Monday, November 25, 2013

Glorious Sleep + Baths

How does one catch up on three months' worth of lost sleep? I'm a bit exaggerating, but really, I have barely slept for the past several weeks. I was in charge of a huge project at work, and I have spent more time at the office than at my house. The event took place a few days ago, and it was amazing to see the results of those efforts, and it was quite a magical moment.

This weekend has been a bit of a haze; trying to catch up on sleep, yet unable to fully relax as my mind hasn't switched off yet. I sleepily went back to work today, and came home early, finally tasting the bits of freedom. I walked all the way down Omotesando and noticed it was fully autumn. The ground was damp from the rain, leaves had changed colours and fallen, and it was windy. This weather is perfect, and I wish every month of the year was like November in Japan.

Other than that, I've been living in fleece. I stocked up on winter basics at Uniqlo- once again this year, I don't care how silly I look, I just want to be warm. Fleece zip-up hoodies, thermal undershirts, heat tech tights, hello! My best find was those fluffy 'room boots'. I slept on and off all weekend, watched a few movies, finished reading The Bling Ring and made my first nabe of the season.

I also am addicted to baths in the winter- and a Japanese bath is purely glorious, nothing like those bubble baths back home where you soak in your own um, filth. A Japanese bath is more square-shaped and very deep, so you can soak all the way up to your chin. You have to shower and scrub beforehand, and most families share the same bathwater. You can leave the water in the tub, cover it to keep warm and there is even temperature control. I won't ever be able to take a Western-style bath ever again.

I like winter in Japan.


Best sleep ever.

Softest scarf I've ever owned.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November

It's probably the longest I haven't blogged, but I shall resume to regular life within a mere two days. My life has been overtaken by a huge work-related event, and I've been in a state of haze, mechanically getting dressed, going to work, eating, squeezing in a few hours of sleep, and working working working. It's been a lot of fun though, a feeling I hadn't experience at any other job since coming to Japan.

I did manage a few fun things: went to the Park Hyatt for drinks on the 52nd floor (for no other reason than just celebrating Friday night), and well, that's about it for fun. I haven't been to the gym in two weeks and it's driving me mad, I miss it so much. The most exciting part of my week was the purchase of a bulky fleece pajama set from Uniqlo, in which I've been living as soon as I get home. I'm ready for winter again, with the fleece, heated blanket, space heater, socks, baths and hot wine.

Can I wear the fleece pajama to work?

Working on the 52nd Floor

I want that carpet!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Shikoku Revisited

This weekend I went to Shikoku, and I feel so happy now. I did so much in the span of three short days. I climbed Konpirasan, learned how to make udon from scratch (more on that later…), took to the ferry to and fro Naoshima, revisited my town of Marugame and Taupe cafe and too many memories, saw some my my oldest friends in Japan, walked in the Takamatsu shotengai and sketchy Lion-dori late at night, gazed at the dark sea remembering how lonely that place had made me feel, and appreciating my present life. Yet it was bittersweet: I realized that those quiet days filled with freedom and too many choices were now over, replaced by hectic, cold, stressful Tokyo.

I miss the friendliness and warmth of Kagawa and its people. I miss peacefulness and pitch black streets, and the rice fields. I also saw Shikoku from a much different perspective; I cannot believe I used to run by the Marugame harbour all by myself late at night and drunkenly ride my bike at 3am. I was a lot more careless and naive. I showed my old apartment to my boyfriend, and the places I used to ride my bike and hang out. It was quite amazing to do so, as I've always wanted to share that part of my life, and I think it's surprising for him that I lived there for a year. It felt really wonderful to be there with him, as I never thought that would happen (yes, it got that lonely).

I felt really sad to leave. Shikoku is my first home in Japan and it was such an important part of my adventure in Japan, probably because it was so challenging. I love going back now and seeing it with a fresh perspective, and finally appreciating that small prefecture and its amazing residents.

Sanuki Udon

The yellow noodle of 'happiness'

Shikoku has many outdoor bathrooms I noticed

Re-united, yum

Climbing Konpirasan

Those candies are particular to Kagawa,
used for weddings. Anyone know the name? 

Marugame station, still the same.
Please never get automated gates! xo

Spicy ginger tea at Taupe cafe, the best in Japan

My oldest Kagawa friends

Cafe chic

Three years later, with Shinya, the owner of Taupe
and his collection of animal pens. Nostalgia!

First time I fly to Shikoku

My lovely udon sensei

Rainy Naoshima

Naoshima

Naoshima cat cafe

Rain, rain

Shoe Shot

Naoshima

Knackered, cold and wet on the ferry ride back

More udon

Lion-dori, sketchiest place in Takamatsu

The beautiful Seto Inland Sea

Goodbye, Shikoku, from the airport

Takamatsu

Friday, November 1, 2013

Japan: 4 years

I haven't changed much in 4 years
Maybe except the fringe.

It's November, which marks my anniversary living in Japan. It's now been four years, which seems insanely long, yet very short. I still remember every single thing about that November morning, when I left Montreal, feeling excited but terrified for the most part. Everyone had warned me: it was a bit nuts to leave all by myself to go spend a year in rural Japan, where it would get so lonely, but my mind was set on doing this, and I did.

What was meant for a year turned into four, and I'm still here, now in Tokyo. Life is completely different than it was four years ago, and I mean completely. Yet I'm still the same person, I still get excited over the small things and the beauty of Japan, and although the stressful city life of Tokyo has somewhat tarnished my rose-tinted glasses at times, I love this place and leaving it would break my heart.

What started out as a wild adventure in the rice fields turned into real life, a stable job, an apartment of my own, a relationship, and lifelong friendships. Japan is my home, but Montreal is still my home- can I have both?

This weekend, I'm escaping (literally) to Shikoku, to the very place where I made my first steps in Japan. I will re-visit Marugame, the lonely train station, the nostalgic train jingle, the roads where I rode my bike at midnight just to buy a mango, and the cafe where I spent countless hours thinking and talking about life. And this time, I get to share this part of my life and show my first home to my Tokyo boy.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate my anniversary in Japan.