Nagoya & Yakiniku

The next day, we’re all going to Nagoya and we’re waiting for yet ANOTHER Shinkansen to take us from Toyokawa to Nagoya station where we’re meeting our old T.A. for the class, Chiaki-sensei, who lives in Nagoya! The first hurdle is the trains. CIMG1579

Suzuki-sensei goes with one group to a far end of a very long platform and we get stuck with….Anna. And then she makes the best choice possible for a T.A. she gets on the first train and says: “Get on the next one.” and leaves us.

Okay.

So Katie, Oliver and I are stuck in the station waiting for a Shinkansen that we’re pretty sure will say “Nagoya” like the one that left before we could catch it… but the next one says “Shin-Osaka.” And we all think: “Wait, that’s not where we want to go. Let’s wait for the one going to Nagoya. We don’t know if that’s the one we want.”

Anna gets on the Shin-Osaka one because obviously the logical thought when reading a destination that is different than the intended one, is to get on that train and ASSUME it goes to the place you want. Katie, Oliver, and I immediately realize that Anna and her other group are no longer at the station. We call Sensei, Anna gets irrationally pissed at us. We, naturally, get equally as pissed at Anna.

We missed meeting Chiaki-sensei at a shopping center called Oasis 21. It’s also where, apparently, a Shounen Jump store is – the one store I wanted to find – but we can’t go because we’ve wasted all of our time waiting for the next train. It’s also where the Pokemon Center is located in Nagoya. The one place KATIE wanted to go. Suzuki-sensei could care less that we were late…Anna throws the most dramatic hissy fit I’ve ever seen in a 21-year-old. In more possitive events, while we were looking for the right subway, Suzuki-sensei asks this attractive dude how to get there and he LEGIT walks us to the station. On the way she insists he speak to us (Katie and I) in Japanese and we talk to him about why we’re interested in Japan.

When I told her later I thought he was attractive, she said: “You should’ve told me! I would’ve gotten his information!” Oh, Suzuki-sensei. Always setting people up! Gotta look for the high points!

We hit Nagoya (finally) with Suzuki-sensei (who waited for us at the station) and everyone (who got there on TIME) tells us how FUN Oasis 21 was and you should’ve seen it! It’s too bad you missed it! Katie, Oliver and I get 10x more pissed off.

We go to a tonkatsu place. This is breaded and fried pork, something Nagoya is famous for! I’m not a huge fan. If it’s not done right, the meat is dry and while Japan is probably the one place to try tonkatsu, I’d rather eat something else. But the food I had was beef and it was really good! I got put in a group with Alfonso and Sarah who both speak Japanese but Fonz is a level one student, and Sarah gets nervous about using the language so I get to tackle translating the waiter so everyone can order something they’ll eat! It went pretty well! CIMG1587

Next we go to ANOTHER shopping street that I can’t remember the name of…this place wasn’t that exciting but at the end when I was buying a gift the woman running the shop started talking to me about where I was from and who I was buying things for, what I was doing in Japan. It was nice, I really love talking to people in Japan.

It starts to rain like crazy (some more) and we go to Nagoya Castle! It’s REALLY cool if you haven’t seen any of the other Japanese castles…there’s a HUGE park around it with a tea house and beautiful gardens…and an old tower that you can walk through…the castle was destroyed by U.S. bombs, so it’s been restored into a museum about Nagoya Castle history, but the view from the top is VERY cool and worth a look. There are also Noh plays performed in the park, Noh plays are Japanese plays that are USUALLY about ghosts or old Japanese stories like Tale of Genji or something… I didn’t see one but I’m told they’re pretty boring… CIMG1620

Last, but CERTAINLY my favorite part of the day…we leave Chiaki-sensei and head back to Toyokawa for something Japanese people call “Genghis Khan” or “Yakiniku.” What it is, is a restaurant with giant tables with a grill in the middle (not like hibachi, but think like outdoor BBQ in the middle of a table…) and the waiters bring out plates and plates of meat that you grill to your liking, add the sauce you want and eat. It’s called “Genghis Khan” because of the “all you can eat” aspect of it. You can order other things too, of course, but all I wanted was the meat.

DE. LIC. IOUS. Yakiniku was by far my favorite thing we’d done in Japan up to that point. I ate with Suzuki-sensei’s nieces and her sister and it was fabulous…but be impressed, I tried tongue AND intestine. Tongue is good…intestine is disgusting. Very fun. Suzuki-sensei’s family is really cute and really nice!! I wish we could have spent more time with them! CIMG1636

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June 25, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Shinkansen & Toyokawa

These posts are super late. I’ve been really busy and traveling all over Japan, so I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been doing since my post from Harajuku!!

After Harajuku (and I’m talking next day here) we take the Shinkansen. (Which, in my opinion, is the most irritating and expensive way to travel, but also extremely convenient when traveling through Japan…) I ate my first bento made up entirely of meat and rice (Delicious.) and for those of you who don’t know~ Bento is the Japanese word for “lunchbox.” Bento’s for all those business men who have to ride the Shinkansen at all hours of the day to get to and from their jobs but don’t have enough time to sit down and enjoy a meal. For what they are, they’re pretty good, but they’re the best if they’re homemade. CIMG1561

We hit Toyokawa in a more southern city, Nagoya, where my teacher grew up, and checked in to the hotel. The Shinkansen ride was really long but we saw a lot of scenery (rice patties) and ACTUALLY we all saw Mt. Fuji from the window!! This is rare because Mt. Fuji is almost always covered in clouds because it’s so high up! We had perfect conditions for seeing it!! I didn’t get a picture because we were moving too fast, though…

That night, we had to present our projects to an English class… I did mine on New York City because Japanese people LOOOVE NYC. But when I got there I got SO. NERVOUS. that I did like…the worst ever on my project. By this point, our T.A. was starting on her power trip, where she decided that we were all her “kids” and that she had to “take care of us” if by taking care of us she meant treating us like 5 year olds and pretending she was God’s gift to the Japanese language. Now picture this girl bragging about her language abilities to people born…in Japan. Good stuff.

CIMG1565 Regardless of how my project went, the people were VERY friendly and LOVED talking to us. They spoke English and we spoke Japanese. It was really fun, and the food was pretty good…but I have to say, I ate some weird tofu soup thing that was the grossest thing I’ve ever slurped into my mouth. It was like tofu yogurt in soy sauce. Gross.

The fish was really good though. Sashimi is my favorite! The people we ate with were really cute, the girl sitting next to me REALLY liked Disney and the guy who came over to sit with me was really friendly. Everyone kept saying he was sexually harassing everyone though… He wasn’t! Haha! CIMG1570

It was a long day! But after bombing the presentation, it was nice to prove to the English class that I wasn’t a COMPLETE moron. They were very good with English, by the way!

June 24, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Harajuku & Ueno Zoo;

We went to Harajuku and Ueno Zoo today. We went to Harajuku first and I had some SERIOUSLY delicious Gyuudon, it’s this beef dish of beef cooked with onions and then put on top of rice. It’s REALLY good. Suzuki-sensei told me that the restaurant we ate at, Yoshinoya, is in New York now! It’s really delicious, but since it’s so cheap, it’s good to eat at…and they serve you a LOT of food. I don’t know if the one in New York is the same though… Everyone bought a lot of stuff in Harajuku, but I didn’t really buy anything… I figure, since I’m here for another two months, I can come back some other time…since there were a lot of cute clothes. My friend Anna is TAing but she sort of rushes everyone through everything….

Harajuku

After that, we went to the Ueno Zoo which is connected (sort of) to Ueno Park. They’re both REALLY pretty. There were a ton of buildings that looked really old, and a nice shrine, so the whole atmosphere was really nice… I really wanted to go but on the way back Anna was over it, so we didn’t get to. I might go back with Sarah though. When we got to the zoo, I saw a giraffe! They’re SO CUTE!! It’s tongue was sort of weirdly long…also they’re blue. I didn’t know! Giraffes really are the most awkward animals! We saw other animals too… but giraffes are my favorite. I got a cute giraffe phone strap too~ and stuck him on my bag… I’m not sure why he vibrates though.

Giraffe!

Anyway, we took the train home and ate some REALLY good ramen at this ramen shop run by this old guy who you could TELL had been doing this a while. We hit up the convenience store…the whole front was filled with Gundam stuff I wanted but like, I knew I didn’t need it so I didn’t buy any. Don’t worry!

Tomorrow, we’re leaving Itabashi… I have my presentation on New York, so I’m a little nervous… But maybe if I practice it’ll be okay, right?

Giraffestrap

If you guys want to see all of my photos from today you should check out it out here. You don’t have to have a facebook account to see them, I think.

May 19, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Asakusa & Shibuya

Yesterday we went to Shibuya and Asakusa, which are both located in the Tokyo area. Shibuya is known for its shopping and music, and Asakusa (I’m pretty sure) is famous for having this big shrine (I don’t know its name though.) There was a Denny’s there too, so that’s where everyone wanted to eat. Naturally. I had Tarako spaghetti, it’s kind of like…fish roe sauce on spaghetti, and I had some of my teacher’s hamburger curry! They were both super delicious.

Ueno shrine

We walked to the shrine and got our fortunes told, but mine was bad. Haha! You tie them on this pole to either get rid of the bad fortune, or bring in the good one. Depending on which one you get. When we were heading back I found a shaved ice stand!! It was only like, 3 dollars but the guy gave you a ton of it. Shaved ice in Japan is like the BEST thing to eat when you’re hot.

Next we went to Shibuya, and we all met around this famous landmark called “Hachiko” he’s this dog statue that has a story about how the dog waited diligently for his master at the station, waiting for him to come home, even after his master had died. HachikoThere’s also this giant shopping center called “Ichi maru kyu” or 109. It’s famous for having cute girls’ clothes! I had sort of set myself up to not fitting in anything in Japan, but my friends made me try on a few things and they actually fit!!! I bought a t-shirt with random English, and this weird vest/dress/zip up thing… It’s really cute. And it didn’t cost much!

We sort of kept going while most of the group went back to the hotel or to Harajuku (another district in Tokyo). But when it came time to go back to the hotel, we weren’t sure which ticket to buy! Luckily, this SUPER nice Japanese girl helped us out. She was studying English, but I think we all had a hard time understanding each other. After shoving onto a train, the three of us got back to Itabashi (where we’re staying) bought some quick McD’s for dinner, and CRASHED! Long day!Ichimarukyu

That’s all for now! These are just a few of the pictures I’ve taken~ I’ll post again soon!

You can find the whole album of pictures here!

May 14, 2009. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

My tiny little room in Narita

My tiny little room in Narita

We touched down in Narita today at around…5ish.  The flight was 13 hours and 20 minutes of some effeminate over eye-linered bro crushing my knees into my body. After what seemed like three days of traveling and praying the guy in front of me would just pull his chair up half an inch, we reached our destination!!

This is my tiny baby hotel room! It’s cute, right? We went out for ramen immediately and I have to say, it was delicious! I also had my first -legal- drink! But only had half. I’m living on the edge here on the other side of the world!!

I wrote this at 3:16 (PDT):Writing this while we fly towards Juneau, Alaska… So that’s like…halfway, right?  The guy in front of me has his seat back (I’m always behind the guy who -out of only two people- has his seat pulled back.) so my knees (and laptop) are crushed for another… 8 hours or something. There’s really no reason to lean back either, I mean…they have NOTHING in front of them.  Just when I think my legs couldn’t fold any more, he pushes his chair back just a little farther.

Initially, I had seats in front of nothing too, but switched so a family could sit together. It’s fine, I’m glad they get to sit together, but I wish I could kick these seats forward!!!

Anyway, not to complain. Things are going relatively well otherwise! I’m trying to get myself to sleep, but even after taking two sleeping pills, no dice.  It doesn’t help that my allergies are off and on and the whole shoving my tall body into a tiny space.

My feet have swollen a little bit so my shoes have started to hurt. Again, whatever!

We’ve only flown 5 hours so we haven’t even reached the halfway point yet! This flight would be incredibly more bearable, if only!!!

We have 4126 miles left.

Tomorrow, we go to Tokyo!

マスク Sarah and I were given masks  in case someone around us or in the airport had H1N1. Luckily, none of us were quarantined!

May 12, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Firsts;

Hello! こんにちは!

I made this blog for the fams at home (and out and about) so that they could keep track of my Japan-status without having to tackle a new program (Skype) or dealing with international calling rates.

So… Hello family!! (And friends if you’re reading too!) So far we’ve found an apartment for two months in Tokyo. I won’t disclose too much information or anything, but it’s in a prime location! I’ll just say that for now!

The apartment is a small, but definitely enough for two people! People all over Gaijin Pot are giving away futons (they’re a pain to move!) so we’re set for sleeping. We have the application already, all we have to do is put down a deposit!

We leave May 11th (more like, I leave May 11th) and we’re coming back to the states around July 28th.  So far on our agenda is: onsen (they’re hot springs), and Odaiba.

That’s all for now! I’ll write more when we sort out some more details!

April 30, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.