Saturday, 14 January 2012

A week of ups and downs

This week was always going to be a hard one in lots of ways.

My first full week of teaching. Commuting almost 3 hours each way to my school in Yamoto. Doing a lot of that commute along the coast that was affected by the tsunami. Teaching children who lost homes and family in the tsunami. Teaching those children for the first time while being observed by their parents. Still battling the cold and the snow and the ice. Falling off my bike on said ice. My first Japanese lesson.

It was difficult and I'm exhausted now, but I managed to have a lot of good times too. I (briefly) visited Matsushima Bay, continued to make friends, visited some new places to eat, and celebrated a Japanese festival. Photos below :)

Matsushima park

Matsushima Bay. Despite being by the coast, Matsushima mostly escaped the tsunami due to all the islands and the general lay of the land. The beauty of it feels weird next to the devastation further up the coast, but there's something lovely about it surviving too.  

Dad, maybe you could just steal one when you come to visit???

Our friend Tomoki took us to a yummy and cheap izakaya. Okonomiyaki, pig trotter (John told him to order something random), cabbage and edamame were all on the menu, as well as lots of yakitori. Yum.

Tomoki and his friend Ryusuke fighting to split konnakyu. It's a weird thing made out of a type of potato, but somehow made rubbery. I have no idea how, you'll have to google it.

Like a lot of Japanese places, there was an open kitchen. Fun! 
I couldn't bring myself to take photos in the tsunami area. It feels too prying. But I took this of the lovely sunset in an affected area. Apart from some bits, it's hard to tell what has always been farmland and what used to be housing. I think most of this is just farmland though.

Maiko, a lady I met last week, took us to the Dontosai festival. The basic idea is that you go to a shrine and everything burnt on the fire goes up to your ancestor ghosts/gods. So it's a combination of wishes for good luck, presents to say thank you, and (conveniently) New Year's decorations. 

I hope this wasn't a personal slight! I think it was just a bad choice of bag!

There's lots of food stalls too. (By the way, wondered above what okonomiyaki is? It's this! Cabbage, batter and miscellaeous other items mixed together and fried. It's yummy :D)

Things to be burnt. We wanted to rescue the poor teddies but I think that would be breaking far too many cultural taboos!

Afterwards, Maiko took us to a kind of tapas restaurant in Sendai. We had lots of tasty food but this was the only one that earnt a picture. Why? Well it may look safe, but it's actually, in the words of Maiko who couldn't think of the English word, "the bits of a fish that make semen"!! It was actually really good and just kind of tasted like a strange type of cheese!

I hope everyone else had a lot of good times this week too!


  1. What an amazing post, especially the parts about commuting to the tsunami affected areas.

    So sorry I haven't replied via email yet! I suck ;_; *runs to gmail*

    Damn a 3 hour journey to work.. PKC here I come...

  2. Wow that's certainly a week and a half! Glad you're getting to meet people a bit more now - sounds a good plan to get the locals to take you to their favourite restaurants :)

  3. Dad says ... Susie - find a man with a 10m yacht that would like to do a boat swap! x