Saturday, February 23, 2013

Zen Training, Judo, and Da Club

This week has been very eventful for me.

First on Wednesday a group of us went to a Zen Buddhist training temple for Zen Buddhist nuns.  For half a day we got the experience the life of a Buddhist nun, and boy it's hard!

First was mediation, which I enjoyed, but my legs were killing me after squatting for half an hour! XP
Next we had the head priest give us a lecture, which was interesting, though rather long...we had to squat the whole time as well, needless to say my legs were not happy.

After that was tea.  We learned some basic rules to tea ceremony, though the pain in my legs was taking up most of my attention.  The tea was served along with a sweet, both were good, though I'm not a big fan of tea.

Last was dinner, which was all vegetarian   It was by far the most stressful part of the day.  There were so many regulations on how to eat properly, I just wanted to table flip!  They use up everything; the goal is to not waste anything, which I can appreciate, but boy it's rather extreme.  You wash your dishes with tea and a radish, then eat the radish and then drink the tea!

I am glad that I had the experience, though I will definitely not be a Buddhist nun anytime soon, lol.

Then on Friday, I went to a new club called Ozone in Sakae with some friends.  This club was much smaller than ID, the club with 5 floors.  This club was only one floor, and there was much less people, but I liked that.  Much more dancing space.  Also, there was a chocolate fountain with marshmallows!

On Saturday, I had Judo as usual, but today I had my first throwing match! It wasn't a match per se, just a practice run with a more experienced girl who would teach me various moves during the match.  I actually got her down once! It was fun; I am looking forward to having real matches someday!

After Judo I went to Osu; a large shopping area in Nagoya.  Osu has just about everything you can imagine, street after street of shopping, dining, and even maid cafes!

I bought a nice hair pin called kanzashi, which is what Japanese women traditionally wear with kimonos, but now there are modern ones for everyday wear.

It has been a full week for me!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Japanese Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day in Japan differs from that in American in the sense that while it's all in one day for us, it's split into two separate days for the Japanese.  On Valentine's Day, the girls give guys chocolates ONLY. Girls do not traditionally receive anything on this day.  However, fear not ladies, a month later, on March 14th, the have White Day.  On this day the guys MUST give the girls chocolates or other gifts, usually in the color white.  And usually more expensive than what they received, lol.

My first Valentine's Day where I have someone special to share it with...but I'm across the world from him. Sigh. So I went with my dorm to a sweets parlor  a magical place where you can stuff your face with as much candy, cakes, and other yummy things until your stomach is about to explode.  It helped fill the void, lol.

I've recently joined the Judo club here, and I have now begun throwing instead of just falling.  It works my body to the core! But I enjoy it, the people are very nice here.

Another random note, I love Japanese shoes, but my normal size American feet are huge here in Japan (US 7 1/2) which is about 25cm, so I can rarely find any that fit! It makes me so sad indeed.  But I wont give up! I will find those adorable leather shoes that I keep seeing everywhere in my size SOMEDAY!

Until next time!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adventures in Hakusan

So I've finally returned from my vacation in Hakusan.

I stayed at my friend's house the entire time, and she and her husband were so sweet to me!

On my first day there, they took me to a famous shrine at the base of Hakusan (one of Japan's large mountains).  It was snowing that day so it made the mountains superbly beautiful.  At the main shrine gate there was a large, ornate white horse statue.  This was the first time I've ever seen a horse god, it was very beautiful.  Then at the main shrine, a shrine maiden was dancing for the local god there; we were lucky to catch a bit of the performance!  She was so pretty.  Being a shrine maiden must be an awesome job I would think.  Next, we got our paper fortunes; mine was for just a little bit of good luck.  Better than bad luck I suppose.  The near the parking lot of the shrine there was a water bath area specifically for cars.  Newly purchased cars are brought here and washed with the sacred water to bless it and protect it from accidents.

Next up was a festival dog head museum.  I forget the proper name for these things, but they look like the heads of dogs.  They are suppose to represent local gods during festivals.  The largest dog heads in the all of Japan are located here, and they were impressive.

Next we went to a bug museum with a live butterfly garden!  I loved seeing all of the butterflies and the fresh greenery in the middle of winter.

Finally we went to a Taiko drum museum.  Where a HUGE taiko drum is free to play! I had a great time playing with all of the drums there.  And since we were the only one there, we had them all to ourselves!

The next day, my friend took me to the International Lounge where she volunteers at.  There, I got to try on a real kimono! It was so pretty, and the girls had fun dressing me up in it.

The following day, I made pottery at my friend's pottery class!  After that, we went to a snowman festival up in a mountain village.  Every house made their own snowman to have a display, it was a sight to behold!  So much snow!

The last night I was there we went to an onsen, which I love.  This onsen had a Valentine's Day special, "Chocolate water".  Sadly it was not real chocolate, but it looked like it and had a chocolate scent.

I had an amazing time with my friend that week.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


So today I went to the Shinto shrine in Osu Kannon to celebrate Setsubun; the Shinto holiday on the last day of winter according to the old Japanese calender.  Setsubun is basically a celebration of the coming spring and for the wish of good fortune and happiness in the coming season.

So en route to the shrine, I got separated from my group due to the large crowds, but this worked in my favor.  I actually ended up being right next to the oncoming parade of the Treasure Ship!  I was able to get great video and pictures of the beautiful ship passing by with Shinto priest and Maiko (shrine maidens) on board.

Once I rejoined my group, we made it to the main shrine, which had a large platform set up where people could toss beans from it.  During Setsubun, you throw beans to scare away evil spirits and say "Oni soto, ungaii uchi!" which means "Out demons, in good luck!".  And people below the platform had bags or hats to catch the falling beans in.

I wanted to throw beans myself, but it costs 3,000yen! So instead I bought a lucky bamboo branch with beans tied to it.

Despite the large crowd, it was definitely worth going to and seeing.