Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Our last bit of summer training included a day at the local culture center where we...

learned how to wash clothes

and how to use an iron.

But our favorite part was making sweets. They were filled with anko, which is a sweet bean paste. First, we had to make sure we had the proper outfits...

Making the sweets was difficult but the results were quite tasty...

Ours were not as easy on the eyes, but still delicious!

Monday, August 22, 2011


This last Saturday I paid a visit to the eye doctor. 

Upon entering the office I forgot to remove my shoes. Eventually, I realized this and swapped them for some slippers at least 4 sizes too small.

As usual, I was the only foreigner sitting in the waiting room with the Japanese cast of The Golden Girls. The check-up was fairly straightforward except I could not remember the Japanese words for up and down.

Many ophthamologists here do not have the fancy electronic eye charts, but instead have a pair of glasses on which they attach different lenses. They look like this...

They had me sit in the lobby with these on for 10 minutes for some reason. My vision was actually fine, but the eye doctor did give me this very informative chart...

Friday, August 19, 2011


Introducing the Deer of Miyajima...

This is Riku. He enjoys people-watching, ice cream and chewing on items left behind by tourists.

This is Manami. She likes shopping, Italian food and stealing from foreigners.

On this particular island the deer are very friendly, but it is mostly known for the Itsukushima shrine...

It seems small in the picture, but is actually over 4 stories tall.

After a long day in the sun we were in desperate need of a drink. Luckily, we found this place...

Our next visit was to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Peace Park. It was truly a humbling and educational experience. We did not take any pictures inside the museum, but took a few of the park.

This is the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the only remaining buildings after the atomic bomb in 1945. To take this picture we stood in the bridge that was the actual target of the bombing.

This was the hypocenter of the atomic bomb. It actually detonated 600m above this spot.

Several of the monuments are covered with paper cranes. There is a Japanese tradition of folding 1000 cranes to cure sickness. The park must have millions.

This monument holds the names of those who perished.  Every year there is a memorial ceremony honoring those who lost their lives and calling for world peace. Maybe one day we can live in this type of world...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kyoto: Part 2

One of our days in Kyoto included a short train ride to Uji. This small city (of about 200,000 people) is home to one of our good friends Ben. It is famous for superior green tea and the temple on the ¥10 coin. 

This is what it looks like in person.

 Next, we visited some must-see attractions.

Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Temple)

Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion)

We also visited Ryōan-ji, which has a very famous rock garden, the International Manga Museum and the Gion district where we did not see one single Geisha.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kyoto: Part 1

Dear Staci and Daniel,

In a few days you are going to travel to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kobe during your summer vacation. You are probably making final plans and packing your suitcases at this moment. I have risked much to bring you this important message. Don't go! It is too hot! Sure you will have a great time. But you will be perpetually sweating, cranky and it's hotter than a cat on a tin roof. Please think about it. Take care.


Future Daniel and Future Staci

If only we had received that letter in time. In spite of the weather we had a wonderful vacation which started in Kyoto. Our first stop was Fushimi Inari Shrine famous for its many torii gates.

Next, we visited Kiyomizu Temple and had some green tea ice cream.

It has a great view of the city, but is most famous for the Otowa Waterfall (actually just three fountains) that have the power to grant you wisdom, good health, and longevity when you drink from them.

 On the way back down we spotted three Maiko. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha.

If we thought we were hot.. I can only imagine.

To be continued...

Monday, August 15, 2011

That time I went to Tokyo with my Co-Workers

So funny things happen when you go to Tokyo with a group of Japanese Teachers.

We saw Sky Tree, it is huge.

There is a posed picture, but I liked this candid one better. 

Then they asked me if I liked tempura several times.

This is tempura... It is just fried...anything.

I'm American, of course I like fried anything.

Next we toured the busiest part of Tokyo and ate dessert.

I got a cream snow cone thingy, they got sweet bean paste.

We went to a show. A Japanese comedian review. It was interesting. 

The acts consisted of two men and a microphone.

One man was usually fat and the other was skinny. 

Or one was dressed in ridiculous clothing and the other wore a suit. 

I don't really know what they said. 

One of my co-workers, after the show, said she didn't understand most of what was said because they talk too fast. 

We went to dinner, ate fish brains, and drank yummy drinks. 

The end.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


It has been far too long since we've had a lunch post.

The white rice greatly complements the seashore fish sausage, which tastes better than it sounds and/or looks. There is also boiled soboro and ginger-flavored veggies. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Training

This last week we had AET summer training. I did not take many pictures because most of our time was spent inside a lecture room doing various activities.


On Tuesday we visited a community center to participate in various cultural activities. These included...

making pottery...

chopping wood (for the fire to cook our lunch)...

cooking yakisoba for lunch...

 I can cook yakisoba! Yum...

and enjoying a good meal.

During the afternoon we learned some new Kanji, practiced calligraphy, and carved potatoes with wood chisels.

Look how studious I am...

But my favorite part of summer training was Aaron teaching us a dance that is currently very popular in Japan. Enjoy!