Monday, April 30, 2012


Yes, things have happened since Tokyo! And no, I do not have to look through my camera to remind myself what... The truth is I've been sooooo busy between then and now, and now that it's Golden Week, I finally have a break! If you're not sure what Golden Week is, you're not alone. I've been told countless times, but I still don't remember very well. All I know is there are a lot of national holidays this week, one of them is called midori no hi(green day), and the exchange students only have class on Tuesday and Wednesday. So naturally, everyone's skipping those pesky 2 days and traveling to Okinawa, Tokyo, Korea and the likes. Everyone but me. Oh yeah, I'm just that majime. Or I don't have the money to blow on a plane/shinkansen ticket...

So back to those things that have been happening. Let me run and get my camera.

Flower viewing is a really big deal here in Japan. Remember my posts on Kouyou in the fall? The red and orange trees in the mountains? This is basically the spring equivalent. In Japan, there are clearly defined seasons with distinct events and festivals, and in the springtime, everyone goes to Hanami. It involves sitting under a cherry blossom tree(sakura) with friends and enjoying the view, usually with booze and snacks. It's been said that, while drinking in public isn't illegal here, its only really socially acceptable during Hanami and festivals. That was said by a fellow gaijin, but I think it still applies...
Anyway, first, I went to Osakajo(Osaka castle) for a friend's birthday. For some strange reason, they had decided to sit under the dead plum trees instead of one of the many sakura, but it was fun nonetheless. We had about 3 cakes, lots of junk food, and a HUGE bottle of umeshu(plum wine) which was basically downed by one of my friends. Who I  helped home later that day.... But there were a lot of us, and I learned a very important lesson that day which is: Japan is a relatively safe place. That being said, I wouldn't recommend traveling alone as a foreign young girl. Almost every time I have done this, I have been harassed by an old man, this time one who wanted to show me all of the best places to take pictures and got mad when I told him I had to meet a friend.  Which was harmless, but it becomes tiresome when these things happen all the time.
Thanks, random Ojisan!


A few weeks later, I went to Nara, famous for its deer park and giant Buddha statue, in search of an art piece for a report. Nara is one of the oldest cities in Japan, and I think it has a nice atmosphere, especially with all the cute little deers roaming around. I actually had no plans for Hanami, and I was traveling alone, but I got really hungry and tired on the way back from the museum, so I decided to stop at what has to be the prettiest place in Nara, Ukimido. I'm still not sure what purpose it serves, but it's a pretty pavillion surrounded by water with gondola-like boats and grassy hills full of sakura. I ate a nice quiet lunch(peanut butter jelly sandwich and pretzels shipped from the states) before continuing my journey around Todaiji, the home of the big Buddha. However, I did not actually see the Buddha, as that would have cost 800 yen. Instead, I walked around the premises and found the cutest handmade accessory shop on a side road near Shosoin.
Overall, it was a successful day of soul-searching and *not* getting lost! I felt proud. And to top it all off, I was not bothered by any creepy old men!

Ukimido, Nara

Sakura 'Carpet'

The sad thing about Hanami is that it is very short-lived. Sakura come and go in a matter of weeks, and before I knew it those pretty pink petals which lined the sidewalks fell to the ground, flooded the roads, and were eventually replaced by... whatever sakura turn into. Buds? Something dull and green I think.
The moral of the story is: life is fleeting, like those delicate pink blossoms that bloom and wither in the blink of an eye, leaving us with only their memory until the coming year.  That and I have really bad allergies. Seriously. Hanami is pretty and all, but I was kinda dying.

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