Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tokyo - Post #2

Day 4 and 5 of Tokyo we spent at Disney. Tokyo has 2 parks, and one is called Disney Sea and one is Disney Land.

Day 4:

Our first day at Disney we went over to Disney Sea. That day was fun/miserable. It rained for the first half of the day and was seriously miserably cold. Apparently it snowed in other parts of Tokyo. I pretty much had to buy out the park of Disney gear just to keep warm. My first purchase was the Minnie mouse ear and neck warmers. Below is a picture of Ally and me with our new items.

I then had to buy some thicker socks and a sweatshirt. Plus that morning I bought a poncho and about 8 hand warmers to put all over my body. We got to ride 4 rides that day: Indiana Jones, Sinbad, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and one I can’t remember. Journey to the Center of the Earth was funny because a) no Japanese people would sit in our car (weirdos) b) we faked screamed the entire ride c) we didn’t know there was a huge drop and then we screamed for real). We also went to like 8 shows. All were hilarious because they were in Japanese and it was just funny for some reason.

Disney Sea had the best restaurant EVER! We ate at this Mexican food place called Miguel’s and they had the best soft tacos! Below is a picture of my meal after I ate it…. There are 3 forks there because they thought my meal was for 3. I seriously did not get that much either - 2 soft tacos and tortillas.

Day 5:

Disney Land: The weather was much nicer this day but the night was freezing. I managed to get a little sun burnt on my face during the parade. We only got to ride one ride this day because it was seriously jam-packed with people. We spent much more time walking around, seeing the sites, eating the food, and shopping. We went to a few shows and ran into two of our Japanese co-workers at one of them.

So this next part really includes both parks. Japanese people LOVE Disney! It is crazy!! You can’t go one foot without seeing 800 people in Disney gear. I have a picture below of a middle-aged man in a huge Disney Hat. I mean everyone is decked out! It is just crazy. I bought this huge puffy bow to wear because everyone had one and they were hilarious. Ally bought a clip in crown (picture below). Also, popcorn is like a big deal there. I mean there were lines of like 75 people to get popcorn and it was like that the entire day. Grossest popcorn flavor of the day: Soy Sauce and Butter or maybe Curry.

Middle aged man in a crazy disney hat.


Ok so Disney Sea sells this teddy bear called Duffy. We haven’t figured out what it is since they don’t have it in America but it is a HUGE deal. You can’t walk past five people without seeing a few Duffies in there. It is really weird. Babies with Duffy? Check. Old men with Duffy? Check. Teenage boys and girls with Duffy? Check check. Business men with Duffy? Check. Couples with matching Duffies? Check. You get the idea. I just don’t get it. You seriously see them so much that you start wanting one bad! So…. Then Ally bought one J. Below you can see a few pictures of Duffy around the park and hanging out with us. There were no Duffies for sell at Disney land but that didn’t stop people from bringing their Duffy with them. People would pose their Duffy as if it was a child with different things around the park… so we did it too hahaha.

Duffy flying in front of the castle.

Duffy eating popcorn.

Only three Duffy items per person please.

Couple with Duffy.

Tokyo - Post # 1

So, I just got back from Tokyo for spring break! I'm going to try to keep this to two separate posts because there is so much to tell. The next one will be all about Disney. First of all, I went on this trip with two friends: Ally and Logan. We left on the 26th and were able to spend 2 1/2 days sightseeing around Tokyo and 2 days at Disney.

Day 1:
Our Shinkensen (bullet train) left at 11:30 am from Sendai and arrived at 1:00 pm in Tokyo. The first thing we had to do was figure out how to switch to the regular subway which was super confusing!! We finally figured it out then we just had to go one stop to get to our station. When we got off at our station we had to find our way to the hotel. Below are the google directions to our hostel. Needless to say we cracked up at those and they were no help. Luckily our confirmation email had better directions. After we checked in we went down to Shibuya. This is the district that has the HUGE crossing in Tokyo. Below is a picture that does not do it justice! We wandered around, ate at Sbarro's (we managed to eat zero Japanese food this whole trip hahaha), got starbucks, shopped, etc. It was a successful day!

Day 2:
The 27th we slept in and got a late start to the day. Once we got going we went down to the Sensoji Temple (Picture below with Logan). This reminded me a lot of China with all the street markets and food vendors. We walked around there for a long time and then we went into a Pachinko place (japanese gambling) and wasted a few dollars just so we could do it once.
After that we went over to Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Tower is pretty much the exact shape of the Eiffel tower but taller and uglier. We didn't go to the top because the line was so long but there were tons of shops inside that we walked around and browsed. We also got a snack at McDonalds.
After Tokyo Tower we went to a district called Roppongi. This is basically a big tourist area with lots of American restaurants. Logan really wanted to eat at Hard Rock Cafe. So we walked for an hour trying to find it (I was frustrated because I was freezing and tired) and we never found it. We ended up eating at this Italian place and when we walked out we were facing Hard Rock Cafe. How we missed that we don't know. So we stopped in and it was like the craziest Hard Rock ever! Music was blaring and Japanese people were dancing... these are not normal sites here.

Below is a picture in front of a Tex Mex restaurant (the sign also says Gringos). Logan is from Seattle but she is obsessed with Texas! Weird, since Ally and I aren't. We made it a point to take pictures in front of places like this a lot and we ate 3 meals at Tex Mex restaurants haha. They don't really have that in Sendai.

Day 3:
We slept in again and this day ended up being somewhat of a bust! We started out going down to Harajuku St which was CRAZY!!! It was so crowded! The fashion in Harajuku (which is literally one street) is kind of hard to explain. Lots of teased hair, party dresses with big tulle, fish net stockings, but then there is also the girls that dress like Little Bo Peep, the goths, etc. It is seriously odd. No pictures to show (people kept catching me trying to take their pictures). We then tried to go to a Kabuki theater and it was closed. So then we tried to go to the Imperial Palace and we couldn't find that. So after we had walked around FOREVER and were freezing we ended up just going in early so we could rest before Disney the next day.

Last two random pictures. Below is a picture of Ally and her travel books. Ally really did a great job of finding places to go and knowing what we were doing. However, we gave her a really hard time for being super Tourist with all her books. There were a lot more pictures like this, but this one shows how annoyed she was with us and wouldn't even look at the camera.

The other picture is a picture of Logan with the "Texas" burger. All things Texas for Logan!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Since the Earthquake

This week and weekend have been pretty fun since the earthquake. Instead of observing and teaching in classes, this past week I was pulling kids out and working on the graduation songs with them. We have kindergarten graduation coming up on Monday and it is a pretty big deal. Japanese people are all perfectionists so everything has to be absolutely perfect including the children's singing. They've had graduation practice each day and it is so cute. The kids march in and are so serious with their hands perfectly by their sides. They march up on stage absolutely quiet and begin singing. I've never seen kids who take a performance so seriously. Parents really push their kids not to make any mistakes here so it kind of scares the kids into being good.

This weekend I was determined to buy a small couch or chair for my apartment. Nothing in my apartment is soft to sit on and I feel like my butt has been hurting for 7 weeks. I really need a couch or something. We went to four different stores and of course I found nothing I liked for the right price. However, Ally bought a couch and Kelsey bought a chair. That usually happens when I shop for a specific item. Everyone else finds something they like and they weren't even looking haha! Here is a picture of Ally carrying her couch up to the register! It was only $52 at a second hand store!

On Saturday night we had bought tickets to go to the 89ers game. That is the basketball team in Sendai. We took the bus down to Izumi Chuo so that we could hop on the subway, and when we got there it smelled like smoke and it was all blocked off. We waited for about ten minutes of, "What do we do!!!" and then it opened up. Apparantly, there had been a fire in the subway.

Once we got to the game it was so fun! Half the team looked like they were from America and they were seriously giants... then there was the 5 foot 2 Asian on the team. Pretty funny. They were so awkward and lanky that I don't think they knew what to do with their arms and legs. The game was pretty good though. The funny part was that all the songs and everything was in English. They said, " Let's go 89ers, Let's go". They did the defense chant. The dancers/cheerleaders danced to Men in Black, Jump on it, Calle Ocho, Joy to the World (Three Dog Night version), Pretty Women, etc... It was pretty entertaining to say the least.

Also, when we walked in they gave us a free pair of chopsticks as a gift. I thought that was pretty funny too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Well I've officially lived through two earthquakes!! I've actually lived through 4 but I didn't feel the first two. On Saturday night I was hanging out in my apartment with Ally and Kelsey. We had decided to cook dinner and watch a movie since we were trying to be cheap. Anyways, I don't even know what time it was but all of a sudden we were all sitting on the floor and I was like, "is it just me or is my entire apartment shaking?" Then we all screamed "Earthquake!!!" Of course Ally and I jumped in the doorway laughing and Kelsey just sat on the floor laughing at us. Apparently the number one thing not to do is stand in a doorway... whoops. It probably lasted about 15 seconds which felt really long. Then my light fixture was shaking for another minute or so which means a small one might have been going on at that time.

Sunday... It was like 5:30 pm and I was talking to Cara on skype with my friend Jessica at my place. All of a sudden we were like, "ahhhhh it's another earthquake!!!" This time it was worse and longer and it was funny because Cara could see my apartment shaking while it happened. Jessica was crouched by my bed (which is the correct position to assume) and trying to hold my hand and I was like, "What do I do I'm on skype!!!" So I just sat at my desk... I'm obviously not the best in natural disasters. I hear there are more earthquakes in the Spring so we will see what that's like when it happens. Kind of exciting and a little bit scary.

In other news, has anyone been watching American Idol? I've been watching it with my friend Katie. I think my favorite so far is Casey James. Anyone else have a favorite?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

10 Things I haven't told you yet...

Top 10 things I haven't told you yet....

1. Hick Accent. Yesterday I subbed in a K5 class because the teacher had to do some training. One of the chants we had to do said something like, "I heard the song." A little girl was practicing and said, "I hear the song." So I corrected her... and to my surprise she mimicked me in the most Texan accent ever. All I could think was... "Do I SERIOUSLY sound like that!" It is now proven that all my students next year will speak with a Texan accent.

2. Singleness. (I stole this one from my friend Kelsey) I celebrated my 24th year of single Valentine's Day haha. It was pretty fun. A bunch of us ate at a burger place and then we went downtown and shopped. In Japan they don't have Valentine's day but a few days before the 14th they have a day that all the girl's buy the guy's a gift and then on March 14th they have White Day where the guys buy the girls a gift.

3. 25 at 25. This year I'm doing a list of 25 goals for my 25th year. I only have like 5 thought of so far so if you can help give me some ideas that would be great. These can be big goals or small goals. In example, go skiing in Japan, go to a country I haven't been to, etc.

4. Change of Plans. We have a spring break coming up from the 25th through the 31st. Our original plan was to go to Thailand and it has seriously changed about 8 times. So annoying! The ticket prices went up so then we changed it to Bali. Then we heard that wasn't safe so we switched it to Guam. Then we couldn't figure out anything about Guam and so we changed it to Taiwan. Then that was too expensive so we changed it to Singapore. Then we couldn't figure that out so we changed it to Hong Kong. Then we changed it to Okinawa and that was too expensive so it was back to Hong Kong. Right now I have no idea what we are doing.

5. Snow. I never ever thought I would say this but I'm SOO sick of the snow! It has snowed so much since we've been here and I'm cold ALL the time. They say this is a mild winter so I don't know what next year has in store for me. My dream of living in Colorado has been thrown away. I want four seasons but not the longest winter in history.

6. Snow Day. It has been snowing since 4 pm yesterday... that is 16 hours straight. School got cancelled today!!! However, we have to go in and have a work day. Still excited.

7. Numbness. For the past 2 weeks the left side of my left thigh has been numb. My dad said that it is caused by gaining weight and I would just like to make a public announcement that I have not gained weight thank you very much.

8. Pizza. Last week we had a half day so some of the teachers decided to order pizza for lunch. When they were splitting the cost I heard them say that it was $64 total. I was like, "say what!!!???" They ordered 2 larges which is equivalent to 2 small/mediums in the states. And each large is $32!!!! That is so crazy!

9. No Dairy. I've decided to give up eating dairy. And it is seriously hard. I didn't realize how much I ate dairy until 2 weeks ago when I gave it up. (I cheated once but I didn't eat that pizza). Considering I'm lactose intolerant I thought now was as good as time as any to get it out of my system.

10. School lunches. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the kindergarten teacher's get a lunch from the school for free. They are seriously so disgusting but not everybody feels this way!! First of all you pretty much NEVER know what you are about to eat. Second, it is always cold but it is food that should be warm. Third, they make these cute little pink hello kitty things that is actually pressed fish. Nasty!

That's all for now!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Weekend

It all started with a make over: Sooooo, Friday Night I was hanging out with Ally and Kelsey at my apartment and it was getting later and later and Ally kept getting up to leave and of course we kept convincing her to stay. She has to work on Saturday mornings so this will probably happen a lot. Ally kept saying that she had to shower so of course I convinced her to shower then come back over so I could do a make over on her. We then of course took some progression pictures (enjoy below). Then Kelsey and I went over to Ally's that morning and did her make up and picked out her clothes. Make overs are awesome!

So on Saturday we went over to Maruyama to learn from one of the Japanese Teachers how to make Miso Soup. Once we got there we walked over to the store and bought the supplies then made it at the Maruyama Kitchen. After that we went over to one of the old teachers house who was giving away some of their stuff. Don't worry I got a Christmas Tree!!! I also got a lot of other great stuff but that was definitely the greatest! The night was pretty relaxed after that. A few of us girls went over to Tapio, a mall near us, and just shopped around and ate crepes. After that I came home at about 10 and watched a movie and went to bed.

Sunday we went to Kame House again and we met up with some of the Maruyama girls and Shoko!!! Shoko is a hilarious girl that works in the office at the Maruyama campus. After that we shopped a little and went downtown....I bought a lot of really fun things! I bought three cardigans, a shirt, a skirt, a graduation gift for Cara, and some other random stuff. Jessica bought a K-Pop (Korean Pop) cd, and she described the lead singer as "Delicious" lol, he was wearing blue lipstick in the pictures (just like Joey from Friends in the Japanese commercial...hahahahaha). After that we went home because it was about 9 and we have to work in the morning. It was a very eventful weekend for us!

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

Final Phase!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Cabin

So, this past weekend all the new teachers and a few old teachers headed down to the cabin for a weekend of relaxation. The school owns a cabin on the Pacific Coast that they always take the new teachers to and then we can go down there throughout the year whenever we want. It was so much fun! We left on Saturday and ended up just playing games and eating a lot that day. Around 4 we headed down to the coast to check out the view. Here are a few pictures:

Jessica and Ally being weird.

Our view of the coast from our cabin.

Some of us girls hiking down to get a closer look.

On Saturday night I ended up getting sick and throwing up for 2 hours!!! I haven't thrown up in 8 years and then to have 2 girls watching you that you only just met.... can we say embarrassing!! I also woke up the entire room of girls that I was in since I tripped over people's bags on the way out the door. Pretty graceful. Sunday I woke up and felt a tiny bit sick but pretty much fine.

Around noon on Sunday there were announcements going on that there was going to be a tsunami of about 3 meters. Since that isn't too big we decided we would hike down to a cliff to get a better look. It was supposed to come at 1:30 and there were supposed to be 3 right in a row. The whole time we were outside there were helicopters flying overhead and announcements being made to evacuate the area and not to come back until announcements were made declaring that it was safe. Around 2:15 Kelsey, Ally, and I were bored and decided to head back. We got back and the radio said that the "tsunami" was 10 cm. We all were laughing pretty hard at that. In the meantime we started playing games and thought all the other girls had come back and were taking naps. 4 hours later... the girls came back hahaha. They had been watching the entire time with their cameras ready. Just imagine the tiniest wave possible and that was our tsunami. Pretty exciting!

Tomorrow the K4 kids find out who their K5 teacher will be so that will be exciting for the kids to finally know who their new teacher is. I will finally get a chance to get to know them better. Today I got to observe one of the K4 classes and they are so cute. However, one of the kids told me to push him really hard on the swing and so naturally I did and he decided to let go and fell smack on his head from the highest part of the swing motion. I about had a heart attack. It's not a good idea to cause brain damage in the kids so early on. Anyways one of the boys that will be in my class is a real drama queen and toot but he can be really cute too. He just likes to pout. Around lunch time he decided that maybe he did like me so he started playing with me and then he said, "Ms. Melanie, you cute." So I pretty much won him over now!