Friday, November 30, 2007
New Camera
So, most of my picture taking has been with my cellphone camera as my old digital camera died after the Lake Party. So, one weekend I went off to Tokyo and picked myself up a new camera at the Yodobashi Camera store in Akihabara. Got a really good deal too! The last time I went to the Yodobashi I got a DS and picked up a point card. The day I got my camera was a triple point card day so I managed to pick up my camera, a 1GB memory card, and a really cute camera carrying case all for about $250. Plus, I still have about $30 left on the card to spend on whatever. I also picked up a Final Fantasy game for my DS while I was there as well.

These are the first few pictures I took with my new camera. It is a Casio Exilim Hi-Zoom and I love it. No turn on button. I can just slide the front thing and snap a picture right away! The zoom is excellent and it can take video footage for up to 90 min. The pics are of the annex house of Janet's home stay family. They were kind enough to let us stay the night one night and even invited us over to their actual house for some 'make your own' sushi.

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posted by am at 4:52 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Hot Dogs
All my sixth grade classes got to spend two class periods making hot dogs. Not much English happening, but cooking an 'international' food counts towards the whole internationalization part of my job. Plus, the kids have fun doing it. They did have to ask for the bun in English though. It's amazing how quickly they can learn an English phrase such as, "May I have a bun please," when food is involved!

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posted by am at 8:02 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
On the road again
On my way back home the day after the Halloween party, I took some pictures of the ride. So, I figured I'd share them. The mountains, which when I got here reminded me of giant moss hills, look really pretty now that it's fall and the trees are changing colors.


posted by am at 11:59 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Trick or Treat
After I tried searching in Tokyo for a Halloween costume and failed, I got a bit desperate. I went with a few other people into Kofu to check out this costume store that someone knew about. The costume store also happened to be right across the street from a temple, so I grabbed a few pics of that as well. The costume store did have a ton of costumes and costume related stuff, but nothing that seemed right for elementary schoolers and/or myself. So, I kept it simple, and just went to the Don Quixote store (a giant, crazy, has everything you could possibly imagine, super store) in Isawa and picked up a pair of cat ears and a tale.

Then, another JET, with a house the size of a hotel, threw a halloween party the weekend after halloween. I almost didn't attend as I didn't have a ride to his house and there was no train I could easily take to get there. But as luck would have it, I posted a note asking for a ride on facebook and got one! I used the black cat costume for school, but luckily the box full of Halloween goodies my parents sent to me arrived before the party. So, instead of a black cat, I went as a Jester, ate candy, drank, and had a wonderful time.

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posted by am at 10:54 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Pub Quiz
Yeti, the official JET group in Yamanashi, arranged a pub quiz night for all the local ALTs. A pub quiz is pretty much what it sounds like. Getting drunk and answering really difficult trivia questions! It was held at a nice little Italian restaurant across the street from Otsuki station.

The trivia was quite difficult and I ended up being no help at all to my team. Questions consisted of world history, science, leisure, and music trivia. There were skits and pictures and everything! I've never participated in such a hard core trivia game before in my life!

So, almost solely due to the awesome efforts of my teammates, we ended up in 3rd place and won some fireworks. Said fireworks were promptly set off in front of Otsuki station before taking the train home.

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posted by am at 7:50 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, November 26, 2007
Movie Night
My JTE was kind enough to invite all the female ALTs in the Shi to a movie. Can't remember the name of the film we watched, but it was a sappy romantic comedy, and yes, it was even in English! Overall, Japanese movie theaters are pretty much just like American ones. The only big difference is that seeing a movie is even more expensive! It's normally about $19 for a ticket, but we went on 'ladies night' so it was only $10. Yes, that's right. The discounted price was $10. Don't even ask about the popcorn and soda.

One interesting cultural note. After the movie, my JTE and one of her friends asked us about certain parts in the movie where all of us native speakers were laughing as they didn't get the joke. It was pretty amusing trying to explain to them the nuances in the language that make certain conversations funny. Some things they got and others, they just couldn't grasp why it was so funny. Makes me wonder just how much I'm missing when I watch subbed versions of Japanese films and shows.

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posted by am at 7:39 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Tokyo: Round....I can't even remember anymore
Went to Tokyo for a quick little day trip. I wanted to go look for a decent Halloween costume and also ended up going to a little get together that Janet put together for some of her friends. I also ended up meeting Janet's friend Karen, who will be going to Korea with us over winter break. Together we tried searching for costumes and also for someplace that does waxing. We didn't find either, but I did get some nice rainy day pics of the massive Shibuya crosswalk place and got to eat some decent food. I also picked up some books from my favorite used English bookstore, the Blue Parrot.

posted by am at 8:33 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Wine Festival
I'd attended several fire related festivals, so I was hoping to be able to switch it up a bit, and as luck would have it, I found out about a wine festival in the neighboring town of Katsanuma. And, not a few days after hearing about the festival, my Japanese tutor who just so happens to live in Katsanuma invited myself and Tiffany to attend the festival with her and her friends.

So, on the day of the festival, she came to pick us up and we went straight to her house to partake in what every Japanese person does to start off a! There was some lovely wild rice stuff, tempura, and oden. I really liked the egg and daikon that were in the oden. After food, we went to the festival and did a bunch of wine tasting and then headed back for more food. I was under the impression that we'd be going back to the festival so I could pick up a few bottles of the wines I liked best, but we only we back to see the fireworks and lighting of this large tori gate on the side of one of the mountains. So, yeah, I went to a wine festival and ended up not even getting any wine! However, I did get to eat a lot of good food and drink a lot of free wine and hang out with some interesting obasans.

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posted by am at 7:44 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I was invited to an enkai by my base school and decided to take them up on the offer. Basically, an enkai is a work party and they are quite common in Japan. Lots of food, drinking, and coworkers having a good time together. This was my base school's end of sports festival/end of the semester enkai and thus a pretty big one. It was held at an onsen in Isawa and there was even a bus to take everyone! Only problem was that the day of the enkai wasn't the day I worked at my base school, so the bus made an extra stop to come pick me up!

The onsen was really nice and the party started with some optional spa time, which I opted to do cause going to this enkai was expensive (about 6,000 yen) and I wanted to get my money's worth! Then we went to our private room to get the actual party started. The setup was really fancy and everyone drew a color and number to determine where they sat. Well, everyone but my JTE, cause they made her sit next to me.

Once everyone was seated, the food started to come, and come, and come, and come. It never seemed to end! I also ended up with quite a few glasses of plum sake too. The alcohol they were serving was beer, which I don't drink, so all the teachers who weren't drinking, and even some who were, gave me their sake so I could have a good time. And once I was done with those, the principal ordered me some more! I was really nice of everyone to do that for me and I felt a bit embarrassed, but the sake was really good, so I sure wasn't going to turn it down.

After all the food, I was stuffed. In between all the eating and drinking, we also did a mini version of a sports festival including a three-legged race, tug of war, and a catch things in a basket game. Quite funny watching ones coworkers run about while tipsy. Sadly, my team came in last, but we got some nice consolation prizes, so it wasn't to bad. I personally got a pair of red banging stick noise maker type things. At the end of the night, and after finishing all my sake, they then asked me to give a little speech on what I thought about the school festival and enkai. Luckily, I wasn't too drunk, so I stood up and said a few words. After the onsen, there was another bus ready to take everyone to another bar, but I ended up going home as my ride wanted to head out. Plus, I had to go to work the next day! All in all, a good evening out and something I would totally do again.

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posted by am at 7:43 AM | Permalink | 0 comments