March Madness

Hey everyone!  Im back with another blog post!  Im half a month behind, but… yea!

March was a lot of prep for a very big event, not at school but for myself.  School on the other hand was pretty chill and relaxing.  I had only one class during the month with each of the grades.  At Koukou I preped a “Who stole the apple pen?” Mystery game, and at Shogyou I had a review lesson before their test with a short english review slip about who English study went for them that year. Then there was the teachers who were leaving and the emotional separation we would all feel as they left.  They do a really neat thing here in Japan.  When the teachers leave our island, we all go the the port and we see them off.  Theres a big speech and giving of gifts, then we sing the school song and give them these ribbons and as the boat pulls away to the taiko clubs send off the ribbons get pulled because we’re holding the other ends and then they tug free.  It was really emotional and I cried because I lost 2 vice principles, a principle, and 2 english JTEs and a few other teachers I got along with including the office staff uncharge of my housing. Other then that, I spent most of my time at Shougyou organizing my desk and planning my trip to Tokyo!

Why was I going to Tokyo you ask?  Well, you see, my very dear friend Mike, was coming for just over 2 weeks!  To Japan!  To SEE ME!  hahaha  Yup, A lot of prep.  I had to book hostels and hotels, plan travel methods and times, look into things to do that were sort of touristy and make a lot of reservations.  It was a pretty expensive trip I’ll tell you, but I made it work out.  I tried to the cheapest of options when it came to time reservations and travel routes.  Though I need to mention, the massive head ache I got, I mean a physical real headache, from trying to plan the travel from Mt Fuji to Sasebo within one day was horrible… took me 5 days to get over the hump of that beast.  Its not easy leaving Fuji, its great getting there, but leaving?  I get the feeling they don’t want you to, lol.

I guess I could include a copy of my Itinerary, but you should see the one I made for myself which I brought everywhere.  Yes, Ive made a habit of providing a detailed contact itinerary for every major trip I go on.  This way the ALTs I work with and all my JTEs know what I’m up to and where I’m going to be incase of an emergency.  And… Ive found if I over plan in such a way, then I rarely have hiccups in my trip that throw me off track.  Its nice not having to stress over it – after all the planning.  lol

I learned from my mistake in Okinawa, and Hokkaido – defiantly under pack.  That way you can travel light and come home with omiyage!  hehe.  I went with the idea that Id probably wear everything 2 times.  And use free stuff at the hostels and hotels!  So I left with only a small suitcase and a backpack with my Itinerary and iPad. It felt great and hassle free!

I was too excited and bubbly in the office planning my trip, asking for recommendations and waiting to see Mike!  As you can tell through my writing, I clearly forget everything else that I did unless I look at the pictures.  I distinctly remember having a weekend of only cleaning my house… over cleaning perhaps.  But I wanted everything to be perfect!

SO before Mike came I’ll summarize what I did.  I made tea biscuits without the excessive amount of butter i was using because i discovered i was using way too much after a conversation with my mom. I did visit the Katsumoto Castle ruins!  They were a blast and I got to play around with the sun in my camera and perspective shots at the shrine because no one was around!  The view from the observation tower was spectacular and I wish I could have a house up there and wake up to the view of the port every day!  I checked out a few Shrines in Ashibe when I was shopping and I also made tacos! or burritos… what ever you want to call them. At the Ikikoku Museum Rachel and I went to a tea ceremony viewing and we got to drink Matcha tea and wonderful sweets!  After Curry night at Yoshitomie’s with a few of our Japanese friends; Kanako, Yui and Harumi, we all went to Karaoke and had a lot of fun singing Japanese, English and Old pop songs! I hung out a Rachels’ this month and played a lot of Paper Mario!  So surprisingly fun and fulling hitting things with a hammer and painting everything!  I caught some of my students on TV advertising Iki Tofu!  So funny.

The following weekend, it was the Spring Equinox; which is a national holiday in Japan.  I left on the Tuesday after the holiday and flew from Fukuoka to Narita airport in Tokyo. I got to Tokyo around 3 or 4 so I took a Limousine bus to Haneda Airport where Mike was to land around 5!  I got there early and after he finished checking in and getting his baggage it was almost 6 before we actually met up!  I was ecstatic to see him! I had a wonderful trip planned for us to see a lot of Japan on the way back to Iki.  I had it set up so we could sort of take our time, meaning we weren’t just going to Iki, but stopping a night here and there.  I had about 6 days off from work and a weekend so thats plenty!

We spent 3 days in Tokyo, we got to the the Imperial palace, Tokyo Sky Tree, the iconic views from mario Cart racing on the streets of Tokyo, and the Ueno Zoo (oldest zoo in Japan!) and a few awesome places to eat like the Kawaii monster cafe, beef raman and a souvlaki place!  We also went to the Meiji shrine, a major shrine in Tokyo and got the shrine stamp and some charms!  The last stop was the Zoo where we saw cherry blossoms and A North american porcupine…  And some awesome Japanese birds and other Pandas!!  After Tokyo we bused to Fuji Kawaguchiko and stayed at a hotel with a view of Fuji and its own hot springs!  I got mike to try the private onsens and then after a monstrous Local Japanese meal we went to bed and got up to see the sunrise on Fuji!

In Fuji, I had a special thing planned.  Since it was out of season to climb fuji, I decided – based on the recommendation of ALT friends in Hokkaido, to Paraglide in front of Fuji san!  It was too fun!  I highly recommend the Skyasa paragliding and canoeing school!  They were an awesome experience for Mike and I.  The only scary thing was jumping off the cliff as they yell at you to not stop running!  And everything your body tells you is stop. lol.  But then it felt like I was swinging above the forest and I could see about half of Fuji as the clouds came in and my fingers were frozen as i wished i brought gloves.

After Fuji we bused to the Shinkansen and Took that across 11 prefectures all the way back to Fukuoka!  The next stop was Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture.  So after sleeping in Fukuoka, we grabbed a bus to Sasebo, checked in at this amazing Airbnb not far from the station and got on a train to Hius Ten Bosch! This is a Dutch theme park.  Its Huge!  And they have so many themed areas it would take days to see it all!  We got to do some haunted houses, play taiko on the side of a building on Wii, and go on the Pirate ship!  We saw a glass museum and had some food and I did a crazy scary ropes Challenge! Then we did the olden maze and Headed home.  After Sasebo we bussed to Fukuoka. Checked in for a night, did some shopping and went to the Cat Cafe. We also got the infamous Fukuoka fluffy Pancakes at Grams!  Ran out of the time I thought we’d have to see more of Fukuoka as tourists like the castle, cherry blossoms and a museum and more, then caught a ferry the next day to Iki!  Got there early which gave us time to unpack and clean, Shop for food and relax before I went back to work the next day!

While on Iki Mike did stuff at my place while I went to work and when I got back I took him out to see Iki and have some good local food!  We did many things like visit my teachers of Koto and Shoudo, See the shrines, go for walks, climb mountains see light houses, we went to the Castle ruins and also went to the Iki Museum and walked through the entire thing! We also went to the Village and walked through that!  We took loads of pictures.  We also went to the many tombs of ancient Iki and saw another Castles ruins in Gounoura area.  We went to Dragon Island and spent time climbing the cliffs!  We also hung out with Kanako at Chips and met my ALT friends!  Theres this shrine in Ashibe on an island you can only get to a low tide and we went there too!  Many we did so much!  I showed him almost everything I have done on Iki over 6 months in 3 days and we did a bunch of new things too!  It was a lot of fun!  Keep in mind, mike was here for almost 2.5 weeks, only a week on Iki, so If you do come, please don’t expect to fit everything in!  It was exhausting and once he left I slept almost an entire day lol. We didn’t get a lot of sleep.  But I wanted to max our time together and Now I think Ive convinced him to come again!  Lol.

Well that brought us to the start of April! Until next time!  Cheers!

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