I'm here! Sitting in my chair in the Town Office, no work today, just touring the town, getting my bank account set up. Tsuruta really reminds me of Hood River, we are close to huge mountain that's already a little snow-capped. The rice fields are all bare, but the pine trees are evergreen! Yesterday I went with Eriko, my supervisor, and Karen, the JET ALT to a park near Lake Towada. We saw the LONG wooden bridge (the longest in Japan), but it's closed for the season. We also saw a cool little jinja (shinto shrine) and an area with a Buddha statue and 33 bodhisattvas. This place is awesome!
EDIT: After doing some quick internet research, I have determined that the smaller statues are 33 incarnations of Kannon-sama. Or Kwannon, or Avalokitesvara if you're into the Pali.