Overview: November (Taiko drumming!)

Now for November!

November bought about mild, but chilly weather. My apartment is pretty small, but I found it getting hard to heat it! Some mornings, I would wake up and see my own breath, which made getting out of bed so difficult… :'( Putting on clothes was even more difficult, and there were a few mornings where I would silently scream as I put my ice cold clothes on. When it was really bad, I would warm the clothes in bed with me, or use a hairdryer to warm them up a bit!!

To try to make my apartment a little more bearable, I put bubble wrap on all my windows, and tried to stick to only one room in my apartment to conserve energy and heat. My kotatsu also came in handy, because I was able to stay warm underneath it which was great! However, I do miss carpets and heating that goes throughout the entire house… I have an air conditioning/heating unit in my living room, but that’s it for heating. :( I have been thinking about a small electric heater but I made it through one winter so I might be fine for the next… ?!

Anyway, first day of November kicked off with our first opportunity to perform with our Taiko group!  We performed in my town’s cultural festival! There were different performances inside the auditorium before we came on, like a children’s dancing group. When we came on, I was definitely extremely nervous.  The three of us messed up a multiple points, but the group was nice and encouraging, and told us we would get better! So kind!

Here are some pictures taken by our friends, who kindly came to watch and support us:

The first song our group performed! (We didn’t play this one, but look how awesome everybody is. :’) )
In between our first and second song, we got to introduce ourselves on stage! :D I somehow fumbled through a Japanese self introduction ahhhhh–!
Action shot!
The group after the performance! :D
Post-performance shoot of the foreigners! :D
And some selfies of course!
And here is a video of our first Taiko performance! It is 9 minutes long, but you can skip around! We are in all of it. :) It starts off with Justin getting interviewed in Japanese, then we play one song, after which Ashley and I say our self introductions. Then, we play our next song! Let me know if you can spot the errors! :P
It was a lot of fun!!! The members of the group are really great and they make it a lot of fun to learn Taiko drumming. I never thought I would do anything like this when I came here (and had no idea what Taiko was before we saw their performance and Justin asked to join), so it feels a little surreal! I would say this is a great example that sometimes some amazing things can happen just by reaching out and grabbing opportunities. They might not always come at the right time, but planning and hoping for things to happen can only get you so far in my opinion. It’s super hard to let go but when I am lucky enough have those periods of time where I can just lean back and let life continue on it is very liberating!
Anyway, Tuesday the 3rd was a holiday, on which my students from my visiting school’s English club had an English skit competition in Tsu! My students wrote and acted out a skit about communication and talking with your friends and family, which they did very well in! :) I also saw Ashley there with her school’s English club, and got to watch different English clubs put on their skits. It was a lot of fun, and even though my student’s didn’t place, I was still proud of them! This was the last big competition for the second years so there were a few moments where I felt a little sad but it was ok. :)

The next Sunday we had another Taiko performance, this time at a hospital! It was an exciting chance to practice performing again and get performance jitters out of the way!

Friday the 13th (just realized, ahhhh!!) I was invited to go with the third year students to Osaka, on their class trip to USJ (Universal Studios Japan)! We left our school in the morning and took a bus for two hours, and then had a few hours to enjoy USJ. I stuck with my coworkers, who split off from the students once they got to the park, and we had lunch at this Irish food place.  Then we headed over to the Harry Potter section of the park, where we walked around, visited Olivander’s, took some pictures, and then left for the buses. The students seemed to have a lot of fun on the bus, which included bingo and some amazing karaoke! After USJ the teachers gathered to have some beers at a place in Yokkaichi, which I joined in for!

Entering USJ following tonds of students on field trips!
Christmas decorations! :D
Had Shepard’s Pie for the first time in my life, ironically in Japan. It was interesting!
About to enter, AHHH!!

Beautiful, beautiful Hogsmeade!!!
Inside the Olivander’s Experience. We waited on line for 20 minutes to get in. They brought us in in little groups and we would stand in this dark room, waiting… and then this caucasian man who spoke with an English accent that may or may not have been fake (pretty sure it was fake) dressed like Olivander complete with long wispy hair (that I think was his real hair!!) spoke lines very similar to the ones in the movie during Harry’s wand purchase. This Olivander even chose his own “Harry” and went through a few wands, with some tricks, to find the right one. It was cute!!
Wands on wands on wands! After you exit the experience you enter the wand shop.

Me with two very nice teachers at my school that I spent most of the day with! :) I had a great time at USJ because of them! Our trip was short but sweet, and soon we were back on the bus heading home.

On the 19th I was observed by other teachers, which was a little scary but they all said very nice things. :) And on the 24th my friend Nasreen and I were invited to celebrate a few people’s birthdays by the band, Chummy! :D They invited us to a bar that they reserved and we had hot pot and other delicious food with them. It was very kind! They made us sing some karaoke, they jammed with their band, and we got to listen to an instrument called a shamisen, which is a three string instrument that you strum with big pick. I thought I got a picture but I guess I didn’t!

The guitarists in the room playing together.
The guy from Chummy, Nasreen, and I!

And finally, on the 28th, I was able to attend a marathon race with teachers from my base school, and saw teachers from my visiting school there as well! Even Justin was there with his school (he was running, but I was just watching and cheering).

And now, as in all my overviews, here are random pictures from the month!

I bought a cover and rug for my Kotatsu, and look how beautiful it looks! On cold days I would curl up under the covers and turn the heater on and stay so warm!
My cozy apartment! :’)
Ashley and I went to a restaurant in which the menu was plastered onto the walls in handwritten Japanese that our Google translate app couldn’t read… so we ended up eating a ton of tempura since we could read the symbol for tempura and not much else.
I found a foreign food store that had POLISH PICKLES!! So I bought a jar and have been snacking on them ever since. Most expensive jar of pickers ever but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
Above is a shot of nato in sushi form, nato being a sort of fermented bean mixture that is popular in Japan. It is very polarizing and some Japanese people love it, some hate it. Justin and I tried it and… well… I will probably never eat it again. This is something that even if I were trying to be polite, I don’t know that I could do it. I did eat and swallow it whole though, unlike Justin, who ended up having to try to cover his plate in shame. Try it for yourself though! You might love it!! I know of quite a few foreigners who do!
Beautiful mountains on a super clear day!
Went to a Danish cafe in our town on Nov. 15th! They had a lot of cute food! This is tandori chicken on top, then on the right there is a cafe mocha or something, and a pumpkin soup on the bottom.
And then we had this cutie for dessert! Chocolate filled porcupine! :)
This was me cooking at home. I believe this was mushroom, eggplant, pesto cream pasta!

Below are a few shots of a reservoir I found near my apartment while out on a bike ride! It is about a 20 minute bike ride from my house and a really nice place for reflecting and getting away from everything. I need to find more places like this!

A stop on the bike ride!
The reservoir.
I had to off-road it for some parts of the trail around the reservoir, and while I was walking my bike here, at other points I had to hoist my bike up and carry it on my shoulder because the mud was too deep for my tires to handle.
A shot under Justin’s kotatsu while we were having a curry night with our friends.
This is a plate from a bakery that is a 2 minute walk from my house! I go here so often that I collected 5 promotional cards and was able to trade them for this plate!
My mom sent me a box of things, including pain killers, a hat, Polish treats, and American sweets!! Almost cried when I opened this! :’)
Made Polish tomato soup and grilled cheese at home! So proud of myself!

So that is about it for November! Until next time! :)



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