- - - 3/30/2005 - - -


Filed under: — Andy @ 6:11 pm

This Sunday was Easter although I completely forgot about it. It’s slightly strange to celebrate Easter in March. I was able to eat some Peeps though, thanks to Lenny who brought me some from CA. I can’t get Peeps in Japan, probably because the Japanese people I gave some Peeps to said that they were way too sweet. Those and the caramel eggs are what make the Easter holiday what it is. I even got to do the standard Easter egg hunt and Easter egg coloring in my kids classes as well.

- - - 3/28/2005 - - -

Symphony Sunset Cruise

Filed under: — Andy @ 3:33 am

I went on a sunset cruise with a group of people from my building on Easter Sunday, although the cruise had no relation to Easter in any way. Overall, it was a great experience. The boat ride was interesting, the scenery was adequate, the food was delicious, and the company was amazing. We had all gotten dressed up for the occasion, and I finally got to wear my suit again. It was a major change from how my friends normally see me :)

Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge in the background.

Our Ship. There was also a wedding aboard.

Lets Eat!


- - - 3/27/2005 - - -

St Patrick’s Parade

Filed under: — Andy @ 4:50 am

The Omotesando St Pactrick’s parade photo gallery is up. Take a look at it.

St Patrick’s Parade

- - - 3/25/2005 - - -

Lenny’s Japan Visit

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:48 pm

My friend Lenny is visiting Japan from the US this week. On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I got to hang out with and show him around Tokyo. I am nowhere near a great tour guide and got us lost a few times (actually, I’m never lost; I just like to take the long route), but overall it was a good experience for me and hopefully for my friends.

I met Lenny and his friend Merrily in Nippori where they were staying, and after a traditional onigiri (Japanese rice balls [triangles]) breakfast, headed off to the train station. We went to Ueno to activate their JR passes but found out that we had to wait until 10:30, so we went to Ueno park for a while. While there we were lucky enough to get a free tea ceremony. Even better was the fact that it was also Free Day at Ueno Zoo. Yay for free things. We checked out the zoo for a while and saw all the cool animals. The Ueno zoo is much different than most other zoos as the animals have a much smaller living space and you can almost touch them in some cases. After the zoo we went to Tokyo station and looked at the Imperial Palace grounds. Lenny and I decided to have a race across the park; I won :) It being Sunday, we then went to Harajuku to see the… um…gothic people I guess. Although, some of the costumes the people wear are far from any categorization. This Sunday there was also the St. Patrick’s Day parade going on. We enjoyed watching the parade, and enjoyed jumping the barrier and joining the parade even more. Then a ramen lunch followed by a walk to Meji Jingu Shrine. After some deliberation on what to do next we went to the Tokyo Tower to get a night view of the city. The tower was crowded with people and there was even a line to get down from the top. We then took a quick look at Roppongi.

Make sure to see the pictures for the other days too: (more…)

- - - 3/24/2005 - - -

Sushi Candy

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:24 pm

While in Tsukiji I finally found some sushi candy…

I wonder if it is as good as the actual sushi I ate in Tsukiji…

Oh, and of course I had to get some 大とろ(Otoro) as well :)

- - - 3/22/2005 - - -

Air Purifier

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:13 pm

I bought an air purifier for my room to help with the alergies. These Japanese ones are awsome

- - - 3/17/2005 - - -

Spring and Pollen

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:14 pm

Spring and Pollen

Spring has arrived in Japan, which means no more snow and no more freezing temperatures. Yet it brings something even worse: Pollen, and lots of it. This is a large problem in Japan as many people suffer from ‘cedar fever’ every spring. Here is the problem according to what my students have told me. About 50 years ago Japan planted an insane number of cedar trees to help rebuild after WWII, and now they are arriving at full maturity for maximum pollen producing. This is made worse by last years incredibly hot, long, and humid summer, which in all there is said to be 30 times the amount of pollen than last year. My students are constantly complaining about the pollen, and I am also seeing an amazing number of people walking around with face masks. This spring is going to be hell for anyone with allergies. Unfortunately, because of my inferior genetics (thanks mom) I too have allergies to pollen. Luckily, I still have a bottle of allergy medicine from the US as I still don’t understand any of the Japanese medicines. So what is the solution… Pollen-less trees perhaps?

- - - 3/15/2005 - - -

Hiwatari Matsuri

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:19 pm

Here are pictures from the Hiwatari matsuri (Fire Walking festival) that I went to on Sunday. The matusri was held at the bottom of Takao Mountain. Basically, the monks build a huge bon fire then when it dies down they walk over the ashes for some reason. After the monks walk, then it is opened up for anyone to walk through. There were lots of people there, and the line to walk across was huge. I and some friends walked through the fire for the sheer novelty of it. The ground was in no way actually hot, and in fact the path you walk was cold. Yet I got to step in a pile of salt and have monks shake their noise making things at me and chant nonstop. Afterwards, we all went out for some sweets.

Many people and the long line

Old ladies showing how it’s done

The fire walking members.
Two others didn’t want to participate, or should I say get their feet dirty for no good reason.


- - - 3/13/2005 - - -

Falling Down

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:02 am

Today I fell down.
But not in any physical way.

- - - 3/10/2005 - - -

AndySensei the Video

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:41 pm

My friend Ken made a video from my experiences in Japan. Please watch it so you can realize why I have decided to stay in Japan for another year. Sorry to all who thought I would come back after a year. Yet it has been almost 11 months, and although I have had many adventures there is a lot more that I want to do and experience. My new contract with ECC starts in the Begining of April, and I exited to see what I will do during my second year in Japan.

AndySensei Video : 50MB : 9 mins

or right click and choose ’save as…’ to save the file to you computer for future viewing pleasure

Thanks for the video Ken!

- - - 3/8/2005 - - -

Sakura Mochi

Filed under: — Andy @ 4:38 pm

I made sakura mochi with two of my friends on Sunday after my bike ride. Not only was it fun to make, it was delicious. Simply start by making balls of ‘Anko’ (sweet red bean paste). Then make ‘mochi rice’ (sweet sticky rice) and lay out the leaves. Wrap the anko in the rice then roll in a leaf. It seems simpler than it is as my friends did most of the real cooking.

- - - 3/6/2005 - - -

Sunday Bike Ride

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:30 am

Yet another Sunday without plans, so yet another opportunity to go exploring. I still don’t have a bike of my own because I am always able to steal, I mean borrow :), my friend’s bike since he doesn’t have a lock on it. It’s a really old bike and most of the brakes are gone so I have to stop Flinstones style. It was cold in the morning, so I bundled up and headed out east toward Kichijoji. The fist thing I came across was a very familiar sight:

Yup, it’s a D2. I haven’t seen a D2 since my first trip to Japan over a year and a half ago.

The next thing to catch my attention was an interesting row of ‘torii’ all built one after another. They all seemed to be different as well as some seemed old and some seemed small etc.


- - - 3/3/2005 - - -

Sweets Challenge

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:29 pm

Only as a personal challenge, I decided to not eat any candy for a whole week. I thought it would be pretty easy… but I was wrong! I started last Monday and was sugar free for about 3 days until Thursday. Thursday was a Japanese holiday called ‘Hina Matsuri’. It’s really only a holiday for girls involving Japanese dolls, yet it also involves candy. When I got to school on of my students, a nice old lady, gave me a present on account of the holiday. When I opened it I was amazed at how expensive it looked, especially knowing the prices of sweets in Japan. Since receiving the gift I couldn’t NOT eat them, thus killing my week of no sweets. In fact my love of sweets is so well known by other people, that when I returned home some of my female friends gave me even more sweets. One of them even brought me some famous Sakura Mochi. I ate nothing but sweets for dinner last night, and today the week starts over. Let’s see how long I last this time.

- - - 3/1/2005 - - -

Koganei Ume Matsuri

Filed under: — Andy @ 12:29 am

After visiting Koganei park many times this year already, I went back again for the Ume Matsuri (Plum blossom festival).

The festival had the usual Taiko drums being played by kids.

It also had some other interesting performances as well.