Golden Week; Last day in Kumamoto!

Now onto the last day. I promise this is actually the last part of the Kumamoto series!

So, with our hearts still in Tsuetate, we headed off to what I thought was home. On and on we drove, winding through the ever beautiful Kumamoto mountain range, with good conversation to accompany the view. We stopped only once, and ended up at this adorable little area that had a small collection of cute shops; one of which was an impressive liquor store. 

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Bending, twisting, the car groaned now and again, doing her best to climb the steep hills that lay ahead of us. Considering she had people and cases bursting out of her at all doors, I think she did a pretty good job. With my heart resigned to home, knowing my week of bliss was soon to be over, I was overjoyed when we came to a car park in the middle of cluster of hills, mountains flanking us.

“What are we doing?’ I asked a little cautiously, not wanting to let on that I was utterly out of the loop. It turns out that the Nakamura’s had one surprise left for us; Kuju flower park「くじゅう花公園 」(I will put details about the park at the bottom of my post).

At first, I had thought that we were still in Kumamoto, but it turns out we had just crossed the border into Oita. That brought my Golden Week prefecture count up to 3, an uneven number that for once, I was happy with.

The shops at the entrance were welcoming with all their pine and fresh produce, taking you back to a calmer time where the internet wasn’t a thing and the stress of an unreceived text was a far off dream. We spent the following hour or so exploring the meadows of flowers, ducking in and out of different fields, bathing in the colours. Sadly, we were a little out of season and the tulips, one of my favourite flowers, were already withering, and in many places gone all together.


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11255743_10153181868635901_1860491075438159133_o IMG_7252_FotorI’m pretty sure that the sign said not to step into the heart… lets hope they’re not cursed with bad luck in love. 

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And some good news for all you vegetarians and vegans out there; they had a vegetable oriented buffet! Healthy, well cooked and relatively cheap, the meal replenished the strength needed to return to work the following day and to say goodbye to a beautiful holiday that had given us a taste of freedom. Oh how I miss freedom.

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I could not have asked for a more perfect ending to a perfect holiday. I had spent my golden week in the best way possible! Surrounded by friends and my amazing boyfriend. Going to Kitakyushu and then Kumamoto had been the first step in the stages of ‘Let’s see how much Naomi and Chad can do together without wanting to kill each other‘ and we passed with flying colours! Working in Japan, or any place for that matter, can sometimes make you forget just how beautiful a place is, which is why I sorely needed this trip. I was reminded once again, just how beautiful Kyushu is. So please guys, come visit Kyushu, even if it’s for a day, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading ❤︎❤︎

Japanese website: http://www.hanakoen.com/

English pamphlet:http://www.hanakoen.com/wp-content/themes/hanakouen/img/guide/pamph/pdf/pdf-en01.pdf

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Golden Week: Kumamoto Day 2!

With day one under our belt, it was time to get up and face the rest of our Kumamoto trip!

Since Mamie and Mrs. Nakamura made the deliciousness that was Vegetable/meat curry the night before, it was mine and Chad’s turn. We tried our hand at french toast, and thanks to his ingenious idea of adding my apple tea flavoured blendy stick to the mix, they turned out delicious. With full bellies we soon departed, saying goodbye to the wonderful cottage, but not before taking one last dip in the onsen styled bath. IMG_7098_Fotor

Our first point of call was Kusasenri-ga-hama 「草千里ヶ浜」 or Kusasenri grassland for all you lovely non Japanese speakers.  Located in the Aso Area, Kusasenri-ga-hama is a stretch of land that spreads over the northern base of Mt. Eboshidake and offers a wonderful view of the ever smoking Mt. Nakadake. Unfortunately for us, there was quite a lot of volcanic activity that day, and going up to view the crater was off limits. We settled, however, for the lovely view from the grass plains. With the sun high in the sky but a breeze keeping us cool, we spent a good hour strolling about and taking pictures of the stunning area. With a busy day ahead of us, we didn’t didn’t stay long, so after washing our feet we were back in the car and on our way to our next destination. A destination that would bring out the grumpies in more than one of us. 

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Aso farmland, a place for both adults and kids, but mainly kids, is situated in the Aso region, high up in the hills. With little Nakamura wanting to go to the fun area, me, Chad, Mamie and Ethan saw this as a chance to separate ourselves for a moment, and to just enjoy wondering the shops. By this point, food had been scarce and the hours long, and our designated driver Chad seemed to be reaching his limits. This showed in a serious case of grumpiness, one that was -thankfully- soon cured with some well deserved ice cream! With our spirits lifted we decided to head to the Zoo, where we got to make friends with an array of cute and noisy animals.

(We also found some crazy looking mushrooms which were the most satisfying thing to look at)

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We were soon on the road again, ready to make our way to our last destination; The Mystery destination. A destination so beautiful that halfway through writing this post I felt it deserved it’s own. So I’ll just have to keep you in suspense until the big reveal!

Hope you have a good day! Thanks for visiting ❤︎

Golden Week Part 2: Kumamoto day 1

Kumamoto, a place that stole my heart the moment I stepped off the bus when I visited during my year abroad. With the top of Kumamoto castle peering over the edge of the trees, it watches over all of Kumamoto. My stay last time, however, had been brief, so when Chad suggested we join our friends on their Golden Week Kumamoto travels, I was overjoyed.

We were to set out the day after we got back from Kitakyushu, and the 5 am wake up call was less than desirable. So, a Gasto breakfast later, the four of us; me, Chad, Mamie and Ethan all crammed into Chad’s little car and off we went, following the wonderful Nakamura family, our party leaders for this mini excursion. Catching the ferri from Shimabara to Kumamoto, we arrived in the late morning, and already the city area around the castle was jam packed with cars from all over Japan. We even saw some number plates from Hokkaido!IMG_7056

With food on the mind we happily followed the Nakamura’s to a little Ramen shop, tucked away down some inconspicuous street. Chad was sweetly worried because I’m a veggie, and in honestly, so was I. Not that I told him that of course. Thankfully, I managed to nap some meat free cold noodles, and scoffed them down as well as I could, leaving only a little. We were, however, greeted by a surprise as we left, with a line of people queuing up down the street waiting to get into the small restaurant. Unbeknown to us all, Mr.Nakamura had cleverly timed this, making sure we got there before the rush of hungry people wanting to try some of Kumamoto’s finest ramen. Damn, if only I had payed closer attention to the name of the place!

It was then off to the castle. Just as it had before, the large , grand architecture of Kumamoto castle wowed me once more. I would have probably spend forever staring at it had The Nakamura’s daughter not attracted herself to me early on into the trip and was thus my ever playful companion. She dragged me this way and that and by the time we sat down for a drink I was beat. Thank go for Chad’s quick thinking, pulling up the games on his phone for her to play with, buying me ten minutes to have a reprieve. With winding staircases, far off views of buildings protected by mountains and golden walls that transport you back to a much different time, Kumamoto castle is defiantly a place I would recommend. Sadly, the small samurai show I saw two summers ago wasn’t on today; my new little sister would have enjoyed that.

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Kumamoto castle


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We were soon off again, calling to buy some materials before making our way to our accommodation for the evening, a cabin near Mt. Aso. It was compact and cozy, with high ceilings and porch which I refused to step out on thanks to the millions of bugs gathering there. The Nakamura’s took the downstairs bedroom, while me, Chad, Mamie and Ethan took the two double beds in the loft. Our evening was spent playing Uno, dining on delicious vegetable curry (curtesy of Mamie and Mrs. Nakamura) and a lovely soak in the indoor onsen. Yes, you heard right, on top of everything, this place had an indoor onsen like bath, with windows that covered two walls, allowing us to see into the forestry outside. All in all, it was a perfect end to a perfect first day.

Sorry about the Hiatus! I was in the hopsital

Hey guys! Just a quick message to say sorry about the long periods of nothing.

I actually had a post all ready to go, but I had to go for an emergency operation two weeks ago.

It was kind of sudden and I’ll write more about it later , but since I had a holiday lined up a week later (Just got back), I really wanted to just chill out and recuperate, which meant slacking on writing.

I do, however, have a list of things to be posted, which I will check off as I do them.

  • Kumamoto, day 1
  • Kumamoto day 2
  • Kumamoto Mystery Destination
  • Kumamoto day 3
  • Goto
  • Hospital -Decided not to blog about it. 
  • How to date a Canadian
  • Summer trip–Tokyo
  • Summer trip–Mt.Fuji
  • Summer trip–Osaka and Kyoto
  • Birthday

I’m lacking in motivation right now, so wish me luck!

Golden Week, Round 1; Kitakyushu

I could not wait to get back. With my bag packed and new white sandals strapped securely to my feet, my Golden Week adventures began. Accompanied by the ever-sweet Mr. Cooper, we set off at 7:22 pm, catching the two hour something train to Hakata, Fukuoka. We then added a little sass to our excursion by catching the Shinkansen (aka. The fastest bloody train ever) to our desired destination of Kokura, Kitakyushu. And so, no more than three hours later and feeling oddly refreshed, I was back in my old stomping ground, uncontainable excitement coursing through my veins. And I mean that it was quite literally uncontainable. I spent the entire trip shouting ‘Natsukashiiiiiii’* and ‘Oh my god I’m hereee!’; Poor Chad. Poor anyone who was walking by really. Oops.

With the stress of a few weeks work resting around our shoulders, the first evening was spent curled up in our pleasantly small APA hotel room for two, drinking beer and watching The Great Gatsby. Despite the lack of candles, petals and whatever else one would usually say denotes a romantic evening, it was perfect.

Our Saturday began with a monorail trip to Moritsune, where we made our way to, what I will wager, is the most delicious pancake house in all of Japan, Rusa Ruka. Flanked by palm trees, It was like a little piece of summer in the middle of spring. It was just as I remembered. From the sweet tinkling of the bell when you opened the door, to the rustic feel and various eclectic trinkets on sale. The pancakes were just as mouthwatering too. As someone who hates various fruits and creams, I went with the classic pancake set, taking the free second helping so as to savour the flavour as much as I could. Who knows when I’ll come again! Chad being the more adventurous eater, however, went with the extravagant strawberry dish, coupled with a brown sugar milkshake. It looked out of this world delectable. I wish we’d had the time to sit there all day, but with time nipping at our heels, I took him on a quick trip down memory lane in which I showed him my old apartment and university, before we headed back to Kokura station.

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First point of call, go to the information desk and get instructions on how to get to *Kawachi Fujien*, a beautiful wisteria garden and the entire reason for our coming here. After a short bus ride from Kokura to Nijyou we found ourselves exactly where we wanted to be. If only we knew where exactly where that was. At this point I just decided to done my cool new sunglasses and try and look a little less lost and a little more sassy. Luckily for us, a taxi happened to be passing by, its bright blues and oranges as beautiful as water in the desert. We flagged it down, and after being assured by the kind gentleman that it would cost no more than around 2000 yen to get us to our wisterian utopia, we were off.

With Golden Week infecting everyone with the travel bug, I shouldn’t have been surprised at what lay before us. Like a giant snake, car after car joined together from the foot of the hill to the garden, and what should have been no more than a ten minute taxi ride soon became an hour. With each passing minute I felt the coil inside my chest wind tighter. It didn’t help that people outside were walking faster than us. Had there been a place for the conversational taxi driver to turn around, I probably would have insisted we get out and join them in the far more sensible option. Lucky for us, and true to the mans benevolent nature, he turned the meter off once it reached around 2500 yen.
We reached the garden a little before six and my heart stilled at the sight before me. As beautiful as a Monet, and twice as vivid, an array of pinks and purples hung from the arched frames to which they clung. With the afternoon sun shining down, its gentle rays kissed my skin and showered the flowers with a tenderness that was almost to intimate to watch. The wisteria blossoming under the ever loving gaze. The smell was sweet and fresh, the wind freely dancing upon the hill, running its fingers through the flowers, making them ripple in delight.

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A click brought me back to world around me. Camera out and eyebrows wiggling in a way that suggested he meant business, Chad stood, poised and ready to capture as many moments as he could. Damn him and his snap happy disposition! Refusal was not an option. So I posed, smiled, and burned with embarrassment as he began to solidify our memories. A month later and I’m glad I didn’t fight him on this, as I can look back on our first ever couples trip with a fond clarity. That, and I look pretty damn good in some photographs. Who’d have thought that wisteria would be the ultimate compliment to my complexion? {is currently thinking on replacing half of hair with wisteria so as to always look ones best.}

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The highlight of our excursion, however, was not the beautiful scenery or the sweet smelling flora. No, it was the perfectly serendipitous choice of shirt Chad had gone with that day. There, through the lens of the camera, I noticed the amalgamation of human and nature as his shirt began to blend in with all around him. Never before had someone come up with such a full-proof plan on how to blend in to Japan. The best part about it all? Everyone else seemed to notice this too, sharing in our amusement. With the sun setting and people returning home, we finally made our way back to Kokura, the trip made eventful by a nosy taxi driver who made it his life goal to ask me and Chad every personal question under the sun in the limited time he had with us. Life goal completed sir, life goal completed.

But the day was not over yet! Far from it. Our next point of call was Tenmaru, a small tempura place in Kitagata. It had been one of my favourite places to frequent when I was a student, and I was eager to get my hands back on that greasy heavenly substance. The familiar smell of vegetables filled my nose as we sat at the counter, the warmth from the friers brushing up against my skin. The menu had changed very little, and I assured Chad without any hesitation that this would be the best tempura he had ever tasted in his life; I was right of course. Ah, there truly is nothing more satisfying than being told ‘You’re right’ while your favourite foods sits pleasantly in the bottom of your stomach.

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We ended our evening with a stop off at a small wine bar we passed the night before. compact and tucked in, the second floor bar was dimmed and possessed a rich, earthy smell that overtook my senses. We sat at the far end of the bar, relaxing in the large chairs as we mulled over which wine to choose. Luckily for me, I have a boyfriend who knows a thing or two about wine, and thanks to him and the bartender, I got to enjoy the most delicious of wines. I had never enjoyed a red wine before, and the sense of maturity it inspired in me was astonishing. I mean, here I was on holidays with my boyfriend and drinking red wine, two things I had never done before!

The next morning we were woken up by a new kind of alarm. Instead of the mechanical tinkling that our brains have become programmed to recognise and loath, we were woken up by something else. Screams. The screams of an unruly child across the hall, his parents finding it perfectly okay for their child’s voice to reach unnatural decibels so early in the morning. Seriously though kid, are you even human? I cant decide if it was impressive, or impressively Infuriating. With the rain battering down upon the city of Kokura, we swiftly packed up and made our way to the last point of call before heading back down south. Sandwiches. A food I rarely get to enjoy in Japan. A little bit of advice for my fellow vegetarians and vegans reading this. If you ever want a good ol’ sandwich in Japan, take caution, for Japan likes to show its love of meat by adding it into everything. Everything. After a short wait outside the bustling shop, I was soon sitting across from a very grumpy bear of a boyfriend and the most delicious egg and hash-brown toasted sandwich in the world. Nagasaki needs to step up it’s game, thats all I’m saying.

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With many new wonderful memories attached along side the old ones, I left Kitakyushu with a contentedness in my heart. I was sad to leave of course, but I was glad to get back to Nagasaki. Besides, the adventure was not over yet, not when I was heading to Kumamoto the next day for Golden Week adventures round two!

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Thanks for reading ❤︎❤︎

Lets go to Unzen!!

After waiting for over a year for it to arrive, the Unzen flannel cabin party finally happened!

Being a block 10 event, the party brought in cool people from not only Nagasaki, but from Fukuoka, Saga and Ōita too. I had never been to Unzen before, and after seeing Emily’s video on last year’s party (a fellow Nagasaki JET), I just knew I had to go.

Clad in heart glasses, a flower crown (both available at Wego) and of course the required flannel, me and my buddy Aaron were all set to go! The bus journey was a little long, but absolutely worth it. The views were spectacular as we drove along the coast and winding roads sealed off by bamboo forests.  I wouldn’t be lying if I told you I got a little bit emotional. I was reminded suddenly of just how lucky I am. Japan is such an amazing country and I think sometimes I forget how beautiful and wonderful it can be. That’s why I love trips, they make me see how awesome my life is. And so, with good music, stunning views and pretty awesome company, the journey flew by!

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There was one stop, however, which cracked me up. Not far from Unzen, you can find a town called Obama. Not only was this town right on the sea, with steam coming out of the ground every which way, but it also had a very creepy statue of Barack Obama, which I felt made the place seem more complete. I’m sure you’d agree. It was an honour to have him wave to us on our journey!

The moment we arrived in the quaint, traditional styled City of Unzen, we were picked up by Emily and whisked away to our mountainous cabin resort. We had three cabins rented out and with hills, trees and an array of wildlife (in the form of Goats, horses and sheep, the latter of which I was very happy about, me being the proud Welsh person I am)  to keep us entertained. It was wonderful, and the feeling of summer saturated my skin. With three cabins to ourselves, I’m pretty sure we took over half the resort, which made me feel a little sorry for the fellow campers who were staying with their families. As much as I hate the phrase, I think of a bit of Gaijin Smashing happened, much to the regret of me and  the surrounding Japanese families. But truly, the place was idyllic and I was never more glad to be a part of block 10.

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With alcohol, a roaring BBQ and three cabins full of friends from all over Kyushu, there was little else to be desired. It became evident pretty soon, however, that I was not the drinker I one was, and have apparently left my party hat somewhere back in Wales. I didn’t even make it to 1 am, and was passed out in my pyjamas amongst the raving. Well done Naomi, well done.
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We spent our following morning eating homemade French toast on the veranda in the company of friends, everyone buzzed from the night before and basking in the warm spring sun.  I felt calm, at peace and more than ready for the day ahead of.  And so, clad in spring clothing and with a skip in my step, I set off to explore Unzen, my sense of adventure renewed.

With the smell of sulphur guiding us, Aaron, Christina and I decided to make the hells our first point of call, following the path between them as the earth bubbled and boiled all around us. As if it were breathing, the earth hissed and grumbled, spewing out steam from its core. Like stepping into the fires of mordor, the earth seemed alive, angry almost. Each hell has its own name and story and I wish we had had more time to read them all.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The path led us to a stone torii gate guarded by statues of lion like creatures. It was a beautiful sight, and for a moment I just had to stop and stare. The shrine was peaceful and beautiful, and deserted bar one demonic looking cat that watched over the shrine. I was reminded me once again of just where I was in the world and just how much I loved it. It may sound strange, but sometimes it’s easy to forget where you are and how much you enjoy your daily life.  I was more than happy for this overdue reminder.
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We concluded our little excursion with a visit to a homely little place called Kaseya Café. With a delicious array of bread and drinks to choose from, I was spoiled for choice! Which, if you are a vegetarian or vegan living in Japan, you will know how rare that is! Not wanting to leave the place of famous onsen boiled eggs without actually eating one,  I finally settled on an egg filled fried bread( I have no way of knowing if it was an onsen egg or not, but I can pretend that it was and feel a little better about the whole thing.) I decided to be greedy and add a soufflé-esque cake to my order, along with Unzen lemonade to wash it all down. It was pretty bloody delicious!

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At 13:00 on the dot the bus turned up, and we were transported back to our everyday lives. With the sound of The Lumineers lifting my soul, they bus journey sped by, and I was gifted once more with wonderful views. I went on to have a great evening with Chad,  filled with Chinese food and fireworks. My time in Unzen as brief, but I completely fell in love with the area and will 100% be visiting again before I leave Japan.

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A lot has changed

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皆さん、久しぶり!

Hello my lovelies, how are you all? Long-time no see, I hope you are doing well.

First, let me just say thank you for all your support up until now, it’s truly been motivational! I’m super lucky to have such cool people reading my blog. I promise to be a better blogger from here on out. ( I bought a ‘blog’ diary and everything! See, super motivated.)

So,  a lot has changed since the last time I was around. I’m pretty much still the same old seriously inept 23 year old, trying to be sassy while procrastinating 98% of the time. A few add-one and upgrades have been installed but I’m still kind of useless.

It all started on what was promising to be a typical valentine’s day, with a distinct lack of romance and far too much booze. Fate (aka, said alcohol), however, had other things in store for me. Having broken things off with the guy I was dating only a month or so ago, my heart was bruised and  naturally, I was feeling particularly fed up and frustrated with my luck. It was then, in a drunken haze that I suddenly thought to myself, ‘Why not make your own luck?’

And so, with a decent about of cocktails churning around in my stomach and seeping into my bloodstream, creating a chemical imbalance that resulted in something akin to courage, I confessed to  guy I had been crushing on for a while. 10 weeks have passed since then and this tiny act of bravery has led me to a cool guy with whom I can laugh, cry and just be a general tit with. It’s been so long since I’ve been in  a real relationship with anyone, and it’s still really scary. I still can’t get used to having  boyfriend, it’s just so weird. Weird, but good. Really good. And I guess ever since then, things have been getting better.

It’s not that my happiness relies on men and romance etc. It’s more to do with the fact that I’ve managed to make my own happiness, which is something I was always too afraid to do. It sounds simple, making your own happiness, but oftentimes it’s the simplest things that are the hardest. I’ve gained a grain of confidence and positivity and its left me wanting more.

Another changed that’s occurred, is my hair. For years I’ve harboured a secret love of short hair, always wanting to take the plunge, but never being able to follow through. The one thing I’m always complimented on is my hair, and for a long time I felt that cutting it short would directly cut its appeal. Like Samson, I found strength in my hair, like Rapunzel, I felt my hair defined me. However, she cut it short and it worked for her! And so, one Friday after a lovely lunch along Dejima Warf, I decided to pull a Rapunzel.

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Thanks to the wonderful and Talented Tajima-san, at Pandemic (a hairdressers I highly recommend for those of you in Nagasaki City), the transition from long to short was painless. I was hooked after the first chop! “Oh well, can’t stop now, or you’d look like a tit” was the actual thought I had. But for the first time in a long time, I smiled even mid cut, knowing I was going to love It. I was relieved when he came to cut my hair, and when I told him this he told me (with a sort of nervous but happy smile) that he had requested me when he saw my name. I was pretty much ecstatic. He’s talented, cute and it just gave me a sense of home for a moment, a feeling that can be hard to come by when you live in a country so vastly different from your own. For the first time in maybe seven years, I have short hair, and I’ve never felt better. Getting my hair cut is one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. Yay for spontaneity.

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Work Is also going better. During the spring holidays I was more productive than ever and have found great joy in my new position in the staff room after the annual teachers shuffle. I feel good, and when I look up I can see blue skies, tall buildings and a clear view of two cute teachers. Windows always calm and inspire me and I feel more relaxed for it. My supervisor became the new 1-2 home room teacher in the whole shuffle and has asked me to help out with her class on occasions as a sort of unofficial sub-sub homeroom teacher, which is something I am so ready to do! I love those students so much, they are adorable. In fact the entire first year at that junior high are adorable! It really helps teaching in the elementary school that most of them come from. I’m pretty sure the amount of students I don’t know, I can count on my hand. I’m also starting to gain confidence and a better relationship with my colleagues! …I think…

I’m also writing articles now! I’ve been so happy getting back into writing, and taking it seriously this time around. I’ve been writing for a Japan travel sight and was even featured on one of the weekly news letters, which was amazing! I’ve even recently submitted something for a paper back in Britain. They gave me a feature and will even include pictures! This is all for free of course, but that really doesn’t matter to me. I am so insanely excited! I’m still nowhere near the level I want to be, but I’m determined to try hard every day until I get there. I’ve decided to take my blog and diary more seriously, and my hobonichi is getting fatter by the day!

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I’m still the same mess I was, just slightly improved. A newer model if you will; the same old vessel, just functioning a little more efficiently. I know that with the guidance of my amazing friends and the continuous inspiration my fellow amazing bloggers and other outside sources *cough*pintrest*cough* that I can finally, slowly start down the road that will lead me to the person I’v always wanted to be.

 Next Goal: Be tidy, trendy and trim.