10 Things from July

Ermergerd. I have officially started my third year as an ALT.

In some ways, it doesn’t even feel like that amount of time has already passed. By day, the hours seem to drag on (especially around this time of the year when classes aren’t in session) but overall, two years have passed since Trevor and I have left Minnesota.

I was looking through some of my older blog posts, in particular the one about our New Years in Hongu. I had written some goals that I hoped to achieve and looking back… well, let’s just say the whole goal thing fizzled miserably 😦 But I don’t want to wait again until January to “start again”- it would just feel like an endless cycle. I admit I’ve been slacking on exercising but have just recently started again, forcing myself to wake up early to go out on my morning jog when I can. I also haven’t been doing my “two blog posts a month” that I had originally intended on doing, but (hopefully) that’s going to change with this post.

There’s been tons of things (though mostly small) that Trevor and I have been up to that I’ve been neglecting to let my family and friends know. So from here on, I would like to introduce a sort of Monthly Update, beginning with this post. Just a short highlight, ten things we’ve been up to (big or small) in that month.

So without further ado… 10 things from July!  Continue reading

An Owl Cafe in Nara?!

Did you know that Nara has an owl cafe? I always thought you could only find these kinds of themed cafes in the bigger cities like Osaka or Tokyo.

When my mom and cousin were here visiting, we all went to Owl Cafe Wata Wata (Nara’s first Owl Cafe!) together- until my cousin chickened out of seeing the owls. And if she wasn’t going in, my mom wasn’t either. Since we don’t come up to Nara city often, Trevor and I didn’t want to miss a chance at seeing owls up close and personal. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading