Well, there goes January. It barely felt like two weeks, and then it was over. January was quite the interesting month. Seeing my family and friends in America, and then transitioning to very cold, Japanese weather. On top of that, this Friday, I must make my decision about whether I will re-contract for another year, or not. Let’s just say, for my simple life in Japan, I’ve been in constant contact with the stress monster. I realize that I’m very young, and I have my whole entire life to have a steady (aka. normal) job. That being said, I still don’t know what I will be doing after this one year contract ends. Currently, I’m exploring opportunities to find a different non-teaching job or go to graduate school. I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends and family members who are helping me find my way. I wouldn’t say that I’m ready to leave Japan now, and from the job market back home, I don’t have much to go home to. That being said, I’m going to do my best to stay abroad one more year, particularly in Asia. However, I still have no idea what I want to do.
Ok, back to the weekend adventure. This weekend was greeted by lot’s of skype sessions with family members and unexpected snow. On Sunday, I had a great plan of driving to famous landmarks in my area and exploring them. When I finally looked outside, a lovely blanket of white had covered the ground, and was still falling. Nevertheless, I made a deal that I would explore, so explore I did. My first stop was in Minokamo City (just NW of me). I found Mt. Atago, thank god for the GPS on my phone, and atop Mt. Atago was a gigantic Tengu (roughly translated: demon). He is about the same as a 3 story building! I walked around the Temple’s grounds, there weren’t many visitors, so I felt a little out of place, but that didn’t stop me. Since it was snowing, it really made for some fantastic sights.
The Giant Tengu and I
The Temple Area
After visiting the Tengu, I figured that one stop would not be enough. So I set out to visit another town that has a peace memorial in it. However, 5 minutes into my journey, I was crossing a river when I saw Koyama Kannon (“Island Temple”). Immediately, I changed my plans, as this was something I was told not to miss. I followed the signs, and about 2 minutes later, I was walking across the bridge to the temple. If you haven’t guessed already, this temple is on an island in the middle of a river. You cross a bridge and viola, you are there. Once again, this island was pretty deserted. My guess is that it was too snowy and windy, (about 30 F outside) for people to leave their warm houses. I didn’t blame them.
The Koyama Kannon
The Very Loud Bell
The Frozen DragonAfter the Island Temple, I was lucky enough to spot a “Places to Visit in Minokamo” sign. I found one more place, typed it into my GPS/phone, and off I went. My last stop was Zuirinji Temple. I wanted to visit here because it had a famous wooden Buddha. Sadly, the Buddha was lucky enough to be protected from the cold. Unlucky for me, I didn’t get to see him. I walked around and actually went inside the temple. I will never get tired of the incredibly artistic designs and layouts of temples, they are truly amazing.
After those three stops, I decided to investigate a mall I’ve never been to. I went in, walked around, and on my way out I passed a McDonald’s, with this sign, advertising the Idaho Burger. I couldn’t contain my laughter, and I’m sure people thought I was crazy for taking a picture, but who cares! I went on the McDonald’s website and I found out that this burger has a mere 715 calories in it. Crazy! I am determined to visit a McDonald’s sometime and order this burger (without the bacon of course). It would be likely having breakfast and lunch at the same time, due to the lovely hash brown stacked atop a hamburger patty and cheese.