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Winter Memories

Read about my winter holiday with my parents in Japan!
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My Brother Visits Japan!

My brother and I take on Tokyo!
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JET: Predecessors!

See my tips for getting in touch.
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JET: Acceptance!

The moment I'd been waiting for...
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JET: Applications and Form Filling

Where it all started, one year ago.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

February/March 2015 Snow Trips: Zao Onsen in Yamagata and Numajiri in Fukushima!

Hello everyone!

Sometimes when I have some free time I feel like writing on my blog, but I'm not always sure what to write about. I have a lot of things I want to share about Japan and my life here, but I'm not always sure that other people are interested in them, and sometimes, although they're things I'm interested in, I'm not sure what points to write about. Today was one of those days. So, instead of giving up on writing anything, I decided to take a look through my photos and see if there was a trip I could write about. I quickly came across photos from two trips I took at the beginning of this year, in February and early March, to two different mountains for skiing and snowboarding. I had a really great time going to these places, so I definitely want to share about them!

Before coming to Japan, I had very little experience of snow, let alone skiing and snowboarding. Although skiing and snowboarding is kind of popular in New Zealand, it's also a bit expensive. I knew nothing about either of them, but when the chance to try it came up, I really started looking forward to it!

A view down the mountain from the gondola.
The first trip I went on was to Zao Onsen in Yamagata in February. Me and some other Tochigi JETs did a road trip up there, which was really fun! Zao Onsen is pretty famous and popular, and with good reason! There are loads of different courses, so it was fine for a beginner like me. We went to a rental shop right near the entrance to one of the fields and the people there were really lovely about helping us out. We got all our supplies and hit the slopes! I spent some time at the bottom trying to learn to ski first. Luckily my friends were really helpful, and good teachers. Eventually I went up on the chairlift (trying to contain my immense fear of heights the whole time, heeeeyyyy) and spent forever trying to get back down. I had a lot of fun, but skiing was pretty hard for me, hahaha. I think I did about two or three runs. The weather was really good that day so it wasn't even very cold, and I had a great day! That night I joined a dinner party with a bunch of JETs from all different prefectures, which was also nice.

The next day, we decided to check out the famous Zao Onsen "ice monsters".  These are evergreen trees covered with thick layers of snow and ice. There are hundreds of them to be seen at the top of the mountain, which makes for a truly impressive sight. You take a gondola up to the top of the mountain to see them - but be aware the line for the gondola can be very long! Stock up on a hot drink or two before you line up. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you can walk around as you please to explore the ice monsters. If you're kind of crazy like us, you can even climb even further up the mountain for some breathtaking views.

This guy even had a face kindly made by someone!

I am terrible at posing for these kind of photos, I don't know why I keep trying.

It's a little hard to see, but we were 1735 metres high at the top!

I look extremely confused here, but I'm just squinting from the light, hahaha!
Well, after a couple of days exploring Zao Onsen and trying my hand (legs?) at skiing, it was time to road trip it back to Tochigi. I had such a nice time up there, and I hope to go back next year!

Numajiri wins out on the adorable yuru-chara front.
Two weeks later, I went on another snow trip. This time, I headed with a few JET friends and other Tochigi ALTs to Numajiri in Fukushima. Numajiri is the oldest operating ski field in Japan, and this year was its 100-year anniversary! This time, I decided to try snowboarding. Like last time, I spent an hour or more at the bottom of the mountain practicing on a gentle slope with some help from friends. At first, I thought snowboarding might be impossible for me - I tried just standing on a skateboard once, and I fell off in seconds, so I thought it might be similar. But I quickly found I liked snowboarding a lot more than skiing. Skis were such a hassle to get around with! Snowboarding seemed much more convenient. I didn't get especially good at it, I had some spectacular wipe outs, for sure (and don't even talk to me about trying to get off the chairlift...let's just say I ended up crawling) - but I still feel like I made more progress snowboarding than skiing. Plus, Numajiri has a curry shop halfway through one of the courses. So you snowboard a while, eat a curry, snowboard some more. Whoever thought of that is a genius. Actually that curry shop has probably been there since 1915 too. People back then knew what was important.

Yeeesssss meeting the mascots.

We stayed in this lovely house! The snow was piled up so high all around!
Anyway, those were my adventures in winter sports! I was really glad I got to try both skiing and snowboarding, and now that winter has started here in Japan again, I'm really hoping to hit the slopes again soon and try and improve my snowboarding. I'll be sure to post about it again if I do!

- Annabelle
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finding and Renting an Apartment/Flat in Japan

Hello all!

Long time no post. I know I keep saying I'll explain exactly what I'm up to re: life in Japan, and that post is coming, I promise! But for the moment it's a bit of a mess anyway, and today, while it's all still fresh in my mind, I'd like to write about finding and renting an apartment in Japan.

As I needed an apartment ASAP after I came back to Japan (a huge thank you to everyone who let me stay with them in the meantime, you guys have unlimited passes for the airbed at Chateau Annabelle), I started looking online for a new apartment while I was back in New Zealand. Actually, I like looking at houses in general, so it was quite fun for me to look at the photos of lots of different apartments and compare them.

Here are three good sites to use when it comes to looking for an apartment in Japan:

I found suumo the easiest to use, and it had a lot of listings for apartments in the town I was moving to. What I really liked about suumo was that they have a really big range of preferences/options you can choose from when you search.  You can choose things like the maximum rent you're willing to pay, what area you want to be in, how many rooms you want, if you want first story or not, if pets are allowed, and you can even put a limit on how old a building you want to look for. But there were two preferences which were really important to me: apartments with no deposit, and no key money. I've never moved into an apartment in New Zealand, so I don't have anything to compare with, but moving in Japan seems really expensive. You often have to pay a deposit of at least one month's rent (but sometimes more), and something called "key money". Key money is basically a non-refundable deposit (usually also equal to a month's rent, but it varies), apparently to "thank" the landlord for letting you rent the room. If you're thinking that's kind of bullshit - same here. So I exclusively looked for apartments without this requirement. In the end I still had to pay a ridiculous "cleaning fee" which basically seemed like a sneaky way of charging me key money, but whatever Japan. You do your thing.

I bookmarked a lot of apartments I was interested in on suumo, and then went back and double checked things like their specific location and so on. Lots of the listings have videos that the realtors have taken in the apartment which is also really helpful when narrowing down the list. In the end, I had three apartments I was very interested in. The next step was to check if each apartment would allow foreigners. In Japan, it's unfortunately common for realtors to reject foreigners as tenants, so there was no point in me asking any other questions about the apartments before I checked this out. Suumo is basically a site which brings together listings from smaller real estate businesses, so each of my three messages were forwarded to different realty companies. Of the three places I contacted, one said that foreigners were fine, one said only permanent foreign residents were fine (so, not me), and the other responded in a very polite and vague manner - so, Japanese for "no, go somewhere else".

So I really only had one option - luckily it was for the place I was most interested in. The realtor who responded to my initial question gave me his contact details, so from then on I was able to email him directly. We arranged a time for me to come to their real estate office, and they would take me to view the apartment. Even with my limited Japanese, it was quite easy to arrange all of this over email.

A few days after I arrived back in Japan, I went to the real estate office. The realtor I had been emailing met me and introduced himself. As well as talking to me about the apartment we were going to see, he asked where my new work was and showed me information on lots of other apartments in the area. In the end, I chose four apartments I wanted to go and visit. I felt like that was a lot, and I was hesitant about asking to see so many, but the realtor seemed happy to take me to them. Considering I had only been back in Japan for a couple of days after about two months back in NZ, my Japanese was even worse than usual, but he was incredibly helpful at explaining things to me simply. He drove me to the four apartments, and we spent about ten/fifteen minutes in each one looking around. They were all really nice places (especially compared to my old apartment), but I was able to rule two out straight away for being too small. That left me with two to decide between. I told the realtor I would take a day or two to think about it, and email him as soon as I decided. He told me when I could move in by (within a few days, basically) and very kindly drove me back to the train station.

Actually, I took more than a day to decide which apartment I liked. There were benefits to both the apartments I liked. One was newer, slightly cheaper, close to work, and in a nice quiet neighbourhood. The other was extremely cute (it matters to me!), and closer to conveniences like shops, restaurants, buses (local ones and a bus terminal with buses to Tokyo, Osaka, etc) and trains. In the end, I settled on the second option. It was actually the one I had been attracted to back in New Zealand, so I felt it was really right for me. I went back in a few days with a bilingual coworker from my new job, and the realtor went through the entire contract with me and my coworker helped explain. People from my company also kindly offered to be my guarantors (in case I don't pay my rent for some reason, they will be asked to pay), and an old coworker of mine agreed to be my emergency contact (if something happens to me, they will be told and can contact my family). If you're moving, you will have to think about these things too. Something that surprised me was that because my new apartment was a little far from Utsunomiya, if I were to ask someone who lived in Utsunomiya to be my guarantor, I actually needed two people to agree to be my guarantors. I had only arranged for one, so I ended up getting someone from my new company to be my guarantor instead, because they live in the same city as I was moving to. If you don't know anybody in Japan who can be your guarantor, there are actually companies who will act as a guarantor for you. You pay them a small fee each month for this service. As usual, Japan has thought of everything for you.

Moving day!!!
When it came to moving itself, I thought it would be easy and cheap enough - I was only moving about an hour away from my old home of Utsunomiya. I asked a Japanese friend of mine to call a moving company and get a quote for me. Their answer? ¥60,000 - ¥80,000 to move my bed, table, sofa, and some boxes of my stuff. That's insane. ¥80,000 is what companies were quoting me to ship all of my stuff back to New Zealand. So, no way. Friends told me I could definitely bargain with the moving companies, but I decided to go down a different road - exploiting my friendships here in Japan, instead ;) I put out a cry for help on Facebook, including a few Tochigi-wide Facebook groups, and luckily got lots of responses with offers of help from friends, acquaintances, and even total strangers! So a friend and I made a day of moving my ridiculous amount of stuff, in two trips. He was an amazing help and I am so grateful to him - thanks, Taichi! After moving, we went to a lovely onsen to recover. Even still, my legs were killing me the next day! Both my old apartment and my new one were second-story apartments, so I was running up and down stairs a lot.

I can highly recommend post-moving onsen. This one in Tochigi city was beautiful!
This has been a massive post, but I still have some final tips for anybody thinking about moving in Japan, and that's about what will be in your apartment when you first move in. That is to say, nothing. I really wanted to be in my own place when I finally had all my stuff there, so I decided to sleep there on the first night. The place had no lights (not even no lightbulbs, there were no light fixtures for the lightbulbs), no curtains, and definitely no fridge, stove, or washing machine. Luckily I'd been able to get the electricity turned on that day, but my gas and water were due to be turned on the next day. This is standard for apartments in Japan, so don't expect to move into a flat with all the amenities, the way you would in New Zealand, and I assume other western countries. You're going to have to buy those things yourself - it kind of sucks, but at least you can take them with you (or sell them on) when you leave. I had to live without a fridge/stove/washing machine for a while, but I have all those things now.

Overall, finding an apartment and moving was a pretty good experience. Everyone was really helpful, and I enjoyed getting to choose my own place and decide things myself this time, as opposed to when I first came here on JET and everything was already decided for me. It felt a lot more like being a proper adult, haha. Now, having been settled in for almost a month, I can say my new apartment was definitely the right choice! I love it so much, and so does everyone who has come to visit so far! I'm looking forward to making this place even more cosy, especially by decorating for the upcoming holiday season!

If you have any more questions about finding an apartment, moving, or anything mentioned in this post, be sure to comment below. I'll do my best to help!

- Annabelle.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Roadie to Rotovegas!

Hello again!

So, as some readers may or may not know, I've been back in New Zealand since late August (more on why and so on in another post). To make the most of my time back home with my friends, we decided to go on a wee trip to the city of Rotorua last weekend!

A view of Mount Ruapehu on the drive up.
Rotorua is a popular tourist destination for international and domestic tourists in New Zealand. The city is famed for its' geothermal activity, including many active geysers, hot mud pools, and natural hot springs. That accounts for the distinctive rotten egg smell constantly permeating the air of Rotorua. Luckily the smell isn't very strong in most places, and actually you stop really noticing it after a while. As well as that, Rotorua is also home to many other popular tourist activities, especially when it comes to adventure tourism (bungee jumping, zorbing, mountain biking etc), exploring nature, and learning about Maori culture.

Rotorua Museum, built in 1908, was originally a bath house which attracted many tourists.
Rotorua is only about a 6 hour drive from Wellington city, and there are quite a few places worth stopping at along the way, so it makes for a good road trip. Our group made a mandatory stop at a honey shop for fresh honey ice cream. ^^

After arriving in the city and eating dinner in the city centres' "Eat Streat", we decided to visit Polynesian Spa for some hot spring action. It's fair to say I've become a big fan of relaxing in hot springs, so I was really looking forward to doing this in Rotorua. Polynesian Spa lies on the edge of Lake Rotorua, so you can look out over the beautiful lake whilst soaking in the wonderful natural minerals of the hot pools. Polynesian Spa has plenty of different types of bathing areas, including a family area, adult only area, and also private and luxury pools. My friends and I tried the adults only bathing. It was a very peaceful area and there were different pools to try, which was great. By the time we finished (well, actually, we only left because they were closing) I felt totally refreshed. It was a great first night on our trip!

Just one of the many lovely pools at Polynesian Spa.
The next day, we visited a farmer's market in the morning to get something for breakfast. We walked back through a park which had lots of bubbling mud pools and steaming mineral pools. Next, we dropped two of our friends off at the start of the Tarawera Trail, a tramp near Lake Tarawera, ending at a part of the lake with naturally hot water. It sounded like a great tramp! I hope I can go on it someday when I'm more fit ^^; The rest of us decided to hang out around the city. We visited the Government Gardens, which were really beautiful with loads of blooming tulips, and got lunch and played some minigolf. After picking up our friends, we went back to the motel we were staying at to check out the natural mineral bath they had. We relaxed in there, then swam in the pool when we got too hot. That night we had another delicious dinner on Eat Streat, and chilled back at the motel with a wine.

There were a lot of these signs in the park! Thermal areas are all fenced off for safety.
Steam is constantly rising from different parts of the park.

At the beginning of the hike my friends went on.
Flowers at the government gardens.
Dinner with the girls <3
The next morning was sadly the day we had to leave. Before check out, we made time to do mud masks together. Rotorua's geothermal mud is meant to be very good for your skin, and I had actually tried a mud mask from Rotorua that someone gave to me a few years ago. I remembered that it felt really good, so I wanted to do it again. We bought some mud from the Polynesian Spa gift shop, and all tried it. The mud dries on your face so that it becomes really hard to smile or make any expression, haha. It feels good, you just need to make sure you have some moisturiser on hand after you take it off, or your skin will feel very dry! My skin is in really bad condition at the moment but I think this helped, it felt nice afterwards.

#mudmask #nomakeupselfie #cantmovemyface #hashtag
Finally, that morning we went to one of the best places on our trip: Kerosene Creek. I'd visited it before, but that was about seven years ago now, so I didn't remember how wonderful it is. Kerosene Creek is about half an hour away from central Rotorua. It is a naturally warm creek, featuring a small waterfall, that runs through some beautiful bush. The water is a perfect temperature for bathing, not too hot so that you feel overheated or exhausted, and not too cool that you want to get out...ever. The surroundings are so lovely, with sunlight pouring through the green leaves, and the gentle sound of the waterfall and running water. I can't really do it justice through words, so luckily we took some photos.

Kerosene Creek is a public place, so anyone can visit any time. There were only two other people when we arrived in the morning, but by the time we left (after midday), it was getting busier. I'd recommend visiting in the morning if you want some time to yourself.

Well, with that, it was time to start seriously heading home. We stopped in Taupo for lunch, but apart from that it was a straight trip back with some good tunes and banter. I had a great time away, and I'm so happy I got to spend a lot of time and have a lot of laughs with my friends. Thanks everyone!

- Annabelle
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oya Mine & Giant Kannon + Vlog!

Hello everyone!

Today I'd like to share about a really cool place I visited near Utsunomiya, Tochigi: Oya mine and Oya's giant Kannon statue! I realised I went there almost one year ago, but I never wrote a post about it.

The entrance to the mine. There's a whole different world underneath here!

I'd heard a little about Oya mine, as it's a recommended tourist destination for people who come to Utsunomiya. What's more, the stone taken from the mine is featured in a lot of interesting buildings all over Tochigi, so sometimes when I visited an interesting place, people would tell me how it was built of Oya stone. One public holiday, I didn't have many plans, so I decided to try and bike there with a few friends. The bike ride from downtown Utsunomiya to Oya mine wasn't too difficult, especially because we stopped at a lovely Italian restaurant along the way! I think the chef there was a little surprised to see four foreigners kind of in the middle of nowhere, but he was very friendly. He told us how he had worked as a chef in Italy, and the pizza he cooked was really delicious.

You come down these stairs (and more) to enter the mine.
The huge underground caverns.

You have to pay a small entrance fee to go down into the mine. As you descend deeper and deeper into the mine, the temperature gets colder and colder, so if you're going in winter, be sure to bring some warm clothes. It was a warm day when we went, so the cooler air was quite refreshing. The mine is really breathtaking. The underground space is immense, and there's a lot of dramatic lighting and some atmospheric music playing softly in the background. I can't really say that there's anything down there, but somehow, exploring the vast empty spaces was really interesting. Walking around in the dark, running my hands along the textured stone walls, hearing the occasional drip of water, I sometimes felt a little bit like a character in a video game! We took our time to fully explore the mine. 

There are a lot of nice products made from Oya stone in the gift shop.
After coming back to the surface, we spent a little time in the gift shop and mine museum. There was no information in English, but there were a lot of photos showing the history of the mine, as well as some old tools on display, and some interesting and beautiful products made with Oya stone. I found out that many musicians have performed at the mine. I could just imagine what a wonderful place it would be to see your favourite artist - the concert would feel so dramatic. At the time I wondered what it would really look like. Well, coincidentally, the band I recently became a big fan of, DaizyStripper, filmed the music video for one of their recent singles there. You can see them playing in the mine, and the effect is really cool! Here's the video:

I also watched the "making of" for this video, and the band members kept commenting on how freezing it felt down in the mine. The temperature down there really is very different from the outside temperature!

I got this picture by climbing the stairs to the top. The Kannon's face looks so peaceful.
 After visiting the mine, we decided to visit the nearby Kannon statue. Kannon is a Buddhist deity of mercy. This giant Kannon statue is really impressive. You can climb stairs to get to the top of the statue and enjoy a nice view of the surrounding area, too. As the Kannon statue is very close to the mine, I think it's really worth checking out both at the same time!

A view of Oya temple from the top of the Kannon statue. There are some really interesting cliffs around there.

There is also a very old temple nearby, Oya temple. This temple has some of Japan's oldest stone carvings inside. My friends and I have visited a lot of temples, so to be honest we didn't feel like looking inside. But if I went back again I'd visit all three things in one day, as they're very conveniently close to one another. I really recommend a trip to Oya, especially if you'd like a peaceful day away from the city. The surrounding area is really beautiful, with some lovely mountains covered in trees. It's easy to bike there, even on regular mamacharis, but you can also catch a bus in the direction of the mine from Utsunomiya station.

I took a short vlog during my trip to Oya mine. To be honest, my camera didn't work too well in the darkness of the mine, and my hands were very shaky that day, but I put it to some music anyway, and tried to cut out any parts that were too dark or boring ^^; I feel like through video, you can get more of a sense of the size of the mine, and see some of the museum, so you still might enjoy watching it!

- Anna
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Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 Summer Vacation: Kansai + Okinawa!

Happy summer, northern-hemisphere-dwellers!

Last summer, I took a well-needed trip back to New Zealand to see my family and friends. My mum and I went on a really fun trip to Napier to visit some relatives and enjoy the great weather up there. It was so much fun!

I've spent summer this year here in Japan. After being away for it last year, it was a bit tough adjusting to the sudden, intense heat. When I first came to Japan, I was really surprised to learn how hot and humid it gets here in summer. In the height of summer, it's not so unusual for the temperature to hit 36 degrees, with 80% + humidity. On top of that, schools are notoriously conservative with their air conditioning units, so there were more than a few days spent sitting panting at my desk. On a serious note, if you are working or travelling in Japan in the summer, please take care to drink plenty of fluids! Heat stroke is a serious danger here, and a number of people die due to it every summer in Japan. Water is a must, but there are also some good sports-type drinks like Aquarius, Pocari Sweat and Dakara which are good for replenishing electrolytes.

Okay, lecture over! So, what did I get up to this summer? Well, first of all I went down to the Kansai region to visit my good friend Briar. We were Wellington JETs who came to Japan at the same time two years ago. I took a night bus to Kyoto to meet her, where we spent the day hanging out and catching up before heading to her home in Shiga prefecture.

Sunsets in the countryside.
Lake day!!!
We went to a fireworks display at Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan. I've never seen such amazing fireworks in my life!

After a few days staying with Briar and her boyfriend (thank you guys!!!) I went to Osaka airport to meet the lovely Virginia and fly to Okinawa. I was so excited! This year, I had two places I really wanted to visit: Okinawa and Hokkaido. I couldn't make it to Hokkaido (I really want to go for the snow festival) so I was super happy I got to go to Okinawa! 

On our first day there, Virginia and I walked around and checked out Kokusai Dori, the main street in Naha. We tried some Okinawan food, like goya (bitter melon), and chilled out. 

The second day it was off to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. This aquarium is pretty famous, and it was the biggest aquarium in the world until 2005. I have to say, it was really impressive. We saw so many unusual and amazing sea creatures. For me, the best part was the Kuroshio Sea tank. This tank is so big, it had two whale sharks, some huge manta rays, and lots of other really interesting fish. It was so nice and relaxing to sit at the restaurant there and eat lunch whilst watching such interesting things go swimming past. Actually, after watching so many fish that day, we felt a lot like eating sushi, so that night we found a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant called Yazaemon, which was really delicious and we highly recommend! The staff there were so friendly and the food was so good, we really wanted to go back there another night, but unfortunately we ran out of time. 

I love rays! They look like they're smiling!
These giant lobster things were horrible.

A whale shark in the Kuroshio tank.

Outside the aquarium is also really nice, although of course it was super hot!

On our third day, we visited Okinawa World. This is a good place to see and learn more about Okinawan culture, as it's really unique and different from mainland Japanese culture. We saw some traditional Okinawan crafts, like glass blowing, traditional Okinawan dancing and music, and we also visited a snake museum there. There are no snakes at all in New Zealand (apart from perhaps some sea snakes?), but it turns out Okinawa has a lot of them, so it was really crazy for me to see so many! There were a lot of displays there which were pretty terrifying to me, but also interesting. We also watched a snake show, and got to hold this horrible huge snake afterwards!

Can you see the look of "THIS IS NOT OKAY" on my face?
Seriously, even holding tiny lizards freaked me out.
This guy was pretty cute though.
Snake selfie. Also very not okay, to be honest.
As we were in line to hold the big snake, I wondered what it would feel like. It was a little bit cold, and really heavy. The skin felt so's kind of like you can easily feel its bones moving beneath the skin. Later, I held some smaller snakes. It was fun but I was still really scared of them. I appreciate snakes a little more now, but I can't totally get over my natural fear of them. After looking in the snake museum, we went under Okinawa World into the Gyokusendo Cave. This is an 850 metre long cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites. It's well lit so you can see the spectacular sights. It's quite eerie and breathtaking as you first walk in! There was a lot to see down there, and it was fun to walk through. If you go, be careful as the walkway can be a little bit slippery from the water dripping inside in the cave.  


On our last full day in Okinawa, of course we went to the beach! We took a bus to Manza beach, because I had seen a lot of photos of it and it looked really beautiful. When we got off at the ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach, we found out that you had to pay a lot to use the beach near the hotel. However, if you walk just a few minutes down the beach, there's a public area which is just as beautiful and totally free to use. We rented a parasol for the day, which you could get from the lifeguard. Then we just relaxed, ate and drank on the beach, went swimming, and explored the area around the beach a bit. It was so pretty, especially at sunset, and so fun to just lie on the sand or float around and chat!

The convenience store near the beach sold this very strong alcohol in juice boxes!
All the photos.
And all the selfies.

So twilight, very beach, much sunburnt.
Well, just like that, our holiday in Okinawa was coming to an end. That night, we ticked two last things off our Okinawan to-do list: I drank a big glass of Okinawa's traditional sake, awamori (it's good served on the rocks), and Virginia tried habushu, awamori made with a snake inside! I was too scared to try the habushu, but she said it tasted good. We flew back to mainland Japan the next morning, and, as I talked about in my last post, went straight to an amazing DaizyStripper concert in Utsunomiya. I've been on holiday for another week, but I've mostly just been relaxing in Utsunomiya and meeting up with my friends.

Nothing but blue skies for our flight home.
Goodbye, Okinawa!
How has your summer (or winter) been? Have you gone on any interesting trips lately? Let me know!

- Annabelle.
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I've been a high school English language teacher on the JET Programme since August 2013. Read about my experiences, advice on being accepted into the JET Programme, and travel tips around Japan on my blog:


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