Friday, May 25, 2012

Ships and Hanabi

One of the great festivals I've had the good fortune to experience was a Ships Festival. Large old fashioned sailing ships came into the Dejima pier and all around the area was food and music. The ships themselves were incredible, I didn't realize how HUGE they could be.

During the afternoon we walked around and looked at all the ships, and watched dance performances. The festivals bring in a lot of people from all over so it was really crowded. In the late afternoon we met up with some friends and decided to go have kaiten sushi. This type of sushi consists of a bunch of little plates on a conveyor belt and you grab whatever you want and are charged by how many plates you have. It can actually be a really cheap way to eat sushi and you have a lot of options. 

Corn sushi...??

 After dinner we headed back to the pier and the ships were even more amazing than before. They had all been strung with lights and as the sun went down the whole place glowed, It was really beautiful.

 But the best was yet to come. We settled ourselves in a big park overlooking the water and when it was dark enough watched an absolutely incredible fireworks display over the glittering ships.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just a Day

Friends in my kimono class. That's me on the top left.
I have to admit I'm a lot better adjusted now that I've been in Japan for a while. Now that I'm passed the jet-lag, the settling in and the majority of my culture shock, I am really enjoying myself. I still have issues with communication and understanding such a different culture but I've learned that I have to treat each encounter individually and not let my bad experiences overshadow the good ones.

My church home while I'm in Japan. 
So far the key to my happiness is to just try and be friendly with everyone. To build connections, friendships and to network. I did a little of this before I came here and that led to my wonderful singing experience, but finding a church family, being friends with the other foreigners and my Japanese conversation partner are helping too. I can't believe how expanded my worldview already is from the small time I've been away from home.

Sunset at Dejima Pier
The other thing that is helping is that I am connecting with the things I am most interested in. I love crafts and creative things and I am constantly seeing beautiful things that inspire me. I try to take lots of pictures (even though I'm often thought of as a crazy tourist) because I don't want to forget a lot of the things I'm seeing. I also try to stop and just enjoy the view, it's so easy to get caught up in the day to day existence of school and home necessities. But I constantly tell myself to look out the window, clear my mind and enjoy the sights that I have never seen before and might not get a chance to see again.

One of the cute clothing stores at Coco Walk mall
Japanese Aflac duck
Japanese road construction barriers
The most adorable hair accessories
My host mother wrote my name on an omuraisu (omelette with rice inside)

Monday, May 14, 2012


Last Sunday was beyond amazing. The day started off simply, relaxing at home. Then we met a friend and did a little sightseeing.

But it was the evening that was nothing like I expected before I came here. In a wonderful little pub overlooking the beautiful Nagasaki Dejima Pier I sang with my friends.

It's not unusual to sing in a pub or with friends, but how often does a person get to sing with an incredibly talented Irish band in Japan? Yes, that's right, I sang for the first time in front of an audience with the O'ttories. Needless to say, I was terrified but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sightseeing Unzen pt. 3

The second morning in Unzen was misty and surreal. I spent the early morning looking out the window, listening to the birds sing, drinking hot green tea and knitting. Needless to say, it was a wonderful way to greet the day.

After breakfast (which was a lot of fish and other things I couldn't identify) we were given a small amount of free time. 

We went exploring and saw a fantastic Japanese shrine with incredible gates and statues. After that was the source of the onsen hot water, the hot springs themselves. The very ground around us was boiling and smelled like sulfur. Towards the end of our walk we found a stand selling eggs that were hard boiled by the steam, I had two and they were the best hard boiled eggs I've ever had.

This sign says: "Do not enter Hell, it's dangerous"
Egg Steamers

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Food and Fun Unzen pt. 2

Besides the onsen and the hotel there were a lot of other things to see and do on our field trip. The first day, before we ever made it to Unzen, we stopped at a place that sells the best fried potatoes on a stick. It is called Jyaga-chan (Jyaga is the Japanese word for potatoe and -chan is a suffix that you put on the end of someones name, usually someone cute or young) There was even a theme song at the booth that was singing about the potatoes. Certainly a unique experience.

After we arrived at the hotel and put all our things away in our rooms, we piled back onto the bus and headed up towards the top of the mountain. Unfortunately that weekend a storm was brewing and the wind was too strong to go hiking or ride the rope-way. So we stood for a very funny, windy group photo and then wandered around for a few minutes before we returned to the hotel again.

Before dinner we went for a walk in the rain to a fantastic retro toy store down the road. It was full of vintage style toys and candy reminiscent of the 1950's and up until now. My favorite purchase so far has been the Kiki's Delivery Service playing cards which have a different movie scene on each card.