My Latest Obsession: Cherry Blossoms & Hanami

The countdown to spring is finally over! Actually, the countdown ended about two weeks ago… I’ve been looking forward to this season since I arrived in Japan. It’s nice that the weather is starting to warm up, but it’s still chilly outside that I still have to carry a jacket around with me. According to many locals, it’s been a very cold spring season.

What excites me so much about spring time in Japan is the cherry blossoms (sakura)! This is what I’ve been looking forward to since my arrival in Japan. I can’t simply help but appreciate the beauty of these flowers. The sad thing about these beauties is that they are so short-lived. The fully bloomed blossoms only last about a week or two.

A yearly Japanese tradition in the spring is to have a cherry blossom viewing party, which is commonly known as a hanami party. This usually takes place in the end of March or the beginning of April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Hanami literally translates as “flower viewing.” A lot of people gather at a park for a picnic and spend the entire day enjoying the transient beauty of the cherry blossoms. Yesterday was my first hanami experience and it was surely a lot of fun. I went with some of my friends who work in the same company and we hung out with lots of foreigners and locals while pigging out on food and drinking. Of course at these hanami parties, don’t be surprised to see a whole bunch of drunkards wandering around! This is very much expected since drinking in public is legal. :)

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A Tourist for the Day: Kamakura

Hello everyone!

A few days ago, I decided to meet up with one of my buddies from training and go on a day trip to Kamakura. It took me three hours to get there from Takasaki Station, but it was surely an easy commute. All I needed to do was hop onto the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line towards Odawara and stay on that train until it stopped at Ofuna Station. I was on that train for about 2 hours, 50 minutes. My only transfer was at Ofuna Station where I switched lines to take the train towards Zushi, but I only needed to go two stops to arrive at Kamakura. This took about 6 minutes so it was definitely a super quick transfer! From Takasaki to Kamakura, the train fare was about 2590 yen one-way, which is definitely pretty steep for a traveler on a budget (like me). However, I told myself that it’s just like going on a day trip from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. Sadly, I spent more on transportation than I did in total for eating and visiting the tourist attractions. On the brighter side, I thought that this day trip was worth my time and money! I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to those who live in Tokyo and Yokohama since it’s close by. Sometimes, it might be nice to get away from the city and get a grasp of the historical aspect that Japan has to offer.

Kamakura is known as the ancient capital of Japan and is now a very popular tourist destination for both foreigners and locals. This small and quaint city offers many historical sites such as temples and shrines, which many are within walking distance of each other. Another thing to mention is that Kamakura is also known for its food. Yes, you heard me! Not only that the food there is delicious, but it is also affordable so it’s a great area for foodies, like me, to explore.

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A Day in the Life of Teaching

Hello everyone!

Today just happened to be a not-so-ordinary day and here’s my story:

First off, I enjoy interacting with multiple personalities on the job as I mentioned in my earlier post. I love meeting new people and learning as much as I possibly can about them. I love the exposure I get when it comes to learning about the different cultures, traditions and lifestyles that these individuals preserve. I love how everyday is an exchange of new information between me and my students. I learn something new everyday, and some of the things I learn are considered life lessons for me probably because I’m younger than a majority of my students and I know that I still have a large number of things to explore about myself.

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New Start, New Place: A Glimpse of Takasaki

Hello friends!

Today, I decided to utilize my day off from work to explore Takasaki. Takasaki is located in the Gunma prefecture, which is often described by many locals and foreigners as being in “the middle of nowhere.” Maebashi is the capital of Gunma, but Takasaki is a larger and more populated city and serves as a regional transportation hub. At Takasaki Station, the rapid train (Joshin Railway Line) and the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) are accessible so it’s definitely not mandatory to navigate Japan riding the local train. I haven’t taken the Shinkansen to Tokyo yet, but I rode the rapid train when I went to the city over the weekend and it took me about 2-2.5 hours. Riding the Shinkansen would have cut that amount of time in half, but that would have meant having to pay double the price and I’ve definitely been trying to put myself on a strict budget! It’s about $23 USD to take the rapid train to the city one way. I’m really thankful that I live 3 minutes away from the station (and my workplace) by walking so it’s easy for me to hop on a train and venture out to other places! Overall, as my first impression, I personally think that it’s a nice and peaceful area, but not exactly ideal for tourists.

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Welcome to Japan!

Hello friends!

It’s unbelievable that today marks my third week of living in Japan! I arrived in Japan on February 4th, started training on the 5th, moved to Takasaki City in the Gunma prefecture on the 17th, and started work on the 18th. Over a three week span, I’ve met a lot of new people, learned a lot about the Japanese culture, acquired teaching techniques, and explored some touristy sites in Japan. Lastly, I’ve gotten to explore myself better and I believe that it’s already helped me improve myself both personally and professionally.

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