Kyoto Station
Kyoto Station. It. Was. MASSIVE. The biggest train station I have ever seen in Japan. And it looked recently built, with it's funky design and general cleanliness. Not like the drab, rusty Shimonoseki Station.
Outside the train station was a taxi queue and a bus depot. Below the train station was the subway station. Very convenient.


written by Ruthie @ 8:57 PM   1 comments
Sembon Torii
My mom came to Japan to visit me during Spring Vacation, so we spent a few days in Kyoto and Osaka. The first place we went in Kyoto was the Fushimi Inari shrine, home of the 10,000 torii gates that little Sayuri runs through in Memoirs of a Geisha. So of course, I ran through them as well. Not all of them, mind you. There were a heck of a lot of gates.

Videos to come later.


written by Ruthie @ 10:02 PM   3 comments
This is an example of "purikura," a type of photo booth that is very popular in Japan. First you take pictures with a group of friends. Next, you decorate the picture using a stylus on a touch screen. Then you wait for the pictures to be printed on sticker paper. Then you cut the pictures out, distribute them to friends, and stick them all over everything!A few coworkers and I had a small birthday party for Ami and Nakamura-sensei, so after we went out to eat we took purikura together.


written by Ruthie @ 9:49 PM   4 comments
Because cereal and milk are so expensive in Japan, I usually buy breakfast pastries or bread at the grocery store to eat for breakfast. Earlier this week there were some assorted pastries on sale for only 98 yen, so I bought a few. I was most excited about something labeled "Cheese Danish," a long, flaky pastry with a strip of white, creamy something down the center. Most Americans, I think, would assume that the white, creamy substance was cream cheese, since the package says "Cheese Danish," and all Americans know that when the word "cheese" is coupled with the word "danish," it doesn't mean "gouda" or "parmesan" but "cream cheese" or something comprable. Since I really enjoy cream cheese, and I enjoy danishes, I figured this was a no-brainer.

The next morning I sat down with a glass of apple juice, a mikan, and the Cheese Danish. I took a big bite of the danish, ensuring that I would get some cream cheese on the first bite. What I tasted was definitely NOT cream cheese. It was salty, with a slight mayonnaise-y flavor, and not pleasing to my tastebuds in the least. I inspected the package more closely to find that the strip of white creamy stuff down the center was something called "cheese mayonnaise," a product not only unheard-of on breakfast pastries in the States, but generally unheard-of in any capacity. I was extremely surprised and dissapointed. My breakfast was ruined.
written by Ruthie @ 9:30 PM   1 comments
It's getting to be flower season in Japan, and I am very excited! I know there are lots of flowers in the US, but not like Japan. I don't think it's possible to live in Japan and not notice cherry blossom season, azalea season, or hydrangea season. Right now it's tsubaki season (pictured below). I think the English word is "camellia" or something. It's funny-- I learned the Japanese word for something I didn't know in English. That only seems to happen with vegetables, different kinds of seaweed and flowers, though.

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written by Ruthie @ 8:48 AM   2 comments
Personal Motto
My coworker gave a chapel speech recently about making a personal motto. She asked the students to think about and answer ten questions, then use those answers to create a personal motto. Here are the ten questions and my answers:

1. What am I most committed to in my life?

I'm committed to being true to myself and to other people. I'm committed to excellence in everything I do. I'm committed to my responsibilities and to keeping promises.

2. What am I most grateful for in my life?
I am most grateful to my family and friends, for their unending support and love.

3. What makes me happy in my life?
Time with friends makes me happy. Watching good movies makes me happy. Listening to good music makes me happy. Seeing other people happy makes me happy. Making people laugh makes me happy. Being productive makes me happy. Finishing a good book makes me happy.

4. What do I enjoy doing in my life?
I enjoy making things: music, greeting cards, knitting, food, poetry, scrapbooking, collages, etc. I like creating.

5. Who do I love?
I love my family and my friends: Lis, Nala, Face, Candifer, Chi-chan, and more.

6. Who loves me?
My family and friends love me.

7. What are my top three goals in life?
To continually seek truth, to study music, and to travel the world.

8. If I knew I could not possibly fail, what would I most want to do?
I would either be a professional opera singer or a composer.

9. What three things make me feel good?
Singing at the top of my lungs, drinking good tea, and listening to beautiful music makes me feel good.

10. What do I want to have, do, and be 10 years in the future?
In 10 years I want to have a doctorate in music theory, I want to write a symphony, and I want to be a mom.

I encourage you all out there to answer these questions honestly and see what it reveals about you. I don't even think making a personal motto is necessary, though it is a nice thing to pull out and remember in the hard times. I'm still having trouble generating a personal motto from the above answers. Anybody have any suggestions?
written by Ruthie @ 12:26 AM   0 comments
Kit Kat
More new and crazy Kit Kat flavors from Japan:

Top: two different kinds of Kit Kat bites. On the left is something called "fruits mix flavor." On the right is cherry-flavored, in honor of the swiftly approaching sakura season. At the bottom is pudding-flavored Kit Kats. The "pudding" it tastes like is more of a custard or flan than what I think of as pudding (the instant Jell-o kind comes immediately to mind). None of these flavors really tickled my pickle, unfortunately. The pudding flavor wasn't bad; I wish it would've had more of the browned caramel flavor.

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written by Ruthie @ 5:30 AM   1 comments
Q: So Klaus, why is it that in Germany you have Hamburg and Frankfurt, but they have nothing to do with hamburgers or hot dogs?

A: from Wikipedia: Western New York history recorded that Frank and Charles Menches ran out of pork for their sausage patty sandwiches at the 1885 Erie County Fair. Their supplier, reluctant to butcher more hogs in the summer heat, suggested they use beef instead. The brothers fried some up, but found it bland. They added brown sugar, and other ingredients to create a taste which stands distinct without condiments. They christened their creation the "Hamburg Sandwich" after Hamburg, New York where the fair has been held since 1868; the name was probably later condensed by common use to the shorter contraction "hamburger" (and so explaining why a beef sandwich--which never contained any pork--bears this name). German sausages, or wurst, cover a wide range of cooked, uncooked and unfilled styles (no casing), such as frankfurters, bratwurst, rindswurst, blargenwurst, knackwurst, and bockwurst.

Q: Why is your Lake Titicaca not filled with boobs and poop?

A: Have you BEEN to Late Titicaca? It's disgusting!

Q: Here's a question: when you come home what is the first thing you would eat if you could choose? Why? And what does this symbolize about yourself and your spirituality?

A: Authentic Mexican food, from, say, Taco John's. Or my mother's kitchen. Out of all the foods that are unavailable in Japan, I miss Mexican food the most. I miss the flavor of cumin and cilantro, I miss fresh guacamole, I miss having as much sour cream as I want, I miss good, sharp cheese. I think this symbolizes that I have a deep longing for spice in my life that is not being fulfilled here in Japan. Wasabi just doesn't cut it, apparently.

Q: When you first arrived in Japan was there something that just struck you as impossible? Some hurdle you never thought you'd jump yet have since been able to accomplish?

A: For awhile I thought it would be impossible to make close friendships with Japanese people, as it is thought in the West that they are very cold people (Like Bridget's mum says, "They're a cruel race."). My first couple of months here, I just couldn't get close to anyone. All my relationships were shallow, surface. But now I do have one very close Japanese friend, so I suppose that hurdle was jumped.

Q: How have you seen yourself change since leaving the US?

A: My taste in clothes has changed A LOT. Those people who knew me in college and high school would be surprised to hear that I dress rather conservatively now. Granted, when I have the chance I put on the bright jewelery and colorful shirts and I still sometimes wear ties as belts, but it's nothing compared to how I used to dress. I also think I am a lot less silly, in general. I have really become an adult version of the "school days Ruthie" since being in Japan. It's like Ruthie 2.0: sleeker, mature, but still innovative and fresh.

Q: What aspects of "re-entry" shock are you nervous about, if any, when you come back to us?

A: I am genuinely worried that my English will be horribly mangled by the time I get back to the States. That, and I'm sure there are new idioms and slang that I haven't been around to hear, so I'll have to ask people what they mean and then everyone will laugh at me. It will be like going back to junior high school all over again.

Q: Are those microphones at Burger King just to make the people look cool, or do they have some sort of other purpose?

A: While those microphones definitely DO make people look cool, they also do serve a purpose. When the cashier says a hot food item into the microphone, the sandwich makers in the back know what to start making before it appears on their monitors. If they know they will need to start frying more chicken patties if another chicken sandwich is ordered, when they hear the word "chicken" come from the cashier, they know to start frying a few seconds earlier. And in the fast food business, a few seconds is a lot of time.
written by Ruthie @ 12:45 AM   0 comments
I haven't really been in the blogging mood lately. I just can't think of anything spectacularly witty to say. Since I suffer from a blogging brainfart, I decided I would ask my audience if they had any questions for me. Do you want to know something about Japan? Would you like to hear more about something I've blogged about in the past? Do you have a brainteaser to offer me? Anything ending in a question mark will do, really. I will answer questions I deem worthy (read: pretty much any questions given) in the next blog. Happy questioning!
written by Ruthie @ 9:30 PM   3 comments

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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