A Japanese house party, a hidden bar, my new school, cherry blossoms, and a Shiba Inu.

The past two weeks have been so busy between work and exploring new cities in my surrounding area. My apartment is becoming more and more like “home” with each day that passes. I’ve also met so many people within the past month that it’s been hard to keep track of names to be honest. Getting to make connections with people from around the world and hearing their point of view on various topics has been so refreshing. Finding things in common with people who live on the other side of a giant ocean is extremely rewarding. Even simple things like finding out that someone from the UK or Australia watched some of the same childhood cartoons is such a little victory for me.

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My new Welsh friend, Savannah, invited me to a house party in Osaka with a bunch of ECC teachers. Everyone there had been working at ECC for 1-3 years, so it was a great way to meet people who knew what they were doing. You have to take your shoes off before you enter any Japanese apartment or home, so it’s funny to see the 30+ pairs of shoes by the front door. This is also the easy way to tell when there’s a party going on!

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I was teaching at a school between Kobe and Osaka for the last two weeks of March. It was right next to the Hanshin Baseball stadium where the Hanshin Tigers play. The surrounding area had all these giant palm trees too which I really loved. However, starting April 1st I have been put at a school in Kobe for 5 days a week (Tues-Thurs & Sat-Sun). Most people within my company have to commute to work, but I’ve gotten really lucky and can walk to my school in about 15 minutes. The school is connected to the train station and is really big and modern. The staff are super nice and I have really good feelings about spending the next year there. Here is a view from one of the windows in the school:

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While wandering around Osaka with some friends last weekend, I spotted a light at the end of a long alleyway. The alleyway was extremely dark and was not the type of place I would walk down in NY or any other part of America. However, in Japan, a lantern usually indicates some type of bar or restaurant, so I wanted to investigate. What I found was a hidden gem. There was a door that was about 4 feet tall and a tiny square window right next to it. I peered through to window only to find an old Japanese man dressed up in a suit behind the bar. The bar was so tiny and could not have fit more than 8-10 people. The name of the place was Bar “Momo.” Momo means peach in Japanese, so the bar had a special peach drink to go along with the name! The little bar was so charming and I got to practice my Japanese a little bit with the bartender. I love finding tiny intimate places and Japan has a lot of small bars and local businesses like this.

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I also found a pet store near my job and apartment that had the cutest puppies and kittens. The Japanese “Shiba Inu” is one of the cutest dogs in my opinion. Check out this sleepy pup! How could you not love him? It was so hard not to empty out my savings account and take him home…

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Cherry blossom season is also upon us! They are actually really late this year for my area because of how cold it was this winter. by the end of this week or the beginning of next week, they should be in full bloom so I’m really excited about that! I  even saw some starting to bloom in a park today:

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I can’t wait to see what they look like when they’re all out! The Japanese have a tradition called Hanami. The name itself combines the words for “flower” and “to see.” Everyone goes to a cherry blossom viewing spot in a park and has a picnic with food and alcohol. You just relax with friends and enjoy the beauty of looking at the flowers. I’m so excited to take part in this tradition, especially the fact that you can drink in public here (Dear America, please take notes).

8 thoughts on “A Japanese house party, a hidden bar, my new school, cherry blossoms, and a Shiba Inu.

  1. Ditto to those two wonderful humans! You’re amazing and we’re so so so proud of you. I always end up talking about you and the amazing things you’re doing to my friends. I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures so I can brag about how cool you are. Fingers crossed that I can visit soon!
    Love you so much! And miss you to pieces 🙂

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  2. Hi Mike: Thought I’d check in to see how you’re doing. It seems amazing. You’re a teacher and explorer. I love the picture of you under the pink tree. Lots of trees blooming here too, seemingly overnight. I’m glad that you’re teaching and still having time to explore…….the best of both worlds and exactly what you wanted to do. Look forward to a quick ‘hello’ back from you and will check in again soon. All the best, Jane

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    1. Hey Jane! Hope you and your family had a nice Easter. I have been able to catch up with a lot of old friend recently which has been so nice. Being able to both teach and explore has been such a great experience. I’m so excited to see what else I’ll find while I’m here. Hope all is well! -Mike

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