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17 October 2018 @ 04:37 pm

Dear all,

I just wanted to share some photos from my new city, Tamano.

My old address was God's Door City, Long Field Ward, West Ass Lake.

My new address means Treasure field City, Cosmic Wisteria Tree



An old man waiting for the train with his dirty feet up on the bench explained to me with eager, outstretched hands, that this whole area used to be part of the sea.  Then they built a wall to keep the saltwater back and were able to make low-lying rice fields.  He said no houses were here before, and the mountains were islands.  I wasn't sure if this was the ramblings of an old man, or if it was true, but at City Hall they gave me a map of potential areas for natural disasters and yeah, it looks like the only thing preventing my area from being the sea really is this wall holding it back.  Don't worry, if a tsunami comes, the path up the mountain is almost directly in front of my house.


09 October 2018 @ 05:19 pm

Almost every day I was in Hiroshima, it rained.

There were some days when it didn't rain, when I went back to Kobe to take care of house things.  It didn't always rain all day.  Sometimes just for a few hours at night.  But I knew they weren't going to open any of the hiking trails with the threat of rain still hanging.  Yossi and I went to a neighboring city and we drove up what looked like a fairly tame mountain, but even so there were boulders that had been moved aside and trees that looked precariously ready to fall down over the path in the next storm.  So hiking locally was out of the question.

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22 September 2018 @ 11:34 pm

Hello everyone!

This time I just wanted to share some pictures.

So this is where I'm living temporarily:


I looked on a map and saw a lake and a mountain, so on my day off I tried and failed to visit both.  Here's why:
Lake: http://www.randomisgod.com/pictures/000HHlake.jpg
Mountain: http://www.randomisgod.com/pictures/000Kagamiyama.jpg

And finally, IT STOPPED RAINING for a day and I was able to take some pictures with the morning light of the area directly around my apartment:



I'm writing from my tiny apartment in Higashi Hiroshima City.

The apartment has a "walk-in-closet" and a "bed."

Basically, they put a box in the room with a door, and the box is the closet, and the top of the box is the bed.  I prefer not to have to climb up there every day or bend down to use the hobbit box door, so I don't use half the space in the room.

If you open the door to go out, you're greeted by bamboo trees rustling in the wind.  Little birds hop over the trees day and night.  When the lights go on after dark, insects come out to play.  I brought a flashlight on a whim, and I'm so glad - every night I explore what kind of wildlife the lamps have brought in.  The flashlight is useful for another reason, too.  There are very little street lights, and the walk from the bus stop to my place is 30 minutes.  The bus comes only once an hour.

I'm not used to the Country Lifestyle yet.  I walked 30 minutes to the bus stop on my first day, to learn the latest bus had just gone by 5 minutes ago, and I had the choice to wait an hour for the next one.  I'm not good at waiting, so I just walked to work.  It took the full hour.  I was wearing sandals and they were making blisters on my toes by the time I reached the shopping center.  On one side of the street they were selling bikes, and on the other side was a shoe store.  I debated in my head for a minute, then decided crossing the street was too much trouble and I bought a pair of nice running shoes.

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Hello all.

The subject was written on a little girl's shirt.  Profound.

So I have some news for everyone.  Let's go with the fun stuff first.

Yossi and I went house hunting.  The last time we were house hunting was when we'd just gotten engaged.  He'd told me he didn't care at all what kind of place, so I could make up the conditions for the realtor.  After finding a couple places I liked, Yossi became concerned that none of them were close enough to the station, or near any restaurants.  It turns out I care about the inside, and he cares about the outside.  We ended up having to compromise.

This time, we both went in with our conditions. Yossi's were - it needs a parking space, and to be near a station.  Mine was - It needs large windows that let in the sun, a balcony big enough to put chairs out, and next to a mountain.

The realtor gave me an odd look, went to go through his files of apartments, then came back a bit hesitantly and did that Japanese beating-around-the-bush way of bringing up his burning question.  "So uh... you said... next to a mountain..?  And that would be because.. well..."

"I like hiking!" I said.

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Hello all.

Subject is from a little boy's T-shirt.

Two stories today.
This first one I wrote in February but couldn't bring myself to look at it again until now:
Today a little boy broke my heart.

I've been going to a certain school once a week because no one else was
willing to take a 2.5 hour commute at 7am on a Saturday.  At first it was
going to be a temporary thing, but a replacement was never found.  Then I
became the manager and realized how hard it is to get a replacement for
that area.  I ended up going there for 2 years.

Very suddenly, last week, a replacement was found and I had the hard task
of breaking the news to my students.

I told this little boy I wouldn't be able to be his teacher anymore.  I
told him I had to go back to Kobe where I live.  He rolled his eyes and
didn't seem to care.  After the lesson started, though, he kept looking at
the clock and saying things under his breath like - 30 minutes left.. Only
20 minutes...  10 more minutes...  Was he that eager to leave?

After the class finished, his Dad came to pick him up.  I gave them both a
card.  I asked the boy if I could hug him and he seemed embarrassed so I
didn't.  Dad bowed and thanked me.  Then he forced his kid to say some
embarrassing goodbye words.  Finally they left the building and got in to
their car....

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Subject was found on someone's handbag.

I haven't written in too long...

I'll just share a story here from New Year's and get back to updating you guys on my life later.


So it's the last day in Albuquerque and I need to do laundry.
I woke up early, but it wasn't early enough.  Nat-chan was waiting for me.  
'Do you remember what you promised?'  5-year-olds are big on keeping
promises.  She has tissues laid out all over the floor and blue and purple
gel paints at the ready.  'Manicure!'

I let her paint my nails, and then my toenails while I write addresses on
belated Christmas cards.  I'm able to get hers done quickly, and then she's
not allowed to touch anything until they dry.  But 5-year-olds like to
touch things.  I let her at the coloring books while I get on with the
laundry.  I put all my things in the wash, but I'm not sure which of
Yossi's is dirty or not.  I look around for Yossi and get distracted
translating something for Oto-san, explaining to Mommy-in-law for the
hundredth time that she doesn't need to clean the sheets, bringing out some
things to the garage that I'll be leaving behind until I go to the USA
again....  But I can't seem to run in to Yossi.  Where is he?

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28 November 2017 @ 01:02 am

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year's Thanksgiving coincided with Japan's Labor Day, which means I to go home early.  I spent my extra bit of free time making cookies for my mountain friends to thank them for their support for me during the Rokko Juso hike.

There is a rumor going around that I've moved already and I just want to say that that is not the case!  I was giving you guys a year's warning, in case you'd like to come visit me and stay at my house.  I won't go anywhere until next summer.

One of my ways to say goodbye to Kobe was to do the Rokko Juso Hike.  As I mentioned in my last email, the hike covers the Rokko mountain range from Suma to Takarazuka.  It's 56km (34.7 miles).  The start time is 5am, and there are timed checkpoints similar to a marathon.  You must be off the mountain by 10pm.  The first time I heard of this, I thought the whole idea was ridiculous.  The whole point of hiking is to enjoy the mountains, right?  And you can't do that if you're rushing yourself trying to go as far and fast as possible to reach certain checkpoints.  However as I joined my hiking club and met so many people who'd done it (often multiple times) I started to think of it as a milestone that I'd have to accomplish at some point.  And when I realized I'd be leaving Kobe and my beloved mountains here, it became something I had to do.

Well, November 12th rolled around and the day was upon me.

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14 October 2017 @ 09:09 pm

Hello everyone.

The subject above is written on my map of the Rokko Mountain Range, next to an add for outdoor wear.  Actually, it doesn't just leave off in the middle of the sentence.  The whole sentence is "For those who don't let a little rain or common sense get in the way."  Which may be the actual legitimate English ad campaign.  However, in the Japanese ad, the first five words are in a huge bold font, and the second half of the sentence is in tiny print you need to squint to read.  I'm pretty sure it was the Japanese design section who made that decision, and so I consider it worthy of one of my Engrish subject titles.

But let's get on with this, shall we?  So I've been carrying around this map of the Rokko Mountain Range.  Why?  I'm planning on hiking all of it.  Haven't you already done that, Jen?  Yes.  But this time it's going to be in one day.  With a huge group of people.  It's almost a race.  56 kilometers, with checkpoints you have to get to on time.  17 hours is the absolute maximum you are allowed to spend on the trail.

The date is November 12th and it's called the Rokko Juso.  I was accepted as one of the participants last month, and they've recently sent me a lot of maps and info in the mail.

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12 September 2017 @ 11:08 am

 Hello everyone.

I just wanted to say,

this is my last year in Kobe.

It took me a year to come to that conclusion.

Next year, I'm moving to Okayama.

Kobe, sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, home to 1.5 million people, with transportation access to anywhere in Japan - it's hard to think of a more ideal place to live.  A long time ago I stood on top of a mountain with a friend, spread my arms to the buildings, the skyscrapers, and the harbor, and thought to myself, "I am Kobe!"  That thought's stuck with me since then.  Kobe is something in me.

If you want to come visit me in Japan, doing so in the next year will probably be best, before I move to less accessible places.

I could have lived here forever.

At first, it was things like how close everything is.  On my day off, I could go to Kyoto and visit an ancient temple, or see a musical in Takarazuka, or have a barbecue on top of a mountain.  I can make Tokyo a day trip.  I can fly to Okinawa in a couple hours.

Then, it was how easy it was to meet new people.  A big city of people all densely packed together creates amazing networks to get you in touch with people like yourself.  I met Takiko at the international community center, the Japanese lessons led me to find my husband, my network during the CELTA course led me to become a part of the artist community.

And finally, I began putting down roots.

It's the little things every day that water those.

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