6 January 2008

2007…“Those Were The Best Days Of My Life!”

After spending one year in Japan, I have discovered many different things about myself, different cultures, Japanese people and the country itself. From now on, whenever I think of Japan, I know it will always bring a smile to my face because of all the adventures and wonderful memories I have. So thank you, Japan, for making 2007 the best year of my whole entire life and thank you to all the people I met along the way. It was the people who made the place so special to me. I will never forget the year of 2007. The people, the places, the culture, the country, the experience was one in a million. I LOVE JAPAN!!!

Tiger Bar

Me and Shinya


Beer Garden

Tina's Hawaiian Party


日本 ありがとうございました!

The Last Supper

This was our very last dinner together in Japan. It was a very sad occasion, however we were able to have our final dinner in our favourite restaurant (The Okonomiyaki Restaurant by Himeji Station) in good company. I chose to eat okonomiyaki with mochi, cheese, pork and bacon and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! I will never forget how good that tasted and when I go back to Himeji, I will make sure I go to that restaurant and eat my favourite thing! It was a really nice way to end our year in Japan and we were able to reminisce on all the good times we have had (and just about everyday there was a new adventure or story to tell!).

Tina, Steve, Richard and Makoto getting ready for their yummy meal.

Lauren and Kyosuke…かんぱい!

Me and Shinya…かんぱい!

5 January 2008

The Heaps Good Showcase

In our building, one of the new Americans who came in August was called Katie. Katie is a really good jazz dancer and she enjoys choreographing, and Tina and I enjoy dancing, so it was a good combination. Two or three times a week, Katie would teach us more and more of this dance that she had choreographed and after about five weeks, we had the dance down pat and ready to perform. We organised for everyone in the res (our building) to come and watch the “Heaps Good Showcase” which is now on Utube if anybody wants to watch it. We were really impressed with all the people who actually made the effort to come and watch us dance and we ended up doing the routine three times! We were absolutely exhausted by the end of it! It was a good experience to be taught a dance and to perform it in front of people and I hope that one day, I will have the opportunity of going to dance classes and doing some more of that kind of thing. If anything, it really gets your fitness going!

After the dance showcase, we went out to dinner at one of the restaurants that became our local called Café Muche. It is known for its ginormous meals and one meal could probably feed about four people if it was put into descent serves! It was good for us though because we were so hungry after having burnt off all that energy so that was exactly what we needed!

We then moved onto the pub where Avvy bought us some cowboy shots to celebrate our dance show and to farewell us. It was a good night and we were really proud of ourselves for performing the dance in front of our friends.

Sapporo Beer Museum

On our last day in Sapporo, we went to the Sapporo Beer Museum which was really interesting. It was a really nice-looking building – especially because it was in the snow.

I found the advertisements interesting to look at because there was a display of every Sapporo Beer advertisement in history. It reminded me of the old Coke advertisements.

This is one of the newer ads of a good-looking Japanese guy advertising the beer.

This is one of the older ads of a young girl advertising the beer.

We got to have a drink at the bar which cost us 100 yen each ($1) so it definitely didn’t break our budget! I had mikan juice (mandarine juice) and Tina and Lauren tried some of the beer. We even got some free snacks to go with our drinks!

This is us doing a kampai (cheers) with our drinks.

Ski Trip

We allocated two days to go skiing in Hokkaido. One of the days we went to a place called Kiroro and the other day we went to Rusutsu. It was really interesting because I hadn’t skied for a long time – not since I was about six or seven years old, so it was like starting all over again. I had a good outfit for skiing which covered every inch of my body, so I knew that being cold wouldn’t be an issue!

It was the most beautiful scenery seeing all the trees covered in snow and the roof tops of all the buildings also covered. As it is not the sort of thing that we get to see often here in Australia, I could appreciate the scenery a lot.

This is one of the ski slopes that we went down.

A cute little wooden log cottage in amongst the ski fields.

At the end of our skiing stint at Kiroro, Tina suggested that we make a snow man. It was pretty hard to do because the snow was so soft, that it was hard to make it stick together and mould into a shape. We did a pretty good job though in the end of creating a cute little snow man!

I must admit, my skiing skills were not even close to being anything more than a novice! I was so scared on those slopes and the ski slopes that were marked as being beginner slopes, felt like they should have been suited more to an advanced level! This is me looking like I actually knew what I was doing, but don't be fooled!!!

There was one particular slope that I went on with Tina which took AGES to get there by chairlift. It felt like we were in that chairlift for about fifteen minutes before we actually got to the top, so you could imagine how long and scary this course would have been! Well I was almost about to poo my pants when I saw how steep the slopes looked from my angle and I was so scared that I was going to lose control and end up going full pelt down this mountain! So I decided to take it easy and go as slow as possible. Well if I went any slower I would have been going backwards because I think I was going at a pace of about 2km/hr – no exaggeration!

So Tina was getting a little impatient by this stage waiting at the bottom of the slope for me that she rang Steve up and was giving him an up-to-date running commentary of what I was doing on that mountain! She even started taking photos of how ridiculous I looked! I started off trying to ski down and then I just got so scared that I stopped all together and didn’t know what to do. I was stuck! Tina suggested that I take off my skis and walk down, so I took them off and then was too scared to get up again, so I decided to lay down in the snow for about ten minutes thinking that I was going to die on the mountain and that was the end of my life!

Then I decided to bite the bullet and actually attempt going down, so I slowly slid down the rest of the mountain on my bottom, with my skis in each hand! I lost my dignity that day, but I still had my body in tact, so I was happy about that! It made for a good story to tell, if anything! Hehe


Tina, Lauren and I made a special trip to Sapporo so that we could see the snow during the winter period in Japan. This was one thing we were looking forward to all year and were waiting for the right time for it to happen. Just before we left to go back to Australia, the snow in Hokkaido (Japan’s north island) was falling nicely for a perfect ski trip!

When we arrived in Sapporo, we were surprised to feel how cold it actually was as Honshu (the main island) isn't as cold as Hokkaido is, so it came as a bit of a shock to us. The roads were covered in ice right across from one side to the other. The snow was ploughed to the sidewalks so that the cars could get across the main roads without any hassles. It was just bizarre, but really cool to see because I haven’t seen snow for a very long time.

Hokkaido is actually known for its snow. It has some of the best snow in the whole entire world and it is called “powder snow”. There is a very good reason for its name because the snow is so soft that when you walk in it, your foot sinks to the very bottom – just like quick sand. It is magic! I also got really excited to see the snowflakes. I never thought that they would actually be in that star-shape that you see in cartoons and things like that, but each flake of snow is in a beautiful, perfectly executed shape of a star. It was just amazing!

As we were wondering around Sapporo, we stumbled across a semi-frozen lake surrounded by snow. It’s amazing how beautiful snow can make things look!

Another good tourist attraction in Sapporo is the “Tokei Dai” which means “Big Clock”. It looks really pretty at night time when all the lights are shining on it. It doesn’t take long for it to get dark in Sapporo and at around 4’o’clock, the sun starts to go down.

We then went to the city’s main park (Odori Park) to see the Christmas lights. They looked really pretty – especially because of the snow.

Later that night, we went to the most beautiful Italian restaurant where we ate pizza, tomato and cheese salad, lasagne and the best roast steak I have ever eaten! It was so tender and delicious! I definitely won’t forget that meal in a hurry!

Mt Hiromine Hike

Thomas, Tina, Shinya and I decided to go on a bit of a hike up one of the local mountains in Himeji early one Sunday morning and geez, wasn’t that an adventure and a half! When I woke up that morning, I wasn’t expecting to go on such an adventure!

We rode our bikes to the base of the mountain and started our hike. Everything was going good, until Thomas and Tina decided it would be a good idea to take a short cut and get off the path. So there we were, bush bashing, trying to find our way through this mountain filled with trees and dead Autumn leaves on the ground. It was a tough slog because we had absolutely no idea where we were going, we had no compass and we were totally lost! On top of all that, I was busting to do a number two, but obviously there were no toilets around. Thankfully, Thomas had some toilet paper in case of emergencies such as these, so I was able to leave my little present on the mountain with the comfort of using toilet paper! The only thing was, I was too scared to go out of sight of everyone seeming as we were already lost, so I went behind a small bush, that was pretty much in sight of the others! They were disgusted with me, but I was at least happy that I hadn’t lost them too! I definitely felt relieved after I finished, anyhow!

This was when we got to the top of the mountain and you can see the susuki plants with the view of the city in the background.

This is Shinya, me, Tina and Thomas at the top of the mountain.

Me in the forest before we got lost.

After we finally found our way again, we were all so relieved. We were preparing for the worst and actually called some of our friends to make sure they knew to come and get us if we weren’t back before 5pm! Luckily, our trusty guide, Thomas, helped us to find our way again!

We were so hungry when we reached the bottom of the mountain where our bikes were, so we decided to make our way to the city to have a nice, yummy yaki niku lunch together. It started bucketing down with rain as we were riding along which made it impossible to keep dry, so we got to the restaurant in our trackies, looking like drowned rats and smelling just as bad! We didn’t care that much by that stage because all we wanted was a descent lunch. Well that is exactly what we got. A beautiful plate of yaki niku (grilled meat) that we got to grill on the BBQ ourselves. It was bliss! A nice way to end a funny adventure of a day!

Sega World

It was a rainy day in Himeji and was way too cold to go out anywhere in the open, so Shinya suggest to take Tina, Kyosuke, Lauren and I to Sega World. Well I don't think we could have done anything better because this was just fantastic. It is like a games centre where you pay for every ten minutes you are in there, but you can go on anything you like within the centre for free. They had all sorts of things including pool tables, table tennis tables, car games, segway, massage chairs, tennis, squash courts…you name it, they had it! It was a great place to go to pass the time away with your friends and be entertained for a few hours. It was lots of fun!

The best part of this centre was the segway. They used these on Big Brother one of the years. You have to stand on it and control it by pushing and pulling the lever to move, change direction and alter the speed. It was hard to get used to at the start, but it was lots of fun nevertheless!

Farewell Party…Goodbye us ☹

Tina, Steve, Lauren and I decided to have a small farewell dinner with the close friends we made whilst living in Japan. Firstly, we went out for dinner at the Blue Plate restaurant in the Miyuki Dori. This is equivalent to Rundle Mall in Adelaide. We loved going to this restaurant because for about $16, you could get a salad, soup, bread rolls, main, dessert and a coffee. It was good value for money and the service was really good and the food was really tasty. So this was our very last time eating at one of our favourite restaurants, Blue Plate.

After dinner, we went out for some karaoke because that is just what you do in Japan! It was lots of fun and we sang our little hearts out! This is Tina and I at the karaoke bar.

This is me, Lauren, Tina, Kyosuke and Makoto enjoying karaoke.

This is us doing the jazz hands!

Lauren, Hiromi, Fumiyo, Yoko, Tina, me and Shinya all feeling a little sentimental towards the end of karaoke.

Hiromi and Fumiyo gave us a little present each which was really nice of them. We were really sad to leave the karaoke bar after that because we knew that it would be the last time for a while before we could see them again. They were really good value and were always happy and cheerful when we saw them. I hope that we can always stay in touch with those girls because they were worth their weight in gold!

Shinya and I at the Tiger Bar.


Just over ten years ago, there was a terrible Earthquake in Kobe which ruined the entire city, killed many people and left the rest homeless as their houses and properties were destroyed. It was a big mess to clean up, but Kobe was up and running again soon after. As a celebration of the rebuilding of the city after the earthquake, once a year, the people of Kobe put on a display of lights called Luminarie. This light display is just magnificent and has a whole heap of beautiful colours and looks outstanding. Thousands of people go to this light display every year around Christmas time to see the beautiful lights.

This is just so that I have proof of actually being there!

After walking through this huge tunnel of lights, you get to a mass of lights that are in the shape of a castle. It is so beautiful.

This is Lauren, Steve, me, Tina, Richard and Yoko posing in front of the castle lights.

My Last Day at the Elementary School

All up, I had three elementary schools to teach at which were rotated once a week. I loved all of my elementary schools, but the teachers at this particular elementary school made me feel really welcome and special. One of the Grade Five teachers got her kids to make me 1000 paper cranes and they joined them all together so it looked like a colourful bunch of perfectly folded paper. It was so cool. They also gave me heaps of origami and little messages and letters. I will never forget how cute those kids are!

After my classes, the principal and I had a big chat in her office for about two hours about all the places I have been to. Then she gave me a present which was a shyuji set (Japanese calligraphy set) so that I could practise my shyuji. It was a really good present because I really enjoy doing calligraphy as I used to do it in Australia too. I also really like the look of Chinese characters (kanji) so it will be good for when I want to practise it in Australia. She gave me a bit of a lesson and I practised writing things like Himeji and Love in kanji.

These are some of the teachers I worked with at this school.

My Last Day at the Junior High School ☹

Today marks my final day at my second Junior High School. Things were certainly starting to sink in that I was soon going to leave Japan which I was really sad about. I think that my second Junior High School was my favourite one because the kids were so friendly and always used to come up and have chats with me during their lunch breaks and after school. This particular school has a name for being a bit more of a challenging school, but I thought these kids had lots of character and they were so much fun.

This is a picture of me with my most favourite bunch of kids. Every lunch break, I would go out and talk to them about my most recent travelling adventures. They really liked hearing about the Koda Kumi Concert the best of all because they absolutely LOVE Koda Kumi. She is like the Delta Goodrem of Japan!

This is them doing the famous, trendy Japanese phrase that all young kids like to say: “Don Dake!” They always used to say it to me and make me say it too! It doesn’t really mean anything, but they just like to say it!

This is my favourite group of first grade kids Year 7's). I used to go and eat with them in their classroom occasionally and have chats with them about their favourite cartoon characters and they taught me how to do some origami, too!

These are the kids I taught. At this time, they were all writing me goodbye messages, so they were trying to think of what they could write in their cards. Some wrote a message in English and some wrote in Japanese, but it took me a little while longer to figure out what they wrote to me when I read the Japanese ones!