My First Year in Japan: In Pictures!

It’s unbelievable, but one year ago today I left the United States for Japan! Tomorrow marks my 1 year anniversary in Japan (crossing the International Date Line, it’s confusing!) and
I honestly can’t believe how fast this year has flown by. Time’s been moving at light speed!

Never would I have guessed how wonderful and challenging and rewarding this past year has turned out to be, there just aren’t words. Coming here was my first time to ever leave the U.S. and I’m hungry for more! I just wanted to show you some of my favorite memories from the past year (getting my thousands of pictures pared down was really hard!), and though I can’t show you my lovely students (privacy is taken very seriously in Japan) just remember I spend almost all of my time at school working with them and I love every second of it!

Note: This is a pretty long post because of all the pictures, I’m sorry but I hope you enjoy them!  I also haven’t edited any of these pictures, what you see is what you get!

Since coming here I’ve seen some breathtaking scenery (understatement of the century)

Sakura at a local shrine.
Sakura at a local shrine.
Near Senba Lake, Mito City, Japan
Near Senba Lake, Mito City, Japan
Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Hitachi, Japan
Hitachi, Japan
Oarai, Ibaraki, Japan
Oarai, Ibaraki, Japan
Sunrise from Mt. Fuji summit
Sunrise from Mt. Fuji summit
Mt. Nasu, Tochigi, Japan
Mt. Nasu, Tochigi, Japan
Mt. Nasu, Tochigi, Japan
Mt. Nasu, Tochigi, Japan
Near Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
Near Mt. Bandai, Fukushima, Japan
O-torii gate, Itsukushima, Japan
O-torii gate, Itsukushima, Japan
Itsukushima Island, Hiroshima, Japan
Itsukushima Island, Hiroshima, Japan
Sunset at school
Sunset at school
Skiing in Hokkaido
Skiing in Hokkaido

I’ve made some unforgettable friends who can make me laugh ‘til I cry

Training group in Narita! Mito Branch rocks!
Training group in Narita! Mito Branch rocks!
Post-karaoke, Hitachinaka City
Post-karaoke, Hitachinaka City
Mt. Tsukuba Peak, Tsukuba City
Mt. Tsukuba Peak, Tsukuba City
Kairakuen Park, Mito City
Kairakuen Park, Mito City-Still dorks!
Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
Hostel in Tokyo
Hostel in Tokyo
Kairakuen Plum Festival, Mito City
Kairakuen Plum Festival, Mito City
Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo Snow Festival-The Ultimate Lurker

I’ve traveled to many famous landmarks

Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree
Senso-ji, Tokyo
Senso-ji, Tokyo
Summit of Mt. Fuji
Summit of Mt. Fuji
Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto- I was so lost!
Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto- I was so lost!
Yes, the torii heaven! Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
Yes, the torii heaven! Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto
Imperial Palace Site, Nara
Imperial Palace Site, Nara
Todai-ji, Nara
Todai-ji, Nara
Tokyo Disney Sea! <3
Tokyo Disney Sea! <3
Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima
Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima
Meiji Shrine, Tokyo at New Year's
Meiji Shrine, Tokyo at New Year’s
Himeji Castle, Himeji
Himeji Castle, Himeji

And some not so famous ones, but equally as fascinating

Kashimanada Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan
Kashimanada Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan
Sand Art Festival, Hitachi, Japan
Sand Art Festival, Hitachi, Japan
Arashiyama Monkey Park, Kyoto
Arashiyama Monkey Park, Kyoto
Fukuroda Falls, Daigo City, Japan
Fukuroda Falls, Daigo City, Japan
Near Fukuroda Falls, Daigo City
Near Fukuroda Falls, Daigo City
The new Pokemon Center in Tokyo! <3
The new Pokemon Center in Tokyo! <3
A park in Iwakuni, Japan
A park in Iwakuni, Japan
Kintai-kyo, Iwakuni
Kintai-kyo, Iwakuni
Skiing on Mt. Nasu, Tochigi
Skiing on Mt. Nasu, Tochigi
Jozankei, near Sapporo, Hokkaido
Jozankei, near Sapporo, Hokkaido
Night lighting at Mito City Plum Blossom Festival
Night lighting at Mito City Plum Blossom Festival
Plum blossoms in Mito City
Plum blossoms in Mito City

There’ve been a few face-palm moments

Swan boat on Senba Lake, Mito City. We didn't really fit and the swans swarmed us!
Swan boat on Senba Lake, Mito City. We didn’t really fit and the swans swarmed us!
These. Always a sigh of resignation...
These. Always a sigh of resignation…
Approximately two seconds from now I'll spill the entire thing all over a tatami mat. Those are damaged by moisture...
Approximately two seconds from now I’ll spill the entire thing all over a tatami mat. Those are damaged by moisture…
Never go hiking on a holiday. Golden Week=Traffic and insane crowds everywhere!
Never go hiking on a holiday. Golden Week=Traffic and insane crowds everywhere!
It took us 4 hours longer to get here than it should've, it was raining with ankle deep mud, and once we did it we got about 4 hours of lost again on the way home. Total driving hours: ~13 hours that day +4hr hike! -Mt. Bandai, Fukushima
It took us 4 hours longer to get here than it should’ve, it was raining with ankle deep mud, and once we did climb and descend we got about 4 hours of lost again on the way home. Total driving hours: ~13 hours that day +4hr hike! -Mt. Bandai, Fukushima
Waited all day to go get a spot and wound up under the freeway overpass... Sumida River Fireworks Show, Tokyo
Waited all day to go get a spot and wound up under the freeway overpass… Sumida River Fireworks Show, Tokyo
I was making reservations for Mt. Fuji when my phone ran out of money. I drove around for about half an hour only to have to start the process of them trying to find the English-speaking staffer all over again!
I was making reservations for Mt. Fuji when my phone ran out of money. I drove around for about half an hour only to have to start the process of them trying to find the English-speaking staffer all over again!
What?!
What?!
Yes, that deer IS eating my map. The one the helpful lady had put all the helpful hints on... Nara, Japan
Yes, that deer IS eating my map. The one the helpful lady had put all the helpful hints on… Nara, Japan

And I’ve challenged myself in ways I never thought possible, trying everything new I can get my hands on

Sashimi. I don
Sashimi. I don”t like fish, let alone raw fish. But I’ve now eaten a ton of “I-have-to-be-polite” sashimi.
Fish again! I tried to filet a whole fish for the first time. I may have been seriously freaked out and mutilated it, but it was edible!
Fish again! I tried to filet a whole fish for the first time. I may have been seriously freaked out and mutilated it, but it was edible!
I'm apparently scarred by fish... But really, aren't these creepy?!
I’m apparently scarred by fish… But really, aren’t these creepy?!
My first time in Tokyo was by myself and I figured out the train system! After a few mishaps...
My first time in Tokyo was by myself and I figured out the train system! After a few mishaps…
Can anyone do this well other than the 3 year old next to me who got like 20 fish, I got 1 by cheating and he gave me an extra pity fish...
Can anyone do this well other than the 3 year old next to me who got like 20 fish? I got 1 by cheating and he gave me an extra pity fish…
Climbing Fuji is the most physically demanding thing I've done. It was amazing!
Climbing Fuji is the most physically demanding thing I’ve done. It was amazing!
Calligraphy was so much fun! Let my inner artist shine!
Calligraphy was so much fun! Let my inner artist shine!
Tea ceremony was wonderful, I love matcha and I love sweets. There is no down side.
Tea ceremony was wonderful, I love matcha and I love sweets. There is no down side.
Karaoke is definitely a
Karaoke is definitely a “no” in the States, but I brave it sometimes here where we have our own private room.
Skiing in the snowstorm in Hokkaido was magical, cold, but magical!
Skiing in the snowstorm in Hokkaido was magical, cold, but magical!

Whew! Thanks for sticking around!

There is no way I can show you all the little moments, which are probably a lot of my favorite times here. When a student tells you they love you or an inside joke is born. It’s been the most fantastic adventure, not to sound cliché but truly it’s been life-changing. Everyone says that but they’re all right, there’s no better way to describe it. Living and working abroad is life-changing and the greatest opportunity I’ve ever had. I think everyone should do it, the hardships and the triumphs are all worth it and create a valuable learning experience.

Thank you everyone for bearing with me this year; I know I’m not the most consistent writer. It’s been a fabulous year and I can’t wait to share with you all that is yet to come!

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7 thoughts on “My First Year in Japan: In Pictures!”

  • I loved your YouTube vlogs and now your blog. You’re experiences made me so excited to start working with Interac also. I’m in Japan now and so far It’s been great. I hope to have as great an experience as you. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Hey! I’ve lurked on your blog for a while, since I started applying to Interac last November. I’ve now got a job, starting in August! First of all, I just wanted to say I fully agree with Linda, your vlog/blog is awesome. The content is relevant and captivating, and you’re very personable. A lot of useful tips for when I head out! I’m still waiting to hear on my placement and I’m sure I’ll be as excited and fangirl(boy)ish as you were!

    I just wanted to ask, I was thinking of starting a similar blog/vlog when I head out. I quite like your blog in that you create videos but you’re still geared towards pictures and text. Do you have any tips for someone who has never done something like this before? e.g. what kind of camera to use, your thoughts on vlog v blog, thoughts and ideas.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Hey there! Congratulations and thank you so very much, that means a lot!! 😀

      My videos I mostly made because I was too impatient to sit and write all the information in a blog post… :p It was my lazy way out! lol I had never done anything like this before either, for some of the vlogs (most actually) I was just using my laptop’s webcam. For a few I, like the seminar one in the car, I just used the camera I already had. A Nikon CoolPix or something from Costco.

      I personally prefer to write, it’s always been easier to say what’s actually on my mind in writing versus out loud. That definitely varies from person to person, I know a lot of vloggers who hate to blog! My biggest thing is to not try to emulate a blog or vlogger that you like and use your own voice. It’s so much easier when you let your own personality shine through, and then it won’t come across as forced or dry. At the very beginning I’d look at popular blogs and think I needed to be more like them but it never went as well as if I just sat down and started writing. I never map things out beforehand while some people have to. This means some posts have gone in different directions than I thought but I’m satisfied with all of them because they’re mine.

      Basically, blog or vlog for yourself first. If you wouldn’t read it, why would anyone else? 🙂
      And let me know if I can help with anything else! Good luck over here and with your project! Let me know when it’s up, I’d love to check out how your adventure is going!

      • Thank you for the detailed reply :). I put my thoughts together better in writing too so I think a blog makes a lot more sense. If I have any other questions I’ll be sure to let you know.

  • Woooow. These pics are exciting me more and more and reminding me that I am making a great decision moving to Japan in a mouth from South Africa as an ALT. I want to explore Hokkaido winter. Looks like nothing I have ever seen

    • It was like nothing I’d ever seen too! Just magical! 🙂 I also hear Hokkaido in summer is gorgeous so if you can get up there for both seasons I’d recommend it, especially if you’re an outdoorsy person. Treasure your adventure, and keep me posted! 😀

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