Training was in Omiya, and we (the other trainers and I) also got to check out Shibuya and Harajuku. Tokyo really has quite the extensive array of options for shopping. I tried so many types of food I can't remember it all. Ramen, udon, yakiniku, okonomiyaki, tofu, pan, just about everything. I also got to try karaoke, which is actually pretty different from karaoke in America. Instead of just singing in front of a bunch of strangers in a bar, there are a bunch of separate rooms that you "rent" for the night with your friends. Great fun!
THEN, about three weeks ago, I left Tokyo to come to Aizu Wakamatsu. It's not anywhere near as big, but so far, I'm loving it. The first weekend was full of parties and going to restaurants for my welcome and the departing teacher's farewell parties. The restaurants were mostly izakaya (kind of like tapas, everyone shares, but Japanese style), though one night we followed that with some karaoke. Again, loads of fun.
That same weekend, I went to Tsurugajo, which is a five story castle right in the middle of the city! The inside is now a museum, and the top is open, which makes for an amazing view. I bet in April and May, when the sakuras are in bloom, the place will be packed with people admiring the sight.
The past two weekends, I've played volleyball with people from the Aizu International Association, followed by dinner. We leave at about 4:45, and I don't get back in my apartment until 1 or 2 in the morning in most cases. And today, after going to sleep at about 3, I woke up at 8, had some breakfast, and went to Iimoriyama, the closest mountain to my apartment. Did I mention that my apartment has an unbelievable view of the mountains, as well as the top of Tsurugajo?
Iimoriyama is historic because in 1868, a group of teenage boys in a unit called the Byakkotai (White Tiger Brigade) committed ritual mass suicide on the side of the mountain. There were 19 boys in all, ranging from 14 to 17 years old. The other members of the brigade were killed in battle, and their tombs still stand on the mountain as a memorial. Pictures to follow. It wasn't much of a hike (which is what I had originall intended) but it was still a heck of an experience.
Well, I'm going to end it there. Tonight I'm heading to dinner with some people I met last week. Then tomorrow is back to work for week three as the only foreign teacher in the Aizu Wakamatsu branch! I'll try to be better with but updates, but if I fall behind again, please comment and let me know I'm being awful! So until next time, じぁね!