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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This past weekend I went to Atami with a few friends (also ALTs). It is a seaside resort city on the northeastern part of the Izu Peninsula. My friends were spending the night there but I just went for the day since I live fairly close and didn't want to spend too much money.

First we headed to their hotel so they could drop off their bags. The area around the hotel was very nice. It was near the ocean. The picture above was taken around this area, across the street from the hotel. The area with the hotel is to the left and the ocean is to the right!

We were going to go to a geisha show, but they weren't having any more shows that day. Sad! :( So then we headed to find a place to eat. We ended up at a traditional Japanese restaurant where we had to take off our shoes and sit at tables on the floor.

There was so much food! I couldn't eat it all! I didn't really want to either... I don't like sashimi (raw meat) very much, but everything else was delicious! I especially loved the tempura (the fried stuff towards the middle of the picture). Each piece of tempura was different. There was fish, shrimp and many vegetables including a pepper, eggplant, and a slice of sweet potato. The sweet potato tempura was my favorite. :)

After a very filling meal (Onaka ippai! That means "I'm full!") we headed towards Atami Castle. We headed towards the area where the cable car takes you to the top of the hill with the castle. First we stopped to take some pictures. This was us attempting a "samurai" pose. We have no idea how samurai would really pose and this is definitely nothing like samurai.

Soon we boarded the cable car to take us to the top of the hill. I took a video on the way down and here it is: Cable Car

We went into the castle (pictures of the outside are on facebook) and looked around the museum and played with random toys. Finally we made it to the top of the castle... the view was great!

Atami was a really great place, but the weather was a bit cold and it was raining part of the time. I will definitely go back in the summer!

The rest of my pictures are here: Atami Photos

Hey Judo

Last week I was invited to go to a Beatles cover band performance here in Toi with the local high school's ALT and his wife. I thought it would be fun to get out, but I wasn't expecting a whole lot from the band. A small town Beatles cover band just sounds like it might not be so great...

However, it was a lot of fun! The band was actually good and the atmosphere was very lively. It was held at a local restaurant called Beetle, which is decorated with Beatles stuff inside. It's very random for a small town.

The two guys on the left in the above picture were sitting across from me. The guy in the back was the singer in the band, and the girl was sitting not too far away.

Towards the end they played Hey Jude. Before singing the song the band jokingly referred to it as "Hey Judo" because Japanese people have a tendency to put extra vowels at the ends of words when speaking English. However, the singer sang "Jude" and not "Judo." At least I think he did, haha... a lot of people were singing along with this song... here is a short video I took during that song:
Hey Jude Video

A Quiet Day in Shuzenji

About a week ago I had to go to Shuzenji to pick up my gaijin card (alien registration card). I left work early so that I could take a bus to Shuzenji and walk to the office before the office closed. I planned on sightseeing in Shuzenji when picking up my card. I couldn't go any other day because I had set up to leave work early on that particular day. So, even though it was raining, I walked around Shuzenji. It ended up being a really good time to walk around!

When I went to Shuzenji Temple, there was no one else there. It was really cool because it felt like I wasn't supposed to be there or like it was abandoned or something and it was fun to walk around without anyone else there. When I was on my way out, a couple other people came, but most of the time I was alone.

I took a lot of pictures while I was there. You can see them here: Shuzenji Photos

Friday, April 23, 2010


I have really been slacking at writing, so now it is time to catch up! I will do this entry, and then do an entry on the random Beetles cover band I saw, an entry on Shuzenji, and then an entry on Atami (that's where I'm going tomorrow!).

I teach at one elementary school and one junior high. Once every semester I will teach at a kindergarten... sooooo cute!

I have been in school for three weeks now. I didn't teach at all the first week, but I attended many ceremonies. The first day I attended a ceremony at the elementary school. There used to be two elementary schools in this town but they have merged into one school. So there was a big ceremony the first day with photographers from the local paper and a lot of important looking people. When the important looking people (maybe like the mayor or something) came in all the teachers stood up and we bowed to each person. I was bowing for several minutes straight, haha.

Then the second day I attended another ceremony at the elementary school for the first grade students. It was very formal! Many parents attended the ceremony and some of the mothers were even in kimonos! The tiny little first graders walked in a line and sat at the front of the gym facing everyone else. Many older students got up and performed a song for the first graders. Many people gave speeches. I didn't understand most of them, but I understood part of the principal's speech. He was telling them something about breakfast and that the school lunch is delicious.

I found a picture from the ceremony on the Izu website, which made me really excited. Here it is: First Grade Ceremony Picture
Their clothes are adorable! The boys even have on little jackets and ties!
The picture made me really excited because we're not supposed to take pictures of the students and put them online, but if they put it up I'm sure it's okay to link to it. So yay! Now you can see some of my students. :) I haven't gotten to teach first grade yet. I wont get to until late May.

Later in the week I attended a couple more ceremonies and spent most of my time planning activities. That was pretty boring because I didn't want to plan too much because I really had no idea what kind of activities I needed to prepare for. However, I did have fun because a couple days I got to go hang out in some of the homeroom classes and talk to the students while they made posters.

The second week I gave my introduction to many of the classes. Students also had the opportunity to ask me questions. In almost every class I was asked if I had a boyfriend. I think some of the elementary students were trying to hook me up with another teacher because they asked how old I was and then told me the other teacher is 22 and were pulling him over towards me. Then the kids asked if I had a boyfriend and when I said yes they seemed disappointed and quit trying to pull that teacher over. The kids are crazy. :)

I didn't get asked anything inappropriate though. Some other ALTs said that they were asked their bra size and other odd things. Though one student in the 4th grade class asked something in Japanese and the teacher would not translate. I asked him, but he just waved his hands and was like, "no, no, no" and quickly picked another student to ask a question.

This week I have started regular classes. I taught two classes in elementary this week and have had several junior high classes. The junior high classes are really easy though. The teachers pretty much have everything planned out and I'm just an assistant. I read a lot of stuff out loud and also help lead some games. The teachers have told me what games they want though, so there's not much planning on my part. It's fun though.

I really like the first grade class in the junior high because they seem really excited about learning English. I like the 3rd grade class because they're pretty good at English and I can talk to them more than the other students. I can ask them things besides "how are you?" and "do you like cats?" Several of the 3rd grade boys think it's really funny when they greet me with a loud, "HELLO! I LOVE YOU!" They're so weird, haha.

The elementary students are really adorable. After class they all come up to me and talk to me in Japanese. One little boy asked me if I like Mos Burger (a fast food chain). I said I liked the Teriyaki Burger so then he went on and on about the different sets that they have and how much they cost and I think he was talking about which ones are the best deals. He's obsessed, lol.
Also, they all like to grab onto me and hold my hand when they talk to me. It's really cute.

Today there was a school assembly at the junior high and we watched a horrible video about bicycle safety. It was horrible in a hilarious way though. From the video I learned that if you collide with a car, you will fly really high in the air and flip around, but when you land you'll be fine. You might be stuck in a garbage can, but you wont get hurt. However, if you hit obaasan (a grandmother) with your bicycle, obaasan will beat you with your cane.

This has nothing to do with school, but today I bought some Cookies and Green Tea ice cream. It was very very green. It tasted a little strange at first (I expected that though). It really did taste like green tea. Towards the end though I didn't notice the green tea flavor as much and noticed the cookies more. Mmmm... chocolate. :) So overall it's not as good as cookies and cream, but I still enjoyed it! It was worth the money just for the experience.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Finally I made it to Tokyo!

I left really early on Saturday morning (I got on the bus around 6:30) and made it to Tokyo around 11. I could have gotten there earlier, like around 10:30, but I got a little confused at the train station. I switched at Atami Station because I thought I had to and then later realized I could have just stayed on the train all the way to Tokyo. Oh well!

The first station I got off at in Tokyo was Shibuya. So my first view of Tokyo (not just looking at Tokyo from the train window) was of the crosswalk in Shibuya which is the busiest crosswalk in the world!There were a lot of people there but I'm sure there are times when it's more crowded.

I shopped around Shibuya for a while, including a big music store and Loft (a store of all sorts of random stuff like stationary and home decorating stuff). I bought some clothes and ate at Mos Burger, a fast food place popular in Japan. In America I don't really like fast food burgers very much but I still kind of wanted to try Mos Burger. I got the Teriyaki Burger and it was really good!

After Shibuya I headed to Ueno Park. I hadn't originally planned on visiting Ueno because the forecast had said it would be chilly and possibly rainy, but it was sunny and fairly warm! Ueno is famous for its cherry blossoms so I decided to visit. Many of the cherry blossoms had already fallen, but there was still a decent amount on the trees. It was hard to get a picture that really captured how it looked. It was the cherry blossoms falling from the trees that was the prettiest part and that doesn't really show up in pictures.

The picture above doesn't show it, but in many areas there were tons of people having picnics beneath the trees and getting drunk. It was quite entertaining.

The park also had a nice pond and has a zoo (which I didn't visit but maybe will someday). I took some pictures of the pond and you can see them in my Facebook album. I'll post a link at the end.

After the park I headed to Ikebukuro. I visited Tokyu Hands which is an awesome store. It's kind of similar to Loft, but it has more variety. It ranged from Hello Kitty stuff to gardening supplies to housewares to bicycles. Each floor of the store was very different. The 8th floor is called Nekobukuro and you can pay 600 yen to go in and pet and play with a bunch of cats! I really want to go but I didn't have a whole lot of time and wanted to see more of Tokyo so I'll do that next time.

I think Tokyu Hands was my favorite store. I bought a cute puzzle, some stickers, and best of all... Shinkansen buttons! I think I'm going to make a plushie in the shape of Japan and attach different buttons and things to it.

After Tokyu Hands I went to Sunshine City for a while, which is a building full of many different stores. I didn't spend too much time there but there was soooo much to see! I definitely need to go back! Next time I go to Tokyo I think I'll spend most of my time in Shibuya and Ikebukuro. :)

After Sunshine City I headed back to Ikebukuro Station. Here is what the area looked like at night:

I got on the train and headed to Shinjuku. The trains were super easy to take in Tokyo. Everywhere I wanted to go was on one train line that loops around the city. The trains come by at least every couple of minutes so I never had to wait long.

My main reason for going to Shinjuku was to go up in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office observatory. I got off the train at the station and almost immediately started seeing signs directing me where to go. I followed the signs through a long underground passageway and once I was above ground I was in the skyscraper district.

The picture below is of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office. I went up to the 45th floor of the tower on the right.

The view from up there is really cool. The city just seems to go on forever!

Then I headed off to find my hotel. I wasn't sure how I was going to do my weekend in Tokyo but at the last minute I decided to try and find a hotel so that I'd have plenty of time in Tokyo. I was very glad I decided that!

I had a little bit of trouble finding the hotel because I had written down detailed instructions, but they were based on me going out a specific station exit. The exit was under construction so I got turned around. But after walking up and down the street a few times I found the hotel.

The hotel is also a capsule hotel but only for men. I need to find a capsule hotel for women because I think it would be fun to stay in once.

My room was really small but very very clean! The bathroom was tiny (and I thought the one in my hotel in Hamamatsu was small...). It was the size of a small closet.

I left the hotel a little before 8 and headed for Nippori to visit all the stores in the fabric district. I got off the train and left the station when I realized that stores were probably not open at 8:30 in the morning. So I found a place to eat breakfast instead and then looked for Fabric Town just to make sure it wasn't open yet.

I found Fabric Town and the sign on the front of the largest store said it opened at 10. I didn't want to hang around Nippori for an hour and a half with nothing but restaurants open so I decided to go back to the observatory in Shinjuku to see the same view during the day.

Shinjuku and Nippori aren't super close (like a 20 minute train ride) so I decided to save Nippori for last. I would buy a lot there anyways and didn't want to carry it around all day. So after Shinjuku I went to Harajuku. I hadn't looked up any maps of Harajuku so I didn't exactly know where to go. I wanted to find the area with all the crazy fashion. I followed the crowd from the station hoping that it would take me somewhere interesting. It didn't take me to the crazy fashion area, but it did take me to another shopping district. I went in a store called Kiddy Land full of super kawaii stuff!!! I found this awesome cell phone strap. It's hello kitty on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building! :)

So then I finally headed back to Nippori to visit fabric town, the area where I wanted to do most of my shopping and stock up on fabric to make plushies! I headed down the street and noticed that most of the stores were still closed. :( I guess that area is closed on Sundays! Boo. :( There were a couple small stores open so I did get two pieces of felt and a couple spools of thread. Not nearly the amount of supplies I need, but that just gives me an excuse to go back to Tokyo! :)

Here's a picture of the area around Nippori station:

So with my extra time that I hadn't planned on having I decided to visit Tokyo Tower. I like the picture below because it has sakura, a shrine, and Tokyo Tower all in one picture! :)

I didn't go up in the tower because you have to pay and the line was long and I didn't have a whole lot of time left. I will go up in there sometime though!

I headed to Tokyo Station so that I could take the Tokaido Line back home. Train stations are very dangerous for me because of all the distractions... when I visit somewhere it's hard just for me to leave the station sometimes. So many stores! Tokyo Station had some really awesome ones, like the Rilakkuma Store!!! I wanted to buy so much but after all the shopping I had already done I knew it probably wasn't a good idea. :P The boxes full of strawberry flavored Kit Kats with Rilakkuma packaging were very tempting though...

I took a ton of pictures in Tokyo (more than you'd want to see!) but I picked just a few from each place I went and put them into an album on facebook which you can see here: Tokyo Pictures!!!!

My Apartment... Video!!!

There's not much to write about this post because it's explained in the video!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Today was the first sunny day in a while so I decided to get outside and visit someplace new. I went to Dogashima, which is south of Toi, along the coast. It took about half an hour to get there by bus, so it's not far! :)

There are usually boats going around the little islands. One was coming back as I got there but then they didn't run anymore. I think the waves were too rough today.

After walking along the coast I went to the Dogashima Orchid Resort. There were a bunch of different buildings and greenhouses with orchid displays. The orchid peacock was really cool! It was kind of hard to believe that they were real orchids! They were attached to tubes so that they could get water. I have a picture in my facebook album. The link will be at the end of this post.

There was also a tree with orchids attached. It is supposed to resemble a weeping Sakura tree. It was very pretty! :)

The path took me through greenhouse after greenhouse full of orchids. This place had a ridiculous amount of orchids! It's called the Dogashima Orchid Resort but I was still surprised by how many orchids there were.

Within the park is a suspension bridge with really cool views of the Suruga Bay.

After the Orchid Resort I went to another part of the coast where at low tide you can walk across rocks to get close to one of the islands.

Such a pretty coast! :) It was a great way to spend a sunny day. :)

Here are more pictures from my trip: Dogashima

Thursday, April 1, 2010


As I am writing this, I am watching Pokemon... lol... well, not really watching it I guess, but it's on.

Today I went to Numazu with a few other ALTs. It was rainy, but it was fun to get out and see someplace new. Plus, I really wanted to try out the bus system. I didn't get on any wrong buses so that's good! :)

While waiting for the bus, I got bored so I took a picture of the vending machine next to the bus stop sign. It's common for vending machines here to have beer in them.

The bus was pretty much on time. It was about two minutes late, but for a bus that seems pretty good! After a long bus ride through the mountains, I arrived at Shuzenji Station. I hadn't purchased a train ticket since the day I arrived in Japan and then I had someone who spoke English help me buy the right ticket and tell me where to go. This time I did it by myself and it was actually really easy (especially once I found the English button on the ticket machine).

The train didn't take too long and soon I was in Numazu. Here's a picture outside the station in Numazu.

We decided to head towards the ocean and port. We had a bit of trouble getting to there because we kept going down dead end roads, but we got to wander through an area with pretty houses and sakura. :) However, once we got to the ocean it was really really windy there and pouring rain and the beach wasn't very pretty. It was really funny though and we laughed about walking through the rain just to get to an ugly beach. I have some pictures of the Sakura and ocean, but I took them with my phone and I don't have a way to transfer them yet.

On our way to find a place to eat we came across this which was cool.

After eating at a curry restaurant (yum!) we went to a shopping area.

There was a cute sign outside of Mr. Doughnut!

The doughnut I got was cute too. :) It had both chocolate and strawberry icing. :)

When I got back to Shuzenji Station I had about 20 minutes before my bus left so I walked around a little bit. Even in the rain the Sakura were still pretty!

Well, that was my day today. I have another big day tomorrow because I'm going to the schools for introductions! :)