Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trip to Tokyo and More

I know that everyone is anxiously waiting to read this post… It was a pretty packed week full of fun adventures. We both thought it might be fun to switch off writing these posts every other week, so this week I (James) will do my best to share our experience.

--  Trip to Tokyo- This past weekend was our one- year anniversary. We had a blast sharing some of it with an older couple from Arizona, Steve and LaNae Nugent. We drove down to Tokyo together in their car. Steve was a little worried about getting lost on the way, especially since this was their first time driving to Tokyo. He asked me to man the passenger seat and navigate. Unfortunately, I had never driven to Tokyo either. However, due to technology and their nice little GPS, we were guided by a British woman’s voice the 4.5 hour trip down to the hotel. We had a fun time, eating various Japanese snacks and listening to the GPS and were amazed with the accuracy of it. Even on the way back, I remember it telling us, “Traffic congestion ahead in 10 kilometers due to burning vehicle.” Sure enough, 10 km down the road there was a vehicle that looked like it had just been put out by fire extinguishers. We were impressed, to say the least. We stayed at a hotel called the Prince Park Tower Tokyo not to far from Tokyo Tower. We got there fairly late Friday night and were actually really exhausted from the drive. The hotel was super nice and our room was awesome. We thought the toilet was pretty funny because it let out water every time you sat on it to help disguise other noises… haha. Anyways, we got up early the next morning and went to a breakfast buffet on the hotel’s 33rd floor and had a great view. After that we checked out and explored our way to the Tokyo Temple. It took us about 20 minutes to get there walking and riding the train. We were trying to make one of the sessions, but barely missed the time. They only have four sessions on Saturday so we ended up doing some sealings. We felt that it was pretty appropriate because that’s what we did exactly the year before. Although the ordinances were in Japanese, we were still able to feel of the Spirit that dwells at the temple. And all we had to say was “hai,” which means “yes” in Japanese. After our time at the temple, we decided to try and walk back to our hotel and made it there in about 30 minutes. We passed a few cool places which included the Australian Embassy. We got back to the hotel and had something called “tendon” for lunch. There were some new things in there that weren’t quite expected. “Tendon” is short for “Tempura donburi” (I hope most of you have heard of “Tempura.” “Donburi” means meal in a bowl.). With the tendon we had miso soup with clams in it which was surprisingly tasty. At the end of lunch we looked around in some of the hotel’s shops and then sent LaNae off on a bus to the airport. She is now enjoying a new grandchild in Mississippi and will return back to Japan the second week of October.
Steve and LaNae Nugent.

Crazy toilets in Japan. They have all these different buttons for the bidet and for making noise.. so weird.

The awesome switch in our room to open/shut the curtains in our room.

The view from our room.

Us on the balcony of our room.

This is tendon. It was really good! Although, the little critter that you see at the top left with long skinny legs was an interesting one to eat.

Yay for the Tokyo Temple!

      --  Teaching at the Elementary level- I was able to start teaching at an elementary school this last week. It was a lot of fun as I team taught with the teacher that I was replacing. For this job, I actually teach at two different elementary schools, Matsunaga and Monden elementary schools. I will be teaching three hours a week for each school, one on Tuesday and the other Thursday. It seems to me that they want me to make English fun so that the kids get excited about it. I really don’t know exactly how things are going to run so I’ll have to keep you posted. Most of the 6th graders I teach were saying how cool I was (nothing new of course… j/k). Anyways, I was able to receive a little instruction from my predecessor and some from one of the teachers that I will be working with. From what I can tell so far, I think it is going to be a very rewarding experience working with the kids and getting to know them.

      --  Cooking adventures- Tuesday night we were able to invite over another JET teacher that Emily knew and one of his friends. It was nice to have people over to eat in our small apartment and was even more fun making the food. Emily decided that she wanted to make Katsu Curry. It’s actually one of my favorite meals. Katsu, also known as tonkatsu, is like a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet. It was a success, thank goodness, so we didn’t have to run to the ramen shop or somewhere else instead. It’s not that I had any doubts; it’s just that I heard from other people that it is a real pain to cook it.  Anyways, it turned out beautifully and was a lot cheaper than going to a restaurant to eat it. The friends that came over enjoyed and we decided that we would have to do it again very soon.

      --  Emily’s Birthday- So a couple weeks ago, we went out with the Nugents and Chizuko to this Indian Curry place. We wrote about it last week, but Emily liked it so much, that she wanted to go back there for her birthday. So on Emily’s birthday eve, I went to go pick up her present from the store and went by this really big dollar store. I decided to go in because I wanted to see what they had. I was able to find quite a few things that I thought might make Emily smile. They included a paper organizer, a birthday head band, birthday banner, and heavy duty scissors. What she really asked for was a paper cutter, so I got her that too. I tried my best to keep the birthday spirit alive and well, so I strategically gave her a present at different times in the day (in the morning, lunch time, when she got home from work, before we went to bed). We ended up enjoying the Indian Curry place again. If anyone comes to visit, we will take you there. Right after eating dinner, we went to Family Home Evening at the Church. For some reason they do it on Friday nights, but we were asked to prepare the message and lesson. We ended up speaking about the different gifts that Heavenly Father has blessed us with, more specifically the spiritual gifts. It was a fun day and was nice to bask in each other’s company.

      --  Volunteering- Yesterday, we went with about 40 other JET teachers to volunteer at a children’s home in Fukushima City about an hour and a half away. We played softball and dodge ball with about 30 kids ranging from about 5 to 17 years old. A lot of the teachers are from places like England, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and South Africa, so most of them didn’t know how to play softball. That was an interesting experience listening to the Japanese people trying to explain the game. We split up between Japanese and foreigners and every time someone on the foreigner team got out, they wondered why. The Japanese people explained it to them only after they had gotten out. It was really funny. Then we ended up going inside and eating Curry with all of the kids. It was nice to talk to someone of them. A lot of the kids spent time on various JET teacher’s shoulders or backs and played simple English games with them. Everyone had a blast. I was able to talk to the man in charge of the children’s home and ask him if there were places like where we were in Aizu Wakamatsu. He said that there were and gave me some contact information, so I’m looking forward to checking out some of the children’s homes closer to us. At the very end of our time, the boss man gathered all of the JET teachers together and told him how grateful he was for their service. Many of the children had never had contact with a foreigner before, so it was really nice. Just from all the teachers donating money, they raised 34,000 yen which is close to like $450. Not bad for around 40 people donating. It sounds like the JET people want to do it again in the future, so we look forward to that opportunity.

Well, I know that other things have happened this past week. Things to look forward to is a video of our apartment, more about the school’s that Emily teaches at, and whatever other adventures lie ahead of us this week. We love you all lots and pray that you are all doing well.

1 comment:

  1. We just caught up on your posts. What an amazing adventure! You guys sure are keeping busy. I am so glad you are blogging it. p.s. Happy late Birthday Emily (I know, I know, we are lame, Shirley even reminded us, and we still spaced it) We love you both!!