Saturday, 28 April 2012

Off I go...

My next 30 hours (hopefully) go like this...

Train/walk to work
Work for 4 hours
Walk into Sendai
Waste 5 hours in Sendai
6 hour bus journey to Tokyo
35 minutes on two trains from Tokyo to Haneda Airport
3 hours at the airport
4 hour flight to Taipei
30 minute train ride from airport to hotel
Collapse in a heap

On the plus side, I made tuna mayo and lettuce sushi rolls for my lunch today. Yum.

And on the plus plus side, at the end of all that I have a week in Taiwan!

I hope you all enjoy Golden Week, whatever you're up to. See you all when I get back :D

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sakura, Sakura Everywhere

Whilst seas of Sakura blossoms, like the one in my last post, are ridiculously gorgeous, I think my favourite thing about Cherry Blossom time is the trees that pop up everywhere. I suppose this happens with all trees and flowers all over the world in the springtime, but Japan's obsession with Sakura means that a huge percentage of trees all spring (no pun intended) into life all at the same time. It seems like 2 weeks ago it was still winter, there were no flowers anywhere and the world was grey and boring, and then, ta-dah!, around every corner is a flash of pink blossom.

Walking to school

Decorating our train station

Brief Cherry Blossom interval: My Japanese tutor took me to an old shrine hidden in the hills yesterday.

Back to Sakura: Local High School

Biking home from Japanese lesson

See, even these scary, ugly, rejected from Soviet Russia blocks of flats with rubbish in front of them are made beautiful by the Sakura. They're magic, I tell you!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sakura in the Sunshine

After our hanami success at the weekend, today we made the most of a sunny morning and caught the train to Ogawara. It's a small town half way to Fukushima, about 35 minutes by train from Sendai. It is a pretty town, along the Shiroishi River, and during Cherry Blossom season, this prettiness is greatly enhanced by cherry trees all along both sides of the river. You can walk along a sakura corridor all the way to the next station up (Funaoka), and from there you can walk up a hill, also entirely decorated with cherry blossom.

Pure Sakura porn. Enjoy!

Arrival at the river

Because rabbits enjoy hanami too.

Today was gorgeously sunny, but very hazy. On clearer days you can apparently see Mount Zao in the background. It's a shame, but I'll take Pollyanna's advice and be glad about the sun!

What's that, JR? Yes, I'd love to become your new advertising photographer :)

Cute birds, scary boyfriend!

There were lots of pretty buildings as well as pretty flowers

Cable Car going up the hill for the lazy

Sakura sea

Not the best picture, but it does show the trees going down the river as far as you can see

Different colours of blossom

Monday, 23 April 2012

Our Hanami Party

I've been doing lots of spring time wandering this last week, but the cherry blossoms have still been playing hard to get. They're most out not, but not fully, and since we've got a lot more wandering planned for this week, I'll save up my photos and you'll get a deluge later in the week.

But despite the less than full buds, we had our hanami party (along with most of the inhabitants of Sendai!). Hanami literally translates as Flower look, but it generally refers to viewing Cherry Blossoms. There is a national obsession with them in Japan, as many people know, and trees are everywhere. Whilst people obviously enjoy their beauty, to a lot of people, hanami really only means one thing...having a drunken picnic in a park with your friends. People have hanami parties with friends, family and work colleagues, and blue sheets (these seem to be essential) spring up everywhere. The parks are ridiculously crowded, but that's all part of the fun - it's Japan, so people are generally polite, friendly and tidy, even when they're rolling around drunk. Despite the weather being distinctly overcast, and it being rather too cold for a picnic, we thoroughly enjoyed ours yesterday, and I'm almost sad that we're going to Taiwan next weekend so we can't have another one!

Here's a collection of the photos of the day!
Juggler collecting money for the rebuilding effort 

Our's a testament to our collective cooking skills that the bought food was left pretty much untouched while we all devoured everything homemade!

There was a procession of dancers and musicians, just adding to the festival atmosphere

Just for variation!

Date Masamune, Sendai's founder. This costume pops up at everything!

The Japanese half of our hanami group!

Friends, flowers, food, alcohol. All that's needed for successful hanami!

Lanterns sponsored by Kirin Beer, naturally.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Week: Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off outside we go

SPRING IS HERE!! Well, it has been. It's now raining again, and that is forecast to continue most of this week. Right when I want to be enjoying my first Sakura (Cherry Blossom) season in Japan. Urgh.

But, we have had a week of gorgeous weather, which we've been enjoying wholeheartedly.

I love daffodils! 

I hate the overhead wires that are everywhere in Japan :( But this river is such a lovely colour!

I found and used a bee venom face mask. Random.

On Saturday, a friend took us to an awesome park. We ate, walked, played badminton, acted like children and enjoyed the sunshine.

Freaky-deaky dogs.

We subtly ignored the (bilingual) signs that said children only. Who wouldn't want to play on a massive bouncy mound?!

Sendai near sunset

Smiles may blossom, or they may not. That all depends on the weather. 

Rurousha, I think this one of your dream eating Baku!

Trees are starting to look a little pink around the edges, but no Sakura yet! I'll be back later in the week!

The Plum blossoms are still lovely though, and smell gorgeous.

Dressed in pink to encourage the sakura on!

A really rather effeminate photo!

Last week, on Friday 13th, a child from school gave me a four leaf clover. There's a luck conundrum for you! 

I hope everyone else is enjoying the spring weather too!