Golden Days of May

Wow, I can”t believe May is over already.  It seems like just yesterday… because it was! HAHAHAHAhahaha, oh boy, sometimes, I’m just too funny. haha.  anyway!

So May started out with a few drips and a vacation!  It was fantastic!  So as I mentioned in Aprils post, Golden week is a series of three national holidays in Japan that consist of Children’s day, Green day and constitution day.  Not any clue as to what they are supposed to mean because everyone calls it golden week and goes on vacation. Haha, isn’t that funny.  That just shows you how much holiday time people get in Japan.  And thats not a lot.  lol.  So for most of April and half of May, children day is celebrated with these fish flags and the families hang them on these polls to catch the wind.  I think in the past they were supposed to represent how many boys lived in the house, but now apparently theres not much distinguishing going on.  Well I was originally planning to stay on the Island and check out more of Iki, but then my friend Rachel told me about the JET christian retreat happening in Kobe and with her help I picked out a flight there and back and decided to go!  That was like 5 days before the trip lol.  Fastest plans ever!  So Kobe is next to Osaka, and after being there Id say you might as well call it a district of Osaka because both places are so packed that they hit up against each other and you wouldn’t know you left one for the other even if you looked at it from a mountain top… which I was doing. Lol!  I flew out from Iki on Wednesday afternoon after cleaning up my house for the week and packing a small suitcase of clothes and stuff.  Then I took the Jetfoil in from Ashibe to Fukuoka and made my way to the Airport for 5 something in the afternoon.  I got into Osaka Kansai airport about 6 something almost 7pm and then took a bus for about 40 minutes to Kobe.  Osaka is on this huge ocean bay and to get to kobe from Kansai you have to basically circle the entire bay.  Its pretty neat.  Then I tok a train to my hostel, checked in and dumped my load before getting back on the train (cuz its too cheap!!!!! like 180 yen!!) to meet up with Rachel and Rachel!  Yes Rachel was with a friend of the same name.  She’s great, super cool and we got along as if we’d been friends for decades!  Lol.  We met up for some food and Ice cream cuz I needed dinner bad.  Then I went back to the hostel to sleep.  We were to be at the retreat around 1 or 2 the next day on the top of Rokko san, the mountain.

The next day, I took pictures with my teddy on the roof of the place, and had a relaxing breakfast at the hostel before checking out.  I also heard at that time that my great aunt Sandra had passed away and that kind of bummed out the end of breakfast for a while.  But my mom told me she was having a celebration of life party instead of a funeral and that got me thinking, I should be sad, I should following along and celebrate the great times I had with my aunt and the life she had and her awesome stories.  I was surprised how changing your outlook of death could make you feel more happy about the things you did with the other person during their life.  Not that I don’t miss her and hate that I couldn’t be there for her because I’m half way across the world… but it was changing.  Anyway, I packed up and checked out and headed to the rock station.  Turned out theres tons of trains in Kobe and Osaka and I kinda took the wrong one, meaning, I was going the right way and all but theres one that would have gone up the hill in the town to the station where I was to meet Rachel squared but instead I had to walk 20 mins up a hill on a hot day with my luggage. Tough.  So yea, sort of wrong but right train.  But I’m happy I did because I found this cool huge shrine and I got my stamp book signed by the priestess and I got some pics!  Then I went to the station and had a little locker problems cuz I found one that wouldn’t lock.  Then I had lunch at a bakery with Rachel squared and we got on this bus that goes up the mountain.  Well after we found it it was already jam packed.  We didn’t think we’d fit, but the driver made us fit, a little uncomfortably and with all out bags at the front we started going up the mountain.  Had a great view! from he front window, all sweaty and holding on to each other to keep from falling, lol. But luckily we were the first to get off.  We got the the retreat location first, other than the hosts.  So we started helping with the cleaning!  Rachel was supposed to help with check in so thats why we were early.  Anyway, people started showing up and we hung out and talked with them getting to know each other and all before things got started!  I met this great girl who’s super into video games and such and she brought the new nintendo switch!  OMG i love this thing!  The games on it are wicked and she had the new Zelda game and she let me try it!!!!  Im now hooked, confession.  I really wish I owned this game of lived closer to her cuz I really want to play it… Any way.  We got assigned out rooms, set up beds and all and then got ready for dinner and our first event and worship time!  Basically the 3 days in Kobe were really great, we had bible study in small groups, everyone helped prep for dinner and we even got some free time to check out some local things on Rokko san.  I went with a group to the Onsen on the mountain and it was fantastic!  Then we got okinomiyaki for dinner! We also had this testimony time and I don’t usually want to participate cuz these things usually go the way of like a major confession of how god moved in your life and I’m just really bad to knowing if thats happened yet or not, so I just listen.  But then it was more like a talent show and other things so Rachel got me playing the flute somehow even though I brought it and didn’t want to use it… I played amazing grace cuz it was my grandmas favourite piece and i think they liked it.  Yea.  SO the week was great and we left on Saturday with the pastor and caught a bus to Kansai and flew back to Fukuoka!  There we met up with our good friend Yui and after eating this amazing meat bowl and laughing about language catch phrases (cuz we were dead tired) we went back to her cute apartment in Fukuoka and stayed the night!!  The next day we had pancakes (now a tradition on arriving in Fukuoka) and saw the Beauty and the Beast movie in theatres!  In English!!! (with Japanese subtitles for Yui and all the other Japanese folks in Fuks!)  Then we caught the ferry home and end of really long week!

The following week, other than teaching a few classes and having fun at school with the band and English club, The ALTs from Iki went to Yame!  Picture me saying that with echo like I’ve suddenly stepped into a large cavernous room and Yame sounds really important.  Because it is!  Same is the town in Fukuoka Prefecture that produces the number one tea if not in Japan (Which I’m sure it is) at least in Kyushu.  Its Really famous and all my teachers were like, Yame!!  Really!  Wow, so lucky!  Haha.  They all knew what I was talking about!  We were doing this tea tour in Yame.  So 4/5 Iki ALTs met up in Fukuoka on a Friday night, had pasta in Fuks and then caught a train to Yame, and then a bus after karaokeing to music in the shelter waiting for the bus.  After an hour ride we made it to our overnight stop.  This house whose name I’m sure has grandmother in it but I can’t remember {Casa de Grandma}.  Its a couch surfing place thats like 150 years old and kinda cool!  We met 3 other people and we all stayed the night there and ate copious amounts of strawberries… lol yes, we were given a tray of strawberries and nearly inhaled them. lol. The next day we all got a konbini breakfast and took this bus to the station back in town where ewe met up with the other 25 people joining us for the tea tour.  There were 2 groups, 1 for the meditation and vegetarian lunch and another for the hike up the mountain to see the monk who started tea in Yame and an amazing local lunch at the place close to the mountain!  It was fantastic, a lot of climbing and steep narrow places but I survived despite my fear of heights and somehow ended up leading a groups down the mountain to the bus.  We all got local ice cream in the gift shop and then met up at the factory to see how the tea is produce.  Its pretty neat and complicated and I can’t believe it can be done by hand!  After that we went to the farm where they told us how the care for the tea bushes and then had a pick the tea leaves!  We even ended up on film!  I had my 5 seconds of fame eating a tea leave raw and agreeing that it was good. lol.  We then got a demonstration and practical application of the making of sencha tea and matcha tea.  It was really cool!  Then we divided again into people who were leaving for the station and people staying the night at the sky tea house!  The highest house in the tea area!!

We settled in a bit and then 2 girls (including our Rachel) went to do a homestay with the tea farmers families.  The rest of us went to a barbecue back at the tea factory and it was a blast!  I even saw a frog!  Hehe, my definition of blast is seeing wild life.  The next morning we went for a small hike to the top of the tea farms that the tour guide worked on and saw a salamander and the entire tea valley!  Then he drove us down to the station and we headed back to Fuks with a new friend!  Sarah!  Member of the little Iki family we now created and currently accepting adoption applications lol.  We all grabbed some… wait, guess!!!  —– PANCAKES! —- in Fuks and then saw a movie in Canal City.  Guardians of the Galaxy 2!!  IN English!  (with subtitles for all them other Japanese folks in Canal City).  Then we managed to all get on the full Jetfoil home with some luck and people not showing up for their time!  Man, so many trips!  Both my body and my wallet was tired.  So then I stuck to Iki for the rest of May.  I stayed home the next weekend and worked in the garden!  On Thursday we had a movie party with our good friend Kanako and one of Rachels friends from work!  It was fun.  The movie was in Japanese about a guy who really liked flowers and cooking with wild plants.  It was cute.  We also had a burger night in there some where and it was cool too.  We went down to the creek in Ishida and watched the fireflies!  We even caught 2!

Last weekend the girls and I went to Ohama beach for a beach day!  I went out early after some gardening, and house cleaning.  I needed to go to the airport for a ticket in June.  Then I stopped by a few shrines and got a stamp from Iki!  I picked up some snacks at the Family mart and then met them at Ohama Beach!  Man it was fun being in the sun!  I had my sunscreen and we explored the rocks and collected shells, picked up some garbage and ate a lot!  Then we all went back to Rachels to play Paper Mario!  SO fun!!  That pretty much brings us to this week!  I got super charged after lesson planning to work on my Japanese so Ive been doing a lot more in my Genki Textbook.  I also had an enkai with the teachers from Koko!  Starting tomorrow the students who are in the sports clubs are all competing against other clubs across Nagasaki Prefecture.  So all week we have a modified schedule and I have to go in on the weekend, (which is perfect cuz next Wednesday I get a holiday and I can use it to go to Omura and get my Drivers licence in Japanese because they are only open on weekdays!  Yay!)  So no worries!

Oh I also made some crepes and Banana bread this week!  So yum!

On a note about lessons, Ive been planning a Canadian History lesson for the 3rd years at Koko.  No sure how its going but they seem positive about it now.  My first lesson was rough cuz we’ve been on shortened schedules for a week and it ended up all being vocabulary… annnnnd I forgot to add the Japanese to help them understand big history terms… my bad.  But yea!  Today we got the the vocal game and the puzzle I made!!  Next were doing presentations and my little additions with videos and lecture!  Simple English Canada!!  Mwahaha.  At Shogyo I’m helping the first years with Phonics and the second years Ive been planning shopping lessons!  I think they are going well and we’ve found a good structure for handouts.

 

Well thats all for May folks!  Jeez!  Now I’m all caught up!  Cheers!

 

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