Monthly Archives

April 2012

Japan

Return to Rurikō-ji

I loved visiting Rurikō-ji with our group of exchange friends, but I wanted to come back to the temple by myself so I could focus on making some more photographs without them having to wait up for me while I spent 30 minutes making different exposures and such.  It was good though, there were actually some other photographers there when I showed up, and we exchanged nods of solidarity.  They were both older Japanese men, so a bit more reserved. I wish I had taken their photo!

Can you spot the graveyard kitty?

Destinations Japan

Cherry Blossoms at Night

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.  

Destinations Japan

Neighbourhood Sights in Miyano

This area is so beautiful.  Here are some shots from around my neighbourhood (everything here is within the equivalent of a few blocks, from my house to my school to my grocery store).

More cherry blossoms… I couldn’t help myself.

This is where we store our bikes when we get to school. Little enclosures like this one are scattered throughout the campus and help keep the rain off.  Look at the little tree-like plants growing on the roof!

Oh, don’t mind me. Just strolling through my goddamn adorable neighbourhood.

Destinations Japan

Neighbourhood Sights in Miyano

This area is so beautiful.  Here are some shots from around my neighbourhood (everything here is within the equivalent of a few blocks, from my house to my school to my grocery store).

More cherry blossoms… I couldn’t help myself.

This is where we store our bikes when we get to school. Little enclosures like this one are scattered throughout the campus and help keep the rain off.  Look at the little tree-like plants growing on the roof!

Oh, don’t mind me. Just strolling through my goddamn adorable neighbourhood.

Japan

The Art of Japanese Recycling at Yamaguchi Recycling Plaza

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!

Destinations Japan

It’s Hanami Time! Sakura Blossoms Come to Yamaguchi

Yeeeeeah, that’s right. The 桜 (sakura/さくら) are here. Cherry blossoms everywhere! Finally, I feel like a kid in a Miyazaki movie. Cherry blossoms are, the quintessential ‘wanna see’ for any North American kid who’s ever dreamed of going to Japan. The beautiful trees are everywhere.  From a distance it sort of looks like they’re covered in this pink-white snow fluff.  Get a good gust of wind and they shower blossoms down all over you.

The sakura blossoms only last for about 2-3 weeks, so everyone tries to enjoy them while they can. You can see tons of people stopping at the side of the roads to take pictures; everyone from giggly jr. high girls to black-suited salarymen: no one is immune.  

‘Hana mi’ literally means ‘flower viewing’ (花見). From the end of March to early May while the cherry and plum (ume) blossoms bloom, you can find people gathering outdoors for walks, picnics, photos and other festivities. In general, everyone is in a wonderful mood.  At night, you’ll see a lot of teenagers and young people having nighttime picnics with lots of beer and sake near the trees. These can get a little more rowdy, although in general everyone is still very respectful (it is Japan, after all).

I actually can not stop taking pictures of them. I wonder if there’s a Japanese word to describe this compulsion?  Sakura fever?

We’re so lucky at Yamaguchi Prefectural University to have a huge sakura trees blooming right outside our cafeteria on campus. 

You can sit, study, eat and relax while the blossoms dance around you on the wind.  If that isn’t picturesque, then – – well, you know what? It is, no matter what.

Friendly classmates in the cafeteria’s outdoor eating area!

This is my kind, smart and beautiful tutor, Miho! Everybody clap for Miho! I’m not the most studious student of Japanese, too busy running off and having adventures, but she puts up with me nonetheless.  She even took my picture!

I feel so lucky to be here; to get to experience all these beautiful sights and sounds, smells, existence, ahhhhhh. Truly, the world is an amazing place!