May 30, 2011

Best Of...

Just gonna post some of my better photos from Japan that i edited.  I definitely took a lot in the first month but i seem to be losing my photo mojo.

Anyway, here they are!  And again, if anyone is interested i'm selling poster prints of them on my little website:  ~*~*~phxArts~*~*~

Also linking up at:  

River in Kawaramachi, Kyoto

Buddha statue at Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Nishikitenmanguu Shrine in Kawaramachi, Kyoto

Nishikitenmanguu again

And again.

Koi in pond at Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto

Little flower buds at Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto

Zen garden at Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto

Gravel path at Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto

Ginkakuji Temple through the trees, Kyoto

Panoramic view of Ginkakuji Temple grounds and city in the background, Kyoto

Kaminarimon in Asakusa, Tokyo

Sensoji Temple grounds, Tokyo

Hachiko statue at Shinjuku Station, Tokyo

And this last one is actually from my trip here in 2007.. Just a re-do of my picture from Miyajima.

May 28, 2011

Guesthouse and Uni friends

Quite enjoying my stay at the guesthouse.  Last night we had a pot-luck party and everyone cooked/bought something to share.  Very delicious, and everyone here is so much fun.  We're all just hanging out in the common area now and goofing off.  It'll be sad when people start leaving..

 Four of us went to karaoke the other night.  Expensive karaoke.

 The potluck!  Look at all that food!  Only half of the people were at the table at the time though.

Also, on Thursday after i was done with my research-volunteering gig at Kansai Gaidai i was supposed to go to Kyoto to meet a friend.  But i was done with volunteering around noon, and wasn't to be meeting said friend until 5, so i had a lot of time to kill.  I went to the large ampitheatre at the far end of the school, by the cafeteria and McDonald's where all the students gather to eat lunch.  I had a little snack, then just sat and people-watched for a while.  Then, a group of three guys came over and said, 'Hi, are you free now?  We want to speak English.'  I figured, why not?  I had hours to kill.  So they sat down and we ended up talking for over 2 hours.  Their English was very very basic, and they were surprised when i would respond to something they'd say in Japanese to each other.  It was fun, and we ended up meeting yesterday and today as well.  I thought today would be my last day volunteering (but since there weren't enough participants initially the researcher i'm volunteering for decided to extend the study through til Wednesday) so today, they had all brought gifts for me!  One of the three guys couldn't come today but had given his gift to me to one of the other guys to give to me.  It was really nice of them, but we decided we'd meet Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as well since i'll still be here.  I'm actually kind of glad the study was extended.  Being at KG just makes me think of my UW days, and it's nice to kind of feel like a student again, without the ridiculous amounts of homework, haha.

 Two of the three.  Little freshmen! haha

The cute little gifts they gave me.  I also got a bag of snacks but already ate it all.  :-x

Pretty excited that i get to sleep in tomorrow.  Had to wake up at 6:30 this morning after going to bed at almost 3 to make it to the volunteer thing on time.  Was invited to go to some house-warming party with one of the newbies here at the guesthouse.. i guess he just found a roommate and is moving in to the new flat soon so i guess they're having a little party there tomorrow night.  Should be fun.  :)

May 24, 2011

Picture Post!

Just some pictures of the highlights in Osaka:

 Went to Osaka Castle.  Didn't go inside.  We decided to conserve our money and just enjoy its beauty from the outside.

 Sat down to enjoy the cheesy Italian bread that I'd bought at the station.  Some guy sitting on the bench next to ours had a little flock of sparrows perching on him and around him.  Curious, they came over to see if i'd offer them some num-nums.  They were cute, so i obliged, and they flew right up on my hand to enjoy it!

 Not sure of the significance of these.  They're randomly on the wall along the little street of vendors not far from us.  From what i can tell, couples will write their names on the locks, sometimes with the date or a little message, and leave it locked here.

 The Red String of Fate!

 This was right next to those hearts with all of the locks.. One person grabs one end of a rope on one side, and then the other person grabs an end on the other side.. If you grab the same rope, it means you're meant to be together forever!  So S and i are bound forever by the Red String of Fate!  Even though she's left for Tokyo for work..  ;_;

 S and T-chan rocking at Guitar Freaks!

 S and some of our new friends at the guesthouse, discussing K-pop before going out on the town.

 Out and about in Shinsaibashi!

 Volunteered as a research assistant for someone conducting research at Kansai Gaidai.  Pretty nerve-wracking because she needed more participants and asked me to go out and recruit people who know English.  Well, even if i am to find people who know English, i wasn't just going to walk up to all these people and announce in English- "Hey! I'm looking for people who know some English to participate in a study, do any of you know English?"  Obviously it'd at least get me people who could speak English, but it would just make me look like a crazy in the process.  So i spoke to everyone in Japanese.  Trying to explain the research process and everything kinda sucked, but i think i did alright and some people seemed interested, so hopefully more people will sign up soon!  I also helped conduct the actual research sessions, which was a lot easier since i had to speak English for that.  Will be going back again tomorrow, and possibly again.  It is paid, and since i'm really not doing much now i figure why not?

The campus reminded me sooooo much of UW, with the fountain and that brick building and the greenery.  Oh i miss UW and Seattle so much!

May 22, 2011

Recent happenings

Been a few days since my last post so i guess i should update again.
Really not too much to report though, but i guess i never wrote about where we're staying or anything yet.  Honestly not the greatest of places, it's kind of ghetto.. not unsafe or anything just kinda old and dirty.  The guesthouse is right across from an elementary school, but down the road a little ways (the road we walk to get to the supermarket) there are always homeless people hanging out and it always smells like urine.  (Which, i have on multiple occasions seen them just peeing on the wall in broad daylight..)  They don't beg for money or anything, but if they did i guess it would feel like being back in Seattle again. :D

As for the guesthouse, it's quite lacking in privacy, but everyone here is really nice.  Most of them are from Korea, there's a girl from Australia, a guy from Holland, some people from Japan, France, the US, China/Taiwan, etc..  Definitely a different experience from the guesthouse in Kyoto and our hostel in Tokyo.. though it reminds me of the hostel Carl and i stayed at in Saitama when i was here last (but living conditions there were pretty bad, lol.  Here it's just... homely).  Sometimes it's irritating when people are talking loud at night, but then it's fun to hang out with everyone during the day and talk and eat together, and since there's such a mix of languages people usually communicate in Japanese since most everyone here can speak enough of it, so it's good practice for me. :)  The other night we headed out to a nicer, more lively part of Osaka with the girl from Australia and the guy from Holland and walked around, watched a street performer, and just hung out.

Oh, i also have to share a story about the day we arrived!  So we got off at the station that we were supposed to, according to the directions from the guesthouse's website, but the map and detailed directions they had were from another station that we couldn't get to, so we were pretty clueless as to how to get there.  First, as we hauled our suitcases up the stairs and out of the subway station, these guys at the newspaper stand right at the entrance/exit to the station went and carried S's huge suitcase up the stairs.  We told them what area we were trying to get to and they pointed us to the general area.  We set off but soon realized we still had no idea how to get there, so we went back looking all pathetic to ask for more specific directions.  I gave one of the guys the paper i had with the guesthouse's info, and he called the number to get directions, and then walked us the whole way there while dragging one of S's suitcases too!  This is why i love Kansai, the people here are so much more friendly and outgoing than in Tokyo (not to say people in Tokyo aren't friendly.. they just tend to keep to themselves more).  Later we bought him some sweets as a little thank-you and went to the stand to give it to him but he wasn't there.  That evening while we were out he had stopped by the guesthouse to see how we were doing, and we were so sad that we had missed him!  We took the sweets back to the stand the next day and asked the guy working if he could give them to him.  And then that evening he stopped by again (we were there that time thankfully!) and thanked us profusely for the sweets.
People in stores, random people on the street, clerks.. they're all more willing to talk to us too.  We were in the little drug store and as i was looking at the insect repellants they have (since i've been getting eaten alive), the lady in the store came over and explained how they worked, since they're a little more complex than i thought!  (There were boxes selling the base [kinda like those dome-shaped air-fresheners] and then the little fan replacements and the liquid repellant replacements, etc..)  Just little things like that.. i'd really like to stay in Kansai for work, but am getting a little impatient with Amity.  They've yet to get back to me about when/where i'll be working.  But in the meantime, I've already had a Skype-interview with a company similar to JET, who is looking for teachers to work around Tokyo.  If they can get me a job sooner, i guess i'll be going with them!

Other than that, we met up with our good friend T-chan last Thursday, and yesterday we headed over to Kyoto to meet Miss A and go to a neat little flea-market in Tōji.  After the market we headed over to Kawaramachi, the area S and i had stayed at while in Kyoto.  Really do miss that place!  Definitely my favorite so far, and it was nice to be back in familiar territory. :)

Well, time to throw on some clothes so i can run to the store and get some groceries.  Haven't done much today so i'm still in my PJs.  Will probably get around to posting some pictures later.

May 17, 2011


P.S.  If you look to the right  ~~~~~~~~>
You'll see a little link to my new online store!
Selling some of my better pictures as poster prints, and a couple other fun items too.  
Even if you aren't interested in purchasing anything, please pass that link around!  It'd be nice to come out of this trip not completely broke, lol!
There are other items i can put the pictures on too, so if you want, like, a shirt or something with a particular picture on it you can let me know and i'll set it up.


In Osaka

We arrived in Osaka yesterday, after quite the last couple days in Tokyo!  More on that in a sec..

For those curious about our whole TV gig, it was as brief as i was expecting it to be!  And i totally called it too- i was mearly a creeper in the background as S got her hair done.  She hardly got any air-time either, considering all the footage they took.  First a shot of the back of her head, showing the finished straightened hair, then them asking her how much time she spends on her hair in the morning, then a few shots of the whole straightening process.  All less than 2 minutes!  I can't really complain though.  I still got paid!

Anyway, later Saturday we met up with a couple of our guys- Mr. Rich Man and our little Yu-yu.  We went to an izakaya (as we have been doing, at least a couple times a week since we've arrived in Japan.. needless to say i'm pretty izakaya-ed out!) had some tasty food and drinks and goofed around, then walked through the streets of Shinjuku.  We came across many host and hostess clubs, as well as many hosts standing around in streets (just as i remembered Shinjuku from mine and Carl's adventures there years before).  We eventually ended up at a batting-range/arcade-type place and each took a turn batting!  Naturally, i was terrible.  At least i redeemed myself with the 'test the strength of your grip' game!  S and i were both way above the average strength of Japanese males, lol!  Mr. Rich Man was off the charts!  But poor Yu-yu was only as strong as S and i, though he did go again and managed to add a few more kg to his score, haha.

 Mr. Rich Man and Yu-yu

 Funny drinking faces

 And our funny drinking faces!

 I think this is when he was pretending to be a dog

 Eatin' fishies

 'Since you for you' lol.  Poster of some of the expensive boys you can spend time with.  Lots of them were roaming the streets too.  Their hair is absolutely delicious!

 That's right, 76kg of strength in that grip right there!

Yu-yu's second attempt.. he's trying soooo hard to beat our scores!  He made it to 60kg!  S and i got to 55kg.

Then we went to a Donkihote and faffed around there for a bit.

 He likes the boob

 Zebra me and zebra Yu-yu

 Yep.  Lots of fun to be had at that store!

We then walked to Shin-Ōkubo, the little Korean-town not far from Shinjuku, and went to a Korean restaurant for some drinks.  I don't remember what drink Yu-yu ordered for everyone, but it was gross so i didn't drink it.  He then had to leave to catch his last train home since his girlfriend was sick, so Mr. Rich Man was gonna walk S and i back to Shinjuku station so we could catch our last train back.  Halfway there though, Yu-yu called us and was like, 'Oh hey actually I'm not going back, you guys wanna hang out some more?'  So we walked back to Shin-Ōkubo and we went to a Korean club there, and they played lots of K-pop (you would've been so happy, Miss C!)

So, didn't sleep at all.  And i had only been able to sleep 5 hours the night before.  As soon as i got home i had to pack in order to be checked out by 10am.  The guy at the front desk though allowed us to stay til noon for no extra charge, so we were able to get in a little 2-hour nap.  We left our luggage at the front desk then headed out to Ueno to kill some time.  Hung out at Ueno Park for a long time, and got in another short little nap there on some large rocks.  Then we walked around and watched some of the street performers, got some snacks (shaved ice for me, and a tornado potato for S), watched the people on the lake in row boats and swan boats, then went into the city and found a department store to meander around in.  Finally went back to fetch our luggage, and the nice guy at the counter who had approached us about the Fuji TV thing told us we could use the showers, which i gladly did.  I always wake up after the night on the highway bus feeling disgusting, so it was nice to get a shower beforehand. 
We headed to Tokyo station and met another old friend from UW there.  We went and found a little Irish Pub and had some munchies and talked before we had to go board our bus.

 Street performer in Ueno Park

 He was hella built too!

 More street performers, doing scary balancing tricks on chairs

 Spying on this young, lovey-dovey couple in a row boat

 With H at the Pub~

Had a little bit of culture shock going from Kyoto to Tokyo, and had some shock again coming back to Osaka.  Definitely a different atmosphere in Kansai!  Nothing too exciting has happened here yet, but i do have some stories i'll post next time.  :)  

May 11, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened...

So yesterday S and i got home around noon- we had stayed at one of S's friend's place in Chiba since we'd gone out for dinner/drinks with a bunch of her friends/former students and couldn't make the last train back.  
But anyway, after we got back and showered we decided to head over to the supermarket down the street to stock up on some food for the next few days, to try and save money.
We got back to the hostel, and the guy at the front desk greeted us, then was suddenly like, "Hey!"  We stopped and he came out from behind the counter to talk to us.  Funnily, we were both thinking 'Oh no, is he gonna say something about us not coming back last night?' which would've been funny since there's no lock-out or anything and we're still paying for our room either way, haha.  But instead he was all, This lady Hitomi who works with Fuji TV is looking for 2 girls to appear in this program that shows every Saturday are you interested?
Of course we both said, 'Of course!'  So he contacted her and she talked to us about what it would entail.  They needed 2 girls- one to get a straight-perm done and the other to sit and watch and comment on it.  We agreed, then later that night she stopped by the hostel with a couple people from the program, introduced us and gave us a business card, and told us she'd be by the next day around 9am to take us to the salon where they'd be doing the filming.  
We were both just kind of like, wow this is crazy!  It all happened so fast and seriously, what are the odds?

So we went in for the filming today, it was a pretty interesting experience, but it took forever!  First they had us stand in front of the salon and asked us questions- Do you have any expectations about Japanese salons?  Have you heard of this Japanese straight-perm technique?  Are you interested in Japanese fashion?  Things like that.  The reporter would ask us in Japanese, and we'd reply in English (since it was easier for us that way, lol).  Then they filmed us walking up to the front counter of the salon and the salon-lady (probably the owner?) greeted us, etc, etc.  Then they did a before shot of S's hair (since my hair is so short, obviously she was the one getting her hair done) before going through the whole straightening-procedure, which took almost 4 hours!  I had to stand and observe while making comments and asking questions.  Surprisingly i wasn't camera-shy, but since normally i'm just a quiet observer it was difficult to chime in with random comments or think of questions to ask.  And a lot of the questions they asked me were about procedures done in the US, so i had to BS some answers because i've never seen/had a permanent done before! So i may have given some wrong information about the American salon experience, haha. 
After it was all over, we got ¥3000 and went to get some late lunch with Hitomi before parting ways.
Again, all super sudden, but an exciting experience!  Can't wait to see how it turns out.. for all the filming they did it'll only be like a 10-minute segment on the show, so i'll probably only appear as a random creeper in the background, or at the end petting S's hair and commenting on how soft it is, lol.  Any of you in Japan interested in watching, it'll be on this Saturday (the 14th) at 9:55am, channel 8- the めざましどようびメガ program!

 (Panoramic view from the 20th floor of a building in Chiba)

May 7, 2011


Forgot to post about the barbeque we had at our friend's house the other day, all friends we had met at UW and spent a lot of time with, but hadn't seen for almost a year.  It was so awesome to see them again and we had so much fun at Mr. Rich Man's house. (Seriously, house is huge and awesome).


 With Spike, the cuuuute ickle beagle  :D

 The ladies (after our night out at the club, lol)

 Mr. Rich Man

 Taking shelter from the rain under the big umbrellas

 The grill!

 They even bought... bear meat!

 It's typical.  Oooh, how i missed the Ghetto Booty!

 Mr. Rich Man's even got a bar in his basement, with beer on tap too lol

 Busted out the Twister!

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