Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lonely Island Episode 15

In this Episode, I will update you on a couple of things I've done in the past month. Enjoy the video.

THe next episode will be a wrap up of the first leg of my Journey as a JET.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lonely Island VLOG Episode 14

I have finally put up a new video... well kinda new. It's the second tour of the apartment after having lived here for a few months.

The winter here is fast approaching, and for me it"s really really fast. I'm definitely not used to it being this cold especially starting in October. In fact, it has already snowed. Luckily, it wasn't cold enough to stay, so it melted quickly, but still.

As the winter arrives, I'll be updating the blog regarding how to deal with the weather here and show some videos of the snow fall and the -20degree celsius cold... It will all be new for me, so this should be interesting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Quick Loop

A couple weeks ago, I took a trip to Asahikawa for a meeting with the Hokkaido Association for JETs... or HAJET. Asahikawa is located on the other side of Taisetsuzan National Park from where my town is and on Google Maps it's supposed to be about a 4 hour drive. 

The meeting started friday evening, unfortunately I had to show up late and I arrived Saturday morning, which put my departure time around 5:00am.

The meeting was great and the organization really helps JETs and non-JETs keep their sanity when dealing with a number of obstacles that you face as an ALT.

Saturday night we had our party and the next day was time for us to head home. Fortunately with it being a three day weekend, I and many of the other JETs decided to do some other stuff. I joined a few friends on their trip to Sapporo and offered to drive all of us there... Thus began the road trip that would end up looping the center of Hokkaido.

We headed south to Sapporo and stayed the night sunday night. After spending a couple hours there monday we headed home. Having gone north then southwest from my home to get to Asahikawa, my way home from sapporo created an entire loop around the center of Hokkaido. 

Here are some pictures.

During my drive through the mountains to Asahikawa, I couldn't help but pull over to take a picture.
This view was incredible. It's hard to tell, but at the time it was around 6:00am and there were about a dozen other people lining the roads taking pictures. The clouds were hovering low above the horizon and the sun was just barely peaking through the clouds and it almost made the sun look  more like a moon... it was absolutely beautiful.

This is another picture from the same area, but a picture of the highway that was winding through the mountains.  As you can see from the leaves, fall was quickly approaching.

Another beautiful shot. It almost looks as if the mountain is on fire or smoking. Again, its the early morning fog lifting from the mountains... well, that's what i'm going to think as I'm no expert haha.

This was a dangerous picture for me, as there was no where for me to pull over to take the picture, so I took the picture while driving... sorry mom! haha. It's a great photo though, the fog almost looks like a river running between the mountains.

Everyone gathering for the meeting.

A very very very very important conversation... I'm sure.

There was a festival going on in Asahikawa during the weekend of our meeting, it was packed and tons of food.

So, we decided to check it out. In front is Curtis, then Lauren, Melanie, and then Andy

The theme for the party was Fall of the Roman Empire... Our hotel probably didn't expect their sheets to be used in this manner.

If you didn't know... a man with a horses head caused the fall of the roman empire....

I believe there were about 80 of us trying to get into the restaurant where we had our reservations.

This was near the end of the night... and trust me you didn't want to smell or taste what was in that pot... disgusting....

But... one brave soul did! haha he lost Paper Rock Scissors and had to take a taste...

Yeah... we had fun

Also, wonder woman was a large cause of the fall of the Roman Empire...

Yeah, we decided to go clubbing... not really my thing, but it was fun non the less. Aparently it was Rap night cuz there was a Japanese Rap Artist on stage the whole night.

So this was the end of our night in Asahikawa. The next morning was quite interesting. I woke up feeling horrid and many other people had wonderful stories to share about the night. One guy, who I'll leave nameless, woke up at 6:00am in the club to a lady cleaning the floors... apparently they were not interested in waking him up haha He then realizes that his Phone is missing from his pockets... I'd like to say that Hilarity ensues... but he was very upset and I'd be as well if I lost my phone. Also, a guy who is notorious for waking up in random places after drinking was missing the next morning with his friends unsure of his whereabouts. I can't say for sure what happened, but I have yet to hear anything bad, so we're assuming he's fine. 

Me, Curtis, Lauren, Keri, and Teresa then take off for our trip to Sapporo.

It wasn't exactly the best weather, but I believe that we could create fun out of any situation after spending the day in Sapporo with these guys.

So from left to right Curtis, Luren, Teresa, Manaho, Keri, and me. yes, we're at a mexican restaurant in Sapporo... and it didn't taste that great or that mexican.

haha I'm sorry, this was a badly timed photo but it's still hilarious haha

I believe they just got done singing some kind of musical together... or they could be in the middle of singing it haha

Karaoke with the crew.

As the night continued Manaho began to share the love with some tree in Oodori Park.

Somehow Curtis has Manaho's sweater...

The girls on the bridge. It seems I always make it back to the slide when I go to Sapporo. This is a tiny bridge right next to the slide and we decided to take a break from walking and relax.

Our final day in Sapporo. We crashed at a Youth Hostel called Jimmy's Backpackers. Jimmy is the dude in the red beanie, real cool guy and I highly recommend his Hostel.

This ended my wonderful weekend and loop around the center of Hokkaido. I had a great time and it was such a blast hanging with these guys. 

Stay tuned for my next Lonely Island Video Blogs. I've got an updated Tour of the Apartment and some video / picture footage of the trip to Asahikawa and Sapporo.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

A trip in my car!

It's been about a week now since I finally purchased my car. I own a metallic blue 2003 Honda Fit. A little bit more flashy a color than what I'd like, but I'm happy with it. Well, kind of. The person I bought the car from had spilled some Gasoline in the car and the smell has yet to completely clear up. I've been having to leave the car doors open during the day to try and air it out. I feel like the smell is getting better... it still smells like gasoline, but it's not nearly as bad as it was, so I'm waiting over the weekend to continue to air out the car before I call the guy I bought the car from... anyway, on to my trip.

After seven long months, I finally got to see my GF. She arrived in New Chitose Airport and was scheduled to stay for only 4 short days. We decided to spend the first day in Sapporo, so we left my car in Chitose and took the train to Sapporo. The drive isn't too bad. It takes about 3 hours one way to get to Chitose Airport.

In Sapporo they just happened to be holding their first ever Autumn Festival. It was quite crowded and showcased a number of goods from all over Hokkaido and of course Food from all over Hokkaido.

The infamous Slide. I knew I'd get back to this slide after the wonderful night during Sapporo Orientation. It looks a bit different in the day haha

I love Ramen... I'm not sure if you knew that, but this place caught my eye when I was in Sapporo the first time... This time I had a chance to try it out with my GF. It wasn't bad...

I can't remember the kind of Ramen I ate, but it was good and very filling.

We found our way back to the Ferris Wheel and this time I got to see the City from the Ferris Wheel in the day.

You know... there's not much to say about this photo haha. BTW these are stores I believe... clothing stores not what you might think haha

I felt quite bad for this horse. He was very clearly exhausted.

The next day we continued our adventure closer to my town. We spent the day driving around the beautiful farmlands around my town. The weather didn't really cooperate, but we got to check out some wonderful cafe's. The guy that cuts my hair let me borrow a book that profiles a number of small cafe's in the small towns all over Hokkaido. These cafe's share a number of qualities and that is that they are small, in the middle of no where, and delicious.

This was a small cafe in the middle of the farm lands in Kami Shihoro. It's called Cream Terrace. It was quite delicious.

The next day my girlfriend and I took another drive. The weather was a little nicer, so we decided to take a drive through the mountains. We went to Lake Nukabira and all the way around to Lake Shikaribetsu and back to my town. After that we stopped by a cafe in Shihoro called Country Road.

Lake Nukabira

Lake Nukabira from a top of the mountains.

Yeah... I'm pointing at the lake...

The following day we decided to head south. We took a drive to Hanabatake Bokujou. This is quite a famous ranch / company in Japan. They are mostly known for making Caramel. The reason they're so popular is because it's owned by a Japanese Celebrity and I think it just got a ton of media exposure... of course his connections helped it to become as big as it has... oh and the caramel is actually quite delicious haha.

Hana Batake Boku Jou

"You lookin' at my Hair!?"

He was actually quite active and was standing up on his hind legs and getting all excited whenever someone would feed the horses next to it.

We looked through the book that I mentioned and found another small cafe in Nakasatsunai, where the ranch is located. On our way home we stopped by the ranch and it wasn't that bad... I felt like Country Road was way better. The cafe is called Weather Cock.

For dinner my girlfriend and I made Pizza and she made some Onion Soup. It was actually very delicious and quite easy to make. The Mozzarella Cheese that we used was purchased from the Hana Batake Boku Jou.

thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Lonely Island Episodes and posts.

The Lonely Island Episode 13

Here's the  new episode of the Lonely Island.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So, I ate Whale...

I know many of you out there may get a little angry about this, but I ate whale at a Kaiten Sushi restaurant the other night.

The hunting of whales has been a controversial issue for years, but over the past couple years it has gotten more coverage with the help of the hit show, "Whale Wars." I admit I enjoyed watching the show when I was back home and I find myself siding with the anti-whaling movement. This may sound a bit hypocritical considering my recent meal, but I'll explain.

First, I want address the idea of whale and hunting whale in Japan... I'm not an expert and you could find more information regarding the issue through more credible sites, but what I have is the experience of conversing about this topic with a couple of Japanese people.

One thing I would like to make very clear is that not ALL Japanese are for hunting whales or eating whales. The conversation I had was regarding why Americans are so against the hunting of whales. I then had to explain that it wasn't Americans, but more a couple of organizations with a strong international support. I explained a little more, but will save you the boring verbiage.  After I explained the loop hole in International Whaling that the Japanese whaling ships are taking advantage of, the man understood why it was that so many people are so strongly against the hunting of whales. He explained to me that, whale meat really wasn't anything all that great and doesn't see why it was worth hunting.

At the time I did not understand what he was talking about as I had not eaten whale meat, but now I understand.

This is Whale Nigiri Sushi.

Before going grocery shopping, me and my supervisor stopped at a fairly popular Kaiten Sushi. Kaiten Sushi is conveyor belt sushi. Many of you already know, but for those that don't here is a picture.


The way it works, is that on the conveyor belt, fresh made sushi of all sorts of varieties go around a circle. They color code the plates and based off of the colors, the prices vary. As  you pile up your plates, so does your bill. Kind of dangerous as you don't realize how much you're really eating, since you only eat two roles or nigiris at a time.

Well, as I sat down at my seat, my supervisor points out that the dark, red, beef looking sushi is Whale. Automatically, this catches my attention. I begin to think about my own feelings about whaling and those of my friends back home... But, curiosity is a hell of a thing. Now, if it were only curiosity that got the best of me, I don't feel I could look anyone in the face, but there were a couple of other reasons for my desire to try the dish.

First, I thought back to the conversation I had with the Japanese man and wondered if what he said was true. When, thinking about how much the Japanese go after the whale meat I wondered if it's some for of Sea Food Ambrosia and the absolute deliciousness of the meat has grabbed the hearts of many Japanese...

Secondly, as I mentioned, my own curiosity as to whether the meat really is so tasty that it's worth hunting for.

With these thoughts in my mind, I grabbed a plate of Whale Meat Sushi... As grabbed it with my chopsticks and dipped it in the soy sauce, I started to imagine what it would taste like. Oddly enough, it looks like raw beef, so I was starting to think that it would taste like raw beef. I took a bite and started to chew... And it tasted pretty good. The meat was very soft and didn't have the irony taste of raw beef. After eating the second piece of sushi, I kind of thought about the taste a little more and I understood what that Japanese man was talking about. The meat tastes good, but is no where near the delicious taste that warrants the hunting of such an incredible animal.

As my mind has been made up regarding the meat, I began to grab plate after plate of sushi until my supervisor pulls out the menu and points to a bowl of soup. He says, "This is whale soup. Would you like to try it? It's pretty good." Again, the same questions come up regarding whale meat, but this time I wonder, what if the meat is normally eaten cooked rather than raw? So, I agree.


Whale Meat Soup

A few minutes after ordering the soup the waitress arrives with two bowls of Whale Soup. At first the soup looks like a normal Japanese style soup, but slightly more oily. The soup has the typical vegetables and then the Whale Meat. Picture above is the whale meat being held by the chop sticks. It still has it's skin on it, so it was a little strange looking. I took a bite and it was actually quite tough, kind of the same texture as squid, but much more rubbery. The soup I have to admit, I was not a big fan of. The whale fat was quite over whelming and it tasted as if I was eating nothing but fat.

With, both Whale Dishes completed, I can say with confidence that the taste of the meat is not so amazing that it is worth hunting for. There is tons and tons of Fish that taste way way way better than Whale meat.

Anyway, if any of you have questions please feel free to post.


I wanted to add something I failed to mention above. There was one major reason I decided to try the dish. I truly believe that one of the best ways to understand and experience another country`s culture is through the food they eat. Japan is known for it`s seafood and this is truly part of it`s culture. There are many dishes that those of us outside of Japan may find strange or inedible, but these are perfectly edible and delicious to the Japanese. It is through these types of experiences with food that I believe you can make a connection with the people of another country. Though whale meat is a controversial dish, it is still something I felt was worth trying inorder to continue my own personal study of the Japanese culture.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Lonely Island Episodes 10-12

Please enjoy the videos.

If you have any questions regarding the topics please leave a comment.

In Upcoming Episodes

I am currently working on a couple of episodes of the Lonely Island video blog.

A number of things have began since I last posted and that mainly would be classes. I also have had to go through a couple of everyday experiences that we take for granted in our home countries.

First, I will describe what I did for my first day of classes and explain my self-introduction. I will also explain how it was at my schools and what you may expect in your own situations.

Second, I will explain, my wonderful attempt at trying to find a place to cut my hair, which I was successful with.

Third, I will talk about welcome parties, which many of you will go through in the first month or couple months of your stay in Japan.

Please stay tuned!!!!

If you have any questions let me know!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Lonely Island Video Blog Ep. 8 and 9

Episode 8, is a quick video showing my adventure during the Fire Works Festival and an adventure around some mountains near my town.

Episode 9, shows the town's 7000 Person Festival and then an explanation of Sapporo Orientation with pictures.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

7000 person festival

I just recently returned from Sapporo Orientation and it was truly a great experience. For me to get to Sapporo it's quite the effort, just as it is for many of my fellow JETs in here in Hokkaido.

I left for the Sapporo Orientation on August 15th (sunday). This also happened to be the same day as the 7000 person festival in Shihoro. I had a wonderful time participating in the festival. Days leading up to the workers and towns people volunteer to make the long long sticks of washi paper flowers that I showed on my previous post, well this festival was the reason for all the hard work. 

My train was scheduled to depart around 2:00pm, which meant that I was able to participate for a little bit in the festival. What I did was join in on carrying a shrine on my shoulders and marching it around. Here are some pictures.

The weather wasn't exactly the best for the event, but they still managed to get a couple of people on to the Hot Air Balloon... unfortunately i was not one of those people.

This is the area where the festival took place. The pink things you see in the background are the "Hana Mikoshi" that me and a bunch of guys will be carrying our shoulders... There's two of them, the smaller one of the "mikoshi's" is for the kids to carry around.

The mayor to the right in a picture with, what I can assume to be important people... All the people in Shihoro are important!!!

I am somewhere underneath the big pink mess trying my best to help carry the big heavy box. It was surprisingly heavy even with the number of people we had carrying it.

That's me trying to look useful... unfortunately in the beginning I wasn't helping much at all. I was too short for the wooden beams to reach my shoulders, but I still managed to do what I could to help.

Some of the guys I became friends with while carrying the massive box. A bunch of real cool guys. Notice... my extremely short shorts... Yeah, imagine my face when I was handed my gear and they said, "change..."

A wonderful panoramic of the dancers dancing in large large circle surrounding the entire area. It was pretty cool, I could only get a 180 Panoramic shot.

Soon after carrying the "hana mikoshi" I changed back into my own clothes. It was great to wear my own shorts and not shorts that made me feel like I had Daisy Dukes on...

I walked around the festival a bit looking at all the cool stands and I had to hurry home to finish packing for my trip to Sapporo for Orientation.

To see what happens next tune into the next Lonely Island Video Blog.