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Asia » Japan » Saitama » Chichibu January 5th 2014

The shukubo One of the most rewarding things we did this trip to Japan was a temple stay (shukubo) at Taiyoji temple. We had done a temple stay at Koyasan before but this was a much more satisfying experience. Not that we didn’t enjoy our stay at the temple on Mt Koya, on the contrary, but there is a reason why the Taiyoji shukubo is considered the best of all shukubo experiences in Japan. Imagine an isolated temple on the top of a mountain in a glorious area of Japan and only 2 hours away from Tokyo. This is not the endless urban area of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima anymore, this is not the well-trodden route most tourists in Japan stick to for even repeat visits, but this is the Japan I would like all ... read more
Taiyoji entrance
Guardian spirit

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Chichibu January 5th 2014

Chichibu Within a mere 90 minutes of Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, it is surprising that photographers' and hikers' paradise Chichibu isn't discovered by more tourists yet. The rural town of Chichibu is located on a plateau surrounded by mountains and the train ride quickly gets very interesting once you have left the urban jungle that is Tokyo. Chichibu used to be well known for silk production but never really recovered from the crash in raw silk prices during the early Meiji period which led to the Chichibu rebellion. The surrounding mountains and the resulting isolation has resulted in the preservation of lots of traditional customs. Chichibu is best known for its important 34 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage and its many festivals. The town itself feels like it is still stuck in the Showa period with loads of ... read more
Temple #12
Temple #22
Temple #30

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe October 1st 2013

I had today off because it was "Tokyo Citizens Day", so Rani and I went to check out Kawagoe, or "Little Edo", which was supposedly a half hour away from central Tokyo. Well, given our location and that by "central Tokyo" they meant Ikebukuro (which is not central Tokyo lol), it actually took us closer to an hour and a half to get there. Still, we left early enough that it was alright, and we were excited to see what the area had in store. Getting off at Kawagoe Station put us nowhere near the area we wanted to be, so we did some walking, which certainly wasn't bad. The weather was gray and it kept intermittently raining, but it wasn't enough to be really annoying and it WAS enough to keep the big crowds away. ... read more
kawagoe 012
kawagoe 013
kawagoe 015

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe October 15th 2010

...and I didn't sound like an idiot!! In fact, the man (who is a staff member at TIU), told me 「あなたのはつおんはすごくきれい!」or "Anata no hatsuon wa sugoku kirei!" OOOOORRRRRRR "You're Japanese pronunciation is very pretty/clean/good!" (There are different meanings for the word "kirei") I was blown away. I had actually briefly met this man once before with a Japanese friend, Marina, but I didn't get past "hello" with him the first time. Obviously, when he approached me and said hello, I was already shocked that he remembered me... but then he started asking me about whether I'd studied Japanese before, and when: I understood everything he said, and I was able to reply in what I guess sounded to him like well-pronounced child's talk. Now, the Japanese are famous for their politeness, and also for their assumptions ... read more
Fuji: Morning After
Kenji
Riei

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Shiki September 5th 2010

Round 2 go! Ok, as promised I'm getting another message out to you, and this time it didn't take four months to prepare. Let's get right into what I introduced at the end of the last blog. So as the summer started and the festivals began across Japan I was in full adventure mode. It was really heating up in April here in June and we had already planned a thousand things to do over the new few months. It was tough to remember that I wasn't just on vacation and that I had to work five or six days of each week, since my focus was often on all the sporting events, trips and parties that were jammed into any free time I had. But that's not to say that my school wasn't a huge ... read more
Top of Mt. Fuji!
Awesome Crew
Japan vs. Korea soccer match!

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Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe September 5th 2010

Hey everyone! I can already tell that writing these blog entries is harder for me. The free time that I would have been spending on it is now being spent on hanging out with either friends or my host family, which is great! So far, the blog has been a great coping tool for dumping a bunch of feelings and potential frustrations when I am going through culture shock moments and feeling a bit empty. However, right now, I'm finding enough to keep me occupied that I'm not as likely to want to just hide away and write for an hour... except for right now. Expect these to come about once every week, where I will recap what has happened, my loves, my frustrations, and my deepest desires (probably not those actually...) So! Disclaimer over! I ... read more
Jun!!!
Me and Kaori
Going to TIU

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Shiki September 1st 2010

Wow, I can't believe the last time I wrote one of these was way back at the beginning of May. So, first of all I'd like to say that I'm sorry and I owe you all an explanation for the lack of bloggage. So here it is: Ummm...It's too hot? Hahaha ok so that was a horrible reason. It's true (in fact the hottest summer in memory for almost everyone I have spoken with in Japan), but no reason to leave you all hanging. To tell the truth it was a chain of events that overwhelmed me. That, and the fact that my perfectionist/procrastinator side dominated for a while and kept me from just sending a dang message out. Well enough of that guy, the real Sloan has taken over again and he can't wait to ... read more
New Manager Party!
50 Yen Highballs...ya we don't remember much!

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe August 29th 2010

...with how stupidly hot and sweaty it is here. That will be all I say on the matter. Hello again! It's been a couple days and stuff is happening very quickly. First things first, my host family is AWESOME. It's a small family, but that's the way I like it. My host-mom ( I call her okaa-san) and my host-dad (otou-san) and my host-grandmother (obaa-chan) are all very gentle and fun-loving people. They are very careful to help me learn Japanese, and are incredibly patient when it comes to listening to me or trying to explain something. With host-dad's good-but-limited English, and my straight up limited Japanese, we are getting by alright. Okaa-san speaks very little English, so I hope to progress my Japanese enough that I can soon actually hold a conversation with her. There's ... read more
The bar!
More bar!
Me in the Kitchen

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe August 28th 2010

Alright, I'm gonna catch everyone up quickly on what's been going down. Here are some random pictures that I haven't uploaded yet to illustrate. I'm sitting in my hotel room, it's 5:51 AM, I woke up an hour ago and I can't sleep. The mattress and pillow here are both super firm, and the underside of the later also seems to be filled with weighted beads of some sort. Either way, the sun's up, and sleep won't happen for me today, so it's ブログのとき!(Blog-Time!) Yesterday had it's highs and lows. I got breakfast at the hotel yesterday (something I'm eagerly awaiting this morning: que tummy rumble), and they came out with rice and fish(cooked) and pickled vegetables and sweet egg. Delicious! We were then taken on a train by our PAs (Japanese volunteer students) to TIU ... read more
Hotel Room Ignition 1
Hotel Room Ignition 2
Kawagoe

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe August 26th 2010

After a surprisingly short-feeling flight, filled with enough time for me to watch THREE movies (Einstein & Eddington, Green Zone, and Date Night), eat TWO meals (Bibimbap? Bimimbap? Can’t remember how to say it but it was a delicious Korean spicy rice dish), and try to take ONE nap (and failing), I emerged out of the plane doors into the oppressive heat of East Japan. After stumbling my way through Immigration, I came into what looked like a completely deserted baggage claim. I felt as if my plane had accidentally flown to the wrong Japanese airport. ‘Isn’t this Tokyo?’ I thought. ‘Aren’t people supposed to be everywhere??’ But looking at the incoming flights list, we were the only plane in this part of the airport. I’m standing there bemused, and I hear a small, nervous voice ... read more
Colin and Deanna
Me!
Fields




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