A Crab Feast for the New Year with Yuta

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During the week of the New Year holiday, Josh and I traveled over to Osaka and met our old friend Yuta! If you remember, we first met back in Tennessee so it’s always fun and a little surreal to see each other again in Japan. We had a great time in Dotonburi and we were able to reserve a spot at the coveted Kani Doraku! You remember that scene in Forest Gump where they were listing all the ways in which you could cook shrimp? Well, replace shrimp with crab and you have this gem of a restaurant.

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There was an hour and a half wait, but fortunately (and conveniently) they gave us a little slip of paper and told us to return before a certain time to get our table. That gave us free reign to continue exploring and even get a quick hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year) in! We went to a very unique shrine in the heart of the city that I (sadly) don’t remember the name of. The big feature of this place was a huge Oni head coming out of the ground! I stomped my foot a litle when I realized I could have gotten a rare ink signature in my goshuinchou shrine book there too (I left it at home without anticipating a shrine visit).
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In no time it seemed we were being seated at the restaurant. The decor was delightfully crab themed without being too over the top. In fact, the whole establishment had quite the elegant air to it. This elegance matched the prices, but in hindsight the food was so delicious it was indeed worth it!
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We chose our own individual courses and proceeded to be served like kings and queens with dish upon dish of crab delicacies (even hot crab sake!). The meat was sweet, savory, and oh so delectable. We ate and drank to our heart’s content and enjoyed sharing stories about our recent lives. At the end of our meal, we were pleased to recieve a special New Year gift from the restaurant! The ceramic year of the dog ornament (with a little bell inside) was something I was considering purchasing already, so it was perfect for me!
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After our meal, with stopped by the famous Rikuro’s Cheesecake depot with Yuta to pick up a souvenir cake. I love watching the soft and fluffy cakes arrive fresh from the oven! They looked so delicious.
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From there we returned to the station and wished Yuta safe travels home. I’m looking forward to the next time we can meet again!

Congratulations on your recent marriage, Yuta!!

Shawn’s Worldwide Adventure

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In September, our friend Shawn visited from Tennessee! This was his first time to leave the country, so we knew he would be in for a treat with Japan. We visited all the best places Kansai had to offer- and Shawn took some amazing photos and 360-video footage along the way!

I won’t post them all here, because he’s crafted a sleek website where you can browse them by category and location!

By all means, please visit http://shawnshank.com/japn_2017/ as soon as possible! You can easily view it on your cellphone, too. There are so many great shots in here.

Here’s a great group photo of the three of us along with a photo summary of the places we experienced together. Don’t forget to check Shawn’s site for even more photos!

Full speed ahead on the limited express!

Full speed ahead on the limited express!


9/17/2017 – Exploring the neighborhood, Kume-dera Temple, and Kashihara Shrine

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9/18/2017 – Osaka Castle

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Checking out the pics at Osaka Castle

Checking out the pics at Osaka Castle

9/20/2017 – Arashiyama & Monkey Park, Fushimi-Inari Shrine, and Kyoto Sky Tree

A monkey and his treasure

A monkey and his treasure

The highest shrine in Japan, haha

The highest shrine in Japan, haha

Kyoto Skytree Mascot and...Baby?!

Kyoto Skytree Mascot and…Baby?!


9/21/2017 – Kyoto’s Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji

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The ethereal beauty of Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion


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Admiring Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

Admiring Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

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9/24/2017 – Nara City

 

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Holding the 360-camera torch alongside Josh as he snaps a picture of Shawn. He snapped one of us first!

Holding the 360-camera torch alongside Josh as he snaps a picture of Shawn. He snapped one of us first!

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9/27/2017 – Imai-cho, Kashihara

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9/28/2017 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (view site for a 360 video experience!)

10/1/2017 – Kashihara Cat Cafe (view site for a 360 video experience!)

Basara Matsuri 2017

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I got to dance again at the Basara Matsuri in Nara city <3 Basara Matsuri is an annual event that encourages dancing, high energy, and all around celebration! Unfortunately, it seemed like the hottest point of the summer that day, so I had to leave a little early to avoid heat exhaustion. I had a blast performing with my friends and the Nara community.

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Nara ArtsFest 2017

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In the interest of updating the internet where I left off, the International Arts Festival was a great success this past summer! I sang “Yesterday Once More” by the Carpenters which is unexpectedly popular in Japan, and I also directed an entire time-travel themed musical with my friend Bethany as the choreographer. The performance was called “Singing and Dancing through the Decades” and featured a song and dance from each decade of the past 100 years in America. It was a smash hit, with many of the guests mentioning it in their surveys. Our team worked so hard for so many months to get all of the lines and dance moves just right, so I’m happy that our hard work paid off!

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A New Year comes Fourth

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Greetings all- you may have noticed that my blog was down more than it was up since the summer.

This was due to an ongoing and very unique server error that has now been fixed by our favorite whiz-kid, Josh.

Thanks to this new-found remedy, I can finally start updating again! Sooo many things have happened since our last update. I’m still the AJET Newsletter editor for Nara Prefecture, I wrote and directed an entire time-traveling musical with my friend Bethany S, I got seriously sick unexpectedly and had to completely re-evaluate my life (I’m better now, but there was a terminal illness scare with the hospital for a moment), I got to experience by far my new favorite video game while I recovered (Nier:Automata), our friend Shawn came to visit us, I gave a big presentation for the first time at the annual Skill Development Conference along with my JTE, and I treated myself to a lovely new Wacom tablet as a late birthday gift (Intuos Pro ftw).

I’ll talk about all those topics and more in due time, but for this moment in particular my biggest news is that I signed on for a fourth year in Japan today!

I’ve only just now started my third contract year as of this August, but we JETs have to decide if we will stay for an additional year after that around the new year. So in other words, I’ll be here until at least 2019. This was absolutely what I wanted and planned for, but my heart was beating hard as I signed the paper nonetheless because of what a big decision it was.

In other news, I took off for the week of Christmas and my end of the year work party is tonight, so I’m just ready to celebrate! I’m looking forward to the upcoming year of the doggo. <3 (le woof!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

A Deer and Me

NaNoWriMo 2017

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I started National Novel Writing Month yesterday and it’s already a huge hurdle. How am I gonna survive a month? Anyways, I hope at the end of November I can share my novel with all of you!

The Latest and Greatest

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It’s been a while, huh? I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to recently.

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The azaleas are currently in bloom at the beautiful Kume-Dera Temple!

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I recently helped my friend Akiko-san with an Easter English party! It was a lot of fun.
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We enjoyed some delicious Easter-themed foods afterwards!

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I also finished my long-time side project/dream of creating my very own RPG! I’d be so happy if you gave it a try. You can play it for free here: https://www.facebook.com/crystalsearpg/
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Speaking of gaming, Josh and I also bought a Nintendo Switch, including Breath of the Wild! Just look at that beautiful box art. The gameplay is even more breathtaking!
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My friend Akiko-san also taught some of us how to make penguin deco-maki sushi at her home! It was such a fun experience, and that sushi was absolutely delicious to eat later. I also got to try pickled sakura leaf wagashi for the first time after we finished our lesson. It was fantastic!!

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Josh and I learned how to make take-out style Sweet and Sour Chicken! It was so freakin delicious. Omg, my mouth is watering just typing about it.

18318279_10155312865667990_1735806046_oMeet my ArtsFest crew friends! My friend Bethany and I are leading a singing and dancing performance for the International Arts Festival this Summer. Before practice, we always meet up at a cute little cafe for breakfast!

My First Cat Cafe!

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My beloved friend Kelly-chan recently introduced me to my new favorite place- a local Cat Cafe! My heart was absolutely full of love. <3

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So many kitties! Thank you for this wonderful experience Kelly!

Spring in Kyoto

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Over Spring Break, I met up my fellow Tennessee JET friend Laura (now living in Yamanashi) in Kyoto! We went to Arashiyama, Kiyo-mizu Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine! It was so great to catch up with Laura again and hear about her life in Yamanashi. I also got lots of great Instagram pics.

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