I debated for a while whether to title this a Sky Worship post or not, but in the end decided that it wasn’t focused enough to merit the title. Actually, there’s not much to this post in general. I stopped by Kichijoji the other day, one of my favourite neighborhoods in Tokyo to take a few photos with a friend. This random smattering of pictures is the result.
I woke up at 5:20 AM this morning and decided to take the day off to attend to the huge pile of things I had to do that have built up over the past month. I started out making some pretty decent progress but then when lunch rolled around I took a break to surf the net whilst stuffing my face and sort of lost my momentum. One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is update the blog, and so here I am, trying to regain my motivation to churn though the list of things for today. I spent a few minutes trying to think of what to write about, but nothing particular came to my mind. So instead, I decided to clear out a bunch of B&W photos I had laying around from various places in Tokyo. I don’t like to mix them in with colour photos, so they sit and wait for posts like this where I can clear them out in one go.
I did however, decided to take a quick little trip over to Takao-san, a beautiful mountain in western Tokyo. It’s a popular destination amongst Tokyo-ites due to its proximity and also relative accessiblity – unlike Fuji-san, you can easily tackle it in a day without even having to get up early and you don’t need any extra gear. Its popularity is a double-edged sword however, because it’s often crowded on weekends and holidays, and I was a bit apprehensive to tackle it during Golden Week because I was pretty sure the place would be swarming with tourists. But that’s true no matter where you go in Japan during Golden Week, so without further ado, my lovely traveling companion and I decided to head over bright and early on a Monday, figuring that most people would have hit it up on the preceding Saturday or Sunday.
Kawagoe is actually not such a famous place, and even if you find yourself hankering for a brief escape from the urban jungle that is Tokyo (but really, why would you ever want that? I love it…), there are probably better choices out there: Hakone, Yokohama, Nikko and Kamakura, just to name a few. So why did we end up going to Kawagoe? Well, for one, I’ve already been pretty much everywhere else in the area. And for two, Starbucksgirl’s (I really ought come up with a new moniker for her, since she doesn’t work at Starbucks anymore…) family runs a mochi shop, which means she likes traditional Japanese sweets. And being secretly (or not so secretly) a child inside, I happen to love candy and all things sweet (even mochi too, at this point). Guess what? Kawagoe is famous for sweets.
The results for the Japanese Proficiency Exam (JLPT) Level 1 (the highest level) for last December were announced earlier this month, and I was delighted to see that I passed. I passed both the JLPT 1 and the JLPT 2 (which I sat back in 2008) each on my first try. I’m not particularly great at Japanese (I famously confused the words for “poop” and “bean jam” once, causing great consternation to the old woman staffing the bakery counter), but still passing both on your first try doesn’t seem to be a super common feat, especially for test-takers whose native language is English. When I was studying for the test, I remember googling for study strategies which others might have used. There are a few good resources out there, but I thought I would write up my take on it as well, for what it’s worth.
My mind ended up turning to thoughts about my blog, life and future these days (not necessarily in that order, mind you). It’s been almost 7 years since I moved to Japan and I thought that by now I’d know what I want to do with my life. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. I think the core issue is that I’m a fickle panda: this is a blessing in that I have many and multi-varied interests, but also a curse because I tire of things quickly. Every time I think I have found something I want to do with my life, three weeks later I decide it’s not really for me and I stop working towards it.
And while I have been to both places quite a few times (the former because I have an obsession with cameras (like this one, for example), and the latter for business), I had actually never walked between them – which seems a shame, given that they are located right next to each other. Plus, in most big cities, the most interesting spots are not necessarily those right in front of the major train stations (since that landscape tends to be dominated by the same homogenous chain stores that can afford the pricey real estate), but rather in the areas just outside or between the “station zones.”
If you want to know more about Amanohashidate, you can feel freeto read about it online , which is something we probably should have done ourselves instead of just rolling up at 6 AM and being like “sooo… uhh, where and umm, how do we see it?” – without even a clear idea of what exactly it was (it’s a long sand bar in a bay, by the way) let alone where to find the “entrance. ” We drove around for about 30 minutes until a kindly old man at McDonalds (hey, there aren’t a lot of food choices at 6AM in the middle of remote countryside Kyoto) who insisted on referring to Starbucks Girl as “himesama” (“Princess”) managed to point us in the correct direction.
It was gorgeous autumn weather out last Tuesday, and there are few better places to take advantage of it than the myriad of cafes lining the winding streets between Shibuya and Daikanyama. Thus my spiffy new $14 puffar vest and I headed over to see how much caffeine I could cram down my throat. I managed 8 cups of espresso in various forms over the course of 12 hours, though I stopped being able to hold the camera steady long before that….It was, in every way, a wonderful day.
So when I last left off (last month…), our fearless duo had just finished stuffing themselves full of momiji manju and grilled eel bentos and decided to head into Hiroshima city proper to do a little bit of sightseeing. Now, besides Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the other two cities in Japan that probably most people in America have heard of are Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for obvious reasons. And of course, if you find yourself in Hiroshima as a tourist, the first stop one usually makes is the Genbaku Dome (“Atomic Dome”) and the Peace Memorial Park with its Peace Memorial Museum.