Friday, April 22, 2005

I go home tomorrow!!

I'm so excited! I can't believe it's finally here! It's so surreal...

So, since I had no work today, I asked Katsuya out for our 2nd date. Before he agreed to go out with me, he wrote, "could you tell me why you want to go out with me?" What a strange question! So I replied "ummm, because I think you're cute." He replied, "haha. you're kidding. that's okay. I'll pick you up in half an hour."

I think some Japanese boys can just honestly NOT understand how an American girl could be attracted to them. It's sad! I blame the media. How many American movies or TV shows can you name where an Asian girl is sexualized? A LOT. And how many can you name where an Asian BOY is sexualized? NONE.

So we went to Fukuoka for a few hours for the date. And in the car ride home I spent a long time trying to convince him that it REALLY would be ok if he kissed me. Haha. Strangest date conversation ever!

Anyways, stay tuned for reports of my exciting adventures in NY and Las Vegas. I'll be back in Japan on May 11th.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

the cutest drink ever!

Originally uploaded by clay1.

mmm, sweat from a vending machine

Originally uploaded by clay1.

Here's a section on Japanese snack foods that I think have funny English names

Originally uploaded by clay1.



recreation of Edo street at Tokyo's Shitamachi museum

Originally uploaded by clay1.

I also went to the Tokyo National Museum which had a nice special exhibit of western art on loan from Berlin.

I hung out in Ueno park for awhile - the blossoms are past their peak, but it's still a pretty park and a good escape from the crowds and concrete of Tokyo. I'm not used to city life anymore and was surprised by how overwhelmed and exhausted I felt in Tokyo!

And of course I spent an obscene amount of money shopping in Shibuya for crazy cool Japanese fashions. If I lived in Tokyo I would be poor. But very well dressed.

roommate reunion in Tokyo!

Originally uploaded by clay1.

I flew to Tokyo for the weekend - a fun mini vacation.
I hung out with Lisa all day on Saturday. yay! It was nice cause we hadn't seen each other since we moved out of our apt in Evanston last June.
Here's a pic of us at the new aquarium. Pretty fishies!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I hate my school!!

They never tell me anything!! Because I don't count as a real teacher. Or a real person it seems.
Most of them completely ignore me. And I think half of them don't even know my name.
They all go off to important meetings and ceremonies, leaving me (and Sarah) in the teachers' room to amuse ourselves.
And they never tell us about schedule changes until the last minute.
The latest is when they informed us that we're supposed to work on Sunday April 17th and have Friday the 22nd off. Well..... first of all, I'll be in Tokyo for a visit the weekend of the 17th and I can't change that, since I already bought a plane ticket. So too bad!!!!!
And second of all, I'm leaving for NY on Saturday the 23rd. And if I had known about this new schedule before, I'd be leaving on the 22nd. But I wrote the travel agent and it's too late to change.
So I guess I have an extra vacation day, but it's just a day of sitting around friggin' Takeo thinking "I should be on a plane to NY right now". I'd almost rather work, cause then it wouldn't feel like such a waste! If I were coming Friday I'd get to see my sister for an extra few hours (she's only home from boarding school that Saturday).
Grrrrr.. I have to get out of this town and away from all these assholes who treat me like I'm sub-human. In fact, I just have to get out of JAPAN!!
(Just 9 more days... I'm almost there.....I can make it....)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I had an unexpected date last night. ooooo. With Katsuya - the boy formally known as "hot guy who works with special needs kids at my school and gave me the nice White Day present". Except that he doesn't work at my school anymore. And I don't think I can technically call him a "boy" since he's like 30. But, whatever.
Right so, after White Day I gave him a note thanking him for the present and saying do you wanna go out sometime etc etc.
We exchanged cell phone e-mails for a few weeks, but he never asked me out, so I assumed he wasn't interested. But we went out last night, so maybe he is. (I dunno, I can't figure these boys out.)
He took me to Saga City for dinner. It was fun! We mostly talked in Japanese. Even though he lived in Australia for a year, he claims he can't speak English. suuuuuure.
On our date he asked me if I would ever marry a Japanese man. WOAH! Let's just slow it down boy! haha. Honestly, how am I supposed to answer that on a first date? I believe I said "Maybe if we were gonna live somewhere cool like Tokyo or NY. But not if I have to live here for the rest of my life!!" haha
Anyways, not sure if there'll be a 2nd date or not. I've learned not to get my hopes up about boys in this country, since they all seem to be dead ends. We shall see....

and now.....

leaf (Nara)
Originally uploaded by clay1.

this is a close-up of the maple leaf that's in the bottom left of the basin in the picture below.
I zoomed in and cropped it. Ooooooooo.

This picture is dedicated to my Dad, because he pointed out how pretty the leaf was.

this is random

Originally uploaded by clay1.

but I just figured out how to crop photos and I'm excited.

This is a basin used to wash hands and mouths outside temples and shrines.

This one is at Horyu-ji temple in Nara. I took the picture during my family's visit at Christmas.

Now look at the picture above...

because Japanese people may not know how to use a toilet........

toilet sign (Kyoto hotel)
Originally uploaded by clay1.

famous weeping cherry tree in Kyoto's Maruyama park at night

weeping cherry
Originally uploaded by clay1.

(about 10 pictures down is one of the same tree in the daytime)

I'm bored, so I'm posting more pictures

blossoms in Kyoto
Originally uploaded by clay1.

close-up of cherry blossoms in Kyoto, taken with my cell phone

Monday, April 11, 2005


It's very depressing to come back to work after a fabulous weekend away. Sigh. Especially when THERE IS NO WORK. I haven't taught a class in a MONTH. It's like, "why am I here again???"
I wanna go back to Kyoto and make out with Hiroki again!! haha.
Because I'm bored, I'm gonna post some of the adorable Japlish e-mails he sent to my cell phone last weekend. They make me smile.



"花見は楽しかった☆★ASHLEYIS COOL♪♪♪
また 会おう(^ε^)-☆Chu!!"

I just learned that "chu" means "kiss". awwww.
He's actually coming to NY for 2 weeks in August, so there's a chance I'd see him again. How random would that be?? random and AWESOME!!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

cherry blossom petals flowing downstream

Originally uploaded by clay1.


goodbye cherry blossoms....

goodbye Kyoto......

path in tea garden at Kennin-ji

Originally uploaded by clay1.

rock garden at Kennin-ji Zen temple

Originally uploaded by clay1.

this girl's not a real geisha

Originally uploaded by clay1.

I talked to her and she told me that she was just dressing up (like I did with my sister in December). But it's still a nice picture.

On Friday night we did see some real geisha shuffling along to their geisha parties at the teahouses in Gion. They're so pretty!


Originally uploaded by clay1.

canal in Gion

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

Laura looking at a shrine in Gion

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

Gion geisha district

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

this is where "Memoirs of a Geisha" is set

a pretty canal

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

the famous weeping cherry tree in Maruyama park

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

at night they light it up and it's sooooo beautiful

"hanami" (flower viewing) parties in Maruyama park

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

this is where Laura and I hung out on Saturday from 4 - 11 pm - crashing hanami parties, making new friends (who gave us free food and beer) and shamelessly flirting with hot Japanese college boys. It was so much fun and exactly what we needed.
And I kissed a beautiful Japanese boy under the cherry blossoms! Score!!!

Buddha in Chion-in temple

Originally uploaded by Emmy.


Originally uploaded by abnihon.

Chion-in temple

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

bridge in Heian shrine garden

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

Heian shrine

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

waterfall in Nanzen-in garden at Nanzen-ji

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

Philosopher's Walk

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

probably the most famous street in Kyoto

Nanzen-ji temple

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

raked gravel at entrance to Ginkaku-ji

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

more of Ginkaku-ji garden

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

moss and rocks in Ginkaku-ji garden

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

me and Laura at Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion)

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

we met in July at JET departure at JFK airport. She lives in Northern Japan now, but we met up in Kyoto for the weekend.

old street in Eastern Kyoto at night

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera

Originally uploaded by Emmy.

Kiyomizu-dera at night

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

this picture doesn't do it justice. It's a view (from up on the veranda) of a forest of illuminated cherry trees, the temple, and the city lights of Kyoto in the distance. Beautiful...

weeping willows and weeping cherries along the river

Originally uploaded by Emmy.


Originally uploaded by Emmy.

Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and it holds the majority of Japan's important temples and cultural treasures.

It was also the reason I fell in love with Japan at age 13, and where I studied abroad in college, so it was great to go back and see it in cherry blossom season.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

update on my life in Takeo

I went to the tea ceremony club again last night. Turns out the lessons aren't actually free - they cost $30 a month. But that's ok. Now that I've paid in advance I'll have more motivation to actually go every week.
The tea ceremony is so complicated! All I did last night was learn how to fold the cloth used to clean the tools. I didn't even touch the tea. I'm not sure how much I'll actually learn in 3 months. But it's still interesting.
In June there's some big tea ceremony thing in town and I think they're gonna dress me in a kimono and I'm gonna help serve tea, like a waitress. Fun!

Last Saturday I went to the Takeo kiln and made myself a little tea bowl on the wheel. I figure I can't live in a pottery town for a year and never try it. And I can take it home and do tea ceremony in it!

I also went to taiko drumming once a few weeks ago. It was kinda fun, but not really my thing. I got bored and I felt like I was holding back their practice since they're all good and I'm not. Plus I didn't really fit in with the crowd - a group of mainly Japanese construction workers. Although I did enjoy the part when the men took their shirts off. tehe.

My new hobby is knitting. That's right: I am officially an old-maid cat-lady. But seriously it's so entrancing and relaxing and a good way to kill time at home, at work, and on planes and trains. It's also satisfying to create something (as demented as it may look) with just my hands, two sticks and a ball of yarn.

Oh, and I think I figured out why I'd been feeling so congested and miserable lately. I think my allergies gave me a sinus infection. But instead of just pumping my body full of antibiotics, I went to the local acupuncturist. It really worked! Relieved the pressure and my sinses started to drain. It also helped with my general back pain/tension. And only costs $20. Amazing.

Tonight I had dinner with this local high school girl who's going to college in America next year. ( I was introduced to her by a Japanese lady I know who went to college in Indiana, married and divorced an American, and had son whom the ex has never met. Sketchy eh? I helped with her kids' English camp once, back in the fall, and she gave me a free lesson on the koto - a traditional Japanese instrument. But I digress...) So the girl is going to school in Arkansas next year. ("um..I'm sorry...") I hope she'll be ok. This poor shy traditional Japanese girl who hardly speaks English being dropped in the middle of Arkansas. I hope she knows what she's getting herself into... After this year I know all too well what it feels like to be truly isolated and alienated in a strange place and it's no fun.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Suizenji garden

Originally uploaded by abnihon.
in Kumamoto city

I stumbled upon this performance of No theater in Suizenji garden

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

cherry blossoms in Suizenji garden (Kumamoto)

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

cherry blossoms and Kumamoto castle

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

I sat on a bench under this tree and drank some iced green tea. Pretty.

Kumamoto castle

Originally uploaded by abnihon.

Kumamoto city is in the middle of Kyushu island, about an hour away from me. I went there for a day trip on Sunday to see the castle and garden in cherry blossom season

a little festival of nearly naked men in my town

Originally uploaded by abnihon.