Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Our very own beach

I finally made it to Kikugahama Beach in Hagi. Turns out, its less than ten minutes from my house! But when the weather was nice, I knew I needed to go! It was very quiet, but the water was nice, and there is quite a long stretch of beach! It might have been nicer if it was slightly warmer, and apparently during August there was some stalls and such. Sounds like a great place to be when it is sunny and we are so lucky to have it so close to home!

Yellow Shiney Plane

On Sunday we went and volunteered at a special needs care centre in Hofu. We had such a nice time and we even learnt a very snazzy kids TV show dance! I'm pretty sure I will never forget it after hours of it on repeat! For some reason, outside they have a Defence League plane. It's an actual plane, but I'm not quite sure why it is there. It looks nice however, and there are stairs so you can go up and see it too!

Karaoke in Hofu!

On Saturday night we went to stay in Hofu, which is in the south of the prefecture. If you look it up on a map or on Wikipedia, it doesn't say anything at all about this city. But it actually is a proper city with several shopping malls and an actual entertainment district! We had a super fun time, and after shopping and Purikura, we went to Karaoke. It's not that I dont like belting out songs, but Im a terrible singer! I really enjoyed myself however, I was really surprised! I had such a good time wailing along to Aerosmith and Avril Lavigne and even learning a little bit of a Japanese song!

A little shrimpey!

No shrimp competition would be complete without a photo of the aforementioned little dears. I do feel like it was the Shrimp apocolypse for them! Poor blighters! It was good fun frolicking in the sea, and we took a nice walk along the beach! Everyone said the shrimp was really yummy and I think some ALT shrimp catching records were broken!

Shrimp Catching!

Saturday was Shrimp day! We arrived at Shin-Yamaguchi station and got a lift from some of the event organizers! It was so nice to see people from all over the prefecture! I miss seeing everyone so often! It is such a shame they live so far away! The competition basically was that they had dumped 5000 or 50,000 shrimp into this netted area, and you had to catch as many as you could. It involved lots of digging around in the sand on your hands and knees, but thankfully I was the unofficial photographer and just took photos of everyone getting really wet and messy!

A Hagi-Aio Road Trip

The next day, we all loaded ourselves into Brad's brand new, super cool mini van/ car thing. It is pretty awesome, has a massive boot and space for 5 people! We drove from about 2 hours, to Shin-Yamaguchi, where we were being collected. I havent had my camera on any of my trips on the bus, so it was great to actually get a snapshot of the beautiful countryside! We had a great time singing along to the ipod the whole way there! I see a lot of road trips in my future!

Press the button! More dinner!

I love random Hagi get togethers. There are so many of us, but often enough we also have Calvin and Brad down. We were all leaving the next day for shrimp catching so the boys were staying at mine. I'm a terrible cook so it was out for us. We called everyone up, just to end up around the corner in this very cool restaurant. In Japan, when you want the waiter or waitress attention, you press a little buzzer. Calvin LOVES this button! The lady comes over and he just speaks English to her! LOL! But a good time was had by all, and we even met an American who works at the Peppy Kids after school club in town!

Rain, rain go away!

The other day, I called up James and Calvin, who were at the beach, and set off on my bike. Sadly, when I stopped to call them, and find out where the beach actually was, it started to downpour! We had about 4 days of straight rain in Hagi, it was horrific! I found a little bench and sat for ages untill the boys came and collected me in their car. Turns out I was actually very close to the beach, but o well! The downpour had started! I had my camera with me and was bored, so a photo of my (new to me!) bike. Which I love because Hagi is flat and I can go everywhere on it!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Beach on a very rainy day!

The very last thing to see in Fukuoka was the beach. It is right near the Fukuoka tower, and we were lucky enough to stumble across some sort of high school age battle of the bands competition. The boys had a beer, I wanted to have some ice cream, and we sat and listened to a few Green Day covers! It was quite nice, despite the weather! Since we were all carrying darling clear umbrellas from the Combini, I knew we needed a rainy day photo on the beach!

A Very strange red thing...

Near the mirrored block, was some sort of office building, which was actually taller than the Tower! In front of it, there was a lovely, strange red sculpture. It sort of reminded me of the Hirshhorn gardens I had visited in DC. I'm not sure if it was a larger version of the one there, but it was cool. I felt super tiny next to it, and I wish I had enough Japanese to ask what it was! There are lots of quite strange looking sculptures in Japan so far, quite often the buildings are amazing works of art. In America, this would be some sort of art exhibition but it just seems more commonplace here!

Fun in the Mirror

Near the base of the tower, there is a mirrored square, which we had so much fun taking photos of each other in. It was quite cool to see the distortion, and it was good so we could get a photo of all of us together!

Fukuoka Tower

Darlo (who is another Yamaguchi JET) had been to Fukuoka the weekend before we went down, so after seeing his photos, I knew it was a major landmark we needed to go see! Fukuoka has a lot of shopping but not tons of cultural/touristy sights! It was a bus ride away, and actually pretty close to where we had been the night before. It wasn't super tall, but like all famous landmarks, it's one of those things that you just have to go see! We took some photos from the bottom, but becuase it was cloudy, we didn't bother going to the top.

Hard Rock!!

Some of the Hagi JETs have never been to Hard Rock! I couldn't imagine it, mainly because it is a favourite in my family! The food and drink was really expensive, but the atmosphere was great. They played the YMCA and there was lots of dancing! We even did a spot of people watching!

Outside the Hard Rock

I love Hard Rock. Not particullarily the food, or the drinks or anything, but the whole kind of atmosphere. I'm not even the biggest fan of rock music! Haha! But everywhere I go in the world, I just have to go, and I love it! I started my charm bracelet from there - it's a little guitar pick which says Fukuoka. I wish I had started collecting them sooner! I could have had so many more! Especially since I was just in the Palma, Manchester, and London ones! There are quite a few in Japan so I should be able to collect a lot of them!

Yahoo! SeaHawks Dome

Charlene and I stayed on and shopped while the boys went home, and we agreed to meet the boys at Hard Rock Cafe. They were super late, so I wandered into a few shops at Hawks Town which is right next door. It is also home to the Yahoo! SeaHawks Dome. They are the local baseball team, and a seriously big deal, because their sponsor is SoftBank (the big mobile phone provider!) I wish we could have gotten to see a game! We saw lots of people in their shirts instead though!

Pokemon CENTAAAAA!!!

The next day, we did quite a lot of shopping. They have a Kinya Kunya, a Tokyo Hands, and so many cute adorable stores. I didnt buy as many clothes as I had intended, but I bought lots of other cute and useful things for my house! On one of the middle floors of this Hakata Station shopping complex was the Pokemon Center. Pokemon is from Japan, and although I've outgrown it, it doesn't make Pikachu any less cute! My kids at school just seem to love this photo, apparently it is quite a normal tourist thing to be this obsessed with Pokemon still, no matter how old I am! I hear there is also a massive Pokemon Centre in Tokyo, so I definitely need to go to that!

Playing in the Park after dark

One of the guys who had lived in Fukuoka a while, took us to an arcade, where we got to do some Purikura! It is my new favourite obsession - it is like a photobooth that makes you super cute and then you can decorate the photos. Right next to it, we went to play on the playground (or rather, Matt and I did) and we had good fun posing at the top of the slide!

The fountains of Happiness

While we were sitting and I was eating my ice cream, we suddenly heard the "A whole new world" music (from Aladdin). It was so random, but what it was, was a fountain show which goes off in the evening. It was pretty magical, and possibly one of the more random things I have seen in Japan! We all sat and watched it for ages, it went on for probably half an hour! The fountains went super high and were such a nice closing to the shopping mall! It really symbolises all of modern Japan...happy, shiney and cute music! Everything here is super cute and happy!

Raumen Stadium!

We had been told by Wayne that Raumen Stadium was definitely the place for Hakata Raumen, which is apparently a very famous type of Raumen in Japan! We got to the stadium, and there were 8 different stalls, and we chose one which sounded yummy! It was unbelievably good! I wish I could make it at home for next time! I probably should learn to cook, as Japan has some pretty amazing stuff....but they do have a lot of prepackaged food. I think we would go back to Fukuoka just for the food! We stayed a long time, because we had met a Mexican and a Swedish guy from the youth hostel too. It was such fun! I finished mine off with a Love Potion #31 ice cream from Baskin Robins!

Cuteness Overload!

Canal City is this big massive shopping mall (which actually is quite confusing) with tons of super shops, a Baskin Robins, and all sorts. They also have a Domo shop, which is where I took this adorable photos! There are lots of cute things in Japan, I really love how cute and pink everything is!

Other Gaijin in Japan are never strangers!

The people we met at the youth hostel were really nice. So far every foreigner I have met in Japan is very nice. I think it's more about being so different in Japan. A lot of the people at the youth hostel had been living in Japan for a while, so it was great to get their take on Japan too! I had such a good night, walking around and having tea with them!

A little bit of traditional

Along the canal, there were these little food stalls set up with ramen, chicken, and all sorts. This kind of thing is found everywhere in Japan, especially at festival time. These ones were more like little cafes, you could sit down and eat at them too. I really thought they were lovely, and they were all lit up by the lanterns.

Fukuoka Lights

We arrived in Fukuoka, finally found our Hawaiian themed hostel, and ran into some other English people, and a JET from Fukushima (where the earthquake was), and so we went out with them, in search of some food! Along the main canal in the city, there are these big light billboards, and buildings all lit up! It was great and so shiny and different from Hagi!

Shinkansen times!

After leaving Kencho, Brad, Matt, James and Charlene and I went to Shin Yamaguchi to take (yet another!) Shinkansen to Hakata, which is the main station in Fukuoka. We had good fun after our long bus rides, and it was great to be back on such a cool trip with the Hagi JETs! They are super fun people, and really up for anything!

More and more Choruru

On Friday we all had to go back to Kencho for another part of Orientation. It was a bunch of Japanese lectures all day, but it was nice to see everyone. Some people live really far away, so it was nice to see everyone after so long! Or at least it seems a long time already! After, we got a bunch of photos with Choruru. I'm not sure that the character will still be around after the Sports Festival in October, so we had to have our photo while we could!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Eating Krispy Kreme in Osaka

On the Saturday, my last full day in the Kansai region, Blair and I went to Osaka for the day. We managed to get me a cell phone, which is probably the best part! There is an American guy working at Softbank in ShinShibachi and it was the easiest thing ever! To celebrate the success we had, we went to get Krispy Kreme. Here they have all sorts of different flavours, I think Blair had Melon and Tangerine Jelly or something. Whatever it was, it was decorated nicely! We did tons of shopping, all day, and then met up with Anna in the evening to go to a Mexican restaurant! It was such a nice way to end a lovely long weekend with such lovely people!

Festival Colours

Shaved ice is really popular here. I havent had any here yet, but they have tons and tons of syrup flavours to try on it, so I am bound to like one of them! I saw that they were really popular with the kids, and I can see why, with a flavour contraption like this! It looks so fun and very similar to something Willy Wonka would have!

My best photo

I was always taught to think about your shot, be patient with setting it up, and take your time, but I took this one without thinking, while I was walking, and at the spur of the moment. I love light blur, all the people moving about in front of it. It just really captures the whole essence of the festival, lights and movement! I love it!

Nara Festival of Lights

The candles were absolutely everywhere in the Park, it was really great - some were in Kanji characters and lots were in hearts. I really liked the hearts! Near the end of the festival we discovered this amazing field FILLED with candles, and it was unbelieveable to just walk among all the lights. I think it is quite a wonderous sight, all those candles!

The Pagota at Night

So we met all the other Nara JETs and as it started getting dark, headed to the Candlelight festival which is held for Oban. They have a Kencho too here, and you can climb to the top of it and see the city all lit up. It took me about 60 attempts, but I finally got an OK one of the Pagota. I had heard it was only lit up some days a year, and I was glad I was there for one of them!

Nara Park

Nara Park is lovely, it is a very touristy place, but full of lots of history and absolutely huge! We really only saw about a fifth of it, there are plenty of temples and shrines at the far end of the park which are unbelievable, but not worth the millions of steps in 99 degree heat! I guess I will have to come back and do those later on in the year when the whole of Japan has cooled down!

Blair and I make a friend!

I knew Nara had deer, and I knew they were very tame, but I didn't realise how tame! We discovered one as we neared the park, and he was so lovely and let Blair and I pet him, while Anna took our photos! He was so still while everyone was around him! The deer are certainly the attraction of Nara, they have deer
on everything there - napkins, fans, cellphones - it is super great and cute! I liked how everyone took their photos - people come to Nara for the deer as much as anything else! I was so glad we got some great photos, all I wanted for the entire trip was to see a deer! They are almost as cute as the reindeer I saw this time last year, in Sweden! Different part of the world, but still super cute!