A Travellerspoint blog

October 2006

Our Apartment #2

Around our apartment

We've been in our apartment for over a month now and have it set up how we want. (side note: We have been in Japan for over 8 months now.) We've also started exploring around our neighbourhood a lot more.

There are some huge houses and a lot of import cars, which here are the typical Benzes, Beemers, Porsches but also, Jeep Cherokees, Suburbans and Hummers. Yes, there are a lot of these vehicles here. I'm not sure why.

There is a really nice lake on the way to the station. It is very peaceful and quiet. These are a couple of shots from there.

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One day I was hanging laundry out on our balcony and saw this like thing scamper by.

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This was also a picture Court took of a spider that she really likes.

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There is also a HUGE graveyard near our house. It would be really big if it was in Canada, but here it is HUGE. It's probably the size of the graveyard on Robie St near the QEII, if not bigger. We went for a walk up there the other day. It's very peaceful and dead quiet (not a big surprise). Most of the plots are family plots. There is usually a little shrine of some sort and markers for the different family members that are buried there. We took some really nice shots while we were up there.

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Our Aussie friends have also told us of an excellent park up the mountain. Friday was a holiday, I think it was called Culture Day. We relaxed all morning and then in the afternoon we went for a hike up to the park. We started off and took a wrong turn. There is only one turn on the way to the park and we messed it up. Oh well, we got there.

It was about a 15 or 20 minute hike up the mountain along a winding road. It was kind of a difficult hike, but it wasn't too bad.

After being passed by lots of buses, we found ourselves at the entrance of the park. I was thinking it would be a typical park, but then I remembered that I am in Japan and it was a typical Japanese park. There were railings everywhere and the paths were all paved. Even though, it was still fantastic.

We started off on a path and saw all the different trees. All the different trees were labeled with their names which is a good idea, we just can't read them. Because Friday was a holiday the park was full of people walking their dogs or out with their families. (A lot of the women had the standard issue two inch heals on in the park too.) We found an area with lots of rock carvings and this statue.
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We went up to the area and saw lots of people playing catch, some kid practicing Karate and a man doing Yoga. I also took some time and played around with the camera to see what kind of pictures I could take.

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It's something I never thought of, but all the kids here if they write in the dirt or the sand they would right in Kanji. Here's a good shot of it.

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Or they would draw a monkey.

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Near this statue there was a large amphitheater, it would be a great place for something like Shakespeare in the Park. The other cool thing was they planted these trees right behind the stage to use as a backdrop and to let the cast members hide behind it, as you can see in this picture.

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The question is, "Where's Courtney?"

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[side note: At a lot of the kindergartens I've gone to have Where's Waldo books. They are exactly the same as the ones from back home, just in Japanese. Some of the kids were surprised when I knew exactly where Waldo was.]

After this we picked another path to make our way out of the park. We followed this along until we came to an exit, however this exit was not where we wanted to be at all. We looked at the map and found another path that would take us to the exit we wanted.

The problem with this new path was it took us up and over a mountain (or a big hill) to get us back where we wanted to go. Well, that and it was a lot longer than we thought it was. About half way through the hike we stopped because we heard some rustling in the woods down below us. My first thought was, "If it's a Monkey, we're screwed. I forgot the F'n Umbrella." But, then we heard a snort and realized it was ONLY a Wild Boar. Then we realized, it was a Wild Boar. So I climbed up the large steps figuring that if it chased me that it would have to go slower up the stairs and I could give it a quick kick to the snout.

After this we decided for good or bad we had to pick up the pace and get out of there. Actually we both realized we didn't want to get caught in the middle of this park in the dark. Needless to say we survived our harrowing ordeal.

After this we picked up a new coffee table, had a good supper and relaxed the rest of the day. We felt very Cultured.

Posted by agc_cwm 18:56 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Our Trip to Nara #2

To meet with Natsu

Last Friday we finally found a time to meet with Natsu. For those of you who don't know, Natsu lived in Amherst when I was in grade 12. She lived with James and Sally (good family friends that lived about 10 houses up the street) and was best friends with my cousin Amy. Now that you have the background, Natsu has lived in Canada since 1998 when she moved to Amherst and she just moved back to Nara. Which is about 1.5 hours by train from our new apartment.

We arrived in Nara around 2 and Natsu was late meeting us, but that was fine. One of Natsu's friends from Canada was coming to meet her so we just sat at the Starbucks in Nara station to wait for her. Her friend got lost, so our coffee turned into about 2 hours at Starbucks. It was good. We got caught up and we got to ask all the questions that we (I) have been saving up. Natsu knew it was going to be a good question when I prefaced it, "My Dad or James aren't here, so I've got to ask..." Then proceeded to ask, "Why do most of the girls here dress like hookers and the actual hookers dress like school teachers?" She laughed but she didn't have an answer.

We also talked about how she learned a lot of English words from kids (I think she learned a lot from Coltin) and how I've learned a lot of colours, seasons and animal names from the kids that I teach. (Side note: Dogs in Japan say, "one, one", which if you say quickly enough sounds like a little yappy dog which is really the only kind of dog here. And, lions say, "Gao!". I had to teach animal sounds in one of my classes that's how I learned this"

While we were sitting in Starbucks, Natsu kept asking if we had eaten octopus, raw fish or any other Japanese delicacy there is. We kept saying no we hadn't because when we go out to eat, we don't know what anything is, so we just point and say this one please.

Needless to say, Natsu decided we had to go out for supper. So we met up with her brother and went to an izakaya. This was fine by me because she could order all the food for us. Unfortunately this meant that we were going to try raw fish and Octopus and other unknown Japanese food. We had tried octopus before. They make something called, takoyaki, think of a chicken ball, with octopus and no strange red sauce. The raw tuna didn't taste good and didn't really taste bad.

This meal turned into another couple hours of sitting. Which was fine for all of us.

Natsu also was telling us about the time she met Ichiro. Which is awesome because my students are amazed when I tell them, "my friend met Ichiro." (Cultural Note: This is a HUGE deal here. I can't think of an equivalent in Canada." I also told this story the next day in one of my lessons.)

It was really good to catch up with Natsu, we didn't do much sightseeing in Nara this time. But, that was fine by me.

Posted by agc_cwm 00:23 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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