Category Archives: DAILY LIFE

Letter to me

Before coming to Japan, our Montreal JET chapter had us write a letter to ourselves which we would receive halfway through our first year in Japan. SPOILER: I wrote about yuzu!

IMG_E2343[1]

Yes I wrote “FAKUS” and no, I wasn’t trying to Japanglish, it’s just how my coworker used to say “focus”… mooooooooooving on!

Coming up on the 7th month mark now and well, let’s see how I did on a few points:

– Improve my Japanese: … Yaaaaaa about that… I didn’t ACTUALLY study these past 7 months, I thought I would absorb it the same way you absorb everything they never tell you at work, by OSOMOSIS! That hasn’t really worked out. I do feel that I can understand more when people speak to me, but I feel that my own communication skills have stagnated. SO, this week I decided to kick my butt and get to studying regularly again.

Shame GIF

– Explore the heck out of Shikoku: Well, let me just say that I did NOT anticipate my car having so many issues. Battery, alternator, battery, battery… battery! Lame excuse I know, but it’s really put me off going anywhere with it. So no, I don’t feel like I’ve done well on this front. BUT I did do an EPIC hike on Mt. Ishizuchi, visit Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Nara soooooo… #patsownback. I now have a NEW alternator AND battery -because yes, the -4 degree weather was TOO COLD for it- SO I’m looking forward to visiting both Matsuyama and Aki with it before leaving. Unless I drive into the gaijin trap, again.

Mt. Ishizuchi

– Yuzu otaku: Even then I knew I had a destiny to fulfill. I’ve eaten anything and EVERYTHING yuzu I can get my hands on, heck even our Christmas meal was yuzu nabe! Hitting up the yuzu festival in Uwajimura almost didn’t happen and can you imagine the tragedy? Looking at you inaka ALTs sharing details at the LAST minute… teehee. However, I must issue a PSA that I’m a fraud. Yes, a BIG.FAT.FRAUD! Sigh, you see, I thought yuzu season lasted muuuuuuuuuuch longer than it did. SO, I kept putting off visiting the yuzu onsen until it was too late. Sobering reality. So, moving forward, I’m going to jump on opportunities and not repeat such an epic fail.

MUCH. HAPINESS
Soooooooooooo many yuzu products to choose from!

Now there’s a few things I hadn’t put in my letter because they were more of a personal nature than something to do with Japan. However, I feel like I’ve done pretty good by some of the goals I set myself so let me share them with you:

– Keep to an active lifestyle: I do feel like I’ve been decently active back home but, especially hitting 30, I didn’t feel like I was properly incorporating it as a life habit. I intend to travel until I DROP, for that I need a healthy body. In summer and fall I’m quite active and then -30 hits and FORGET IT. So, enough of that. I figured that if I kept to a routine, I could make it a life habit. The secret? Change it up! I’ve been swimming, dancing, running and (trying) to do yoga #sweatlife.

– Read more: I can’t believe I even have to set this goal for myself! I LOVE reading and I let cat memes and the internets take too much space in life. Since I’ve arrived I’ve polished off Good Omens, Wuthering Heights, Onegin (2nd time!) and Consuelo; Finishing off short poems by Cocteau and moving on to Lemon by Kajii. Not exactly book worm level, but definitely on the right track. And in case you were wondering (even if you’re not TOUGH LUCK cause Ima tell you anyways) I try to alternate between English and French, just to confuse my brain a lil more.

brain GIF by University of California

– Eat better: I am SO over having stomach issues! In a nutshell, I have non-ulcer dyspepsia, so imagine having an ulcer… without an ulcer. Ya, fun. Bloating, pain, nausea and insomnia are all part of the super package. Oh and social anxiety. That one’s no fun because I’m an outgoing foodie… enough! It’s not like I ate crap to being with and I did watch my diet back home buuuuuuuuut sometimes life gets in the way and you slip up. Again, enough. Despite stuffing my face with every delicious thing that’s thrown my way here, I’ve had relatively few problems and that’s because I got back into the habit of cooking regularly. It’s fun, it’s cheap and it’s delicious! So, yay me.

Still enjoying some pizza action! What? I said I was being careful, not crazy. Strawberry pizza from Solana Surf Camp.

So there you have it, a letter to myself.

7 months in and 5 to go. What’s next? Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Tales from the inaka: 3 months in

A little over 3 months into my life in Japan, sounds like a good time as any to update you on my inaka life! WARNING… this is a long one:

September ended with a 2 for 1 deal, culturally speaking. My town and a junior high school in New Zealand have been partnering in an exchange program for over 20 years. Good news for me, since I was the English attaché for the duration of their stay! I discovered New Zealand culture AND Japanese culture in one breath. We started off with a trip to a local aquarium that had very beautiful fish BUT the show stealer that day was the majestic, black male deer that appeared out of nowhere on the road: we did a hard brake, it stared at us, we stared at it… then it jumped back into the forest! That was some Princess Mononoke level experience right there.

23315751_10155135877682817_560602113_n

Following that was a whirlwind of local dancing (yosakoi), flower arrangement (ikebana), summer kimonos (yukata), temple visits, tea ceremony (sado), and the gutting of an unsuspecting bonito (katsuo). If you aren’t already following me on facebook or insta, then let me enlighten you about bonito. It is THE local fish, star of every tourist meal, an unmissable delicacy. A famous restaurant here kindly organised an activity where the students prepared the fish themselves, A-Z.

20689544_1458671134208480_5668245424675776582_o
This was the yukata I picked out for the day! I love that the obi belt wasn’t pre-made and I had it done in a pretty bow.
23360951_10155135877657817_2075378779_n
Green tea ceremony (sado)

Speaking of bonito, October 14th there was an entire festival dedicated to this delicious fish. That’s right, you heard me, a fish festival. Basically, it’s a bunch of tents with a bunch of food and IT IS AWESOME. Don’t take my word for it, watch the video I made instead! Of course I had seared bonito (katsuo tataki) and I washed it all down with yuzu shaved ice (kakigori). Yuzu looks somewhat like a lemon, either yellow or green and is SUPER aromatic. Forget lemons, once you’ve had yuzu, you don’t go back!

22366833_1467962243279369_1029009728653159836_n

22405937_1467962276612699_5173755158259172831_n
yuzuuuuuuuuuu kakigori #nom

Dear readers, you may or may not have had the chance to taste Yuzu before, so you may or may not understand my sorrow when *cue dramatic music* the “#%&$’”%& damn typhoon cancelled a Yuzu matsuri I was planning on attending.

Most of October was overwhelmed by typhoons which means rain, rain, rain. But hey, I didn’t let that dampen my spirit! In fact, before the rain hit we had the JET surf camp and yes, I went surfing for the first time in my life EVER! Omg, omg omg omg omg it was so amazing. I managed to stand on the board TWICE in 2h #goals. I can’t wait to go again!

22221491_1462024440539816_8714770501137853603_n
Exactly what I looked like on the water

Kochi city held a local products festival mid-October, at a shrine that had my name written all over it. Deer hot-dogs? Rose petal soda? Yes please! That very night was also the last performance of traditional dance (kagura) held at Kochi castle and I had been obsessing about seeing it. The entrance to the castle was lit with beautiful light installations and we were given paper lanterns to carry up the stairs. Check out the video I put up on my YouTube channel!

23283121_10155135907827817_1164461542_n
#nom
23283420_10155135910007817_1237862490_n
Kochi castle by night

23316051_10155135910017817_1039913733_n

Multiple rainy weekends means keeping yourself busy. I spent one very wet and windy Saturday at Cap Ashizuri, touring Kongōfuku-ji Temple (one of the largest temples on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage) and walking along the high cliffs that jut out into the Pacific.

22688716_1474990505909876_5385135578622280051_n
Kongōfuku-ji Temple

22550032_1474990815909845_1964867755258620107_nI’ve also been playing the local tourist which in my book means FINALLY tasting the local katsuo tataki burger! I could talk about it buuuuuuuut I have a great video up on my YouTube channel that gives you a much better idea of how delicious it was. And if the burger isn’t a big enough draw for you, well I’ll have you know there’s also the skeleton of a whale in that video!

22814337_1480589245350002_1816363323455103496_n
Katsuo tataki burger = DELICIOUS

22851683_1480589298683330_4181534632271501283_nI’ve passed the 3 month mark and am loving every minute of it! Well… not so much the minutes spent on the surprise malfunctions of my car (looking at you alternator) but hey, no point sweating the small stuff.

Fall is kicking off here which means season themed decorations everywhere, including decorations made from Japanese pampas grass (susuki), eating rice dumplings (Tsukimi dango), roasting sweet potatoes and finding chestnut products everywhere; my favorites are the homage to the mythology of a rabbit living on the moon.

23231878_10155135959532817_1761292772_n
Chestnut cake!
23365076_10155135959552817_706298367_n
Rabbit in the moon.
23283218_10155135959557817_1725042333_n
Rabbit in the moon

Back to school #SweatLife

This week was my first full week of classes!Fun fact, in Japan classes are actually saunas, disguised as a learning environment. I knew it would be hot but… I didn’t think I would go through my WHOLE pack of cooling Gatsby Facial paper in 1 sitting ⁀⊙﹏☉⁀

 

Related image

Thankfully, the saunas are filled with kawaii children, eager to poke and pull their new gaijin animal so I quickly forget that every piece of clothing I’m wearing has become a full body bathing suit of sweat!

Jokes aside, it’s been a fun week getting to know the elementary school kids; they’re extremely cute and FULL of energy. I’ve won over the 3rd graders with my Estelle Bingo game and I’ve made the overly inquisitive 6th graders believe I was dating Daisuke Takahashi (2010 Olympics figure skating bronze medalist). Let’s see how long it takes them to find out the truth!

Dis my man! Takahashi-kun curtesy of http://www.zimbio.com

This month is undokai month, which means the kids are practicing every day for their sports festival day. They’ll be doing 100 meter races, tug of war, traditional dances, and on and on it goes. I’ve got 3 this month and I’ve been watching the children practice while at school. It’s very odd and fascinating at the same time, seeing all the kids be obliged to partake in this very repetitive and highly organized (dare I say formal) training. I’ve got 1 down, 2 to go! I was invited to join the jump rope and tug of war challenges #gambarimashita.

Being the foodie that I am, I was very excited to begin school lunches! Total gaijin, I know. They’re called kyushoku and OMG WHY DON’T WE HAVE THESE IN CANADA!? It’s provided by the school system, the purpose being to teach healthy eating habits and provide better understanding of food. Guys, it totally makes my day!

21231074_168415127063830_5682503196801134219_n

I’ve also developed a deep new hatred for Google Maps. Because noooooooo, NO, it can’t make me take the EASY way to my schools, noooooooooooo I have to take the HARD way there! Since I live in the inaka, this means taking NARROW roads (100% NOT big enough for my company’s land yacht of a car) AND it means getting into trouble. You see, on these TINY roads there’s a space on the side juuuuuuuuuuust big enough for your tire to slip into, and for your car to get stuck. And of course this happened to me! I’m fine, the car’s fine, my pride however… well we’re not on speaking terms right now.

All in all, an eventful but good first week!