- - - 5/31/2005 - - -

Matt visited again

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:00 am

My friend Matt came to visit me from Utsunomiya this Sunday. It has been a while since he last visited so we had lots to talk about. It was nice to finally be able to talk to another computer person about anything computer related. We went out to an izakaya so we could talk as well as eat and drink. While we were there, there was a guy with his pet ferret just sleeping in his shirt. I thought it was very interesting, especially since I have seen more ferrets in the last few weeks than my entire time in Japan so far. So keeping with the ferret motif here are some pictures:

Oh, Matt works for ECC in Utsunomiya and he is the only teacher so he has 18 kids’ classes. I thought 6 was enough.. We also went to Akihabara to get some computer parts and just check out all the latest in computer technology.

- - - 5/23/2005 - - -


Filed under: — Andy @ 1:30 am

Yet another month so yet another trip up a mountain with the hiking club. This time we climbed not one mountain but three, thus the name Takamizusanzan (高水三山). The weather was quite nice except for being a little humid, which is a sign that means summer is coming soon. The mountains are in the Okutama region of Tokyo, which is a really nice natural area that makes you wonder that you are actually still in Tokyo. The mountains were only about an hour away from my station this time, so it was fairly convenient to get there. This time we made ‘tonjiru’ at the top which is a meat and vegetable miso soup. It was, as always, very good. It was a fun trip with all kinds of interesting terrain and views. When we got down off the mountain, we went to a traditional ‘onsen’. Afterwards, I even made it back in time for a party in my building :)

3 mountains can be confusing

Tonjiru - I got to cook again as well




View the Takamizusanzan Photo gallery

- - - 5/17/2005 - - -

Matsumoto Castle

Filed under: — Andy @ 8:28 am

Last week on Saturday I talked to a student who told me all about a famous black castle in a city called Matsumoto. Matsumoto is also in Nagano prefecture, which I have never been to, and having Monday off work with nothing to do I decided to get up really early and take the express train out to Matsumoto. Matsumoto castle is one of the four most famous castles in Japan and is also called crow castle because it is black. When I arrived I picked up a map of the area and headed off to the castle. The castle is extremely beautiful and I was even able to walk around the inside and climb the stairs to the top. I was also lucky enough to get a free English tour of the castle provided by some nice volunteer group. From the top of the castle I got an excellent view of the Japan Alps. The day’s weather was gorgeous and clear so the view of the Alps was quite amazing, especially for this time of year. Afterwards I had soba for lunch at a nearby shop. One of Nagano prefecture’s famous foods is soba, so I made sure to eat it as well as an ‘oyaki’ which is the mostly eaten thing in the background of the soba picture. I spent the next few hours exploring the city and seeing all the sights there were. Afterwards, I hiked up a hill about an hour to get to “Alps Park”. The park was great. It had so many fun things to play with and do. I rented a cool Razor scooter and rolled along on my way to explore the park. The first thing I did was check out the zoo. Since it was getting late and it was a Monday, I had the zoo all to myself. The animals are quite different when you are the only one looking at them. The park also had a ‘mallet golf course’, and an alpine slide, but my absolute favorite thing was the rock climbing wall and the obstacle course. Take a look at this video of the course (4.5MB). I took some pictures as the sun set behind the Japan Alps and left the park. As it was getting late, some nice couple offered to give me a ride back to the station to which I gladly agreed. I talked with them during the car ride completely in Japanese and they were amazed with my speaking level, however I still feel that I have a lot of learning to do. I thanked them as they dropped me off at the station. I then asked a nearby policeman where another famous soba shop was. He gave me a suggestion and pointed me in the correct direction. The dinner soba was equally as delicious as the lunch soba. Afterwards, I took the last train back home tired after my hectic one day trip all the way out to Matsumoto.

Matsumoto castle or Crow castle

The Japan Alps

Having fun at the park

A couple taking their ferrets for a stroll

Make sure to see the photo gallery: Matsumoto Photo Gallery

- - - 5/16/2005 - - -

RSS Feed

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:52 pm

If you really want it, I think this is it:

andysensei.com - the RSS feed

- - - 5/14/2005 - - -

Site Deleted?

Filed under: — Andy @ 5:05 pm

Due to complete forgetfullness and irresponsibility I did not realize that I had not paid for my site this year, therefore my service provider had deleted my site (which was why it was down for a while 8O). After an email however, my provider was nice enough to help me out and restore my site from a backup and re-setup my account. It was a very worrysome time, but thanks to my isp for helping out.

- - - 5/11/2005 - - -


Filed under: — Andy @ 7:32 am

I found a pet store while taking a walk and it had a ferret. It reminded me of the ferret my sister used to have back in LA. Cute eh?

- - - 5/9/2005 - - -

Golden Week Photo Galleries

Filed under: — Andy @ 9:30 am

The Golden Week photo galleries have been uploded for your viewing pleasure:

Jindaiji Photo Gallery

Takao Photo Gallery

Izu Photo Gallery

Kawagoe Photo Gallery

- - - 5/6/2005 - - -

1 Year!

Filed under: — Andy @ 6:41 pm

I have officially been in Japan for over a year now.
I’ll try one more year and see how it goes.
I can’t imagine not living in Japan.
I love Japan and all that it shows.

- - - 5/5/2005 - - -

Golden Week

Filed under: — Andy @ 7:29 am

— Golden Week —

Golden Week, here after referred to as GW, is the week in Japan which practically everyone has off of work. Therefore any kind of travel is super expensive and most travel destinations are super crowded. For my golden week I have decided to take it one day and a time and see what kind of interesting things I would do.

The first day of Golden Week: April 29th

For the first day of GW my friend and I arranged a bike ride to Jindaiji (深大寺), which is a local temple famous for its soba shops. Next to the temple is also a botanical gardens which was had a free admission day on the day we went. We got a group of 6 people together and in the morning headed off to the temple. The bike ride takes about 30 minutes but goes along the beautiful Nogawa river path, one which I have taken many times before. Once we arrived at the temple we choose a soba shop and went in for lunch. We got tempura soba and it was delicious, especially the tempura umeboshi. After lunch we took a nice stroll around the temple and had some desserts: ice cream and manju. The ice cream was very nice as the day was quite warm. Afterwards we entered the botanical gardens, which was free. We spent most of the afternoon walking around, relaxing, and playing some catch. It was a very nice day at Jindaiji and the botanical gardens, and afterwards I wanted to go a little further to a batting center. We all then went and had a little more fun at the batting center before taking a relaxing ride home in the cool air as the sun was going down.

The second day of Golden Week: April 30th

For the second day of GW I got a bunch of my friends to climb Mt. Takao with me. I love climbing Mt. Takao and this was my third time. We all got up early in the morning and left the house by about 6:50am. We had a group of 6 again but not all the same members as before. In fact only I and my friend Ryoichi, who went with me the last time I went, have been to the mountain before. For everyone else it was their first time to climb Mt. Takao. We climbed to the top of the mountain in nice cool weather, but unfortunately the visibility was not that great. It is becoming summer here in Japan so the visibility is much less than the winter. However, the mountain itself was incredibly beautiful with lots of spring flowers and bold, bright greens everywhere. We took our time descending the mountain to absorb the serene nature. Once at the bottom again we had lunch, and once again we had soba. Takao’s soba is also very good and is most famous for its ‘tororo’ soba. We took the train back home and everyone took a shower and a nap.

The third day of Golden Week: May 1st

I got up at 6 in the morning yet again and went with a friend to Tokyo station to catch a rapid train down to the Izu peninsula. Izu is a very nice and famous area in Japan and since neither my friend nor I had ever been there we decided to take a day trip to go check it out. The first place we went was to an alligator park. It was quite interesting seeing alligators, crocodiles, and caimans from all around the world. Afterwards we took a walk to the beach, which is another thing Izu is famous for. We played at the beach for a while and relaxed at one of the awesome and free food onsens. We then had a lunch of fried squid. Izu is also famous for its seafood. We then took a local train to another area of Izu to go check out some other stuff. We took a hike to the ocean again to see the cliffs and a famous suspension bridge. I had an immensely fun time on the bridge, jumping up and down and rocking it side to side. The view from the bridge was also very nice. We then went down to some rocks next to the ocean and saw an amazing tide pool, with all kinds of fish, crabs, sea cucumbers, and even a Moray eel. The pool seemed to not have gotten any fresh water in a while. I even talked to a local fisherman who was happy to show me his catch of the day. Since we were looking at all the wonderful fish, we decided to go and eat some for dinner. We found a medium expensive seafood restaurant and had some delicious fish for dinner. After dinner we were planning to go to some interesting museums in the area, like a cat museum, but as it was Sunday we realized that they all closed down early. So we took another local train to go see another area and beach that was lit up and beautiful at night. Exhausted, we took the train home and got back really late.

The forth day of Golden Week: May 2nd

The fourth day was recuperation day from three full days of strenuous activities. I spent the day relaxing and talking to friends. The day flew by almost as if it didn’t exist.

The fifth day of Golden Week: May 3rd

Yet another early morning… Today was a road trip to Kawaguchiko. We crammed 10 people into 2 small Japanese cars and headed off to Kawaguchiko which is a lake right next to Mt. Fuji. Despite some traffic early on it was a great road trip. Lots of fun was had by all out of and in the cars. The view of Mt. Fuji was absolutely amazing and the weather was great as well. Once we arrived, we went to one of the famous ‘onsens’ that surround the mountain and relaxed after a day of driving. After everyone had been refreshed we all went to a craft center and made either pottery or glassware. I decided to make some pottery as it was messier and more creative. I will definitely post a picture of my masterpiece when it arrives. Afterward, everyone walked to the lake to gaze upon Mt. Fuji as the sun was lowering in the horizon. We went to a famous restaurant that served ‘houtou’, which is the delicious food in the area and is similar to udon. Everyone then ate a lot and with full stomachs piled back into the cars for the ride back home.

The sixth day of Golden Week: May 4th

I slept in a little and got up around 10:30. Afterwards, I spent the morning talking with a bunch of friends in my room and going through all the pictures that were taken in Kawaguchiko. My hard drive has literally turned into a picture storage device. In the afternoon I went with a friend to a rock climbing gym. I had tried climbing a wall in Thailand and thought it was really fun, so I wanted to get another chance to do it again. It was incredibly fun and exhausting. It was great exercise for the fingers as well. We spent the entire afternoon at the climbing gym competing against each other. I am such a competitive person. For dinner we met some more friends and went to ‘Aoba’ which is a famous ramen shop in Nakano. It was completely delicious. We then returned home, and I talked with another friend about plans for the next day.

The seventh day of Golden Week: May 5th

My friend invited me to go visit her hometown in Saitama, so in the morning we both left the house and headed out to Kawagoe. Kawagoe is famous for having old style buildings similar to the Edo period. It is also famous for ‘satsumaimo’ or sweet potatoes. I love satsumaimo so everything I ate throughout the day had satsumaimo in it. Let’s see… I ate: ‘imo manju’, ‘imo dango’, ‘imo ice cream’, ‘imo french fries’, ‘imo candy’, ‘imo pudding’ and drank ‘imo juice’. I also bought a bunch of ‘imo’ sweets to bring home. We checked out a lot of the famous temples and shrines and saw a whole lot of interesting things as well. We ate a very delicious dinner, complete with an ‘imo’ dessert. I then returned home as tomorrow I have work. I don’t want to go back to work as this week has been so much fun. My golden week was quite golden indeed.

Expect a lot of new photo galleries when I have the time to update…