June 26, 2018

Over Golden Week, and the week after, one of my best friends came to visit me. It was very exciting to see my new home through her eyes. Every day Japan feels more and more like home. It feels less strange and foreign, and more like this is just how life is here. It’s nice to be in that comfortable place, but also very refreshing to share it with a first-timer. She had a rather short to-do list: eat conbini sushi, order ramen from a machine, and ride a crowded train. Although we could have easily crossed-off every item on her list within her first ten minutes in Japan, she also wanted to visit Tokyo. To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive. I was under the impression that Tokyo was highly overrated. I mean, really, what does Tokyo have that we don’t have here, or at least in Osaka?
I understand that subtle antagonism, being from Vancouver. When I tell people I am from Canada, they often ask, “Oh, Toronto?” I try not to be annoyed, and just happy that anyone knows a city from my country. But Toronto is kind of like our Tokyo; It’s the default city foreigners think of, and that can cause a touch of resentment from time to time.
But we had a very good time in Tokyo. We went to several museums: Studio Ghibli, ramen, parasite. We ambled through Akihabara and hurried through Harajuku. We visited shrines and shopping malls. Of course, there was too much to fit into just a few days. We didn’t even get to see the Sky Tree! I enjoyed Tokyo, but I was very happy to head home to the much more laid-back Kyoto.

April 17, 2018

The new school year has begun! It feels a little bit strange, because in Canada the school year starts in September. But, spring is a time of new beginnings and is the perfect time for school to begin. While I did not take a break along with the students, I found plenty of time to enjoy Kyoto during this special time. I particularly enjoyed watching the Hanezu Odori at Zuishin-in. I love the precision of traditional Japanese arts. I tried uirō, which is a sort of brown sugar jelly that you eat straight out of a bamboo tube. It tasted a little bit like liquorice to me. It was very delicious! The dance reminded me of the Japanese tea ceremony with its deliberate and practiced steps. The temple’s famous plum garden was also lovely. I didn’t know that there were so many different types of plum blossoms. While plum blossoms are very pretty, the true star of the season is the sakura. I love how the build-up to the first blooms is almost a season of its own. Everything is sakura-coloured or flavoured. Decorations are in every store. It’s like Christmas! I enjoyed walking down the Tetsugaku no Michi or Philosopher’s Path, and seeing all the beautiful sakura trees, although I think half the city was also trying to walk down the same path. It was very busy! But now, the sakura blossoms are gone and it is time to focus on textbooks and classes.