Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and girls in Japan are hurrying to get everything ready! The holiday is quite different here, as February 14th is a day when only the girls do the giving. Stores are packed with a variety of “make your own (insert treat name here)” sets, and adorably designed boxes of chocolate. I have to admit, there are some pretty awesome looking sets, and I love the “dig-up” chocolate, where you get to be a paleontologist and dig up some yummy chocolate dinosaur bones!
I have a confession.
I’ve been living in Japan for about five years, and I do not own a yukata. While it’s not something everyone living in Japan must have, I feel like I’m missing out a bit.
I’ve thought about getting one in the past, and recently I’ve been revisiting these thoughts. Of course I’ve worn yukata at onsen and hotels, but I’ve never had one of my own. I guess part of me felt that since I’m not Japanese, it’s weird if I wear one. Almost like I’m an imposter. However, the more I think about it, the more I realise that it’s just clothing, and it’s part of Japanese culture. Why not jump right in?
So what exactly is a yukata?
When you think of “stereotypical Japanese things”, what comes to mind? I imagine that many would respond with sushi, samurai, green tea, chopsticks, cherry blossoms, and technology.
Japan has become synonymous with technology, and it’s an association that has been well earned. Despite the abundant technological advances that have been made here, it’s not like every day life is overrun with robots, and insane gadgets. The craziest that I personally experience on a daily basis are smartphones, and electronically embellished toilets. A lot of the time you forget how much technology Japan really has.
This post is dedicated to a few spiffy inventions that have made me smile. I’ll be the first to admit that they may not be overly surprising, but they make me happy. If it makes you smile, then it’s done a good job.
Friday was a lovely March night, and I was getting ready to teach my last class of the day. This particular class is comprised of students between the ages of twelve to fourteen. They have pretty high level English skills, and they’re all great kids.
The clock (we don’t have a bell, we have a singing Hello! Kitty clock) chimes, signalling the start of class, and my students shuffled into the classroom looking more zombie-like than usual. More than half of the class was sniffling like crazy, their noses puffy and pink. Their eyes were watery and red, and they couldn’t help pulling a sleeve over their hand to try and scratch away that nagging itch that has settled right at the corner. Every now and then a loud “ACHOO” was released into the air.
Throughout my time here in Japan, I have fortunately had very few encounters with the police. However, the other day I witnessed a policeman interacting with a citizen, and the whole scene left me more or less dumbfounded.
Naturally, I wanted to share.
And just as a note, although it seems like there are scandals involving police here every other day, I never keep up with that sort of news. So this post is based solely on what I have experienced or observed first hand.
This is a good month and a half overdue, but it’s officially 2013, so Happy New Year to anyone who stops by!
I realise that I haven’t been putting much time into this blog as of late. However, I’m not going to throw the towel in just yet. I have many things to talk about, and hopefully many more adventures to be had.
So to get the ball rolling, I’ll share with you my most terrifying moment of 2012.
A few days ago, I read this post on The Japan Rants, and it inspired me to write my own post on the same topic; Being Stared At in Japan.
I made this post into audio, so if you’d like to listen instead of reading, please do so!
We didn’t really have any plans for Monday, so instead of spending a lazy day inside, we decided to venture out into the chilly air, and headed to the Suntory Musashino Brewery for a tour. To go on a tour, you just need to call ahead of time to make a reservation. It’s free, so as long as you can be there twenty minutes before the tour time you choose, you’re good to go.
The facility itself is really nice. When you go into the visitor reception area, they have a shop with all sorts of Suntory goods, as well as a beautiful display for their the Premium Malt’s line. We checked in, go our brochures, took a look around the store and then waited for our tour to start.
This past weekend, Nagoya castle was lit up blue at night for diabetes awareness. I had no idea that it was happening, but apparently there was a poster advertising it on the subway. So, Monday night, after nightfall had set, we headed over to take a look around.
We were hoping that the gates would be open and that for the special occasion we could get in, but no such luck. Instead, we took a walk around the entire perimeter of the castle, taking photos along the way. It was a crisp night, but the view was lovely.
On our quest to get into the castle (and constantly finding out we’re locked out), we found a bunch of stray cats. I wish I got a photo of one, it was beautiful! It was completely white, so elegant, but strong looking. It walked like it was a panther. I’m not a big cat fan, but I would have taken that one home in a heartbeat, haha.
In June of 2009, a friend of mine came to visit. During her stay, we took a day trip with a couple of my friends to Kyoto. We were lucky to have some beautiful weather, and spent the day visiting the a few of the most famous tourist spots in Kyoto.
Before we took off to see the sights, we stopped at a little shop where you can get made over to look like a maiko (舞妓), or an apprentice geisha.
I guess technically we were all too old to be maiko, but it was a really fun experience.