“Tadaima” Blue Welcome. ”ただいま” is something you typically say when you come back home at the end of the day. It basically means, “I’m home!”.
Not only do the sakura blossoms look beautiful during the day, but at night time they’re lit up for an even more beautiful display.
This river that runs through Yamaguchi’s centre is the Ichinosakagawa (Ichinosaka River / 一の坂川 ). At night the streets here are re filled with pedestrians admiring the cherry blossoms. The blossoms right now are at 100%! (as the Japanese say, which really means they’re just all completely unfurled and in full bloom.
Any exchange student or foreigner in Japan will tell you, one of the first things the Japanese will attempt to teach you is their very specific, seven category recycling system. Here’s a hint: barely anything is truly ‘garbage’.
In order to teach us hopeless foreign exchange students about the art of recycling, we went on a class trip up to the recycling plaza in the mountains (then again, everything is up a mountain in Yamaguchi).
At our school, not only did we receive multiple pamphlets, wall posters, and instructional tutelage (see above, where I have placed my hand under my chin in a posture of learning with keen interest), but we actually went for a class tour of the Yamaguchi City Recycling Plaza. It was really quite cool. This machine below crushes plastic bottles into easily stacked squares.
Also, I was amazed that it didn’t smell awful. In Canada, I associate recycling depots with with that stale beer and rotten fruit smell. Here, the plaza just smelled of mild compost. I could not believe it! A testament to Japanese cleanliness and willpower, I think.
Everyone who worked here was so friendly and nice; they seemed genuinely happy to be working there. They treated their uniforms with respect as well as their positions. I think of the recycling depot I used to go to, and I think of some employees with pretty rough demeanors, not necessarily the proudest employees.
The recycling plant also had a section purely dedicated to recycling old bike parts into new, cheap student bicycles, as well as a whole shop that sold refurbished goods! Pretty nifty!
Update 1: my sleeping schedule seems to have righted itself! I slept in all the way until 7am this morning! Woop!
Update 2: I’ve started playing around with HDR, as seen in the photo of the pagoda taken at Rurikō-ji, above. I’ve seen a lot of ugly HDR, enough to almost dissuade me from trying it, but I figured I couldn’t knock it until I’d tried it. I didn’t think this was too bad!
Yesterday, a bunch of us foreign exchange students biked up to the Rurikō-ji Temple and Five-Storied Pagoda that is one of the main architectural and religious attractions of Yamaguchi.
There is a steep little street that leads up to the temple gates full of souvenir and sweet shops. If you’re biking, I recommend parking up at the temple gates and then walking back to the shops. It was really hot, and the flavoured ice treats were heaven.
The pagoda is 31.2 metres high, and was completed in 1442. There is also the main temple located further within the complex. Surrounding the grounds are beautiful zen gardens, lush with plum and sakura trees. Before entering the shrine, it is the buddhist tradition to wash your hands and mouth before entering, at a spring such as the one pictured below. Here’s how it’s supposed to go:
- The wooden ladles are provided so that you may scoop out some of the spring’s water and dump it over your hands.
- Then you pour some of the water into your hands to take into your mouth,
- You then spit it out (the plants near the foot of the spring were soaked).
Of course, no one having told me this, I messed it up a bit.
First of all, I nearly drank straight from the ladle (which is a no-no. You’re not supposed to touch the bowl of the ladle at all.) Secondly, I spit the water like a cowboy in a 1900s saloon. It’s supposed to be a modest squirt. I could practically hear the older Japanese around me cringe. Next time, I’ll be sure to be a bit more subtle with my cleansing.
All these little Buddhas with orange caps reminded me of a play my boyfriend had recently written and toured across Canada, Little Dickie Milburn. It’s like there were tiny Dickies everywhere.
The shrine and gardens were absolutely beautiful, and very peaceful. There was even a cute couple having their wedding photos done there.
Seeing the photographer and assistant/mom/family member fuss over the bride for her photos reminded me of so many photoshoots. It was nice to see that shoot etiquette is apparently very similar in Japan.
Between Rakel and Kei-chan, we have smiles for days!
Our group of exchange students is incredibly cute. I’m so lucky I wound up with such great people on this exchange!
This is the clever system of plugs I’m using to run power to my laptop in my new home in Japan.
Conveniently (unlike Cuba) the voltage in Japan is actually lower than in Canada, so if you plug something in you don’t have to worry about it blowing up without a power converter. On the downside, things like laptops and cell phone take a little bit longer to charge, and your hairdryer probably won’t get as hot as it would in Canada. Japanese plug sizes are juuuuuust different enough to make plugging thing in a bit tricky. In this case, my mac laptop’s cable has a grounding prong that Japanese outlets aren’t built for (Japanese outlets are just two small, straight rectangles, which would fit most small-sized Canadian plugs without grounders).
My solution was to sort of squeeze my two prongs into a thin outlet adaptor that lets my grounding prong hang outside the actual outlet. Convenient? You betcha. Safe? … yet to be seen. Let’s just say I won’t be leaving my mac plugged in during any electrical storms. Tetris skill level: master.
I’ve arrived in the city of Yamaguchi after taking the JR train line from Tokyo Station.
The neighbourhood that I’m staying in is called Miyano, and my school (Yamaguchi Prefectural University) is just around the corner, about a five-minute walk. Yamaguchi is a relatively small city with about 197,000 inhabitants. Miyano is on the northeastern outskirts and was actually its own village until it amalgamated with the city of Yamaguchi in 1941. It’s nice to be in a more rural area – much different than busy Tokyo! My neighbour grows radishes. Here’s the room I’ll be staying in, and the view from my deck.
I’m happy to report that cherry blossoms have already begun to bloom, despite the fact that it’s still pretty chilly at night.