Basara Matsuri 2015

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This weekend was the Nara Basara Matsuri festival. I was so fortunate to participate with a dance troupe and I had the time of my life (I’ve also feel like I’ve never sweated more in my life- glad I didn’t wear any makeup, haha)! We danced for the entire day up and down the street and on stage. It was great to see everyone smiling and having a great time. There have been times that I’ve really been frustrated with my own inadequacies lately, but as a sappy image macro out there probably says, music and dance have no language barrier! I loved getting to meet new people in the community and working together with them to bring a little joy to the spectators.

Afterwards I got to try a delicious festival food called tamago senbei (literally egg cracker) and pet a few more deer before I took the train home.

Photo courtesy of Marius Ormond-Byrne

Photo courtesy of Marius Ormond-Byrne

photo courtesy of Shinichi Yoshioka

photo courtesy of Shinichi Yoshioka

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photo courtesy of Shinichi Yoshioka

photo courtesy of Hironori Okumoto

photo courtesy of Hironori Okumoto

photo courtesy of Hironori Okumoto

photo courtesy of Lena McGarry

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photo courtesy of Lena McGarry

Deliciously cute Tamago Senbei!

I was in the local newspaper last week! Can you find me?

Nara Park Tour

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Genki Deer

I ran into some rather “genki” deer in Nara Park. They were quite affectionate in return for a deer cookie, lol!

Group of Deer

I came across a whole group of does in a beautiful scenic field. A man gave me raw spaghetti noodles to feed them and they loved it along with the deer cookies I had on hand.

Post Seminar Presentation

Part of our post-seminar presentation that I drew. People seemed to especially like the little group cartoon in the middle, haha!

Nara Fawn

An adorable newborn baby!

Hot and sweaty from the long walk but having a great time!

Somber Deer 20150820_135933 Curious creatures

Yesterday I had the awesome opportunity to help out with a seminar for Japanese elementary teachers of English in Nara Park. A fellow JET and I acted as tourists while four teachers guided us through the park. I had a great time and even made a few friends in the process! After the seminar, we all gave a short presentation on the highlights of our tour. On my way back the station, I got to try the best mochi yet! It was green, powdered with brown sugar, and filled with red bean paste! Apparently it’s famous in Nara. I wanted to take some home to Josh but it wouldn’t have been fresh by the time it got to him in this heat.

A few hours later I got to meet my predecessor and we had a tasty dinner at an izakaya nearby. I have a feeling we would have become great friends over time because we eerily had a TON of things in common, haha!

After I got home, Josh and I stopped by the nearby 7-11 conbini for a nice refreshing beverage. While I was gone he had found a new shortcut there which I greatly appreciated. The other road we had been taking was not only quite narrow, but also high traffic which was not a great combination for walking/biking at night.

Miscellaneous Photos

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A snapshot from the spa slumber party I had with my kid cousins before I left for Japan.FB_IMG_1439958880490

Josh posted this picture to Facebook on the day I flew out of Nashville.FB_IMG_1439958831804

Pre-departure Orientation at the Estate of the Consulate General!

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A snapshot from lunch at Tokyo Orietation.20150819_114251My lunch today at school!

 

Nara Tokae Festival

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20150812_161523 20150812_162223Views from the bus to Osaka on my way to pick up JoJo-kun (Josh) from the airport.

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The view from the fourth floor of the KIX International Airport in Osaka. I waited here for 2 and a half hours since Josh had to go through a lengthy immigration process. I waited so nervously at the gate that I nearly jumped for joy when I saw him walk through the doors. I ran up and hugged him so tight- Josh said we nearly had a few people clapping for us, hahahaa.
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Josh and I at the Nara Tokae festival. The entirety of Nara Park was lit up with candle lanterns that traditionally guided the dead back home for Obon. Meanwhile tame deer mingled with guests, perhaps wanting a nibble of the delicious vendor food lining the walkways! I got to pet a few of the deer- they were so soft and gentle!

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Josh enjoyed teasing me with my new camera-phone. We weren’t prepared for how humid a Japanese summer would be- Josh said it was worse than Florida!

I’ve already lost a bit of weight since I’ve got here. I’m literally biking and walking miles a day! However, it’s an enjoyable task despite the humidity (must be the endorphins).

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Today I also discovered that my prefecture is the setting of a popular anime called Beyond the Boundry (Kyoukai no Kanata). Josh has actually seen the series before but we didn’t make the connection until today. My new “hometown” is even featured in some of the episodes! You can see the similarities here.

New Friend Appears!

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Yesterday I met up with a fellow JET Bethany. We toured Kashihara Shrine, then went out for Kappa Sushi on her side of town. I hadn’t had the chance to try conveyor belt sushi yet, so I’m so glad Bethany got me to try it with her. The food was great and so affordable! We had a full meal with a dessert and green tea for just under 6 dollars a person. It was so much fun and I enjoyed getting to know a new friend. (^^)v

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20150811_174838 20150811_180304 20150811_180417 20150811_180422 20150811_191426 20150811_191654Another interesting occurrence: last Friday I had the bright idea to find Yamato Yagi station all by myself without a map. As you can guess it got close to sundown and I still couldn’t find it. I finally found a lady walking her bicycle and tried my best to ask directions in Japanese. She understood me, but I couldn’t really understand her (my skill level is pretty low). Either way, I got the idea that it was too far away to go by bike and I should take a train instead. I thanked her and tried telling her I was fine because I didn’t need to get there till tomorrow.

Plot twist! A few days later I walk into a conbini and the lady that helped me works there! She remembered me and asked if I ever found the station. We exchanged names before she had to get back to work. Small world! Continue reading

Breakfast courtesy of Softbank

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When you buy a phone in Japan they gift you with something to eat once you get home. I thought that was a nice gesture. It even has the adorable company mascot on it!

For your viewing pleasure, please enjoy this hilarious compilation of Softbank Commercials as well.

Another thing I’ve found interesting. Everything has a mascot and it is so precious. My city, my school, and my bank all have one. (^w^)

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Wifi Adventures

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Hi everyone! I’ve been living in my apartment in Nara since Wednesday, but I haven’t had a phone or internet since then so I apologize for the lack of updates. Lately I’ve been biking around town in search of wifi, but as a result I’ve found some really neat places as well. It turns out there are lots of unexpected, beautiful shrines right around the corner from my place, which is incredible. Anyways, I’ve been able to find some spotty connection at a Mister Donut near the train station. I used it to send an “SOS” to one of the JETs already in the area, and miraculously she was able to meet me within about 30 minutes. She gave me a quick tour of the area and taught me how to work certain things in my apartment like the digital bathtub panel, and how to dry clothes outside (dryers, like ovens, are apparently not common in Japan).

Things in the apartment are great! It was actually bigger than I expected and has faux hardwood floor (no tatami maintenance). I’ve got a small balcony area outside and the view is pretty great in my opinion. I’m a little too shy to work the oven currently, so I’ve been buying fresh bento to eat for my meals (delicious, btw).

On Saturday, I met all the other Nara JETs for a wonderful dinner at a place called Toriki. I had to take a train all by myself though so I was pretty nervous. Even as I got on the train I was a little overwhelmed and worried that I was about to go the wrong way. It all worked out though so now I feel a little more brave for next time 🙂

I hope to post some pictures soon but it’s a little difficult at the moment. I plan to get a Japanese phone this upcoming week so I should be back in the swing of things by then (and not feeling like I’m on a deserted island, haha!).

FB_IMG_1439262469858On the bullet train with new friends and neighbors! (^w^)

 

Final Night Out with Nashville Friends

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I thoroughly enjoyed tonight in Shinjuku with a group of our Nashville friends, despite jet lag. We haven’t known each other that long, but we’ve become such dear friends since then and I hate to see them go. I told everyone that they will have to visit me in Nara very soon!

Tonight we went out to eat gyudon beef bowl, stopped by an arcade, and saw the skyline of Tokyo on the top floor of the government building (where I also spotted an anime version of my husband hahahaa).


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2nd Day of Orientation: Jet Lag Deluxe

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It’s the second full day of Tokyo Orientation and honestly I still don’t feel 100%…I was able to avoid the brunt of jet lag by adjusting my time/sleeping schedule early on, but orientation lasts all day and just makes me extremely exhausted. I’m having trouble remembering things and forming correct sentences. However, the convenience of the hotel helps a lot. Here I am pictured in a complimentary room yukata. Very comfy and cool in this extreme summer heat.

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Landed in Tokyo!

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(I left our nice camera with Josh so please forgive the horrible cellphone photography)

Landed in Tokyo yesterday afternoon around 2 local time after I mind warping 13 hour flight, hours waiting in line, and a 2 hour bus ride. It was rather easy to get through the airport thanks to the JET staff directing us. I was feeling totally chill until the bus ride to the hotel- everything started sinking in after I saw the landscape and the buildings. It wasn’t a panic kind of feeling per se, it was more of an information overload. I started to forget details and names as soon as they were told to me. My brain felt super foggy. I felt like I couldn’t make correct sentences and my legs were all swollen from the long flight. Sat next to some cool peeps from Canada and California that made the ride a lot better though.

Once I got to the hotel, it seemed like everyone wanted to hit the town. I just wanted to stay in my room, drink some tea, and recharge though. My room mate and friend Laura from Kentucky helped me buy some delicious conbini food (onigiri and bottled tea- tasted like heaven to my weary soul) in Shinjuku once I felt up to it, and then I promptly fell asleep after eating it. It’s currently about 7 Monday morning. My room mates and I are currently getting ready to grab some breakfast at the hotel and then start the first day of job training.