What’s Been Going On??? (Nov. 18 Update)

Once again, that long period of nothing updating on my blog has made its appearance! Sorry about that… 😦

Here is an update on what’s been going on since my last post!

Hasedera Matsuri (October 18th)
Back in September, I signed up to participate in the annual Hasedera Matsuri. This festival was held up north in the town of Hasedera, very close to Sakurai city, in Eastern Nara. Many new and veteran JETs were also present, and together with many of the other locals, we all pitched in together to hold up a large wooden shrine, and carried it around the town and up the stairs to Hasedera temple.

The event was a lot of fun as I felt I helped out the community!

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Photo credit goes to Yoshioka-sensei!

Totsukawa Junior High School Culture Festival & Autumn Festival at Tamaki Shrine (October 24th)
About a week before the event, my JTE at the JHS informed me of a culture festival the junior high was putting together. Because Trevor and I had already planned weeks ahead to see the Autumn Festival back at Tamaki Shrine, we decided to stop by the JHS for the beginning of the festival, head to Tamaki Shrine afterwards, and return for the last hour or so for the culture festival. Unfortunately, many of the exciting events at Tamaki Shrine had finished before our arrival, but nonetheless it was a nice day to drive up the mountain and walk to the shrine.

The JHS put on a variety of plays and a choir concert for their culture festival. There was also an illustration contest and artwork that displayed the many talented and fine works of all the junior high kids. I was happy to stop by and see everyone, as I always enjoy visiting the JHS.

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I always like seeing the cover of event pamphlets because they’re always drawings done by a very talented student!

*Halloween Weekend: JETNet Event & Halloween in Osaka (October 31st-November 1st)
(Eventually, there will be a post on what we did during the Halloween Weekend. Please look out for it!) Along with signing up for the Hasedera Matsuri in September, I also signed up for my first JETNet Event. This one in particular was an autumn hike through the town of Saidaiji, eventually ending up at the Heijo Palace Remains. I was able to interact with Japanese locals in a fun and relaxed atmosphere!

Since the event was held up north (and because it was Halloween), I booked a hotel in advance so that we could stay in Osaka city and venture around the city after the work-related event was over. The next day, we were able to meet up with my friend Eri and spent a portion of the morning/afternoon in Umeda, and later went to IKEA.

It was a very eventful weekend! (A little teaser… We also visited the Pokemon Center and ate at the Pom Pom Purin cafe… Look out for more pictures and the full post eventually!)

Picture credits go to Trevor!

Smile Kids Visit: Halloween Themed (November 7th)
This was my first opportunity to volunteer in Japan! Back in Minnesota, I sometimes volunteered with the Bloomington Sister City Organization and the Japan America Society of Minnesota. Since my last two years of college were stressful, I hadn’t volunteered since then. This event was held in Uda city and had JET participants interact with children at a children’s home. That day’s theme was Halloween, so we did many Halloween related activities and crafts, and spent time with the children, who were all filled with energy! Hopefully our visit was fun for them- they sure looked like they had a blast with everyone! I’m looking forward to the next visits planned out!

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Everyone working on their Day of the Dead masks!

Picture credit goes to Trevor!

*Totsukawa Senior High School Culture Festival (November 14th)
(There will be a longer post focusing on this event- please look out for it!)
My high school held their culture festival on a Saturday. Food stalls, displays of art for sale, craftwork done by the students, and a talent show- more will be touched on in the post on the culture festival!

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A little teaser for the High School’s Culture Festival post!

Star Wars Ep VII: The Force Awakens
About two weeks ago when we had the chance to be up north, we stopped at a 7-11 to buy Star Wars tickets! Well… they weren’t actually tickets. They were actually vouchers that we could buy at 7-11 to exchange for actual tickets at a movie theater beginning today, November 18th. After some confusion with how movie tickets worked in Japan and some poking around on the internet, everything was figured out (with a lot of thanks to my supervisor!) I took nenkyuu (paid time off) today to head to Shingu and exchanged our vouchers for tickets to see Friday, December 18th’s premier of Star Wars. We are so excited!!!

At the movie theater, there was a little stand with Star Wars goods… so it was only natural that we bought some on the way out.

Picture credit goes to Trevor!

And finally… We started exercising!
I bought Trevor a bike from the AEON in Shingu, and since then, he’s been biking around the village on nice days, exploring and getting a nice workout! The farthest he’s gone so far? All the way to Hongu, about a 30min drive from the apartment, on the way to Shingu city. Nice! (For the time being, Trevor’s been resting since he sort of busted his knee… Feel better soon!)

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Trevor’s new bike! Taken after he biked to Hotel Subaru.

And as for me, I started jogging! Not as exciting as biking around, but with work and running errands or doing eventful things on the weekend, I can only find time to jog right after work… when the weather isn’t being lame. (The past week or two has been raining non-stop… when will I get a chance to jog again??)

*Starred posts mean that those events will have a post of their own! Look out for them in the near future!

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