The Sophomore Slump

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Squirrel Garden in Machida, Japan

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I used to always feed squirrels when I was in California. They’re roaming freely around by the pier in Downtown Ventura. When I saw an ad about a squirrel “garden”, I immediately knew I wanted to go there.

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They are so cute.

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And utterly photogenic! I’ve always known that, so I was excited to come here.

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In Machida’s Squirrel Garden, they just scamper around everywhere. They are so many of them there.

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You can get a bag of nuts to feed them.

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It was so nice, amusing and such fun!

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They do get comfortable, and start to jump at you. And boy, they can jump. It’s up to you to be friendly or get jumpy. If you put the glove and the nuts on your lap, they will sit on you.

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They have different houses for them.

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…. and hotels.😀

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Is anybody home?

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This one was just chillin’ despite all the nut-grabbing action going around.😀

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My only reservation is that, unlike here, I was doing something like this when I was in California for free. Oh well, that’s basically what zoos are for. In this case, a squirrel “garden” is for.

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I do love that they’re plenty of them all in here. And they look like they’re enjoying themselves, and that they’re very well accommodated.:)

Last Call…

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How to get to Squirrel Garden: From Machida Station, take the North Exit. Go straight and walk about 5 minutes until you see POP building. Take the #21 bus in front of that building, look for the bus sign. You can use your PASMO train card for bus fare. Stop at Yakushi-Ike or Yakushigaoka , it’s a park right across squirrel garden. Best to tell the bus operator where you trying to stop at. I’ll post about Yakushiike Park later.😉

 

Life is like a Japanese restaurant. You never know what you’re gonna get.

I know that every country is different, but Japan is from a whole ‘nother dimension. Japan has such distinctions from other countries. Their culture is so unique. Their attitude is like no other. I’ve been in and out of Japan; six months in Okinawa back in 2014 and now, residing on mainland Japan for another six, so far. And I’m very glad for having this opportunity to immense myself to their awesome country.

Disclaimer: These are based on my experience while living in Japan. Some of the lines here may sound like I’m poking fun of their country, but I’m really just drawing the differences of living in Japan from any other places I’ve been to.

1. I’m going to a castle!!!

I was so excited when I got invited to go to a castle. When I think of castles, I visualize those dreamy, grand castles I see in fairy tales of towering heights, sturdy constructions, and ornate architectural designs. When I got to the first Japanese castle I visited, all I see is wooden structures. Even the insides are empty spaces, and all wood.

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When you go inside a Japanese castle, like it or not, you have to remove your shoes. You either leave your shoes outside or put it in a plastic; that way you are not spreading stench all over the castle like a skunk.:)

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Japanese castles may not be those dream-like, magical, fairy tale castles, but they still are imposing, stunning, and magnificent looking castles.

2. Lost in Translation.

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I was so ready to relax on this massage chair. I sat comfortably and smiling, but then I saw that they have a remote with Japanese writings on it! Man, I didn’t want to just press anything. I was afraid that if I press something, the chair would eject me to the roof.:)

Be prepared of the language barrier while here in Japan. Don’t worry, Japanese people are nice people; they will work with you if you ask for assistance.

3.Take a bow.

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Japanese are the most polite, respecting and humble group of people I’ve encountered with. They have manners, and so much etiquette. They take a bow when they greet, when they say “hai (yes)”, when they say “arigato (thanks)” or when they say “gomenasai or sumimasen (sorry/excuse me)”.  Of course, they bow on shrines and temples. Right when you walk in a restaurant (or store, sometimes), they greet you immediately.  So, when you are already inside and sitting in a restaurant, you will constantly hear greetings, after greetings, after greetings, after greetings, after greetings, after greetings… If it is a busy restaurant, your ears will bleed after you’re done eating.:)

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Japanese give such great customer service. Nobody tips in Japan, they don’t fake their politeness. There was this one time where a guy chased me out of the restaurant, down an escalator, just to give me back my change that I forgot to get. They are just the nicest people.

Japanese people like to say “konnichiwa” with a bow. It’s nice that they do that. When I hike, however, my eyes grow big, petrified like I’ve seen a ghost, whenever I see hordes of people coming towards my direction. That’s a lot of people to say “konnichiwa” and bow to. Konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow … I konnichiwa-ed and bow-ed more or less 716 times in one hike. By the time I was done with hiking, not only my feet are hurt but my back as well from being all bowed out.:)

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4. Life is like a Japanese restaurant. You never know what you gonna get.

I once entered a restaurant where their menus are all in Japanese and no English translation, and not much pictures on it. I didn’t want to just leave the premise so I just got me an easy order of dumplings instead.

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You may not know what you’re getting, but Japanese food are soooo delicious. They are incredibly cheap too! Even convenient stores have the best meals. Seriously, you can have a very decent lunch at a convenient store. Convenient stores here really are convenient.:)

I once entered a sushi carousel restaurant. I looked at a table on the opposite side of me, and they have gathered a jenga of sushi plates. I looked at them, and they are all skinny! I was in shock. I don’t quite understand how Japanese people maintain their bodies composition.

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If you’re ever in Japan, do yourself a favor and give in to Dydo Melon Shake (picture above). It’s heaven in a can. It is so good. It is so so good. Consider it my best Japan recommendation. You may find this at vending machines. You can see vending machines in every corner in Japan, especially in Okinawa.

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Care for some hot noddles?

It would not surprise me if I see a vending machine in the middle of a farm field.:)

5. Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute

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Japanese TV shows, ads, billboards, even warning signs!, cars, anime, karaoke, pachinko, fashion, food,  … Everything looks all happy, colorful, lovable and cute! You know those times when you’re stressed out or having a bad day and someone else is being overly cheerful and trying to get you to smile even though you don’t feel like it. That is how ridiculous adorable and cute Japan is. Their positiveness and cheerfulness is infectious too.

Live While You're Woung

They are always smiling! They’re happy and festive.

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Japanese people are “matsuri” people. There are countless of festivals in Japan. It’s ridiculous how many festivals they have that it’s overwhelming to pick which festival to go to.

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I love Japan. I’m so grateful for living in such a “foreign” land. These are my moments, and I’m so ready for some more exploration and adventure. Japan is so unique that it is full of the unexpected and surprises. I’m more than happy to embrace more of their incredibly unique and rich culture.

FYI: Did you know that there is a Japanese book called Norwegian Wood that has the lines “Life is like a box of chocolates.”? The book was published in 1987, and the movie Forrest Gump was in 1994.😉

My Seven Super Shots! (part deux)

Remember this?

Well, I’m reviving it. For those of you who are unacquainted, this is a tag post back in 2012 where you present a super shot for each of the seven given categories. However, mine are going to be super-duper shots.:)

This was my first My Seven Super Shots!

A photo take took my breath away…

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I submitted this photo to a contest run by a tour company, and it won! This view was what welcomed us at the start of our hike in Kamikochi. I could stay there for a long time, even just looking at that view right there. It is just so pretty. Definitely a view that rendered me speechless.

A photo that makes me laugh or smile …

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The dog gave life to the statue. I love how in sync they are on this picture as if they have a working relationship. They look like they are on watch. Or maybe they really were posing for the cameras because the house do get a good number of visitors. I took this shot from an outrageously weird house in Venice Beach – https://thesophomoreslump2.com/2014/09/09/el-bordello-alexandra-in-venice-ca.

A photo that makes me dream …

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This is a hard choice as I had a lot of photos to pick from. I equate vast ocean with traveling, so that’s dreamy for me. I could easily drift off just looking at this picture. I’m really just making excuses. I decided to pick this because it’s a personal favorite of mine.:)

A photo that makes me think …

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This great whale shark is gigantic! I remember my reaction upon seeing it. I was in great awe. This really is a photo that makes me wonder. I love how the people gives a gauge on big the whale really is. This Kuroshio Sea Tank is located at Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan.

A picture that tells a story…

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This photo was from a very public spot, Downtown Chania in Crete, Greece. I’m always been hesitant to take pictures of people, but I’m so happy that I braved in taking this shot. The image definitely raises a lot of questions that don’t really beg for answers. All I really see is that it really shows so much love. It’s a very romantic scene.

A picture that made my mouth water …

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Mykonos, Greece may not be my most recommended places, but we did have a fine Italian dining while there in Little Italy.

A picture that I am most proud of …

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This is from the same spot in Kamikochi as the first photo. On my post of Kamikochi, there is a similar but more close-up picture. Although I actually like this one better. I’ve always been fond on taking pictures where my subjects are on the side and not centered. To me, a more accomplished shot is one that could change in a moment or in an instant, but you were able to capture it. I think this is one of my most accomplished shots.

Here are my some pictures I took into considerations:

I am tagging the first one million bloggers who will see this post. If you are the 1,000,001th, don’t even bother me to try making the cut. I think it would be neat to revive this and see other bloggers’ responses. So, if you do decide to show your seven super shots, please do let me know.

 

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Last Call…

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Africa

It’s been a dream on mine to go Africa. I wanna see the beautiful people of Africa, and of course, the animals.

10. Place where you’d like to go

Paris, France

We didn’t exactly have a lot of time when we were in Paris. I’m grateful for my visit there, but a day and a half in Paris just doesn’t cut it. I would want to explore Paris more.

09. Place you’d like to go back to

Crete, Greece

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My girl in Crete was a good one. She took good care of me. I will never forget her.

08. Place where you lived a romantic moment

Italy

07. Place where you lived a memorable moment

Vigan, Philippines

[E]mpanada in Vigan

I would trade any other food I got in exchange of Vigan empanada. I’ve been many places and have tasted many culture food, but Vigan empanada is THE best of them all. We tried a supposedly Vigan empanada in Manila, but it’s just not the same as if you’re to get it exactly in Vigan. I’m craving for Vigan empanda. What I wouldn’t give for my lips to have a meeting with Vigan empanada again.:)

I wonder when we’d get to invent something that would record taste into memory. Ahihihi😀

06. Place where you had a tasty memories

Seville, Spain

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There’s just so much to see and do in Seville, and it’s just so pretty. I had a memorable fun night there too.

05. Place which surprised you

Mykonos, Greece

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My fault for having such a high expectation from our trip to Mykonos. I just don’t see how this place is popular.

04. Place which disappoints you

Iwo Jima, Japan

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We walked and hiked from the air terminal all the way up to Mt. Suribachi for 4 hours, to and back. I was beat. I couldn’t imagine the soldiers braving to go to war and fight, and then imagine them with the physical exhaustion they had to go through.  Mad respect to the servicemen who fought the Battle of Iwo Jima.

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03. Place which touched you

Italy

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I hated my work when I was in Italy. But it was such an awesome country, and I had THE BEST circle of friends.

02. Place where you had fun

Philippines

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I’ve been all kinds of places, but Philippines is the nearest and dearest to my heart.

01. Place you always bring with you

I decided to, for the first time, follow a rule of sticking to just one answer.😉

I was tagged by Living Out The Box and About Her Small World. They both have outstanding responses to this tagged post. I say head over to their posts instead of staying here on mine.

I’ve been wanting to do a post where things are backwards. I finally found one that I can apply that to. I apologize if this makes you dizzy and confused.😀

 

Abukuma Cave in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

I loved our trip to Five-colored Lakes and Abukuma Cave in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

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Our trip to Abukuma Cave was magical and fun!

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It was fun navigating inside the cave because we had to duck, stoop, and hunch down; side-step, and climb up to get through some low and narrow paths.

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It was so adventurous that I felt like Indiana Jones.

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The cave looks absolutely enchanting!

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It reminds me Gyokusendo Cave in Okinawa World.

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There is a certain cave light show spot.

That is the thing with going inside a cave, there’s that sense of exploration and adventure, and wonderment.

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Abukuma Cave is currently the only limestone cave in Japan that is open to public.

Last Call …

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Goshiki-numa, Five-colored Lakes in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

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I went hiking again on a National Park here in Japan. This time it’s Bandai National Park.

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Mount Bandai erupted in 1888 dropping mineral deposits to surrounding waters giving it different colors.

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I’m not sure because it’s really more like two-and-a-half-to-three-and-a-half-colored lakes to me.:)

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But don’t take my word for it as I am color-blind.:)

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And there not only lakes but ponds as well.

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We saw a natural koi pond.

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This one is yellowish, cream, or muddy color.

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The majority of the color is bluish green.

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Love the sound of water flowing when hiking.

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A bit of flowers on the trails.

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This is a very easy hike…

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… with lush greenery all around.

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The end of the trail was when we hit the big lake some boats.

Don’t miss the koi with a heart-shaped marking on its side.

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You may not noticed it, but it was actually raining that day.

It is more suggested to come visit this area during fall when the leaves change its colors as well as the lakes and ponds. It is said that the colors of the lakes and ponds depend on time of the day, the vegetation around, weather, and time of the year.

Last Call …

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My Amazing Race (Part 3?)

Is everybody ready? Alright, let’s get this race started. The world is waiting for you….

On my mark, travel safe, Go!

The Amazing Race is a show originated in the USA where teams (usually a team of two, usually 11 teams) race around the world and do a variety of tasks to get their next “clue”. For more information, visit http://www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race/ or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amazing_Race_(U.S._TV_series)

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Noticed the (?) on my title.
The first time I did this, it’s all over the world just like this post. I titled it My Amazing Race – https://thesophomoreslump2.com/2012/03/24/my-amazing-race/
The second time I did this, it’s only places in California
https://thesophomoreslump2.com/2015/02/13/my-amazing-race-in-california/

For this post, I am only including Seasons 20 – 28, that’s to continue the first time I did this.

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Starting Line – Season 27 – Venice Beach, California

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Teams started the race on Venice Beach (in front of picture #2 of this gallery).

Leg 5 – Season 20 – Neuschwanstein Castle – Bavaria, Germany

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The teams received their next clue which told them to “find the inspiration for Sleeping Beautys castle” (the one below, some teams confused it with the castle above).

[N]euschwantein Castle

Leg 5 – Season 26 – Munich, Germany

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Leg 6 – Season 27 – Paris, France

The Pit Stop was on The Arc de Triomphe (seen below).

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Leg 7 – Season 24 – Rome, Italy

One team had to deliver a typewriter to “The Typewriter” (seen below) as part of their Speed Bump.

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Teams had to count how many steps are there up the Spanish Steps (seen below).

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The Pit Stop was on Piazza del Popolo (seen below).

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Leg 8 – Season 22 – Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

Leg 9 – Season 26 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Teams had to maneuver a hot tub-slash-boat through the canals while solving picture puzzles.

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Leg 10 – Season 24 – Sevilla, Spain

Teams visited the Patio de las Doncellas inside Real Alcázar (seen below) to get their next clue.

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Leg 10 to 12 – Season 25 – Manila, Philippines

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On Leg 10, teams had to use a plow attached to a water buffalo (seen below) while searching for their next clue.

Caramoan

Leg 11 -Gotokuji Temple & Shibuya Crossing – Tokyo, Japan

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Teams had to search through a collection of maneki-neko, or beckoning cats (seen below), to find their next clue.

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Teams had to search the Shibuya Scramble Crossing (seen below) for a moving vending machine that held their next clue.

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Leg 12 – Finish Line – Las Vegas, Nevada

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During the roadblock, team members had to take a part of a magic stunt with David Copperfield.

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Finish Line – Santa Barbara, California – Season 28

Last Call …

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This is the third installment of my Special Reports before getting to #400.

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