Another day in Japan

Another month in Japan has brought some new experiences, from new foods to art exhibits. Actually it’s just new foods and art exhibits. If all goes well I’ll be able to add snowboarding to this list too! (But that’s a story for another day)

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Ghibly art exhibition and as anyone who has seen one of their movies can probably guess, it was amazing.

Not only did it show off hundreds of original sketches and scene layouts, but included some step by step demonstrations of how the movies go from being a rough drawing to a fully hand painted animated masterpiece. It was both educational and enjoyable to see, which was nice. 

On top of this I tried something called omochi, which is a traditional Japanese sweet made from rice. Apparently if you hit rice for long enough it becomes sweet and chewy. There might also be some additional processes to this, and/ or magic. Either way it’s a little strange to eat as the texture is unlike anything we really get back in the UK, the closest I can think of is marzipan but even that doesn’t really quite compare. That said the taste is pretty good and you can get a few different flavours, so it’s well worth a try if you can. It’s also traditional to eat it on new years day.

That’s all from me this time, hope you are all having a good year and haven’t been snowed in somewhere!

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Another year passesĀ 

Today marks the last day of my working year, and for most people in Japan the national new year holidays start today too. While Christmas is not really celebrated here, new year is a very important holiday for many. It is a time when people go to the temples to pray for a good new year and watch the first sunrise with their families. It’s also very traditional to clean your home before the end of the year, to start clean and fresh in the next. This makes me glad that my home is not so big here and thus much easier to clean.

Personally this has been one of the most interesting and exciting years of my life, as it’s the first time I have lived in another country (unless you count moving from England to Wales, which I really don’t). The food here is good, the places are interesting and the language is crazy. I’m also still really enjoying my job, and the people I work with are great. It helps that they like to go on little adventures, which leads me to my next point… 

Adventures in Kyoto – a day trip.

As mentioned in my last post, I recently visited Kyoto for the day with the other teachers. 

This day mostly consisted of walking from temple to temple, eating some amazing food, seeing more temples and then going for a rather delightful boat ride before we got to view the city at night.

Kyoto is a city of historical sites, as the former capital of Japan there are a lot of buildings that stand as testament to that fact 

I have never seen so much red in one place before today (it’s a lucky colour here) and as it’s winter even the leaves on the floor are matching the rest of the city in colour. It’s just kind of a shame they were not so attached to the trees.

On the plus side it did give our boat guide the opportunity to ask us to imagine what all the trees will look like in about 4 months, which I promise was much funnier at the time. Mostly because he started by telling us how amazing it is (I’m guessing from a prepared script) before looking at the bare trees and then switched to ‘imagine’.
We also got to see some interesting rocks with names based on the vague shapes they resembled (other than rock shape, although I for one would like to see more rocks named rock rock). Some were more believable than others. Snoopy rock was actually pretty clear while Monkey Jamp, yes Jamp, was more than a little perplexing if only because I have no idea what Jamp looks like.

The city at night is of course also a beautiful thing to behold, made more so by the illuminated bamboo forests

While I was sad to have to go in the end, it’s always nice to know that it’s reasonably easy and not so expensive to visit places like this in my spare time. In the UK while I would go places occasionally, I’ve never traveled as much as I have here. Every month I’m visiting a new city but it doesn’t feel like such an effort. 

Next time I’m visiting Osaka, and then next year I’m going to try for a little further away and visit Hiroshima which will likely be my first time on a bullet train too. 

So until then, have a great new year and I’ll see you all in the future!