Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HAJET Summer Meeting: Camping

HAJET held their Summer Meeting at Shin Shinotsu again this year and it was very fun!

For me, this marks the first camping trip of the season and I look forward to many more, as long as my schedule permits it...

I arrived at the campground Friday evening to a beautiful sunset, with just enough light to get the tents set up. As the night approached, it became quite apparent that the sweater I brought with me was going to be a necessity. As people began to trickle in, we decided on building a fire to stay warm. In that first night, we bought all of the coals that were available from the local Lawson (convenient store).

We had a great time gathered around the fire pit talking and catching up. Later that night we all gathered in our designated tents and slept.  Well, some of us slept, while others were far too cold to sleep. I was able to deal with the temperatures and had no problem sleeping.

We squeeze ourselves on the bench near the fire pit to stay as warm as possible

The tower at the campground
And of course Wani, is always a staple at HAJET events

Super serious.

Waking up quite early the next morning, I decided to take advantage of the onsen right next to the campground. Refreshed and ready to go, we held our HAJET PC meeting and general meeting and after the official HAJET stuff, the members were free to enjoy the campground or the area surrounding it.  I stayed on the campg enjoyed the rest of the day playing basketball, throwing the frisbee, throwing the football, and playing with the kids who began to gather around the campground.

HAJET General Meeting
The Tower at the Campground. We enjoyed throwing the football and frisbee of of the tower.
Not sure what`s going on here.

Later that night we held our HAJET enkai and cooked tons of food. It was significantly colder than friday and this time, I woke up at 2:00am shivering and realized I couldn`t deal with the cold, so I gathered my things and slept in my car. haha

So our Tents were camped out in the center near the firepits.  A.K.A. Gaijin Town haha

Cooking the hot dogs, while eating... We really bought a lot of food.
Still cooking

A short break to enjoy some convo.

Eating in the sun.

And of course, what`s camping without Marshmallows
And the Cold Set in
Like I said, we bought a lot of food.

Sunday morning I again woke up very early and took advantage of the onsen. There was much to clean up, but we took care of it and had plenty of time to enjoy the incredible weather. It wasn`t too hot, but I got sunburnt like crazy! The kids around the campground enjoyed chasing us around and it provided a wonderful opportunity for some Kokusai Kouryu.

Wani, always has the best pictures

We held a yard sale, where those JETs who were heading home had the opportunity to sell a bunch of stuff they wouldn`t need... And some people really took advantage of this time... Whether the stuff sold was a different story.

Watch out! There`s a giant skull with an axe wearing a Gakuran right behind you!!!
Someone was selling a Kotatsu, so we decided to model the Kotatsu outside. You can`t tell, but we`re playing a very interesting game of Scrabble.

Sitting around hanging out in the sun

Me, deep in thought.

The kids had a good time messing with Andy. And we had a good time watching!

And of course, Wani, always a hit with the kids.

All in all the summer meeting was a success. For me, the best part of the weekend was the huge opportunity that we had as an organization to show the positivity we could bring to the local community. With so many families and their kids camping at the campground, we were able to play tag with the kids and teach them a little english while doing it. It was great to see the parents laughing and taking pictures of the kids running around with us. As we were heading out, I went over to one family to thank the parents and they said to me, "We`re so glad that we decided to come this weekend. Thank you for spending time with the kids, they really had a fun time."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I`m Alive, don`t worry I`m Alive!! Part 3: Here comes Spring

In March, HAJET had it`s winter meeting in Niseko and it was awesome. At this meeting I officially took my office as President of HAJET. Looking back it seems like a very long time ago, but a lot has happened since.

Literally a week after taking office, the massive earthquake and tsunami that rocked Northeastern Japan struck on March 11.
Depicts the areas that shook the most when the earthquake hit.

I was returning to the BOE from a full day of classes at the JHS, when all the sudden the entire office began to move. It wasn`t a shake, but more of a slow shifting back and forth. If you were prone to motion sickness, you would have ended up feeling horrible. This continued for quite a few minutes. As it began to lessen, my coworkers gathered around the TV and it was quite evident a very large earthquake had struck the Northeastern Coast of Japan. The news stations were trying their hardest to warn everyone to evacuate the coastal areas. Looking back at this, it really seems surreal. I remember looking at the TV and thinking that the Tsunami won`t be too large, but as the water began to rush the coast you could see bridges being taken over. People and cars were still trying to escape. It was quite the scene. Of course no one knew how bad it would really be at that time.

Having recently become President of HAJET, the prefectural council began discussions about what we could do. Eventually with the help of many people, we decided to sell a T-Shirt with 100% of the proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross Society. I`m very happy to say that we successfully completed this fundraising event, and we have talked about doing more in the future. In fact, we gathered so much money as an organization, it was the most money donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society collection center in my town. My town mayor decided to hold a small ceremony and I ended up on the local subprefectural news paper, 十勝毎日新聞 Tokachi Daily News Paper.  Here`s the article... BTW, I had to have broken some kind of record, this made the 4th time in less than a year that I made it on this news paper! hahaha

Golden Week!

So, in May I spent about 10 days on vacation for Golden Week. It was awesome. Golden Week just happens to fall on my birthday, so it`s convenient in that sense, but since most of my friends are off on vacation, no one gathers around or is too busy getting ready to leave for some trip. I spent a few days in Kansai and then after more than two years, I finally got to go back to Okinawa. When I landed in Naha, it was like coming home. Though I was born in Florida, I will always and forever think of Okinawa as my home.

I got to spend some time with my Grandmother and other family members, while visiting different parts of Okinawa. One major goal that I had for my trip to Okinawa was to purchase a Sanshin. Which I did and it`s awesome. I can`t tell you the number of times I`ve sat at home in Hokkaido wishing I had my Sanshin to play. Now, I can play it whever I want!

That pretty much catches us up. On other info. I did recontract back in February and will have the wonderful opportunity to spend another full year in Hokkaido.

There`s tons of stuff that went on and I really don`t believe this three part series did it justice, so if you have any questions about anything, please shoot them my way. If you`re a JET and have been placed in Hokkaido, feel free to ask me anything. And if you are on your way to Hokkaido as a JET or ALT, good luck and i hope to see you soon!

Please stay tuned... Hopefully I`ll have something entertaining to write about soon... and I don`t mean in another 6 months.

I`m Alive, don`t worry I`m Alive!! Part 2: Yuki Matsuri

So in February I went to the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri or Snow Festival.

This was awesome. Again, I`ll have pictures below.

Following the Yuki Matsuri, I began to get swamped with various things.... one of which was a new hobby! I found that snowboarding is an incredibly awesome sport! For those of you heading to Hokkaido as a JET and may not be used to the winter, the best way to fight the winter blues is to find a hobby.

Before coming to Hokkaido I had Skii`d before, but never snowboarded. Luckily, I had made the decision that I was going to try snowboarding and on my first day on the slopes... I just splattered myself all over the mountain... The next day, I hurt in all sorts of different places. After about my third time on the slopes I began getting the hang of it and can pretty much snowboard anything.

I don`t have many pictures of my snowboarding adventures, but I hope to get some up later.

NOTE: The Lonely Island Videos are taking a hiatus... well it seems they have taken a hiatus for a very long time, but now they`re on a Hiatus I can not control... My trusty computer has crashed and I no longer have the means to make the videos... I hope to get them back up and running sometime this year.

Atleast I get to buy a new Mac Book Pro!!!!

Anywho, Here are some Pictures of Yuki Matsuri and Snowboarding.

BTW... I`ve snowboarded in Niseko a couple times this year and though it was fun, by far my favorite place to hit the slopes is Asahidake!! The best!

This was a really large sculpture meant to depict Hokkaido

Lion King opened this year in Sapporo... so they made a massive snow sculptureof course!

Snow Tunnel.. well the tunel itself is made of a steel frame with a mesh lined with christmas lights, but all the white you see is snow that accumulated from the snow that fell during the Yuki Matsuri.... seriuosly it snowed like crazy.
This has nothing to do with Yuki Matsuri, but at a lake near my town... which I`ve shown you pictures of before... they make a two story Ice Bar... it was awesome!

Me and some friends hitting up Asahidake... and yes it is a volcano... you can kinda see the smoke in the background. I`m in the blue and yellow jacket.

that`s us heading back down the mountain to catch another ride up.

Stay Tuned for Part III

I`m Alive, don`t worry I`m Alive!! Part 1 Winter Break

Seriously!!??? It`s been half a year since I did jack shit to this thing hahahaha...

Wow... Major Procrastination... Well, before I throw myself under the bus, I do have to admit that I got much busier than expected following the winter Holiday.

I will try to explain the past 6 months in a three part series.

PART 1 - Winter Break

So, my last post was right before I took off on a three week trip to Kansai for Winter Break. You may be wondering how it is that I was able to get so many days off. Well, it`s a combination of Winter Holidays, Nen-Kyu 年休, and Dai-kyu 代休. Essentially the days off that we get for winter holiday plus, paid leave, and over time leave. 

If you`re in the JET Programme, you will have Nen-Kyu or Paid Leave. How much might depend on your contract and such, but it is generally 20days of every year, if you re-contract. My town is awesome and gives me Dai-Kyu, which is an over time system. On days that I work my English Conversation Circles, or stay in the office past 4:30pm, I clock that time in as over time. This accumulates and I can eventually use this toward taking days off without losing precious Nen-Kyu!

For Winter Break, I had accumulated about 72 hours worth of Over Time and used a large majority of that plus Nen-Kyu to take my very very long vacation.

Here are some pictures of that winter trip.

Snow at Obihiro Station. I had to leave a day early in order to not get stuck in my town. Luckily I made it out safely

My Girfriend and I went to Universal Studios Japanon Christmas Day... It was very windy and cold, but still a lot of fun

Cool Car... but the ride was Blahh

This was cool. I had a lot of fun on the Jurassic Park Ride. I ended up getting very drenched... which wasn`t fun in the cold

Probably one of the coolest rides at USJ.

Traditional New Years Food. First thing you do is Drink!

That`s my Predecessor. We met up in Kansai and he joined me any my Girl Friend`s family for Osecchi

I`m not drunk. It`s like 9:00am... well not drunk yet.

All this food lasts about a week or so. It is eaten every day following new years for a certain perioud of time.

Later we went to the Kobe Aquarium

View from the Aquarium

Then we hit up China Town in Kobe. This place is awesome. Nankin Machi. Check it out if you`re ever in Kobe

Was able to meet up with my friend Sho. It had been over a year since we last hung out. It was good to see him again.

Stick around for part 2.