Jenna in Japan

My Random Adventures in Japan

Jenna in Japan

My Random Adventures in Japan

Jenna in Japan

My Random Adventures in Japan

Jenna in Japan

My Random Adventures in Japan

Jenna in Japan

My Random Adventures in Japan

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My New Home!


On Saturday I left Hamamatsu to go to my apartment in Izu. There is one other ALT in Izu, so he and I took the train together to meet our IC. An IC is a Japanese who speaks English who helps us set things up.

We took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Hamamatsu to Mishima. When I took the Shinkansen before it was dark so I couldn't see much. This time I could see much more and could tell more how fast we were moving. When we would pass by another Shinkansen it would only take a couple seconds and it was gone... and those trains are long! The other train was only a blur. Super cool. :)

The picture above is one I took from inside the Shinkansen.

We met our IC. First we went to the other ALT's apartment and then headed for my apartment. The road wound through the mountains and there were a lot of great views!


After checking out my apartment and waiting for the gas man to arrive and turn on the gas, we headed back to the main part of Izu and went shopping for our apartments. The picture below was taken somewhere during that trip.


After a long day of shopping I got back to my apartment. I have things set up differently now and will do another post with a video of my apartment, but this is how it looked that night.

That is how my apartment looks when you come in the front door. The kitchen is to the left and the stairs lead to the two bedrooms upstairs.


The kitchen isn't so beautiful, but luckily the rest of the apartment is awesome. :)

I had suitcases and clothes all over the floor of the living room so I didn't take a very good picture of it. That is my Hello Kitty futon on the floor there. :)


This is one of the bedrooms upstairs. My futon is now in this room. In this picture you can see the traditional tatami flooring.

Before I moved to Japan, I wanted a kotatsu and was planning on buying one when I moved to Japan. I was excited to see one already in my apartment! It is a table with a heater underneath. A thick cover goes over the table and then the table top goes on top.

It's really great because there is no central heat and besides this table all I have right now is one little space heater. I sit at this table when I eat, when I watch TV, when I'm on the computer... pretty much when I do everything! Once it warms up I can remove the blanket and just use it as a regular table.

Oh, and that rug is heated too! :)


I really like the sliding paper screens above the doors in the bedrooms because I can turn on the hallway light and it shines through the paper. :)

The apartment is old but it's great because it has a lot of traditional Japanese stuff like tatami flooring and shoji sliding screens. Here are a couple articles to explain them:

Tatami
Shoji

The next morning when I got up I had a very traditional Japanese breakfast...

Okay, not very traditional, but very yummy!

I watched cute cartoons on TV. Kawaii!!!!!! That means "Cute!!!!!!" in Japanese. I see a lot of kawaii stuff here!

Here are a couple views from the balcony upstairs. The balcony isn't very big. It's pretty much just for drying clothes (I have a washing machine but no dryer. Dryers aren't very common in Japan), but I see this same view just from the door window.



Later that morning a woman rang my doorbell. She brought me some food. I couldn't understand most of what she said, but I think she told me that she has a son at the school... I think... Anyways... on the left are two pastry type things with a sweet red bean paste inside. The stuff on the left was rice with vegetables and bits of fish mixed in. I picked out the bits of fish, but the rest was good. Mmmm!

I then took a walk around town. The picture below is very typical of the town. A lot of the houses here have gardens.


I'm not sure why this gate is there, but it looks cool.


There is a large clock at Matsubara Kouen (Kouen means park). It is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest flower clock in the world. I guess the whole face doesn't have to be flowers to be called a flower clock.

The beach is only about a 20 minute walk from my apartment. It was cold, rainy, and gross, but there were still a few people walking around.

On the way home it started to rain more. It was cold! So when I got home I sat at my kotatsu and worked on a puzzle I bought while in Hamamatsu. It's super tiny! You can see the size compared to my chapstick.


The next day I went out with another IC to set up my bank account and get a cell phone. The cell phone is awesome and deserves a post of its own later. :) On the way back it was snowing! It wasn't snowing at my apartment, but when I got up in the morning I could see the snow up in the mountains.


I took advantage of the sunny day and walked around some more. I went to the beach again. This time I could see mountains across the bay! :)

Pretty Sakura!!!!!!


Here is a view from the walk back to my apartment:

After lunch I ate the Sakura Kit Kat. I don't know if it tasted any different than the white chocolate Kit Kat because it just tasted sweet. It was green so maybe it was just a Spring colored Kit Kat and not a Sakura flavored Kit Kat. Either way... it was fun and unique! :) I want to try every different flavor of Kit Kat that I find here. So far I've had Banana, Maple, and Sakura. The maple one was my favorite.



Why are there so many different flavors of Kit Kats in Japan? Here's how wikipedia explains it: "In recent years, Kit Kats have also become very popular in Japan, a phenomenon attributed to the coincidental similarity between the bar's name and the Japanese phrase kitto katsu, which roughly translates to "You will surely win!" This has reportedly led to parents and children buying them for school examination days as a sort of good luck charm."

Well, that's it for now! :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hamamatsu Shopping and Hamamatsu Castle Park


I am now finished with training and have moved into my apartment. But there's a lot to catch up on, so I will do a separate post to talk about my apartment and town.

During training I went out in Hamamatsu quite a bit by myself and did some shopping. Sooooooooo much cute stuff!!!!!!! Here are some pictures from my shopping trips:


Kawaii!!!!!!! Cute miniatures!!!


The manga (Japanese comics) section at the bookstore was huge!



I enjoy trying different flavors of candy. That Kit Kat is Sakura (cherry blossom) flavored! The blue candy in the front is my favorite that I've tried so far. It's called Puccho. It's like a Starburst with gummy bearish textured bits inside. This one though also has fizzy pieces!


This was the Sakura (cherry blossom) flavored Frappuccino from Starbucks. I got it because it was unique and pink!!!! It was more pink than it looks in the picture... it was very cute! The flavor however was just very sweet. It wasn't bad, but not awesome. I'm still glad I tried it though! :)

On my last day in Hamamatsu we didn't have a training session. All we had to do were our health checks. So there was a lot of free time. I went to Hamamatsu Castle Park! It was very pretty because the Sakura are blooming.


More pictures from about Hamamatsu can be seen here: MORE PICTURES!!!!!!!!

Now I am going to clean up my apartment a bit more so I can take some good pictures for this blog! :)



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I am in Japan!!!!!!!!!!!


I arrived in Japan yesterday and so far it has been great! :) I am training in a city called Hamamatsu and I had my first day of training today. Here are some highlights so far!

Here is a video of the shinkansen (bullet train) soon after leaving Tokyo Station. video



On the left is a picture of my first real meal in Japan (not just juice from a vending machine and candy from a kiosk at the train station... though that was also good lol). Japanese ramen is awesome... it was soooooooooooo good!

There were a bunch of ramen restaurants all in one building. Outside each individual restaurant was a person yelling trying to get customers to go in. It was so fun! :) At this one we put our money into this vending machine thing and pressed the button of the meal we wanted and a ticket came out. Then we were seated, they took our tickets, and they made and brought our food.

After training this afternoon, I went out on my own and took many pictures around Hamamatsu. The area around the train station is super nice and has tons of flowers and waterfalls. Below is one of the pictures I took of the flowers.

It was kinda rainy outside so I went to Seven Eleven and bought a clear umbrella as well as candy candy, including maple Kit Kat, Banana Kit Kat, and a chocolate crisp bar called Crunky, lol.


I took a video of one area in Hamamatsu. I really need to get a new camera with better video!

video

More pictures of my adventure so far can be seen on Facebook here: Japan So Far

Now I am back in my hotel room enjoying the randomness of Japanese television. I need some sleep soon though! Strangely enough though I seem to have adjusted the time changer after just one day!