Monday, July 22, 2013

Epilogue

 

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Well I have to say that three years in Misawa certainly went by quickly! If you are just now finding this blog, I hope it helps you in your transition to your new home. If you have been with me the entire way, tried new restaurants, visited new places, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

I believe that each base is what you make of it. I made this blog not only for my own memories, but to show you that there are wonderful things to discover wherever you go. I also believe the people you meet make a big difference too.

When I found out we were PCSing to Japan, I was extremely excited. I knew I was going to love it. But I didn’t know how many friends I would make working at school, working on base, and volunteering. I now claim Japan as my second home. My heart is there. My friends are there. I had many happy memories, including the birth of my daughter.

This blog is for those of you who are scared (or excited). Even though I was ecstatic to move to Japan, it did frighten me. There were a lot of unknowns. Don’t let those unknowns stop you, don’t let anxiety take over. There is too much to miss out on and so much to see and do and so many wonderful people to meet.  Push back the fear and live passionately.

For those of you wanting to make Japanese friends, find out what is going on at the Misawa International Center. Also, join the Japanese American Friendship Club. Lifetime membership is a one time fee of ¥1000 or $10. To learn more, message me or visit their FaceBook page.

I am writing this from my new home on Guam. Though I am sad to have left Japan, I am looking forward to all the wonderful things to show you about Guam. If you enjoyed this blog or are being stationed to Guam, you can follow me on my new blog: Mom on Guam.

Below is a video I made of my friends saying farewell to us. An American friend of mine once asked me why she has never heard Japanese people say “Sayonara.” Sayonara is not only very formal but used when you won’t see someone for a very long time. So instead, we like to say またね (matane= ma ta nay) which means see you again/later. Because there are no goodbyes in life, only see you laters.

A farewell message from our friends in Japan

 

*Disclaimer for the blog*

Everything on here is up to date as far as I know from June 2010 to June 2013

Nanohana Matsuri: Rape Blossom Festival

 

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Each year in May, Yokohama holds their Nanohana Matsuri (translation: Rape Blossom Festival). Yokohama boasts the largest rape blossom field in Japan measuring 109 hectares (approximately 152 soccer fields). These yellow flowers are not just for aesthetics, but are a local crop. The nanohana not only is used in Japanese dishes; each hectare makes about 600 grams of rape seed oil. Nanohana is also used to make honey, ice cream, cream puffs, and doughnuts. We bought some nanohana doughnuts at the festival, they were good!

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At the festival, you can go stroll through a nanohana maze while taking in the beauty and smell of this golden crop.

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Or if you prefer an aerial view, helicopter rides are available for a fee.

 

Directions to Yokohama:

From the MAIN gate take a right at the second light. Take a right at the third light. Go straight across white pole road and turn left at the T. Take the NEXT RIGHT. You are now on Route 8. Follow 8 until you get to 4. merge RIGHT to get onto4. After two lights turn LEFT to get onto the Shimokita Expressway. Continue till the expressway ends at a T, turn LEFT onto 180. Cross over some railroad tracks and turn RIGHT onto 279. As you enter Yokohama keep RIGHT at the Y to stay on 279. You will see signs for the Nanohana Festival (Nanohana in Japanese: 菜の花). Follow these; the turn will be on  your right.

Drive time: approximately 90 minutes

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Karumai Tulip Festival

 

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This beautiful park in Karumai Town (in Iwate Prefecture, located just south of Hachinohe) is very reminiscent of Holland. The 16m windmill is not functional, but looks great (it spins by motor). You can enter the windmill (after taking off your shoes) for free to get a great panoramic view of the park. (below).     

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This year was the first year ITT offered transportation to Karumai for the tulip festival. The garden has over 7,000 square meters of tulips and is located on 24 hectacres of land. There are 42 different types of tulips, in various colors including red, white, yellow, orange, pink and purple. 

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There is a fee of ¥300 for adults and ¥150 for elementary and junior high students to go down into the park to get a closer look at the tulips. (Groups of 10 people or more get a ¥50 discount each)  Free areas of the park include the windmill and the path to this red bridge. There is also an outside shop on the corner where you can purchase tulips to plant at home.

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I recommend going on this trip by car rather than taking the ITT trip. I feel it was overpriced for such a short drive. I do’t regret it though, since I had an FSS gift card, it was still free. You can get to the Karumai Tulip festival by following the directions in this map.

Tenshochi Park

 

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This year the cherry blossoms were blooming late, so instead of heading north to Hirosaki, we went south to Kitakami, Iwate to Tenshochi Park. It is one of the Three Best Hanami Spots in Michinoku and was also selected as one of the 100 Best Hanami Spots by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association! There are over 10,000 cherry blossom trees (twice as many as Hirosaki!) and 100,000 azaleas!

The blossoms were not fully bloomed when we went but it was still beautiful. In the above photo you can see the outside of the sakura tunnel. The outer trees’ blossoms were beautiful! They had a lot of vendors in the main park selling delicious festival food.

 

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One special treat was this “monkey show.” Video to come.

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This festival was held during Golden Week. These koinobori or carp streamers, fluttered in the wind over the Kitakami River. It is impossible to miss on your way to Tenshochi Park.

 

You can get to Tenshochi Park by following these Directions from Misawa Airport. Parking is very limited. We were lucky enough to have a nice elderly man let us use his rather large driveway!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Cement Factory --Junking

 

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You are probably wondering why I am writing about a cement factory of all things.  Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? Well, actually this factory had been closed down and is now a place where used and surplus goods are sold for great prices! It is a great little gem where Americans frequent. My Japanese friends don’t even know about it! This is what the front of the establishment looks like so you know what to look for when you get there.

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The factory was set up a lot differently that I imagined. There are several “rooms” if you will, with different products inside. For example, there was one section for kitchen items, one section with a lot of things used for restaurants and another with cds and movies.  My favorite room is pictured below. There  were a lot of art pieces, cast iron teapots, clocks, and framed pictures. You could probably spend hours just going through the framed pictures!

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I know you are just dying to know what we bought! We ended up getting two heated toilet seats for ¥1500 each. (Heated only, no bidet). And a Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day) Doll display for ¥2000! You read that right! They usually go for around $400 brand new.  I bought it for my 3 month old daughter. (I’ve actually wanted one since I’ve been here). She is the reason I’ve been on hiatus for 4 months. Winking smile

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Map to the Cement Factory from Misawa

美味鲜 (Delicious Fresh) Taiwanese Restaurant

 

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美味鲜 is a Taiwanese restaurant located in Hachinohe. (There are 2 in Hachinohe)  It is very similar to this Taiwanese Restaurant in Towada. You get a lot of food for cheap. I liked the food here a bit better, though.

 

Hours: 1100-1500          1700-2400

Telephone: 0178-80-7568

Map to the restaurant from Misawa