My First Year of Flower Arrangement (Part 1: Spring-Summer 2016)

Back in April, which is the start of the school year in Japan, I decided that I wanted to join my high school’s flower arrangement club. I figured, I wanted to somehow get a little more involved with my school while also discovering a new interest- I can honestly say that joining the flower arrangement club has been one of the best things I have done yet during my time here in Japan. I didn’t think I would have so much fun manipulating a plant’s shape and making something that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It’s something that I look forward to every Friday afternoon, and is the perfect way to start off my weekends.

Since it was my first time ever doing flower arrangement, most of the time I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, my flower arrangement teacher would always swoop in and add some final touches to make the piece look complete.

So here are some of the pieces that I worked on last semester. We started off with a spring theme and worked our way towards summer-like plants. Continue reading

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Totsukawa Summer Festival: Furusato Monogatari (A Hometown Tale)

On the last day of Obon week, a very special event was held at Hotel Subaru, a 10 minute drive away from our apartment. If you remember my post from last year, Trevor and I had to walk to Hotel Subaru to attend our very first summer festival. This year however, was a little different. Now that I have a car (and am finally licensed!), we were able to drive 10 minutes as opposed to the hour and a half walk. What was perhaps the most exciting thing for me was that I got to wear a yukata for the first time! Continue reading

ShinTotsukawa Limited Edition Goods

A couple weeks into August is the start of Obon, a holiday for many Japanese who return home to their hometowns for about a week or so. During Obon, it is believed that ancestors who have already passed on return for the duration of the holiday. Thus, many go home to visit their families and clean the graves of their loved ones, and overall spend time with those they haven’t seen in a while. Festivals are held in abundance around this time, and at many of them, bon odori (a special type of dance) can take place.

Totsukawa is pretty special in that it has a unique history surrounding the people of this village. Many years ago, Totsukawa was once so badly flooded, that many of its inhabitants ended up relocating to an area in Northern Hokkaido. They decided to call their new environment, ShinTotsukawa, (lit. “New Totsukawa”) as a homage to their original home in the Kansai area. Continue reading

Celebrating Bridges: Tanize Bridge Festival!

Summer in Japan is brutal. It’s always hotter than it needs to be, the humidity makes me feel like I’ve just left a sauna, and when it’s not making me produce endless beads of sweat, it’s raining. Hard. However, not all is horrible in 90 plus degree Fahrenheit weather. Summer in Japan just doesn’t mean “hot”- it also means… FESTIVALS!

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Trevor and I attended our first summer festival last year, a couple weeks after he arrived to Totsukawa. This year, we were able to attend the Bridge Festival, hosted up in the northern part of the village in Uenoji, home of one of the largest suspension bridges in Japan: Tanize. Continue reading

Mt. Tamaki and Tamaki Shrine!!

Last month when I first got the car, I figured it would be best to stick around the village for the weekend before I tried driving anywhere remotely city-like. I practiced driving to two of the convenience stores in the village, both relatively easy to get to. I then decided to drive to the top of Mt. Tamaki on the following Sunday afternoon. The drive was easier than I expected and it gave me great practice in maneuvering on the sharp and narrow turns the inaka is well known for.

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Totsukawa’s Summer Festival!!

When my supervisor first met Trevor, he highly recommended for us to attend a festival the next day (Sunday, August 16). We didn’t receive the car back from the shop, so the following day we walked to Hotel Subaru where the event was taking place. What could have been a 10 minute drive thus turned into an hour and a half walk from our place to the hotel. Given it was very healthy of us to get some exercise, but we knew when it came time for us to go home, we would hitch a ride with my supervisor to avoid pitch black roads, traffic, and very hard rain.

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Crazy Suspension Bridges!!

Trevor arrived in Japan last Wednesday late afternoon. From a combination of factors such as not yet receiving the car back from the shop and many of the teachers being away for obon, (Obon is a Buddhist holiday where it is believed that ancestors come back for the time being; as a result, many return to their hometowns to visit family) I had to take the local bus up to Kashihara City to meet up with Trevor while he was (fortunately!) being assisted by my good friend from Osaka, Eri and her family. The 4-hour bus ride made two stops for breaks to and from Totsukawa: one at an Aeon mall and the other at the famous Tanize Suspension Bridge, located 40 minutes from where we are living.

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