It’s been raining on and off for a few days but it finally cleared up a bit. The scenery in the countryside can be really beautiful

It’s been raining on and off for a few days but it finally cleared up a bit. The scenery in the countryside can be really beautiful

I’ve started doing flower arranging classes once a month and this is what I’ve done (with a lot of suggestions from my teacher and the other women) My ceramics teacher knows a lot of people around my part of the prefecture and has become, as he likes to put it, my Japanese dad and does his best to invite me to things and put me in touch with people around my town. He knows I like indoor things so he connected me with a former high school classmate who does ikebana in her family’s garden. All the materials are grown on their property which is tucked away off the main roads making it hard to find but I like how secluded it is. It’s quiet and peaceful. 

I never went into this really wanting to try flower arranging in particular but I figured I’d give it a shot. The teacher is an older man who is kind and patient and explains things in an easy to understand way. There’s a whole way of thinking about the certain arrangements and looking at it from different angles. After playing around with different combinations of flowers he came over to give me feedback and started off with “If you were the flower, where would you be?” which caught me off guard. I’m going into this knowing absolutely nothing and I feel like I have no sense of aesthetics. There’s a theory of how to pair flowers, there’s an allowance of creativity with shaping the stems and choosing the positions. I’m learning a whole new set of vocabulary in the process and it’s forcing me to think and look and mostly to relax. My teacher told me not to over think it which is hard for someone who over thinks everything but maybe I can change a little through these exercises. Working away in a quiet room for an hour and half, playing around with flowers to try and make something beautiful seems like it’d be good for stress.

Afterwards, the other 5 women and I sit around having tea and eating snacks people bring. They’re all kind and it’s nice to do something a little different in a relaxing setting. Like tea ceremony, I went in with the mindset that I’d give it a shot but I enjoy the challenges of both and the people I learn with make it worthwhile.  

View from the top of 福満虚空蔵尊圓藏寺 in Yanaizu, Fukushima. Earlier that day, I had gone to the Saito Kiyoshi art museum nearby and it’s clear how the scenery in this part of the prefecture inspired his paintings. 

View from the top of 福満虚空蔵尊圓藏寺 in Yanaizu, Fukushima. Earlier that day, I had gone to the Saito Kiyoshi art museum nearby and it’s clear how the scenery in this part of the prefecture inspired his paintings. 

The strangest scarecrows at the Nunobiki Wind Farm. 

The view of lake inawashiro

The view of lake inawashiro

I went hiking on the Happodai trail near Mount Bandai. Between driving up winding roads and then hiking, it was cool to actually see just how far up I was. The town outside the mountain near Lake Inawashiro is really picturesque, it’s quiet and I love driving through it. 
The whole day had been cloudy but the sun finally came out and I got to see this view. Totally should have worn better shoes though..
People had on serious hiking gear and I looked like I was about to take a stroll through a park with no mud (or bears)

I went hiking on the Happodai trail near Mount Bandai. Between driving up winding roads and then hiking, it was cool to actually see just how far up I was. The town outside the mountain near Lake Inawashiro is really picturesque, it’s quiet and I love driving through it.
The whole day had been cloudy but the sun finally came out and I got to see this view. Totally should have worn better shoes though..
People had on serious hiking gear and I looked like I was about to take a stroll through a park with no mud (or bears)

iwaki-iwaki:

Photo slide shows of Fukushima. 

ookawauoten:

今朝の四倉海岸です。
見た目よりも良い波でした。

The coast of Iwaki

ookawauoten:

今朝の四倉海岸です。
見た目よりも良い波でした。

The coast of Iwaki

Xiangshan Mountain

As it turns out, we started the climb at the end, not the beginning. We had been searching for the entrance for a while but the path up Xiangshan is actually marked with large stone elephants.

As it turns out, we started the climb at the end, not the beginning. We had been searching for the entrance for a while but the path up Xiangshan is actually marked with large stone elephants.

Taipei Day 2

This is the rainy season in Taiwan and while it said heavy rain for all 3 days we were there, we got lucky and just had overcast. On our 2nd day, we weren’t sure how long the clear weather would last so we decided to climb Xiangshan Mountain (象山). There are a lot of hiking trails around the city but this is part of the famous Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) and apparently the easiest. 

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About to start our climb up

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At the top. This mountain is famous for its view of the city. The view would have been better if it were sunny out but the mist felt good climbing up. It felt so tropical going from the Fukushima countryside, it had been a while since I walked around in such humid weather. 

The climb up was pretty tough but the climb down was a bit worse. Super steep, the mist made the steps slippery. Halfway down we saw stray dogs with bites of fur missing from fights and were careful to go around them. Stray dogs didn’t seem as out of place as random shacks in the mountains. I didn’t expect to see people living there but I guess they do

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Hanami season is coming soon and around the prefecture, flowers are starting to bloom. The rice fields have been cleaned up and farmers have started planting. It’s hard not to be in a good mood after winter which, in Japan at least, is just depressing. I went for a drive to Ibaraki prefecture to see if the cherry blossoms are starting to come out. They’re nearly there. From far away the trees sort of look a bit pink but it’s still a week or so too soon. Daffodils and wild flowers are everywhere though. I went to Taiwan last week and when I came back my town seemed so much brighter than the way I left it.

It’s been cold though which I’m guessing is the last of winter weather. The Japanese call it 寒の戻り, return of the cold. It actually snowed a bit on Saturday but I’m hoping that’s the last of it. I’m ready for warmer weather. 

Trying not to slip down the side of Elephant Mountain

Trying not to slip down the side of Elephant Mountain

Mountain path outside Aizu-Wakamatsu

Mountain path outside Aizu-Wakamatsu

The sky after the typhoon.
Fukushima didn’t get hit too badly, at least not where I am. It was awful outside this morning when I walked my friend to the train station. I was going to tough it out during the 25 minute walk home but my umbrella nearly broke when I left the station so I hopped in a cab back to my neighborhood. 

I was able to finally leave my house a short while ago to go for a walk and return my Tsutaya DVDs. It’s still windy and the clouds have been moving fast over the mountains. Hopefully it won’t be raining tomorrow morning when I bike to the BOE.

The sky after the typhoon.

Fukushima didn’t get hit too badly, at least not where I am. It was awful outside this morning when I walked my friend to the train station. I was going to tough it out during the 25 minute walk home but my umbrella nearly broke when I left the station so I hopped in a cab back to my neighborhood. 

I was able to finally leave my house a short while ago to go for a walk and return my Tsutaya DVDs. It’s still windy and the clouds have been moving fast over the mountains. Hopefully it won’t be raining tomorrow morning when I bike to the BOE.