Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hokkaido: A Photo Journey

So, basically, there's no way around it - I have a TON of pictures of Hokkaido. And I want to post ALL of them! Sooooo, I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures and let you guys figure out the rest. Commentary ONLY when I feel it's necessary. Enjoy! :-)

This waterfall was seriously one of the most amazing waterfalls I had ever seen, and I am sad that the picture of course is incapable of doing it justice.

I don't know what it is with Japanese people, but they seem to LOVE huge over-sized doll things.

Can you tell what my new favorite flower is? Seriously, these are the PERFECT color!

Guillaume loves melon!

So yeah, as you can tell, Hokkaido was beautiful and awesome! I am sorry for the lack of explanation, but I'm sure you guys prefer pictures, anyway. If you click on them, they get big. :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Momiji viewing in Korankei

So, I still haven't written about Hokkaido, I know. And now it seems like it was ages ago. A friend helped me turn off some parts of Windows 7, though, so that I can finally easily upload photos even with the old router that I must use in my home. So soon, I promise. Perhaps tomorrow.

In the meantime, last weekend was FABULOUS! I worked late on Friday, and immediately fell asleep upon getting home then had to get up and work again on Saturday morning. I worked until 3:30 and once again came home and fell promptly asleep (apparently I was very tired). Then, around 5:30, I headed to Nagoya with a friend, and we attended something called a 飲み会(nomikai). I unfortunately didn't bring my camera, but suffice it to say, it was interesting, and I had a GREAT time.
I spent the entire evening attempting to converse in Japanese and being yelled at by men with megaphones. Because I was the only non-Japanese person there (and I just so happen to be a tall, white girl), the men that were for some reason walking around with megaphones announcing things (yeah, I don't know what that was about) liked to come over and talk to me and about me to everyone there.
It was great Japanese practice, and it made me realize that I REALLY need to speak Japanese more often, because it's hard to get out the words that I want.
Next time, I will definitely be bringing a camera.

So then Sunday, I woke up early to meet up with some friends to head over to 足助(Asuke), in こらんけい(Korankei) for こうよう(kouyou) or もみじ(momiji), which is basically the viewing of the fall leaves. Asuke is about an hour away from here by bus, and it is well-known for its beautiful fall leaves.

We were going to take the bus at 10:47, but it turned out that bus had actually been at 10:10 (I'm convinced the times on the web site changed), and the next bus wasn't until 12:10. So we took that bus.
Upon arriving at the bus station, Alexis promptly managed to break a glass and then almost fall down the stairs. Then, even though we had been standing at the bus stop for far longer than most of the people, we realized we were waiting for the long bus and had to go to the end of a HUGE line. Which ended with us having to stand the entire way on the bus. Great start to the day, right?

Me feeling sick (can you tell?)sitting down in the bus where I totally shouldn't have been sitting.

When we were about 5 kilometers away, the traffic started. Standing for over an hour in a bus so crowded I could barely breathe, I was already feeling sick, and the stop and go added a whole other dimension to that sickness. So we got off the bus and walked the rest of the way.

The car fumes smelled like fresh air compared to the interior of the bus. And the view on the walk was AMAZING!

But it was nothing compared to the view when we actually arrived. The place was super crowded, which in no way took away for the magnificence of the yellow, red, orange, and green colored hill with a sparkling river flowing right in front of it.

We sat on the bank of the river for a picnic and then

Is that color not just PERFECT?!? And the shape!!! It was love at first sight.

I saw my new favorite car in the entire world.

In order to try to get away from the masses, decided to head over to the castle. There was a lovely bamboo field on the way up. I don't know what it is about bamboo, but it always seems so magical to me.

On the way up, there was as side path that led us to what was supposedly a well. Martin and I weren't convinced.

We were actually the only people at the castle, though I don't know why, as it was old school and super cool (though, I admit, not very castle like), and the view from the top was more than spectacular.

Delicious strawberry mochi!

Afterward, we headed back down the mountain and over to the hill (I wish I could remember what the hill was called) to try to find some of the special もち(mochi), aka condensed glutinous rice, for which the region is known.

Instead we found the end of a taiko concert. It seemed to be quite good, and I'm sad that we didn't get to see more of it.

The hill was all lit up for night, and with the almost full moon in the background, it was almost even more beautiful than during the day.

Since we walked the last 5 kilometers, we didn't know where the bus stop was, but we managed to find it without even looking, and a bus just so happened to arrive the second we stood in line.

Unfortunately, we were standing up again, but another of the exact same bus pulled up right behind us, and the driver's stopped so that the people standing in our bus could go sit in the other bus. Nice! Gotta love Japan, right?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Halloween and the Jazz Fest

So, I haven't written yet about the Hokkaido part of the trip with Guillaume, and I promise that I will, but in the meantime, other things have been going on!

First, there was Halloween. There was a Halloween party at the bar by Yamasa, and I went, but I unfortunately had to go off and have a headache for the day, so I couldn't bring myself to dress up (or even stay after 10 PM). It was fun, though, and there were some amazing costumes, but I unfortunately took no pictures. :-(

Then Sunday, on actual Halloween day, a bunch of us got together for a Halloween karaoke. It was super fun, and I actually dressed up this time!

I was a thug, and Martin was a mime!

Lauren dressed up as sort of deadish Little Red Riding Hood - her costume was absolutely AMAZING! She looked totally awesome. It made me wish I were good at costume making.

Daniel wore a fun Rilakuma hat, and Alexis unfortunately got sick and couldn't go, so she didn't get to see it. :-( She would have loved it, I think.

Vanessa and Stephen also came, though they didn't dress up. Sadness.

Neither did Wooreeh and Tan.

It was super fun. And then last weekend was the Okazaki Jazz Festival (Jazz Street), and I went on Sunday with Sandra and Carla. One of the students with whom Carla and I do French conversation gave us the tickets for free (otherwise 4000 whole yen) - super nice!

Super fun times, even though neither Carla or I are huge fans of jazz. The first concert we went to was actually in a Buddhist temple, which was an interesting experience. The second concert we went to was at the outdoor Noh theatre by the Okazaki Castle.

On our way over to the castle area, we saw a Japanese couple that had just gotten married, and they were in traditional Japanese wedding garb. It was the first time I had seen that, and I was impressed. The bride's little head thing was especially awesome.

Then there were tons of people and lots of things going on over by the castle area as well.

Thiss fun little bear/lion/cute thing was just walking around randomly. I have NO clue what he was doing, but I of course had to get a picture with him.

After the Noh theatre concert (which was actually quite good - the trumpeter reminded me of Guillaume's dad, and he had a fun story for every song they played. They also played more be-boppy tunes than jazz tunes, so I was into it!), we got to take a picture with some dudes dressed up as samurai! One of the dudes let me hold his sword, and I was a little unsure as to what to do with it.

The last concert was in the library, and even though the band was super energetic, we found ourselves falling asleepish. It's crazy how tiring watching jazz concerts can be.

Other than that, well, we had a first test of the term a little while ago, and I did super good, with only two small, slightly idiotic mistakes. Today we had our first talking test, and I have to say, I'm not feeling nearly as confident about that. Then this past Friday I started a new job in Yahagi, and I think it is going to be good. I have the CUTEST little Japanse girl twins in one of the classes.

Times have been good, though because I work Monday to Saturday, I find that I'm not having as much time as I'd like to really explore Japan. Luckily, I'm here for several more months!

And this weekend, I promise, I'll write all about Hokkaido. It was SO BEAUTIFUL there, and I'm therefore having trouble deciding which pictures to post.