Koga, Japan vs. Orlando, Florida

I ate everything you see here.

Lately my life has been an endless list of more things I need to purchase. So, needless to say, I’ve done a lot of shopping. As much as I know you are dying to hear all about the toothbrush I bought last weekend, I’ve decided to save you from that triade. Today, I figured a topic might be appreciated. Koga is basically a suburb of Tokyo. Of course, Tokyo being the largest city in the world, the suburbs stretch wide and far. However, I was shocked at the amount of similarities between my hometown and my new town. Without further ado, here is some insight into what it’s like living in the ‘burbs of Tokyo.
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Apartment Tour

Alright, this is a video of my (tiny) apartment here in Koga! It’s pretty short and quite informative. It was shot when I first got here, so my room looks a bit more complete now, with decorations, flowers and the like. Either way, you get the idea. Please don’t mind the mess!
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Sakura Flower Viewing (桜花見)

As I wrote in my previous post, mono no aware is such an important part of Japanese culture. It’s only been a few days since the blossoms were in full bloom and they are already beginning to pool at my feet. The petals flutter around like snow flurries and coat the ground in a fine dusting of white and pink. It’s almost heartbreaking that something so beautiful is so brief, but then again, that’s all part of it. It really drives home this idea of appreciating the now. It’s not something to be sad about, but something to cherish. I was lucky enough to enjoy the cherry blossoms and really learn to appreciate them. Now, I can look for other amazing things to celebrate about life, here and now.
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Mono no Aware (物の哀れ)

This past weekend was all about “mono no aware.” This idea is a very important part of Japanese culture, and the aspect that I respect the most. It literally translates to “a pathos of things.” Basically, appreciate the things in life that are fleeting or impermanent. The best example I can give is cherry blossoms. They bloom once a year and only last about a week. That is why hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is so popular here. The Japanese have a festival for nearly everything that is notoriously short-lived.They have plum festivals, peach festival, cherry blossom festivals, and even snow festivals. It’s always about taking the time to enjoy life, because it is truly, very brief. So, I invite you to try “mono no aware.” This weekend, gather a group of friends an family, take out a picnic blanket, and go celebrate the most beautiful, yet brief, part of spring in your town. This idea stretches beyond physical things, but you get the jest of it. Continue reading

The Calm Before the Storm

School officially started yesterday. It was mostly opening ceremonies, so lots of bowing and congratulating. Very different from how we handle the first day of school in the states. Here, I would probably feel a greater sense of pride for my school. But, before I talk about today, I should talk about what I have been up to! Earlier in the week was mostly shopping for stuff, getting sick, and playing lots of video games. I was relaxing and recovering to say the least. Tuesday, I banded together a group of local ALTs to go to Nikko (日光), a city famous for it’s rich religious history. It’s basically mountains covered in shrines. Breathtaking.
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Koga’s Famous Peach Festival (桃まつり)

My first weekend was quite a success. On Friday I hopped on an evening train into Yokohama. It takes about 1 hour, 45 minutes straight from here. It’s pretty epic that there is a line that goes directly there from Koga. Once in Yokohama, I spent the night with my long lost, good friend, Mari Kishi. We only get the opportunity to see each other once a year (if that) but it’s always the same. She is very strange, and so am I. It’s perfect.
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