Monday, September 29, 2014

Japan with Friends!

Here it is - the last in my "visitors to Japan" series of posts!

A few days after my brother James left, my last in a quick succession of visitors arrived. I guess it was high season for tourists at Chateau Annabelle, haha! My final visitor was a childhood friend, Olivia. We went to school together since we were five years old, and our mums are really good friends, so we've spent a lot of time together over the years. Olivia arrived late at night, and I went to meet her at Utsunomiya station. The next day I had work, so she recovered from her long flight from New York. That evening we went to an amazing buffet restaurant which had a lot of delicious traditional Japanese food. A lot of it was vegetarian, too. It's right by my house and I'd never been before - this is why I love having visitors! They always notice the things I take for granted, and they're not stuck in their ways like I am now. ^^;

Love these little sectioned off plates they give you, too!
That weekend, we went to meet a friend of Olivia's who is studying at Tokyo University. By the way, this was during golden week. People told me that Tokyo would not be busy during golden week...THEY LIED!

Shibuya crossing, manic as always.
As usual when I have guests, we conquered Harajuku. It seemed crazier than ever! We then walked through Omotesando to have dinner. I'll try to find out a more specific name of the area, as I can't remember it right now. It was a really chill outside area with lots of food trucks. We got some great hot chips, and I tried a nice American beer. It was great to relax out there like that. After a while we walked back and my friend Olivia and I caught the train home.

Dinner in Tokyo!
A couple of days later, we went back to Tokyo for another day and saw her friend's campus at Tokyo University. We also explored a few smaller areas of Tokyo around the campus. There were some really cool indie shops there which were fun to explore, but unfortunately I had to be careful with my money, and couldn't buy anything myself. Next time!

Olivia spent a few more days in Utsunomiya that week. Unfortunately I had to go to work, so mostly we just went and ate at nice places at night, and she also visited my school's English club. The students there were really excited to meet her, because she recently interned at the United Nations in New York, and a lot of my students are interested in that kind of internationally-focused work. Later that week, she went to some southern prefectures like Hiroshima (including Miyajima, which she loved) and Kyoto by herself. Here are a few fantastic photos she took of her travels.

She went to Fushimi Inari shrine! So jealous.
A great photo she took of Todaiji temple in Nara, where I went on New Year's Day 2014.
This photo of the torii gate at Miyajima is stunning!
After a couple of fun weeks hanging out with Olivia, she left to go to South Korea to visit a friend before heading home to New Zealand (and then back to New York - she is one busy girl!). She was the last of my lovely stint of visitors, so since then it's just been me in my little old place in Utsu. As usual, it took a bit of getting used to, being by myself again. But actually this time, after having such a busy time showing people around, I was ready for some alone time! First up on my schedule were a few totally lazy weekends to myself.

Since then, I've had a wonderful 1.5 terms back at school, with loads of things I should have posted about, but haven't gotten around to yet. As you may have seen, in the summer holidays I went back to New Zealand to visit my family and friends and generally refresh. I went back for about 4 weeks, as authorised by my very generous and understanding principal. I still love Japan like crazy, but it was SO EXCITING! Family! Friends! English! Cold weather! Fish and chips! Sleeping in! And alllll the brunch! You can read a bit about my trip back to middle earth, as especially a weekend trip I took with my mum to a city called Napier, here.

- 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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