Kyoto, Cacti, and Enkai, Oh My!

こんにちわ凄い友達!(Hello, amazing friends!)

Welcome back to another installment of Hello Hyogo! I know it’s been a while, cause yeah, I fail as a human being, but hey, I started doing REAL things for my REAL job which is a GROWN UP JOB AND I GOT BUSY OKAY??? A lot has happened so y’all gotta cut me some slack over here.

You probably didn’t notice, but until I can actually, you know, I don’t know, READ Japanese, I’m going to stop doing my kanji blog titles unless I do actually know what I’m saying. I’ve been very bad about breaking my own personal anti-Google Translate rules and putting title names into Google Translate, but I am 100% sure that many things got butchered somewhere along the way, and my friends who actually can read and speak Japanese are probably snickering behind my back somewhere.

So, where to start, where to start…there’s just so much to tell! Sorry again for leaving you hanging for so long, but why don’t I start with my final pre-school starting adventure? Drum roll, please….BADABADABADABADA (pretend that’s a drumroll, anyway, I don’t know about sound effects, man)…KYOTO! The lovely city of Kyoto was my final destination before the adventure in-and-of-itself known as “teaching high schoolers” happened.

I spent a day in Kyoto with my lovely friend Ashley, and it was so nice! First, might I just say how I LOVEEEEEE LOVE LOVE how easy and how cheap it is to get to other major cities in Japan?? Really though, in the U.S. if someone said, “Hey dude, let’s go to another huge major city for less than ten bucks and it’ll only take forty five minutes,” I’d be like, “Dude, you cray.” Just wouldn’t happen in the U.S. But it only takes 45 minutes and 900 yen (about 9 dollars) to get to Kyoto! I love it. Just love it.

We started off in the lovely Arashiyama, home of the bamboo forest and apparently monkeys that just hang out (that we didn’t have time to see). Photos below of the beautiful mountain view you see when you get off the train:

Honestly I’m kind of a failure at life and it’s been so long since I actually went to Kyoto that the memories of what I actually did are already slipping away from my grasp as I  fumble and awkwardly grab on to them as they sploosh like jelly bracelets out of my hands (does anyone remember those? yeah?) and then yell “NOOOOOO WHY, MEMORIES, WHY?!???” very dramatically as I drop them and they fall into The Void. What is The Void, you ask? It’s Narnia. It’s where all good things go to die. They place where everything you ever want ends up, yet you don’t have access to it. It appears to you when if feels like it so you can retrieve the precious things you were searching for, but ONLY when it decides you can open it! Hence, Narnia. Work peeps, you know what I’m talking about. You know the struggles of The Void.

And because my memories from three weeks ago are slipping away and turning me into an old fart, here’s the basic rundown of what happened: we went to the bamboo forest, saw some awesome bamboo, saw a lot of men in white shorts that were far too tight running around pulling people in rickshaws, saw wayyyyyy too many spiders for my liking (WHY JAPAN??? WHY U GOTTA LIKE SPIDERS SO MUCH??), saw some dope moss gardens, got some yakisoba on the main street, bought way too many souvenirs, then made our way back into the actual city to see the 伏見稲荷大社 (fushimi inari-taisha), a most spectacular shrine with fox statues everywhere and home of the thousand torii, which are those cool red gate/archway/thingies that pretty much every shrine in Japan has. We didn’t get to climb all the way up through them because (a) I was so tired and (b) it started pouring, and we didn’t have umbrellas. BUT! I did see a cat, the most awesome cat in the world who is my new best friend!! BECAUSE I HAVE MAGICAL CAT SUPERPOWERS AND CAN SPOT A CAT ANYWHERE HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

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Part of the bamboo forest
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A cool mappy thing of Arashiyama, I guess?
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Look at the little tree!
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I honestly don’t remember what this is, but it’s cool, right?
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Some nifty bamboo!
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Who knew that moss could be so beautiful?
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A lovey, quiet road. Don’t really get any of these in Kobe.
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One of the rickshaw chariots driven by the men in way-too-tight shorts. I mean those shorts were uncomfortable short. Do not compute. 
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I don’t know what all of these characters put together mean, but it sure looks neat. 
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Bamboo for dayyyyysssss and days and days
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Pretty little structure in the moss garden
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DEAD PEOPLE in the moss garden o.O
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bamBOOOOOOOOOOOO
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Close-up glamour shot of the moss
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More moss! It looks so soft, I just want to take a nap on it….
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A random street!
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Some lovely ladies in yukata!
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I don’t remember what this is, either!
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Look at the cute little doo-dad sticking out of the moss!
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A spiffy gate!
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I’m running out of caption ideas!
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I took way too many pictures!
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Why did I do that?!
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I make poor life choices sometimes!
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More dead people on the mountain!
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My cat BFF!!!

Are we done with photos yet…wait, REALLY? WE ARE?! Oh, only for a few minutes, you say? Phooey.

No, WAIT! Holy crap! I forgot the coolest photos of Fushimi Inari-Taisho!

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Tiny shrine-y things!
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*GASP* A fork in the road…which path will you choose??
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The last photo before my phone died!
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The main entrance outside of the train station!
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Stairs fo’eva
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Businesses paid for all of the torii so the businesses’ names are written on the back.
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The part of the shrine before you get to the torii
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A shrine within the shrine! Shrine-ception!
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I really liked this one. 
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This was pretty cool, too. 
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My favorite! A thousand rainbow paper cranes tied to one of the smaller shrines!
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They never end!

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So in a nutshell, that was Kyoto! I spent a little less than a day there, but heck, it’s so close I can get back over there whenever the hell I want. So, what else has been happening since I haven’t posted in three weeks, you ask?

I started school! YES, FOLKS! I started the job that I’m actually getting paid to do! Insane, right, after a month of twiddling my thumbs not doing much of anything? I was a little nervous the first week, but after the first three or four times of doing my self-introduction presentation I had it nailed. The first couple of classes were kinda stiff, but I fixed it, I MADE THEM LAUGH, told them all about Louisiana, and yet when I ask them to remember where I’m from they still say Texas every time. How many times of talking about swamps, gumbo, Mardi Gras parades and gators does it take for them to remember? Guess my mistake was telling them that Louisiana is next to Texas. The word “Texas” is apparently all they remembered. There’s no winning. I’ve also doomed myself to a lifetime of Taylor Swift for my September lessons…I had mentioned to the Japanese teacher of English that I teach with that I made a “song of the week” poster for the youngins to look at. She took that as a, “let’s use it for the lesson, too!” and chose, “Love Story,” which is not a bad song, per se, but after listening to it literally over thirty times in the past week I can safely say that I don’t ever want to listen to Taylor Swift ever again.

I’ve also discovered the inner creativity of some of my students. Today, I showed them some cartoon pictures and asked them to tell me stories about the pictures. For a picture of two small children playing with some toys in a bedroom, one pair said that, “Kate and Tom aren’t really just children. They’re ghostbusters. It’s their secret identity.” “Where are their parents?” I asked. “They’re in the milk bottles. The children captured them. They were the ghosts. They died.” In response to a picture of two kids on a farm with a fence with some sheep and a bunch of apples and horses, one pair of girls said, “The horse isn’t really a horse. It’s a monster and it ate all the sheep and it ate the kids and it ate the other horses and it’s just wearing the skin of the other horse.” Another pair said that the fence was a time travelling gate and that the future was on the other side of the fence. Yet another pair said that the apples were poisoned, and the horses ate them and then died. And all of these answers came from the same class section. I’m not really sure what their answers say about them, but they are definitely my favorite class out of the first-year bunch.

What else has happened before I start rambling on too much…I encountered an anti-gaijin group. That was fun. Thought I lived in a safe neighborhood, but who knows. Went down to the station to catch a train downtown to meet my friend. As I get off the bus and head to the station entrance, I see this dude standing on top of a black van, dressed head to toe in camouflage army gear, with a megaphone, yelling very angrily in Japanese that I couldn’t understand. Text friend, who then tells about who angry people are. Yayyyyyy.

 

I also have a new cactus and bonsai tree family! I tried flowers, but they died. So I’m only allowed to have cactuses now. I know it’s technically cacti, but cactuses sounds better so dang it, it’s what I’m going to say. I’m not pushing my luck for how long that little bonsai’s gonna last, but I’m giving him a shot!

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From left to right: Dead Flower in Blue Pot, Dead Plant in White Pot, Prickly Bob, Prickly Dugtrio, Prickly Pete, and Barry Bonsai!
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Live, Barry Bonsai! LIVE!

I also survived my first Japanese haircut. Now, I cheated a little. Or a lot. I consulted my friend Facebook in a desperate plea for haircut help. And a fellow JET told me about an English speaking salon. So I went there. Huzzah!

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Turned out pretty good, if I may say so myself!
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The decor in the salon was a little questionable…

What else, what else…I went to a Japanese vegan restaurant! It was heaven! Reminded me of Seed at home. I also had my first enkai (drinking party) on Wednesday night with my English department. All you can drink for two hours. I tried umeshuu (plum wine) for the first time, and it was so good! It was fun bonding with the other English teachers that I don’t work with directly. I just wish they had asked me to say a blurb in Japanese before I started drinking, not after. I couldn’t really think of anything on the spot…

And I got my couch! Behold the glory!

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I love my house now ❤ 

Well folks, that’s pretty much all I’ve got for now! Hope I made up for my three week absence. I’m thinking about posting an apartment tour post soon. Not that there’s that much to tour, I could probably cover it all in three or four pictures, but I’m so proud of my decorating and I just love my apartment so much now! Small but mighty!

Hope you all are doing well, and until next time!

またね!

エリン

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