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March 2019: Hiking Mt. Gongen, Mt. Koubou, and Mt. Azuma in One Day!

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Anna, Lya, Meg, and Kyejin went hiking 

On March 17th, on a beautiful Sunday, Anna, Lya, Meg, and Kyejin went hiking to 3 different mountains, Mt. Gongen (権現山), Mt. Koubou (弘法山), and Mt. Azuma (吾妻山).

Those mountains are located between the Hadano and Tsurumakionsen stations on the Odakyu Odawara line and the stations are easily accessible from Shinjuku station directly without any transferring. It takes about an hour only so it’s a perfect day trip from Tokyo!

Since each mountain is about 250m tall only, it was a relatively easy hike. There are plenty of picnic tables and benches so we could rest enough and play fun card games whenever we arrived at the summit of each mountain. It’s said you can enjoy an amazing view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day but unfortunately it suddenly got cloudy when we were at the observatory. It’s also a popular place, especially during the cherry blossom season.

1. Was this hiking easy or hard? Score from level 1 (easy) to level 5 (hard).

Meg: 2.5 or 3 because of the uphills.

Lya: The hike was 2 hard. The beginning was pretty straining but it got easier after a while ^^

Anna: Mount Koubo was an easy relaxing hike although as usual, it started with stairs but we did our best and got easily to the first stop!

Kyejin: 2. If it was just one mountain, I would give 1 but since we hiked to 3 mountains in one day, I give 2!

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing).

Meg: 3 The view was nice and you could see a nice view of the area we were in.

Lya: I would give a 4 to the scenery. It was beautiful and we could see far, but we missed the Sakura blooming. That would have been a 5.

Anna: We had perfect weather for hiking not too hot not too cold so we enjoyed the day a lot. There were nice stops in the way like a sightseeing mini tower, statues of the demons of the woods and lots of Sakura trees that unfortunately hadn’t bloomed when we went. So if you have the chance to get there when they bloom I’m sure the views will be even more rewarding!

Kyejin: 3. Too bad we weren’t able to see Mt. Fuji or cherry blossoms but still there were a small temple, a big bell, an old well, an observatory, interesting trees, pretty flowers, weird bugs(?) and lots of sheep ᏊˊꈊˋᏊ so I enjoyed it a lot! Also, we had to walk along the river from the station to the park for about 15-20 minutes and I liked that too.

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Meg: Sushi Go haha

Lya: Playing Sushi Go (≧▽≦)

Anna: This time we enjoyed the breaks playing cards and eating!

Kyejin: Of course playing Sushi Go! It’s a “Spanish(?)” card game Anna brought.

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Meg: Eating fried chicken from the fried chicken shop was awesome! The omiyage shop was really good too with lots of testers.

Lya: If we don’t count dinner, we mostly had snacks, so nuts and cheese FTW. And that chocolate thing that Anna and Ruben brought. (• ε •) If we count dinner, the fried chicken was amazing. And the fried cheese. I like all the foods. ALL OF THEM!

Anna: This mount didn’t have any food stalls so make sure to bring your bento/onigiri when hiking! After that, we also walked around the area and tried karaage from a からげ専門店 it was very good!

Kyejin: We found a karaage shop that won lots of awards from international competitions. We had to wait in a line but it was totally worth! The Nagoya restaurant we went to after hiking was pretty good!

5. Will you recommend this mountain to others? Score from 1 (No) to level 5 (Absolutely).

Meg: 3 I recommend this mountain but maybe less than our previous ones because there wasn’t so much to see or attractions on the actual route of the hike but we did see sheep which was fun!!! There was also a sign for possible monkeys!!

Lya: 4 because it was pretty but there can always be a prettier mountain, somewhere. Also, lack of sakuras. But please go see it fit yourself

Kyejin: 3. Yes, it was easy enough and fun enough at the same time.

6. Any comment?

Meg: The hike was really fun and relatively chill this time compared to previous hikes. We ate lots of snacks, played lots of games, and ate some yummy fried chicken that has apparently won an award. Then, we went to Izakaya for more food. Yay! We love food! Haha. I really enjoyed my time with everyone and it was only one train ride away from Shinjuku. The weather was good too! Thanks, everyone!

Lya: I want to play more Sushi Go. The hike concept should be to play it in more and more extravagant places. I want to win once at least, everyone was so good!! (≧▽≦)

Kyejin: It was super fun! It’s always so pleasant to have a great time with great people! I’m already looking forward to our April hike.

~ Anna, Lya, Meg, Kyejin

P.S. Please join this healthy and fun hiking in April, dear ILL people!

February 2019: Plum Festival at Soga Bairin, Odawara

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Plum Festival in Japan

Odawara Plum Festival is held in Soga from early February to early March every year in Japan.

 

February 23rd was the perfect day for our February hiking, and Anna, Lya and Kyejin went to Soga to enjoy the beautiful plum blossoms and “mini” hiking.


 

This was what’s written on the board in the view point:

Soga Plum Orchard

The Soga Plum Forest, located about 4 miles northeast to the central district of the city of Odawara. The forest is made up of three areas: Bessho, Hara, and Nakagawara, approximately 35,000 trees of white plum.

The views of Mt.Fuji, the Hakone and the Tanzawa mountain range and the Sagami Bay are also wonderful, and it has been selected as Kanto Fujimi 100 view (One of the best places to enjoy viewing Mt.Fuji).

 

Message from Anna:

“Wonderful Saturday surrounded by plum trees.

This last Saturday due the start of the hay fever season (with the fear of sugi trees) and knowing it was time for ume to bloom Kyejin-san proposed a nice adventure in Soga. I think that’s the first time I see so many ume trees in their fields with lots of space for walking and zero crowds!

We had an enviable picnic (that goes for you who hasn’t joined yet ;-) )and we finished with a mini hike to a viewing point of the city.”

 

Message from Lya:

“The weather was grand, and so were the Ume trees!

We had tasty food (thanks Anna!), a nice walk and a lot of fun. One of the highlights was to find wild kiwis and pet Shiba inu. Much love! (๑♡3♡๑)”

 

Message from Kyejin:

“I haven’t seen so many plum trees before (there are over 35,000 trees!) and haven’t realized how colorful they are. We did a “mini hike” and could see the whole village filled with colorful plum trees. That’s why we could smell plum flowers anywhere in the village.

The picnic was awesome too. We bought Japanese festival foods including umeshu Lya treated and one of my favorite parts was Anna’s Spanish omelette. That was just perfect for the ume picnic!

It’s alway so pleasure to travel with good people. The plum trees were beautiful but our trip was even more beautiful :D It was full of stories and fun moments! I already look forward to our next adventure.“

 

The next hike is going to take place on March 17th! Are you joining us? Let us know!

- Anna, Lya and Kyejin

January 2019:The Mt. Nokogiri Hike

Monday, February 4th, 2019

 

Four brave hikers challenged the cold winds to see some breathtaking views on top of Mt. Nokogiri. Alice, Anna, Ernst and Kyejin went to Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture on a crispy clear Sunday in late January.

 

 

January is a tough month for hikers. The cold makes hiking a challenge, even with the right equipment. We wanted to go to Mt. Takao, but a last minute change proposed by Anna led us to Mt. Nokogiri.

 

 

It is about 329m tall and there are an astonishing 1,500+ Buddha’s on the mountain. Small ones, huge ones, laughing ones, smirking ones, studying ones, sleeping ones, etc. There was no end to them! Sadly, not all were intact. During the Meji-era a lot of Buddha’s were destroyed in an anti-Buddhist movement. Even now, there are CCTV cameras watching over the statues.

 

 

Alice has visited Chiba before, but that was for Disney and Narita airport (who of us cannot relate to the last one?). Alice said it was wonderful to spend some meaningful time in Chiba, because we definitely did some exercise there! We had to walk up so many stairs, that the stairs still haunt my dreams. Or rather nightmares…

 

 

Happy to report that from Mount Nokogiri, we had excellent, unobstructed view of Muira and Izu Peninsula, Tokyo Bay, as well as Mount Fuji most of the time. That we could see Mt. Fuji from almost every stop was awesome, as Anna tells us. With some extra training, some of us want to conquer Mt. Fuji one day!

 

 

We also got to admire the 31-meter-tall carved Buddha and unusual rock faces. Unusual in the sense that Mt. Nokogiri was a former quarry and the rock was cut out and shipped off. There was another very large Buddha carved out on the wall of an abandoned quarry site.

 

 

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the temple that was built on Mt. Nokogiri, as it was under renovation and construction. Hopefully the next visitors will be able to see the temple. In any case it was a nice day trip out of the busy city!

 

The next hike is going to take place on February 23rd! Are you joining us? Let us know!

 

 

~Alice, Anna, Ernst and Kyejin

Halloween at ILL

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Hello!

Last month on the 28th, we had a mini Halloween party in our Tokyo office!

One week before the party, we also started decorating the office to enhance the Halloween festive mood.

And here are some pictures from the event :) We set up a make-your-own-tacos? burrito? kabab? table for the October event.

 Some of us also dressed up in costumes! Can you guess who we’re dressed up as?

Thank you!

Nanatsu

Bowling Night at Innovative Language

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Hi everyone! Nanatsu here.

 

As it’s been forever since we last updated our office event blog here, we’d like to get back to sharing it with you all. My name is Nanatsu and I’ve worked on content for JapanesePod101.com in the past and now I’m working on the HR team at the ILL Tokyo office, and I’m also one of the party organizers for the company. :)

At the ILL Tokyo office last Friday, we had our 3rd after work party this year! This time, we got ourselves down to the iconic city central of Tokyo, Shibuya, and had a company bowling tournament! =○

Here are our co-workers, Matt and Nori playing “太鼓の達人 (Taiko no tatsujin)” the popular arcade game while waiting for the others to show up at the bowling place…

At the bowling alley we went, シブヤEST (Shibuya EST), we could use a monitor to order food and drinks remotely just like one of those 居酒屋 (izakaya, Japanese-style bar) or カラオケ(karaoke). Although it maybe took a little longer to get service here than in an izakaya, it was still very convenient as we could 100% focus on the game without having to run to get food.  

 

After ordering some food & drinks and some announcements from the party organizers as usual…

 

 

 The game begins!

 

“Nailed it.”

“I’m done.”

 

Everyone did a great job, trying their best to get the top score! Great job!

 

(All photo courtesy to Jaehwi, our KoreanClass101.com star!)

Have you been bowling in Japan? It’s one of the most popular sports to play after school or work since many bowling alleys in Tokyo are open until late at night. You will see a lot of “サラリーマン (sararīman) practicing even around midnight while drinking a beer or two. If you have a chance to visit one, please check out the place with the convenient ordering machine, too! 

#UberIceCream Delivery: Smiles at the Office!

Friday, July 15th, 2016

We still don’t have Pokemon Go here in Tokyo, but we do have free ice cream with #UberIceCream!

#UberIceCream

Today 400 cities around the world are enjoying frozen desserts delivered by Uber. Tokyo was one of the cities, so it was the perfect opportunity for the Innovative Language team to enjoy the refreshments.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect: a sad grey sky, rain, and high temperatures because summer in Tokyo is not a joke. What better way to enjoy the Friday, the infamous last push before the weekend, than with  ICE CREAM?! It’s a universal way to create happiness.

And this is what happened after we had an unexpected ice cream break, with a bag full of Ben & Jerry’s delivered by Uber to our office in Akasaka! There was ice cream for everyone, some colourful shirts, and pins to complete a perfect scene as we savoured the Bourbon Brown Butter or Dark Chocolate Brownie flavors!

 

Whether you’re an Uber driver or part of the #TeamTaxi, never forget that it’s possible to learn a language in your car!

And to all other language lovers, don’t forget to enjoy our hot 30% off deal on one of the 34 languages of your choice with the “SUMMER2016” discount code. The campaign starts on July 18th, 2016 ! 


Click the link below to get a HOT 30% OFF at…

AfrikaansPod101 | ArabicPod101 | BulgarianPod101 | CantoneseClass101 | ChineseClass101 | CzechClass101 | DanishClass101 | DutchPod101 | EnglishClass101 | FilipinoPod101 | FinnishPod101 | FrenchPod101 | GermanPod101 | GreekPod101 | HebrewPod101 | HindiPod101 | HungarianPod101 | IndonesianPod101 | ItalianPod101 | JapanesePod101 | KoreanClass101 | NorwegianClass101 | PersianPod101 | PolishPod101 | PortuguesePod101 | RomanianPod101 | RussianPod101 | SpanishPod101 | SwahiliPod101 | SwedishPod101 | ThaiPod101 | TurkishClass101 | UrduPod101 | VietnamesePod101


Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #4

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about another listener visit we had recently. We had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us in the office. This was the fourth visit for me, but I still felt nervous!

This is Matt. He was visiting from California.

I had heard that he came to Japan for a holiday. But it seems that it was more of a special trip for him, because guess what? He came here to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. His girlfriend is Japanese, and he wanted to meet her parents. It sounded like a big event to me! But Matt kept smiling the whole time and said he was alright. I thought he was brave.

I guess that Peter probably felt more nervous, because he knows that it’s one of the big events for men in Japan to meet their girlfriends’ parents!

I was very happy to receive the souvenir he brought. It was popular Girl Scout cookies from the United States. One packet was chocolate mint flavor, and the other was peanut butter. I liked the peanut butter ones more than the choco mint.  Thanks, Matt! We all enjoyed them.

Matt, did you have a lovely time with your girlfriend and her parents? I hope so.

(May 2013)

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #3

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about another listener meetup we had.

The other day, we had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us from Mitaka, Tokyo. (Yes. From TOKYO!)

Audrius studies at a private university in Tokyo and lives in the dormitories there. He is from Lithuania, in Northern Europe. He is the first Lithuanian I’ve ever met! I was pleasantly surprised by his level of Japanese fluency.

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #3

Let me talk a little about his Japanese learning journey: he started learning Japanese with JapanesePod101 in Lithuania, before he came to Japan. Then he continued to study it at the university. His energy and efforts towards learning Japanese are awesome, aren’t they?

We welcome anyone traveling to Japan or studying here to visit us! Drop by our office and say Kon’nichiwa!
(Apr, 2013)

InnovativeLanguage.com Takes to the Friendly Skies with British Airways!

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Starting in June 2013, InnovativeLanguage.com takes flight with British Airways, one of the world’s leading airlines.

Travel and language learning have always gone hand in hand. Knowing just a few key language phrases can be a powerful tool in opening up new opportunities abroad, staying safe and making the most out of your trip. That’s why we’re proud to announce that InnovativeLanguage.com is now flying the friendly skies thanks to a new agreement with British Airways, one of the world’s leading airlines.

Starting in June 2013 on British Airways long haul flights, you’ll find our fast, easy and fun language lessons on board BA’s inflight entertainment system. No matter where you’re flying, we’ve got you covered! Choose from over 20 languages and start learning from our popular beginner level lessons.

Languages Available on British Airways

Arabic French Hindi Korean Spanish
Bulgarian German Indonesian Polish Swedish
Cantonese Greek Italian Portuguese Thai
Filipino Hebrew Japanese Russian Vietnamese

No matter what language you’re learning, our effective lessons will get you speaking from the very first lesson. You’ll learn very simple grammar and vocabulary from Native Speaking teachers, with clear explanations and breakdown from our English speaking co-host. You’ll also learn important cultural tips and insights that will give you a head start on your trip.

Be sure to tune into these audio lessons on your next trip abroad with British Airways! And remember that a little bit of language goes a long, long way.

For a sneak peek at what you’ll find on British Airways, sign up for a Free Lifetime Account at InnovativeLanguage.com!

Fond Farewells at Innovative Language

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment! 

Hello everyone! Motoko here. Did you know that March is one of the most important months in Japan? That’s because it’s farewell season.

Schools and companies start new academic and financial years in April. This means their years end in March, and that’s when graduation ceremonies are held in schools. Here, we have interns who are college students, and some of them leave us in March. This March, we said goodbye to two student interns and one full-time staff member.

But we will see them again someday; we didn’t actually say “good bye”, but “see you again” then saw them off.

 

We hope that all three enjoy their new adventures!

 

(March, 2013)