Category Archives: Around the World

School Lunch in Japan

The best part about teaching English in an Elementary School in Japan was lunchtime. No, it wasn’t the food though it was delicious. It was the process.

Each day, a group of students from each class put on caps, aprons and gloves. Line up in front of the kitchen area. And, carry all the food, bowls/plates and utensils back to their classroom. They place them on a line of desk that they have arranged and begin serving their classmates. Once all the food has been served, students share an Itadakimasu (thanks for the food) and dig in! After lunch, students clean up after themselves and return dishes back to the kitchen area.

Both lunch and school cleaning times are opportunities that Japanese schools take advantage of to teach responsibility and service. I think it’s a pretty neat idea plus the kids look so adorable in their mask and aprons.

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Meet Me in Zion NP

I’m feeling a bit unmotivated with E. gone on a work trip all week. His office sent him down to St. George which is conveniently close to Zion National Park. The weather looks good so he’ll probably be spending most of his time here.

Zion is only fours hours away from Salt Lake City so we go down there fairly often to camp, hike, and bike. Last year, we also added canyoneering to the list and look forward to doing some more of it as the weather grows warmer.

Here a few photos from our past trips:

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Learn More than Origami in Japan

I’m sure you’ve heard of origami – the beautiful, intricate art of paper folding. If you don’t know already, you should definitely learn how to fold a (peace) crane while you’re in Japan.

You should also give these three types of Japanese art forms a try:

Sumi-e: We stopped by this booth at the Saku International Festival. Our instructor could probably teach anyone how to paint. I was pretty happy with how my maple leaf turned out. I should dig it out of the box and frame it.

Woodblock Printing: When in Kyoto, drop by the Kyoto Handicraft Center and have as much fun as we did. There are only a few different woodblocks prints to choose from but the process is neat. Afterwards, you can go to the shop and buy a print by someone who knew what they were doing.

Ikebana: A friend’s co-worker was an Ikebana instructor and arranged for us to come to her beautiful home. Now, if only I could create arrangements like these every day for my home.

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Sumo Tickets in Tokyo for the Budget Traveler

I’m taking on the Indie Travel Challenge sponsored by BootsnAll!

Week 5: Travels in Asia

Don’t miss the opportunity to see a Sumo match while you’re in Tokyo! With a little effort, it can be quite an affordable and memorable experience.

First off, check out the Tournament Schedule. You’ll want to look at the dates for Ryogoku Kokugikan. Tournaments usually run for about two weeks, three months a year. The earlier you go in those two weeks, the easier it will be to get a ticket. Pick a date and plan on being there around 7:30AM. Bring some sort of personal item to mark your seat with.

Once you arrive, there may already be 50-100 people in line. Don’t be discouraged.

You’ll notice that the line will be organized. There is no pushing, or shoving. Join the line and wait patiently. One ticket per person. You cannot send one person from your group to purchase your tickets.

Tickets will cost 2300JPY for the cheapest, non-reserved seating. You will receive a Sumo guide and schedule in English.  Find a seat in the non-reserved seating area, leave your personal item, and wander down to the main stage. Most reserved seating guests won’t arrive until later in the day to see the higher ranking bouts so feel free to hang out there for awhile. To get more out of your experience, learn more about Sumo here.

Do not miss out on trying chanko nabe. Follow the crowd, join the line and get a taste of a sumo staple for 350JPY. It’s not the best tasting food in Japan but its a fun experience.

You may also want to return another day to visit the Sumo Museum. During tournaments, admission is limited to reserved seat holders but outside of those dates, it’s free!

If there are no tournaments going while you’re in Tokyo, check out the other tournament locations in Japan.

Photos Courtesy of E:

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The Thrifty Traveler’s Guide to Attending the Vienna Opera

I’m taking on the Indie Travel Challenge sponsored by BootsnAll!

Week 10: Planning a Europe Trip

The highlight of my visit to Austria was attending the Vienna Opera. E&I did not even consider it an option within our budget until our Couchsurfing host informed us it would only cost 3 EUR. Yes, 3 EUR or 4 USD. We navigated the system to attend Arabella and can now attest that this experience is a must for any traveler.

Here is the run down:

1. Check any Vienna Opera ticket website to find the Vienna Opera schedule. Look at the price and feel good that you will not be paying that price.

2. Bring a scarf (this is important) and some form of entertainment (deck of cards, magazine, ipod…).

3. Go to the back entrance of the Vienna Opera House 90 minutes prior to the scheduled performance.

4. Wait. Buy ticket (Note: 1 ticket per person. You cannot buy for a friend. You cannot send your friend to wait for you). Wait. Hand ticket to ticket collector.

5. Run! – This is where chaos ensues. Forget everything you know about etiquette. Find a spot you want and beat the person behind you, next to you, and in front of you to get there first. Wrap your scarf (remember when I said this would be important) around as much railing as you can to mark your spot. Do not touch another guest’s scarf.

6. Relax. You have 45 minutes. Explore the historic Vienna Opera House and buy a drink with all that money you saved.

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