Weekened at Home/Hiking Ancient Pilgrammage Road
Trip Start Jun 27, 2009
48Trip End Jun 25, 2011
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2 weekends ago we took a day trip into the mountains to a town called Hongu. We visited 2/3 'Best Onsen in Kansai Area.' The first was Kawa-yu Onsen where the heated water rises up through the banks of the river. On our walk down the riverbank Katherine yelled my name and told me to come quickly because she spotted a 'Mukade' or poisonous Japanese centipede!! I've only heard stories from other JET's about trips to the hospital after bites from smaller mukades...so this was so scary to see one about 9 inches long and with RED LEGS!!! So after we made it past the mukade, who was also moving rather fast down the steps....we were standing on the rocky river bank. At this onsen you can literally make your own onsen by digging out some of the stones and letting your hole fill with water! We opted for the permanent riverside onsen instead, but couldn't put our feet in for a long time as this was the hottest onsen I've been to yet! Lily walked across the onsen in the scalding hot water on a dare for 500 YEN!! haha We then met up with Dave, the JET who lives in Hongu, went to visit his new house, bbq-ed Japanese noodles and veggies, and enjoyed a classic movie that was on cable - ET!
The next day Lily and I met up with Justin and Tony in Kushimoto to go fishing. My predecessor left me 2 fishing rods in the trunk of my car so we decided to put them to use
This week in school I've been starting out my lessons by giving each kid an English name. I remember how cool it was when I had a French name, and how my friends and I used to call each other by our French names outside of class-so I wanted to do the same thing for my students here. They thought every name was hilarious and each kid seemed to turn bright red from embarrassment as I gave them their name. Class favorites seem to be: Steve (they immediately yell out "Steven Spielberg"), Tom ("Tom Cruise"), Brad ("Brad Pitt-o"), Jessica (they yell out the name Jusco, the local department store), Sophia (the think is funny because it sounds like Mafia). I tried to reassure them that these are the most popular names in America!!
They continue to love learning about Halloween - they love looking at pictures of real Jack-o-Lanterns, and love listening to the scary music cd I made. We even did a Mummy Race activity where they wrapped each other in toilet paper to become mummies! They really like the idea of all American 'Hallmark Holidays' but so far with Halloween the actual items one can purchase are limited
Something I really enjoy doing is eating lunch with the kids...I think they learn so much about me and western culture when I eat with them. I was told by a fellow-JET that if you really want to freak the kids out, eat raw carrots. Of course I was looking for new foods to shock them with, so I bought carrots on my next trip to the grocery store. You should've seen the looks on their faces when I bit into the carrot - whispers/shrieks were heard around the class as word was spread that I was actually eating RAW carrots! Some of the more daring students actually came right up to my desk and just had to see the action up close. I could actually understand what they were saying about me, how only rabbits eat raw carrots!! haha I told them "No! In America, we eat carrots like this! GOOD!" Students also came up to my desk at lunch and said the word "Diet" I laughed and said "I wish!" I guess that was a good thing, they thought my food looked healthy! Today I had a bagel with peanut butter and jelly and some kid yelled "Hamburger!" I laughed and tried to explain what was on my bagel...They're also fascinated by trail mix and always put their hands out and act like little beggar children and say "Please!" "Please!" "Please!"
I'm also enjoying teaching Hi-Fives and Thumbs Up, they seem scared to actually hit my hand hard, but then love it once they see that's how you're supposed to do it!
This past weekend there was a Wakayama Jet hiking trip a few hours north
We had a great Japanese guide who stopped to tell us about every plant, twig, berry, bird we saw - which didn't make for much of a good work-out, but it was very scenic. The slow pace gave us all a chance to catch up with the other JET's we hadn't seen in a while. The weather was perfect, high 70's and we had a picnic lunch at the highest point of our hike.
To end a great day, another JET Chris, in his 3rd year, had a party at his house nearby. It was great to see even more JET's and I got a chance to speak Japanese to some of Chris's Japanese friends at the party.
Sunday we stopped in Shirahama on our way back down south and went to a world famous hotel and onsen. Hotel Kawakyu won the Japnese Architecture Award in '93 and it's roof is paved with more than 500,000 glazed tiles, the same as that in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. It looks like a medieval castle on the outside and inside the grand lobby is the largest mosaic Rome-style floor in the world, complete with 6m tall Marble columns, and a 22.5K gold foil ceiling!!!