Ask me anything   Living the ALT life Fukuoka Style // Instagram: sakakinay

Nishi Tagawa [Thought of the Day]

I love my visit school.

The kids are ヤンキー and give the teachers a hard time every now and then, but they have a lot of personality! They are actually great kids at heart and I really enjoy talking to them.

The teachers work hard, but they always keep the good vibes. There is always a teacher, or a few, at the gate to greet the students (wipe their makeup off and fix their uniforms). Every morning meeting, they are smiling, joking and laughing.

Today, there was a huge TV in the staff room for the World Cup!! Too bad it was 0-0…

The point is, I’m lucky to have such a great school. I love both schools but Nishi has great vibes. I can always count on this school for a good day!

— 4 months ago with 2 notes

I haven’t written an entry in a while.  These past two months have been pretty busy for me! The warm weather means everybody wants to BBQ, beach, drink at beer gardens and just enjoy the outdoors more.  We’ve spent enough time sulking indoors during the winter! 

 I’m actually overloaded with things to do in the month of June and July.  For one, I have to pass the Japanese driving test before my international license expires.  Maybe I will do a separate blog on that some other time… if I manage to pass one of these days.  On top of that, I’ve been busy planning for volunteer summer camps, summer vacation (of course), and since I’ve been passed down the role of Chikuho area leader, I need to plan more events and assist the incoming ALT.  I’m excited to have a new ALT in our area, but incoming ALTs also means outgoing ALTs.  Sad to see some good friends leave, but my weekends are filled with fun farewell parties so that they can leave remembering (or not) all the great times we’ve had together. 

Here are some pictures though, of a mud dodgeball tournament some of us volunteered for.  It was great messy fun in a muddy rice paddy, and the kids were great!  Even though I’m busy to the bone right now, there are so many fun times. 

— 4 months ago
#mud  #dodgeball  #japan  #ricepaddy  #fukuoka  #tagawa 


— 5 months ago
#tagawa  #japan  #fukuoka  #jinkosai  #festival  #river 
Tagawa’s Kawawatari Jinkosai Festival

Kawawatari Jinkosai is hands-down the best festival I’ve been to yet!  It is famous for a reason, and there is no better place to have it than good ol’ Tagawa.

 First of all, Tagawa is where I teach English.  It has a population of less than 50,000 people, and rapidly declining.  Before this festival, I had never seen so many people in Tagawa!  As soon as we exited the Tagawa Ita train station, we saw that the streets were filled with spectators, food stalls and men wearing their festival attires.


Kawawatari Jinkosai translates to River-Crossing God Happy Festival in Japanese characters (川渡り神幸祭).  It has been a tradition of the locals for hundreds of years.  This festival is a two-day event in May.  Men from 11 different communities or neighborhoods gather every year to carry their local shrine god across the Onga River.  The gods are carried in elaborately decorated portable wooden shrines.  They start at a big shrine from one side of town to the other, where the god are said to relax for the night.  The next day, they will cross back over. 


During the river crossing, the men are drinking and cheering, “wasshoi!” which I believe to be the equivalent of, “let’s go!”  If you cheer loudly with them, they will love you and splash water all over you.  They may even pull you into the water.  We were able to get one of the birthday boys to get dumped in the river!  I got to see many of my students, co-workers and ALT friends take part in the actual river crossing too.


No doubt, I will go to Jinkosai again next year.  I heard our loud cheers were missed on the second day, so maybe I’ll go for both days.

— 5 months ago
#tagawa  #japan  #fukuoka  #festival  #jinkosai  #river 
Golden Week Part Two : Nagasaki

First time in Nagasaki, and I managed to walk around in wedges all day to see many of the attractions the city has to offer.  The pain was all worth it though. 

James and I drove down to Nagasaki Monday morning.  We arrived at the Nagasaki Peace Park around noon.  There, we met up with our friends Malcolm, Tebello, David and Lebone.





While David and Lebone looked around the Atomic Museum, the rest of us walked to the Sanno Shrine where half of the torii gate was destroyed by the atomic bomb, and the other half remains standing.  Up past the torii is the shrine.  Two beautiful trees were at the entrance.  We learned that the trees were pronounced dead after the atomic bomb, but they came back to life 




After regrouping with the others, we all headed towards Chinatown for lunch via tram.  On the way we stopped by the Spectacles Bridge. 


Dejima was just a short walk from Chinatown.  It was really interesting to see the Japanese/European houses.  The best part was the cotton candy though. 


After Dejima, we walked to Glover Garden.  We got a great view of Nagasaki city from the lookouts.  I was especially excited to see the statue that inspired Kirin Ichiban’s beer logo. 


 It was time to head to our cabin after that.  We barbecued at the cabin and played games.  I couldn’t have been with a better group of people! 



The next morning, we packed our things up and headed for a waterfall nearby.  There, we ate breakfast and I conquered my fear of heights and did the big rope swings.  



We all had work the next day so we headed home early.  Overall, it was an inexpensive and great way to spend our Golden Week vacation.  I’ll be back Nagasaki!

— 5 months ago with 1 note
#nagasaki  #Japan  #goldenweek 

Golden Week Part One :  Dontaku 5.3.2014

James and I went to the city to run a few errands.  Little did we know, the trains were packed with people going to the Dontaku festival, not for a Golden Week trip elsewhere through Hakata Station.

The Hakata Dontaku Festival is pretty famous.  Apparently, it has been a tradition for 800 years!

From Gion to Tenjin, there was a parade of energetic Japanese people dressed up, singing and dancing!  The streets were filled with food stalls and elaborate costumes.  On top of that, there were stages for shows like salsa, hula, shamisen, etc. 

Although it was a hassle to get our shopping errands out of the way, we were glad we got to experience this great Japanese cultural experience known as the Hakata Dontaku Matsuri.





— 5 months ago with 1 note
#fukuoka  #Japan  #dontaku 
Food Truck Fair in Fukuoka

Who:  James, Ryan, Natsuki and me

What:  C-1 Cup in Uminaka (Food Truck Fair // ケータリングカーグランプリ)

When:  Saturday, April 26 // 4月26日の土曜日

Where:  Umi no Nakamichi Seaside Park // 海の中道

Why:  We love food.

How:  Car- 500円 for parking and 410円 per adult for entrance


Item 1:  Black Curry (made with squid ink)

Thoughts:  Interesting, needs veggies


Item 2:  Korean Style Margherita Pizza

Thoughts:  Just like any small Japanese pizza


Item 3:  Hakata Karaage (Japanese style fried chicken)

Thoughts:  It’s a must-try.  The sauce they dip the chicken in was a perfect amount of savory.


Items with no picture: taco rice, yakisoba, karaage from a different truck and Japanese ice cream.  

Thoughts:  The yakisoba was made using squared noodles rather than the usual round.  

The taco rice was good with the tomato paste.  

The Japanese ice cream had brown sugar syrup and soy flour topping called kuromitsu and kinako.

The second karaage was a little too salty but the rest, I recommend!

There were so many other food trucks that I wanted to try but my stomach wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

OVERALL:  The park is great.  We went for the food truck fair but I would like to go back for the park itself.  It is really big and even has rides.

I would also like to go back to the next C-1 Cup to try some of the other trucks.  Due to rainy weather, they canceled the event on the following Monday.  I’m so glad the weather was beautiful when we went!

— 5 months ago
#fukuoka  #foodtruck  #fair  #japan  #kyushu 
Miyazaki Trip: 宮崎の旅行

Most of my spring break was spent sitting around in the LL classroom thinking about all the work I could actually be doing at home.  Students were out and my beginning lessons for the year were planned.  James had moved in so I looked forward to going home to him everyday, but I had to get out of Fukuoka even just for a weekend. 


James had the great idea to drive down to Miyazaki prefecture, which is located southeast on the island of Kyūshū.  We took a route avoiding the toll roads, making our trip 6.5 hours instead of 3.5 hours.  In Japan, toll roads are ridiculously expensive, especially going to a different prefecture.  You might as well take the bullet train!  Although it was a long drive, the sceneries were beautiful.  It is definitely something to experience while in Japan. 



On the way to Miyazaki, we went through Kumamoto prefecture and Oita prefecture.  There were so many places we wanted to stop but Miyazaki was calling, so we saved it for another time.   


Florante Miyazaki:  Beautiful flowers


HareBare and bars:  Tasting and drinking local


The second morning, we were a little hungover but we continued on with our plans to go to Aoshima. Once we got to Aoshima, there was a guy waving a parking sign so we parked behind his gift store.  The woman in the store gave us a ticket in exchange for the car keys.  Parking was 500yen or free if you spend 3,000yen in the gift store.

We were skeptical about giving our car keys to the woman、but all turned out well.


First, we walked around Aoshima Island.  The 20 minutes walk around the island turned into 45 minutes of exploring.



You can take a little tuktuk around the island if you’d like!



Aoshima is home to Aoshima Shrine.  A wedding was taking place when we went!



You can find natural rock formations called the devil’s washboard  all around the island.  



After walking around the island, we laid out on the beach and ate some mango ice cream.



Once James started to feel the burn, we got up to get lunch and head off to the zoo.  


Miyazaki Phoenix Zoo


After the zoo, we went out to eat and called it an early night.  We were heading back to Fukuoka the next day.


The next morning, we checked out of our hotel.  We drove no more than 5 minutes before we discovered a local farmer’s market.  There, we bought lunch for the road.


On the way home, we stopped by a beach cafe and had a drink while watching some people surf.  



Overall Impression of Miyazaki:

It was great being surrounded by blue skies and palm trees rather than mountains or tall buildings.  Miyazaki didn’t feel like the Japan I ever knew.  It was nice smelling the ocean again and feeling the sun on my skin.  Most of all, I’m glad I could travel with James again.


— 6 months ago
Let’s Try This Again

Once upon a time, I tried to keep a blog.  Then hit the Japanese college life


Since studying abroad in Osaka for a semester, I’ve returned home to South Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology.  Soon after graduating, I was able to visit my long-distance boyfriend in England before moving to Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) for the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).  


I currently teach English at two senior high schools in the countryside of Fukuoka prefecture.  My life went from being a student doing yoga 5 times a week and working as a waitress to teaching English and sitting in the office for hours before going home to cook dinner and go to sleep.  Lately, it has been my goal to do something active after work to stay somewhat in shape- physically and mentally.  


So here I am now, starting a new page for a totally different lifestyle.  




— 6 months ago with 3 notes
Kansai Life So Far- Spring/Sakura

One again, I’m sorry for not updating my blog recently.  Although I have internet now, I have been really busy!  ごめんなさい〜!

First of all, I want to talk about my internet situation!  I finally caved into buying Wifi.  I was being really stubborn to start off because I never pay for Wifi in America.  My iPhone works anywhere because of 3G, and Wifi is just about anywhere!  The Wifi I am paying for is actually cheaper than the one the school was offering and I found it thanks to a new friend!  It works great and I can take it anywhere and use it as long as I have somewhere to plug it in.

As far as classes go, it seems that I have a lot more work to do than I had expected!  I underestimated the workload.  I am taking seven courses this semester:  

-Japanese Writing (4-B)

-Japanese Literature II (the Warrior and the Literary Tradition to 1600)

-Japanese History (the History and Culture of Medieval Japan)

-Japanese Popular Culture (JapaneseTV and “Dorama”)

-Seminar in Japanology II (Geisha: Past, Present, Future)

-Japanese Philosophy and Thoughts (Zen Buddhism)

-Communication in Japanese Society (Communication among Working People B)

It is now the second full week into classes with a lot of class activities to come!  I know that the professor for the Seminar in Japanology is taking us to Kyoto to see a Geisha performance.  I am looking forward to that very much!

Speaking of Kyoto, a small group of us went to Maruyama Koen in Kyoto to do a Hanami this past Sunday.  It was a lot of fun and I even got to see an old friend!  The Sakura trees are really beautiful.  I am sad to say that Sunday was probably the last Hanami I will get to do this year because the petals have started to fall a lot.  Here are some Sakura pictures from Kyoto!

The Kyoto Hanami trip was actually my second Hanami ever!  Before that, I went to the Osaka Castle Tuesday night for Yozakura- Night Flower viewing.

Even Kansai Daigaku Senriyama campus is scattered with Sakura trees!  

I really love the campus life here!  College life here is very active and there are always groups of students hanging out.  It seems that college students in America go to school just for class and go home as soon as they get out.  That’s exactly what I do!  But here, I spend a lot of time on campus.  Also, the food on and around campus is so cheap and delicious!  I can’t speak for all American colleges but I know that University of South Carolina food is very expensive.  So all in all, I am having the time of my life in Japan and wish I was staying for more than a semester.

I say this every single time but I hope to be able to update my blog more often!

Thanks for reading! <3


— 2 years ago with 1 note