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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

ILL NINJA WARRIOR

Friday, October 21st, 2016

 

Hi everyone! Nanatsu here. :D

On September 29th, 15 of us went to Forest Adventure in Tochigi as a company trip! Have you ever heard of a Japanese TV program called “Sasuke” or maybe in the U.S. you’d call it “Ninja Warrior” where competitors compete in multiple obstacle courses to be the “muscle king”?  Well, Forest adventure is no less tough than them! Some activities were definitely challenging, and we had to use the muscles we hadn’t used for a while. (I could barely got myself up when I woke in the next morning…)

 

After about 2 hours bus ride from Akasaka,  we arrived at Forest Adventure Ohira, Tochigi. It was raining a bit in the morning, but luckily, the rain stopped by the time we arrived in Tochigi. (Good karma, maybe!:p) 

After putting on harnesses, getting a safety briefing and practicing together with the forest crew, Akira-san, we went off to the adventure!

There were 2 courses in Forest Adventure Ohira. One is ”Discovery Course” which is mainly for children between 5 years old to 9 years old and ”Adventure Course” which is more suitable for 9 year olds to adults. We took “Adventure Course” which is consisted with 32 activities divided into 5 sites in total.


Image from Forest adventure website (http://fa-ohira.foret-aventure.jp/)

We started off with an activity that was about 5 meters high and gradually went up to taller trees.

There were also zip lines between each site and they were super refreshing!

 

 

V

 

Also, each activity in Adventure course had an indication of its level from 1 to 4 .

 

 

 

Overall, it took us about 2.5 hours to complete the entire course, but it was definitely a rewarding, unique experience/workout you wouldn’t be able to have often in Tokyo.


A group shot after completing the course!

After we completed the course, we rewarded ourselves with the BBQ in the forest!

 

We also went to all-you-can-eat-grapes at a local veneyard in Ohira after we left Forest Adventure!

A variety of grapes we had was 巨峰 (kyohō, literally “giant mountain grape”) and it was a speciality of Ohira area.  

 

We also all got to take 1 bunch home as an omiyage. 

That’s it for today’s event report on Forest adventure trip. Thank you guys for reading this post!  Stay tuned for the next event report!

Best,

Nanatsu

P.S. Special thanks to Hawken, Jae, Marvin and Meg for providing the pictures and the videos!

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! 

Welcoming Our New Innovative Language Team Members

Tuesday, June 18th, 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 the welcome party we held recently. This spring, we welcomed four new team members: Ice, Gabriella, Paloma, and Raul. To introduce them briefly, Ice is a member of the video team; Gabriella and Paloma work on content creation; and Raul is a member of our IT team.

The welcome party was held at a Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant near our office. The restaurant’s traditional Japanese-style design was quite nice. The great service was also a pleasant surprise for us—waitresses in kimono and a waiter assisted at each table with cooking the shabu-shabu properly.

Shabu-shabu is a type of hot pot cuisine where people cook the vegetables and meat by themselves. So diners usually put the vegetables into the hot water in the pot. Diners also pick up the finely-sliced meat (pork or beef) with their chopsticks, then cook the slices by swishing them in the hot water. The name “shabu-shabu” actually came from this swishing action, and is an onomatopoeia, as the swishing makes the sound “shabu-shabu.” Did you know that?

At the restaurant, we did the “shabu-shabu” by ourselves. After all, that’s the most important part of having a shabu-shabu, right!? But the waiters helped us cook the other ingredients, which was very handy for the shabu-shabu beginners.

Have you ever had shabu-shabu before? If you haven’t, please try it at least once!

(Apr 2013)

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)

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)  

Giving Thanks and Sweets at Innovative

Tuesday, April 2nd, 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 all! Motoko here. It’s been a while since my last post!

But today, I’d like to talk about one of the most popular events in Japan. It’s the day that we say “I love you” and “thanks” to the people we spend the most time with.

This day is Valentine’s Day, on February 14th. It originally came from European culture, didn’t it? And people usually give presents or flowers to the one they love on that day. I’m guessing that in your country, it’s the men who give presents to their partners. But in Japan, ladies give chocolate to men!

It’s the only chance each year when ladies can declare their love to the men they love. They usually make or buy chocolates and give them to the men.

Recently, however, most people have been giving chocolates to their colleagues and friends. On Valentine’s Day at Innovative Language, the ladies brought sweets they had made or bought to the office. Also, Peter gave boxes of chocolate to each of our team members. The men and ladies in the office all enjoyed these sweets together. Though no one declared their love, it was a day for us to say “thanks for everything!” to each other.

So if Valentine’s Day is for men, did the men of Innovative Language do anything in return? Well, in Japan, this happens on White Day, which falls on March 14th. This is an event that is well known in Japan and also in South Korea. The men who received presents on Valentine’s Day return the favor to the lady they got the chocolate from. Some return the declaration of love to the lady too! And some give sweets and snacks to their friends in return. At the Innovative office, most of the men brought boxes of sweets for the ladies. The boxes said “Happy White Day! Only for Girls!!” (Unlike on Valentine’s Day!) The guys looked sad about this because they love chocolate!      

What happens in your country on Valentine’s Day and White Day?

(Feb - Mar, 2013)

Evil Spirits Out, Good Fortune In at Innovative!

Tuesday, March 26th, 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 all, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about the Mamemaki (“bean-throwing”) event we held on Setsubun. Setsubun falls on March 3rd. On the Japanese traditional calendar, the day after Setsubun (March 4th) is the beginning of spring.

However, it’s still cold in the modern calendar!

According to the traditional calendar, Setsubun falls on the day between winter and spring. On that day, people hold a ceremony to throw beans – usually roasted soybeans – at their homes.

In ancient times, people believed that oni, a kind of evil spirit, would come to their house between the two seasons. To drive the oni out of their houses, they would throw beans.

These days, a person plays the role of oni in these ceremonies, and people throw beans at them. In the Innovative office, one of our male team members played oni (see photo), and the other staff threw beans at him, and wished for good luck for the company this year.

After throwing them, people collect and eat the beans. It is believed that eating them brings good health in the year that follows. People traditionally eat, or should eat, as many beans as their age. For example, a 20-year-old person eats 20 beans, and a 30-year-old person eats 30 beans. So if you are 40 or 50 years old, it must be tough to accomplish this feat! In reality, people usually just eat as many as they want; it can be more or less than their actual age.

(2013 Feb.)