Sunday, 12 August 2007

A day trip to Kyoto . . . by myself!

12th August 2007

Well today I woke up and while having breakfast thought to myself that I should go somewhere today! I decided to visit Kyoto as there are so many beautiful things to see there and I want to see as many as I can before I leave. So I went to Kyoto for my first day trip by myself! I went to Ginkaku-ji which is the silver pavillion. My favourite temple in Kyoto is Kinkaku-ji which is the golden pavillion. But sadly Ginkaku-ji was never covered in silver! It is an amazing old temple though and the gardens are fantastic - beautiful rock gardens, moss covered ground and bamboo forests. I then went to the street leading to Kiyomizu-dera as it is lined with shops selling pottery and all kinds of souvenirs. It was a really good day and I now know that I can get around in Japan on my own!


The mound in front of the temple and the ground is actually all rocks - it almost looks like sand! It is meant to represent Mt Fuji and the rocks on the ground are representing waves. The amount of work that would go into it would be huge!

This was a place to pray and if you got your coin on the rock I think you also got good luck as some people were getting very excited when they hit the rock!

The beautiful gardens.

This is the entrance to Kiyomizu-dera. It looks fantastic against the summer sky!

さよなら Chelsea! :(

11th August 2007

Tonight was Chelsea's last night in town so we went to the beer garden in Himeji! It was my second time but this time the temperature was higher and it didn't rain! It was a great night and then we headed to the local bar. I will really miss Chelsea and just wish she could have stayed longer in Japan!

Jod, Chelsea and me!

Everyone at the beer garden! You can even see the castle in the background!

Chelsea and Yoshio! - cuties!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Mitaki-ji - Waterfall temple

7th August 2007

I had read about a waterfall temple near Hiroshima in the Lonely Planet guide and I really wanted to go so on our last day in Hiroshima we set out to find Mitaki-ji. It was such an amazing place but I don't think many people know about it. There is one main temple set in a tropical forest with small waterfalls around the place. There are so many statues and places to pray throughout the forest. It was so beautiful and green and I loved seeing all the statues. There were also a lot of spiders and Marie saw 2 snakes! Mitaki-ji is such an amazing place where I could spend all day just looking around.

A Japanese lady was praying here and placing offerings to the gods and she showed me how to scoop the water and throw it over the statues.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony

6th August 2007

62 years ago today at 8:15am the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

We came to Hiroshima today to see the peace memorial service. It was such an emotional service and during the silent prayer and peace bell it really hit me how devastating it would have been and what chaos would have been happening at this time.

There were so many people at the memorial service - it was amazing to be a part of it. Doves were released, an amazing choir sang and we were all asked to make a paper crane as a symbol of peace which were collected and were to be presented to countries where they still have nuclear weapons.

My paper crane.

The Peace Memorial Ceremony.

All the wreaths and the cenotaph which is in memory of all the victims.

Many people lined up to pray, lay flowers and light incense for the victims of the bombing.


At night there was a Lantern Ceremony. Thousands of people make paper lanterns and light a candle in them as a prayer for peace and for the victims of the bombing, many who threw themselves in the river as they were burned so badly from the bomb and the fires it caused. The lanterns are sent down the river. It was an amazing sight and I am so glad I got to see such a beautiful ceremony.

Miyajima - My Favourite Place! (Well one of them!)

5th August 2007

Today we went to Miyajima which is an island off of Hiroshima. It is one of my favourite places in Japan! This was my second time to visit Miyajima and it was quite different to last time as last time was in winter! We had a great day and I am looking forward to visiting Miyajima again!

The beautiful Torii which means that the whole island is sacred. It is one of Japan's best 3 views!

A 5 storey pagoda on Miyajima.

This time I went to the aquarium which was really interesting as there were many creatures I had not seen before! This porpoise was so cute! It kept coming up to the glass and smiling at me :)

This time we were also able to see Itsukushima shrine with water around it as the tides were right - it was so beautiful!

Tina, Steve and I also got to see this crazy monkey - he rode a bike, walked on stilts, collected money and dressed as a samurai warrior! All slightly wrong!

The crazy deer that roam freely and eat whatever they want! This little girl was so cute!

The beautiful Torii at sunset!

All of us at Miyajima - Tina, Steve, Marie, Tom, Me, Shinya (Marie's friend) and Kathy.


4th August

Marie, Tina , Steve and I headed to Hiroshima for the second time but this time was with Tina and Marie's parents. The main reason we went was to see the memorial festival on the 6th August but we decided to have a few days to sight-see too! The first day we did a little shopping and looked around the peace park.

This is the Children's Peace Monument.

Me, Marie and Tina at the Children's Peace Monument.

This is the peace bell which you can ring to show your support in wanting a peaceful world.

As the sun was setting there was a concert along the river where the junior orchestra played. They were amazing and only about 10 or 12 years old!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Okayama in Summer

3rd August

I went back to Okayama with Tina, Marie, Steve and their parents - Tom and Kathy. It was a nice summer's day with a bit of rain but we all still headed to Okayama which is about an hour and a half from Himeji . I have been to Okayama twice before but I really wanted to go again as the garden is so beautiful and if possible it would be even more beautiful in summer, and it was. Everything was so green! We walked around Okayama, had a look at the castle and then strolled around the gardens.

This fish was almost gold! It was so beautiful!

These were huge - almost as tall as me and had the buds of flowers on them. I think they were a type of lily as they were growing in water.

Tina, Marie and I.

Farewell to Asahi JHS ☹

July 2007

I have been teaching at Asahi JHS for about 7 months now but my time there is over and I will soon go to another school. The teachers were so helpful and I have made many friends there and I am very sad to be leaving. On the last day of school I had to give a speech in Japanese to the teachers and then in front of the whole school. I was presented with flowers, gifts from teachers and letters from students in my homeroom. All the students in my homeroom had signed a card and there was a photo of all of us inside it! When I left school that day for the last time many teachers followed me out to my bike and “banzaied” me! (sort of like a hip-hip-hooray type good luck cheering thing!) It was very cute!

My beautiful flowers.

Me with most of the girls in my homeroom!

The front of the card that my homeroom gave me.

Inside the card.

Letters that my homeroom gave me.

Cards from the special class.

Gifts and a letter from Ayame a student in my homeroom - how cute!

In the second week of the holidays the teachers had a farewell party for me and two other teachers who were leaving. We went out to dinner and I had to make another speech and got presented with flowers again! Then the principal called me up to the front and read a page about me in Japanese (I didn’t understand too much but another teacher translated it for me – it said that I had done a lot for the school, had a kind heart and should enjoy tonkatsu in Japan!) Then I was presented with a painting of me which is very cute!

The speech and the painting of me!

When I went back to my seat there was a bag of gifts on my chair. These are some of the gifts that I received . . . (There was about $30 in each of the white envelopes from various teachers as it is a Japanese tradition to give money to people when they leave your workplace - I was shocked to get this money!)

This is the best present ever! This is from Kimura-sensei who is one of the English teachers at school. He had this hanko (signature stamp) made and it is my name in kanji! How cool is that! My name in Kanji means "Shirasagi" which is the name of the castle and the white egret bird and the second kanji means falling in love! Everyone tells me it is a very beautiful kanji! In Japan everyone uses a hanko to sign papers and open accounts but ours are all in katakana (Japanese alphabet used for foreign words) but now I have a beautiful real hanko!

I was also asked to give a couple of the male teachers hugs! Very funny as they asked me in English – Can I have a hug?!

At the end of the night I got “banzaied” again! This time by all the teachers! And then a line was formed and the teachers made an archway for us to walk through so everyone could wish you well!

It was a great night and I will really miss all the teachers and students from Asahi JHS.