beautiful weather. Tonight, I'll meet Ruth for dinner, her parents were visiting her for a while and she's coming back to Ishinomaki tonight.

In other news, I applied to a job...my first job interest for when I return back to the USA. I think I would be awesome at this job and I only hope after reviewing my cover letter and resume, they will think so too and that I can score an interview. I'd rock at it. I know I would.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jane

Jane deserves a post all in her own. Jane is an awesome person in my life in Japan and we always have lots of adventures together. It seems whenever we are bored or have some time, we go exploring. It works out good. We have a system, Jane is Korean-American so people mistake her to be Japanese. I am unquestionably foreign. Sometimes, Japanese people are taken back by a foreigner entering their restaurant, small shop or whatever business it is they run. Well, Jane and I are curious - more curious than cats are. Our strategy is that Jane enters first to keep the shopkeeper calm, then when I enter they still remain calm because they still think Jane is Japanese. I usually do the talking - asking the questions about the particular shop. Usually, they listen to me, look away from me and respond to Jane. I then respond to their response to Jane. After a while, they come to realize, Jane also is a foreigner. But, by this time, we've somewhat calmed them down that I can speak some Japanese. This is how the system works.

Jane and I don't go everywhere together, but when we go exploring, it's with eachother. It's always an adventure. I always remind Jane that she will miss me when I am gone next year. She reminds me the same - that my life is going to be dull and listless when I return back the USA. It's true as far as adventure goes - I won't have much of an adventurous life back in Plattsburgh. I will, but in such a different way.

Today, it was really windy but a nice spring day. I asked Jane to go for a walk with me up to this park on a hill that gives awesome views of our city. We took some stairs down the opposite way because we didn't know where it led to. Coming out, we saw tennis courts. Jane likes to play and has been looking for hard courts. We saw a little court house so she wanted to get information about the courts. Implementing our strategy - Jane enters first and then I. He knew me. He reads this blog! One of my adult students passed this address onto him. It was very surprising to me. He studies English once a week at an adult class in the city. We ended up speaking with him and his wife joined us for over an hour. While he was walking us to the main street, he let us see his home which was a log cabin - that he built by himself. It was fantastic.

It's interactions like these that make me really love my life here. I am here on the JET Programme. Certainly, the outlying motive for this programme would seem to be for English teaching. However, the main initiative of my programme is more for grassroots internationalization rather than to teach English. It's hard to see that since our main job is to teach English. But, if you came here on another program - you are only expected to teach English, that's it, the end. In my job description, it's expected of me to get involved in the community and do cultural exchange type activities. This is not a measurable aspect of my job and it's totally up to each person to do these things. I think that is one part of my job that I do excel at even though it's not measured. I love the interactions and I love exploring with Jane.

It was only a week ago when we went to a restaurant for dinner and the man sitting next to us talked us up a storm and bought us beers. That was by pure chance but only with Jane would something like that happen, it seems. :)

Monday, March 31, 2008

update indeed

It's Spring Break here again...meaning a new school year again. This year instead of sitting at school all day, I sit at the Board of Education. It's a nice change because the other English teachers are there as well. Mainly, I spend my time writing, reading, studying Japanese and goofing off with the others. As the same as last year, all the staff are being switched up. I haven't created strong relationships with a lot of the teachers this year, so it's not as depressing as it was for me last year. I get to do this for one more week and then I have to start reporting back to school. I doubt I'll teach much until May anyways.

I believe we've entered the rainy season again as well. Last week it rained 3 or 4 times and it's raining again today. April Showers bring Cherry blossoms...I hope. I can't wait - the cherry blossom season is one of my favorite aspects of Japan. Everyone meets underneath the trees to enjoy a little food and a little beer. It's a time when Japanese people don't seem to mind the foreigner sitting across from them and might actually engage me in conversation.

I've started my job hunt. I am definitely going back to Plattsburgh to live with some old friends for at least a year - and am looking for something to give me employment. Unfortunately, the economy is the worst it's been in 30 years and that's not positive for a young inexperienced person seeking employment. Wish me luck!

I've fallen into a bit of a rut and am wishing time would go by a little bit faster. I know I should treasure my time here because it's only a few short months and then I'll probably never be back here again and I'm really going to miss my friends but I am really looking forward to going home again. Hmm. Here's to staying positive through all the rain!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs

Yesterday, on Saturday I performed in my very first play ever...a re-written version of Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. The actors were all foreign English teachers from around my prefecture. I of course, played a dwarf.
The Dwarfs were as follows:
Kawaii dwarf -translates as Cute dwarf who was to be the equivalent of Happy Dwarf,played by me.
Salaryman dwarf - he was to be grumpy dwarf - a salaryman who works many, many hours and was looking for a wife. My character has a crush on him, but he doesn't know.
Neet dwarf - he was to be Dopey Dwarf. His character was a womanizer and considered very lazy.
Flu Dwarf - the same as Sneezy dwarf. In our version, he's a hypocondriac dwarf that's always sick.
Scary Dwarf - the same as Sleepy dwarf - this character pretty much stayed in a well all the time. (see picture below)Sensei Dwarf - the same as Doc dwarf. He was our leader pretty much.
Otaku Dwarf - the same as Bashful dwarf. He was in love with Snow White. An Otaku in Japan is pretty much a huge dork that only plays video games and never goes out.
(from left to right. Flu Dwarf, Neet Dwarf, Kawaii Dwarf (me) hugging Salaryman Dwarf, Sensei Dwarf, Snow White and Otaku Dwarf)

The beginning of the play was very similar to Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs - an evil queen asks the mirror who is the prettiest of them all? When he replies it's Snow White, the queen takes action to remove of her. She hires a hunter to go kill her. The hunter takes Snow White out to "go hunting" but can't bring himself to kill her because she gave him a wreath of flowers.
Instead of killing Snow White, he tells her to run away and never return to the castle again. While running through the woods, she comes upon our "dwarf home" where she comes to stay. The story then turns to introducing each of the dwarfs to the audience. My role in the play was to always be smiling and making it clear to the audience I really like the Salaryman Dwarf. At the same time, I also really admire Snow White and want to be her best friend forever. Neet, the womanizer that he is tries to hit on her, but she doesn't have any of it. Flu is constantly warning everyone of the diseases they could get and to be careful. Otaku secretly admires Snow White and can't speak when she's around. Sensei Dwarf keeps us all in line.
Salaryman proposed to Snow White and I get really upset. I go wailing off stage. While I am off stage, the other remaining dwarfs explain to Salaryman how I am in love with him. He didn't know. He then takes tips from all of them and eventually they bring me back on stage. He tells me he likes me and wants to get to know me better and what do I think? My lines at this point were to say, 'I love you! I love you! Honeymoon in Hawaii, Hawaii! Kawaiiiiiiiii!"
Then, we all dance off stage and it's intermission. The 2nd half of the play starts off with a "Cos Play Convention." We brought audience members up on stage for this part and they got to wear masks. The Cos Play Convention is attended only by Otaku Dwarf (of all the Dwarfs). The Queen at this time learns that Snow White is not dead and makes everyone leave the Cos Play Convention (being held at her castle).

She makes a poisonous apple in which Snow White eats and goes into her coma. We all say sorry to her because we think she is dead. Then, Otaku kisses her goodbye and she wakes up. The Queen comes back to try to kill her but Scary dwarf comes out of his well and brings her back into it with him. That ends the play.

I really enjoyed acting a lot. Like I mentioned, it was the first time for me to do anything like this and I wish I had done acting before. It was a ton of fun!

For all the pictures, click here

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tokyo Disneyland!

Way way back in December, I went to Tokyo Disneyland. It was great to go at this time because the whole complex was decorated for Christmas. Everything was Christmas themed including the parades. Ruth, Sarah and I left from Sendai at midnight and took an overnight bus there. I don't sleep very well on buses and this time was no exception. The first place the bus stopped was in actual Tokyo. A lot of people got off and I was able to sprawl out in the back of the bus where 3 seats are next to eachother. Thus, I was able to get a few hours of sleep before heading out.

I was really excited to go to Disneyland because I had actually done a ton of case studies on it during college. We often compared how successful Tokyo Disneyland was in comparison with EuroDisney which was a complete flop.

The first ride of the day was Space Mountain at about 8:30am. There was already a 40 minute wait. It was really fun. I had forgotten how much I enjoy roller coasters!

The second ride we went onto was It's a small world...each country wearing the clothes and showing the cultures from fake dolls dancing to the song. Of course, they were all in Christmas attire! This wait was for an hour and a half.

From this point on, it got incredibly crowded and the waits were ridiculous. We figured out something called Fastrack but you could only hold one ticket at a time, unfortunately. The other rides were got on was Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted House, and another roller coaster ride (but I've forgotten the name of it) 2 or 3 times.

We witnessed a few parades and went to a 3D movie that was luckily also showed in English for us. We went and checked out the different Disney characters floating about the complex.


One thing that we had a good laugh at was the extent that Japanese people take when going to Disneyland. Grown adults were wearing these ridiculous hats of their favorite Disney characters. It was ridiculous when girls my age were wearing them but then it was just pathetic when their boyfriend was wearing a matching one. I can understand little kids getting into the Disney spirit and begging their parents to wear these hats but I had a good laugh at grown adults doing it as well.

All in all it was a great weekend trip and I am glad I got to go Disneyland in Tokyo. We took another overnight bus from Tokyo to Sendai and caught the 5:30am train back into Ishinomaki. On the train, we ran into this guy named Paul who is an English teacher in Ishinomaki but through a different program. He was really drunk, coming home from the bars at 5:30am dressed like Santa Clause. He was ho-ho-hoing everyone that came onto the train. The people you meet overseas...


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Snow Shoeing

I went snowshoeing for the first time ever yesterday. My two favorite hiking buddies ever - Suzuki -san one of my adult students and Kimura-san, a 68 year old man who is in better shape than I am invited me to go. Ruth and Sarah also came as well. We went to Mt. Zao which is about a 3 hour drive for us.

From inside a house or a car, the weather seemed ideal. It was sunny and blue skies. In actuality though, it was so windy, one could barely move. In the below picture, take a look at the pants on Suzuki san and I - they are blowing huge!
Actual Snow-shoeing was harder than I expected. It really works your calf muscles and thigh muscles in ways that regular hiking doesn't. But, it does increase your productivity as the bottom of the shoe has a cleat that grabs the snow allowing you to have better traction. The below picture is of Ruth, Sarah and I hiking up the first major slope in our shoes.
Unfortunately for us, the weather only got worse the more altitude we gained. The wind was so strong that if we stopped moving, we were nearly blown backwards. A few times, Ruth saved me from falling backwards into her. It was pretty scary and intense to think about how strong Mother Nature actually is. After losing nearly all visibility, barely being able to move forward and receiving really bad wind burn on our faces, we decided to turn around. There was no point in going further because we couldn't see anything anyways.
We chose an area where snow was built up against a tree to sit and have lunch. The tree blocked most of the wind so we could enjoy lunch without everything blowing away.On our way back down, the weather cleared a lot. The below picture is of us girls and Kimura-san with the mountain in the background that was our possible goal destination given the weather was good.
I really enjoyed snow shoeing even though I was incredibly sore afterwards. I hope to do it again in the future! In Japan, there is a superstition that if the weather is bad when you want it good for something in particular then it means you have been being a bad girl or boy. So, I guess from now on, I need to become a better behaved girl! :)