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Archive for April, 2015

Job 1: GEOS

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 24, 2015

November 2005 – November 2006

Somewhere in Chiba City

Overseas Jobs

After spending more than a year as Mark’s housewife, I’ve decided to get a job. In a few weeks of writing this, I will take a trip to Okayama for 5 days of orientation. I’ve been through many orientations so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about them and all the overseas jobs I’ve had. I will talk about the good and bad and give any advice I can.

The manager of my school and me goofing off.

My first job was in Japan with a company called GEOS. It was the type of school called an eikaiwa. I know they went bankrupt a few years back, but I’m unsure whether or not they still have schools running in Japan. I first applied to NOVA, but I completely bombed during the interview.

true story

I was just finishing my course at the University of Manchester in England. I went to a jobs’ fair and talked to some people at the NOVA booth. I handed them my resume, which was really written with getting a job in mathematics in mind. They didn’t seem to care. Soon they called me to come down to London for an interview.

It was my first job interview ever. I had no idea that there was a game to be played and I was totally unprepared. Back then, I thought I should look my best and answer all the questions honestly. If I were the right person for the job, which I was sure I was, I would be hired. During the interview when I was asked what my greatest weakness was, I told them the truth. I did not know I was supposed to give an answer like, “My greatest weakness is that I demand greatness from myself and I’m always trying to impress my boss.”

After not getting the job, I complained to a friend how the people at NOVA clearly made a mistake. He agreed that they had missed something good in not hiring me. Then he asked about the interview. He asked me how I had prepared and how I had answered the questions the NOVA people asked.

“Prepared? I’m just qualified for the job. What else do I need to do?”

I had a lot to learn.

bam!

The next interview was with GEOS in July 2006. This time I was prepared. I knew more about the company, the job, and I even looked up what questions they might ask me during the interview. I practiced my answers until they were perfect. I even had some questions of my own, because I read online that they like that. I spruced up my resume and cover letter too.

All this helped me to appear more confident during the interview. And I needed it. The NOVA interview was a one-on-one interview and took less than an hour. The GEOS interview had one interviewer and 30 possible candidates and took 3 days. I had to look better than 29 fools for more than 3 days in a row.

Even this bunny knows to hide his tattoos.

This was another interview in London. On the first interview day, we sat in a room and listened to lectures on living and working in Japan. We were given some basics on how to teach. We were each given a situation that could arise during a lesson and a few minutes to think about it. We were expected to tell everyone how we would deal with the problem and why. This was easy stuff.

We were given a break before lunch while the interviewer talked to her helpers. One by one the helpers came up to each of us waiting in the lobby to tell us whether or not we should come back after lunch. 5 people did not return.

During lunch we tried to figure out why the 5 were rejected. For one of them it was obvious. He had shown up to the interview with a pierced lip and visible tattoos. He constantly talked about anime and how things were done in Japan. He was clearly a Japanophile, but he had no clue about Japanese business culture.

And, I never punctuate incorrectly.

After lunch we had a test. It was mostly on grammar, but there was also some trivia about current events in Japan. Because I had prepared for this interview, I was expecting this test. Everyday for the past couple weeks I read an article from a Japanese newspaper. The grammar I was not too worried about; I knew my grammar was legit!

I think I had the highest or the second highest score. The other 24 interviewees could not hide their amazement that I did so well. One of them said, “I didn’t even know Americans could speak English.” “It’s the only language I speak, so I better speak it well.” “…good,” someone tried to correct me. I hoped he was just trying to be funny.

Twelve of the people left failed the test and had to retake it. They were given 2 more chances. About 8 people could not pass the test, even after both retakes, and did not continue with their interviews.

One of my GEOS students and me

For the next 2 days of the interview everyone could relax a bit. There were no more cuts until the final one. We were not told how many people from our group would be hired. But, I knew from looking online, that they would hire about 8 of us.

The second day was spent showing us how to make a lesson plan and teach a class. We took notes and asked questions. Then we were put into groups and we had to make our own mini lessons. This would be what the interviewer would mainly use to pick which one of us she would hire.

On the third day after the presentations, the interviewer talked to each of us privately. This, I was not expecting. No one online had ever mentioned anything about anything happening after the presentations.

When it was my turn, Yuki, the interviewer, asked me why I had chosen GEOS over say, NOVA. This time, I knew not to answer honestly and say that I had interviewed with NOVA but was not hired. Nor did I tell her that what I really wanted was to work on the JET Programme, but since I was an American living in England I could not do that. But I was still honest enough with my answer.

In my research on GEOS, I found it to be a better company than NOVA. Both companies were essentially the same. But, GEOS had a better housing arrangement. (With GEOS you get your own apartment. With NOVA you have to live with 2 other people.) GEOS had the better vacation plan, they had more schools all over Japan, and they had a bigger end of the year bonus. With GEOS you got money, but NOVA you just got a plane ticket home. (At the time, the money was worth more than the plane ticket.)

I explained this to Yuki and she seemed to like my answer.

A few years later NOVA stopped paying its employees, leaving many ESL teachers stuck in Japan. Then they went Bankrupt. GEOS went bankrupt too, but many years after NOVA did.

My first Japanese town

About two weeks later I got a letter from GEOS telling me that I was going to be hired. I had to go back to London to get some paper work done. There was also to be some orientation-like meetings in London before we left.

Ten people from the original 30 were hired. We all left for Japan at different dates and went to different places. After our last meeting in London, I never saw any of them again.

I left for Japan in November 2006. I was met at the airport by a Canadian guy who spoke some Japanese. His name was Marco, which is a masculine name in the West, but in Japan is sounds like a girl’s name. He took me to my hotel and then to the school.

There I met the teacher who I would replace. For the next few days she showed me the ropes and gave me many tips. She was a very nice and organized person.

The view from my balcony

She left her apartment fully furnished. She even purposely left some food in the fridge to give me time to settle in without having to worry about grocery shopping. But what I was most grateful to her for, was how all her lesson plans were well written with all the props in organized folders. I didn’t have to do much other than copy what she did and be happy and cheerful in class.

Within a month I had gotten a hang of it and was doing a great job. My students were happy and active in class. Several of them had already re-signed for another year of lessons, even though I was a new teacher. I was even hanging out with some of the college aged and older students out side of class.

I took only a few trips to Tokyo.

About 3 months after I got to Japan and started teaching, GEOS had me go to orientation. One thing GEOS was good at was pointless meetings. The manager of our school was always away to attend some meeting, leaving me or one of the Japanese English teachers to answer the phone, if we weren’t in class.

The meetings never helped anyone be a better teacher. Most of the people giving presentations at the GEOS meetings had never taught English. They were just stock holders or something, so if you asked them for specific advice, they would give vague or meaningless answers.

For example, most of the teachers at GEOS had no problem with their adult or high-school level classes. What we needed help with was dealing with badly behaved toddlers from the baby classes. One of the presenters told us that to punish a misbehaving 2-year-old, we should lock him or her out of the classroom.

“Really? You want to leave a toddler unsupervised in the hallway or lobby? The front door of the school is never closed, what if the kid runs out into the street?”

There were 3 meetings a year and they were all useless!

We had so much fun doing paperwork after closing time.

GEOS loved making people do paperwork. We had to do so much paper work and then fax it all in to… I’m not sure whom. But doing this paperwork meant that someone out there, the guy who had to read this stuff, had a worse job than I did.

GEOS also loved telling its employees how badly they were doing and how much money they were losing. We would get faxes everyday showing us, in graph form, how we only made 5% of the money their best schools did.

I never understood why they showed me statistics like that. What do I care if they lose money? I’m doing the job that I was hired to do. I only teach students, not recruit them. GEOS was supposed to bring them in. If they’re losing students to NOVA that’s kinda on them.

I enjoyed my job. I loved teaching my students. They taught me so much about Japan while I taught them English. Many of them took me on trips and introduced me to their friends. Many of them, and their friends, I still talk to today.

GEOS, the company, was not so great. But, I always got paid and on time too. So, GEOS was not too bad. Though, when I heard that they had gone bankrupt, I wasn’t surprised.


Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to askwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
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Posted in Chiba 県, Honshū, Japan, Tōgane 市 | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

USJ

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 17, 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

All Pictures

The USJ station an hour and a half before the park opens.

We planned ahead.

We were ready for this. We knew that Universal Studios Japan was super crowded and overpriced. But the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened the summer before and I had to see it. We bought our tickets weeks in advance.

We knew that getting into the park did not guarantee that we would get into the Harry Potter section. Only paying for expensive fast pass tickets, or buying a package tour with flight or hotel stay included could guarantee that.

We had to get there early, be one of the first people in the park, then run to a timed entry ticketing machine before we knew whether or not we would be playing quidditch this day.

And we were one of the first people here!

The park opens at 9:00. We got there at 7:30 only to be met by a crowd of people in line in front of us.

There was a line on the far left. They had a red carpet and uniformed staff personnel checking their tickets. That line was for early entry. Everyone looked at them with envy.

At 8:00 the early entry people were let in. “Those lucky bastards get a whole hour of the park to themselves,” I thought. The crazy thing was that many of the early entry people showed up at 8:15 or 8:20. Everyone else, who could only go in at 9:00, got here around 7:30!

Get out of the way moms and dads!

At 8:30, half an hour before the park officially opened, they let everyone in. There was a mad dash to the Harry Potter Timed Entry ticket machines. Everyone, but parents of small kids and the utterly clueless, was running as hard as they could to be first in line to the ticket machines.

As we got closer to the machine we saw people heading to the Harry Potter section. One member of the USJ staff was waving people in. “It’s open now! Anyone can go in, even without a ticket.”

I wanted to be first in line.

Many people stopped to ask the staff person if it was true. Mark and I didn’t bother. If it was true, great! If it was a matter of us not understanding Japanese enough, someone would stop us eventually. But asking questions was wasting time; time we could waste standing in line for a ride!

But, which line ends here?

We ran into the Wizarding World. All the shops were empty. The shop keepers were standing outside calling for people to come in. I wanted to go. When would the shops be this empty again?

Mark tugged at my arm. “No! We have to choose wisely. Let’s get on a ride now.”

He dragged me to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. “This line will get very long later, so we must get in line now,” he told me. “But the line looks long now,” I protested. “And, how are you even sure we are in the right line?”

I looked at the crowd of people around us. There seemed to be several lines each going in different and random directions. I told Mark to hold my place while I followed the line to see where it ended.

I walked along the path. The “line” that Mark was in stopped at some guy eating popcorn with his friends. Another line ended at a restroom. I found the line for the ride and called Mark over. There was a break in the line where some lady had her back to the line and did not notice that everyone else had moved up. We jumped in the open spot.

Hufflepuff!?

From there it took about 15 minutes to get on the ride. It would have taken 10, but we wasted a lot of time putting my bag in a locker and then getting back into the line. The ride was great.

After the ride we ran back to the line to go again. We found another open spot where someone in the line wasn’t paying attention letting a gap form. This time it took 25 minutes to get to the ride. I would have gone one more time, but after the second ride the line had gotten a lot longer and there were no gaps to sneak into.

$45 for a wand! You do know that they aren’t really magical wands, right?

We then checked out the shops. They were still easy to get into; you could just walk in. Later, we would have to stand in line to enter the shops.

If you want to go into the shops to look around, do it at the Harry Potter section. If you want to buy something, especially if you’re like me and need to read everything and take your time to choose the best one, do it at any of the shops near the entrance. Those shops are less crowded and they stay open until the park closes. They have all the stuff that all the other shops throughout the park have.

Butterbeer

There were a few carts where butterbeer was sold. All the carts had really long lines. I wanted butterbeer, but these lines were too long.

Mark: “I read online that you should never buy butterbeer from the carts. They have really long lines. Instead, go to any of the restaurants in the Harry Potter section.”

At that time, there were very few people in the restaurants. We did have a big breakfast and weren’t really hungry. But we knew that we were not going to be eating at lunch time like everyone else. So early lunch it was!

The food was overpriced, but good. We had a whole table to ourselves. I enjoyed it, because things would only get more crowded.

We order one large hot butterbeer to be shared between the both of us. The first sip, was great. The second sip, was less great. By the 4th sip, the stuff was disgusting. It’s very sweet and buttery. We should have gotten a small cup. We forced ourselves to finish the whole thing; it was torture.

Good reading

We walked through all the shops and took more photos. Then we decided to see the rest of the park. We thought about going on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride one more time before leaving, but opted not too.

It’s like we’re in Anytown, USA.

I didn’t have any plans for the rest of the park. All the stuff I wanted to do, we did before 11:00 that morning. I let Mark pick everything we did for the rest of the day.

We rode on several rides. first we chose them based on how awesome they were when compared to the wait time for their lines. Then we discovered the “single” lines. That cut our line waiting time down to 15 or 20 minutes per ride.

Normally people go on rides in groups. Very few people show up at Universal Studios alone. If you come here with say, 2 friends, you will want to go on rides with your 2 friends.

But the park gets crowded. If you have a group of three, and a car on a ride that seats four, that ride will go with less than max capacity. USJ is very crowded even on its least crowded days, so they can’t have that.

But, there is a line, where people who don’t care if they sit next to their friends, can go. When there is an empty seat, a “single” person will take it. The rides always run at max capacity and overall there is less wait for everyone.

Mark and I started going to the “single” lines. Sometime, we still sat next to each other. Sometimes, we were on the same ride on different cars. Other times, we rode on different coasters. But it took way less time. We were able to get on every thing we wanted to ride that way.

Let’s be greedy and go back in.

After noon we wanted to see if we could get a ticket to go into the Harry Potter area. We spent so much time worrying about the ticket machines we just had to go look at them. Once there we saw that there wasn’t much of a line to get a ticket. So, we got a ticket.

And what do you know? There were plenty of tickets left for most of the time slots throughout the afternoon. We chose the last time slot. We felt a little guilty for going back after spending almost the whole morning there. But, not too guilty to not go back…

I just had to have one.

We continued to ride rides and eat. We specifically did not want to waste time or money on food in the park. We were going to eat only what we needed to stay alive. Time was really not to be wasted on silly things like food.

But, we got to ride so many rides using the “single” lines that time was not a factor anymore. And we’re just not used to being around so much American food. We got home sick. I couldn’t remember the last time I bought a hot dog from a sidewalk vendor? …or a churro, or a cinnamon bun?

Last time, I swear!

We went back to the Forbidden Journey one more time. This ride did not have a “single” line and it took us 45 minutes to get to the ride. This is where we noticed that there were things to look at while we waited in line.

“How did we miss this? We’ve been on this ride twice before?”

“We weren’t really standing in line much then, were we?”

When the ride was over, it was too late to stand in line for another turn. But, we could do the Hogwarts’ tour. Basically, we got to walk along the line going up to the ride. But, this time we could stop and look at all the stuff decorating Hogwarts. We could take photos without the people in line being in the way. That was nice.

Giant Elmo will kill us all!

We stayed until the parade then left with everyone else at closing time. We spent the whole day at USJ!

Later we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant near our hostel. We were still hungry!

The next day we drove back home while eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

Dirt is not so bad…

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Bonsai Guest House
(盆栽ゲストハウス)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’30.9″N 135°31’41.5″E

Address:

1-4-13 Momodani, Ikuno-ku, Osaka, 5440034

Phone:

  • +81-6-7492-8884

Websites:

e-mail:

Cost:

  • from 2,700 JYN

Hours:

  • reception is open~ 8:30 – 22:00
  • Check in ~ 16:00 – 21:00
  • Check out ~ by 11:00

Notes:

  • It’s a one minute walk from Momodani Station.
  • It’s a one minute walk from a shopping area with lots of restaurants.
  • It’s about a two minute walk from a grocery store.
  • There is paid parking right across the street, but it might be full.
    • There is another, cheaper place to park near a little park called Momodani Park.
    • Parking Lot: 34°39’40.4″N 135°31’44.7″E
    • (I don’t remember exactly, but I think it cost 700 JYN / day to park here.)

Universal Studios Japan
(ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’55.7″N 135°25’56.1″E

Address:

〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2−1−33

Phone:

  • 0570-200-606

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

Hours:

  • 10:00 to 17:00  low season
  • 9:00 to 21:00 peak season
  • Sometimes they open the park earlier than scheduled.
  • You can also get an early entry ticket, which allows you to get into the park at 8:30. But I don’t know how to get one other than going through the JTB travel agency.

Notes:

  • Getting into the park doesn’t guarantee you entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  • My advice:
    • Try not to go on a really crowded day.
      • Okay, so everyday is a crowded day, but there are some really crowded days.
      • Try not to go on a holiday or weekend.
      • Try not to go in the middle of summer.
      • Try to go on any Monday through Friday that is not a holiday when most kids should be in school.
    • Buy your ticket in advance at a Lawson convenience store.
      • Instructions in English
      • Any Lawson in Japan will do.
      • Don’t wait until the day of your visit and buy your ticket at the Lawson right outside USJ, that’s what everyone else is doing.
    • Get a Free Timed Entry Ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
      • To get this, go early and be one of the first to enter the park.
      • Head to the Rose garden. (#65 on this map)
      • You don’t really need to know where it is, everyone in the park will be running to it. Just follow the crazy mob.
      • If you go on a not-so-overly crowded day, the Harry Potter sections will be open to any and everyone for the first couple hours after the park opens. Run there and do not leave until you are done. To re-enter you will need a timed entry ticket.
    • Bring your own lunch.
      • I know you’re not supposed to bring in food, but everyone does it (especially parents with small kids). In fact there are many areas in the park that are great for picnicking.
      • No one checks your bags or pockets.
      • Pack light; lockers are expensive.
      • If you need to buy lunch, or a snack, do so before or long after lunch time.
        • Eat at the Chinese Restaurant (#48 on this map). The lines are much, much shorter there.
        • Forget about American cuisine. The lines for those are ridiculously long.
        • Eat a hog dog super early or really late. Those lines could last for a good 50 minutes.
          • Don’t worry; they never run out of overpriced hot dogs.
        • Drink at any of the many water fountains throughout the park. It’s free and there are no lines.
      • Ideally, you should have a big breakfast. Buy some rice balls or sandwiches that you can fit in your pockets for lunch. Have a snack or meal around 15:00. Drink water anytime you pass a water fountain. Have dinner after the park is closed at any restaurant that is no where near the park. This would save you lots of money and time.
    • Take the “singles” line whenever you can.
      • The “singles” line are for people who don’t care if they sit next to their friends on a ride. “Single” people stand in a separate and much shorter line than everyone else. Whenever there is an empty seat on a ride, someone from the “single” line is put in that seat. A 2-hour wait in the regular line could take about 20 minutes in the single line.
    • Don’t bring too much stuff.
      • Lockers are expensive.
      • Lockers waste a lot of time. Sometimes you have to form a line to put your stuff in a locker before you can form a line to wait hours to get on a ride.
      • If you can fit everything you need in your pockets, that would be great.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Osaka 市, Osaka 府 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Water Day

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 10, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

All Pictures

Shiver me timbers!

I’m Sailing Away

This day had an unplanned nautical theme. Originally, we were going to drive through Shikoku, the smallest big Japanese island whose name everyone keeps forgetting, at the end of this trip. We would have entered near Kobe, driven by Naruto, stopped off at Matsuyama to check out the Dogo Onsen, then headed home via a bridge near Fukuyama.

But then, Mark got an email from his boss telling him that he had a company meeting in Hiroshima on the 7th. So, I had to rearrange some of our plans. We went to the Dogo Onsen in early November, instead of during this trip. And, we left Kyoto at 5:00 and drove past Osaka and Kobe, this day, to see a whirlpool then drove back through Kobe and on to Osaka. Madness!

Give it a whirl!

The Naruto Whirlpool

I’ve wanted to see this thing since I found out about its existence a few summers ago. This trip was the closest we have gotten to the whirlpool since then. I know it’s best to go during the summer, but now is when I would be in the area.

The whirlpool didn’t get very whirlpooly and I was forced to take a photo of a photo of the whirlpool taken in the summer. The level of the awkwardness of that last sentence is about the same as the level of disappointment I had looking at the whirlpool that just refused to whirl.

Mark had to stop retaking this picture when the line of people behind us started to complain.

The Floating Garden

I took Mark to see the Floating Garden in the Umeda Sky Building. It’s a misnomer, but the name fits the theme here. We got to the top in time to watch the sunset and to take photos at night.

Mark will be occupied for the next 10 minutes.

If you go through Mark’s photos you will see very few pictures of me smiling. It’s not because I don’t smile. It’s because by the time Mark took the photo he actually keeps, I had stopped smiling.

We’ve been at this for hours; I’m cold and hungry now.

He’ll take a picture and forget to turn off the flash, or turn on the flash. Then he’ll want to try other modes, like cartoon mode or toy mode. Then I’ll hear something like, “Oh, the leaf moved,” or “Stand like this.” I would pose for him for a minute or two and then get bored.

I would tell him that I want to take photos too, but can’t because I’m spending all my time posing for him. Then he’ll complain about how he has no good photos of me smiling. “Learn to take photos more quickly!” I’d yell at him as I storm off to take my own pictures.

I bait ’em, Mark, you catch ’em!

Fishing on a boat in a restaurant

Mark found a Zauo Fishing Restaurant in Tokyo. But, when he called to make reservations he found that they would be closed for the duration of our stay in Tokyo.

He then went online and found another Zauo in Osaka. They would be open while we were in town. So this is where we went our first night in Osaka.

It takes less time for Mark to catch a fish than to take a photo of one.

We each got a pole, hooks, and bait. We stuck our hooks in the water and waited. People left, right, in front, and behind us pulled fish out the water. Every 5 minutes someone in the restaurant was cheering and laughing because they had caught a fish.

Every time a fish is caught the wait staff beat on some drums. There were no drums for us. We sat there for about 3 hours. I eventually gave up, took out my tablet, and started reading an e-book. I ordered some fries and a drink and let Mark have his fun.

He was having the time of his life even if he wasn’t catching a thing!

We get to eat!

The staff moved Mark around to restaurant hoping he would have better luck at some other spot. He must have met everyone on all the boats. When we were leaving several little kids ran up to Mark to say goodbye.

When Mark was still fishless after an hour they gave him a special 4-pointed hook. With this Mark was to try to grab the fish by the chin rather than wait for the fish to bite. On his first few throws Mark just whacked a couple fish on their heads. Then he got a hang of it.

The whack on the head really adds flavor.

Mark had the fish sushied and tempuraed. The fish was really good! …or maybe we were just half-starved by the time we got our meal.

The whole thing for the both of us, including appetizers, drinks, dessert, and bait cost us about 4,500 JYN. Not bad for dinner and an evening worth of entertainment.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Naruto whirlpools
(鳴門の渦潮)
(Naruto no Uzushio) 

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°14’21.8″N 134°39’18.9″E

Address:

Fukuike-65-63 Narutocho Tosadomariura Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture 772-0053

Phone:

  • 088-687-0613

E-mail:

  • info@uzushio-kisen.com

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • free – 2,000 yen depending on how you want to look at the whirlpools
  • View from the bridge:
    • Parking: 420 JYN per day
    • Admission to just the bridge: 510 JYN
    • Admission to bridge and boring museum: 900 JYN

Hours:

  • Bridge: 9:00 – 18:00
    • Closed:
      • during bad weather
      • 2nd Mondays in March, June, September, and December

Notes:

  • The whirlpools happen about every six hours, once in the morning and once in the afternoon for an hour or two.
  • The whirlpools vary in size, depending on the intensity of the tides.
  • They tend to be larger in summer than in winter, and are largest during spring tides, which occur every two weeks.
    • The name “spring tide” has nothing to do with the season spring. It’s just a name.
  • The best places to see the whirlpools is on the coast of the island Awaji or from the bridge.
  • You can see the whirlpools

The Umeda Sky Building
(梅田スカイビル)
(Umeda Sukai Biru)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°42’18.5″N 135°29’26.0″E

Address:

1-1-88 Oyodo-naka,
Kita-ku Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
531-0076 Japan

Phone:

  • 06-6440-3855

Websites:

Cost:

  • 700YEN,
  • but if you visit the cinema in the other building you can get a flier with a 70YEN discount/ person.
  • You only need one flier per group to get a discount for each person.

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 22:30
  • (Last admittance is at 22:00)

Notes:

  • The “Floating Garden Observatory” is on the 39th floor.
  • Be sure to visit the old time Osaka town on the first basement level (B1) of the building. It’s free to view.
  • There are many restaurants.
  • There are lockers near the elevator to the top. They cost 100YEN to use.
  • I recommend going about  15 minutes before sunset.

Zauo Fishing Restaurant 
(釣船茶屋 ざうお )
(Tsuribune chaya zauo)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°40’06.2″N 135°30’23.9″E

Address:

Namba Washington Hotel Plaza B1F, 1-1-13, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0073

Phone:

Websites:

Cost:

Hours:

  • Weekdays 17:00-24:00
  • Weekends and holidays 11:30-23:30

Videos:

Notes:

  • What to do
  • You can take as long as you need to catch a fish, as long as it is within opening hours.
  • If you are having trouble catching a fish, they will give you cheat hooks, where you can basically just claw the fish out the water.

Bonsai Guest House
(盆栽ゲストハウス)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’30.9″N 135°31’41.5″E

Address:

1-4-13 Momodani, Ikuno-ku, Osaka, 5440034

Phone:

  • +81-6-7492-8884

Websites:

e-mail:

Cost:

  • from 2,700 JYN

Hours:

  • reception is open~ 8:30 – 22:00
  • Check in ~ 16:00 – 21:00
  • Check out ~ by 11:00

Notes:

  • It’s a one minute walk from Momodani Station.
  • It’s a one minute walk from a shopping area with lots of restaurants.
  • It’s about a two minute walk from a grocery store.
  • There is paid parking right across the street, but it might be full.
    • There is another, cheaper place to park near a little park called Momodani Park.
    • Parking Lot: 34°39’40.4″N 135°31’44.7″E
    • (I don’t remember exactly, but I think it cost 700 JYN / day to park here.)

Map:

Posted in Awaji 島, Honshū, Hyōgo 県, Japan, Naruto 市, Osaka 市, Osaka 府, Shikoku, Tokushima 県 | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I forgot my notes

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 3, 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

All Pictures

Nothing like starting the day with sugary cereal.

Let’s take the bus.

We arrived at Kyoto on the night of the 2nd in the middle of, what seemed to be, a snow storm. Luckily, we live in a boondock town without the modern-day conveniences like salt trucks or snow plows. Everyone in Miyoshi puts snow tires on their cars in December and we had ours on for the trip.

We got to the hostel safely, but it kept snowing the rest of the night. When we woke up the city looked like… Well, you can see for yourself in the photo above.

I have no idea where our car is.

Rather than spend half an hour shoveling our car out of its parking space and then navigating Kyoto under piles of snow, we chose to use the bus. A day pass for the bus cost 500 JYN and the bus stop was not too far from the hostel. We bought the pass from the reception desk and went on our merry way.

I don’t know what to do next.

We got to Kyoto station. This was where the tour I had planned would begin. But, when I put my hand into my pocket to get the paper with the lists of things to see, it was not there.

My notes where back at the hostel. In them I had information about the things we should see, when they opened, how much it should cost, and interesting trivia we should think about when looking at the sights. But, now I had none of that with me.

I tried to remember what it was I wanted to see in Kyoto. But, this was a 2 week trip that I had planned months ago. I wanted to see lots of things in many cities. Kyoto didn’t really stand out in my mind.

“I think there was a temple with steps, but we could or should only go there in the morning. Or, maybe there was a garden, but we should make sure to get there before 17:00…”

Map, what do you think we should do?

We looked at a map of the bus route. A few things on it jogged my memory. Like there was definitely a temple I wanted to see, but I couldn’t tell which one from this map.

In every Japanese city there are temples that are important to Japanese tourists because some famous Monk or writer lived there. Non-Japanese (or rather non-Buddhist/ non-Shinto) tourists might not care so much. One temple pretty much looks like another. Unless the temple has a beautiful view of a lake or bamboo forest.

All the geishas are asleep.

I remember that Gion was a place I wanted to see. So we went there. We walked through the overly crowded streets and tried no to bump into anyone. We found a tiny tempura place to have lunch. What didn’t find were any geishas or maikos; not even someone pretending to be a geisha or maiko.

Aren’t you glad we came all the way to Kyoto to see this shopping area that looks like it could be anywhere in Japan?

Then we followed the crowd and ended up at the Nishiki Market. Mark was unimpressed. “This looks like it could be Oita or Hiroshima!”

The Nishiki Market is one of the famous landmarks in Kyoto, but I’m not sure why. Almost every city in Japan has a shopping area that looks just like this. (Miyoshi doesn’t have one, but Miyoshi doesn’t even have a movie theater.)

Bamboo forest

We wondered around looking at random temples, shrines, and palaces.

Many of the bus stops in downtown Kyoto have free wi-fi. I stood at one, hoping that at some point in time, I emailed my notes to Mark. I didn’t. But I was able to do a google search of things to do in Kyoto and was reminded about Arashiyama.

“We need to go there. That name sounds familiar!”

What’s down here?

We walked around some island but found nothing interesting. I couldn’t remember why I wanted to get to this place so badly. We found a train station and walked into a 7-eleven nearby.

I was about to ask the lady at the counter for information on the area, but she beat me to it. She pulled out an English tourist map of the area. She circle the spot where we were now standing.

Then she drew arrows across the bridge. Her arrows led us off the island and near a temple. The temple’s name, Tenryu, looked familiar. The arrows stopped at a trail through a bamboo forest.

“That’s it! The bamboo forest. Oh, and we need to get there before sunset.”

That’s all the light for today.

We got there just in time. We took several photos before it got dark.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
    • The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)

Kyoto UTANO Youth Hostel
(京都/宇多野ユースホステ)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°01’37.8″N 135°41’59.1″E

Address:

29 Nakayamacho Uzumasa Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 616-8191

Phone:

  • +81-(0)75-462-2288

Websites:

e-mail:

Cost:

  • About 3,400 JYN/ person/ night
  • 610 JYN for breakfast

Hours:

  • Check in: 15:00 – 23:00
  • Check out: by 10:00

Notes:

  • This was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in!
  • Children and babies are welcomed.
  • free parking
  • free wi-fi
  • free onsen within the hostel
  • There is a really nice kitchen you can use.
    • all appliances, tableware, and flatware as well as pots and pans are provided.
  • You can buy a day pass for the bus at the reception desk.
    • 500 JYN
    • The bus stop nearest the hostel is called Utano Youth Hostel.

Gion
(ぎおん)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°00’13.3″N 135°46’37.6″E

Address:

Gionmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0001, Japan

Websites:

Books:

Notes:

  • This is the setting for Arthur Golden‘s Memoirs of a Geisha.
  • Gion is around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west.

Nishiki Market
(錦市場)
(Nishiki Ichiba)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°00’20.2″N 135°45’56.9″E

Address:

Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Websites:

Cost:

  • free
  • The are many shop in which to spend money

Hours:

  • typically 9:00 to 18:00
  • typically closed Wednesday or Sunday

Arashiyama
(嵐山)
(Storm Mountain)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°00’59.3″N 135°40’13.4″E

Address:

Togetsukyo, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8383, Japan

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • It’s best to visit the bamboo forest when there is at least some light.

Notes:

  • See the Bamboo forest inSagano.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Japan, Kyoto 市, Kyoto 府 | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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