Thursday, 29 November 2012

Chuusonji Temple, Iwate

This temple was the second stop on our adventures in Iwate. This temple became quite popular recently because it became a noted heritage site or something. I didn't really understand, but the temple was pretty none the less. Part of the main attraction of the temple was a giant gold budda, which was behind glass. There was also a movie which played, but that was all in Japanese. After we saw that, I wandered around with Katie from Hiroshima, and we had a nice time catching up after a year of not seeing each other and taking some pretty photos of the coloured leaves. We had a little bit longer at this place, so it was nice to get to explore all the little buildings of the temples, and the little pathways between them which is always fun!

Fall leaves at Motsuji Temple, Iwate

A lot of my friends volunteered in Tohoku once they arrived in Japan, about a year after the earthquake. Some of them help build new sewage lines and others build cool playgrounds for the kids. I hadn't had the opportunity to go, or have anyone to go with, so I was thankful that the WhyNot! Group were organising a trip. They are this organisation run out of Kansai which aims at proving all areas of Japan are safe, and the often take bus trips to different parts of Japan. So one Friday night I headed up to Osaka to meet Brittany and find the bus. It was really nice to see her again, and my friend from Hiroshima and my Tokyo Orientation friends were there too so it was nice to see everyone. It took us 12 hours to get up there, and our first proper stop was at this temple in Iwate. The fall leaves we're unbelievable! They should have all been gone, but they were so pretty! There was a big lake, and all around you could see the lovely reds and oranges of the leaves!
It was pretty cold, so we walked quickly through the area, made a quick jaunt around the lake taking photos. I think they turned out really well, and they look very autumnal considering it was last November! This was just one of many of the little stops we made along the way of our super long bus adventure( which seemed never ending!)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Autumn comes to Hagi

Before I had left for Osaka, I had noticed a lot of nice trees turning lovely shades of reds and oranges. But often, I was in a rush somewhere, or without my camera. So on Monday, once I was back, I decided to go and wander around Hagi and see what I could find. I wandered all the way around to the castle, and down by the moat. Then I went all around the old city, and down little back streets, and around the library. But the best ones I found were right near my house suprisingly. I had a good time, going down little roads I hadn't been down before, and discovering some new places. I dont do that very often - just explore on my bike. But when I do, I'm really quite suprised by how nice Hagi is, and it kind of restores my reason for being here.Autumn is really quite a short season here. First, it starts getting a little cold...and no leaves change until it really gets cold.Last year, I remember October being quite a warm month, even at the very end of the month, but this year, it got so much colder, very quick. Before I knew it, I was wishing for a my winter jacket, and having to wear gloves to work!However, once the temperature gets colder, the leaves start to change colour. In Japan, people flock to see these leaves. Maybe not in Hagi, but Japanese people will often head to places like Kyoto or Hiroshima to see these amazing swathes of leaves. I was a little dissapointed that I hadn't headed over to Kobe that one day to see the leaves, but I was immensely cheered up by seeing there here in my own little town!

A very random Petting Zoo

It was raining really bad as we were leaving the aquarium, and we ran quickly to the nearest building. It just so happened to be a cool restaurant/shopping mall place. On the way in, I had seen a sign which said LLAMA....but that's about all I could read. I'd completely forgotten about it, until Josh said he was hungry and I saw the sign again! I was really excited, and we wandered through all sorts of ninja stores, we found this cute little petting zoo. It was only 600 yen, and it was full of all sorts of animals. They had some birds, like this pretty pink one, and there was a green one which was doing some flying show with one of the people who worked there. Then, there were all sorts of cute little dogs, and a lot of them were wearing cute little outfits. When we arrived, there was a little grumpy dog - a pug, a pomeranian, and a few others, but when we left there was a cute little corgi! Josh and I just love Corgis!!! There was a whole cat cafe, and lots of animals like lizards and tortises and so on, and some bunnies and guniea pigs too which you could feed. There were also a bunch of big dogs which were fun, but they werent very interested in us because we didnt buy any food to feed them! But we still had a great time feeding them, and it was just a great day out with my Josh!

Date Day in Osaka

Every so often, Josh and I designate an entire day as "Date Day"...the Saturday was just kind of a fluke due to timing, but on Sunday, we had a lovely breakfast of cheesy eggs on toast, and then headed into Osaka. We got yummy bread at our favourite store, and then headed to the Aquarium. We had the compulsary photo by the giant whale shark, and had a lovely time!Sadly, the sting ray section wasn't open, which was kinda of saddening for me, but we did see lots of fish, and the otters, and other fun well as the strange giant rodent, the Kapibara. I'm not sure how he fits in, but the Japanese loved it! We hung around for a little while and went to the gift shop, before heading out of the complex....I got a new whale shark folder and secretly bought Josh an otter folder to use at work! I sure do love how cute the whale shark is, so now I can carry it around with me and be reminded of our great date!

Making faces

Josh is so silly, and always terribly patient when I make him take a million and one photos of him petting a deer, or make him redo a photo lots of time. I'm not a very good photographer, so he's patient with me! I wanted a nice one of the two of us, but the big camera isnt very suited for that. Instead, I used my iPhone. Josh decided it was "silly face" day, and these are just one of the hillarious ones which we took! It was a great memory to have of the day!

Date in the Park

I went up to visit Josh, and we had a lovely Friday night. He had to go judge a speech contest on Saturday morning. I had thought he would be a long time, and so had intended to go to Mt. Rokko, but instead, he suprised my by coming home early! I was super happy, so we decided to go into Nara, and feed the deer. It's a great date, in my opinion. Its outdoors, involves fluffy animals, and is nice and cheap. Sitting in the park is nice and romantic! We stumbled across an interesting food fair. We didnt get anything, apart from some yummy Christmas mulled wine!We fed lots of fluffy deer, and got the good deer biscuits which they like! I love feeding the deer, and its one of my new favourite hobbies! The park was really busy, because of the food festival which was going on in different areas, as well as the museum being open, for something or other. We went around, and took lots of pictures, and petted lots of deers. I even insisted on Josh getting a photo with the deer. He looked so nice in his lovely burgundy jumper! It was starting to get dark, and so we picked up some stuff to make chilli in the evening. I was actually going to make dinner for Josh for once! We stopped and I bought mince pies, and then went to karaoke! Two person karaoke with Josh is still my favourite thing ever!I sang a lot of Christmas songs and drank a ton of hot chocolate! It was such a perfect date!

Monday, 5 November 2012

My first and favourite

Hakata Station was the very first place I went seriously shopping in Japan. It is so easy to navigate, everything is there, and it's just fabulous! I spent many days there, and this time was just as fab becuase there was a British fair going on too...I got lots of nice things for my winter wardrobe! Soon they will put up all the illuminations, and I cant wait to see them!

Eating our way around Fukuoka

Fukuoka is one of those great cities where you can just eat your way around. We started with Bagels, then had to have this cute Krispy Kreme, then we went to PAUL, so I could stock up on bread....Freshness burger for lunch and then Coldstone for ice cream before we went home! It was really a yummy day! In between all that, we went shopping all over - Abercrombie was having a sale, and we also found some good things in Forever 21 and H and M....We had more bags than you could shake a stick at! Lonna loved all the Anime stores in Canal City and it was just a fab, fun-filled shopping day!

One balloon

The balloons at 3 were cancelled, and then the evening ones were too, but we had to wait and see if they were cancelled. They did try and get the balloons up and running, but we were told that it was just too blustery for them to be up safely. It didnt seem like it was very windy, but they are the proffesionals, I guess! This was the only upright balloon I saw the entire day! After the night show failed, we watched them make some music with the burners, but then we headed back trying to beat the crowd. We walked for almost 40 minutes to even reach the back of the took about 1.5 hours to even get to the train station line! Crazy! But we were back in Fukuoka in no time at all!

Playing in the Cosmos

On Friday night, I headed down to Ube. Francis, Noble, Lonna and I went to dinner and then we all went home so that we could get to bed early to head down to the Saga Balloon Festival.Rachel, Daragh, Elise, Lonna and I were all going. We got up at half past 5 in the morning, ready and raring to go, taking local trains all the way down. It was a long trip, but it didn't seem to be so long because we were all tofether and could chat. I had been looking forward to this trip since last year, when it was cancelled! We must have taken a million trains, and then we had to get on another one from Saga City which went just to the Balloon site. It was already heaving with people. I was excited because the sky was brilliantly blue and it looked like it all woulg go ahead. It turns out the balloons werent going to be up all day, so we had to wait until 3pm. Considering it was only about 10am, that was a really, really long time to wait. We ae lots of festival food, which I was quite thankful for....but it did seem a bit strange at a balloon festival. In Japan, though, there are always food stalls at events like this. We took a walk around the large area, and then Lonna, Rachel and I wandered down to the other end of the site to see what was there......not much really! So we sat in the field and played in the Cosmos wildflowers. I'd never seen them before here, but apparently they are really popular here, and people make trips just to see these wildflowers! We made dailychains for my hair, and made Lonna look like a Who, and Rachel put one behind her ear! It was nice just to chat and relax, and the weather was really good too!

Downtown Kokura

We spent the day looking through the different shops, and trying out the food samples, and eating our way across the city. We had a great time, and there was even a farmers market too. It was just an enjoyable day to be outside and care-free! I havent spent time in Kokura for ages, so it was lovely!

Kokura Castle

We stayed at Elises house, and in the morning, Rachel and Karl made Pumpkin Pancakes! They were so yummy! Then, Lonna, Rachel and I headed down to Kokura to do some shopping and hang out. We went to Kokura castle first, because I had never actually seen it. Yes, it looks just like all the other castles in the country, but I like this one because it's practically next door to the giant shopping center!

AJET Halloween Party

This year's halloween party was held in a little Brewery in Mojikuo, in Kitakyushu. I travelled down with Nobyl, and helped him with his costume, before grabbing the train down from Asa. Travelling with a grown man dressed as a Japanaese school girl is always an adventure! It was pretty hilarious! Especially my attempts to put makeup on him while the train was moving. The party was good because I got to see everyone. I wore my Harry Potter costume, but Julianne's Kumamon was definitely the best!