Thursday, January 8, 2015

Anjin - The White Samurai

Not too long ago, I read the novel Shogun and though fictional, its based off of the white English sailor who landed himself in Japan and the Japanese not giving him up. He ended up becoming, I think, the one and only white (non-Japanese) samurai, which is a pretty big deal for that time.

I found out that he was buried, along with his Japanese wife, in the town I'm staying in. His Japanese name was Miura Anjin, and the town is called Anjinzuka. He was in charge of this area, if I remember correctly, which I think is pretty neat. Just last week, I made the trek up the (rather steep) hill to view it, and it turned out to be quite a beautiful day to do it.

His is the one on the right. 

Every April, they have a memorial ceremony, and though I've never been, it sounds like its a big event. 

Before climbing the stairs to the top, there's a stone monument, that I admit, I have no idea what it says, but its quite large and imposing.

These stairs are steep and far apart in height. They definitely take a person time to climb. Once you finally reach the top, you're greeted with the monuments behind the gate and these lush fluffy green bushes lining the entire surroundings.

After walking around for awhile, I made my way back down, but not before smelling what I thought was incense, but saw far on another hill, a man burning what I can only guess to be weeds or an old crop. It was quite pungent . 

I enjoyed the views and felt it get colder as the sun was rapidly sinking, so I quickly made my trip downhill back to the apartment.

If you notice, in the far righthand side of the above photo, you'll see a set of winding stairs. That's only a small portion of those stairs, and I ran up them once as a workout. I almost died that day, actually fighting throwing up once I got to the top. I commend everyone who lives in that apartment complex who have to take those stairs several times a day.

I'm glad I got to view this park and the monument. Its a great workout, since its up such a steep hill and its incredibly quiet. I can see it as a great place to get away for a peaceful afternoon, if ever I need. 

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve

Two days from Christmas and the sky is as blue as it can get and the ground is as dry as ever. I don't think we'll have a white Christmas here, but no matter what, Christmas will be here soon. Right now there's only a crock pot under the Christmas tree and its cooking a pork shoulder. 

I had to plug it into the transformer so it can get full power and cook it properly; the Japanese outlets don't give enough watts to get the job done. But there aren't any presents sitting wrapped under the tree and I'm not even sure there will be. I have one sweater to give to G-man but no wrapping paper. To be truthful, he's already seen it, so I debate even wrapping it. Should I bother?

Yesterday, I went to what was said to be the #1 thing to do in Yokosuka per trip advisor, and that was the Yokosuka Art Museum. I went and I thought to myself, how in the world is this the #1 thing to do? Its an art gallery, so I knew that going in, but I think I expected so much more...not creepy dolls that flip over when you crank the handle. Or paintings that all look the same. Or an entire wall covered in bunny and cat faces made out of wire? (they really love their cats here).

The only fun thing about the place was a Japanese couple calling me over to look at the creepy doll and then laugh with me when it flipped over. Then calling me over again to show me something else, and then again to show me something else.

I hate not speaking their language, but love when they actually acknowledge I'm there. 

I can't say I would recommend this museum to the average person but maybe an art enthusiast who actually speaks Japanese so they can read all the captions. I would actually recommend what I think is my favorite place to eat lunch, and that's Kawara Cafe. No matter how much I walk around to find a different place to eat, I always come back to Kawara. One for their free wifi (that helps), but also for their friendly staff and yummy food.

And if you notice, they play old Mickey Mouse cartoons on the big screen, which is a fun silly little extra. 

Japan ca

If I don't get the chance, I wish everyone a wonderfully Merry Christmas. 

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hair, views, and odd translations

The past week I've had the chance to do a few things here and there. I always feel guilty admitting that more often than not, I am inside the apartment doing a whole lot of nothing. I don't go out and explore and even though its probably seen as a little lame, I don't because I hate spending money.

Not just the money, the time. It takes a lot of time to go somewhere and by the time I get there, my shoulders are killing me from lugging my heavy bag with my camera and before I know it, I have to come back to start dinner before G-man gets home from work.

I told you it was lame.

I went to my hair stylist three times last week (we're developing a nice friendship) and she's an hour away and my old self was pooped out from that. But let me tell you, she did a fabulous job. I wanted to go lighter, for the first time in 10 years, and she delivered like no one I think would have. It took four hours, but it was worth it. 

So you can get a full grasp of what my hair (and GREYS) looked like before, this will show you. Plus the amount of foil it took to cover my entire head. She leaves them flat so its two foils to one (small) section of hair. I can't even describe how heavy all that foil was.

G-man and I set up and decorated the tree over the weekend as well. With one strand of cicle lights and one strand of normal white lights, we got very creative and hung them up around the living room. Though we certainly won't be winning any awards for best decorated, we think its charming in a "wow, that's really bad" sort of way.

Feel free to notice the "tree skirt" is in fact a pillow sham and the transformer on the ground that keeps all the American electronics running smoothly. Keeping it classy over here.

This is where I wait for my trains whenever I want to go anywhere. This one passing is headed to Kanazawa-Hakkei where I would get off to get onto the limited express to Yokohama. As it was that day, I was waiting to go to Yokosuka in the other direction.

G-man and I went to Landmark Towers in Yokohama to see the city from their highest floor. They have the fastest elevator in Japan going 28mph. Ears were popping and the views were beautiful.

Afterward, we were looking for a place to eat, and would you believe we passed this place up?

I know, I'm sure you can't imagine why. 

That nearly rounds out all the happenings with me this past week.  Well, except the fact that while I'm in blogger, everything is in Japanese. Whenever I'm writing out a post, the page is constantly translating back and forth from English to Japanese, and because of this, while I'm typing, its nothing for it to completely delete an entire sentence mid sentence. I'm constantly retyping my sentences. Its odd and funny, and just another little quirk with being in Japan.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

I hear a buzz

Do you ever get a little bee under your bonnet where you start doing something that maybe you've put off for a long time? That's me today. I woke up very early and lounged around doing just about nothing all morning long (perks of working from home and being on winter break for school), and figured I probably should be mildly productive. 

Only thing was, I didn't really want to be. Its cold and rainy outside, and anything I want to do requires walking about 10 minutes to the train station and then riding the train to xyz location and walking some more. I'm not Japanese, I prefer driving everywhere, not walking. Call me lazy, or just American, either way, give me a car.

After trying my hand (and currently failing) at cooking fresh black beans in the crockpot (what was supposed to be 3.5 hours on high is going on well over 4 with no "cooked" stage in sight), I figured I'd head into town for lunch and some toilet paper (two very high priorities). But that requires a shower and hair and makeup, not to mention walking in the rain. Not high on my list of "wants" today. But after months of being in and out of this apartment and staring out at the slider windows in the living room, I couldn't take saying to myself, "I should really clean those" one more time and before I knew it, I had jumped up and started cleaning them. 

Next thing I knew, I had soapy water and a rag and was cleaning the outsides of them, because that's where all the dirt was. Then I did the outside of every window. Bedroom, kitchen, and all but one living room window (couldn 't reach it). I'm standing on all the balconies in my pajamas (yes it was noon and I was still in my jammies), barefoot, in the cold and rain (there was an overhang protecting me, trust me, I'm not that dedicated) scrubbing and squeegeeing the windows. 

They look great...okay, there's some streaks, but a person can actually see through them without squinting past the spots of dirt. After coming in and finding dirty footprints on the wood floors (apparently my freezing feet were freezing because I was standing in the drippings of the window cleaner), I started scrubbing the floors, then found myself in the bathroom wiping down the baseboards and edges of the floors and where did this come from?? 

My subconscious apparently couldn't take the spots and powder covered baseboards any longer and it took over before I could say, "hey, weren't you needing toilet paper?"

So now I rest under a blanket on the couch (again) watching the rain fall through the now impressively clean windows, with a full belly because hard work equals eating leftovers immediately and using the excuse of "floors needing to dry" for not showering. ..yet. 

I think its viable.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Happenings in Japan

I'm back in Japan! I arrived late Sunday night and have been getting on the "Japan" schedule the past couple days (its Tuesday your Monday). Monday I woke up before 4am. That was early to say the least! I hit some grocery stores nearby since G-man gave me full reign with empty cabinets and fridge and by 7pm I had fallen asleep on the couch. Party animal over here!

One thing with here is they don't have all the goods I need at one store. Not only that, I'm walking and taking the train for everything and carrying loads and loads of groceries is not ideal, so this morning I went right back out to yet another grocery store further away. I heard good things about this place, and I had to take a cab from the train station to get there, and I wasn't disappointed in the least.

I realize I'm talking about grocery shopping...boring right? Well, afterward I had every intention of getting a cab all the way back to the apartment, ignoring the train and having the luxury of being taken straight to the door, but there weren't any cabs around. That meant walking toward what I hoped was the train station. I figured if I went in the general direction of where I thought it was, I would be alright. Without any directions or gps, I huffed it and huffed it and huffed it some more until I couldn't take it any longer and asked where the station was.

Turns out I was near by one stop, only it was nowhere near where I wanted to go. I actually was going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to. This sounds about right for me. I'm horrible with navigating in foreign lands, but I hopped on the train and got myself back safely, if not a little sweaty! 

Any way, things are good here. The weather is beautiful, the place is familiar, and I'm getting to rest and relax without having to think or do any school. My semester officially finished the day before I flew out here and its a great relief knowing I don't have to do anything while in Japan if I don't want to!

Here's a few photos of the past couple days.
I went  to a restaurant I like to go to when I'm here, and pointed to what I thought was what I normally get but I got this instead. A blob of mayo is there for sauce..? Everything was good except the mayo. I can't figure why that was there.

While I was at the store today, I looked out and noticed I was right along the ocean. I had no idea, so I went out to the harbor to enjoy the view.

I honestly do not know who would want to eat an overeasy egg that's been sitting on a table for no one can say how long, but apparently someone will.

"Corn Potage" ... I'm guessing its corn chowder? Maybe? Or cream of corn perhaps?

I'm hoping to talk with G-man in the hopes of decorating the apartment for Christmas! One thing with Japan is they don't celebrate but they still decorate and their decorations are so so cheap! A 5ft fake tree for only $7??? I can't beat that! And a small 8in. wreath for $2. I can't wait to load up! 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

A little bit of a lately

Life has been quite crazy lately. You know when you're used to having your schedule a certain way, and then it isn't that way anymore and it takes time to adjust to the new? That's me.

I've started a new business, and it has kept me incredibly busy. I'll go into what it is later, when things settle and I have more time to share, but since diving in, its been a little crazy for me. I've been so accustomed to doing school and only school, and not "work" (not that this is work by any means), that having that extra 'thing' added to my day has me wondering how to juggle it all.

I went out of town for a business trip...and a dentist appointment (I like to kill two birds), and I couldn't do school for those two days, I was on the go the entire time. Thank goodness I was caught up but it showed me that I need to find a balance and need to find it fast. And also, I can't be there for everyone at that very moment. That alone is going to run me into the ground, as was the evidence of texting three people at once while pumping gas and feeling frantic.

The past couple of weeks have been so good though! I invited my cute little niece for an "Auntie sleepover". She's almost four and she was so excited having her first ever sleepover, just her, with me. She was an angel the entire time. Even fell asleep within 10 minutes of saying goodnight, which I was really nervous about given she had been bouncing off the walls right before. I was warned she was a 'kicker' but once again, the angel in her came out because she didn't kick once!

We made breakfast together the next morning, played in the backyard, and then went for a Subway before I gave her back to my sister. It was the type of experience where it had me think "I want that." Isn't that what getting through tough parenting times is all about? Those great days - great moments - that wipe away any horrific ones from the day or week before?

I know I don't know, but I'm imagining so to some degree. And remember, I lived with a two year old for three months. I have an idea what its like on a daily basis.

In other "lately" news, I only have two weeks left of school and that's incredibly exciting; not to mention the five week break that follows before Spring classes start. Speaking of, one of those classes will be on the Beatles...yes the music group. My hard earned money is going toward this class. I won't complain (minus the money aspect) since I'll be taking Anatomy 202 right along with it, and will need that 'super easy, no thought to it' class to make it through.

I'll also say another reason why I haven't been around here so much is because I don't have photoshop elements anymore, since I upgraded to a Mac. Watermarking my photos is a huge chore with pulling them through picmonkey online, that I don't do it.

Enough of that rambling. I hope your leaves are changing as mine are. Some of the trees here are absolutely gorgeous!

This was from the Summer in Las Vegas, so obviously, no turning leaves, but still pretty.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

When stuff becomes stuff

When I packed up my little apartment of four years to put into storage, I made sure to sort through as much as possible and determine what I wanted to sell and get rid of. Everything was going into storage, so I was determined to keep the essentials and necessary furniture.

Living on my own for 12 years, I had accumulated a lot of things but when it was all done, I was able to fit just about everything into a 10x10 storage unit. Some things fit into my room at my parents, but when you see your whole apartment in a storage unit, it puts a lot into perspective.

Fast forward a year and a lot of traveling later, and I have found that I can live with the absolute bare minimum. All the "things" I needed in my apartment, I don't even think about. I don't even know what they are anymore.

This didn't hit me fully until I went to Las Vegas for three months and literally lived with just 3 pair of shorts, a handful of tops, and a couple pair of shoes..with pj's and the necessaries of course, but that's it. I rotated between the same outfits for three whole months, and I honestly didn't care. No one cared. No one saw me and questioned if they'd seen me wear that top before or wonder about it. I didn't have to spend longer than 60 seconds choosing my outfit for the day, it was so nice and easy. Laundry was one tiny load a week.

Coming back to CA, I have all my clothes but the idea that I can live with a lot less is still holding on tight. The past couple months, I've been slowly working on selling all my furniture in storage. I'm down to just two dressers and I'll have it all gone. I'm thinking of going through all of my storage bins and boxes that I don't even know what's in them, and getting rid of things. Even hopefully getting a smaller storage unit. This stuff is going to sit there for months, maybe even years untouched and its becoming a waste. There's memorabilia and keep sakes that I'm obviously holding onto, but all the superfluous stuff, is just that, superfluous and I'm ready to see it go.

I think I'm ready to start fresh and with less. To finally let go of all those things I held onto thinking I'll use them again or even use them for the first time.

Do you ever have these feelings? Where you need to get rid of a bunch of stuff and clean house? Normally twice a year, I'll sort through my closet and give away clothes I haven't touched in a year's time, but I've never had the desire to purge all things! Until now.

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