Saturday, March 30, 2013

Odakyu Odawara Line

Our base is situated about a 5 minute walk from the Sobudai-mae station on the Odakyu Odawara line.  This line runs between Tokyo and Odawara so it's super convenient for us when we want to get out and sight see.  I realized the other day that although I have jumped on the train at Sobudai-mae and road all the way to Tokyo or Odawara hundreds of times, I've not seen much of what is in between.  I know this idea is a little late in the game but I decided I want to visit every station on the line, all 47 of them, before we leave here (in approximately 125 days but we're not talking about that because it makes me cry)!  I made a list (I seriously love lists, in case you haven't figured that out yet) and I had already spent time at 12/47 so I have 35 left.  
  1. Shinjuku
  2. Minami-Shinjuku
  3. Sangūbashi
  4. Yoyogi-Hachiman
  5. Yoyogi-Uehara
  6. Higashi-Kitazawa
  7. Shimo-Kitazawa
  8. Setagaya-Daita
  9. Umegaoka
  10. Gōtokuji
  11. Kyōdō
  12. Chitose-Funabashi
  13. Soshigaya-Ōkura
  14. Seijōgakuen-Mae
  15. Kitami
  16. Komae
  17. Izumi-Tamagawa
  18. Noborito
  19. Mukōgaoka-Yūen
  20. Ikuta
  21. Yomiuri-Land-mae
  22. Yurigaoka
  23. Shin-Yurigaoka
  24. Kakio
  25. Tsurukawa
  26. Tamagawagakuen-mae
  27. Machida
  28. Sagami-Ōno
  29. Odakyū-Sagamihara
  30. Sōbudai-mae
  31. Zama
  32. Ebina
  33. Atsugi
  34. Hon-Atsugi
  35. Aikō-Ishida
  36. Isehara
  37. Tsurumaki-Onsen
  38. Tōkaidaigaku-mae
  39. Hadano
  40. Shibusawa
  41. Shin-Matsuda
  42. Kaisei
  43. Kayama
  44. Tomizu
  45. Hotaruda
  46. Ashigara
  47. Odawara

I must clarify that by "visit" I mean spend some time exploring the area, not just go to the station, snap a photo, and carry on to the next one.  I want to see the town (or lack there of) and walk the roads and have a meal there or shop at a local shop.  I want to really experience each station.  Between this and my 30 while 30 list, I will try not to overwhelm you all with list recap posts but I'm hoping to share some of the more exciting towns with you all.  Most of these will probably be lunch time adventures alone or with whatever friends I can drag along but today, even though the weather sucked, Jason and I went out to check of Tamagawagakuen-mae (I'm finally at a point where these words don't totally intimidate me and I can pronounce them with little or no difficulty).

The streets of Tamagawa were beautifully decorated with these flower tile mosaics every few feet.  

Fun flowers on the street

A "Jesus School"...kind of curious exactly what this is...

Our Japanese is still pretty awful and somehow we screwed up a basic food order.  We had intended on sharing one of these sets but accidentally ordered two.  We were NOT that hungry but the food was good.

I love fun reflections and this building gave us exactly that.

A train leaving the station.

Jason has perfected the rail slide but I don't think the Japanese think it's as cute as we do.

Like I said, the weather sucked (it was cold and damp) but we had a great time exploring the streets of Tamagawa.  Can't wait to explore the rest of the stations!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sakura + Models + Camera = a fun day!

A year and a half ago I attended a photography workshop in Yokohama (you can read about that here) and met a phenomenal local photographer by the name of Alfie.  Since then I've been able to attend a few workshops/photo walks he's hosted and learned a ton!  This weekend he hosted a very informal walk with a few models along a river that was full of sakura trees.  I had to rearrange my schedule and drag my butt out of bed after a long night of pub crawling but it was totally worth it.  I had a great day, met some great new photographers, and came home with some images I'm pretty happy with!

The scenery was breathtaking!

Hanami is a Japanese tradition of enjoying the sakura dating back to the 700's and usually includes friends/family, food and booze.  They even sell specialty sakura sake and snack for the occasion.

There were people of all walks of life out enjoying the day.

These women were adorable and so incredibly friendly

These little girls were trying to catch sakura that the wind was blowing off the trees.

The models were great.

Shinyong was stunning as usual.  These are two of my favorites from the day!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Another week and another list of 5 things I love about Japan!

1. Believe it or not, I love the Japanese style toilets (don't worry, it was clean when I snapped this).  You don't have to sit on nasty seats and you don't have to touch the handle to flush, you just step on it.  I know some people have issues with the whole squatting thing but I grew up camping, I'm used to squatting to pee in the woods, so it's no big deal to me.

2. Ramen.  This is probably my favorite food here.  I know I say that a lot, but seriously,  I don't think I've had a single bowl of ramen that I didn't enjoy.  Plus, it was my very first Japanese meal so it holds a special spot in my heart! (and now this is what we're having for dinner tonight because my mouth is watering just looking at this photo)

3. Lost in translation.  I'm not sure if they were going for crimper or curler or what here but I'm pretty sure it wasn't clipper based on the photo. 

4. Colored strips of road.  They paint certain intersections red to indicate that it is particularly dangerous and you should be extra cautious.  How smart!

5. Fun takes on American favorites.   Corn chowder flavor Doritos and salad flavor "Pringles" are just a few of the choices.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

80's night

This weekend we attended a going away pub crawl for some friends who are leaving (so it begins again, I hate PCS season).  They decided to celebrate 80's style and we had a great time getting into character.

I found these gems for $10 and the fact that they were purple and in my size in Japan (which never happens), they had to happen!

We took our fun get up to Burger King to fill our bellies, the looks we got were priceless.

Then we took the train to Machida.  Again, more priceless looks.

Two fly fellas

I'm so lucky to have this man!

My sexy man with the 80's rock star!

I don't even know what was happening here but it had to do with road drinks!

After a few drinks.

None of the bars they picked served the umeshu that I love so between 2 stops we went to a liquor store and I bought a bottle to carry with us.  I finally had a drink at bar 3.

Playing some crazy drinking game at a pub.  The locals were loving it even if they had not clue what was going on.  We even had some of them singing "We Will Rock You" with us.

We ended the night with 80's karaoke.

A great night was had by all!

Somehow I didn't get any photos with the couple that's leaving but I know others did, thankfully.  It was a great way to go out, they took CD's and DVD's and had the bars we went to play them for us so there was a constant flow of 80's music and Back to the Future on in the background.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CTC vent session

I don't even know where to start here but I feel like I need to get this out.  (it's eventually going to be a letter written to the Commanding General and Garrison Commander of Camp Zama, but I might choke someone if I don't get this out now)  I started attending Central Texas College back in January in an attempt to finish my degree before we leave Japan.  The amount of trouble and stress I have had to deal with while trying to complete a simple general studies associates degree has been unimaginable.  I am so disgusted with the standard of service provided here on Camp Zama and would not recommend taking classes though the CZ CTC campus to anyone!  Let me see if I can list all of the incorrect, partial for flat out lack of information I have received.

1.  I was never told that I needed to apply for graduation.  The (former) site rep knew my intent to graduate in May when I went into her office on 15 Jan and she never mentioned that I needed to apply for graduation before 1 Feb.  (Graduating in May may or may not be happening now, I still don't know.)

2. I was told the government class I took at EMU 10 years ago would transfer as the govt 1 class required by CTC so I took govt 2 last term.  Come to find out, nope, my previous class transferred as govt 2 so I then had 2 credits for the same class and none for the other.  (After MUCH struggle, this has been fixed)

3. The midterm I took for my history class last term is currently MIA.  I took the proctored exam in CTC office but my instructor never received it.  (As of right now it is still currently MIA.  Without it my final grade is a B, with it, I am certain my grade will be an A. All I can do at this point is pray that it turns up.)

4.  While I was waiting to hear about my transfer credits I was told that I could register for classes that started yesterday through this week.  Come to find out the deadline was actually 2 weeks ago.  (3 phone calls, 2 emails and a fit full of tears, I was granted an exception and permitted to register late for the class)

There were more but these are the ones that stand out in my head right now.

The only positive in this situation is that in less than 7 weeks (God willing!), I will be done with all of this nonsense, my husband will be done with 18+ months of company command and we will relaxing on the beaches of Okinawa!  7 weeks, 49 more days, I can do this, I know I can, but prayers are definitely welcome and appreciated!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Blossoms

The unseasonably warm weather we've been having (hallelujah, winter is finally over in this part of the world) has resulted in an early sakura (cherry blossom) season.  I'm not 100% on the difference between cherry blossoms and plum blossoms so I won't even try to guess which is which but I went out today with Buster searching for some of the first blossoms.  I'm trying to soak in every ounce of them this year since this is my last sakura season here in Japan so you will probably see lots of these in the upcoming weeks.