Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ends and beginnings

Well, it's dark in Japan. 

In 7 minutes, I'm heading out to meet friends to ring in the new year in Tokyo. 

Then we will journey to the beach to watch the first sunrise of the new year. 

I'm excited to see what this kind of celebration will be like! But I missed having family to hang around today. 

Why can't I have everything I want??

Kidding!

Anyway, here's to a lovely 2016 for everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Argh!

I updated my laptop to Windows 10. And now I can't use my blogging program. Augh!

So, here is a tiny update on my first 6 days of holidays. 
Talk to you soon, I hope! 


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

My first Christmas in Japan turned out to be so much more fun than I was expecting!

I overslept this morning - whoops. Three myself together, and headed out the door to grab my neighbor Sheryl for a Christmas coffee. 

It was strange to walk through a perfectly normal business day going on - Japan doesn't really stop for Christmas. 

Coffee! I got a small one so I could be as hungry as possible for lunch. 

We lingered too long over our coffee and missed out train into Tokyo proper. Oops! But we caught the next one and happily ran into a heap of coworkers also on their way to lunch. 
The hotel was beautiful and luxurious. We all oohed and aahed. Well, we are a bunch of broke English teachers! 
The buffet was amazing! Beef, salad with bacon and olives, cheese, roasted pumpkin, ice cream, cakes, chocolate, and all sorts of yummy goodies. No octopus, sadly. But loads of coffee!
After lunch, a group of us went up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. 

Hello, Tokyo! Merry Christmas!


In the afternoon, we walked across Tokyo and went to a board game cafe. Playing games with friends was a fun way to spend Christmas afternoon!

We ended the day with a stroll through an illumination near Shinjuku station. It changed based on touch - so fun!
I finished the day with some fried chicken (as a nod to Japanese Christmas) and It's a Wonderful Life. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Hello, loved ones!

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm just about to turn in for the night. This is my first Christmas Eve in my own apartment. It's a little weird. 

Working Christmas Eve was actually kind of fun! There were presents and good cheer (despite giving exams - sorry!)
After work, I got on the train with mysterious Santas. 
And I got a seat for most of the journey! Thank you, Santa!

Once in Machida, I met a friend for a sushi Christmas Eve dinner. Yum!
Then, we had Christmas cake and watched Disney Christmas stuff. 

Although I'm missing family, it's been a pretty good day anyway. And I'm off to tea Lamentations before bed (church homework). 

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Journey to Thursday

This year, I’m hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at my house. It’s actually my first time to host Thanksgiving! Somehow, it has morphed into almost a traditional meal. I think there will be three Americans, one Canadian, and two Brits.
Sheryl (one of the Americans) and I bought a turkey in Yokohama yesterday.
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You may be wondering how a turkey will be cooked in a Leopalace that doesn’t have an oven. Well, it will be interesting.
The turkey joined us for a nice dinner in the shopping center. Actually, it was a pretty disgusting dinner (I think there were flakes of tuna on my pizza), but that doesn’t sound as nice.
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Turkey’s first train ride.
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I had this horrible vision of the train suddenly braking and the turkey turning into a frozen projectile.
Here’s Turkey with a poster of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
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What’s the best way to defrost a turkey? How about cuddling?
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So far, urban Thanksgivings are weird, weird, weird!
More to come as Thanksgiving draws nearer!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hakone, my love

This is part 2 of my weekend adventures.

When we last saw each other, I had just imbibed a frightfully disgusting sweet potato coffee. Yeah, the chunky one. Bleeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Why did I leave you on that note?

Anyway, we boarded the pirate ship after the coffee and a few more pictures with Fuji-san. The sky was amazing.IMG_5551

So textured and lovely.

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Here we are all photographing Fuji again. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

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Perhaps I should rename this blog Photographing Mountains From Boats.

Remember me?

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Hi, pirate guy!

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Can’t get enough of that sky.

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After the ship, we walked around some forest paths and enjoyed the gorgeous afternoon. Buuuuuuuuut, we stayed too long!

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Well, wouldn’t you stay?

Because we overstayed, we missed the last gondola back. So, we had to take a bus. And SOMEONE (again, she knows who she is) decided to get off the bus at the wrong stop. It took three buses instead of two to get back to the mountain train. Oops.

Before boarding the third bus, we met some lovely Japanese folks who were taking the same bus. They helped us sort out the confusing buses. When we got on the third bus, I was surprised to see windows in the roof. I had never seen that before!

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The mountain train going down was less exciting, but at least we got a seat. Yay! I was kind of tired after standing on the bus.

All in all, I would highly recommend Hakone to anyone in this area who likes novelty public transportation and nature. It was a really delightful day, and I wish I could go every weekend!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A delightful weekend

Well, it’s Sunday night. I really should be going to bed, but I just have to start my weekend blogs first! This weekend has been so amazing that it will probably turn into a 2 part blog (I don’t have a great record with doing the second part of a two-parter, but I’ll do my best).

So, why was this weekend so great? Well, I practically spent the whole thing with friends. I spent Saturday with my friend Harry and Sunday with my friend Sheryl. They are both lovely people and SO much fun!

First, SATURDAY!

On Saturday, Harry and I went to Hakone. I’ve had mixed feelings about Hakone for a while. I didn’t really know much about it except that it was a place where you could enjoy nature and maybe see Mt. Fuji. And there was some kind of volcano or mountain or something. Considering that about a zillion places in this area make the same Fuji claim, I wasn’t super impressed. But I heard some good things about it, so I was excited to go on Saturday. But I was mostly excited to just go somewhere new.

To get to Hakone, you can reserve a seat on a train from Machida to Hakone called the Romancecar (bahahaha). The best thing about the Romancecar (besides the name) is that the seats are comfortable! Actually, that’s a lie. We were sailing along towards Hakone. I looked out the window across the aisle, and my gaze landed on a snowcapped mountain. FUJI!!!!!

I got a little excited and tried to take a picture out the window.

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When we arrived at the end of the line, we weren’t 100% sure where to go. Someone who shall remain nameless forgot to bring the Hakone information guide along. But she knows who she is.

Lots of people from our train seemed to be getting on a cool little red train, so we just decided to go with the flow. I love fun trains, so when it turned out to be the right choice, I was pretty happy. The little red train chugged out of the station and slowly wound its way up through the mountains.

There really were some fall colors on this mountain…I should edit this picture, but I’m too tired.

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Here’s the front of the train – I love it when trains go around curves!

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When we got to the end of the red train line, we transferred to a cable car. By this time, I was pretty much on cloud 9. Three fun forms of transportation in one day??? And nature???? Yessss.

Seriously. Look at this thing. Who wouldn’t want to ride it?? And look at that sky! Bliss, people. Bliss.

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Hello, fall colors!

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Usually you transfer to a gondola at the top of the cable car line. However, we had to take a substitute bus instead of the ropeway due to volcanic activity (I didn’t see or smell anything, but no one asked me). We got off the cable car and got on the bus. It was a really nice bus, but I was a little disappointed about the ropeway. I had seen that it was canceled before we got there, so it wasn’t a huge shock. But you know. It sounded pretty amazing.

Well, after a few minutes, the bus stopped. We followed a bunch of people off and heard talk about a ropeway. Ropeway? What?

Surprise! The first half of the ropeway was closed, but the second half was open!

There was much rejoicing.

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Fuji was gorgeous from the gondola.

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And, our fellow gondola riders were so much fun. They seemed to really be having a blast. As a matter of fact, they discovered these photo props in the gondola and handed them over to us so we could try them out. Mine says “I heart Hakone”

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Hi, Fuji! Love your snow hat!

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When we alighted from the gondola, we made our strangest transfer of the day. We boarded a ship. And not just any old boat. It was a pirate ship we boarded, matey.

Aye, we boarded a pirate ship and set off across the briny deep. Well, it wasn’t briny, but it was probably deep. Maybe.

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Avast ye landlubbers!

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Harry is pretty lucky, because I just now realized that I completely forgot to tell any pirate jokes.

What’s a pirate’s favorite school subject?

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Arrrrrrrrrrt.

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Did I mention that we could see Fuji from the boat? For a while, we couldn’t. I thought we weren’t going to be able to see it, but suddenly it appeared.

Cue overly-excited Liz. You know me and mountains. I can’t stop being thrilled.

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This was our boat.

Tada!

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Finally, it was time for lunch. We had udon noodles with mountain vegetables. Yum! So Japanese!

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After lunch, it was coffee time. I saw a sweet potato coffee. I wanted to try it, but it sounded weird. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try it, so I tried it.

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It was the WORST COFFEE I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE! Bar none. It was chunky. Enough said.

I want to keep writing, but now I’m really late for bed! I’m so sorry to leave you on this lovely chunky potato coffee note. I will try to get back as soon as possible.

Good night!