Hello, my name is Christian O'Brien. I am the teacher at Olive English. It is my great pleasure to introduce myself and share my blog with you. I hope you find it interesting!!
Christian's Blog - Winter Fun
It is still winter in Akita, but the weather seems to be turning to spring. I hope that everyone was able to get out and enjoy the winter weather. If you haven't, please get out soon. I have a feeling that the warm spring weather is coming very soon, and that we don't really have much more time.
I was finally able to go snowboarding recently. I went to the Tazawako Ski Area. It was the perfect day to go as well. It was cloudy, and it was not too cold and not to hot. The snow was also excellent. Some of the slopes had fresh powder snow, it felt like snowboarding on a soft cake. I had a lot of fun. I have to go again soon, I was thinking of going to the Ani Ski Area on Mount Moriyoshi. I think I better hurry though, I think that in the next few weeks the snow will be gone. I'm not too sad though, I can't wait to eat festival foods under the cherry blossoms in Senshu Park.
Christian's Blog - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
I hope that everyone had a great Christmas last year, and a great New Year holiday. The weather this year really didn't put me in the Christmas mood. I guess that I like to have a snowy white Christmas. This year there has really not been much snow, and it kind of makes me think about my childhood Christmases. Me and my family would always go to a Christmas tree farm, and walk around until we found the perfect tree. Then we would cut it down, take it home, and put it in our living room. We would then warm up by drinking hot cocoa while decorating it together. It was a really fun thing to do as a family. This year we didn't have any snow on Christmas, but it was good anyway. My wonderful wife gave me a slow-cooker for Christmas. I can cook foods all day at low heat so that they are very tender and flavorful. I already used it once to make a Chicago specialty, Italian beef sandwiches. They were really good, I can give you the recipe if you would like (don't worry, you don't need a slow-cooker to make them). I really had a good time on the New Year's break as well, but it has been a little boring so I will be glad to get back to teaching. I hope you have a great year everyone!
Christian's Blog - Owl Cafe
The other day, I was in Hirosaki, Aomori. It was a cold day to go, in fact there was snow on the ground and it was a bit hard to drive. I still thought that the drive was very interesting though. It was the first hard snow I had seen this year so I was enjoying the view of the mountains, fields, and trees covered in snow. It sometimes makes me feel fresh and alive. It was really too icy to stop and take a picture though. When I was in Hirosaki, I didn't go to the castle. It was too cold for me to walk around in the park, and I brought the wrong shoes to be walking in the snow anyway. This time I visited an interesting coffee shop. This coffee shop was popular because it had 15 owls that you could look at, pet, feed, and hold on your arm. I always liked owls, in Western countries owls are considered a smart animal (like owl in the Winnie the Pooh stories). I think that their big eyes and the way that they move their heads is cute. I had only seen them in the zoo before, so this was a very new experience. I was really impressed with how big some of them are. It is something that pictures really can't show you very well, but I took pictures anyway. If you like owls, or just want to see them up close, and you are in Hirosaki, you should check them out at this cafe. Do you like owls? Do you know any interesting cafes in the Tohoku area? I would love to hear about them.
Christian's Blog - Mount Moriyoshi
This autumn I went to see the waterfalls of Mount Moriyoshi. It was a great time to go, although everyone else seemed to have the same idea. The roads on the way to the mountain were filled with people driving slowly looking at the beautiful autumn leaves. I had a good time. I think that autumn in Akita is the best season. There is lots of the cooler weather finally moves in after the burning hot summer, there are lots of good foods, and the changing leaves look amazing on the mountains.
On Mount Moriyoshi, I first drove down some very narrow (and a little dangerous) roads. Then I hiked to the waterfalls. The hike through the forest was very beautiful, with many small waterfalls and the colored leaves. The sound of the river seemed to melt my stress away. Once I got to the waterfalls I was very impressed by how big they were and how close I was to them. It was a little difficult to get pictures because the spray from the falls was covering my camera. It wasn't a very easy hike though, I would recommend it for an adult, but taking children might be a little difficult. I hope that you can go. Where are your favorite places to look at autumn leaves? Are there any special waterfalls that you like?
Christian's Blog - My bicycle trip
I got a new bicycle! I also equipped it with new handlebars and a new seat. My old bicycle is good, but for riding on the street or for long distances, it's just too hard to ride. My new bicycle is much lighter and has a solid back fork, so I can go much faster and it takes less effort. To celebrate getting my bicycle, I went on a day trip by bicycle to Oga. The total trip was 100 kilometers. It was fun, but it was a serious ride. I rode along the coast so I had a beautiful view of the sea the whole way there. The view was amazing. I especially liked the rocks in Oga and the fishing port. They seem to have a timeless atmosphere, maybe they have been very similar to the places that were there one hundred or even five hundred years ago. I took a many breaks on the way there, so it took much longer than I was planning. In total it took about 8 hours, including my stops to rest. I was ready to go to sleep right away when I got home. Surprisingly though, I was not too sore the next day. I think I will try it again... next year. Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle that far? How about running or walking?
Christian's Blog - Summertime
I always liked the summer in Akita. The weather is usually sunny, although sometimes that can make it too hot. I think it is the perfect time to go hiking or fishing. The cool mountain valleys are some of my favorite places to go. I love the look and smell of the forests and the sounds of cicadas singing in the trees. I would like to go to the mountains more often, but it is hard to get the time off.
I enjoy going to the beach and going fishing as well, but my fishing skill has been pretty awful. In America, I would catch lots of fish. Those fish are not so popular in Japan though, bluegill and black bass. I would usually eat them as well. The trick to eating them is that most of the strange flavors are in the fish's skin. Fish like catfish, which are very popular to eat in America, are the same. Usually, I eat them fried, this covers up any strange flavors that might remain after removing the skin.
I hope that by next year my fishing skills will have increased enough for me to catch real fish in the sea. What do you like to do in the summer? Do you like to take it easy or do you like to stay active?
Christian's Blog - Rokkonsai
The Rokkonsai festival was in Akita. It was a lot of fun, I hope that you had a chance to go. I was particularly impressed by the Japanese stunt flying group, Blue Impulse. It was a hot day when I went but I had a good time.
I also really liked seeing the different festivals from around Tohoku. It was very interesting. The people watching and the people participating all seemed to be having a good time. I hadn't seen some of the festivals before so it was good to see what they are all about. I would like to visit these festivals some time, but it's difficult since they are usually within a few days of each other. I still think my favorite is the Kanto festival. I like the atmosphere and the skill of the performers. I really want to see the other ones sometime soon. Which festival is your favorite?
Christian's Blog - Are you busy as a bee?
On Wednesday last week I was enjoying the warm weather outside when I accidentally found a Japanese honey bee hive. There were not many flowers on that day since the weather was still a bit too cold, but the bee hive was bursting with activity. I got up really close to the hive to take some pictures. The bees didn't seem angry that I was there, but some of them seemed annoyed I was standing in their way. They would fly out of the hive and fly towards me before turning at the last moment. They were too busy to notice me. In English, there is an expression, busy as a bee, that means that you are very busy. Recently I have been busy as a bee. I haven't had a chance to go outside, except to go to my car or a class. There is another important expression to remember though, stop and smell the flowers. It means that you have to take time to slow down and enjoy life. If you are too busy working, you can forget why you are working. So please remember, even very busy bees always stop and smell the flowers.
Christian's Blog - Cherry Blossoms!
The cherry blossom season has finally come to Akita. I am so happy to be surrounded by these wonderful and beautiful flowers. It feels like I have been waiting years to see them. I think that the cherry blossom season is one of my favorite times of the year. It feels like the earth is finally waking up in a beautiful display of color and life. I feel like I am doing the same. After a long sleep during the winter my mind is waking up. I feel like my mind is sharper, and I have the urge to go outside and do things.
Christian's Blog - Spring Planting
This week I was helping my father-in-law by helping on the family farm. I really like farming so it was fun. We used a machine to help us plant the rice seeds for this year. It was a lot of work, and since I was the youngest man there I was given the job to do all of the heavy lifting. Today my back and legs still hurt. It was nice to do some work like that though. I like the feeling of satisfaction you get after a lot of hard work, when you see everything that you were able to do that day. We planted the rice seeds and after a couple weeks we will take those small seedlings out to the field and plant them into the ground. I am looking forward to when we can have some delicious rice from all of our hard work. I am still a little sore, but I am excited to do more palnting this year. Hopefully there won't be as much heavylifting next time.
Christian's Blog - Mountian Vegetables
With the warmer weather of spring comes new growth in the mountains. What I am talking about is the wonderful mountain vegetables in Akita. I have only collected mountain vegetables once before, and this year I am excited to get the chance to collect them again. I eat them pretty often and of course any excuse to go into the forest is good for me. In my home town in America, we didn't collect vegetables from the forest very often. We would sometimes collect mushrooms, but vegetables were different. I did collect a plant called garlic mustard which was very delicious, but that was all. In Japan, there are so many different mountain vegetables to collect. Many of them are very good. I am getting hungry just thinking about it.