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Exploring Koga-shi

April 3, 2012

This post will cover the adventures that happened between Wednesday March 28th to Saturday the 31st while settling into Koga-shi. It has pictures! Hooray!

Wednesday doesn’t really have much to report, since I didn’t leave my apartment much. It was a BIG laundry day for me, seeing as how I was entering my ninth day in Japan and was running pretty low on clean clothing. Between loads of laundry I unpacked my big suitcase and ran around the apartment finding places for things. Laundry literally took all day because of how small my washer was, plus the lack of a dryer didn’t help much either. I forgot to buy extra towels so I could lay some of my clothes out to dry, so I made do with my chairs. In the evening, my doorbell rang and it turned out to be the people who delivered my car! Hooray! Now if only my IDP would come…

My Thursday morning was pretty slow, but picked up right around noon. I set up my printer, which was fairly easy to do (even with the instructions all in Japanese) up until it came time to install the software onto my computer. It’s pretty tough when you don’t have pictures to refer to if you aren’t sure of what you’re reading! Thanks to my trusty 電子辞書 (denshi-jisho), my electronic dictionary, I soon learned that before I could completely install my stuff I had to say whether or not I wanted to be entered in this one contest, or if I wanted Canon to send me e-mails, and the like. Once that was completely navigated, I was in business! Once that was done, I had some extra shopping to do for the apartment so I walked to the 100 Yen Shop and the grocery store. I had to be careful of how much I was buying since I can’t drive my car yet and I’d have to carry everything home! Thankfully I had my backpack with me, which can fit a LOT of stuff.

In the evening, I met Jess, a fellow new ALT living in Koga, for dinner at かっぱ寿司 (Kappa-zushi), that sushi restaurant I had lunch at the other day. It’s only a five-minute walk from my apartment, so I’m super excited about taking visitors there for meals. This time I remembered to bring my camera to snap a picture of what I meant by “conveyor-belt sushi.”

I see a sign for my favorite sushi, kappa-maki, coming! It's the one with the 5 on it.

You just grab the plate from the conveyor belt as the food rolls on by and you stack your used plates. As you can see further into the picture, you really can end up with quite a pile! Luckily the most I’ve had to pay for a meal here is around 600 yen, which is six dollars. We both had a fair amount of plates at the end, and we even had room for dessert! We both went for one of the suggested desserts, which was 1/8th of a pineapple. It came mostly sliced so you could just use your chopsticks to detach the fruit from the skin and eat away! Neither of us had anything to do after dinner, so we decided to drive around Koga and explore a bit. We stopped at a store called Tsutaya that rents DVDs and CDs. This particular branch also had a bookstore, though, which got me super excited.

Anyone who read/heard/came to my talk about my senior comprehensive project knows why I had to snap a picture of this. Hooray redefinition of masculinity in modern Japanese popular culture!

Jess and I found a really small children’s section, but with a decent selection of books! I ended up purchasing Japanese versions of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, which was really exciting because I had brought English versions from home to read to my students sometime.

How awesome is this?

I also bought a Japanese copy of Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar, so now I need to get an English version from back in the States! My birthday is this summer, so I bet I’ll ask for a few things for teaching purposes from home… We’ll see! After Tsutaya, Jess and I randomly decided that we wanted to find a プリクラ (purikura) machine to get our photos taken as a commemoration of arriving in Koga. We ended up finding an arcade across the street from the electronics store that I bought my printer from. We went inside and immediately made a beeline for the プリクラ booth. We’re both rather proud of the results!

My favorite one is the one with the strawberry and the kitten.

After finishing up at the booth, we decided we should actually explore the arcade. There were a lot of interesting games that we both want to try out at a later date! We came across a vending machine in the arcade and I saw that it sold Dr. Pepper and got really excited. It was so hard to find when I studied abroad a few years ago! So, I bought a can, and this other can came out of the vending machine. At first Jess and I were really excited because we thought it was a free can of pop. Well, it wasn’t, but something called a Coca-Cola Happy Can.

Photo taken Wednesday morning.

Apparently Coca-Cola takes care of selling Dr. Pepper in Japan. It turns out that the Happy Can was a promotion for the London Olympics. You pull off the top of the can, like so…

... and there is something inside!

And what was inside, you ask? Well, a watch!

I love the little flag in the top right corner.

The best part was that the Happy Can simply wasn’t a can, but a coin bank as well! Thanks Japan for being so resourceful. I now have a place to put all of my spare 1 and 5 yen coins! I wrapped the watch around the bank and it now sits on my table so I can toss my spare change in there when I get too much.

Friday was a day for more unpacking, in which I realized that I have absolutely nothing to hide my dirty laundry in if and when people come over. Better get on buying a hamper! I also set aside a huge chunk of time to read my Rules of the Road driving manual. For dinner Jess picked me up and we went to this ramen place near my apartment. I ended up ordering a 辛ねぎ味噌ラーメン (karanegimiso raamen) which is ramen in a spicy miso broth with lots of onions. It was delicious! It’s pretty dangerous that I live within walking distance of this place. I can really see myself eating there a lot. After dinner I went back home to finish reading the driving manual and started figuring out driving routes to my schools. I may not be able to drive my car yet, but I definitely have to make sure that I get my routes down for when I get my IDP! I also tackled learning how to use my scanner, the resulting product is the scan of the プリクラ photo earlier in this blog entry!

Saturday morning I got an e-mail from AAA regarding my IDP, asking if I wanted them to mail it to me in Japan or somewhere in the States. So, it turns out they haven’t even mailed it yet! Argh! At this rate I for sure won’t be getting my IDP in time for my first day of school. Lovely. The weather today was extremely rainy and I didn’t have an umbrella — another thing to add to my list of things to get — so I stayed inside to read. In the evening Jess and I went to a going away party for another Interac ALT (Jess’s IC had invited us). We were pretty nervous to be going, since we didn’t know anyone except Jess’s IC, but we got to meet some neat people who will be living in and around Koga. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them more!

There are a couple more posts on the horizon before school starts, so stay tuned!

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