Rain, rain, rain, and lots of rain

The rainy season has set in here in Miyazaki~ It rains pretty hard most days and the humidity seems through the roof. Roads and side walks turn into mini rivers in a matter of moments when the heavy rain starts, parking lots turn into shallow lakes. I think shorts might be the best course of action during the rainy season, so the rain doesn't seep up the pant legs, taking forever to dry in the humid weather. But don't get me wrong! I love this weather. The rain is pleasant to listen to and the whole place turns green (with vegetation not mold :). The bugs are coming out and the temperature is getting hotter and hotter~ Summer is on it's way.


神戸の旅行 Kobe Travels

今週末、神戸に行った。 AllisonとJackに会ったり、買い物をしたり、観光したり、友だちに作りました。 本当に楽しかったよ! 水曜日の晩にフェリーに乗った。 あまり人がいなかったから、しずかだ。 Allison とJackは木曜日にじゅぎょうがあたが、私と一緒に行った。 じゅぎょうは日本語のじゅぎょうだ。 おもしろかった、ちがいの文法や単語があた。 先生はやさしかった。金曜日Allisonと一緒い三ノ宮買い物しに行った。神戸のファシオンはすごくすてき! ぜんぶ買いたい。あぁぁ~~ 神戸で世界に一番大きいのIKEAがある。人が多かった!三ノ宮からIKEAまでシャトルバスがある。IKEAの物は同じだから、日本で人気があると思っている。あとでAllisonのアパートに帰った。友だちと一緒にカラオケした~~すごく楽しかった!私とAllisonとゆいちゃんとひろみちゃん(Allisonのチューター)、一緒に歌った~みなは本当に上手だ!日本の歌難しいが、チャレンジだ!カラオケが好き!

And now for those of you who do not know Japanese or would rather not read my horrid Japanese, I present the abridged version with pictures~

I traveled to Kobe by ferry this weekend to hang out with the other exchange students from Evergreen in Kobe. I did entirely too much shopping but had lots of fun sightseeing and hanging out with friends :) When I arrived on Thursday I wound my way through the subways and railway lines from the Osaka port to Gakuentoshi, a station near the University in Kobe. After making it and trying to shake away the odd feeling that the world was swaying beneath my feet, because I had just spend the last twelve hours on a rocky boat, I headed over to the University to meet up with Jack and Allison to eat lunch. I joined an English study lunch club where I was introduced to several of my soon to be friends and the Japanese professor at the University. I then joined Japanese class after wards with Allison and Jack. Then Allison and I returned to her apartment where I promptly took a nap before we headed out to dinner with Allison's friend from China. On Friday we headed over to Sannomiya, a downtown shopping area in Kobe filled with more stores then I could ever imagine. This being my third time to Kobe, and probably my tenth visit to Sannomiya, I was discovering whole new levels and shops in the area, it is quite a shopper's paradise. We caught the free shuttle bus to the new IKEA on port island as well. The line was a good 100 meters long... I was really surprised. (See picture below)

On our way back from IKEA we were unable to fit onto the first bus it was so crowded! So we waited for the next one and chatted about how we liked the clothing that some people were wearing~ After we returned from our shopping spree we headed out to Karaoke with Yui and Hiromi (Allison's tutor). It was lots of fun! I find that Japanese songs are the best to sing because they are really challenging and can teach you lots of Japanese and is good practice for reading and speaking quickly.

Once we had sung to our heart's content we called it a night and headed home.

Saturday Allison and I spend some time doing homework and studying in the morning before taking a quick trip to the mall to view the stores there. Before heading over to Yui's place to bake a cake for Hiromi's birthday with her and Yoyo. Allison makes wonderful yummy cakes by the way! Yui also taught me how to make Okonomiyaki and we ate that while the cake was baking. The pan-shwoop, where you flip over the okonomiyaki with just the pan, was the most difficult part I think. I was rather nervous, but managed it ok~ Once we finished the baking of the cake, we headed back to Allison's place to let the cake cool for the night. On Sunday morning we arose bright and early to make it to Yui's place by 9am to finish up the cake. With everything complete, Yoyo went of to Kyoto first so we could suprise Hiromi with the cake when she arrived. We then went to Tarumi station to meet up with Hiromi and her friend and buy discount tickets for Kyoto, which cost about half the price that it would of cost to buy them normally.

When we arrived in Kyoto, we ate lunch then headed to Kinkakuji to view the sights and eat cake. We also visited a lot of other areas in Kyoto till it started to get dark and we figured we should catch a train home so we don't miss the last bus. Luckly we all made it back in time for the buses and were safe and sound.

I joined the American Political class taught by the current exchange faculty in Kobe on Monday before heading back to Sannomiya for a little bit of last minute shopping, and then headed off for the ferry. I met some nice people on the ferry and we chatted and shared some food for dinner. It was a wonderful trip and thank you everyone so much for such a good time! I hope to visit Kobe again! It is always a new and exciting adventure :)


Rules of the Road

During my stay here in Japan so far, I have noticed many things about driving which seem to differ from the U.S.A, besides driving on the other side of the road. There seems to be four sets of rules which are fallowed on the road:

First is cars:
As a road was built for cars they have the main say in the end. But driving habits seem to be a bit.... different here. I have often found myself clinging to the sides of my seat praying to live through the experience. Don't get me wrong, there good drivers on the roads but they seem to be young people. When I feel as though I am in a life threating position seems to be when I am driving with older people, particularly women (not a sexist comment, just from my experiences). There seems to be a lot of stopping in the middle of the road randomly or turning from the wrong lane. But other then my scary experiences as a passenger I have observed the social rules of driving seem to be different. People are far more common to stop to let someone to the line, or just driving more passively in general. Also roads are quite narrow so there is often no actual turn lane, so people just stop in the middle of the road to turn and other cars swerve around them. Needless to say I am very cautious about my surroundings when a pedestrian.

Second is pedestrians:
Pedestrians are pretty much the same as the U.S.A. Stick to the side walks and cross walks and you are safe. J-walk at you own risk. Pretty Standard.

Third are bikes:
Bicycles are a mix between the pedestrian and the car. They can ride on the side walk or on the road. Side walks here in Miyazaki are plenty wide enough for both pedestrians and bicycles and are made for both. Most bicycles are one speed and come equipped with at least a basket in front for various things, some have the nifty platform above the back tire and or saddle bags for carrying additional loads. Most mothers have one or two child seats in addition to a basket. The bicycle is really the way to travel here in my opinion.

Fourth, last but not least, is scooters:
These things are a drive at your own risk. They tend to have a max mph of 30-40 and fit into no other group. Most people drive on the very edge of the road to avoid getting mowed down by cars doing twice the speed. When cars stop at a red light most mozy their way up to the front of the line between cars to get a burst of a head start before getting passed by everyone once again. I often see scooters drive up onto the side walk to park. Please wear a good helmet while driving one of these crazy vehicles.

Though I have made the roads seems unbelievable dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, there are actually very few accidents here in Miyazaki. Probably because there is not the shear volume of cars that we have in the U.S, maybe also because all these driving rules seem like something normal so everyone knows what to look out for. I tend to see tons of scooters around the school because in terms of getting a license it is much more affordable then a car. A scooter costs about 300$ where as a car license costs about 3000$. I personally enjoy being a pedestrian or riding my bicycle.

On an ending note.... I have seen one policeperson in my 7 months here in Japan, and he had pulled over a scooter because it was going under the speed limit. This is quite a different place indeed.


Busy Busy Busyness

It has been quite a while since I last posted in my blog. My mom came to visit me in Japan for the last two in a half weeks, she is currently on the way back to the U.S now. We have traveled to many places and did a lot of shopping! We visited Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, and many sightseeing areas around Miyazaki. So many places in so little time! I think I shall take the next few days to relax and recover from all the traveling. I acted as a translator for my mom while she was here, it was great practice for my Japanese. I could go into many details of the trips, but I will just post some pictures with descriptions~ I shall start from the beginning~

The first day we went to Kyoto. The shrine is called kinkakuji. I visited it in the fall last year, but it looks completely different in the spring.

After visiting a few temples and shrines, we went to the Kyoto botanical gardens. It is rather off the beaten path of tourists but it was great weather and we got to take a leisurely walk through the flowers. We also visited the large green house in the botanical garden. oooh pretty flowers~

We visited Kobe on the second day. I feel as though Kobe is much more fashionable then Osaka. We traveled up the Kobe ropeway (a gondola that travels to the top of a mountain) and walked down through the herb gardens. We also did a bit of shopping in the area~

After a few busy days in the Kansai area, we took the shinkansen and headed down to Fukuoka. There we met up with my friend Midori and went out to sushi. It was my mom's first time eating sushi so it was fun :)

In Fukuoka we also went to Dazaifu in Fukuoka. Much like Kyoto, it was almost like a different place in spring rather then winter. There were about three different high schools visiting the shrine, but luckly we were able to get in and visit the shrine before it was swarmed by students.

After a week of busy traveling with suit cases we finally arrived back in Miyazaki. But the busyness didn't end there. We continued to travel around the area visiting shrines and beaches in Miyazaki prefecture.

On Tuesday the 29th we headed down to Aoshima, on foot. It is a rather long hike taking about 2 hours we arrived at the beach. It was full of surfers and the waters where clear blue. We went seashell hunting and walked down the beach to Aoshima. The island is surrounded by the "Uni no sentaku" or "devil's washboard" in English. It is a natural rock formation that is found along the coast just south of Miyazaki city.

Thursday the 1st I had no classes so we visited Kagoshima. It was a bit rainy but we were able to visit some places that Anthony and I were unable to see so it was quite interesting. The volcano, Mt. Sakurajima, was surrounded in mist and clouds so it was quite pretty. (You can see it in the back ground of the picture)

We also visited Udo Shrine on Sunday, it was golden week so there were many many people there. I was able to land one of the little clay balls into pool of water on a rock below the shrine~ Each time I visit the shrine it is always calming and pleasant, I wish it was a bit easier to get to from Miyazaki city.

And here is Miyazaki Shrine~ It is interesting because you can always tell where shrines are because they tend to be little forests in the middle of a city.

Other then sightseeing we did a lot of shopping. And I do mean a lot of shopping. It is shop till you drop here in Japan :P especially during golden week. It's dog eat dog in Aeon shopping mall here in Miyazaki.

Now my mom is on her way back to Seattle and I am gonna get back on my routine of classes and homework and living in Japan. I have decided to keep a nature journal to help me get through these next few months. This year has gone by so fast. When I reflect upon it so much has happend and I have learned so much. I am hoping to make the best of the last few months here. And I miss cheese so much!


Shiva's farewell

For the past month or so I had been trying to find a new home for Shiva. He has grown up to be such a good kitty, and he needs more space and loving family to be with. Yet when I had to give him away it still hit me hard. He went to his new home on April 6th. He has moved to Nichinan, about an hour and a half drive away form Miyazaki Univeristy. I sent him off with some of his favorite toys. He was scared when he first got there, hiding under the table for a little while. But he is such a good kitty who loves people that he crawled out shortly and curled up in his new people's arms and took a nap. I have been keeping in touch with his new family and they sent me some pictures and reports on how he is doing. I am glad that he is in a good home with loving people :)

I am glad that I was able to help him recover from his sickness and find him a good home. I talked to my vet and he recomended contacting the Miyazaki dobutsu no inochi wo momory kai, a group in Miyazaki who helps find homes for abandoned pets. It was a relief to find this group here, I was worried about all the abandoned animals that live in Miyazaki, but now I am glad that they have people helping them. Anyways, I called them and gave them information on Shiva and sent a picture and they helped find him a new home.

This is their website:
and this is something pretty funny for those who like cats~ http://www1.bbiq.jp/m-doubutsu/cat%20commandments.html

I am sad that Shiva is gone, I wont hear his little padding feet running around the room at night. Or his happy meows and cuddles when I come home. But knowing that I helped him get well and find a loving home makes me happy.

さいよならシバちゃん I will always remember you.

I think I am going to do some WTF cat photos with some of the pictures I have of Shiva hehe. He is just such a cute and slightly odd kitty~

Miyazaki Graduation

On March 24th I went to the Miyazaki graduation held at Sea Gaia, a fancy hotel/resort by the beach in Miyazaki. Several of my friends were graduating including Kaori, Midori, and Satomi. It was rather short compared to Evergreen's graduation I think, just a few speakers and a small musical performance. All the girls were dressed up in kimono and hakata or pretty dresses and the guys were all in suits. It was pretty fun to see everyone all dressed up. It was so packed and busy with everyone rushing around. Anyway here are some pictures~

Ahhhh~~~ Everyone is starting the next step of their life's journey.


Hello guys~ I know I haven't blogged in about a month >< Sorry! I will try to do some catching up soon.

Last night it was once of my friends birthday so a group of us all went out to dinner and Karaoke. We went to eat sushi at a hyakuen, about 1 dollar, sushi place. It was so yummy and we all ate more then we should have! After eating our fill we headed over to Round-One, an entertainment center near Minami Miyazaki. Entertainment centers are quite popular here in Japan I believe. They have pretty much everything, karaoke, darts, arcades, bowling, and a multitude of other fun things to do. I often wonder how they fit it all in the building.

We headed for the Karaoke and sang our hearts out for a good three hours. If anyone wants to practice reading Japanese quickly I recommend doing Karaoke. The words zoom by so fast but most of the Kanji doesn't have furigana so you might be making up some sounds a long the way if you don't know much kanji. Along with a few microphones, there are Congo drums, little tambourine things, and maracas so people can accompany the singer/singers. It was super fun and we all had a great time~

I will try to post more of what happened in March after this.