Last Post

About two years ago I meant to post a link to my new blog, and it never happened.

Oops.

Sorry about that! I don’t think anyone follows or looks at this old blog anymore, but just in case, here is my new blog:

https://travelsandtanbo.wordpress.com

I’m currently planning on updating daily throughout October, so please come join me over there for a posting spree!

Thanks,
Jess

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Summer Stuff

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Just a few extra pictures to get all caught up! The beautiful sunset from above is from a few weeks ago in the Yamana area, Takasaki. I love how it reflects in the rice field!

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A last class with my English Garden girls… bye!

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A random meal I really enjoyed

Recently I convinced Kenji to take a break to go on the motorcycle and cool off in the mountains. I didn’t take many pictures, but here’s a few:

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So I’m all caught up now! I have a big announcement coming up though, so stay tuned!

Fujioka Matsuri

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This year’s festival was a rainy one… some years it is perfect weather, others we get rained out. On the first day (which I don’t have any pictures of, I’ll have to get them from Kenji), it rained and threatened, but by the time we actually got started with the portable shrines (mikoshi), it cleared up and it was a fun night.

Day two, however, started out sunny, so we went (me dressed in yukata), but then the heavens opened and it just POURED. Oh well, next year!

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One of my favorite snacks, yakimanju

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Look at those skies!

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Dashi coming down the road

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This is my new neighborhood’s dashi… our friend Misuzu was also on it!

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Whoa, even darker now!

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Some masks on the back of the float

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Bring out the umbrellas!

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These were also cool, sand brought in from Fujioka’s Japanese sister city! The second picture is the new world heritage site here in Fujioka, Takayama-sha

Last Days at Higashi JHS

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I’ll admit it, I was REALLY looking forward to leaving by this last month. I was just ready to move on, and so done with the school. I’ll miss the kids and teachers I taught with, but I’m happy to be done after 6 years!

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Goofs!

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Pep Rally for the sports teams’ summer tournaments

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Closing Ceremony of the first semester in the gym

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Speech and flowers from the kids ^^

Moving… again.

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So we moved again, right at the same time we got married. It was a huge undertaking (when did we get so much stuff?!) and there are still a few places that could use more organization (I don’t want to go near the downstairs closet until I can fortify myself…). But we’re all moved in! I don’t have any inside pictures yet, but here are pictures from our old house, then from the outside of our new one:

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Our old house: huge, hard to clean, wasn’t clean to start with in the first place, lots of problems… basically, we’re really glad to be out of it, despite its good points!

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Outside of new house… smaller, but more manageable, cleaner, and the ofuro (bath area) is awesome!

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Our neighborhood is full of tiny, tiny roads…

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But lots of flowers, so its nice!

Tokyo Tsuyu

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I went to Tokyo too much recently, so hoping this was the last time in awhile, Kenji and I returned once again, this time to get a paper from the US Embassy saying I was able to marry here in Japan. Once we grabbed that, we went around Ueno a bit, spent the night on points at the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku, and also visited the shrine in Kunitachi where we hope to have our marriage ceremony next year.

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Around Ueno

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Lotus are also blooming

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Kunitachi Yaho Shrine, where we hope to have the ceremony

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The hydrangea festival is really nice

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And it has lots of chickens!

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Shinjuku Government Building, postacollect postcard, and clearing skies

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Summer vegetable soup curry.. we looked for Mexican for lunch, but it was closed. It was a good substitute!

Random May

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I didn’t even realize I’ve hit my 300th post until I posted about the wedding in Wimberley, which was my 301st! I guess that makes this post number 302, and just in time… with me starting a new job soon and getting married, I’m looking into changing up my blogging style into something more public. Up until now I’ve avoided getting too much traffic because this was mostly for family. Now I’m interested in gaining a bigger audience. I haven’t decided if I’m going to start an entirely new blog, or just enhance the posts here yet, but I may start experimenting with different styles for the upcoming posts. We shall see!

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So my latest collection obsession are these postcards called gotouchi from the post office. There is one every year from 2009 (so 6 as of April) for every one of the 47 prefectures. You can also collect mini versions, and they came out with these awesome books recently too. It’s gotten a bit out of hand to be honest, but I enjoy it!

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So because of the postcards, I wanted to visit a temple in Saitama with an ornate building that was featured on one of the postcards.

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Guards at the entrance

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Of course, with my luck, we got there too late to tour, and so I had to content myself with vague pictures taken from extreme angles and around corners.

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At least the small waterfall and trails around back were nice…

And then my computer’s logic board broke, which meant an impromptu (and expensive) trip to Tokyo, where I figured if I was gonna be in Shibuya anyway, I’ll take some more postcard pictures!

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But first, to Ameyoko for kebabs!

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Okay, Shibuya Scramble Crossing, here we go!

So… that’s all I have for recent stuff. We’ve been trying to save money and been very busy planning the school recently, so not much time for pictures!

Wimberley Wedding

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My Dad’s wedding was at the beginning of May, which was perfect timing as I was able to maximize my time off with the holidays during Golden Week, and have a decent 10 days to spend in the US.

After flying business class to Europe, economy was worse than normal, but overall it wasn’t a bad flight. I arrived in Austin and rented a car for the week, then spent most of the time going back and forth between Austin and Wimberley, helping with wedding stuff, going through my old things to get rid of what I could, and meeting friends. Kenji came in on the 7th, and the rest of the family on the 8th and 9th. We had the rehearsal dinner on the 9th in Dripping Springs, and the wedding was the 10th and was absolutely gorgeous! Finally, on the 11th we had a river party before I drove Kenji back to Austin and stayed at the airport, and flew home on the 12th. For the most part, I didn’t take any pictures, so all of these are Kenji’s!

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Rain on Friday during wedding prep

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My wedding dinner outfit

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I brought daruma from Japan

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Various pictures

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This is my favorite of me of the week!

Tokyo Again

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The Golden Week holidays started off this year with a random Tuesday off of work and school, so I headed into Tokyo to meet up with Kenji’s cousin Shoko and have some fun.

I met her at Tokyo station, as I wanted to grab the new postacollect card from the Tokyo post office, then we headed to Asakusa from there for some shopping I promised Dad. We ate some monjyayaki while there, then walked to Kappa-Bashi, a street famous for kitchen stuff, including the amazing fake food displayed in many restaurants all over Japan. Although a bit expensive, if you ever wanted your own fake curry, spaghetti, or sushi, Kappa-Bashi is the place to get it! I got some keychains for gifts, and planned to go back soon!

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Lunch in Asakusa

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Although Okonomiyaki (usually made with egg) is more popular, I like monjayaki too! Although it doesn’t look very appetizing, it is very good!

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You know you’ve found Kappa-Bashi when you find the golden Kappa statue!

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You can find anything on this street, from weird coffee goods, sharp knives, to cookie cutters in the shape of every prefecture of Japan (!!), but my favorite is the fake food! (Well, I might have to go back for those cookie cutters!)

From there we thought to catch the Dolphin show at Shinagawa station’s aquarium, but by the time we got there and wanted to buy tickets, we’d already missed some of the show, and didn’t want to wait for another set. So that is a plan for another day, and we headed on to Hamamatsu-cho station to hit our lunch spot: Chicago-style deep dish pizza! YUUUUMMM

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I would have totally rode this cute otter once around though!

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AHHHH! Namahage in Shinagawa!

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Hamamatsucho station

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Pizza place!

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Also, lots of craft beer from around Japan!

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Beer

Actually, right before lunch we also visited a small garden by Hamamatsu-cho called Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden. It is a small oasis of calm in the midst of Tokyo, and the fuji (wisteria), tsutsuji (azalea), and various other flowers.

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Tsutsuji around Tokyo

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Map at the station of the garden

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Garden entrance

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Fuji

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Irises

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And others

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There’s also a nice big lake in the center

We were super full from lunch, but Shoko wanted to go to Odaiba to see Oktoberfest. Yes, Japan has an Oktoberfest in April. Any excuse to drink, apparently! So that was rowdy and fun. I got home pretty late after that, but enjoyed the trip a lot!

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Odaiba Oktoberfest

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Lots of German beer, girls in costumes, and people

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And also the band was really fun!

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I couldn’t eat these… too full from lunch!

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Pics of us from Oktoberfest (from Shoko)

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Leaving Odaiba, back to work in the morning!

Spring Road Trip: Yamagata

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We spent the night in Yonezawa, famous for the “Yonezawa ABCs”, Apples, Beef, and Carp! We didn’t try any apples or carp, but we did eat the beef at a restaurant near the station… SO good! I could definitely taste the quality of it compared to regular supermarket beef. Nice!

After checking out of the Toyoko Inn that morning, we drove to the ruins of Yonezawa castle, which now hosts a shrine. There were many beautiful cherry blossoms here too, and also lots of festival booths. We spent a little time here before finally driving to the main point of the entire road trip: Yamadera.

A friend had posted some pictures of Yamadera with many hydrangea in bloom in June, and I’ve wanted to see it ever since. Yamadera literally means just “mountain temple”; its a temple complex situated increasingly higher on the mountain, and is quite a walk to get up to the top! I knew it wouldn’t be full of flowers, but the occasional cherry blossom tree or daffodil was quite nice, and I was happy to cross it off my travel list… for now at least. I bet it’d be awesome in fall!

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Yonezawa “ABCs” and our fantastic beef dinner!

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Uesugi Shrine in Yonezawa (Uesugi Kenshin was a famous samurai from the area)

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Getting my calligraphy done

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We had fun taking all these pictures!

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Cool building in Yamagata city, where I grabbed my postcards from an open post office

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Lots of blossoms at the parking lot!

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I really liked the area… the train tracks and river together were very picturesque!

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Bottom temple at the start of the complex

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Getting my calligraphy from here

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We had to eat “chikara dango”, balls of konnyaku said to give power to get all the way to the top!

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This temple is famous as being written about by the famous haiku poet Basho

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And Yamagata is famous for cherries and “La France”, western pears, so we tried some snacks for that too!

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Temple map

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Cherry cups in the lanterns on the way up

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Up we go! It was crazy

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But some nice views!

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And a random post office box… does someone actually walk up here every day to check if there’s mail?! I don’t want that job!!

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Finally made it to the top!

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Got my calligraphy up here too, but I skipped all the middle temples… too much calligraphy for me!

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Nice views as we continued to the viewing platform

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Which indeed had some nice views!

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We grabbed a quick picture of the three of us

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Then aaaaalll the way back down, where we contemplated how far we’d come

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And got some more ice cream as a reward!

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Yamagata’s also famous for shogi pieces, but these are huge!

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Beer and cherry sake from the area… I forgot to get pictures of my postcards though!

After finishing at the temple and grabbing snacks, we headed back to Gunma. We hit traffic on the way, so it took a good 4-5 hours, but we finally got home and considered it a great trip. I wonder where I will go next?