Stefanie, wh….where do you go flower hunting?

We are safely past the Spring Equinox, folks! I guess that means that I can no longer be annoyed when people say it’s “already spring” (as some have been saying since about mid-February). While we’re still having cold nights here in Kyoto, we are getting warmer day by day, and that means things are a’blooming.

I’ve spent my free time in the past few weeks checking out flowers all over town, and I thought I would share a couple of good spots for you to check out, either now or the next time spring rolls around.

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Kyoto Botanical Garden: Conservatory

It’s spring~!

Hi, guys. We’re finally getting into weather where I don’t have to bundle up under piles of winter clothes. And while the plum blossoms are still mostly thinking about blooming (but haven’t quite yet), it’s been too lovely out to sit around waiting on a single type of flower.

I’ve talked before about the Kyoto Botanical Garden. Located just outside Kitayama Station on the Kyoto Karasuma Subway, the gardens cost a ‘whopping” 200 yen to enter. They’re a great place to spend an afternoon in almost any season. There’s a playground for kids, a plum blossom grove, a rose garden, a European-style garden area–you name it, they have it. But today I want to talk about a specific feature: the conservatory.

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Student Loans and Teaching in Japan: Compatible?

Hi, guys! It’s still cold here in Kyoto, but we’re finally starting to see signs of life in the plum trees as they, one by one, start budding and blooming. Before we know it, we’ll be in full flower season again, going from plum to cherry blossoms and then to the countless other types of flora you can find in Japan.

Meanwhile, though, I’m still buried under the kotatsu, clutching at my hot tea. However, there is one big, important change:

As of this month, I am officially student loan free.

Continue reading “Student Loans and Teaching in Japan: Compatible?”

The rise of “My Choco”

Around this time last year, I brought up the idea of “being romantic to yourself.” Back then, I had two or three students that told me (amidst giggles hidden behind a hand) that they’d gone to the department store and bought $100 chocolates… all for themselves! What scandal; what deliciousness! I’d thought it was a cool idea, and didn’t give it a lot more thought.

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Flower Hunting, Start! Looking ahead to Cherry Blossoms

You might be asking yourself a few questions today. Things like, “Did I leave the gas on?” “How is it already February?” And, most pertinently, “Why is Stefanie talking about cherry blossom viewing when we’re still so far away from it?”

Originally, I was going to make a post about ume (plum) blossoms, as we’re in the right season for them. Ume blossoms, often overlooked in favor of cherry blossoms, have a lovely smell and help guide you through the last of winter into spring.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is all of my pictures of ume are terrible, and thus far in Kyoto there is one (1) tree that is blooming in Gosho. And that tree is surrounded by people with camera lenses three times the size of my head.

So, let’s talk about cherry blossoms today!

Continue reading “Flower Hunting, Start! Looking ahead to Cherry Blossoms”

Update from the kotatsu

Hello and welcome to the last day of January, 2018! Stefanie here, reporting from her kotatsu. It’s a whopping 1 degree Celsius outside, and despite having run out of water within arms’ reach I am reluctant to get up to refill my glass due to it being chilly.

There isn’t a ton happening this January, which is why not much has been written since my Takamatsu post. But I’ll run you through a couple of general life updates since we’re all here.

  • I totally failed the N1.

    This comes as no surprise to me; I basically let myself get pushed into taking it far before I was mentally ready to go for it. I did surprisingly well in the listening given how little I studied for it, but everything else was pretty bad. I’ll try it again, but won’t do so until December 2018. I’m not disappointed; if anything, my reaction was to shrug my shoulders and go やっぱりね.

  • I read a Japanese novel this month!

    Today I finished volume one of 文学少女, or “Book Girl”. It’s a light novel that’s been translated into English, and funnily enough I found it on a website recommending the English version! The first story, “The Suicidal Mime”, was dark (as you can imagine), but the writing style was enjoyable and the premise of the demon girl who eats books for sustenance was entertaining. I’d recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of anime– a lot of the reactions in the novel are overblown like you would see on the screen, which made them easy to imagine!

    Haven’t decided what I’ll read next– maybe I’ll finally read volume 2 of 寺町三条のホームズ. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for, what, two years? Regardless, I want to see if I can keep up reading 1 Japanese novel a month, on top of my other reading goals.

  • I’ve signed up for a special taiko class!

    I’ll post more information about this as the time gets closer, but I’ll be doing a 1 week intensive deal later this year. I’m extremely excited about this because I’ve wanted to do so for yeeeeeaaaaars but haven’t had the funds, time, or holidays from work for it. This year I’ll have all three, and since I’ll be done with student loans as of next month (whoa), I decided to treat myself.

  • I’m getting back into Japanese podcasts.

    I’ve really gotten into some English podcasts, which is great fun to listen to but not so great for the Nihongo practice. I’m a fan of folklore, history, and modern culture/society, so if you have any recommendations, lay ’em on me! In return, here’s my recommendation: ジンキとポテコの話せばわかる。Imagine overhearing a casual conversation between friends over a beer– that’s what you’ll get from this podcast. The speaking style is conversational, and they’ll bring up lots of little topics, whether it’s “who ought to bring what to a picnic” or “how does Anpanman work, anyway?”

    なぜなにコミュニケーション is another one I enjoy. While it’s more formal, it discusses what’s best to do in given situations. The very first episode title translates to, “What do you do if someone you’re talking to has prominent nose hair sticking out?”

That’s about it from this corner of Japan. I’ll have more to post as the weather gets warmer and plum blossoms–then cherry blossoms– start blooming. Or when I can nag a friend into hitting up one of the many new, interesting cafes in town.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay healthy, and see you next post!