Archive for the ‘More photos please’ Category

Trip to Hokkaido

September 16, 2008
Dusk approaches in Sapporo.

Dusk approaches in Sapporo.

[Taylor]

On Monday the nation of Japan celebrated Respect for the Aged Day, thus providing a nice three-day weekend for Julie and I to do some traveling.  If you are an Aomori ALT reading this now, we highly recommend Hokkaido for three-day excursions.

We decided to embark on a trip to Hokkaido, Japan’s northern most island, to visit some ALTs from Portland.  Many photos were taken.  Click here to view 81 of our favorite snapshots.

Getting There

Following the advice of another Aomori ALT, we decided to take a ferry from Hachinohe to Tomakomai.  We did this for two main reasons.  First, it was the cheapest route; a one-way ticket cost about $45.  Also, one can ride the ferry overnight which is incredibly convenient.  Not only does this take care of lodging for two evenings (arriving and departing), you also get to kill time on the 9 hour ride with sleep.

Here is what it looks like riding economy class on the ferry to Tomakomai:

Julie enjoying a late night snack.

Julie enjoying a late night snack.

Notice the brilliant absence of chairs.  Sleeping on the floor wasn’t the most comfortable night of sleep we’ve ever had, but it certainly wasn’t the worst.  We were both thankful to have room to stretch.

Day 1:  Otaru

We left Hachinohe at 10:00 PM, arrived in Tomakonai at 7:00, took a taxi to the train station, and arrived in Sapporo at around 9:00 AM.  Our friends met us at the station and invited us into their lovely and spacious apartment.  As fellow residents of Portland they had stocked up on Stumptown Coffee before leaving for Japan and poured a few cups for us.  For a few minutes it felt as though we were back in Oregon.

We then met up with a few other ALTs and caught a train to Otaru, a quaint city (compared to Sapporo, Japan’s 5th largest) famous for glass blowing, Western European architecture, make-your-own music boxes, and sushi.

Our train to Otaru traveled by the ocean.

Music boxes.

Music boxes.

Blowin' glass!

Blowin' glass!

Hands down the best salmon sushi we have ever had.  Possibly the best we could even imagine...

Hands down the best salmon sushi we have ever had. Possibly the best we could even imagine...

Otaru is also famous for its canals and ivy-covered buildings.  If you peform a Google image search of Otaru you will no doubt find pictures of the canal covered in snow during the winter months.

Otaru is also famous for its canals and ivy-covered buildings. If you perform a Google image search of Otaru you will no doubt find pictures of the canal covered in snow during the winter months.

What an afternoon!  After we had our fill of glass, music boxes, chocolate, black sugar ice cream (maple flavored, other flavors included lavender, sunflower seeds, and cheesecake), owl statues, canals, and ivy-covered buildings, we hopped a train back to Sapporo and enjoyed some warm, spicy soup curry for dinner.

Soup curry.

Soup curry.

Day 2:  Sapporo

After getting a little extra sleep on Saturday night, we all decided it would be a good idea to head to an onsen at the foothills of the mountains on the outskirts of the city.  If at any time you find yourself running on fumes while traveling in Japan, go to an onsen.  You will be revitalized.  For those of you who don’t know, an onsen is basically a place where you get to sit around in various styles of hot tubs.  You can find onsens at naturally occurring hot springs as well.  The onsen we attended had 6 variations of hot tubs, a steam/mist room, a sauna, and a pool of cold water.  We were there for about 2 and a half hours and paid roughly $8 total for the services.

Feeling refreshed and energized, our gracious hosts took us to a bookstore (as they put it, the Powell’s of Sapporo), where we found a bountiful selection of books in English.  After some debating we narrowed our choices down to a novel, a collection of short stories, and an informational book on Japan and grabbed some dinner at the station before taking another train back to Tomakomai.

As we settled in for another 9 hour ferry ride, we reflected on our trip.  We concluded it was a refreshing excursion both because of the excitement of life in the city and the conversations with our fellow Portland JETs (the abundance of Portland ALTs is no coincidence, Sapporo and Portland are sister cities).  It was wonderful to reconnect with folks from home.

The dolphin blanket helped us sleep.

The dolphin blanket helped us sleep.

On Monday morning, as we arrived back to Aomori-ken, we carried our momentum further and traveled to Towada and Shimoda in search of a Go board and some stones.  We were successful!

More Photos of Noheji

September 11, 2008

[Taylor]

I was looking at our Flickr page yesterday and noticed we only had three photos of Noheji Town.  I decided this needed to change so I took a walk around town yesterday evening and now there are 75 new pictures of our town on the web.

The photos are a nice companion piece to an earlier post that offered a brief introduction to the town.

I will display three of the photos on the blog to give you a taste, but please click here to see the other 72.  While you’re at our Flickr page be sure to check out our other photo sets and don’t be afraid to leave comments.

Enjoy.

These are the mirrors Julie talked about yesterday...

These are the mirrors Julie wrote about yesterday...

Update: Yes, we felt the earthquake this morning.  We are fine.

New Photos of English T-shirts

September 8, 2008

I took a few more photos of English t-shirts.  Click here if you’re interested in seeing more.

Random Images

September 8, 2008
Shopping at MaxValue

Shopping at MaxValue

Another MaxValue shot.  Many grocery stores have arcades and I couldn't deny myself the opportunity to play Beatmania...

Another MaxValue shot. Many grocery stores have arcades and I couldn't deny myself the opportunity of playing Beatmania 6th Mix...

Julie bought some green onions at a farmers' market and they wrapped our food in newspaper.  This political cartoon caught our eye.

Julie bought some green onions at a farmers' market and they wrapped our food in newspaper. This political cartoon caught our eye.

Noheji Sunset: September

September 4, 2008

More sunset photos here.

Photos

September 3, 2008

Our Flickr page has been updated.  Click here to see more photos of English t-shirts, Tofuyaura Beach, and the Noheji Town Festival.

More Photos, Please

August 11, 2008

Wondering where all the photos are?  Click here for more:

Photos!