Totsukawa Culture Festival 2016

It’s November already?!

The trees here are starting to change colors… Whenever I go out on my morning jog, I notice patches of yellow, orange, and red hues all along the mountain sides. It’s really pretty… Hopefully we’ll be able to get some pictures of the kouyou (autumn foliage) before they disappear.

There are two national holidays this month: the first being Culture Day and the second being Kinrou Kansha no Hi, or Labor Thanksgiving Day. Today, I’ll be talking about Culture Day which occurred earlier this month. Continue reading

JET Program 20 Questions

It’s already October! Halloween will be here shortly. Then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years… Time seems to go by quicker and quicker with each year…

Since the school year has started, classes have kept me busy! Not that I’m complaining- I love spending time with the students and seeing them learn new things and enjoying the games we play.

This week however is midterms for the high school kids. So with the free time I had today, I figured I would do a quick blog post. I saw this around on other blogs and figured since I’ve been here for more than a year now, I can fill this out and have it up on the blog for any readers out there curious about the JET Program (since it also looks like  the application window for JET has opened once again). Continue reading

My First Semester of Flower Arranging (Spring-Summer 2016)

Back in April, which is the start of the school year in Japan, I decided that I wanted to join my high school’s flower arrangement club. I figured, I wanted to somehow get a little more involved with my school while also discovering a new interest- I can honestly say that joining the flower arrangement club has been one of the best things I have done yet during my time here in Japan. I didn’t think I would have so much fun manipulating a plant’s shape and making something that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It’s something that I look forward to every Friday afternoon, and is the perfect way to start off my weekends.

Since it was my first time ever doing flower arrangement, most of the time I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, my flower arrangement teacher would always swoop in and add some final touches to make the piece look complete.

So here are some of the pieces that I worked on last semester. We started off with a spring theme and worked our way towards summer-like plants. Continue reading

Totsukawa Summer Festival: Furusato Monogatari (A Hometown Tale)

On the last day of Obon week, a very special event was held at Hotel Subaru, a 10 minute drive away from our apartment. If you remember my post from last year, Trevor and I had to walk to Hotel Subaru to attend our very first summer festival. This year however, was a little different. Now that I have a car (and am finally licensed!), we were able to drive 10 minutes as opposed to the hour and a half walk. What was perhaps the most exciting thing for me was that I got to wear a yukata for the first time! Continue reading

McDonald’s Limited Time Olympics and Moon Viewing Special Promotion

In my opinion, McDonald’s in Japan is far more superior than McDonald’s back home in the States. There are some menu items here that are the same, such as the Big Mac and Double Cheeseburger, but even then, somehow, it tastes… not as artery clogging as their American counterparts. Japan may not have a big McCafe menu or M&M McFlurries (cries), but their limited time promotions make up for that and much more. It gives the well-known fast food chain a nice change from the norm.

Trevor and I have seen some of the special promotions during our time here. During cherry blossom season, we saw shaka-shaka fries with a special plum seasoning and for a while, they did a Hawaiian special. However, the promotion they did only recently was the one that blew us away. The Olympics Special is by far our favorite promotion that McDonald’s has done. Continue reading

ShinTotsukawa Limited Edition Goods

A couple weeks into August is the start of Obon, a holiday for many Japanese who return home to their hometowns for about a week or so. During Obon, it is believed that ancestors who have already passed on return for the duration of the holiday. Thus, many go home to visit their families and clean the graves of their loved ones, and overall spend time with those they haven’t seen in a while. Festivals are held in abundance around this time, and at many of them, bon odori (a special type of dance) can take place.

Totsukawa is pretty special in that it has a unique history surrounding the people of this village. Many years ago, Totsukawa was once so badly flooded, that many of its inhabitants ended up relocating to an area in Northern Hokkaido. They decided to call their new environment, ShinTotsukawa, (lit. “New Totsukawa”) as a homage to their original home in the Kansai area. Continue reading

Celebrating Bridges: Tanize Bridge Festival!

Summer in Japan is brutal. It’s always hotter than it needs to be, the humidity makes me feel like I’ve just left a sauna, and when it’s not making me produce endless beads of sweat, it’s raining. Hard. However, not all is horrible in 90 plus degree Fahrenheit weather. Summer in Japan just doesn’t mean “hot”- it also means… FESTIVALS!

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Trevor and I attended our first summer festival last year, a couple weeks after he arrived to Totsukawa. This year, we were able to attend the Bridge Festival, hosted up in the northern part of the village in Uenoji, home of one of the largest suspension bridges in Japan: Tanize. Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Lesson 2016

Happy Hallmark Day! I mean, Valentine’s Day. Lol.

For weeks, I was struggling with deciding what kind of Valentine’s lesson I wanted to do for my classes. I didn’t know if I wanted to do a reading, or a game, or role-play… I tried looking at what kinds of Valentines lessons people have posted on Englipedia, I googled what other ESL teachers have done- nothing seemed interesting enough for the students I have. Continue reading