UPDATE: We’re Still Alive

久しぶり

Hisashiburi!

That’s long time no see in Japanese, because it’s been quite a while since I’ve written in this space. It’s 2017 already, which means that in less than 90 days (84 to be exact), we will have lived in Japan for one entire year.

Things picked up here quite a bit in November, and by the time December rolled around, we were all more than ready for our winter vacation (desperate, really). Not having more than a day off here and there since August is truly exhausting, but I’m here today to say WE ARE ALIVE!

In October, we climbed 1000 steps to reach Yamadera, a temple that sits on a mountain peak.

yamadera

In November, Wakakusa took us to Hananoyu, which is an Onsen resort about an hour away from where we live. We spent one night at the resort soaking in the hot springs, and got to partake in a delicious buffet. After our night at the resort, we spent the next afternoon exploring one of the five colored lakes of Goshikinuma.

img_0048

We also celebrated our first Thanksgiving here, and I cooked a turkey in our tiny Easy Bake-esque oven. Our recruiter, Nate Tucker, was visiting from America and was able to celebrate with us too. It was so nice seeing him again, and he even brought us cheese! Cheese is a hot commodity here in Japan! Not really – it’s just super expensive because Japanese cuisine doesn’t include much dairy.

 In December, Wakakusa took us on another excursion to a German pub for Dixie Land Jazz – a night filled with Japan’s take on German food, and three hours of bumping Jazz music. This was our Christmas present from Enchou Sensei, and was definitely something I never expected to experience here in Japan. December was also the month of the Kindergarten Christmas program and the Rotary Club dinner. Our team was asked to sing at both of these events, and we wowed the crowds with our renditions of “White Christmas,” and “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

Our computer decided to die this month, and we were fully convinced that we had lost all of our important pictures and important documents. I’d like to say this was my excuse for not writing…..but that would be a bit of a fib.

The most memorable thing about this month, however, was our much anticipated trip to TAIWAN!

We left Japan on December 23rd, and spent 10 days circumnavigating the entire island and eating night market food. We hiked up Elephant Mountain, biked around Sun Moon Lake, stayed one luxurious night at the Grand Hotel, and went to the Taipei Zoo. There were so many other things that it warrants another post series, but I’ll leave that for another day. Overall, it was a dream trip, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better traveling companion.

We spent New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks display off of Taipei 101 from our Airbnb rooftop, and I Skyped my mom and sister in to watch it with us. Thank you, modern technology.

And now, January. 

We are back in Japan, and I started teaching again yesterday. Caleb has a few more days before he has to report back to his JR. High School, but we are both so happy to be back at home. Our computer is also alive and well (a quick cord replacement did the trick), and after I post this I’ll begin the process of culling and editing the pictures that I took in Taiwan – I have about 2500 pictures, so I definitely have my work cut out for me.

I am so excited for what this month will bring! There are a few projects that I started last year, but that I put down due to our work load picking up. I entered the New Year with a fresh perspective and a renewed energy, so I plan on launching those projects this month!

The first project is….drum rolllll…… a new website! 

While I won’t give too many details away, Caleb and I began seriously thinking about creating an actual website (like one you buy a domain name for), and I have slowly been chipping away at the design and content since about October – suspiciously also about the time that I stopped paying attention to this blog… But no regrets, right? I created a new timeline for the new website, and will launch it officially on January 31st. 

The second project is….a vlog! 

I’m a bit nervous about this one, but also really excited! We took a ton of pictures in Taiwan (2500 remember?), but also recorded almost every moment of our trip on video. I have a lot to learn about how to even create a vlog, but hope to have at least one video up on youtube by the end of the month. I can’t promise it won’t be awkward, but hey! I’m ready to try new things this year.

This month we also have a trip to Nagano planned, and I might just cry if I see any baby snow monkeys.

That’s about all the updates we have for you! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years, and are excited to continue sharing our adventures with all of you!

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