Happy One Year!

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Wow. One whole year has passed by since I left my home in Toronto, Canada. It honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been a year. How did time pass by so quickly?! It’s also the one year anniversary of my blog! In celebration, I finally made a new original logo for my blog =D Now it accurately shows Gigglypuff in Japan!

365 days have gone by and I feel like I’m only starting to grow. Deciding to come on this journey to Japan was the best decision of my life and choosing to stay another year was the second best decision. It still boggles my mind sometimes how I got here. I am so lucky to be in this situation right now where I have a job back home that allows me to take time off, and that will still be there for me when I go back. I’m lucky I have savings back home so I can travel and experience things to the fullest here without worrying about money too much. I’ve been out and about almost every weekend and even on weekdays lately. It’s been exhausting!!! My friends always say, “And who’s fault is that?!” Haha, well I just really want to make the most out of this limited time that I’m here! No regrets yo.

I’ve been through so many ups and downs, each teaching me something new about myself, and about life in general. I’ve made many new friends here that I hope to keep for a lifetime =) I’m also so lucky that so many of my friends and family were able to visit me throughout the year. I don’t think I’m one to be homesick, but it really was nice to see and hug familiar faces again. It was my first time ever living away from home for more than a month and boy, did I learn a lot haha. I love the independence and freedom also hehe.

Keeping this blog has been like a part-time job for me since I’m so busy traveling, working, and doing nothing (because I’m so exhausted). After trips or events, I’m usually pooped and then I gotta sort through photos, then summarize my adventures. It’s fun writing about them because it’s like I get to experience the awesomeness again. Sorting through multiple photos of the same thing is a pain though haha. But for sure I’m thankful that I’m keeping up with this blog because I know the future self will thank me. It also helps to know that my cousin reads it and will harass me if I don’t post for a while xD (YA YOU WILLAY <3)

What I’ve learned so far in this past year (non-exclusive):

  • My life here is dependent on trains. Trains are life. I love trains.
  • I probably spend a third of my paycheck every month on transportation.
  • I’m ALWAYS running for the train. Story of my life.
  • Because I’m a germ and bug freak, I like to keep my place clean. That’s the only reason haha. Still gets messy though.
  • I can still survive without a grocery store near me. Just befriend my apartment boyz.
  • I can fit a magical amount of things on my bike and somehow still be able to ride it home.
  • I’m actually quite a big Otaku eh? Weeb4lyfe.
  • I miss teaching my little kids, but being able to have real conversations with high school kids is also pretty amazing.
  • I love traveling alone.
  • I appreciate my alone time because it’s so rare.
  • Never turn off the breaker on purpose to “save energy” >_>
  • I have a shopping problem.
  • I can’t live in Japan forever or I will literally have no savings left.
  • But I’m in love with Japan. Ugh.
  • My favourite city is Osaka. Just, everything. ❤
  • I have bad days and a domino of bad luck sometimes, but I just end up laughing it off, cause why not.
  • This is the adventure that I’ve been missing in my life.
  • If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.
  • Everything always seems to work out in the end.
  • If I’m meant to die here, then there’s nothing I can do about it. (I know this is deep, but this motto is what has gotten me this far without going crazy over earthquakes and tsunamis)

Things I hope to learn for the next year:

  • How to pack everything to send back home. LOL. Problem of the year.

 

Tomorrow, I’m going back to Tokyo, where it all began. The Canadian Embassy of Japan invited me to go to Tokyo (for free!!!) to attend the new incoming Canadian JETs orientation. The embassy held a contest for the best Canada150 Lesson Plan and I won!! =D I like, never win stuff, so I was really happy. But now I have to go present it in front of everyone and give some sort of cool speech. But ahhh I’m meeting the new Canadian JETs and I get to be sempai! It’s all so なつかしい~ (nostalgic). I will pass on my wise knowledge bahahaha. They’re all doomed.

Well, here’s to another year of adventures! I’m so excited to see how much more exhausted I’ll be by the end of next year haha. But as my friend from Toronto says “We want you back in one piece, dear”, I shall take care of myself as well. =P

Thanks for reading, whether it was just this post or my other posts too. Though I’m writing this blog mainly for myself, it’s nice to know you guys are interested in my crazy adventures xD

Posted in Shima, Mie | Leave a comment

One heck of a weekend

Let me tell you about this fun-crazy-frustrating weekend. Long post ahead! (Pics separated)

Fri. July 14

So my jutaku boyz (apartment boys) invited me to barbecue outside of the apartment and of course I had to go! It was finally a chance to bond with them haha. It wasn’t all of them though. It was just the 5 and me. Age range was like 23-30. If I forgot to mention before, ever since my girl neighbour got transferred to another school, I’ve been the only girl in my apartment. I see myself as the Snow White and they are all my dwarves xD. Again, Japanese style BBQ so it was slow at first. We started at like 6:30pm I think and we stayed out for quite some time. I had some really fun chats with them. A lot of them could speak more English than they showed in daily life. I found out so much gossip and there were just so many jokes everywhere. I found out secret couples and different love lives. Man I wish we hung out more xD One of the boys ended up getting food poisoning and had to call it a night. Poor guy. But also poor me because I got at least 10 mosquito bites (not even exaggerating) that night on my ONE arm… I was stupid to not put on bug spray earlier sigh. It was like 10pm when we finally started to pack up.

We decided to continue our party in my neighbour’s place and play MahJong!! I was so so excited to see them play and learn how it worked. I pick it up pretty quickly since I already knew how to play Chinese MJ. Japanese MJ seemed pretty much the same, but much easier to win, at times. They like to do a lot of concealed hands for higher points and you could even “chicken eat” too. The scoring is much more different though. I sucked at the beginning but I think it was cause I wasn’t playing how I usually did. Also, backseat players too xD. I ended up winning a big one in the last game when I was playing by myself hehe. It was soooo nice playing and talking with them! They kept teaching me some funny/bad Japanese words and their English was just so entertaining. I think I had more fun than it was supposed to be hahaha. Apparently they have these MJ nights every so often so I totally wanna join again! I thought I was only going to stay until like 1am or 2am max but we ended at like 3am! It was really comforting to know that my apartment was only a few steps away haha.

Sat. July 15

I wanted to go to the beach today. But clearly that was not possible, seeing how I slept at like 4am… Oh well! I woke up at like 1pm and it felt good xD But only problem was, I didn’t realize how much time it would take for me to get ready. There were fireworks in Ise today and they were the one of the biggest ones in Mie. I was planning to wear my yukata but I had to wash my hair and do that stuff too. I was meeting my friend at 4pm so I only had like less than 2 hours. Putting on that yukata nicely takes at least like 20 minutes man. So I rushed so much that I forgot to even eat breakfast/lunch. Good thing I wasn’t that hungry.

When I met up with my friend, we went to eat some lunch before heading to Miyagawa Park. A huge group of us were meeting there and another friend had gone earlier to reserve a spot for us. When we got there, we were so amazed by the number of food stalls there were! There was literally every food stall that I’ve ever seen at festivals. They were lined up on both sides of the river!! They were only missing icecream haha. I saw a few of my students here too since I can never escape them. It was so cute because I finally got to meet my student’s girlfriend that I always ask him about! So I settled on our tarp and we ate lots of food. It was pretty hot but glad it got bearable when the sun went down. At around 7:30pm, the fireworks began! It was apparently a competition between different people and I mentally gave bonus points to those who used music too!! Fireworks without music is just… bleh. There were some really cool fireworks. I can’t even describe them! Spiraly ones and changing colour ones. They lasted for about 2 hours. There were some breaks in between for announcement of sponsors etc. So awesome.

After they were done, some of my friends were heading to karaoke but it was already like 10pm so I wouldn’t be able to stay for long until my last train… Plus I had a whole day ahead of me the next day.. So I did the smart thing and went home! Yayyy. Oh, also, biking in my yukata was quite a struggle too. It was more embarrassing than difficult haha.

Sun. July 16

This weekend was a long weekend because Monday is Ocean Day. So my friends from Gunma came down to Osaka to do some sightseeing and partying. The plan was to meet them in Nara at like 11am-12pmish but they seemed to have partied until quite late last night so they had some trouble being on time. I arrived at like 11am and walked around… I also had time to even go play some Mai Mai… like 3 times xD. They finally arrived and we ate some Vietnamese food. The pho was pretty good! Then we were on the hunt for a yukata for my friend since she was going back to Toronto soon. There were quite a few shops with yukatas and pretty good prices but my friend had pretty expensive taste xD We spent a while looking for one and she ended up finally getting one she liked, despite it breaking her wallet. I wore mine too and boy was it hot. We finally headed to Nara park and Todaiji Temple. I was pretty sad to see that there weren’t too many deers around because they are usually everywhere. BUT! We got to the museum area and BAM. All the deer were gathered there. I had never seen them all together before! It was crazy! There were at least 50 of them, just chilling on the grass, or bowing for food. We walked a bit more to the temple and took some more pictures. They got tired so we took the bus back to the station.

From there, we just went back to Osaka to get some delicious takoyaki and to get ready to go out again. The takoyaki this time was reallyyyyy good. Maybe the best one so far!! A whole mini tako (octopus) was in the ball with the tentacles sticking out. I am literally drooling thinking about it again haha. So we ate and my friend and I walked around for a bit longer. Our other friend went back to the Airbnb first to get ready since they took forever to get ready xD. But yea, it was a fun night.

EXCEPT Continue reading

Posted in Ise, Mie, Kyoto, Kyoto, Nara, Nara, Osaka, Osaka, Shima, Mie | Leave a comment

AJET Sayonara Party + Ultimate Picnic Weekend

Saturday

In the morning, I had an English Seminar with my friend’s students. These are always enjoyable and fun, especially since these kids know how to speak English and actually want to learn. After that finished, I headed toward Tsu with my friend for the AJET Sayonara Party. This was the farewell party organized by the JET people for the JETs who are leaving this year. I didn’t know too many who were leaving but it was still nice to be able to see them one more time. We paid 4000 yen for food and all you can drink. It was nice to see friends again and catch up.

After we got kicked out of the venue, some of my friends decided to go to nijikai aka afterparty. We went to this bar named Bazooka and they talked so much hype about it but when we got there, it was pretty dead. The drinks were really cheap though, like 250yen per drink. We stayed there for a while then had to head home because of our last train. My friend and I stayed over at a friend’s place since I was going to Nabari the next day for another event. We had some interesting chats, yet again, and then went to bed.

Sunday

The Nara Ultimate/Rugby Team organized a final picnic gathering for the end of the season and they chose Nabari to be our meeting point between Nara and Mie, which was nice of them. Although some members were in both Ultimate and Rugby, none of the Rugby-only players showed up. So clearly Ultimate is the better sport haha. It was potluck style and it was nice to share the food and chill. We got to play some games too, until it started storming and raining. We retreated back to the cars and decided to take it to bowling!

It was the 10 of us bowling and they kept saying it wasn’t a real sport xD. I didn’t do too badly, but I could have done better. Oh well! One of the members was a dad and brought his 8 year old kid and he was playing with us. He got pretty sad about not being really good at it and we kept trying to cheer him up. We got the guy to put up the gutter walls so they wouldn’t go in the gutter but he just ended up tossing the ball randomly anway xD Well kid, ya gotta learn you can’t be good at everything haha.

It was like 4ish 5 when we finished and the others were about to head home. It was still early to me and I wanted to meet up with my friend who lives in Nabari. So I went to her place and we chilled a bit. Had some good chats and we went out to dinner with another friend. It’s always nice to hang out with her =D I went home right after dinner.. pretty good weekend.

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Yukata Party!

My first Yukata party! Yukatas are basically like kimonos but they are made out of a lighter material because summer is so friggin hot and humid heh. It was almost Tanabata, which is the Star Festival on July 7th. This was a Chinese tradition that the Japanese adopted. Basically it’s something about two lovers that are separated by the Milky Way and a bridge is formed by birds (?) once a year on July 7th for them to meet. If it’s a cloudy night, they would not be able to meet. Sounds like the Mid-Autumn Festival story from the Chinese too. Yea, so the tradition is to set up this tree and write your wishes on pieces of paper and hang them on the tree.

So this yukata party was being held in Ise and it was potluck style. This place is where I have my Japanese lessons too. A lot of JETs and ALTs around the area showed up too so it was nice hanging out with them. We got to rent the yukatas and wear them for the night. I decided to not bring mine since they were providing some. They dressed us and it was nice that the guys wore them too! We took so many selfies and photos. We kept ordering our poor friend to take photos of us xD We ate all the food cause that’s what we do best. During this eating time, we were supposed to fill in our human bingo card with names of others. I filled mine up with mostly friends xD They started calling names and it was so funny because at some point, I was singing “say my name say my name”, and they did! And many of my friends won because of that haha. I ended up winning too and I chose the leftovers. It was like a bunch of household supplies so those are always useful. Fun times!

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Tajima Ultimate Tournament + JLPT

(Pics separated)

Fri. June 30

This was a pretty fun weekend!! Had to rush to Nara on Friday after work because the tournament started on Saturday morning. This Ultimate frisbee tournament was apparently the biggest one of the year around this area. Tajima is in Hyogo prefecture, which is like, very far away from home for me. It took me about 3 hours to get to Nara, and we drove for like another 4 hours to Tajima. My car was full of dudes and it was just too much testosterone yo. They were teasing me how some girls don’t poop and it was just the running joke of the weekend. So anyway, we got lost here and there but they were fun times. OMG OH YEA. When we were almost at the hostel, WE ALMOST DROVE INTO SOME DEERS. Holy crap, I’m so glad our driver reacted fast enough. How ironic that he coulda driven over a deer in Hyogo, when he actually lives in Nara, land of the deer. I wasn’t even sure what was happening but he breaked really hard and I just screamed haha. Typical Anita xD So we finally got there in one piece and rested for the next day.

Sat. July 1

It was Canada Day!!! Yay!! Well, technically not yet, but yea. Today was day 1 of the tournament and it would decide our placement for the tournament the next day. I think we had like 5 games in total that day. Each game was only like 20 minutes, which SUCKED since it was so short. My knee and hip were doing better, but still not the best. I managed to touch the disc a few times so I’m happy xD We had many breaks in between our games so I used those times to do some last minute cramming for my JLPT that I had the next day. The JLPT stands for Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I was taking N4, which is the second lowest level (N5 is the lowest). I had already taken an N5 equivalent like almost exactly 10 years ago xD. It was nice that some of the team members helped me study haha. It really did help!

In general, we did pretty well in our games. There were like 10 guys and 8 girls so we did many rotations. We won one game, against a team with kids xD We showed no mercy haha I don’t remember if we won other games… But I remember playing pretty well during the last game =D It wasn’t super hot and we were so so so lucky that the rain held off despite the forecast saying thunderstorms and showers. I feel like that’s all the forecast has been saying but there were barely any showers haha. All good.

So after Day 1 tournament was over, we went back to the hostel to clean up and get ready for the BBQ. It felt so nice to shower and chill in the AC. All the girls were doing their make up and I was just sitting there admiring their commitment to it. If only my face wasn’t so sensitive, maybe I’d put some on too. Sigh. Anyhoo. AU NATUREL YO. It was 6:30pm and so we went downstairs to join the others and all the other teams were also BBQing in the same spot. I chose not to drink that night since I had my test the day after (although I was peer pressured to take half a shot) haha. The food was pretty good! At first it was really slow, especially since we were all hungry, but it got faster. I can’t be patient with these BBQs man. The coal/wood burning way takes way too much time T_T. Had some good chats here and there and I ended up helping with the cooking near the end too. Everyone was just mingling with everyone else, as in other teams too. There was actually a dance party going on inside the building but not many people went in.

I had brought some sparklers to celebrate Canada’s 150th and managed to gather like 2.5 people to go do them with me. I say 2.5 because one of them was so drunk that he only stayed for like one sparkler. We had to walk down the road a bit, away from the hostel because we weren’t supposed to do any fireworks. I’m a rebel yeye. Continue reading

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Isobe no Omita (Rice Planting Festival)

 

Finally an event in my little inaka town!! This event happens once a year, always on June 24th. I never knew this but the rice fields I go past every day are holy!! They’re part of the Ise Grand Shrine (which is like one of the holiest shrines in Japan). So anyway, this year, the day fell on a Saturday so it was so perfect for everyone around to come watch it.

I tried inviting people to come over but I only managed like 2, the awesomer ones! So like omg. This was being held directly in front of my apartment right so for some friggin reason, they decided to start doing gun shots at 5am. And every hour after that until like 8, then they did it every half hour. Then at 10, it was like every 15 min!! IMPOSSIBLE TO SLEEP YO. My friends and I were planning to head there at 10:30 ish 11 because the main event was at 11:30.

When we got there, I was so amazing at the fact that there were PEOPLE here. I’ve never seen more than 3 people at a time in this area!! There were food stands and everything! I was just so excited that this area wasn’t a ghost town haha. We walked around the food stalls to check them out then went to the main area to watch the rice planting festival. It started off with a bunch of naked men (well they had like underwear) walking into the rice fields then pushing each other into the mud. Yea, we had no idea why they were doing that… they were running around in it, wrestling, and just being kids in mud haha. I was thinking they were massaging the rice field before planting but I don’t think that was it. Anyway, after a while, the main event was happening, and that was where there was this tall bamboo flag thing that was put up between the rice fields. There were special people who were making the bamboo flag fall down because it is tradition for the men who were playing around in the mud to get a piece of the flag and bamboo to put on their ship for prosperous fish-catching. The people dropping it were trolling those people so much. Haha it was like the bride throwing the bouquet. So when they finally dropped the bamboo flag, the guys were all trying to get a piece of it. Then they spun in circles with it in the mud haha. After, the ladies came to plant the rice plants one by one, in a line. It looked quite tedious because they were going super slow with the music. It was the same for like the next 10 minutes so we had enough and went to the food stands.

We got some foods and I saw so many of my students! It was nice to see them outside of school haha. There were 3 boys in particular that I kept seeing and they were talking to this guy at the booth. It was so strange and funny haha. Then we went to this shrine, that is actually a part of the Ise Grand Shrine and when we saw it, I was like “WHAT IS THIS?! I had no idea this was here in my 10 months of being here!! I never come up this way haha” but it was literally a few steps away from where I usually turn to catch my train. Anyways, it was a nice little shrine and I got my first omamori charm in my town yay!! Thennnn we ate more food and I wanted to catch some goldfish with those paper net things… just like the animes!! We were trying to ask how much it was because different prices were different thicknesses of paper of the net. The person at the booth probably saw us struggle so much that he just gave us 2 nets to try. So my friend broke her net and I kinda cheated by using the wall of the bin to scoop it up haha. But the guy eventually gave us two fish each and we brought them home.

Oh my fish… so I named the bigger white-orange fish Tako (たこ)and my orange fish Yaki (焼き). Together, they are TakoYaki (たこ焼き), my favourite japanese food here. It is fried octopus ball. So I bought a mini tank for them and some food… I should have bought a bubble maker and stuff too… It was so nice to have little pets as company in my apartment…. But then I was away for a weekend and it was way hot and I guess lack of oxygen didn’t help… so then I come back and they died!!! T_________T THEY LIVED FOR LIKE A WEEK. How sad… I’m the worst. I travel too much for pets. But I really do wanna try again, this time with a real tank… I think I’ll wait until after my Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand trip. I buried them and ate takoyaki in their honour xD

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Camp Inn!!!

 

Yay!!! I was so looking forward to this event because it’s like the biggest AJET event of the year. We had to like fight for spots since there was a limited amount. At first some of my friends weren’t going but I’m glad we got them to change their minds. Camp Inn is basically like camping, but we had cabins. The cabins were much nicer than I expected!

Fri. June 16

After work, everyone pretty much headed straight to Camp Inn. What sucked was that I knew for a fact that I literally JUST got sick from one of my students that day. I felt it in my throat and it sucked so bad… Anyway, so I rode with my friend and we dropped by to get some foods then headed down south of Mie. They say there are only two times we ever go down there: once for Camp Inn and another for Kumano fireworks. It was like a 2 hour ish drive and we went to pick up some people from the station.

We got to the cabins and it was like 9ish 10 at this point. My cabin people were not here yet because we were in separate cars, so I hung out at my friends’ cabin. When they finally got here, we set up our beds and stuff and started the party. Apparently there’s always this one cabin that would be the “party cabin” and I guess it ended up being ours… haha we shoulda known that the moment we adopted those 2 boys in our cabin. But I mean, I guess it was easier for us since we didn’t have to move heh. Oh it was my first time playing Beer Pong! I don’t like beer at all actually… but I sucked at the game haha. I didn’t really go out to walk around much since it was so dark and everyone was already coming to us anyway. We started playing this game called Rage Cage where you gotta bounce the ball into the cup and pass… and it was really confusing at the beginning haha. I’m glad I got to have a glimpse of what the college dorm parties were like. I realized we take a lot of selfies when we drink… I wonder why xD Anyway, I don’t really remember what happened after… but people slowly trickled out and we went to sleep.

Sat. June 16

This was our adventure day! We started off with some pancake breakfast thanks to my friend. Each cabin was pretty much doing their own thing. I wanted to go canoeing too but that’s ok cause I had a way more dangerous experience where we went >_>. We headed towards the ravine because we were told that it was beautiful there. Too bad it was still pretty cold though, like not warm enough to swim comfortably. We got there and it was so beautiful! It felt like a sanctuary or something and the water was so clear. It’s like in the movies, where they lead you to this secret holy place that’s like paradise. I duno if you know what I’m talking about haha. Anyway, slowly, one by one, the guys started to jump in the water, and mind you, it was a pretty steep jump, it was like a few metres. Some of them were more scared of the freezing water than the jump haha.

My friend and I were contemplating what to do because we wanted to swim too but I knew for sure I could not jump off that rock. I mean, I can barely swim even. The water was actually pretty deep in the middle so I was telling my friend we should just swim around so I had rocks to hold onto. She was able to swim so she kept testing the waters for me (haha literally). The water was so cold!! The first quarter of the swim wasn’t too bad, mainly cause I wasn’t tired yet and our bodies got used to the water. There was one time that my head went underwater and she grabbed onto me haha. The guys were all having fun jumping off this really tall rock. I don’t even know how many metres… maybe like 6? I was doing pretty well with my swimming because there were places to somewhat rest at. We got to our halfway point and got up on the rocks. It took so much energy omg. This was what probably tired me out the most. We chilled there for a bit and I wanted to just swim the same way back. But noooooooooo my other friend who was on that tall rock was like “but don’t you wanna see the other view? You already swam that way’ so then I gave in and was like sure why the heck not. So stupid. >_> Ok so we started swimming back but we didn’t realize how smooth the rocks were and how few of them there were. I kept trusting my friend to guide me and it came to a point where I was so tired and cold that I could barely hold on. I would hold onto my friend’s foot at times but it didn’t really help. I really don’t know what I was thinking because it’s not like this was a swimming pool and there was a lifeguard or whatever. Anyway, so it was like rock climbing at this point and the tips of my fingers were what was holding me up. But nope, I died. Continue reading

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