Monday, 9 July 2012

The Next 5 months

It was a difficult decision, made for lots of reasons, but John and I have decided to limit our stay in Japan to one year after all. The main factors are not feeling very satisfied with lives here (too much free time and it's been impossible for us to find worthwhile activities to get involved in) and an increase in competitiveness for the Masters course we want to do on return to the UK (Social Work). So, we'll be heading back home at around Christmas time.

In the meantime, we still have just over five months left in Japan. We've managed to fit a lot into the last 7 months, but there are a lot of things I still really want to fit in before we go. Both sets of parents are visiting in the next couple of months, so we're hoping to do lots of these things with them. 

Things local to here
  • Climb Mount Zao - We've skied down this gorgeous volcano, but now I want to hike up it and marvel at it's lovely lake.
  • Visit Yamadera - A temple on a mountainside, only 20 mins by train from our house. It's a disgrace that we haven't been yet, but we haven't. It'll happen!
  • Visit Matsushima Bay - We did this today. Photos coming soon!
  • Visit Zuihoden Mausoleum - Sendai isn't exactly chock-a-block with historic buildings, but Date Masamune founded the city, and is buried here. Since I have had a love of him and his onigiri head since I first got here, I think I need to spend an hour or two 
See what I mean about the onigiri head?!

  • Celebrate Tanabata - Most of Japan celebrated tanabata last week, but the biggest and best is yet to come! Sendai has the most famous festival in Japan, held at the start of august. It conveniently falls on my birthday, and I planning to celebrate hard! 
  • Go to the statue - It's a little know fact that Sendai has the 6th tallest statue in the world. It's of the  Buddhist bohisattva (enlightened person), Kannon. However, it was built for tax avoidance, rather than religious motives and so people don't like it. It's not mentioned in most tourism info, and is apparently surrounded by pachinko parlours. Sounds like it has the potential to be an amusing, if not enlightening experience!
  • Buy LOTS of stationary/origami/bento/craft items and send them home - I love all these things, and Japan is a paradise for them. I plan on buying a good few years supply. Good thing my parents have a big attic!
  • Play pachinko - It's loud, it's garish, it's expensive, but it's apparently regularly played by 1 in 6 Japanese people, makes up 40% of the Japanese leisure industry (including bars and restaurants) and it's revenue is 4 times that of all the casino gambling in the world. It seems to be an essential Japanese experience. 
  • Take couples purikura - I love purikura. John hates it, but I just need to get a few beers in him, and I'll have some photos that will make all the Japanese people I know go kawaiiiiii for about an hour!
  • Stay in a love hotel - Not as sleezy as it sounds. They're not all about prostitutes here, but provide privacy for couples living with extended family, plus they're a cheap and convenient place to stay. another random only-in-Japan thing! 
  • Visit Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea - I love Disney. I plan on going in November, on a school day. Hopefully that way I can have Mickey (and Duffy) all to myself.

  • Get a good view of Mount Fuji - Climbing Mount Fuji was on my list of things to do before leaving Japan, but I don't think I'm going to have time during the open season, plus various blogs about it make it sound less enjoyable than a lot of other climbs, so I've given up on the idea. It's gorgeous and iconic though, and the small glimpse I got from the Shinkansen isn't enough. I want to go and revel in the view sometime.
  • See the Pandas at Ueno Zoo - Panda's are cute, and there aren't any in England. 

Anyone got any other suggestions? I think it's a fairly achievable list so far. There are a few other things I ideally want to do (visit Hiroshima and Nara, climb Mount Iwate, visit Kinkasen island (it's pretty close, but I don't know if you can get there post tsunami), visit Hiraizumi, see the 5 coloured lakes), but I'll see how I go. 


  1. :(

    Well. Let's focus on the good news (for me) (selfishly): lots of great posts coming up, and I'm already looking forward to reading your British blog one day. You WILL continue blogging when you return, won't you?

    Have you been to Kyoto? I know, I know, it's very touristy, but it is rather special.

    PS: You're dissatisfied with too much free time? You've become very Japanese! ;)

    1. I know, a big part of me is disappointed too, but it's a good decision!

      I'll keep blogging, I hope!!

      Yes, we went to Kyoto when we first came to Japan. I'd love to go back, but I want to see new places first, and then I can revisit everywhere when I come on holiday to Japan in the future and can get a magic rail pass and zoom about everywhere on the shinkansen!

      I've always liked being busy :)

  2. Rurousha - Susie has never sat still ever since being a baby so she won't start now!

    I like the sound of your list of things to do - hope we can help with hiking and other bits around Sendai area. We are also considering Mount Fuji and ... maybe ... going across to Hiroshima

    We also want to see a bit of Tokyo - some touristy but also some off the beaten track - think I might start following Rurousha's blog for some ideas there :)

  3. Hallo, Susie's Mum! ^^

    I respectfully wish to disagree with both of you. I'm quite sure Susie manages to sit still for a few minutes when absorbed in a good book. ;)

    PS: My big dream is to do the pilgrimage routes on the Kii peninsula, ending at Koya-san. That's my secret retirement plan! :D Info here.

    PPS: You want to read my blog? Oops. Then I'd better do another temple post soon. The current conversation on my blog is somewhat ... err ... it's all John's fault!

    1. Susie's Mum,
      It's safe to drop over to Rurousha's blog now. ;p

    2. Haha you are quite right, I do sit still when reading. If it's a good book, John is lucky if he gets a word out of me all day!

      I explained to my Mum what you were all talking about and she laughed a lot. The current articles are much more useful for planning our travels though!!

      Those routes look lovely, but I wouldn't wait till retirement! Forget Japanese custom for a while, and actually take a long holiday!!

  4. Good luck in getting Mickey (and Minnie?) all to yourself this Nov. ;p

    1. Thanks! We managed it before (almost) by going to Disney in Paris on a Friday in February, so hopefully we'll be successful this time too!

  5. Ummm i missed this post before but I need to come to Disneyland with you!!