Friday, April 30, 2010


Odaiba is so freaking cool!! I want to go back!! ASAP!! I went on a little adventure there with my nametwin last weekend. The weather was absolutely GORGEOUS. A perfect azure sky!! Did some shopping, some hanging around, rode the little train around, checked out the Fuji Terebi building. We also went to Harajuku and went to a fantastic Thai restaurant there that I have a feeling I’ll be heading back to at some point in the future. Here’s some photos from our adventure!!
Odaiba 017
I really wanted to see the Fuji Television building up-close and personal after having seen it on ‘Mezamashi Terebi’ about a billion times… and I know Mezamashii TV isn’t a real news show… but it’s cute and I like it. SO THERE. Anyhow, the building was designed by one of my absolute favorites, Tange Kenzo. The architect of both the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office buildings (the Tocho, where I went last year) and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (where I went 4 years ago).
Fuji Terebi is also the station that broadcasted the のだめカンタービレdrama, which I also love to pieces (I saw the finale this past weekend!). So, while I was there, I bought Nodame’s bag!!! How cool is that?! poupee 002Yaaay Nodame bag!!
Odaiba 006 The rainbow bridge makes for a really spectacular view. I guess I just never realized how big it actually was until going to Odaiba. I want to go back and see it at night!!
Odaiba 013 This photograph is just a jumble of icons… in the background you can see Tokyo tower… then the rainbow bridge.. and then a miniature… Statue of Liberty?!!?!?!?! I just don’t understand Japan’s fascination with that statue. It’s great and everything…. but like... did they really NEED a minature replica in Odaiba? I personally don’t think so.
Odaiba 019Odaiba 004Odaiba 020 
I’ll be back, Odaiba!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


kansai trip 156This is one of my favorite views of Kyoto. When I was going to Gaidai, I would take the train to Sanjo Keihan and walk across the bridge and study in the basement at the Starbucks that’s right by the river there. I’d come after class or sometimes if I wanted to get away from my host family for the evening and study for an exam or write or something. This image of crossing the bridge at sunset is always going to be a fond memory for me, despite it being so mundane.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

sunny days

April 029

It was a really gorgeous day this past Sunday, and I took this photo of my plants enjoying the sunlight. Photosynthesis, baby!

I had my first day of classes with my high school students today, and it went much better than I had expected it would, and that makes me very happy.

About 2 years ago, I contributed to a College Prowler guidebook for study abroad. At the time, I was working at the Penn State Office of International Programs a couple of days a week as a Peer Advisor. I was (and still am) a big advocate of studying abroad.  In any case, College Prowler finally got around to publishing the stuff I wrote on Japan for the guidebook. To be absolutely honest, the sections on “Dining” “Nightlife” and “Guys and Girls” kind of sucked for me to write, since I didn’t really do a whole lot of those things because I was living with a host family. When you’re reading it… please skip over those sections, and remember, it’s heavily edited!  I got paid for writing it (not much, but like.. whatevs.) So I guess I’m a real writer now. I also had a lot of help from people from Gaidai who helped me out with questionnaires, and I want to publicly thank ALL of you! Thank you!!! Holla! So, without further ado: The College Prowler Ultimate Guide to Study Abroad: Osaka, Japan.

Photosynthesis! For the wolf!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Ikaho and Hanami 014
Ikaho is a little village in Gunma, the next prefecture over from where I live. It’s about an hour’s drive from here and up in the mountains!! I went there this past Wednesday with Kazu and Miki on a little road trip to see the mountains (duh) the Takehisa Yumeji museum, the Chin-po-kan (which was unfortunately closed) and the Venus museum (which was kind of entertaining, but unfortunately there was a creepy dude there…)
Ikaho and Hanami 001 
So, to get to this little lake, we drove up these super narrow and windy roads up these huuuge mountains. The best part was the melody road, when we drove over the bumps on the pavement, the vibrations made a song!! So cool! On our way back, Miki swerved into the opposite lane to see if it worked the same backwards, but it didn’t. I wish they would have had the melody road both ways!! So cool!!
Ikaho and Hanami 018

After checking out the absolutely SPECTACULAR view, we went back down into the little town and had some udon & soba before going to the Takehisa Yumeji museum. I don’t know if the guys enjoyed the museum as much as I did. I first found out about Takehisa when I was studying at Kansai Gaidai. I saw some of his prints at a shop in Kyoto and I ended up getting postcards to send back home. He was kind of a painting renegade, as he basically did his own thing, yet still incorporated some traditional techniques. He also was a printmaker (he designed some really fantastic prints for yukata fabric) and commercial artist (like.. newspaper illustrations) as well. In any case, I like his style, despite the fact that most of the women he paints all have really sad looks on their faces. Sad, but beautiful.
yumeji Ikaho and Hanami 020 
Woman w/ black cat  © Takehisa Yumeji

Ikaho and Hanami 017
So after that, we tried to go to the chin-po-kan… but it was closed !! >.< We drove down the hill for a while, and we came across a similar (but definitely not the same) kind of museum… and we ended up going in. It was interesting, but I guess the chin-po-kan would have involved more laughing. We came back to town after that and went to see the cherry blossoms (photos from which are in my previous entry), got some foods, and then hit up an izakaya to end the day.
Anyway. I had a great time. Great views, gorgeous art, and with good people. As per the usual, more photos are on the Facebook!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Ikaho and Hanami 025  Hanami 009Hanami 006Ikaho and Hanami 022 I take back all the flack I gave hanami last week. So gorgeous, and always better in the lamplight. I’ll write about our trip to Ikaho in my next post. I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and today I woke up an hour before I actually needed to, which didn’t really help me out much. Annnyhow. Later on, then.

Monday, April 5, 2010


April 025April 021April 027April 026 Some shots of the garden at the Nezu Museum, where I went last Wednesday. It’s hard to believe this place is smack dab in the middle of Tokyo. While meandering the garden, there were times I totally forgot that I was even in Tokyo… it felt like I was back in Kyoto. Really. It was spooky, almost. There are a bunch of windy stepping-stone paths that lead down into a small ravine that the garden itself covers. It there are 4 teahouses and a number of buddhist statues and architectural pieces in the garden that are nice little surprises for you as you’re making your way on the paths. There’s also someone’s grave… whose I’m not sure… and a small shrine in the garden as well.

The museum itself is a gorgeous ultra-modern building, which is a really nice contrast to the ancient Chinese bronzes and other artifacts inside. I went to see an exhibition of Chinese ink landscapes. Some were really inspiring, as I’ve had some trouble with my own ink painting lately. April 013For more information, check out the museum’s homepage:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

¡Dios mio!

Chili bean shiba needs to work on his accent! Also… the English annotations are a little off. Here’s the English one with jelly bean shiba:

Jelly bean shiba needs to work on his plurals and posessives.

Tora bean shiba is my personal favorite because he speaks Kansai-ben! I love how the lady flips out at him.



It’s that time of year again.

Ueno Hanami 001Ueno Hanami 003上野公園 

I like cherry blossoms, and spending quality time with friends, but I don’t like:

  • the crowds
  • sitting on cold asphalt for… hours.
  • not wearing shoes on the cold blue tarp sitting on cold asphalt.
  • the immense amounts of garbage.
  • the creepy people that stalk me around Ueno park… telling me they just want to practice their English and “make friends” (pshhh yeah right).

In any case, I prefer to enjoy the trees on my own terms.

The best Hanami I’ve ever been to? It’s a tie between walking the Tetsugaku no Michi (哲学の道) and Yozakura at Kiyomizudera (清水寺夜桜).

JAPAN2 144 哲学の道JAPAN2 176 清水寺夜桜

Well, and then there was that first-ever hanami I went to in Osaka-jo Koen… it was cold, the trees weren’t totally in bloom, we stole a tarp from some people that hadn’t arrived yet, and we met a homeless fellow who thought he was God. He said I was going to go to Buddhist heaven. At least he was nice and not that creepy!

JAPAN2 007 大阪城公園

Call me a curmudgeon if you must, but maybe I’m just over traditional-style hanami.