Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Fujinomiya is a little town at the base of Mt. Fuji. I happen to be lucky enough to have a friend who lives there, so I went out for a nice little visit this past weekend. You see, I was pretty excited, #1, because I hadn’t seen my friend since I’d left Kansai Gaidai, and #2, you can get a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji from his apartment!! Well…

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Nevertheless, Fujinomiya has other things to offer besides ample cloud cover for the biggest mountain in Japan. Like what, you ask? Fujinomiya is actually famous for Yakisoba. You can even take a bus there from Tokyo called the “Yakisoba Express.” We went to a place in the middle of town that had a yakisoba shrine (so cute) in front of it. Then you can drink Fuji water to wash it all down. The water in this area around Fuji is super clean, so you can drink it straight from the springs. There was a little fountain of it right in front of the yakisoba joint. Needless to say, the yakisoba was fantastic.

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After yakisoba, we walked across the street to check out the big shrine… but it unfortunately started to rain a cold, cold, rain.

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Oh nooo. So we decided to head back to the apartment, since walking around in the cold rain is no fun. After a couple of hours, the rain had subsided and we decided to venture out again. This time, we went to Shiraito Falls (白糸滝, literally, “white thread” falls).  After being so disappointed by that stupid volcano, I really enjoyed the waterfalls. It was absolutely beautiful. Despite the absence of Fuji, I had a great time. I’ll be back. I don’t think that Mt. Fuji is going anywhere anytime soon. In addition to the Shiraito Falls, we also saw the legendary Otodome Falls (音止滝, the story of which I’ll save for another post) and had wasabi-flavored ice cream (!!!).  I’ll end the written portion of this post here, so you can enjoy the photos.Fujinomiya 027Fujinomiya 013Fujinomiya 016Fujinomiya 015Fujinomiya 018

Friday, March 26, 2010

Japan – The Strange Country (video)

Japan - The Strange Country (Japanese ver.) from Kenichi on Vimeo.

Found this today. Great design & provocative message. Personally, I think the reason so many people are killing themselves is because they work too much and aren’t having enough sex. That’s just my opinion, though. I’m no sociologist.

Here is a link to the English version.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Last weekend, Lindsey and I went to Asakusabashi, where all the awesome bead stores are!! We spent the most part of our Sunday hunting around for beads and beading accessories… I mean like… we spent HOURS in these places. It’s easy to, since there are so many miniscule bits and pieces to peruse. So I ended up with these:

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“Recipes” (otherwise known as “instructions”), beads, and metal parts to make my own lovely earrings! The two big name-brand stores in the neighborhood are Parts Club and Kiwa Seisakujo. There are also a plethora of other stores that have millions of strands of freshwater pearls, glass beads, swarovski crystals, natural stone beads, etcetera in every shape, size and color imaginable. It’s really a cool place if you are into making jewelry or being crafty, like me. The cool thing about Parts Club & Kiwa, is that they have project ideas! It’s cool for people like me, who may not be skilled jewelry artisans. You can get your “recipes” and choose the color metal you like and the colors of your beads or even change the design as you see fit. So, I got directions on how to make these awesome star earrings:handmade004  I think they turned out pretty good, don’t you?! Now I want to design my own earrings and go back and get parts for them!!

Anyhow, to get to Asakusabashi, we had to go through Akihabara, which always kind of overwhelms and/or frightens me, mostly because there are so many crazy/sketchy people around. However, I remembered that there was a really awesome okonomiyaki restaurant there that I had seen on TV or something and wanted to check out. So, being the good Kansai-bred girls that we are, we did! Akiba 007 Akiba 009 We decided on the mixed seafood and the cheese (yes, that’s right, cheese) okonomiyaki. Absolutely spectacular. Omg. We were in heaven. Akihabara isn’t so scary after all.Akiba 004 How about you guys? Do you think Akihabara is a little scary? Do you like to make cool stuff too? Would you try a cheese okonomiyaki??

Friday, March 19, 2010

The biggest dog in Japan

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Ok, ok, not really, but I wonder how many tatami mats a St. Bernard would span, anyway? That dog is bigger than my entire apartment. I took this photo on a trip to Uji (宇治) with Kimm during the spring of ‘07. I miss all the dog-watching you can do in Kyoto. Here… not so much.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It’s nice to get out of town on the weekends. I had a good reason to go to Tokyo this past weekend; seeing the Vicelords of Valhalla play a nice gig in Ikebukuro. I also got to see my Gaidai compadre, Lindsey, which was super awesome!!! On Sunday I went to Shibuya and checked out the Tamara de Lempicka Exhibition at Bunkamura and got my nails done at Shibuya 109. I took some photos of last weekend’s exploits, and figured I should post them up here, since I haven’t posted anything interesting in quite some time, as I’ve been busy wrapping up this school year and trying to get the next one started up… so. At least, enjoy the photos!

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Lindsey and I went to a restaurant called the “Milky Way” where everything was Zodiac themed, including the parfaits. It’s super cute. We both got the Aquarius (水瓶座) parfait… A. because it’s sweet potato/pumpkin flavored AND because we’re both Aquarius…ses.
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たこ - Taco Doria. deliciously ironic.

Also, we both got the “Tako - Taco Doria” which was fantastic, since it did not only include tortilla chips, ground beef, and salsa… but also, ironically, octopus. We really really hoped they were sincerely being ironic. march 014After our meal, we went to the performance. Well done, as usual! I had to be the mic stand for the last song because it was broken. march 017On Sunday, after going to see the EXCELLENT exhibiton of Tamara de Lempicka’s paintings and sketches (as well as portraits of the artist)… I decided to be frivolous and get my nails done at Shibuya 109. I went with a slightly more gaudy French manicure.. complete with sliver glitter lining the white tips and rhinestones glued on my middle fingers. Getting my nails done is a nice stress reliever, and surprisingly, even in Shibuya, was affordable. My students went nuts and were like: OMG YOU HAVE GLITTER NAILS WITH RHINESTONES. Yep.  I want to go back and go get some crazy go nuts nails at some point… although it’s a pain to really do anything with crazy go nuts nails… like wash the dishes or play the guitar…. At any rate.. they still look pretty good considering it’s already Wednesday evening. The rhinestones fell off.. but no chips yet. Woohoo!

Anyhow. Tomorrow is our graduation ceremony. I still somehow have lessons next week.. but just for 5th & 3rd grade…and then our closing ceremony. I can’t believe this year is already over. It went so fast!!

Until next time!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I have to say, last week got started on the wrong foot. It really did. You can read in my previous post that Monday was a bad day… those lovely pink flowers and a surprise special guest visitor to my humble abode (!!!) made things a lot better! Then, I was ill on Tuesday, thanks to my 花粉症 (pollen allergies), and after taking my temperature, my school nurse sent me home. Then there was the weather, it couldn’t decide whether or not it wanted to be spring or winter… and on Wednesday morning, I opened up my door and found a big slushy, snowy mess outside my door that I had the pleasure of biking to school in….

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Then! Thursday, things started to look good! The sun finally came out and decided to let us start spring! I also had my last classes with my 3rd and 6th grade at one of my schools. My 3-1 class made a really sweet book of thank-you messages for me. Here are a few of them, and my poor attempts at translation:

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To Bridget Sensei: Bridget sensei, you taught us English on Thursdays!! Thanks to you I understood English!! Thank you!!
(I really liked the big red exclamation marks in this one)

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Bridget Sensei, thank you for teaching us lots of English every week. The games were fun. I won’t forget what you taught me.

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To Bridget Sensei: Than you very much for teaching us English. I couldn’t do English every day, but (I can’t read the rest…this kid doesn’t have the best handwriting.. and it seems like they had a lot to say and not enough space to write it. Can someone help me out?)

Then, I got this beautiful card from one of my 6th graders who studies English outside of her once a week lessons at school with me. This is far far far beyond the level of her peers and I am so proud to post this up on my blog:

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So… besides these lovely letters, my favorite groundskeeper/personal mechanic gave me some sweet roasted chestnuts (complete with directions on how to crack them open with your thumbnails) and a couple of pots of gorgeous violas (I just hope I don’t kill them… I’m quite skilled at killing plants).

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All in all, despite crappy days at work, 花粉症, and slushy wet weather, I think I had a pretty stand-up week, don’t you? I even had a really sweet weekend hanging out in Tokyo, photos of which I’ll save for my next post! So, until then!

Monday, March 8, 2010


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I had another bad Monday today. But! I saw these gorgeous pink flowers on my way out the door today. I didn’t even notice these walking into school, but right in front of the teacher’s genkan, there is a great big bush blooming with these lovely flowers. Does anyone know what they’re called?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Best 500 Yen I Ever Spent.

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There is a place in a shopping mall near the Osaka Kaiyukan where you can go and pet some adorable animals for 500 yen. You know, just in case you want to pet some pets.

I actually felt really bad for the dogs, especially. The little ones were just crazy (but adorable) and the big ones… seemed like they were getting a little old and forgetful… it was sad, to say the least. The bunnies were adorable, as to be expected. The cats were really standoffish and hissed at us (I never was a cat person anyway). There was also a scary goat/sheep thing that was really really scary and we decided to never ever look it straight in the eye.

At a place like this, one can only wonder if the animals are treated well? Their enclosures were clean, and it seemed like they were well fed, so hopefully yes? If anything, the dogs seemed really lonely, and were happy to see us. They were sooo cute!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


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One time, during the spring break while I was going to Gaidai, my friend and I decided to go to the side of Japan that faces… the Sea of Japan. You know, just to see what’s over there. We visited the Tottori sand dunes.
I was recently looking through my old pictures from  06-07. I decided to make these sepia tone a la the movie, “砂の女" or, its English title, “The Woman in the Dunes.”
The film is about a woman who is the last person of her clan living in her village, that has slowly been consumed by the sand. A fellow (who we assume is a professor)  kind of stumbles upon her one day while collecting insects in the sand dunes. He stays with her, and maybe even falls in love with her at one point, however, in the end, she and her house in the sand do nothing but continually infiltrate every aspect of him and his life... just like how sand… infiltrates… EVERYTHING. I remember watching the film for my Japanese film class, hoping that the professor was going to be able to escape from the sand lady.

Oh, and there are sand people in it that are eerily reminiscent of the sand people in Star Wars. (the film was made in 1964).

I think the Tottori sand dunes were the biggest expanse of wide open space I have ever seen in Japan outside of the rice fields here in Tochigi. In a way, they are kind of beautiful.

Otherwise, it’s just a great big pile of sand.

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