My Third Semester of Flower Arrangement (Winter 2017)

I have officially finished a full school year of flower arrangement courses! 😀

This school year felt like it came and went as quickly as cherry blossom season- incredibly quick yet memorable. I know I always say this, but I am so grateful to be a part of an amazing club. The girls are wonderful, and my teacher is always so sweet and helpful.

Winter semester of flower arrangement felt short. We only did four pieces starting from when the students came back from their winter breaks in January. We ended early February since a messy schedule of testing, high school entrance exams, and preparation for graduation was approaching.

A small amount compared with first and second semester, but nonetheless, had a lot of fun doing each one. Here they are!
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2017 Totsukawa Ekiden!

It’s the start of the new school semester!!

It felt like my winter break was too short… After I came back to work, I immediately felt the stresses of some upcoming events: the 63rd annual Totsukawa Ekiden, and a 10-minute speech that I was to prepare and present in Japanese in front of the entire school. I spent my entire first day back dedicating myself to typing up my speech in English and then translating the best I could to Japanese before passing it off to a very good friend who edited my crummy translations into a speech worthy of presenting. (Thank you so much again Eri!!) I then spent the rest of the week waiting for the inevitable… the Totsukawa Ekiden. Continue reading

Totsukawa Culture Festival 2016

It’s November already?!

The trees here are starting to change colors… Whenever I go out on my morning jog, I notice patches of yellow, orange, and red hues all along the mountain sides. It’s really pretty… Hopefully we’ll be able to get some pictures of the kouyou (autumn foliage) before they disappear.

There are two national holidays this month: the first being Culture Day and the second being Kinrou Kansha no Hi, or Labor Thanksgiving Day. Today, I’ll be talking about Culture Day which occurred earlier this month. Continue reading

My First Semester of Flower Arranging (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

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