Things I do when I'm not teaching...

I saw this old man working on a mural near Asakusa and I had to take a pic. It was so cold that night and I seriously admired his dedication to his art! 

A few of my friends from church decided to have a fun night out and go to Escape Hunt! I had never been to anything like this before...but basically you get locked in a room with a few clues and you have to find your way out. It sounds a bit scary, but actually it is so fun! We had 1 hour to "escape" the Samurai room...we had to decode some clues and unlocked hidden doors...and we got out in 40 minutes! *also, they make you wear these costumes the entire time which, surprisingly, made it more fun haha*

I took a Japanese Calligraphy class last week and learned that calligraphy is SO MUCH HARDER than it looks!! It really requires a steady hand and focused mindset. Although I wasn't so smooth with the paintbrush, I loved this kanji that translates to "look up at the sunrise"

Every night when I come home from work I walk through the train station and out the back exit. While walking past the bus stop this particular night I couldn't help but pause when a perfectly formed line of people were waiting for the bus. This is Japanese style. 

One Sunday after church I met my friend Yuki in Iidabashi. We spent the afternoon walking around Kagurazaka, which has the most amazing traditional Japanese restaurants and tiny shops tucked back behind the main shopping street. This was a men's suit shop, which had the coolest bike in front!

We visited this really clean and modern shrine. It was pretty cool to see traditional design mixed with modern features like glass walls and wood panels.

While in Kagurakaza, we ate lunch at this suuuuuper Japanese restaurant. We ordered these beautiful chicken bowls that came with miso soup, a few various tsukemonos (pickled veggies), and jello for dessert. It was so pretty I almost didn't want to eat it 

That tiny door on the a restaurant!! That was literally the front door to the tiny restaurant that seated about 5 people...amazing. 

We ended our afternoon at Saryu, this cafe that has the most incredible desserts. I ordered the caramel crepe cake and Yuki got the macha-maron (chestnut) cake. We had to wait about 30 minutes out in the cold for a table to open up...but it was so worth it!!

OKAY. THIS. This was one of my favorite things I have experienced thus far in Japan. Let me just say that everyone should experience eating lunch at a Japanese elementary school. As part of my contract I am visiting a few elementary schools and teaching lessons to the little ones...and this was the first school out of 6 that I'll be going to. At lunchtime the kids all eat the same thing everyday and take turns serving up the portions to their classmates. 

This particular Kyushoku (school lunch) was curry, veggie salad, an apple slice, and milk!! The kids were so incredibly efficient, serving up food like professionals and helping each other with their trays. They also ate incredibly fast and I was impressed by the portions they served up. After teaching 3 classes I spent the afternoon running around playing tag and jumprope with the was the best!

An afternoon in Ueno park! I can't wait until I can come back here in the end of spring/summer when things start warming up. 

While in Ueno park, Steph and I went to Park Side Cafe to grab some coffee. Japanese people love the concept of "cake-set" or "drink-set" and almost every cafe has a set with a coffee/tea and a cake. We split this really good cake set. yummm.

My sweet friend Caroline suggested we go eat I looked up some places in Tokyo and found good reviews (and photos) from this place near Ueno called Nenostu. It is hidden in the backstreets near Nezu station and only seats about 12 people. Luckly, we got there when it wasn't crowded and ordered right away. I wasn't prepared for the Magic that was ahead...

WHOA. WHOA. Just looking at this pic brings me back to this amazing udon. Not only were the noodles the perfect chewy-ness....the broth thick and tasty...but the FRIED MOCHI on top just took it to the next level. Anything with mochi in/on it is a win in my book, so this mochi udon will go down as the best I've ever eaten. Already dreaming on when I can go back...

After dinner we walked around a bit and then headed over to Ochanomizu to go to Glitch coffee...this super hip and cute place that has really good coffee + snacks. Japan loves their small coffee shops and I've become much more of a coffee drinker since moving here. *also, never thought I'd meet such a sister in the elevator going to church my first week in Japan. But God is good and I am thankful for the time I've been able to spend with this one! Caroline is heading back to the states in a few weeks since her contract with Disney is up - but so thankful for her!

look at that pistachio cinnamon roll! 

Talk about the longest escalator ever! It was super weird standing on this, kind of felt like I was on some rollercoaster at dland, and I couldn't help but laugh and remind myself - you are indeed in Japan!

I am thankful for my teaching job and the joy I get going to work Mon-Fri, but I am also thankful for the free time I get to explore all that Japan has to offer!