S: Japan 09/18/11-12/23/2012
FC: Fifteen Months in Japan | Fifteen Months in Japan
2: Naruse station was my home in Japan. It was one stop from the city of Machida. Machida was a cute little city where I did most of my shopping. My little apartment in Naruse was tiny but it was perfect for me. It was a small haven and I loved coming home to it after a busy day at work.
5: I really really love Japanese food.
6: Okayama This was my first stop in Japan. I spent a week training here. I showed up excited, nervous and jet lagged. My hair was a poofy mess, I forgot all of my make-up and hair products. I also left most of my yen in America. The training was very intense and free time was mostly spent planning mock lessons. I did get a little free time. We went and saw the Okayama castle and gardens. It was very beautiful. | Way too much of this my last night in Okayama!
7: Okayama partially enclosed shopping corridor. | Cute sewer drain cover
9: Sakura Season is the prettiest time in Japan. For a short two weeks Sakura can be found everywhere. During Sakura season it is common to participate in Hanami. This is a picnic under the trees. Everyone shares a delicious meal and drinks alcohol.
10: Sakuragicho was one of my favorite places in Tokyo. It was so peaceful and beautiful. Although there was so much to do, buy, see, and eat, it was so calm. I found myself here more than once just to relax.
12: Kamakura is very similar to Kyoto in many ways. There are a lot of breath taking temples and shrines. I went many times. I was lucky to have a wonderful Japanese couple show me their favorite temples. We also got to do a traditional tea tasting which included matcha and sweets. They also took me to a traditional Japanese dessert restaurant.
16: Shinjuku is bright, lively, and fun. There are authentic restaurants and beautiful shops everywhere you turn. You could never run out of things to do in this city. Shinjuku Station is the busiest transfer hub in the world! The station is huge and maze-like if you are not sure where you are going. | Shinjuku 2/19/2012
17: Shinkuku Gyoen is a serene and quiet park right in the middle of Shinjuku. | Take Take SE Exit Exit the JR Line.Meet outside by Starbucks
19: Asakusa is home to Tokyo's oldest shrine Senso-ji. This area is lined with shops selling charms, souvenirs and delicious treats. Also there is the sideways flame that was too heavy to stand upright on top of a beer garden so the owner left it sideways!
20: The time I spent teaching these students is irreplaceable. Words cannot
21: describe the heartfelt emotions of meeting, teaching, and then leaving them.
22: Start time: 10:30pm | Reach Summit 4:45am | Finish time: 7:30am | Fuji-San July 29th, 2012
24: Tokyo Disney Sea
25: Tokyo Disney Land
26: This is the famous scramble crossing. Shibuya is where I had Japanese lessons. I also met many many different people in front of Hachiko. The statue made in honor of the dog who waited for his owner's return every day after work, even after his owner's death. It is a very popular meeting spot in Japan.
28: Kyoto Japan One of the most peaceful and authentic places I have ever been. I also met some wonderful people here who made my trip really special.
34: Ikebukuro was a great place to go shopping. I came once or twice when it was raining. The indoor mall is huge and it has a really nice aquarium. Also, the view from the top is really nice...if it isn't raining too hard!
35: Start: Tokyo Station | munch munch munch | We can't get in! | Let's take 50 pictures of these beautiful fountains! | Finish: Tokyo Tower | Cough cough cough!! I have to leave I can't breath!
36: Meji-Shrine. This is very close to Harajuku. This is a very popular shrine for weddings. The barrels are sake and the dolls are for a special ceremony to save the souls of the dolls before burning them.
37: Harakuku is one of the fashion capitals of the world. I've never seen anything like it before. Fascinating!
38: China Town in Yokohama This was a cheery place filled with lights, pandas, and fish that eat your feet. I loved the atmosphere. It was pleasantly crowded and had Chinese restaurants and shops lining the streets. On the Chinese New Year, we had the pleasure of seeing the dragon go from business to business to eat the money offerings.
40: Fukushima and Minamisouma | Minamisouma is about 25km from the nuclear accident. A lot of people left this area but there are some who continue to live there after the Tsunami of 2011 in spite of radiation levels. I went with people who are very passionate about brining joy to these people and their children.
42: My Friend Tomoko likes to go to the mountain to volunteer. One day she took me with her. I met a wonderful group of people. One girl even gave me her Yukata! (Like a Kimono but lighter). I really enjoyed this day and dying cloth. The only sad thing was a missing petal on my flower!
43: Enoshima was a fun little beach town. My friend Hiroko planned a trip with a bunch of her friends and invited me a long. It was a lot of fun. We stayed pretty busy through out the day and relaxed by the beach that night drinking beer, listening to music, and eating beach food.
44: One day a couple friends and I ventured out to Odaiba. This is a man made island. There is shopping and the famous Gundam. | My friends took me to Akihabara to a maid cafe. Maid cafe's are filled with girls in maid costumes doing their best to be as adorable as possible. | Hakone Spectacular view of Fuji-San. I went with my co-workers. We took an air car, a ship ride, ate black eggs, and went to an onsen. The onsen had many different pools filled with green tea, sake, honey, wine, coffee, and there was even one with dead seal salt that made you float!
45: Hiratsuka was a small area outside of Tokyo. During the summers Japan has festivals all over the place. The Japanese get into Yukatas and enjoy the festivities. | On New Years Eve 2012 Heather and I froze our butts off with a bunch of drunk foreigners at Tokyo Tower.
46: Mariko and her husband had huge hearts. They spent time showing me around, feeding me, and making me feel special. I was heartbroken to leave them. I wish I had more time with them while I was there, but I am thankful for the time I had with this very generous couple. | One day I wandered into a very small bar. This couple started a conversation with me. They ended up buying me dinner and took me out another time after that. They were really cool people to spend time with | Alex was such a fun guy. He was a model from New Zealand without a care in the world. We often spent Saturday nights drinking beer and watching movies. I had such an affection for him. He had a huge heart, outgoing personality, was completely comfortable with himself, and often pushed me to be outside of myself. I always enjoyed the time I spent with him. | Heather and I were pretty different but we had a few things in common. We both were good natured, adventurous, and loved to sing. We spent time talking about Amity days and singing our hearts out. | Tsubasa was a parent of one of the babies I taught. She was one of the few Japanese people I met that was comfortable with being open. We didn't have much time, but it was always fun!
47: I made so many friends while I was in Japan. I met some just walking on the street, sitting by myself in bars or restaurants, through language exchange websites, or friends or friends. They were all so special to me. They have made my memories of Japan so great!
48: Tomoko has the most beautiful soul. She is deep thinking, patient, empathetic, has a great sense of humor, and sees beauty in many things that others miss. I spent much time talking with her. She was patient toward my differences and tried her best to be understanding of me. I am so thankful for the time I had with her. She was such a treasure. The time I had with her is something I will cherish forever.
49: My co-workers. When I started my life in Japan, I had plans to remain my independent self and figure things out alone. I soon learned that I needed help. With everything! My co-workers were supportive, funny, patient, and understanding. I learned so much from them about Japan. The cultural difference were not always easy. In fact, some things were very difficult. But, I learned to be strong in my self-image without worries of how I appeared to others. Through the good and the bad, I will be forever grateful for the effect they have had on my life.