21 November 2007

Himeji Castle in Autumn

On my way home from school the other day, I decided to organise myself and make sure that I didn’t miss out on taking any photos of the beautiful Autumn leaves surrounding the castle.

The traditional Japanese carp with the Himeji Castle in the distance.

Himeji Castle against the red maple leaves of Autumn.

The Himeji Castle moat. Check out the reflection of the leaves in the water…beautiful!

Himeji Gardens

It has taken us nearly the entire year to actually get our buts into gear and go to the Himeji Gardens.

Well it was an absolutely freezing cold day and I didn’t have nearly enough layers on, so I was on the edge of getting frost bite (not really, but it sounded good!). The garden itself was so beautiful nevertheless, due to the fact that Autumn leaves covered all the trees and the ground below. It was absolute magic!

Red berries.

Purple berries.

The four of us.

This is my favourite photo of the momiji leaves growing out of the tree trunk.

Himeji Castle with Autumn leaves surrounding it.

Tina’s Hawaiian Birthday Party

Happy Birthday Tina!

It was Tina’s birthday on the weekend and for her birthday party, she decided to have a Hawaiian cocktail party.

Lauren was kind enough to organise for her mum to go Cheap and Chips and find grass skirts, lais and shell bras for the three of us. So we had our costume all set and they looked awesome!

The next best costume at the party was Greg’s costume. He was dressed in a wetsuit and snorkel and flippers and he even wore them all night! I was really impressed with his outfit!

We made so many nice cocktails including Pina Coladas, Midori Illusions, Bailey’s chocolate, Bounty and so many more! They all tasted so good and everyone enjoyed drinking the cocktails and making their own concoctions.

What is a party without the limbo? Well that’s what I thought anyway, so Steve Harvey and I decided to start it up using the broom. A few of us joined in and it was heaps of fun seeing who would win overall. It was a toss up between Katie and Adam, but they both did really well considering how low the bar actually got!

Makoto doing the limbo.

Me doing the limbo.

Lauren and I felt a little self conscious in our outfits at one stage because everyone else was all covered up and we had our bellies showing, so we decided to do a Steve Urkle and pull our skirts up to our shell bras for added effect. What do you think? Good look?

This is Greg, Steve N, Steve H, me, Tina, Lauren and Thomas.

Hiromi and Fumiyo (the two cutest and happiest Japanese girls I have ever met!)

At the end of the night, we all went out to the karaoke bar to practise our singing! Well it did absolutely nothing for my voice, but I did enjoy myself!

Thanks for organising a really cool cocktail party, Tini!

Silly me take two

OK. So this was actually the night of Tina’s Hawaiian birthday party. We were all merry, drinking cocktails and feeing happy and relaxed. Then all of a sudden, the police knocked on the door. They were asking for me! I was really worried at this stage (well I wasn’t really because I had had a few drinks and wasn’t caring much about anything by then!) I went to converse with the police (mind you I was wearing a grass skirt, shell bra and lais and had a cocktail in my hand at the time. Can you imagine what this looked like? Respectable police dressed in their full uniform and me dressed as a Hawaiian hula girl?) Anyway, they had actually found my purse and came to the apartment building to give it back to me – money, cash card and everything was still inside! I couldn’t believe my luck! I was so happy I felt like giving the police officer a huge kiss and hug for finding my purse, but I actually was on my best behaviour and restrained myself at the time!

In the meantime, nosey Tina was in the background listening to everything and just like a proud parent, she wanted to take a photo of me with the police officers and my newly-found purse! It was so embarrassing because the police officer didn't want to have a bar of it. Well Tina just wouldn’t listen so she took the photo anyway, and this was what eventuated! It was pretty funny now, looking back, but I’m just glad that my purse found its way back to me again! ☺

Silly me

I’m sure that many people can vouch for what I am about to say…I do the dumbest things sometimes! Well today was no exception! I went shopping with Tina and Lauren because Tina had a voucher to spend in one of the shopping complexes. So we had a fun day trying on clothes and eating lunch. I, for once in my life, didn’t buy anything, but enjoyed shopping with Tina and Lauren and seeing what clothes they were trying on. Anyway, towards the end of the day, Tina was a few yen short so she wanted me to lend her some change. I reached into my bag for my purse to find that it wasn’t there. I had no idea where I had put it because I hadn’t used it all day. I didn’t take it out of my bag all day.

We retraced our steps and asked all the shops we had been in if they had see my purse, but there was no such luck. It was gone.

I was really annoyed and upset because I had equivalent to $100 in my purse, plus my cash card and my foreign registration card. It was a real hassle not to have it. So I went to the police station to report my missing purse. It was a bit embarrassing going in there because as soon as I walked in the door, there were about seven police officers sitting behind a long desk (it was like I was being interviewed or something!) and they were all just silent and staring at me. Well I explained as best as I could (in really poor, broken Japanese) that I had lost my purse. I had to answer a few of their questions and then I left. I cancelled my cash card and went home.

When I got home, I still had NO idea how I had lost my purse.

…to be continued…

Radio Stars

At the Nada Kenka Matsuri (Nada Fight Festival), we sat with a kind man who one of Tina’s collegues knows from work. We also met his wife that day and she happened to be a radio announcer for Genki FM (a local radio station in Himeji). She asked us if we would be free one Saturday morning to help her with her radio announcing. We agreed to this and set a date.

So this was where it all began…

Tina, Lauren and I went to the radio station’s headquarters and had no idea what to expect.

We thought we might have to answer some questions in Japanese about our life in Japan and we were getting worried that we might not understand what they were saying to us. Anyway, it turned out that they wanted us to be the voice over that introduces each show and encourages people to listen to the station. So every day, our voices will be played on the radio to introduce the morning show. We had to go into a little booth and put some headphones on and read the script that was in front of us. It was really funny because pretty much every time we said something, the guy that was recording us would start cracking up laughing, so then of course, we would start laughing too! He was trying get us to sound cooler, funnier, happier and friendlier. In the end, I felt like an absolute idiot, but it was fun!

So now, we am officially Genki FM’s voice-over for the morning show!

紅葉 (もみじ Momiji)

I love momiji! Momiji is the red maple leaves of Autumn. During our trip to Kyoto, we saw many red leaves on the trees. It was such a beautiful sight. Autumn is such a beautiful season in Japan because almost all the leaves turn red at the same time so the mountains look red from a distance.

We visited a few temples in Kyoto while we were there and enjoyed watching the maple leaves. This is a photo of me with the momiji behind me.

This photo is just near Kyomizu Temple and all the leaves were just starting to turn red.

Tina and Lauren in front of the momiji.

Me and Shinya in front of the momiji.

20 November 2007

Kyoto – Hozugawa River Rafting Experience

Just recently, Tina, Lauren, Shinya and I went on a day trip to Kyoto to do a rafting tour in a traditional rafting boat down the Hozugawa River.

It was such a great experience because we got to see the momiji (maple leaves) during the Autumn season when they look their best.

The boat ride was very relaxing and it was so beautiful to see all the leaves turning red during the Autumn season.

The boat ride went for about two hours and it was really peaceful. Apparently, when the water levels are high, it can be very dangerous as the river flows very quickly and it is easy to capsize. Thankfully, the water levels were low when we went and it was a beautiful day, so we had nothing to worry about!

One of the men who was helping to steer the boat looked a lot like Morgan Freeman. If Morgan Freeman was Japanese, that is exactly how he would have looked! What do you think?

During the boat ride, there were other boats that were like small delis where you could buy food. It was such a novelty, that we all shared some chips and Lauren bought some squid.

This is the traditional Japanese boat that we travelled in as we were going along the river.

Japanese Wedding

On the weekend, we were invited to a Japanese wedding. The lady who got married was one of Tina’s students at Shogai University. She knew how much Tina loves the Japanese culture and she thought it would be nice to invite Tina to her wedding. Well we all got invited (all, meaning Tina, Steve, Lauren and I). So we got to see the traditional ceremony, the traditional outfits and we even got to have our photo taken with the bride and groom and their family and friends.

This is the bride and groom during the ceremony.

This is the bride walking down the aisle.

This is the bride and groom ringing the bell after they got married.

Nara with Tess, Danny, Lauren and her family

Lauren’s dad and his partner were in Japan at the same time as Tessa and Danny were, so I decided to take a day off of work and go with Lauren and her dad to Nara with Tess and Danny. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining and warm. We saw some really cool temples and shrines in our travels. We decided to hire bikes so that we could get around and see things quicker as we only had one day to see Nara. We visited kofukuji and saw the five-story pegoda and the beautiful surroundings of the temple.

We also went to Kasuga Shrine which is one of the most beautiful-looking shrines in the whole of Japan. It is an orange building and has so many interesting decorations. These are lanterns hanging from the ceiling in Kasuga Shrine.

On our way to the shrine, we spotted a deer hiding amongst the stone lanterns. It looked so cute with its little head popping out that I just had to take a picture. In case you didn’t know, Nara is famous for deer.

There are hundreds and hundreds of deer roaming around freely in the town. They are not caged, but they just walk around wherever they like. They are so used to people that you can pat them and feed them and the deer are really friendly and especially good with children. This time, the male deer had their antlers cut off because it is the mating season for the deer so they can be dangerous if they still have their antlers. The last time I went to Nara, all the male deer still had their antlers, so it was a bit of a shock to see them without their antlers the second time around.

This is Lauren, Lauren’s dad and Lainey at one of the temples we went to.

The last temple we visited was of course, Todaiji.

It is the largest wooden structure in the world and my favourite temple in the whole of Japan. Inside the temple is the famous Daibutsu (a huge statue of a buddha which stands approximately fifteen metres high). I love looking at this statue because it is so large and amazing to look at. In this picture, you can see how big it is if you compare the statue to the people at the bottom.

In the temple, there is a wooden pole that has a hole through it that is the exact same size as the buddha’s nostril. If you can fit through it, you receive good luck.

So this is my second attempt at fitting through the buddha’s nostril (I did it once before when I went to Nara with Aleysha). It was surprisingly easier the second time around.

Osaka with Tessa and Danny

I went to Osaka for a day trip with Tessa, Danny and Shinya.

It was lots of fun showing them around and Tess and Danny really liked what they saw. We firstly went to Yodabashi so that Tess and Danny could buy a new camera and then we went to Namba which is one of the most happening places in Osaka and apart from Tokyo, it is one of the most busy places in the whole of Japan. It has a great nightlife and many different restaurants to choose from. So we spent lots of time walking down the streets looking at the people and all the beautiful neon lights.

I took them to this shrine which is in the middle of all the busy streets, but surprisingly, this particular part is very quiet and peaceful. This time, there were many priests in the shrine having a special ceremony. It was really interesting so we stayed and watched for a little while before moving on.

It was getting late, so we decided to have dinner at an Izakaya which was new so none of us had ever been there. It turned out to be the most delicious meal ever! We weren’t that hungry because we had just eaten okonomiyaki for lunch that day, but we had a nice light meal for dinner.

While we were eating our dinner, there was a group of young university students at the table next to us (there were five girls and five guys).

It was really funny because straight away we knew what they were doing. They were doing gokon. Gokon is like a dating idea where five girls and five guys get together and have a date and decide which person they like the best to possibly pursue a relationship with. We enjoyed watching them. Then they started playing a game and they could see that we were all watching so they asked if we wanted to join in. So we were sitting in this restaurant, minding our own business and then all of a sudden, we found ourselves playing this game with a group of people doing a gokon! It was hilarious, but really cool at the same time because I had always wanted to be apart of a gokon and that was my opportunity! It was lots of fun and we ended up taking a picture of them all because they were so friendly.

Kobe with Tess and Danny

During Tess and Danny’s stay in Japan, I decided to take them to Kobe. We went to many different places which they really enjoyed including China Town, Harborland and a really good yaki niku (grilled meat) restaurant.

In China Town, we got to have my most favourite Chinese sweet called goma dango.

It is a little ball covered in sesame seeds and inside it has sticky rice and bean paste. It tastes really good warm and every time I go to China Town I eat one! Tessa and Danny enjoyed walking down the China Town street lined with many Chinese restaurants and souvenir shops.

Next was Harborland. We walked around and had a look at the shops in the area and then we went on the ferris wheel. It was a really nice view – especially because we got to sit in the glass carriage so we could see everything! This is the beautiful view we had.

Tess and Danny about to ride on the ferris wheel.

On our way to the yaki niku restaurant, we saw this cute little dog which had a hat on and was just making his way down the street with his master. He was so cute that I just had to take a photo with him!

At the yaki niku restaurant, this was the first time I was able to try Kobe beef.

Kobe beef is so famous and expensive because it is such good quality meat. The farmers massage the cows every day to make the meat soft and they also feed them beer so that their muscles are relaxed. These cows get treated like kings...and then we eat them! I have never tried beef that tasted so soft and delicious before. It just melted in my mouth and I almost didn’t even have to chew it! Tess and Danny really loved the taste of it too!


As an Australian, I have hardly ever celebrated Halloween, but due to the fact that there are many Americans who live in our building, we were able to celebrate Halloween and get all dressed up for it!

The night before our Halloween party, Tina, Tessa, Danny and I all helped to cut a pumpkin to make it look scary and cool. Danny did most of the work, but the finished product looked amazing! This was our jacko-lantern.

This is me, Tina, Tess and Danny trying to look scary with our jacko-lantern.

It was so much fun dressing up for Halloween.

I dressed up as a pumpkin witch, Tina dressed up as a cat and Lauren dressed up as Cleopatra. Everyone had really cool costumes and it was fun to have a look at how everyone else dressed up.

This is a witch (Tomi), a belly dancer (Eiko), a school girl (Katie) and a pumpkin girl (Sakura).

Every year, all the residence in our building hold a Halloween party for the local kids in the community. We provided fun games for the kids to play and encouraged them to dress up so that they could get into the spirit of Halloween. They all looked so cute dressed up in their costumes! They had a good time playing the games we organised and spending time with their friends.

After the kids’ Halloween party, we had a party of our own. That way, we could show all our friends our cool costumes!

Tess the pirate and Danny the Aussie.

Me (a pumpkin witch) and Shinya (Jack from ‘The Night Before Christmas’).