My First Trip to Japan

I first traveled to Japan back in November 2014. It was my first trip as a solo female traveler.

While my girl friends glamorized the idea of solo traveling, I thought it sounded awful and swore to never do it. But when my best friend could no longer come with me, I had to make a choice: give up on a trip I had been planning for a year and dreaming of for decades, or travel alone.

I tried to keep my anxiety at bay by planning, researching, and creating all kinds of lists. I had screenshots of maps, PDF guidebooks saved to my phone, Japanese dictionary apps… Backup copies of my passport and all my hotel bookings. Backups OF THOSE backups. I went a little overboard. But I think most people do on their first trip abroad alone.

I’m so happy I came because I gained so much more confidence in myself. And that trip was what ultimately let me know that I could live in Japan on my own.

While working on a video today, I found an old edit I made of my first trip. I don’t know why I never posted it but here it is. It’s been long enough that the shots all feel dreamy and nostalgic.

Right now, the biggest news in my life is that I’m moving to Yokohama next month! I’ll be staying with Interac and starting a new contract with a few elementary schools for this coming school year. I can’t wait to explore Yokohama and discover a new part of Japan. And I can’t wait to be closer to the madness that is Tokyo. I always dreamed I would live near Tokyo and now that’s a reality.

Dreams do come true kids.

 

♥︎K

Kirin Beer Factory

Last month we visited the a Kirin Beer factory called Kirin Beer Park Okayama. They offer free tours with a free beer tasting at the end. That’s right- FREE.

DSC_0070.JPGTo get here from Okayama Station, take the JR Sanyo line to Mantomi Station. It’s about 25 minutes away and costs 320 yen.

DSC_0073.JPGThe factory is about a 10 minute walk from the JR Mantomi Station. But if that’s too far of a walk for you, there are shuttle buses that will drive you straight to the factory’s front door. And that’s free too.

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The tour is about 1 hour long. It’s given in Japanese but if you let them know, they will give you a small pamphlet that explains everything in English. They recommend making a reservation in advance. You can do that online or by calling their number.

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The tour started off with an introduction video (in Japanese), then we were taken on a tour of the brewing area where we got to sample hops. We learned that the reason they are called Kirin Ichiban (meaning #1) is because they use a single wort brewing process. “Wort” is the liquid that has all the sugars that will be fermented later to produce alcohol.

Most other beers use the first and second wort.We got to sample the difference between first and second worts and the first wort is very, very sweet.

At the end of the tour, we were taken to a cafeteria like area where we had about 1 hours to sample 3 different beers. There are also non-alcoholic drinks available for kids or your designated driver.

 

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It wouldn’t be Japan if without omiyage. In the gift shop, I found some delicious chocolates with a beer jelly filling. Each chocolate was wrapped to look like a small beer can. So cute!

Make sure you take the train. The staff will ask you how you arrived and if you’re the driver, they will give you a pass that says you’re not allowed alcohol. Besides, they make it too convenient to get there without a car. Be safe friends!

If you live in the area, I highly recommend checking it out with your friends. Who doesn’t love free beer?

 

Today is Hakada Matsuri or the Naked Man Festival. They day where hundreds of men wear practically nothing in the freezing cold and fight for a rod that is said to bring a year of luck. This should be interesting. If you’re in the area, come join in on the fun!

♥︎K

Countryside Japan Life

Hey guys-

Finally back to blogging. I’ve been battling a wicked cold for what feels like a month and a half. Luckily it was not influenza. I’ve had 3 different classes at 3 different schools cancelled due to influenza. Scary stuff! I never thought I would willingly choose to wear a face mask but it seems to have become a life or death situation.

DSC_0094March is just around the corner which means that a new batch of ALTs will be coming to Japan. I’m sure there are hundreds of people waiting back in America, anxious to get their placements. On most applications, you’re allowed to put your top 3 location preferences. I (like  most others) wrote down Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. I wanted to be placed in Tokyo SO BADLY!!!!!

 

……but I wound up in Okayama.

But that’s okay! Because it’s been amazing! I’ve made great friends! I love my coworkers! I fell in love! And I’ve had some amazing adventures!

My main wish before I go is to let future ALTs know that life OUTSIDE of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka can be just as exciting and fulfilling, perhaps even more so.

So I made a video on  6 reasons why you should consider the countryside of Japan.

 

I just got home from spending a lovely Valentine’s day with my guy on Naoshima. This time around I got to see a few places I missed the first time. Hope to get a post up about that later.

 

Hope your day has been filled with joy & love.

K♥