Saturday, August 26, 2006


So I've been back in the states for 3 weeks now, and 2 weeks ago Joe and I went to Chicago to visit family and friends. We flew up on Friday and after a delayed flight (thanks to no liquids being put into effect the day before) we arrived and had time only to have dinner and visit with family. On Saturday we went out to DeKalb, home of Northern Illinois University (our alma mater). The first photo shows the drive out, about an hour. We ate a late lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant (veggie everything!), and went around campus and town. We headed back to the suburbs, where we stopped at both Ikea (!) and the Japan festival at Mitsuwa market!

On Sunday we went down to the Field Museum to see the huge King Tut exhibition and spend the day downtown. The exhibition was fantastic (and very crowded), and we had a good time with my parents looking around other sections of the museum. The picture shows them in front of Sue, the most complete T-Rex ever found. We were also really excited to eat VEGGIE CHICAGO HOT DOGS in front of the museum. How cool is that?!?!? The weather was beautiful all weekend, and we had a great time walking around our hometown. :)

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Well, it's late and I'm still packing, but I figure that's ok because it will help me sleep on the plane. This will be my last Japan post, so I would like to list some things that I will miss very much:

- Mini-stop
- Store clerks saying "Irashaimase!"
- The sewer covers that are different in every town and include representative cultural items. In Okazaki it's the castle and some fireworks.
- Cell-phone charms. Everyone from junior high kids to middle-aged salarymen have them. I will also miss the jingle of the bells that accompany them.
- Mustard flavored rice chips
- Japanese vending machines
- Hello Kitty everything!
- Tile roofs
- Kitsutsuki lunch, both the food and the company
- Walking home by the big lake
- Shinkansen
- Strawberry pan breakfast
- Japanese flowers and gardens
- Puri-kura
- Adventuring around every weekend (ok, so I do this alot at home too...)
- The huge tofu section at the grocery
Ok, there are so many more things I will miss, too many to list, but these were the first that came to mind. It has really been a great experience to be here, I have made so many wonderful friends, seen many amazing places, and learned so much Japanese! Having said this, I'm sure I'll be back soon, and of course there are many things I miss about the U.S. too, and many people I will be happy to see.
Stay posted!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Just a few pictures from around Okazaki. I'm quickly approaching my return to the states, but I will maintain this blog after I return. Joe and I usually travel once a month or so, and I plan on posting from our travels to other places both domestic and international. I'll probably also post things from home if something interesting comes up.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tokyo Friday

Well, it was my last weekend in Japan, so I headed for Tokyo with Nadja. It was all that one would expect from the largest metropolis on Earth- crowded, big, buzzing, confusing, and one heck of a good time. After our Shinkansen ride we walked what felt like miles through subway corridors to get to our hotel near Tokyo Tower. In the evening we met up with Nadja's friend Chris and had some tasty Indian food before spending the evening at a very crowded club near Ginza.

Tokyo Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday we started our day with a walk down the Ginza, an upscale shopping area near our hotel. After navigating through the subway system, we arrived at Asakusa, with the popular Sensoji temple and the large market around it (first four pictures). Like everything in Tokyo it was very crowded, and buzzing with activity.

Our afternoon was spent at the Tokyo National Museum, a nice cool place to spend a hot muggy day. At the museum we saw many wonderful things, including the special Jakuchu exhibition, which was extremely crowded, and the Horyuji collection (picture). After a day on our feet, we had a wonderful dinner near Akasaka, including okonomiyaki, tofu, and drinks.

After dinner we headed to Shinjuku, where we happened upon a large street festival with dancing, drums, and banners.

On Sunday we started our day in Akihabara, an area that is known for its density of electronics shops.

In the afternoon we hung out at the Tokyo Dome City, where we did some shopping and rode the large Thunder Dolphin roller coaster. While the name was amusing, the ride was quite the adreneline rush, and gave great views of the surrounding city.