Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sunday drive up to Fujiyoshida.

Kawaguchiko Fujisan 2008-12-07 001 I finally got around to getting my seasonal tire and oil change and figured it would be fun to drive out to Fujiyoshida to check out MT Fuji one last time before the new year.

The timing couldn't have been better. After a lot of overcast days, we finally had one nearly perfect clear day which really makes MT Fuji look even more beautiful in pictures. After stopping by the side ofKawaguchiko Fujisan 2008-12-07 006 the road to snap a few pictures, Yuko and me went souvenir shopping. I bought a few things for my mom and sister along for something for one of my friends. I might go out there one more time to pick up a few more things just to get a lot of my Christmas shopping out of the way before I visit my family at the end of next week.
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Kawaguchiko Fujisan 2008-12-07 020  After checking out the scenic view of MT Fuji in Kawaguchiko, we checked out Fuji Sengen Shrine. I've passed this shrine many times but never once stopped to check it out. I figured it was like all the other shrines I've seen scattered along Japan's landscape. Most shrines and temples are generally similar and not all that interesting to look at but Fuji Sengen was a pretty decent place. While we were checking out the main Shrine we got a glimpse of a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony. I would've taken pictures but it seemed kind of rude to go any further than just watching it as outsiders.
Kawaguchiko Fujisan 2008-12-07 019 After freeing our butts off at the shrine we stopped over at a large recycle shop in the area. I happened to come across an incredibly filthy used official Xbox 360 USB controller. The controller was sitting under a pile of other game related items in the junk bin. Being the tinkerer I am, I decided to take a chance and buy the nasty thing for a mere 600 yen. The controller sells new for about 2500 yen so I think I got a really good deal on that. I ended up spending about an hour or so taking the thing apart to disinfect and clean every nook and cranny of the controller. After I was satisfied with how clean it was, I plugged it in and tested it out. To my relief the controller worked just as well as my wireless controller. So now I have two controllers but nobody to play with. Oh well, at least it gave me something to do.
I love Japan recycle shops. Its amazing what people consider junk here. Electronics go obsolete here quickly and most people could care less for used stuff in Japan even if its in near perfect shape. Japanese are the perfect consumers. Of course, when it comes to used CDs, DVDs, books, and games, Japanese have no qualms about getting second hand media.
So that's it for today. The days are getting colder and colder here and I am really looking to warming up next weekend in San Diego.

Friday, December 5, 2008

You get your hair cut at a ... what?

catipult As this year comes closer to an end, my workload at school has significantly gone down. With all the extra free time I've been given, it's made me even lazier and focused on my upcoming visit home. If every thing works out like last year, next week will be my last week of "real" classes.
I am still in wonder that I've already been working in Japan for the length of two school years. The more I work here, the more I warm up to the idea of staying around for a few more years. Of course nothing stays the same at Japanese schools as teachers are rotated often and morale and friendships change. I'm hoping next school year will be as "smooth" as my first two school years here but who knows?
Winters in full swing in my city and I am greeted with a thick layer of hard, icy frost on my window on nearly a daily basis. It is a strange feeling scraping frost off my windows before I go to work but I'm getting used to it. My schools out in the local mountains already are salting roads because black ice started forming there about a week ago and will probably turn into snow soon enough. I'll be throwing on my set of snow tires this weekend in anticipation of bad weather. I really like snow but I don't like driving in it at all and I know I'm going to have a lot more experience starting next semester in January...
Despite it being so cold outside, my apartment holds most of it's heat in. My place is about 15-22 degrees Celsius which is just warm enough for sweat pants and a sweatshirt. The kotatsu, a short table with an electric heater mounted on its underside, has been a greater asset this year as it serves more than just a piece of furniture my girlfriend wanted but more of a practical functional item. It does a good job of keeping my feet warm and my energy costs down. 
But enough about school and seasons. I witnessed a cool freak thunderstorm today. Its due to the rainstorm and the snowy mountains. I guess a cold front and a warm front collided over my area causing some serious freak weather patterns. I love thunderstorms!
After two long months of ignoring my wild unkept hair, I finally went out to my local salon and got my hair styled and cut. Its amazing how much they preen and mess around with my hair. In the hour and a half I am there they have four separate people attend to me by washing my hair before and after the cut, another to blow dry my hair while the main stylist is working on somebody else, and finally the stylist who cuts my hair. Its a lot different from the 10 dollar barber shop cuts I used to get but I really love it. I pay 4,300 yen each time and I know its expensive but for the quality of work and service they provide, I happily part with my money. I think living in Japan has really changed my opinions on personal upkeep and fashion. I think I am slightly more presentable than I used to be, which is cool I guess.
So that's it for now. Maybe I'll squeeze another post in if anything else happens or if it gets cold enough to snow.