Categories
2016 Photo Journal

Marigolds

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I’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting too much about myself as of late. I’ve been talking mostly about things I’ve seen or places I’ve been. I haven’t said too much on how I feel.

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I think that’s because I have very little to say. Work has been fine for the most part. I still go out with friends or by myself. I do housework.

I think I expected the experience of living in Japan to be a bit more novel. While a lot of people I know think that everything is so new or strange,  I just see it as everyday life, just speaking a different language.

Last night, while chatting with some coworkers after work, I think I might understand now why I feel this way. A lot of my coworkers speak and understand minimal Japanese, so [they said that] they fill in the blanks with their imaginations. So, everything has a story or deeper meaning to it. I don’t do that. They see a sign and guess what mystical wonderful thing its for. I see a sign saying Grilled Meat, beer 50% off.

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That isn’t to say I’m unhappy here or upset at being literate, because I’m not. I’m much more contdnt here that I ever was back home.

I just wish sometimes I felt that same sense of wonder as they do.

Categories
2016 Photo Journal Tokai (東海)

Fujisan and Lake Biwa

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If you ever have a chance to visit Yamanashi, I would recommend that you do. The area has a lot to see, things to do, and foods to eat. Also, if wine is your thing, I’m told that it is one of the things Yamanashi is known for. As I am unable to drink, I will never know for sure, so I am relying on the opinions of others.

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Categories
2016 Photo Journal Tokai (東海)

From Yamanashi, with LOVE

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A view of the return trip home from Yamanashi, almost two weeks ago.

Categories
2016 Photo Journal

Hibiscus

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I went to Yamanashi yesterday with some friends. One of the places we visited was a large garden where you could see Mount Fuji.

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We had gone there in search of lunch, but there was only a souvenir shop, an ice cream stand, and an all you can eat tomato restaurant. While I do love Yamanashi tomatos (they are some of the best in the country), a lunch they do not make.

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We ended up driving a bit more before we found a good place to stop and eat. It was a rest stop at the floot of the mountain we visited. We all got different things and ate together outside. I had inarizushi (seasoned rice stuffed into fried tofu), while my friends got a dora burger (a fish and beef patty in a dorayaki bun), some assorted rice balls, and a few pastries. We washed it all down with tea and fresh squeezed fruit juice.

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All in all, it was a really great trip.

Categories
2016 Photo Journal

Red Hot Mamachari

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After a lot of talking with my coworkers, I broke down and bought a bike. Since my job covers my travel expenses to and from work, I never really thought I NEEDED one. That, combined with the insanely hot weather, kept me from even thinking about it too seriously.

However, a coworker suggested a place where I could buy one cheaply and they would take care of the paperwork for me. You see, here in Japan, you have to register a bike the same as you would a car. If you are stopped on the road and can not prove that you are the legal owner of that bike, you can be arrested and slapped with a fine.

So, now I am the somewhat-proud owner of an apple red mamachari. What is a mamachari, you ask? It’s the nickname for the type of bike I bought, which is clunky as hell, has plenty of storage for groceries and the like, has no gears, and a kick stand that keeps the bike upright while parked. Did I mention that the thing weighs almost as much as me?

Categories
2016 Photo Journal Tokai (東海)

Shaved Ice at a Tea House

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Recently I visited a tea house in Kanayama. My assignment there had just ended (I’m a substitute teacher, so I go wherever I’m needed) and I figured why not visit the shop I pass everytime I work at that school. It was a hot day and there was a sign out front advertising shaved ices. Better yet, they had my favorite flavour: Kyoto green tea with red bean paste.

So, I popped in and said I wanted to try their shaved ices. The first floor, I  learned, was just for tea and tea accessories. I would have to take the elevator to the second floor. A young lady dressed in a 1920s style kimono and hakama escorted me to the counter where I could place an order. After asking to be sure that the ice did not contain milk (some are mixed with condensed milk) I ordered and was told to take seat on a tatami covered bench, with a bunch of other people, in front of long wooden tables facing a large window. In the background, traditional music was played for our enjoyment.

Twenty minuted later, our ices were brought out on beautiful trays, with oshibori towels to clean our hands, a hot cup of barley tea (which is supposed to help combat heat stroke and the like), and a wooden spoon. The ices were stacked at least eight inches high and fluffy as freshly baked bread. The tea was the colour of emeralds, while the sweet beans looked like port wine. Apparently the long wait time was due to someone having to shave the ice by hand with a knife and the tea having to be made and cooled.

It was amazing.

I have plans to go back this weekend with my friend. I also plan to visit the other six floors. For ¥780, I feel like I got quite the experience.