Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yokohmama Day Trip Vids.

Sweet escalator. Right?

Penguins! Marvelous.

DORY! OH yeah.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hump Day

Hi all,

Japan remains. Let me catch you up.

Friday was a nice evening. I actually decided to eat my own food here and just lay low for the evening. Because of the SWEET new reading material that Amanda gifted us with, I was completely content with myself and my book(s). Life of Pi was a pretty cool read. It's a novel about a boy and a tiger...that's all I'll say. Pick it up if you get a chance. Here's an interesting quote from the book:

"Christianity is a religion in a rush. Look at the world created in seven days. Even on a symbolic level, that's creation in a frenzy. To one born in a religion where the battle for a single soul can be a relay race run over many centuries, with innumerable generations passing along the baton, the quick resolution of Christianity has a dizzying effect. If Hinduism flows placidly like the Ganges, then Christianity bustles like Tokyo at rush hour. It is a religion as swift as a swallow, as urgent as an ambulance. It turns on a dime, expresses itself in an instant. In a moment you are lost or saved. Christianity stretches back through the ages, but in essence it exists only at one time: right now."

Chew on...then digest.

Anyways, Saturday turned out to be really great too. We spent the day with Yamaji-sensei, one of the teachers from the kindergarten. She doesn't speak much English but we were accompanied by her parents who do! We traveled to Boso Villiage, an old area dating back to the Edo Period. It was really interesting. Here are a few pictures.-- Thanks Sarah and Krista for letting me gank a couple of these from your Facebook!

Male kimono...
I wanted to at least have a tough pose.

On Sunday, we did the usual. Mall, church, mall/groceries, hang out. Here's a peek at my groceries for the week:

oj, ham, bananas, lettuce, mandarin oranges, carrot, blueberry yogurt, bread, tomatoes, ramen...

On Monday evening, we made a trip to Katoko-sensei's house. She is the mother of Satoko who met us at Kabukiza theater a couple of weeks ago. We went to their house at about 6:30 and spent the evening making and eating some really unique (and delicious) foods. The main dish was called takoyaki. Takoyaki is basically like a pancake ball with a slice of octopus in the center. It was pretty tasty and we all ate wayyyyy too much. Here are a few pics from the night!

Takoyaki. Finished product. Yummm.

After dinner, happy as can be.

Dessert of doughnuts and tea. I snagged Teto for the pic!

So that's it for now. I wanna read and then sleep!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Thought I'd throw a little Spanish greeting in there tonight...Let me get into it.

Well, the title speaks multitudes this time around. Last blog's title was pretty random, I've had Winnie the Pooh songs stuck in my head for a solid 2 weeks, ergo the "stuffed with fluff" referral.
Tonight's blog deals with the serious encROACHment that has taken place in the past week. Let me elaborate:

First, encroachment by definition: intrusion on, trespass on, invasion of, infiltration of, incursion into, infringement of, impingement on.
Definition in place, let me further explain what an encROACHment is. Simply, it is the encroachment of a cockroach. These cockroaches don't care much 'bout my eating space, sleeping space, or personal space...

Last week, I went to the kitchen to grab a little evening snack of yogurt and mandarin oranges. I opened the door, flipped on the lights, and quickly noticed three things that didn't belong. It's like that song that Oscar and Elmo used to sing on Sesame Street; "one of these things just doesn't belong here, one of these things just doesn't belong."

I saw three over-sized, larger than life, bigger than Texas, wider than the ocean, blacker than the night, uglier than a uni-brow, worse than a kiss from your sister, no-good, dirty rotten, scum of the earth COCKROACHES. They were all in my spaghetti stash. I was not happy or pleased. I grabbed the nearest thing which happened to me which happened to be a spaghetti strainer. I MEANT BUSINESS. I wanted dead roaches. I tried to get them in one fell swoop but they were far too fast. Two shimmied up to their corner-hole house and one lucky sucker escaped behind the air conditioning unit right before I could annihilate him. Suddenly, I wasn't as excited about my yogurt and mandarin oranges.

The same thing happened the following night. However, I was a bit more prepared and anticipated the movement of one of the smaller, dang roaches. He was toast. The other two escaped. In a nutshell my kill count for the kitchen is 2. I think there might be one more stinker running around.

Then, two days ago, the unthinkable happened. I came back to my room to take a shower. I had two shirts on; one long sleeve and then a shorter sleeved over top of that...I took off the first shirt and felt a DANG old roach in my hair!!!! I flipped out. Luckily, I had my shirt in hand and quickly swatted that such and such. I still don't know where that thing came from. It really seems like it was between my shirts but I don't know how that's possible. I don't really want/need to think about it. All I'm saying is encROACHment needs to stop!
My kill count is up to three. Here is proof in high quality:

On a brighter note...

Tonight was super good. We met a woman named Amanda. She graduated from Spring Arbor and spent a semester at the kindergarten 6 years ago. She was the Spring Arbor pioneer to Japan. Anyways, she has spent the last two years teaching English in China and is on her was back to the States for a 2 month vacation. She stopped in to visit and we got to eat sushi tonight with her and just talk! It is really refreshing to talk...Anyways, she was great and gave us a few pointers and memories. Also, she brought books. I am so happy and grateful. English books here are hard to find and expensive. Because I left in such a flurry, I only packed two books and have really needed some new material. I am so happy. I dug into The Life of Pi tonight and am seriously digging it. It won some pretty prestigious awards a few years back... Anyways, here are 2 pics from us doing some damage at the sushi bar:

"You like it fresh? Let me fillet this guy for you real quick."

krista, sarah, me, amanda, katoko. sushi=happy faces.

hey thanks for reading.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Stuffed with Fluff.

Kombanwa (Good Evening),

How is everybody? Let me say that it was pretty great to talk to my dad and aunts and uncles on Father's Day! Skype is so good, so good.
Blog business:
So I had a really cool weekend. Lemme start on Friday night and work through Monday. Sound good? Okay.

I've always been a person who enjoys Friday nights. Whether it was in junior high begging my parents to let me go to the football games or chilling with the boys after Little Caesars in high school, Friday just seems like the most appropriate night to go out and do something. So when Friday rolls around in the Land of the Rising Sun, I think my attitude towards them remains the same. At any rate, I decided that a trip to the sushi bar was a splendid idea for my night. Then, I would hang out around Big Hop, cruise on my two-wheeler, and jam to some music. I invited the girls but they weren't necessarily "feeling it." That didn't stop me. I made it to the sushi bar (about 20 min bike ride) and walked in. I think the people there get a kick out of me. There are probably so few "gaijin" or foreigners who eat there... During the day and early evening, sushi is displayed on a conveyor belt that winds throughout the restaurant. Then, you just check out the different plates and snatch what you like. Since I didn't arrive until about 7:15, they didn't have any sushi on the belt. That's okay though, ordering it makes it even more tastier and fun. I gave my man behind the counter a nod and pointed to a platter combination on the menu. Here's a video of my experience and new favorite place in Inzai...

Sushi coverage.

After sushi, I grabbed my bike and headed for the Big Hop mall. It's pretty cool at night, especially when it's not raining. I usually don't really buy anything at the mall. Strolling suits me just fine. Friday nights aren't too busy. I got to the middle of the mall, sat out by one of the many fountains, and played some Solitaire--is that ironic, appropriate, or both? Oh yeah, I also snagged a Toblerone from the candy store. I know how to do it UPPP! haha. I traveled back home and read for the rest of my night. A couple pics:

Big Hop. me enjoying Toblerone by the fountain.

This weekend, we hadn't made any concrete plans. Since we traveled into Tokyo midweek, we all agreed that we should probably hang around here for the weekend.

I had heard much talk about Japanese hot springs or onsen. Onsen are super popular here. I read about the certain etiquette and procedures that one needs to follow. I thought it sounded pretty relaxing and talked to Keiko and Minako a bit about it. They had been a few times and said that they are pretty nice. I asked the girls if they wanted to go but the politely declined...

Perhaps four years ago I would have been a bit more apprehensive about the whole nudity thing that coincides with onsen etiquette. The thing is, when you go to these places, no one really cares that you are even there. They don't stare at each other. They don't make you feel awkward. Plus, I don't know ANY of them. Bonus!!! I went for it. And...

I don't regret it. In fact, I recommend it!

It was incredibly relaxing. The water in the big hot springs (inside) is actually trucked in from the northern part of Japan. It was sort of grayish but smelled really nice. I'm not sure what minerals were in the water but it said it was "good for aches and pains." The outside part had two smaller, round tubs. One had crystal clear warm water and the other had freezing cold water. They also had a sauna and a little garden area. I rotated between the four things and spent about an hour and a half. Here's a pic I found on wikipedia on the onsen page. It shows what a typical washing area looks like. You are required to wash and rinse extremely well before entering the hot springs... Some pics say 2,000 words...

I hope you are "cracking" up. haha.

Anyways, On Sunday morning we went to church with Minako. Every Sunday, we leave the kindergarten by 8:30 and then spend about an hour in the mall across the street from the church. I usually go to Starbucks and read/listen to music. Then, the church service starts at 10:30 and last until about 11:45. Then we go back over to the mall, eat lunch, and then buy our groceries for the week.
We went out for dinner with the Nishimuras for Father's Day. It was a cool traditional place just down the road from the kindergarten. We sat on the tatami mats, low table, legs crossed and all. It was great food and a great time...

That brings me to Monday. Here is a quick video of a class I was in on Monday morning:

Kiddies in class.

me with the kids!

Thanks again for reading!!!!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Photos and Blog

Hey everybody,

So we have had a pretty awesome week so far. We were surprised on Tuesday night when Keiko-san told us that we were going to make a trip into Tokyo on Wednesday to see the very famous Kabuki-za Theater in Tokyo. I was incredibly pumped. (That was one of the remaining places left on my list to visit.) Plus, we got Hump-Day off from work!!! If that's not enough, the kindergarten paid for it... Boo-ya.

Anyways, we hopped on the train @ 8:00 a.m. and headed for Tokyo. We made it to the theatre just fine and waited in line for tickets. It's a serious deal! We planned to meet Keiko-san's niece Satoko and her friend Mai at the theatre.

After the hour long act, the five of us headed to Asakusa, the oldest region of Tokyo. Very famous, very historical, very cool. We ate some lunch at this ridiculously cool restaurant and then strolled in Asakusa, shopped, and snapped a few photos:

Five-Storied Pagoda.

We had a wonderful time with the girls. They were super fun and want to teach us how to make some Japanese dishes later on this summer. In exchange, I vowed to teach them how to make some Hot N' Ready style pizzas. Well, maybe not HNRs, but pizza nonetheless...
me, krista, sarah, mai, satoko.

Satoko and Mai headed back to Chiba New Town and we spent the afternoon/evening in Tokyo's Odaiba area. It is one of the "newest" parts of Tokyo as it is literally constructed on some reclaimed land right on Tokyo Bay. We got there and visited a Toyota Showroom, rode a big Ferris wheel, and then headed for the waterfront. I knew a replica of Lady Liberty was somewhere along beach and we found her.

I touched my heart for her...

We really liked the beach in front of Rainbow Bridge. On the way over to Odaiba, our train (see vids) came over beside and then under the cars! It was cool. Here is me rockin with Rainbow Bridge in the background:

Loving life at Rainbow Bridge.

Then, I thought that it would probably be an awesome idea to have an "Awkward Senior Picture" photo shoot along the water. We made up some fresh, new poses and also abused the classics...

Fresh New Pose. Name is still in the works. Maybe you have one?

Classic Awkward Rock Pose.

We worked our way to "The Best Burger Place in Tokyo" called Kua' Aina. Most of the tour books I have concur on the issue... It's a Hawaiian restaurant with only four in the World; 2 in Hawaii, 1 in Santa Montica, 1 in Tokyo! I coaxed the girls into going and we definitely didn't regret it.

The view was awesome. (See night pics below)
Burgers, tasty as can be.
Hawaiian radio station playing through the speakers.
Obama's been there. (Pic of him paying on the wall)

Avocado burger, rings, fries, Coke. Delectable won't even work to describe...

I read about this area and mentioned that it would probably a nice place to see the night view...Thanks Small Planet Tour Book...

Lady Lib and Rainbow Bridge at night...

Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower, and party boats at night.

Yeah, so we had a pretty complete day. Very very fun. This weekend, I am hoping to visit a sento somewhere around Inzai Shi or Makinohara. I'll fill you in on that later on...

bye bye. see ya.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Vlogs

Lunch. okonomiyaki. So good!

Train into Odaiba.

Ferris Wheel.

Kua' Aina Burger Place. Whitney Houston was on the radio. Couldn't have been better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rainy Blogs.

To the faithful readers:

I want to start this blog out by saying that I apologize for not writing in a week and a half. Dang. I’m sorry.
Well, Japan continues to be a challenge and a blessing. The challenges ebb and the blessings flow.
Let me catch you all up to speed.
The work at the Kindergarten is busy. By the time 6:00 p.m. rolls around, I am drained and ready for a little alone and rest time. So how do I spend my evenings here? Good question.

Last week consisted of: reading, Yahtzee and Catch Phrase with the girls, a jigsaw puz of Mt. Fuji (how appropriate), music, and 1984 by Orwell audiobook. Oh yeah, then there is the Skype action that I need. I love hearing the weather/farming updates, softball scores, Keim kids, Brighton highlights, etc… Also, last night I watched about 1hour of Simon and Garfunkel videos on YouTubes. They are going to be in Tokyo for a reunion tour at the end of the summer. I would like to get to that…probably won’t happen.

Last weekend, we decided to make a trip to see the Chiba Lotte Marines play baseball. They were scheduled to play the Hanshin Tigers, the equivalent to our NYYanks. The marines are actually managed by Bobby Valentine, former MLB manager and player. We boarded the train and crossed our fingers, as we were hoping to get tickets at the stadium. Didn’t happen. It was sold out and then some. I was optimistic. I really wanted to watch some baseball but I am always down for some adventure. On the way to the stadium, I noticed some signs for a beach…
Plan B. We eventually left the stadium and made our way to the beach. The beach is part of Tokyo Bay and wasn’t particularly pristine. However, I really enjoyed it. I waded out into the shallows and watched these crazy jumping fish. They usually jumped three times in a row, like they were trying to fly. It was rad and made me LOL and ROFL. haha.
After the beach, I saw a Japanese garden and really wanted to walk through. We saw that it cost 100 yen, which is about $1, well worth it.

We grabbed some decent noodles on the way back to the train station. We stumbled upon some street musicians who turned out to be pretty sweet. The were jamming some American acoustic songs. I like that. Then, a lady came up to us and mentioned that they were all missionaries. We stayed and talked with them in the park for about 30 mins and eventually missed our train…No biggie.

We made it back to Inzaimakinohara station. The girls were tuckered out. They grabbed their bikes and headed back to the kindergarten. I stayed out, explored, and jammed to some music…Mostly Regina Spektor, oddly enough… I guess it worked out.

Anyways, here are a few recent pictures. I’ll try to be better and update more.
Thanks for reading.


Frequenting the Big Boy. Nothing like U.S. Big Boy. They do have stellar waffle fries though.

C.Nan. + M.Yo = Okay!

Lions are super-cool too.

Gospel choir with the ladies...Overjoyed. obviously.