Friday, 28 September 2007

My Birthday - couldn't get any better than having it in Japan!

26th September

Well it was my birthday and now I am 27! I had a great day at school - definitely wouldn't call it work considering how good the kids are here! My last school sent me an amazing card which will be my Japanese study for awhile! The students at my new school found out it was my birthday and all cheered for me! Then after work I went out to dinner with my Mum (she is here visiting for 2 weeks), Tina, Steve, Marie, Kathy and Tom (Tina and Marie's parents who are also visiting), Taube, Makoto and Kyosuke! We went to an Izakaya which is a restaurant where you sit at a low table and order many dishes which you share with everyone. Makoto was in charge of booking a place and he chose a cool one which was a pirate theme and he and Kyosuke then took charge of ordering all the food too! It was fantastic! After dinner we did purikura which is a photo booth where you have photos taken and then you decorate them before they are printed out as stickers! And Mum bought me a nice birthday cake too! It was a fantastic night and it was so lovely to receive so many gifts from my friends from home and overseas some of you were just too organised and I had to resist opening them for so long . . . but I did!

Kate bought me these cool presents!

Mum gave me spending money and yum stuff from home!

Tina, Marie and Steve gave me a Hello Kitty suitcase - it is a little one to take on the plane, a beautiful mirror that I saw ages ago when we were in Nikko and lots of cool Hello Kitty stuff! If you hadn't guessed I love Hello Kitty! :)

Jodi and Jono gave me these cool presents! I love the tsunami wave!

These are all my other cool presents I got from friends at home and overseas!

Hiromi and Fumiyo gave me these "kawaii" flowers!

Thanks to everyone!

Kanpai to me! (Cheers to me!)

All of us at the Izakaya!

Steve, Tina, Marie and I.

Mum, Tom and Kathy - the parents!

Mum and I!

Makoto and Kyosuke!


Me and my yum cake!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Moon Viewing Festival

25th September

Last night we all packed a great picnic and headed to the castle for the moon viewing festival. It was a full moon and there were many performances held in front of the castle – it was such a great setting! We saw koto players, traditional dance and poem reading and the night ended with amazing taiko drumming. It was a great night and I’m glad my Mum was here to see it too!

Tina, Steve, Marie and I with our parents at the moon viewing festival.

Our yum picnic!

The full moon.

Koto players


The amazing Taiko drumming

Tokyo - I love this place!

17th – 21st September 2007

This week we were able to take two days off and we got a whole week off because of holidays! So Tina, Steve, Marie, Steve (an American from our apartment) and I headed for what might be our last time to Tokyo! ☹

We arrived in Tokyo and headed to Shinjuku to our hotel which was definitely in the more interesting part of town - there were many host bars and other interesting places in the area! We then went out shopping in Shinjuku and then to Shibuya for more shopping!

The exciting street where we stayed - signs advertising Host Bars!

Night view of the busiest intersection in Shibuya

Tina, Marie and I went to Harajuku for the day to do some shopping! There are some amazing stores in Harajuku which cater for people who really want to dress up and stand out! We then did some more shopping in Shibuya – and after a lot of manoeuvring we got a seat at Starbucks with the best view of the busiest intersection!

Tina, Marie and I in the prime position!

Ok so I am not the hugest fan of theme parks as I am a wimp when it comes to rides but being in Tokyo we decided that we had to go to Disney Sea! Well Tina, Marie and Steve had already been to Disneyland so it was the only option! And from their experience it was the best Disney theme park anyway! We spent the whole day there and I had a great time!

View from the Disney monorail of the huge lines at Disney World!

The entrance to Disney Sea

Tina, Marie and I - "ears" and "mini-hats" are really popular at theme parks here - even the guys were wearing them!

There were many different “lands” within the park –

Mysterious Island

Port Discovery and American Waterfront

Mediterranean Harbour

Lost River Delta

Arabian Coast

Mermaid Lagoon which was definitely my favourite!

All of us inside King Triton's Kingdom!

The Kingdom - there were some cool rides - flying fish, jumping jellyfish and spinning shells!

The next day we went to Akihabara which is all about electronics, manga/animae and maid cafes! Tina, Marie and I went to a maid café and got served by maids! It is just a normal café which all the girls are dressed in cute maid outfits and are all about being cute! They made us make a love heart shape with our hands and say something cutesy before having our drink! Quite embarrassing! Some guys in there were paying nearly $5 to play cards or games with the maids! Once it got dark we headed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building for good night view of Tokyo. Tina, Marie, Lexi and I then headed to Shibuya for our last night out in Tokyo!


Entrance to the Maid Cafe!

Looking up at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

View of Tokyo

Lexi, Tina, Marie and I before going out!

For our last day in Tokyo we went to Ikebukuro – a huge shopping centre and then on to went to Ginza (once again I was wearing my rubber thongs feeling very daggy!) before leaving Tokyo.

Night view of Ginza

I really hope to come back to Japan and Tokyo will definitely be on my list of places to visit – the neon lights, the people and the atmosphere are just amazing!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Sports Day at Joken Junior High School

16th September

Ever since starting at Joken Junior High School about 2 weeks ago it has all been about sports day! Every day has been practice, practice, practice! So finally the day came to see it all!

The morning began with all the teams marching to the amazing school band and the principal giving a speech.

The students then participated in various running and relay events.

The students were in 3 teams – red, blue and yellow and they each performed a dance to cheer for their team! The best one was the blue team as their captain was so excited and they did it to a Black Eyed Peas song and he was singing all the words!

Students then did the “centipede” relay. The students are lined up with their feet attached to 2 long planks of wood. It is really funny as if they aren’t perfectly in time they all fall onto one another!

It was then time for the biggest skip-a-thon ever! I have never seen so many students skipping together – it was amazing that it was possible! The rope was huge!

All the teachers got a yum bento box for lunch!

Students in clubs dressed in their uniforms and marched displaying awards and trophies that they had won.

Then all the guests, including me were asked to participate in this game where you had to throw soft bean bag like balls into a really high basket. I saw maybe 2 go in that I threw! It was fun and our team won!

It was then time for the boys to do their performance which consisted of formations and mini human towers, followed by bigger and bigger towers and ending with the “castle” which has 5 tiers and about 40 students are involved! During practice usually only one group would get the castle to it’s full height but today all 3 did! I was amazed during practice as one fell down and it is pretty tall but only one student had a blood nose! Very lucky!

Then it was the girls turn and they did a traditional dance from Hokkaido which is about fishing. It was such a good dance and some of the dance moves seemed really difficult. But to see 150 students all in time was amazing!

We then had a closing ceremony and sadly the day was over. I had heaps of fun and I really liked seeing sports day in Japan as it is so different to Australia.

Later it was time for all the teachers to go out for dinner and drinks to celebrate a successful sports day and to relax! We went to a Chinese restaurant in Himeji and then on to karaoke! During the night as the teachers had a few drinks many of them began to speak English! I was talking with the English teacher and she said since I love Japan I should find a Japanese husband and then she decided to tell the 3 single teachers at school that I am looking for a husband! So embarrassing! So then I had them offering their services – one teacher said he will be a candidate for me! It was very funny but hopefully by Tuesday when I go back to school they would have forgotten all about it!