Time is flying, I can’t believe we are in June already and I’m approaching just over two months of living in Japan. It’s getting warm here, and now that I’ve grasped a bit more knowledge, things are getting easier – apart from the job (but hey don’t get me started on that.)
Moving on from my first world problems, I’ve met some really lovely people here, who have made time fly and have helped me with adjusting to a new place, culture, time zone, continent, and unpredictable weather. Speaking of weather, this leads me to the previously unknown world of earthquakes, which I have suddenly experienced. When I first arrived there were a few tremors, which were strange but nothing to freak out about. However, since then, I’ve experienced 3 quite powerful earthquakes, the first one being in Kindergarten, which of course made the clueless gaijin (moi) panic! What the hell am I meant to do with three doe-eyed students looking at me as some sort of authority figure when I’ve never been in an earthquake before!? Luckily someone ran in and told us to get under the table, and the kids were actually giggling about the whole thing, whilst I was gripping the table leg in absolute fear. Thankfully it passed and no one was hurt!
The next unexpected quake happened when I was in the bleetin’ loo; as soon as I felt the floor shake I was out of there, clinging onto the nearest door frame, watching objects in my room sway. And I know what you’re thinking – my Dad already made a joke about me causing the earthquake, but trust me, I couldn’t produce a 7.9 on the Richter scale even if I tried. But hey, I’m just hoping that that’s it for a while and that a big one isn’t lurking around the corner. (I’m talking about earthquakes…)
Anyway, here’s a little update of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since the last post!
Commune 246 – Omote Sando
The reason I came here was under the impression that it was going to be one of those amazing food markets that sells great food without the stuff that makes things taste good e.g. gluten/egg/fat. I was wrong, my ‘komugi arerugi’ was still a mystery to the vendors, although I did eat some nice food, and it was a cool place to hang out. It had a little Japanese hipster vibe going on, you know the type that are all about the ‘health foods’ fad that’s circulating our social world right now – but I’m not complaining, food should be celebrated!
I mentioned this city in my previous post, but I hadn’t seen much of it then. I’ve been back since and it’s really cool! The lights, Godzilla, unceasing crowds, irritating J-pop being played on every street corner, anime everywhere and maid and robot cafes, confirmed that the craziness I’ve witnessed of Tokyo on TV was actually real.
By night time I was up for a partay! But every ‘nightclub’ I thought I was walking into was actually a ‘goddess bar’ for the salary men, if you know what I’m talkin’ about (wink wink). But hey I ain’t no fool, if they’re blasting Ariana Grande and there’s pink flowers on the entrance, combined with my scarce knowledge of Kanji, I’m bound to walk right into that trap! Next time I’ll do some research about partying in Shinjuku, as I’d rather avoid the places street sellers advertise me for a ‘very good price’ – it’s all lies. The night ended well though, eating curry in CoCo curry house – which is super cheap and comforting. I can’t lie to ya, I’m in love with the CoCo!
Shinjuku Gyoen Park
Literally a short stroll through Shinjuku, there is this wonderful park which encompasses various gardens, including a traditional Japanese garden which was evidently beautiful! I do love the random parks, shrines and gardens that are hidden amidst the metropolis of Tokyo. The only downside is that they kick you out of these public parks quite early.
Ueno Zoo & Ueno Park
A fun day out, the zoo was massive! Also, I love the view over Ueno park, it’s so pretty. There’s a shrine here too hence the Tori gates, which I love capturing as to me, they seem so traditionally Japanese – unfortunately I’ve never been into a shrine, but I do want to see more! Be careful of cheeky monks giving you a shiny piece of card as a peace offering, then expecting you to give them 10,000 yen in return!
During Golden week I headed to Saitama Prefecture, to see ‘Shiba-zakura’ which translates to ‘pink moss.’ Apparently flower festivals are really good around springtime, so I’m glad I got to see these pink pretties in bloom. The flowers looked amazing! The location, ‘Chichibu’ was very rural and traditional with a little market by the train station selling Japanese delicacies, quite unlike the Yoshinoya I keep munching on. I went with my Japanese partner teacher and her Christian group, who were all so welcoming. It was quite a surreal moment, surrounded by nature in a mountainous district on a little bench, with the group who started playing the guitar and singing hymns – so peaceful! I had a little reflective moment as I thought about how far I’d come literally, and mentally (emosh I know) and I felt grateful for the invitiation into such an intimate setting. how welcoming the group was .
Other than those cool places, I’ve just been chilling in Tokyo and Chiba really, doing regular things; drinking, shopping, going for food, purikura – it’s tiring to cram in seeing touristy sights every weekend, even so, everything still feels new. I still get the wrong trains, I forget that I shouldn’t stuff my face in public, and I question the edibility of many foods whilst walking around the supermarket (which probably won’t change).
Anyway, I’m hoping to see more things while I’m here, such as; watch Sumo wrestling, climb Mount Fuji, attend a tea ceremony, travel more in Japan (Kyoto!), find a nice beach, enjoy Onsen, watch the sunrise from a high tower etc… If you’re reading this and have any suggestions of what to see/do in Japan, let me know!