Monday, December 26, 2011

The 3 F`s: 花見@京都

Flower-viewing? Really? People actually do this? You wouldn`t think much of it right? Set up a (usually) blue tarp/mat (or banig for you fellow Filipinos holla), sit, drink , eat nomnoms and, or sakura to be specific. What fun can be had in that?

TONS. (Especially if you add the alcoholic drink part). I can probably say this because I ended up spending hanami at one of *the* places to do it: Kyoto. I went with 2 of my friends who are JETs in Shizuoka-ken.

I think Kyoto and `crowded` should go hand in hand. We were sardined packed tight on the bus on the way to Ginkakuji, right next to an old man who spoke to us with this gross, orange blob on his lips (we`re thinking it was uni) that also made his spit orange and UGH GROSS きもい!

...Anyway. The path towards the Silver Pavilion is beautiful. As if Kyoto`s mash of old and new architecture wasn`t awesome enough, there`s mini forests to boot that made me think I stepped into the forests in Princess Mononoke...

I`m expecting kotodama to come out aaany second now...

And maybe I was so enchanted of the path *to* the temple that when I actually saw the Silver Pavilion my first thought was, `That`s it?`. Seriously. I didn`t even think it was Ginkakuji. I thought it was a random temple before the main attraction, but then I realized it had to be since a lot of people were taking pictures in front of it...well, at least it was a nice walk. After that we walked some more and took a stroll through the Philosopher`s Path, 哲学の道 for more pink awesomeness. And cats.

Cats seem to be everywhere in Japan...

After a brief stop at the Heian Jingu shrine we then headed over to the Gion District and Maruyama Park to get our Hanami on. The park definitely had the party vibe that night. Lots of Japanese people nomnoming, drinking and just letting loose just really set the fun tone. This is when I realized that Japanese will use any excuse, like the changes of the seasons to get their drink on. Sadly all good things must come to an end so we stumbled to the 9h capsule hotel in Gion (which is the most amazing capsule hotel *evaromg*).

Forget the sofa bed, can I have this instead?

The following day we got our hanami on again in Arashiyama, a place I`ve always wanted to visit after seeing pictures of the place during the spring and fall. Beautiful. Although it was packed, it was still pretty relaxing and we were able to snag a spot and nomnom on more delicious matsuri meat-on-a-stick and sakura flavored soft serve ice cream. We only saw a glimpse of what Arashiyama had to offer because sadly we all had a long way to travel back to our part of Japan that we call home.

Hanami in Kyoto is AMAZING and I definitely recommend going to Kyoto during that time, crowds be damned. But of course hanami can be done *anywhere* in Japan. As long as you have the 3 F`s: Food, Flowers, and most important Friends then you too can get your flower power on.

Tasty of the day:
sakura ice cream with actual sakura blossoms

Friday, December 2, 2011

Genki Taisou....GO!

The title more or less translates to happy/energetic exercise....GO!

Today was...interesting.

...guess I better back up a bit. The story starts in October during the Ibara Sports Festival. After parading around the track all the participants gathered in the center of the field and lined up to do a warm-up. What us unsuspecting ALTs didn't know was this wasn't the usual, every-morning-radio-taisou the salarymen do. It was a mix of some warm up karate punches, marching, line dancing and jazz hands (okay the jazz hands were our addition). Of course, we thought the weirdness was AMAZING so we kind of...well, we were *genki*. We started to aim the punches at each other, do jazz hands, make weird faces, etc. Then it was finished; we had a laugh and the sports festival continued. We really didn't think anyone paid attention to our shenanigans.

Man, were we wrong. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago where one of my supervisors comes to me and lets me know that the city saw us do the Genki Taisou so *well* that the local broadcast wants to record us and air it. 5 of 6 pretty much screamed at him to let us do it. And so today, we did just that.

I have to say there was just a teeny, tiny moment where I felt...irked over what the instructor said. While we were practicing and asking questions of 'where does our arm go, which direction,' etc. she tells us that mistakes are okay (funny coming from a Japanese person) and the main point is for people to laugh. At first I thought well, to laugh *at* us? Sure, let's look at the silly foreigners do a taisou, dance, monkey dance! Because there are quite a few moments, both inside and outside the classroom where I do feel like the 'monkey' and perform for the kids/community. And well, let's face it, most of the time, I have no idea what's going most of the time anyway so I just go with the flow and do it. Besides, dancing is fun.

Regardless, the irked feeling went away because well, it was our fault for acting silly at the sports festival in the first place and come ON! We're being taped doing a warm-up exercise that the whole town will see!! How awesome is that?! Of course we all requested copies when it's finished. We ended the day with dinner (and DRINKING) at Champloo aka Champs. Even our supervisors came by for a drink to pat us on the back.

The taisou will air in January for who knows how long. Once I get my copy I'm immediately sending it stateside because otherwise I might end up setting fire to it.

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