Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sakura at Starbucks

The Sakura, ie. Cherry Blossom drink. It's delightful. A little piece of heaven. All pink, frothy, cute, and flowery. It's wonderful! My trip to Osaka included a few of those...
Is this only in Japan?




Monday, February 22, 2010

24 hours in Osaka

Quick trip to meet my dear friend Jaclyn... Yes, my neighbour/friend/coworker in Seoul! Twenty four short hours in one of Japan's most bustling cities. I love Osaka. It's alive, it's grungy, it's chaotic.

Shopping, trying on (too cute) Japanese clothes, catching up on our bunk beds in the hostel, drinking Sakura drinks at Starbucks, clubbing in Namba, girl talk over gin and tonics, dancing to late 90s dance hits, Mexican food, a sleepy bus ride (or two), Korean snack foods, and lots of fun. So long Osaka, I had to quickly be back in Marugame to work, but Jaclyn is coming to my town in a few days... along with another Korean friend of ours, my co-teacher Claire! So spontaneous and surprising, and I'm so excited to show them my little life here.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines, girls, boys, and Sundays.





Valentines Day in Nippon is a tad bit different than what we're used to back home. Girls actually give chocolate to boys, and boys reciprocate exactly a month later, on White Day. Kind of funny! Even though I didn't really follow the Japanese tradition (I was too timid!), I did indulge on loads of chocolate (given to me by students, co-workers, friends, and stolen from certain boys), and had a fun-filled weekend.

Friday night was Boys Night, which took place at the local ramen shop with some of my hilarious male friends, eating ramen and drinking beers for hours, and just taking silly pictures with my phone and staying up quite late at my place (my neighbours probably hate me for belting out some Shout Out Loud tunes at 3am).

Saturday night was Girls Night, complete with an Italian feast, some manicures, clothes sharing, and taking silly pictures on Photobooth. Not too different, in a way, but definitely less uncouth than the previous night. Sunday was spent eating heavenly pancakes and baked apples, going for a long run around my town, then some fun train rides, which I've been enjoying quite a bit lately. I am loving Sundays.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rain and shrines

Rain, rain, rain. Today marks the end of a long, rainy, and eventful week. Lots, and lots of rain. My first visit to a Japanese hospital- nothing too serious... but the most embarrassing experience I've had so far, not being able to communicate. I really need to learn more Japanese. My phrase book does not cut it anymore, and I felt so helpless. However, kudos to the Japanese health care system for being so fast, efficient, and my doctor for being so kind and helpful, looking things up in his English book. However, forget about privacy in Japanese hospitals, the whole staff and waiting room knew all about me in a matter of minutes. Fun! I also had dreadful parent observations all week, for which I did not feel too enthusiastic.

I'm still in high spirits, and managed to turn it into a fun week: day trip to the beautiful Kotohira shrine, Kompira-san, a famous temple on Shikoku, which requires a pretty long hike up the 1,368 steps. I treated myself to some Starbucks (funny how it has become such a special occasion to drink it), had some spicy ginger tea with friends, and a girl's night out. I also was a guest speaker at Isabel's high school for International Day. Here are some of the highlights of my week:

{Poster featuring all of us, plastered around Marugame. We're pretty famous now...}


{Lovely, lovely high school girls and their V Day crafts}



{Beautiful Kotohira day trip... under the rain... but I think it makes it even better}




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tokyo Lash Bar

Japanese girls are obsessed with fake eyelashes, and to be honest, I've always been a bit curious about them. Flipping through the pages of Vivi and seeing gorgeous models with furry lashes always make me secretly want them. When in Rome...

Turns out one of my Japanese friends does eyelashes, and she thought it would be interesting to try them on a foreign girl. I excitedly agreed, even though I was a bit scared to look like a clown or a tranny. I like the results! I think it's kind of fun and natural enough, as if I put on loads of mascara. My Japanese friends kept exclaiming 'kawaiiiiiii' so hopefully it's good.




{I did trim them a bit when I got home so it looks a lot more natural}

Korea, a year after.

Exactly a year ago, I was leaving Korea. I cannot believe how far it all seems now... so far but so close. I remember feeling so bittersweet about leaving Seoul: a city I had grown to love so much, but a place that had been so difficult to deal with. I was relieved, terrified, and heartbroken all at once. I was in no way prepared to face what was awaiting me back home: unemployment, a break up, starting from scratch, nostalgia, and reverse culture shock.

Those eight months spent at home in Montreal, trying to fix everything, were oh so difficult, but it was all worth it. It strengthened friendships and created new ones. It made me more independent. It made me realize how much I missed Asia, and how I should go back, this time on my own.

I'm sitting here tonight on my futon, sipping tea, and reminiscing about everything, and I kind of like the idea that I'm here, right now. A year ago, I had no idea I'd end up in Japan, and I am loving how life is full of surprises.

Korea is so far away now, but yet so close. It's right across the pond, and I cannot wait to cross the water again to revisit the streets of a city I miss so, so much.



Monday, February 8, 2010

February in Japan

My weekend.

Plum blossoms. Takamatsu. Bike rides. Lattes. Karaoke rooms and dancing. Cold train stations. Marugame harbour. Shout Out Louds. Emails from home. New friends. Mittens and warm blankets. Temples and shrines. Train rides. The peaceful countryside at night. A certain boy playing me guitar.

{beautiful plum blossoms. spring is coming!}

{kawaii latte}


{got a surprise makeover. sad!}


Sake

Hot sake ('okan') is my new favourite winter drink. The heat makes it dryer and more flavourful, and there's nothing cozier than holding a warm sake cup (I'm obsessed with the traditional wooden ones) and just relax and chat with friends.



Did you know Japanese microwaves even have a specific setting for warming up sake at the perfect temperature? See button 2! One of the reasons I love this country.


Kanpai!!! (cheers!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lately I've been quite smitten with..

{dainty little rice cakes}

{girl talk with my adorable Japanese friends}

{cherry blossom buds at the castle}

{bike rides and ginger tea with my lovely Isabel}

{discovering new cozy cafés in Marugame}

{afternoon tea and cake}

{riding my bike by the harbour by the inland sea}

{daily running at the castle hill}

{i'll never get tired of the view}

{cooking with friends}

{japanese fashion magazine bearing my name, and supermarket fun with friends}

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kobe

I'm trying to take a small day trip every weekend, and I randomly picked Kobe this time- for its proximity, and I have two friends from my training group who live nearby, so we all met up and had a day of fun in Kobe, under the rain!

Kobe is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan, and has a certain European feel to it. It's also famous for its beef (which we skipped, we were starving and on a tight budget... maybe next time). The pouring rain made it a bit difficult to fully take in the sights, our feet were soaked so we just found shelter in random cafés.. and inside the Fashion Museum, which I really enjoyed.

I had a blast just walking around, catching up with my friends, and being silly and seeing more of Japan. The day ended in the wonderful Kobe Chinatown, where we feasted on all kinds of dishes while our clothes dried. I barely had time to buy a caramel macchiato at Starbucks (because, really, Starbucks are hard to find on Shikoku) before boarding the bus ride back to Marugame.

Today I also realized that I've been living in Japan for three months now. I've been loving every single day, and lately I've felt more at home than ever. I'm just very happy.. and very smitten... with delightful people.