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Travel Tip – staying connected for cheap

My adventures in Japan included walking about town in Asakusa where locals ride bikes everywhere.

Vending machines were abundant.

You could even buy BEER from vending machines. Hmmm…

Needless to say, I saw a lot of different customs.  To combat the culture shock, I was happy to stay in touch with family and friends back home.

I played Draw Something … on the bullet train en route to Hiroshima, Japan.

I introduced my host Japanese family in Toyota City, Japan…to my family back home in Michigan.  They even got a tour of my home (thanks to my daughter) and watched a YouTube video of my son’s garage band gig. How cool is that?

I kept up my blog posts, including pictures, during early jet lagged mornings and airport layovers…in Japan and later Seattle, Washington.  Writing as I went helped keep things fresh.

I exchanged texts with my teenagers in the U.S…while I was in Tokyo, Toyota City, Hiroshima and Kyoto.  I loved seeing what they were up to and they knew they could text me any time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kyoto – Days 9 to End


Prior to leaving Hiroshima, we toured the Calbee (snacks) plant. What’s unique about these snacks is that many of them have shrimp!  Also, at this particular plant, none of them are fried.  I loved the snap peas snack the best.  I hope their snacks will one day be in America soon.

Like at most places we visited, we wore slippers (gray ones).  Then, when you go to the bathroom, you switch into bathroom slippers (pink ones).  I also switched to bathroom slippers at my host family’s home.

After the tour, we headed off to the train station.  Isn’t this little guy cute? In Japanese you say “kawii” –rhymes with Hawaii. The children learn to take train very young.


Their public telephone doesn’t look like ours, but what’s similar is that people only use it for emergencies since Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in kids, travel

 

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Hiroshima – Days 7 and 8


Toyota City was an interesting place.  While in my Japanese homestay, I felt like I was in the country side because there were many trees, gardens and nearby rice fields.  However, the town is very much a Toyota manufacturing town with buildings sprinkled throughout. There were trains, cars and buses running at all hours of the day and night, yet many people walk to work.  It was such a mixture of nature and industry. Despite that, there was a peace among the people, who smiled at you on the streets.

Day 7

After breakfast, I went with my Japanese family to watch the youngest (6th grader) play basketball at another Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Family, Teaching, travel

 

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Toyota City – Days 5 and 6

The staff at the elegant Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo was helpful and friendly. I will miss Tokyo.  It’s a happening city — very much like what I envision New York City, where I’d like to visit one day.

Saynonara Tokyo!

Day 5

Going on a ride in the Shinkansen (bullet train) was a lot like flying in a plane, except everyone must board in 60 seconds or you are left behind!

What a cool experience! We zoomed all the way to Toyota City in 2 1/2 hours; by car this would take about three times longer!

Mount Fuji was spectacular! This picture doesn’t do it justice since we were going too fast, but we could see it from our seats.  It was a bit surreal. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Family, travel, Uncategorized

 

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Tokyo – Days 3 and 4

The jet lag is getting slightly better and it’s been unexpectedly cooler in the mornings. Also, it’s been sunny in the afternoons — during this “rainy season”.  I lucked out!

My breakfasts consist of fish, like salmon, veggies, white rice, fruit and LOTS of coffee.  (The coffee is really to help the jet lag).  Of course, I’ve been eating from the hotel’s amazing buffet, so this is not necessarily what everyone eats.

Counter-clockwise: fried vegetables in the small bowl on the left, sweet potato, salmon, fermented beans, white rice, bread with chocolate filling,and  seaweed.  I LOVE the fried vegetables but the fermented beans are gooey and needs lots of soy sauce. 🙂

Day 3:

I went to an elementary school to both observe and teach classes. This is the main purpose of my visit.  When we first arrived, I was struck by the combination of urban and nature areas.  The school is across from a train station and large senior citizen apartments while it is also surrounded by beautiful old  trees, fields and gardens. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in kids, Teaching, travel

 

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Tokyo – Days 1 and 2


Despite jet-lag, I’m having a splendid trip.  Here are brief highlights:

En Route:

Bumpy ride, but not bad overall. Kept busy.  Believe it or not, the food was decent and there was plenty of it!  They served shrimp cocktail, salad, chicken with paella rice, fruit, bread, fried rice and more!  The beverages, including beer and wine, were complimentary.  Need I say more?

First Impressions:

The airport was surprisingly quiet and, after getting my luggage, I HAD to check out Japanese toilets!!

It’s recessed into the floor and you use it by squatting, facing the top.

Ah….no way.

I fancied this one. It had BUTTONS!


There was a bidet, spray, and a “flushing sound”, if you absolutely need that sound as you go.

To my complete surprise — it was NOT humid when we arrived at our hotel – about 7:30 PM.  It was a little nippy Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in travel

 

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Japan Adventure Begins!

This is it! I’m leaving for Japan in less than 8 hours!

Since it’s about a 14 hour flight, this means I’ll be there (U.S. time) about 5:30 AM tomorrow.  With the 13 hour time difference (Japan is ahead), it will be about 6:00 PM Japan Standard Time when I get there.  Oh boy!

I look forward to the new experiences.  It will be a little tricky sometimes, but I’m confident I’ll figure it out.  Money is one of those things.

For example:

  • 1,000 yen is = $12
  • 5,000 yen = $62
  • 10,000 yen = $124

Good thing I’ll have the internet!  I’m renting a pocket wifi so I’m good to go!  Speaking of going….gotta run now!  Sayonara!

~~ Maggie

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in travel, Uncategorized

 

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