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

Friday, March 18, 2011

Packing... Sort of...

Right now I'm packing and cleaning my apartment, because tomorrow I am moving out! Well... sort of packing. More like taking a break (procrastinating). I just spent a few minutes on facebook even though I lost a couple hours of packing time because we had a blackout earlier this evening. But anyways...

When I was on facebook, I saw a video that one of my friends here posted. It's really cute and you should watch it! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another Earthquake

Last night I was working on packing up some stuff to send to America. I was taping up a box when my apartment started shaking like crazy. I noticed it from the window first because I was kneeling right next to it. I jumped up really quickly and ran away from the window. I stood in between the two bedrooms for a little bit looking around and saw my Christmas tree (Yeah... Christmas tree. I finally took it down today, lol.) wobbling back and forth. All the windows and doors were rattling like crazy and the lights were swinging. The then apartment made a horrible crazy kinda screeching noise. I kinda ran back and forth between the two rooms a bit trying to figure out where the safest place was, but then it stopped. In total it only lasted about 10 seconds. Everything was still for a few seconds and then the apartment shuddered again and things rattled for about a second. This happened every once in a while for a couple minutes. I felt a couple small aftershocks within minutes of the earthquake.

I kept checking the Japan Meteorological Agency website until they finally put up the earthquake map a couple minutes later. I was really hoping that there was not going to be a tsunami! Luckily, when the information was up, they said there would not be a tsunami... whew!

As you can see, the epicenter was fairly close! At that time they said it was a 6.0 quake, though later I heard reports of 6.2 and 6.4. Whatever it was, my town was shaken at intensity 4 (on a scale of 1-7) and the area at the epicenter was shaken at intensity 6! It was pretty rough compared to how I felt the earthquake on Friday. Here the big earthquake felt so gentle. There was quite a bit of motion, but it was a gentle sliding back and forth and a very regular motion. The earthquake last night was like back and forth and up and down and some jolts were stronger than others.

It was pretty scary and I never want to feel an earthquake like that again. Actually, I never want to feel any sort of earthquake again! All this stuff going on actually makes me anxious to leave Japan. Last week at this time there were many things that I was looking forward to in America, but I was also pretty sad to leave Japan. But now, I'm ready to go. With all this stuff going on, it makes me fear the Tokai Earthquake even more.

Right now I'm still planning on going to Tokyo on Saturday after moving out of my apartment, but I'll keep an eye on the nuclear situation. Higher than normal levels of radiation have been detected in Tokyo, but they're still not high enough to be harmful. Hopefully things don't get worse and I can still spend a little time in Tokyo, though I know it wont be like before.

On a happy note, my packing is going well and I got all my packages sent today. I even mailed my Fuji walking stick with no problem! Now I just have to cram the rest of my stuff into my suit cases... :P

And now here's a news video about last night's earthquake:

Saturday, March 12, 2011


You've most likely heard about the large earthquake that hit Japan yesterday. It was far away from here, but I still felt it.

During 6th period, the 1st grade students (middle school 7th grade in the US) were playing dodge ball and I joined in. We were in the gym and there have been many times in the gym that I've thought for a second that there was an earthquake. The floor shakes in there even from people just walking. So with about 40 students running around, the floor was doing plenty of shaking already.

The ball was thrown towards me, but I'm terrible at catching, so I dropped it and was out. I ran over to the sidelines and stood there. Once I was standing still, I noticed that the floor was kind of sliding back and forth, but thought it wasn't too unusual since I've falsely thought there were earthquakes before. But it kept going, and it was too regular to just be shaking caused by running. Plus, it was like sliding, not shaking. But no one else was reacting so I thought I was maybe just imagining it.

Then one of my teammates caught the ball and I got to join back in the game. I ran over to my team and took my place under the basketball goal. I noticed that the same rocking motion was happening over there and looked up at the basketball net. It was swaying back and forth. I thought maybe a ball had just hit it or something, but the swaying didn't slow down. A couple students looked over at me staring at the basketball net and not paying attention to the game. Then they yelled, "Jishin!" which means, "Earthquake!"

By the time all the students realized what was going on, it was already over. Several students didn't feel it at all. We all sat down on the floor and then were told to go outside. We gathered outside for like a minute and then returned to the gym and continued playing dodge ball.

After 6th period I headed back to the teachers' room and everyone was talking about the earthquake. It had been a lot more noticeable to the teachers sitting at their desks.

Then it was cleaning time and like usual, I helped the students mop the entryway. By the time that was done and got back in the teachers' room, many people were gathered in front of the TV. I couldn't understand a whole lot of what was being said, so I got online to check out where the epicenter of the earthquake was. When I saw the map, I was shocked!

The earthquake covered almost all of Japan and there was even a pink dot representing Intensity 7, the highest on the Japanese scale.

Here's a map zoomed in on Shizuoka prefecture.

I'm on the peninsula sticking out on the right. Toi is on the west coast. Toi was recorded as intensity 2, but the area north of here was a 3 and the area just south was a 4.

Pretty soon the news started showing footage of the terrible tsunami rushing across the land. It was so sad.

Most of the coast of Japan was put under a tsunami warning or advisory. A 3 meter tsunami was predicted for this area. I know where the 3 meter tsunami signs are in the town so I knew that a 3 meter tsunami would go quite a ways into the town. I was advised to stay at school because even though the school is closer to the ocean (about half a mile away) it's stronger and taller than my apartment.

The town kept making announcements and sirens kept going off. The teachers were all running around and I was kind of lost about what was going on. Then my company called me and advised me to get to higher ground. I went up to the third floor, but the teachers who were up there went back down soon after I got up there. I stayed up there for a few minutes watching the ocean and then went back to the staff room.

I ended up staying at school until about 8 pm. When I got home there was still a tsunami warning, but it seemed that the biggest danger had passed since the town hadn't turned on the sirens for several hours.

I didn't sleep very well last night. I fell asleep quickly, but I kept waking up. Around 4 in the morning my cell phone was making a crazy siren-like noise. I looked at it and it had a message saying, "Earthquake Early Warning." I sat there for a little while, but felt nothing. I got on the computer to see the earthquake map. I think the warning was sent out when a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit around Nagano. The areas north and south of Toi registered at an intensity 1 (barely felt), but Toi didn't show up on the map.

It was hard to fall asleep after that, but when I did, I was woken up by another alarm around 6:30 (maybe? I'm not sure). Again, I felt nothing. I got online and no major earthquakes were showing up on the map so I attempted to go back to sleep.

A little while later, I was sorta woken up by "Piano Man" playing over the town message system. Yes, seriously. My town sometimes plays songs before making announcements. All the other announcements since the earthquake just had a chime that played before the announcement, but this one was special for some reason. But I don't know what was special about it because the only word I understood was "tsunami."

So that was my experience with the earthquake. I had wanted to feel an earthquake since I had never felt one before, but I never wanted anything like this. I wanted to feel about the intensity that I felt but for that to be the worst of it. Unfortunately, it was much much worse in a wide area of Japan.

My going away party with a few of the teachers (They were very nice to plan a separate party for me just because I can't make it to the main enkai next weekend.) was canceled last night. I had also planned on going to Tokyo this weekend, but I canceled that as well. The trains were back up and running this morning (well, at least the ones within Tokyo), but I figured that it was best just to stay away with all the chaos yesterday and continuing aftershocks. But even though my plans were messed up, I don't mind because I know the situation is much worse for so many people. Please keep Japan in your thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Apartment

I've started packing things up, but before I began packing I took a video of my apartment. I took a video soon after I moved in, but I hadn't decorated my apartment at all and the video was really poor quality. So here's a better quality video and you can see how it has changed (a little bit) since I moved in.

Sorry the video is in two parts. I tried putting them together with Windows Movie Maker, but it didn't work with these videos for some reason.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two Weeks

Two weeks from now I will be on a plane heading back to the US (well, hopefully if my flight is on time!). It's crazy to think about it! I'm going to miss a lot here, but there are things to look forward to as well.

Back in May I did a post about what I missed and didn't miss (click here to see it). Since May, I still agree with many of those things, with the exception of not missing food. I miss a lot of food in America now.

So now here is a new list of what I will miss and what I am looking forward to.


Shibuya, Tokyo

I haven't done a whole lot of traveling in my life, but I can't imagine ever loving a place as much as I love Tokyo. It's a huge city, but it's easy to get around because everywhere I want to go is a quick walk from a train or subway station. The trains and subways are super convenient and run often. The Yamanote Line does a loop around the city and trains come every 2.5 - 4 minutes, so you never have to wait for long!
Shopping in Tokyo is awesome. There are tons of places to eat. There are nice parks. I could list tons of things that are great about Tokyo. :)
I'm trying to think of something I dislike about Tokyo and actually can't think of anything right now. Well, I guess it can be a bit crowded, but it doesn't really bother me that much.

Public Transportation
I live in a town with a 5,000 population out in the middle of nowhere and there is still a bus route that goes to the train station. It comes about every half hour or hour depending on the time of day. It's pretty reliable too. It's usually on time or just a couple minutes late. One time it was nine minutes late, but that was unusual.
The trains are even more punctual! Trains are so convenient and I'll miss them a lot. I prefer taking a train over driving. I'm less likely to get lost on a train. :)
So, public transportation is just awesome here in Japan. :)

Cute Stuff
There's so much cute stuff in Japan! I've taken pictures of many cute things that I've bought so there's not much point in saying too much about this. Though I could go on and on and on about cute stuff. :)

Clothing That Fits
I don't really like clothing shopping in the US. Well, I like it, but it can be very frustrating. When I see something I like, it often doesn't fit very well. Many tops fit weird on my shoulders, the sleeves are way too long, I can't find my size, etc. When I see something I like in Japan, it almost always fits! It makes clothes shopping so much more fun. Plus, the clothing here is cuter so I find more things that I like.
So, I'm kind of stocking up on clothing. I'm trying to pack up my stuff, but I'm making it a bit harder for myself because I bought three new shirts this past weekend... :P

I love Japanese convenience stores. In the US, I only went to convenience stores when I was at the gas station. In Japan, I go to konbini much more often. Besides stocking up on junk food I can make copies, pay bills, pay for purchases, and more. Plus, they have decent food. I often buy salad, onigiri, yakisoba, and more.

my first real meal in Japan

There is a lot of Japanese food I dislike. I can tolerate some seafood, but I still hate most of it. I still don't like eating raw meat. The idea of eating raw meat doesn't really gross me out anymore, but I hate the texture and the taste. But, there are many things I will miss, including noodles (ramen! soba! udon! yum!) and crazy Kit Kats.

It's a heated table. It's awesome. That's all.


The natural scenery in this area is beautiful. There are mountains (Mt. Fuji!) and the ocean. I've never lived near either, so it's very nice here!


Going New Places
I am constantly going new places in Japan. I never traveled in the US as much as I do in Japan. It's just much more convenient here.


I love making stuff and selling it on Etsy. I could still do it here in Japan, but it would be harder to sell stuff because of international shipping. Plus, a lot of stuff that I make is made from Sculpey, and I need an oven for that. No oven here. :( After a year in Japan, I am full of some really super cute ideas and I can't wait to make them!

I'm looking forward to skim milk, cereal, Mexican food, cheese, cookies, veggie burgers, lima beans... mmm! I usually don't like grocery shopping in Japan because I don't know what a lot of stuff is and can't find what I want. Today I went to the grocery store and they were out of bread. Seriously. Okay, well, they did have a couple loaves of expensive bread from the store's bakery, but they were out of normal loaves of sliced bread.

I never really appreciated things like dryers before. Doing the laundry can be annoying. In the US I could do laundry the night before I needed something. Here I have to wait for stuff to dry. Also, I have to plan when I do my laundry based on when it will rain. I've tried drying stuff in my apartment and it takes forever. Though sometimes it takes forever to dry outside as well, especially with the humidity.
I also look forward to ovens, better washing machines, and microwaves. The microwave thing is my fault though because I've just been too cheap to buy one.

Living in Less Temporary Conditions
This goes with the thing above about being too cheap to buy a microwave. There are many things I haven't bought because I'm here for only a year. 

Hot Water
I have hot water in the bathroom, but only in the shower/bath. The sink does not have hot water. The kitchen sink doesn't have hot water either. It's not convenient to use the shower to wash my hands because I have to turn a knob to turn on the gas, and then turn another knob and hold it down for a while to heat the water. 

Insulation, Heating, and Air Conditioning
My apartment doesn't have heat, but I have a couple space heaters, a heated rug, and a kotatsu. I can get a room fairly warm, but if I turn off the heater, it's super cold a few minutes later. My apartment (as well as most apartments in Japan) doesn't have insulation. I really don't understand this. 
Plus, even though I can warm the upstairs pretty well, when I go downstairs it's super cold! I look forward to living in a house where I don't see my breath inside! 
Oh, and it was super hot in the summer. I actually didn't mind it that much except in the mornings. It was impossible to sleep in because the sun rose around 4 AM so it was usually already in the 80s by 6:30 when I woke up for work. Ugh.

I never saw any cool storms here. I saw lightning a couple times during the summer, but it was usually far away. There was a storm in Toi once this whole year and I saw like three strikes of lightning, though one did strike right really close, but that wasn't cool because it knocked the power out for a little bit.

Well, that's all I can think of right now, though I'm sure I've left some things out. It will be interesting to look back at this post once I am back in the US to see what other things I miss! 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I ♥ Sakura!

I have now lived in Japan for almost an entire year. When I arrived last March, the sakura (cherry blossoms) had begun blooming, but had not reached their peak. I'm leaving the same day I came (the 22nd!) so I I thought I was going to miss the cherry blossom season. However, there are many cherry trees that bloom a bit earlier so I have gotten to see sakura again! :)

Here are a couple pictures that I took today near the park:

I pretended to take a picture of the sakura when I took this next picture. It's an old lady with purple hair.

The sakura season in Japan is a big deal, so there is a lot of sakura merchandise this time of year. It's hard to resist! Shopping in Tokyo is always a bit dangerous for me, but especially so with so much cute pink flowery stuff! :)

I bought a cute bento box (Japanese lunch box).

Here's the cloth to wrap around the lunch box.

This is the cup I talked about in my previous post about Tokyo.

This is a large notepad. The paper inside is just as beautiful as the cover! I will use the paper in my scrapbook.

I'm super glad to enjoy the sakura again before I leave! :)