Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The End of the Journey

Well...it's finally over. I am officially done with my 1 year teaching experience on Sado Island. This last year has truly been amazing. As this blog will show, I have had many amazing experiences that have enriched my life in more ways that I can even begin to write about. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading my blog as much as I have enjoyed keeping it. I wish you all good luck in your own adventures. This is the Southern Boy in Sado signing off.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Things I Will Not Miss About Japan

In connection with my post "Things I Will Miss about Japan" I thought it only right to express both sides of my feelings about my home for the past year. As I said before, there are somethings in the day to day that are simply perfect, but there are other things in the day to day that make me wonder what they heck I got myself in to! Here are a few of those things.

My Kitchen! Let's just say we had our disagreements and I won few of them!

Peanut Butter should come in a dump truck size in every country!

Smoking never looks cooler or weirder than it is does in Japan. Gross either way!

My Car. This Daihatsu Move served its purpose, but I honestly believe I have Tonka Trucks with more horsepower than this thing.

Over the top fashion. I've been seeing Lady Gaga-esk fashion since I studied abroad in Tokyo 3 years ago and I'm still not used to it.

The Week Long Special Flavors of Soda. Why does any thing beside sweet red bean need to taste like sweet red bean? Not that this Coke drinker would ever blame Pepsi for tying to make there "soda" taste better.

Number 1: Winter! Niigata prefecture got more snow this year than it has in the last 26 years! This Georgia boy never quite got used to trekking through snow on his way to work.

Again, as I said in my prior and admittedly more positive post, I could post a few more little peeves here but I think I've sufficiently cover my major grievances. No place is perfect but this place was still my home and without these imperfections I can't promise that I would have enjoyed the perfections in the same manner.

Water Sumo Revisited

As one of my most popular post, I thought that Water Sumo needed a "redux" of sorts. Thanks to a good friend who doubles as a photographer, I have a play by play photos to share with you. Enjoy revisiting the Akadomari Water Sumo Bout of 2009.
Has a grown man ever look more proud....wearing a diaper in public? Probably not!

First, the proud warrior takes his stance. Never mind the dumb look on his face. That is to confuse his enemy.
The struggle begins! The warrior grapples with his foe like a boa on a panther!

Nearing the edge of the 2 foot precipice, the warrior confidently prepares to push his foe into the murky depths!

The warrior has managed to get his opponent off balance by jerking his man diaper.
A wise move.

The battle lasted moments, my victory will last forever, and I have no idea where my pride and sense of fashion went but I suppose they left before the end of the fist round.

Things I WILL Miss About Japan

After living in a place for an entire year, you begin to realize that there are some things about your situation that are nearly perfect. Somethings about the day to day are just great. Life would almost be unthinkable without these things. Here are some of those things I have found while living in Japan.

First and foremost , the kindness of my students. Over the last week I have said goodbye to over 200 sweet young children who have made such an impact on me. From games to letters to speeches to flowers to chorus songs, they have truly made my last week here one to remember.
I am still not allowed to post pictures of my students due to Japanese law. (Insert angry shake of the fist here).

Living 5 minutes from the beach.

Japan has been called by some pop commentators "The Nation of Cute". If a 5 foot stuffed panda isn't enough evidence to support that claim then I don't know what you are looking for!

Being able to order raw beef dipped in a raw egg and not get stared at. Yes, this is on the "What I Will Miss" side : )

Being able to buy a plank of fresh salmon for less then $5.00!

Hiroshima Okonomiyaki. Gastronomic HEAVEN!!!

Living right around the corner from pieces of ancient history. History is a great part of what attracted me to Japan in the first place. Its richness and its depth still astound me to this day.

Nature is in such abundance here it almost baffles me.

Friends. Self-explanatory.
There are more things that I could post here but as another blogger once told me, "I am torn between spending my time living a blog worthy life and actually blogging about it".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mt Fuji

I climbed Japan's highest mountain, Mt Fuji, last weekend. Standing at 3,776m (12,388ft), the summit is over 2 miles high. This has been my highest trek to date. Here are some pictures from my last great adventure in Japan.

Fuji from the 5th station camp. About 2,300m.
Kitty is ready for a climb.
Path from 5th to 6th station.
Seeing clouds climb up towards you, amazing!
Tori gate at the 7th station.
Sunrise on the top of Mt Fuji. 4:18am. The cloud cover obstructed our view a bit, but the colors that were cast on the sky shortly before sunrise more than compensated for that.
The reflective band was so that I could be seen by other hikers as we were hiking in the dark in order to reach the summit by sunrise.
This one speaks for itself.
Fuji was a really different experience. With a terrain similar to what I would imagine Mars to be like, it is not the most exciting of hikes but the sunrise is certainly something. Hiking at night also offers some interesting perks. I got to see the Milky Way, look far out into Japan and see these little plumes of light I knew to be cities. Despite the freezing temperatures, the gale force winds and the natural stress of climbing any mountain, I had a wonderful time ascending Mt Fuji.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hamochi Festival

On a recent Japanese TV program detailing the 20 Most Famous Festivals in all of Japan, Hamochi Matsuri (festival) was the only one chosen from Niigata prefecture.
We're kind of a big deal! Here are some images from my first Hamochi Festival.
This is an Ojishi (lion). 8 or so guys climb under the cloth covering and one holds the huge, wooden lion head as they snake their way across town. I actually go to go inside it and participate for a bit. It was really fun and totally unexpected.
They barrel into the shops and homes in town and clap the mouth of the huge wooden lion head to scare away evil spirits.

This is tsuburosashi! It is a central feature of Hamochi Festival. It is a fertility dance (I bet you were wondering) that is famous even within Japan. Having just completed rice planting, it is very timely dance for a community that is constituted largely of farmers. Ok, not one joke about the...the...next picture please!

The Sado Okesa is a traditional folk dance that is done ALL THE TIME on Sado. It is quite graceful and it looks very "Japanese". Even my youngest students can do this start to finish.

An Omikoshi (portable shrine) They lift this huge wooden shrine on long planks with their shoulders and carry it around town. And yes, that person is standing on top of it. I've done this once before in Tokyo, and I can tell you that it's really fun but not for anyone with stiff shoulders.

This is one of the actors in the Noh (pronounced 'No') that was performed the night of the festival. Noh is a masked stage performance that has a rich history on Sado.
This is the traditional Noh Stage.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beauty in Sado

I liked how this picture looked flipped.

Ohnogame - A massive rock that looks kind of like a turtle (kame, changed to game here, means turtle)
From the side
Futatsugame (literally 2 turtles) - 2 Really big rocks that kind of look like turtles.
Looking down from Ohnogame onto the Kozan Festival