Long time no blog! I feel like I haven’t even seen this webpage in 20 years! I’m sorry that I have been neglecting my posts when I am actually doing activities but I am just so busy that I don’t have time to do it and then when I do have time it’s too late. However, I have made time at 1:30AM to write an entry because I accidentally had a four hour nap where I woke up at 10PM…Lucky for everyone that keeps track of the posts because I haven’t posted in so long. Both of these events happened decently far apart from each other so sorry in advance!
Last Sunday (November 29th), I went mountain climbing with the group from Rikkyo that I mentioned before, JOINUS. Mount Takao is a mountain that while outside of the city of Tokyo is within the prefectures boundaries (a prefecture in Japan is basically how we would think of provinces in Canada). We had to take a train for around an hour to get there and the train cost around 2000￥ round trip. The climb took about 1.5 hours to go up with four trail options. We all initially divided into groups and took the first trail but I ended up going up a random trail with one of the students from France. It was nice because the main trail was extremely crowded because that’s where the rest stops and paved walkway were. It was a tiring walk (~600m) but the few was amazing and totally worth it!
In the right places you could actually see parts of Tokyo! I don’t have any pictures because they didn’t turn out but we could also see the tip of Mount Fuji from the top as well.
We stayed at the top for around an hour waiting for everyone to climb up and then we took a group picture together. I’m glad that I could experience climbing my first mountain with a fun group of people like this.Nova Scotia is basically flat so this was the first time that I could climb a mountain; I want to climb more in the future before I leave Japan. I’m sure that there are many different types of climbs that I can do that would be a really fun experience. Even though the climb down took over two hours because we took an obscure mountain trail, it was so fun and I would love to do it again because it was a good bonding experience for everyone, good exercise, and again, the view was so amazing.
On Thursday I went on another sort of adventure after my classes ended with a friend that I actually met in JOINUS named Azusa! We went to Chichibu Matsuri, which in the far north of the prefecture that I live in. From Ikebukuro it took over two hours in each direction on the train. We went after our classes ended third period at 3PM and I didn’t get home until almost midnight! It was so tiring but a really good experience to have. Chichibu is a small city and most of Saitama is actually pretty empty so it was interesting to travel onto the train into the wilderness to get there! It was also interesting because the setting for one of my favourite anime (あの花) was based entirely off this city and I had forgotten so when I got there and saw that anime everywhere I was really excited!
When we got there there were actually not a lot of people, but that was probably because it was a Thursday night. However, we were able to see a parade where people were transporting the portable shrine to Chichibu Shrine. It was really dark even though it was only 6PM so unfortunately I have no pictures of the portable shrine. Also because it was dark we were unable to find the massive floats that make Chichibu Matsuri special. It is one of the top three float festivals in Japan according to the internet. None the less, it was really beautiful to see the parade in the dark even though it was really cold.
Afterwards we turned down a random street and found all of the festival food! From what I could see in the dark, Chichibu has a lot of traditional foods and other shops even on normal days. We passed a shop where there was a man selling kimono (traditional Japanese clothing) for only 500￥, which is SO cheap. The upper price limit for kimono actually doesn’t exist so that was amazing to see. Next to that store, Azusa bought a dish made with mochi and anko. This picture looks completely disgusting because we broke the mochi in half to share it but I assure you that it was amazing. Mochi is a made by pounding rice flour together and is often eaten at New Years. Anko is a red bean paste. In this case, it was more of a soupy consistency. This dish actually has a name but I completely forget it unfortunately. I had to explain in Japanese for 20 minutes on Friday to explain what exactly I had eaten.
Actually, the reason that we went is because I really wanted to see Japanese fireworks. I had friends tell me that they are really amazing and being from a really small place I wanted to see a bigger fireworks show. In Japan, when the fireworks start, they continue for hours. The fireworks at Chichibu Matsuri started at around 7:30 and went until the end of the festival. The fireworks don’t actually go for hours straight though. They are tiny little two minute shows every 10-15 minutes. Before the fireworks go off an announcer comes on and explains the title of the show and who created it which is really interesting. Unfortunately because we had to travel quite far, we couldn’t see the finale, which Azusa tells me would have been the most amazing, but I can always see the finale for fireworks later on in the year! Even if I can’t, the few small shows I saw in Chichibu were easily the best fireworks I have ever seen in my life. In Japanese, firework is 花火. 花 means flower and 火 means fire. I think that the characters that they use to describe fireworks match perfectly with how they are presented; they are so beautiful.