Cuddling at the Koala Sanctuary

We stopped at the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary, just outside of Brisbane, for some quality time with Australian animals. Much cheaper than the Australian zoo, the Koala sanctuary cares for over 130 Koalas, as well as kangaroos, dingos, wombats and a platypus! After walking past the bird cages, we met the biggest bats I have ever seen. Seriously scary looking bats. Then it was on to the good stuff. Koalas!
Koalas are one of those animals that are actually in cute in real life as they are in their stuffed animal incarnation. Maybe even cuter. They have an area at the sanctuary where you can hold a Koala for a short while. They charge nearly as much to take a picture as they did for admission, so we opted out of the photo, but we still got to hold a Koala for about 30 seconds. They were very cuddly, and their fur was rough, unbelievably cute.

Then we headed over to the emu and kangaroo enclosure. They had a huge field for these animals and they wandered around relatively free, emus taller than me, and about 50 kangeroos and wallabies. You could even feed the kangaroos. There was a presentation from the staff on how they cared for the animals, many of them having been adopted while injured or babies. It was very informative and included adorable photos of baby animals!

We watched a sheep herding and then a sheep shearing demonstration, which was actually quite interesting. The men they had doing it where actual shearers and herders and they gave a great presentation about the history of the industry in Australia. We loved watching the dogs working, sheep really do follow each other quite easily.

We even got a chance to see an elusive cassowary. Those are some scary looking birds! The platypus, unfortunately, remained elusive, even in captivity, and was hiding most of the day.

I would highly recommend Lone Pine, we felt like the animals were well treated, and we learned a lot about animals we don’t have in Canada. Our favourites were the koalas, the kangaroos and the wombats. Too cute. A informative, enjoyable and excessively cute day!

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Introducing Anpanman

Japanese popular culture. World renowned for Anime, Pokemon and Karaoke, and now, for Anpanman.

Anpanman, my favourite new pop culture phenomenon, is a superhero made of bread. His head is made from the popular treat Anpan, a bun stuffed with red bean paste.

He was created by the Japanese writer, Takashi Yanase. Takashi created him as a superhero that could also feed people after he dreamed of Anpan while serving as soldier in WWII.

He is by far the most popular children’s character in Japan, and with good reason. He and his friends – Shokupan man (white bread man), Currypan man, and Melonpannachan (Melon bread girl) save the world every episode from the evil Baikinman (germ man).

After a long day of stopping whatever Baikinman was planning, Anpanman often feeds the victims of Baikinmans crimes with pieces of his own head. Don’t worry dear friends, because as soon as Anpanman returns home, his head is replaced with a new one baked by Uncle Jam.

I recently visited the Anpanman museum in Kochi, and it was crazy. Hundreds of toddlers running around screaming ‘ANPANMAN!!’ I am bringing home one of his comics translated in English, and am so excited to share it with the uninitiated. A superhero. Made of Bread!

How to: take the JR to Tosu-Yamada, and then take the Bus to the museum. You can’t miss the bus, it is painted all over with Anpanman characters. It only leaves twice an hour, costs 600 yen and is 25 minutes long, but it’s well worth it for this hilarious slice of Japan.

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Last night we stayed up all night with the help of multiple canned coffees from 7/11 to watch hundreds of Japanese men (and a few children) pull floats around the town. We scored an excellent spot near a garbage pail of water that people were throwing on the participants, so we got nice and wet, which was seriously appreciated, considering how hot it was at 5 am.

We are off to visit an island for the long weekend but here’s a really cute picture! So excited for the beach!

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Happy Hands

It’s the little things that I will miss most about Japan.

For example, my sweet tap penguin. The tap in my bathroom is connected to the toilet, and this little guy waves his arms every time the toilet is flushed.

Good times in the bathroom!

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What’s that on your Fridge?

Purikura, or Print Club, is an extreme photo booth experience popular with high school girls and with me. Almost every girl in my school has purikura photos stuck all over their pencil cases, binders and even their rulers. Arcades, shopping malls, and even the dollar store have purikura booths and I have easily become addicted.

After you enter the booth, and deposit your 400 yen, you are given the option of making your skin darker, your eyes sparklier, and choosing the background. Each of these decisions is stressful, as the screen is in Japanese, and you are given a short time to make your choice. After taking your photos in front of a green screen, you can add writing, pictures, make up, accessories and hilarious english phrases to your pictures.

The pictures are printed off as stickers, and you can also send them to your cellphone, or add them to a display book on the machine.

I love Purikura and often coerce my friends into going with me so I can add to my excellent collection.

While I know there are a few booths in Canada, and it’s popular in other Asian countries, regular Purikura is definitely an activity I will miss when leave Japan.  However, it’s so ridiculous and Japanese, that it doesn’t really belong anywhere else.


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Japan and Canada – Cultural Adventures

One of the side goals of the JET programme is ‘grassroots internationalization’, a phrase I have heard so often this year I forgot it wasn’t a thing that people elsewhere said. Regardless of any slang I picked up, interacting with students and the community and teaching them a little about Canada was one of my favourite parts of living in Japan. While I am not sure that they understand what poutine is, or that it’s not cold in Canada all the time, at least they can accurately draw our flag, which is more than I can say for many Canadian students, or me.

I held a quiz this morning and the students could tell me that the most famous sport in Canada was ‘ice hockey’ and that the most famous food was ‘mapalru syrupu’, and that the capital was Ottawa. Of course, they also know that Avirl Lavigne and Justin Bieber are from Canada, and I think that endears them to the country more than I ever could. It was my last class with the second year students, and I am going to miss them a lot.

Teaching here definitely has it’s frustrations and disappointments, but it’s all worth it when a student finally greets you with something other than ‘how are you?’. My favourite new saying this month is “What’s cup Heather? What’s cup?”

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