Like it or not, winter is upon us, and living in Gunma inevitably means chilly mornings in your uninsulated house, long treks to school through heavy snow, up hill both ways, on a bike, and acquiring a fondness for the smell of kerosene.
By Jaimie Lynn Foster | 11th January 2011 | No Comments
In case you have not noticed, winter is here in Gunma. While the howling wind whistles in through the windows and the sun sinks down behind the horizon at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, no one wants to do anything except cuddle up in a quilt on the couch (or under the kosatsu) and eat something warm.
You see them every day, dangling from your student’s backpacks and adorning their pencil cases. Trinkets and curios of popular characters your students subscribe to, and for the most part they are recognizable, like Totoro or Hello Kitty. But sometimes a character so cripplingly bizarre pops up that you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of a vaguely unsettling generation gap, as you are grossly uninformed as to what is popular with your students. Care to be let back into the loop?
A few weeks before I left North Carolina for Japan, I met my friend Juan Eduardo for a coffee at Starbucks. He is an immigrant from El Salvador who has lived in the U.S. for the past six years. We were sitting at the metal café tables outside the shop, watching the traffic go by on Battleground Avenue and enjoying the warm June sun.
It is about that time to wax up your ski/snowboard gear, break out the winter coats, and get your out-of-shape booty up to the top of a ski slope. Gunma has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Japan, and whether you are a seasoned expert or a noobie, Gunma’s ski resorts have something to offer for everyone.
By Kelsey Trentszch | 9th December 2010 | 1 Comment
Is that ugly stage-two rearing its head for the first time since the big move to Japan? Or is it crawling back to haunt you again like school lunch curry-rice on a cold Monday morning? If you answered “yes” to either question, you are likely in need of a pep in your step: spice up your life (and sinuses) at the Daio Wasabi Farm in Nagano prefecture… for FREE!!!
By Alice Volkmar | 26th November 2010 | 4 Comments
One thing that you quickly notice living in Japan is the true love the Japanese share for the seasons, and how they celebrate the changing of the seasons with relish. Summer brings fireworks and yukata. And at summer’s end, Autumn may not quite feel like autumn yet, the leaves may not have changed colors, but as soon as September rolls around the advertisements change to sweater-wearing girls against backdrops of gorgeous winter foliage.
For many of us ALTs in Japan, deciding what to do and where to go during the Christmas holidays can be quite the struggle. There is usually a split in numbers between those who are going back home, and the others who go off exploring. As foreigners we are often amused by Japan’s interpretations of Western holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, the perfect examples of such are elaborately displayed at Tokyo Disneyland!
The main place to view the stars in my hometown of Miami is at the local Science Museum. It is located at the edge of a sprawling downtown, so you have to fight through immense traffic just to enter the place. Then, there are the hoards of anxious people trying not to miss the last laser light show of the day. You have to ask an employee where to find the telescope, and they direct you down a dark dirty alley and up a long flight of stairs only to …
Nothing puts me in a festive mood more than twinkly Christmas lights (okay, and egg-nog lattes. Or just plain egg-nog, both of which are unavailable in Japan. I have, however, learned to compromise and now opt for rum… er… I mean, gingerbread lattes!)