A Travellerspoint blog

More work photos

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Here are some pictures of the Nova office, my kids classes and some of my favorite students.

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Mount Daisen

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Mount Daisen just looks exactly like on of the Japanese mountains you see in so many guidebooks and famous pictures of Japan. It's one of the tallest peaks in Japan and I can see the tip of it from the balcony of my apartment. Since I've been here, I've gone out on my balcony many times and just enjoyed looking at it on beautifully clear days.

The second day I was in Japan, I saw it from the window of my train heading towards Matsue and I was so cracked out and tired at the moment that I actually thought it was Mt. Fuji (I had no geographical sense, or, well, any sense at the time)!

So, when I got the chance to go climb it, I jumped all over that!!

Me and the Nova manager in Izumo, Andy, packed tons of water and chocolate and just went for it! I can honestly say it is THE MOST difficult hike I've ever done. It's only 2.6 kilometers, but, it is so incredibly steep and you have to literally rocks climb a little in some parts. It took us three hours to get to the top and another 2 and a half to get down.

As I'm writing now, it's late Monday night and I'm still very sore (plus I had cycled to the coast four hours to go fishing the day before - not to smart, eh?). However, the view is absolutely worth it! As you can see in the pictures, we literally climbed above the clouds and it's just the most spectacular view! I'm planning to learn to ski and snowboard here in the winter because it's only about a 45 minute drive from Matsue.

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Miyajima diary entry coming soon! In the meantime, enjoy these pics!

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)


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I visited Hiroshima and Miyajima island in May. It was such an amazing experience for me. The city was just nothing like I expected at all. We all know what Hiroshima is very unfortunately famous for, so maybe, the average American tourist might naturally assume the city is not so beautiful and maybe the people aren't so friendly. But, I was just so incredibly impressed with Hiroshima in so many ways. It's a decently large city, but it doesn't have that large-city feel because there's a lot of greenery and several great parks.

This was the first trip I took by myself too, so I was pretty nervous about not knowing much Japanese and traveling a little farther than I had before on my own. But, the Hiroshima people were just so warm and friendly that I wasn't actually nervous once I got here.

I went to the Peace Park and Memorial Museum, which was definitely an experience I will never ever forget. At the park there were many groups of school children and they all stop and pay their respects at the memorials for the children victims of the bombing. They were singing the most beautiful, touching song in front of one of the main memorials. I have a video of that so if you want me to email it to you, just let me know and I can send it (I can't post videos on here).

I spent quite a bit of time in the museum and I just stood there in shock and disbelief at some of the incredibly horrific stories of what happened to the people of Hiroshima. Seeing the displays and photos of what happened to some of the children was very disturbing and I just stood there and sobbed at so many of them. Every foreigner that comes to Japan must visit the Peace Park and Memorial Museum in Hiroshima. It has given me such a worldly perspective.

But, at the same time, Hiroshima is such an amazingly inspirational city. Walking through the Peace Park, downtown between the large buildings or through the gorgeous Hiroshima gardens and castle, it's just so hard to believe that only around sixty years ago this city was completely destroyed. It's especially hard to believe because not only is the city so nice itself, but the people were just so wonderfully friendly, helpful and pleasant. Twice in just one day, two locals came up to me and asked me if I needed any help or if I was lost. Which, ironically at the time, it had been the only two times in Japan that I actually wasn't lost!

I stayed at an "It'll do" hotel that was just around the corner from the famous A-Bomb Dome, a constant reminder of the devistation of war. It's really chilling and surreal to look up at it. Again, something I will never forget, ever.

I did have a blast in Hiroshima as well. My hotel was near the baseball stadium and I started to go a game, but my boyfriend Jack was so awesome to find on the internet that there was a Pizza Hut in Hiroshima!! Which was more exciting than anything I could just about imagine at the time - of course besides him being there with me! I had eaten only Japanese food for about two months, so I was absolutely craving American food, especially pizza. Anyway, I ended up going back to my hotel and the very nice front desk staff lady was kind enough to order it for me. It was honestly the best pizza I've ever had in my entire life!

The next day, I took the train to the Hiroshima port and went to one of, if not the most beautiful place I've ever been, Miyajima island. I will go ahead and post a few of those pictures up now and write about it next time!

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Kurakuen Gardens

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Here are some pictures of the Kurakuen Gardens in Okayama, where I often go for any kind of new training for Nova. Okayama is about three hours by train and there is some gorgeous countryside on the way.

The Kurakuen Gardens are one of the top three in Japan and you can see why! It's such a peaceful place and I was lucky enough to get there early in the morning when there was still some morning dew and fog all around. It was quite breathtaking.

I've been to several traditional Japanese gardens already - they are the first thing I look for if I go to a new city. I heard that the number one garden in Japan is only thirty minutes by bus from Matsue, but I actually haven't been there yet!

Even the animals are congenial in Japan. There are always beautiful and quite friendly turtles and coy fish in Japanese gardens. As you can see in these pictures, they are not aprehensive at all to just come up to you and look at you like, "Uhm, hello? Why aren't you feeding me? I'm just so incredibly cute aren't I?!"


I had such a neat day at work today. I had a really fun kid's class with my kinders today. They are all from ages three to six and they are just absolutely adorable. I'm really getting attatched to some of them, and I would never have imagined that I could actually like kids so much!

At first I was just so nervous around them because not only had I never had to teach kids, I've just never really been around them that much, so, I really panicked a lot a first because I just didn't know what to do with them. And in this case, I'm dealing with a class of small kids that don't speak English!

But now, I've found a few things that they really love to do. For example, I've been teaching them "I'm happy, I'm sad, I'm hungry, I'm sleepy, etc." When it's time for "I'm sleepy," I just fall in the floor and act like I'm asleep. After a couple of seconds, they like to sneak up to me and start tickling me, then, I wake up suddenly and growl and then chase them around the room like a crazy blonde Godzilla until I pass out again and we just do this over and over a couple of times. They also like to climb on my back when I'm on all fours just see how many of them I can carry and crawl around with.

They are so intelligent, too. So many times I think I'm not teaching them a thing, and then they'll just blurt out some of the words I teach them toward the end of class. They're just so much fun.

Today, after our class, it was time for my break so I went downstairs to the supermarket to pick up some lunch. Suddenly, I heard two little, high-pitched Japanese voices yelling, "Sensei!! Sensei!!" It was two of my kinders just running towards me, just so surprised and happy to see me. They just make my heart melt sometimes. I talked to them a tiny bit in Japanese and they thought it was just so funny - my Japanese is so horrible it would make anyone laugh though. Then they kept following me around the store for a little bit. It was so funny to see some of the other shoppers looking at me so bizarrely. I guess it does look funny to see a tall blonde foreigner with two Japanese kids tag-a-longs! After we walked around the store a little bit and they taught me a couple of Japanese words for things, their mom finally popped up and they just waived and said so cutely "Bye- bye Sensei!" I've got to admit, it doesn't feel terrible to be called "Sensei!"

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