Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sayonara Japan!

So tonight is my last night in Japan. In the morning I jump on a plane to Singapore to meet up with my brother and sisters in Malaysia. I can't wait, as I've seen their photos from the 2 weeks they've been there already, and lets just say I am sooooooooooo ready for some sun. It's been raining here the last few days.

My last few days at the Tsujimura family home were awesome. They were the warmest and friendliest family, so much so that the few days I was going to stay there turned into a week. We did girly things like watch movies and go shopping, and I also went to a stone spa, which is like a big sauna where you lie down on a slab of stone for 90 minutes and drink water and sweat all the bad stuff out. Kinda weird, but I felt good afterwards. Before we left we gave gifts to Mayumi's family, and we all got a bit teary when we presented Mayumi with a photo album with photos from our time in Japan. I guess you get pretty close to people when you share a room and work with them for 2 months. We finished off with a picnic in the park next to a cherry blossom tree that has just bloomed. Beautiful!

Amanda and I then went to Kawaguchi-ko, a town at the foot of Mt Fuji. Unfortunately it was pretty overcast, so we couldn't see Fuji-san all that well, but we did a nice hike and went for a bike ride around the lake and got to see some Icicle Lava caves (sounds cooler than what it is, actually). And now here I am back in Tokyo where I began, almost exactly 2 months ago. Back to the city of neon lights, vending machines and lots and lots of people. So to reflect on my trip, I thought I'd do a little list of top 5s:

Top 5 Highlights
1. Doing a tea ceremony in kimono, especially the part where Amanda ate a clove of garlic right before going into the ceremony to kill the germs from her cold and stunk out the elevator.
2. Snowboarding in Hakuba - the mountains were amazing and so was snowboarding once I stopped falling over. Thrown in with that is all the fun nights spent at Tracks and at Aqua Alpine too.
3. The whole weekend in Kanazawa - Kenrokku-en gardens, the art gallery and the friendly people. Loved it.
4. Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Museum
5. Onsen - once you get over the naked part, this is by far the most relaxing and cleansing way to end a day.

Top 5 Things I Will miss
1. Being able to get anything from vending machines that are situated every 200m... beer, hot food, hot drinks, tickets...
2. Feeling extremely safe... I never felt in danger once in Japan. And also the cleanliness of everything... even train station toilets were good!
3. The extremely efficient public transport system (althought not the extremely high price for tickets). I love that you can ride a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto in 2 hours.
4. The food! So good for you and so tasty.
5. Of course, all the people I met here... especially the Tsujimura family and all the Hakuba regulars.

Top 5 Food/ Drinks
1. Okonomi-yaki!
2. Sushi
3. Soba and Tempura... yum yum.
4. Calpis - it's a flavoured drink that's a cloudy white colour and tastes sort of like creamy soda, so good with some Sho chu (Japanese alcohol)
5. Suki-yaki

3 Things I will not miss (I couldn't think of 5)
1. The constant stream of recordings and midi music that blares from speakers EVERYWHERE. That sweet ladies voice gets so annoying after a while.
2. The coldness... it's bearable, but I am hanging for some sun.
3. Not being able to communicate properly... I got good at it by the end, but I guess I thought more people would speak English here.

So that's it. See you in Malaysia!

x meg x

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