gratitude, onsen, tomorrow, and more gratitude.

1 May 2011 § 1 Comment

I am so grateful for the girl downstairs and her patience with me calling her up nearly every day (or every other day) asking if I can charge my laptop with her charger. I don’t know what I’d do without her. I mean, I’d be fine, I’m sure. I might even be better off being forced to not be on my laptop/Internet so much. But oh, I like being connected to my friends and family back home!

Golden Week is upon us!

Our trip to Shirahama was delightful. We got there a few hours before check-in so we’d have time to check out the area. The train ride went by quickly, with only a small bout of motion sickness. The weather was perfect: blue sky, a few fluffy clouds, sunny, warm, a light breeze. Right when we stepped off the train, we breathed in the fresh air, which was so nice compared to Osaka air. It smelled like trees and grass and ocean and outdoors. Given how beautiful it was out, we decided to make the hour walk to our hotel. Stopped off for ramen on the way. Met lots of useful people who helped us go in the right direction. Stopped by the beach before we got there, which was beautiful with its white sand and clear blue water and beautiful view of the Pacific. Stopped by a temple. Took a 25 minute ride on a glass bottom boat out to Engetsu Inlet. Back at the hotel, took advantage of the hot spring there, public bath, awesome buffet style dinner, karaoke, more hot spring. Enjoyed staying in a hotel room that’s three times the size of my apartment. It was a great experience. The next day, got up early, had a really good breakfast, went to the hot spring again, check out at 10, then went to Sakinoyu, an open air bath, literally 10 meters from the Pacific Ocean, with a beautiful view. Afterwards, hung out by the ocean for a good hour or so before getting lunch and heading back into Osaka.

It was my first hot spring (onsen) experience. No bathing suits were allowed (the two guys that we were with wore bathing suits anyway, and the manager came up to them, very politely and told them that they couldn’t wear them because “it’s not the Japanese way”), which was fine, especially seeing as it was gender-divided, and I also didn’t feel like having to buy a bathing suit. I was nervous about it before I went into the dressing room on my way into the onsen, but once you get in there and you realize how normal it is for everyone else there, it’s fine. I was also a little worried initially about my tattoos, but no one batted an eye. It probably helps that they’re small, and also I don’t look particularly threatening. It was really relaxing. The outdoor onsen the next day was my favourite. It was made of rock, and had three tiers, and three different temperature pools. It was a little dodgy being outside like that, though, because not too far from the hot spring is the Submarine Observation Tower, and there are also tourist boats a ways out on the water. On the women’s side of the onsen, you can’t be seen from the observation tower (a tourist spot, by the way), but you can definitely be seen on the men’s side.

And it’s off to Hiroshima tomorrow morning. I have around 30 more paper cranes to fold to reach my goal of 1000 to bring with me to a monument there. I can’t wait.

Also, for anyone who reads this regularly, you might recall my suggesting that you check THIS GUY OUT and LIKE HIS PAGE.  WELL, thanks to your votes and support (but especially his innate talent for singing and songwriting, as well as his personality – but ALSO your votes and support), he’s now in LA for the next nine days, meeting with the other top contestants, working with legendary music manager Johnny Wright and his team of music industry specialists! I know a lot of you made the effort to check out his page and have watched some of his videos, and now he’s actually there. In a recent video of additional feedback on his last challenge, the CEO of Justin Timberlake’s record label actually said that he would sign Joel van Vliet! Amazing!

Now to finish those cranes…

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golden.

15 April 2011 § 2 Comments

Plans for Golden Week are SET!

Kicking it off with a night at an onsen (hot spring) in Shirahama. I need to do some researching online before going, though. I’m not sure about their rules regarding tattoos (I hear that some places are pretty strict about them..), and I don’t know what the deal is with bathing suits. Anyway, it’s gonna be fun.

A couple days later, I head to Hiroshima on my own via the bullet train (Shinkansen). It’s a pretty cool train, reaching speeds of 240 to 300 km/h.  I could save a few thousand yen by taking the bus there, but it would take nearly three times as long to get there (i.e. 7 hours instead of 2). I’ve got my Shinkansen tickets (to and from), with reserved seats. I’ve got a hostel booked. I figure I’ll spend one day visiting the Peace Memorial Museum, and another day visiting Miyajima and the surrounding area before catching the train back at night. If I can get them done in the next couple weeks, I will  bring my 1000 cranes with me (approx. 300 left to fold!). It’ll be super busy because it’s over Golden Week, but it’s such a convenient time for me to go..

I’m amazed that I can write about bringing 1000 cranes to Hiroshima now. This is something that I decided seven years ago that I wanted to do. I was still in high school when I set this as a goal for myself. And now I’m here!

I started free weekly Japanese lessons through my ward office today. I think they will suffice for now, until I get into more of a regular schedule and maybe find some time to study a bit more (..we’ll see). At least this way, I can learn something new each week and have the opportunity to practice it with some people in a structured environment.

I’ve been doing a lot of training over the past few weeks. Additional training for my job, as well as new training for my new, second job. Looks like I’ll be doing some Kindergarten! I never thought I’d be saying that, but it’ll be fun. I hope. I hope it’s fun. I am slowly easing into my regular schedule, though. Finally. My kids classes started on Thursday. I teach kids classes every Tuesday and Thursday. Eleven year olds are difficult. The youngest class I’m teaching has just two girls in it, both very young. Maybe 2, not quite 3. They are adorable. Those classes will be a lot of fun. I start my adult group classes tomorrow. I’m excited about those  because they actually require me to put together lessons (using text books that we’re given).

Speaking of lessons, I should probably go do that instead of being on here.

these are two things I did today.

8 April 2011 § Leave a comment

1. Shirahama Onsen.

Went to a travel agent today and booked a night at Shirahama Onsen, which is, according to some online source, is one of Japan’s three most famous hot springs. I’ll be going on the first day of my week off at the end of the month with a few friends. It’s pricey, but I have a feeling that it’s worth it. I’m really excited. It’s a shame that prices get jacked up over Golden Week (pretty much a week straight of national holidays, so I’ll have eight days off) because it’s a great opportunity to go see some things. Regardless of prices, I’ll still probably go try to see some things. We’ll see what I figure out in the next couple weeks.

2. Haircut.

I got a haircut today. Nothing drastic, just thinned things out a bit, got some bangs, etc. It was a fantastic experience, though. The stylist I went to, when he worked in NYC, has had Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Campbell, and many others as clients. The price was reasonable. It’s located in the opposite end of the city, and I had no idea how to get to the salon. They told me to call when I arrived at the subway station. I did, and they sent an employee out in the rain to find me and bring me back to the salon. I then proceeded to have one of the best shampoos ever, followed up by a fantastic head and shoulder massage. When I went to pay, they also gave me an umbrella, because, despite the heavy rain, I hadn’t bothered bringing out myself. What service! (I was slightly embarrassed, though, when they gave me the umbrella… I was happy using my coat hood…). Anyway, I’m happy with my hair cut. Yay!

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