The Beginning!

This picture was taken on the plane before we departed for Japan. I can't get over how different we looked back then.

This picture was taken from the balcony of our new apartment the day after we arrived in Japan. The mountain behind Mike is dubbed "Sanuki Fuji" because it resembles Mt. Fuji, only on a much smaller scale.

Seto Ohashi

Our boss' husband Shigiyoshi san was so kind to take us sight seeing around our city a few days after our arrival. This is Mike in front of the Seto Ohashi (the second largest suspension bridge in the world.) Shigiyoshi san actually helped build this bridge and is obviously very proud of it.
Mike, me, and Dan Hannon (a fellow English teacher for another school) enjoy the inland sea and the small beach.

Seto Ohashi

Baseball at the Dokigawa Koen

A few days after we arrived in Japan, our boss and her family invited us to play baseball at the Dokigawa Koen ball diamonds. Behind us is Inoyama, also known as Sanuki Fuji.
These boys were polite enough to let us join their game.


Here we are with Elders Braun and Sato when we took them out for dinner at a local okonomiyaki shop. It was our first time eating okonomiyaki, which is pretty much a cabbage pancake with your choice of vegetables and meat, sometimes noodles, and topped with mayonaise and okonomiyaki sauce. We weren't big fans of it right away, but we grew accustomed to it, and actually began to crave it.

Jean's Cooking Class

My adult student Eriko (center) invited me to attend an American cooking class with her, hosted by a woman named Jean. *hint* Jean is the American looking one holding the blonde girl (her daughter Aiko.) During this class Jean taught the Japanese women how to make things like homemade cream of mushroom soup and pineapple upside-down cake. The Japanese woman next to Eriko is Yoshiko, the woman who gave me the kimono.

Sweet Looking Car

Japanese cars are pretty much cool, am I right?

Beach Sunset

Jamie's Kimono

Here I am wearing the kimono given to me by Yoshiko Misaki. I met the woman only once at a cooking class, but the Japanese are very cordial and give gifts frequently. This was a pretty large gift, and I was very shocked to receive it, since kimonos aren't exactly cheap.

Beautiful Flowers

These are the gigantic flowers from my students Taru and Midori's grandmother's (Obaasan) garden. Like I said, the Japanese are all about giving gifts.

Our Experience with Indian Food

When we first got to Japan, we had a difficult time with the food. Within a few weeks we met an Indian man named Chugh who took us to an Indian restaurant in Marugame. It was absolutely delicious and we immediately fell in love with their curry and naan. We ate there at least once a week. Eventually we began to like Japanese food and didn't feel the need to eat out at the Indian restaurant as often.

These are the workers at Kahna Peena. They got to know us very well over the course of our stay in Japan.

This is our friend N.K. Chugh. He is from Bombay, India and had a job building ships in Japan. He is the person who introduced us to the best restaurant in our city.


The famous Zentsuji temple was within biking distance of our home. On our day off we rode there to explore the temple grounds. This is called a Pagoda, which has five levels and usually not more than that. 

Mike keepin' it real in front of one of the temple shrines.

This gate is a familiar sight in Japan. There is one at every temple.

There were at least 50 or more of these statues on the temple grounds. They represent important "gods." People would put yen on the statues in hopes of receiving blessings. We had fun trying to mimic their poses.

The Morimuras

This is our former boss Fumi (center) with her son Kenjiro and her husband Shigeyoshi (a.k.a. Shibucho-san, which means branch president.)

We told them to make silly faces, and surprisingly they did. Even Shibucho-san humored us.

Fumiyo-san and her mother

Shigeyoshi-san and his mother


A month or so after getting to Japan, I decided I wanted to get a haircut because it was too hot and humid to maintain my longer 'do. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to tell the stylist how I wanted it. Luckily our boss Fumi came with me to translate. The stylist was so good and very, very meticulous. I think a lot of Japanese are perfectionists. It's a cultural thing, I suppose. Anyway, I was really happy with my new short hair after it was all said and done.

Before the chopping, showing off my locks.

After the chopping.

Sakaide Summer Festival

We were invited to attend a music festival put on by Sakaide high school students. They played better than any high school band I've ever heard in my life. They take their music seriously, I'll give them that. Here we are with "Lucy" (Gem School gave English names to their students) and our friend Dan. Lucy had a huge crush on Dan. :)


During the Obon holiday we went to the city of Osaka for vacation.

We took the midnight ferry boat from Takamatsu to Kobe. Many people take the night ride so they can sleep. Unfortunately, we didn't sleep a wink. This is us on the ferry.

This was the beer vending machine on the ferry boat. Beer vending machines are not uncommon in Japan.

Once we got to Kobe, we had to take a train to Osaka. This nice Japanese girl spoke some English, and helped us get the right train and get off at the right stop.

The Osaka Castle

Mike and a canon at the Osaka Castle.

One of the many displays in the Osaka Castle.

The Umeda Sky Building was one of the main attractions in Osaka. There is a Garden Observatory on the roof and it has a really cool gift shop inside.

New Reoma World Park

On our day off we went for a drive and found ourselves at a nearby park. We somehow missed the entrance completely and instead, took a wrong turn that led us to the back of the park. We were completely lost and were about to turn around until we caught a glimpse of this amazing looking building through some palm trees. We got out of the car to take a closer look and get some pictures. Before we knew it we were actually in the park. We didn't mean to get in without paying, it just happened.

There was a wheel inside here that you could spin for good fortune and blessing.
I think it also helped if you gave some yen to the gods.

How I wish this was a real elephant. I have had a fascination with them for a long time now. I'd love to ride on the back of one someday.

And here I am touching the real deal! I was so excited to get that close to an elephant. They don't feel like anything I expected. And their trunks are super strong.

Me in front of a fountain at a park within the park called Istanbul park.

Istanbul Pet Hotel.

Me in front of several stairs leading up to the awesome looking building.

It was a huge park with lots of Mid-Eastern themed buildings and displays. We ended up purchasing some Indian posters, Indian incense, and some sno-cones, so our little adventure wasn't completely free after all.

Oboke Canyon

On one of the Japanese holidays, we took a day trip with some of our friends up Oboke Canyon.

Mike and Me

Mike and a waterfall.

Kazurabashi vine bridge. People pay about 500 yen to cross it. Our friend Matt started jumping on the bridge and some of the Japanese people pretty much soiled themselves because they were so freaked out. Wouldn't you? The bridge is made of vines.

Kazurabashi bridge from the other side.

Mike and me on a rock in the middle of the emerald green river going through the canyon.

Mike with the beautiful canyon behind him.

Me, the professional rock climber, obviously.

Here we are with our friends. From right: Mike, me, Twila, Matt, Jonas, Jason, Claire, Annika, and Jake.

Jake, Annnika, Twila, and Matt about to cross the bridge. It looks like something taken out of an Indiana Jones movie.

After the bridge there was a little shop that sold whole fish on a stick. Not something we were willing to try...