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 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.