sights seen

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Like any responsible tourist, I did my fair share of sight seeing while I was in Matsushima.
These are my crappy tourist shots.
(Kent, I hope you never see this. If you do, you have every right to be disappointed in me. When I get in tourist mode, it's like I forget everything I ever learned in photo. I have no one to blame but myself.)

Sassy Statue

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If only this statue could talk. I'm sure we'd become the best of friends.
Him (her?) with his sarcasm, and me with my lameness to provide him with all the material he needs to tease me.

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aaaaand. . . MORE CAVES!!!

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The caves were my favorite tourist attraction. The monks dug these into the rock to make small areas to meditate in. In reminded me of being a kid hiding in a closet, or building a fort to be alone with my thoughts. There's something that feels good about being in a small place all to yourself.

This minivan must belong to the toughest soccer mom ever.
I bet they win all their games, and that she gives them lemon wedges instead of oranges and tells them to just deal with it.
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This, is a pond.
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Which was next to this rock garden.
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Which is where I saw this tree.
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I felt sorry for this poor, unfortunate tree. I wonder what happened to it that made it end up in a full body cast on crutches.

One of many bridges over the bay

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And this is me, in front of a bridge over the bay.
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I know, I'm not a tourist attraction (YET. . . one can always hope. . .) But maybe you miss my face as much as I miss yours. Well, just in case, there you have it.


mmmmmmmatsushima. . .

This blog is strictly for the viewing pleasure of Miss Stacy Michelson.
It has nothing in it but pictures of food (and the places the food was eaten)

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best breakfast ever

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I started my first full day in Matsushima, with a hot bowl of macha and warm fresh mochi.
And what better place to have traditional green tea than in the largest Momoyama-style tea house in Japan, with this view. . .

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A $40 lunch, that was worth every last yen

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I never pass up the opportunity to treat myself to temple food.
Shojin Ryori is strict vegetarian cooking, that doesn't use any animal products
(nor does is use onions or garlic because their flavor is "too strong")

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The first course came in this magical box that opened to show the food hidden inside.

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This is a hazelnut dipped in nuts, with a cooked carrot, cut into the shape of a leaf.

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There were gold flakes on the beans. I'm pretty sure they weren't poisonous, because I ate them and I'm still alive.

The lady that brought me each course announced her arrival before entering the room. . .

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Then she kneeled down, placed the food in front of me, and explained each dish. . .

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Too bad I didn't understand what she was saying.

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After I had finished eating, they sent in the "English Speaking Lady". She was amazing. We had a nice little chat about vegetarian food, tourists and typhoons.

mm, mm, mmmm! mmmatsushima!

For Erik

I forget, do we have Hello Kitty scooters in the States?
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Just in case we don't, I thought you might appreciate a photo of one.


Ah, Matsushima!

The Haiku poet, Matsuo Basho visited Matsushima in 1689.
It is said that it's beauty left him with nothing more to say than:

Matsushima ah, Matsushima!
Ah, Matsushima, ah!
Matsushima, ah!

Don't I look chipper for it being 5:30 in the morning?
Thank God for coffee (and thank Kristin for giving me a fresh bag of it to take back to Japan.)

Consider yourself forewarned, I took this trip by myself. So, there will be nothing but crappy landscape photos and lame pictures of myself in the blog that lies ahead. Don't waste your time if that sounds as boring to you as it does to me. I won't be offended, because I'll probably never know.

I took the train all the way to Honshiogama, where I hopped on the ferry to Matsushima Bay.

The boat I took did NOT look like this. . .

Or this. . .

Oooooor this. . .

Nope, nope. Just a regular old boat for me. The inside of it looked like this. . .

The couple sitting in front of me entertained themselves during the trip by feeding the birds. As a result, the birds flew along with us the whole time. There were moments I could have reached out and grabbed one of them, if I was that sort of girl.

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Here are some of the more famous islands that the pre-recorded tour lady announced over the loudspeaker. . .

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This one is supposed to look like a turtle. . .

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This one is supposed to look like a man wearing a hat, with a cigarette in his mouth. . .

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This one looks neat. . .

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This one is my favorite, although I forgot what it is supposed to look like. To me, it looks like the little island is saying "hello" to the bigger island. . .

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well HELLO, mr. island.

Matsushima Bay, (matsu = pine, and shima = island) is famous for its 260 pine covered islands. It's also ranked as having one of "Japan's Three Greatest Views"
I just realized that I have far too many photos for one blog entry.
You and I both need a rest, so let's take a little break.

Until next time. . .

Aaaaaaaah Matsushima!

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All in a day's work

Welcome to Showa Koko's School Festival

The kids have been planning and preparing for this year's school festival all summer. For the school festival, each home room does "something". That can be anything from setting up a restaurant. . .

to making a giant genie.

The day started off with each class performing their own choreographed "dance". Each of the students has to participate, which makes for a rather "interesting" (and LONG) show.
Every class has a "theme" of some kind, but more often than not, the connections between that theme, their dance, and what their class does is pretty loose.

Personally, my favorite part of the school festival are the haunted houses. Let me tell you, you haven't been in a haunted house, until you've been in one that was made by a bunch of Japanese kids, and you've walked through it with a group of screaming Japanese high school girls. I thought I was going to loose my clothing, if not my mind, by the time I got out of there. The girls were clinging to me for dear life, and screaming at the top of their lungs, in Japanese.
Please note the boy in pink. He did an EXCELLENT job freaking out all of the girls before we even got into the Horror House. (For those who have read my blogs in the past, he's also the boy who cried while watching a Doraiman cartoon on the bus. Needless to say, I love this kid.)

We waited for over an hour to go into the "Horror House"

The kids, the kids, the kids

These two girls are angels. The personality of the one on the right, reminds me of my cousin Brianne. It's really hard for me not to hug her every day after class.

These two boys are a riot. The one on the left is a first year student. He speaks English REALLY! LOUDLY! AND! ABRUPTLY! He also seems to be most comfortable standing really close to you and yelling into your face. He kind of freaks me out, but I admire his effort.
Coincidentally, both of these boys are excellent break dancers.

The boy on the right is ADORABLE. But, I suppose you can see that for yourselves. He is the student who, when asked last semester, "What is your favorite thing to do, and why?" answered, "My favorite thing is eating rice because it is delicious, I like rice, and white."

This boy is a nut.
He'll do anything for attention (a trait which I generally find irritating)
Nevertheless, he's also probably one of my favorite students from last year.

Days like these, I love my job.
Can you blame me?


Home Sweet Home

This is for you Dustin.
Mi casa es su casa.
Haite kudasai!
Please take your shoes off and watch your step.

Welcome to my "tetami" room, where tea can be drank, movies can be watched, English is taught and my bed is just three steps away.

Speaking of my bedroom. . .

My bed looks huge because it IS.

Here, let me give you a little perspective on just how big it is.

The photo above, is where I am seated this very moment (and most other moments when I'm at home). And to the right we have my wardrobe. Please take note of the book that is keeping it level. At first, I thought the girl that had lived here before me had just left it there and forgot about it. I went to pick it up and realized that there was a REASON that the dusty book was on the floor.

And here we have my kitchen.

I have all the essentials, toaster oven, rice cooker, blender,
fridge, "stove" and the thing that looks like a microwave is actually an oven.
Look closely, and maybe you'll see a photo of yourself on my fridge. If you don't, perhaps you should send me one so I can put it there.

That's right.
Four separate trash areas
(one of which is later sorted into three different types).
Please look at how nicely sorted and neatly bound all my paper trash is. Do I know how to dispose of waste or what?

And what kitchen would be complete without a washing machine?

Go ahead, take a peek inside.
I know you want to.

No handy dandy turning thing!
It's a miracle that my clothes ever get clean.

Last, but not least, we have the bathroom(s).

The shower is a room all in itself, but I don't treat it that way.
I still shower the "western" way (Standing in the bathtub, rather than in the middle of the shower room.)

Some of you may be disappointed to discover, that my toilet is totally normal. That is, except for the fact that it has a sink coming out of the top of it. I think you're supposed to wash your hands in it when you're done (When you flush the toilet, water automatically begins coming out of the little spout.) But, if you ask me, washing your hands in toilet water kind of defeats the purpose.

Thanks for stopping by,
feel free to visit any time.

We all know that I have room for at least four extra people,
and that's just in that bed of mine.