A Travellerspoint blog


My Junior High School Blog

Usually I have a big Christmas tree and many presents for Christmas - like this


but this year I only had a very small tree and three presents


Two of the presents were books (very similar as well - people know I like monsters!)



I also had some 'traditional' Japanese style Christmas cakes :-)


For me Christmas was more about travelling, and on the 26th we went to Hiroshima by Shinkansen.

Hiroshima is a places that everybody knows because of its sad historyI wanted to see it to understand that history better. The most famous feature and ‘symbol’ of Hiroshima is the A-bomb Dome that stands by the river.


The peace park around the dome has many other memorials to that day, but dome is always the main focus with park planned to always show it framed in new and unexpected ways.


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Another interesting memorial though is the one dedicated to Sadako Sasaki.


Her memorial is surrounded by display cases filled with paper cranes sent to Hiroshima from all around the world, many from school children who are learning about what happened there.



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Those last cranes are some of the ones folded by Sadako herself from her hospital bed, and they can be seen in the Peace Memorial Museum in the park.


The collection is a mix of historical documentation leading up to the bombing, models of the city before and after the blast. Artifacts found in the aftermath and preserved, the most affecting of which for me were the watches and clocks; all stopped at 8.15 when the bomb dropped.






Leaving the museum it’s good to be reminded that Hiroshima is now, once again, a city full of life. Even the trees blackened by the blast now put out new leaves in spring, and while it’s important not to forget some things, it’s also good not to think about them too hard.


So, needing something a little lighter to finish the day, we were pleased to see that the town still had its Christmas illuminations in place; giving us a nice way to spend a wintery evening.




Posted by DKJM74 00:11 Comments (0)


Christmas Cards and Manga Museum Trip - My Junior High School Blog

Firstly, I want to say thank you to all of the students who made Christmas cards for me!

They were beautiful and I was very happy to get them all and I think you worked very hard on them. Again, thank you very much!!


Another great thing about getting all these cards was that I also had a really nice conversation about drawing and art work with some of my 3rd year students. They also told me about the Manga Museum in Kyoto, it sounded very interesting and we thought it would be fun to visit.
I asked Kyoto Sensei if it would be OK to visit the Manga Museum with some students and he said it was OK if the student’s parents agreed.

So on December 19th Muro Sensei and I took three 3rd year students to Kyoto by train.


On the way we also met Peter Sensei from Shinasahi who was going to Osaka for Christmas shopping. The students enjoyed speaking English with Peter and they introduced themselves and spoke about music together.


When we got to Kyoto it was easy to find the ‘Manga Museum’ as there were big signs at the station.


The Museum was not what I expected – I thought there would be many exhibitions of art work and classic comics, but it was like a big library with many, many Manga on book shelves for people to read. Photographs were not allowed in the museum – except for ONE place!


For me the most interesting thing was the chance to see a ‘Kamishibai’ (かみしばい) show. The woman giving the show was very friendly and funny, and let us take a photo there as well – thank you!



After we finished looking at the Museum it was time to go for lunch, but on the way to find a place to eat we saw a very nice small shrine. So we stopped there and had a look at that too.



We were all very hungry then, so it was time for lunch.



We still had a little time to look around the shops around Terramachi Dori, but soon it was time to go back to Imazu. We took the subway to the train station, just in time for the train to Imazu.



It was a really fun day, and I was very happy to spend more time with some of my students and learn more about them; their hobbies (Mai has a black belt at Karate!), their pets (Mika showed me photos of her rabbit – かわいい!) and their music taste (Mayuka likes visual rock bands).

Maybe next year, when it is warmer, I will plan another ‘English fun trip!’ – If any students are interested please talk to me about this!!

Posted by DKJM74 22:51 Comments (0)


Marine life, mountains, Momiji and Miho - My Junior High School Blog

November was a very busy month, with lots of travelling. My biggest trip in November was a trip to Osaka to visit the Kaiyukan and Sky Building.

I love all kinds of animals and nice zoos or aquariums are some of my favourite places to visit. Kaiyukan was my first Japanese aquarium and I was very impressed. There is a great collection of many things; not just fish!







I saw otters, penguins, dolphins, crocodiles and seals as well. The tanks were really HUGE with a lot of space inside. The biggest tank was so big it was several floors deep. This is where they keep the Whale Sharks; the biggest fish in the ocean (anything bigger is NOT a fish). They have two Whale Sharks both about 12m long, I was very excited to see them as I had never seem them before.

In the evening I went back to the Sky Building to see the night view of Osaka with all the lights.


Now it was late in November and the leaves on the trees were turning red so it was a good time to go looking or Momiji. My friends Connie and Bonnie also had the same idea and invited me to join them on a trip to Mt. Hiei the next weekend.

Around the bottom of the mountain there were some very nice red leaves on the trees, and some wild monkeys!! After visiting the monkey park in Kyoto because I couldn’t see any monkeys in other places, at MT. Hiei I saw a whole family of monkeys walking on the overhead cables.



From the bottom of the mountain we took a cable car and a rope way to the top of the mountain. The weather was quite cloudy and a bit rainy, but the views were still really beautiful.


At the top of the mountain is the Garden Museum which I visited in August. We didn’t go into the Museum, but we stopped at the viewing platform outside. It looked totally different today with the low clouds and sunbeams breaking through; very pretty.




We took a long walk all the way down the mountain back into the town. On the way we saw a big deer watching us from the trees, and we found an old empty ski resort. By the time we got to the bottom of the mountain again it was really dark!!




The next weekend I got another invitation from a friend to visit another mountain with Momiji and a museum at the top.

This time it was the Miho Museum, on the other side of the lake, and it was Leila’s plan. Miho is a private museum, built by a very rich couple, in a difficult to reach place high in the mountains. The building itself is maybe more interesting than the things in the museum; it is a very modern building, made with lots of glass and metal, nicely built into the landscape.


The best part though is the huge entrance tunnel cut into the mountain that looks like something from a science fiction film; all metallic and shining in gold and silver.




This was the end of November now, and the cold weather was coming in. The last few red leaves were on the trees, but this was the end of my first Momiji season.


Posted by DKJM74 20:42 Comments (0)


Yabusame and Monkeys - My Junior High School Blog

One great thing about Japan is all the festivals. Almost every month there are holidays and festivals. In November the 3rd was a holiday, and there was a Yabusame festival at Oomijingo Temple on the same day. Yabusame is the old warrior art of shooting from a moving horse. I have tried many adventure sports in my life, so I have tried both archery and horse riding. The idea of a sport that combined the two sounded very exciting to me. So I called a friend and we agreed to go together.

When we arrived the event had not started yet, so we could meet the horses in their Yabusame ‘costumes’.


When it started the Yabusame was very interesting. The riders went very fast and the targets they were shooting at got smaller and smaller so they needed a lot of skill to hit them.


After the Yabusame had finished we met the archers and also took a quick look around the Oomijingo Temple too.



I was surprised that the weather was still so warm and nice even though it was now November, and I wanted to do some more trip before it go too cold. So the next weekend I went to Arashiyama near Kyoto. What I really wanted to see were monkeys!

When I first arrived in Shiga I saw road signs with pictures of monkeys on them, but I had not seen a real monkey yet. I knew that there was a monkey park at Arashiyama, but I didn’t know that Arashiyama is such a nice place. The mountains, the river with all the boats, the bamboo groves; they all make it a wonderful place.




Still the most important thing was monkeys! So it was time to go to ‘Monkey Mountain’.


And I wasn’t disappointed – there were a lot of monkeys!!




I particularly liked the feeding station, where the people had to go inside to feed the monkeys who were all free outside, it was a nice change for the people to be in the cage instead of the animals.



After leaving Arashiyama I took a bit of time to look at the Christmas decorations in Kyoto too.


All the decorations reminded me that it was almost Christmas – being in Japan I hadn’t thought about Christmas much and I still had to buy presents for my family!!

I'd also like to wish all my readers a BIG - MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Posted by DKJM74 23:33 Comments (0)


My Junior High School Blog

The beginning of October was a very busy time in Imazu Junior High School. All the students were working very hard to prepare or the School Culture Festival (ぶんかさい). They practiced singing, made artwork and rehearsed their plays every day. I was very impressed.


This was my first ぶんかさい and I was very excited. The festival lasted for 2 days and I took many photographs of the different activities. Most of all I liked the students’ artwork and the plays performed by the students. Everybody did a great job.


The ぶんかさい was great fun and everybody had a good time. Thank you everybody for your hard work!

The day after the ぶんかさい I went hiking with my friend Leila. We took the train to Takashima, and the bus to the Gulliver Village and walked the path by the river there.


It was a nice day and the waterfall was beautiful, it had rained a lot a few days before this and there was a lot of water in the river.

We stopped at the top of the falls for lunch


and then hiked back down taking some nice pictures on the way.


The next weekend was Otsu Matsuri. I went to a matsuri in Takayama before and really enjoyed it. Traditional Japanese culture is very interesting for me, so I was happy to go to another matsuri. Japanese festivals are so lively with all the colours and music – but most of all I like the puppet shows on the festival floats.


As well as the parade there were many stalls with food, drink and games. I was very surprised to see people playing a game where they tried to catch baby turtles on a paper scoop.


The next big school event in October was the Inter School Sports Day on the 16th. Students from all the schools in Takashima visited each other to compete in various competitions. I was free to visit any school I wanted and watch any of the competitions; so I watched volleyball, table tennis, soft ball and kendo.

There was great weather for the soft ball game and I was very pleased with some of the photos I took there. I’m not a big sports fan so I don’t usually photograph sports, but this was fun.


I also got some nice action photos of students training Kendo with the teachers.


The Imazu Junior High Kendo team also won a prize which was great.


After the events finished I decided to walk back to Imazu from Shinasahi. Sometimes I really like to walk through the smaller streets of the towns here – for me there are many interesting and surprising things to see. Autumn is also my favourite season when it’s warm and dry!!


Of course for many English people the most important date in October is the 31st – Halloween! Going out on Halloween is always a lot of fun, it’s a great time to dress up and wear a strange costume and enjoy a party. The best Halloween costumes are always the horror costumes so I decided to make a vampire costume this year.

I wanted to wear a shirt with rips and blood on it, and Kyoto Sensei very kindly gave me some old shirts to use for my costume. I did a lot of experiments and was very pleased with the final result.


I decided that the best place to spend Halloween was Osaka. It is such a big lively city, something interesting is always happening there – for example street wrestling! I don’t know why these people were wrestling in the street, but it was very entertaining!!


I was right that Osaka was a great place for Halloween as well; there were many people out on the streets in great costumes. I saw some of the best Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen there.


I spent a long time on the streets just meeting people chatting to them and taking pictures, and then I went to a place with great music and danced all night. When I went to bed that night October had finished and it was November already!!

Posted by DKJM74 16:40 Comments (0)

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