At the border of Niigata and Gunma; Tanigawadake

Saturday morning, again at 3am, we got up to be on our way to Tanigawadake with Teddy’s family.

We took the ropeway (which might have been the first time for me), and then the skilift (that didn’t have a bar like the one I used last time years ago when going snowboarding) to get to the top and see all the mountains, including Mt. Tanigawa, surrounding us on all sides. Such a stunning view, an experience to behold.

Teddy is saying we will climb (!) Mt. Tanigawa next time, but I am not so sure, it might take too long at my fitness level (crying)

We went and had some soba afterwards, with tempura, and soba-yu, and soba tea, and soba tea pudding. Everything soba, except the tempura. As I lived in Nagano when I first moved to Japan, I do love soba.

On the way back we chanced upon a foot hot spring and some autumn leaves at a little roadside station, the foot bath was really refreshing!

Maybe I will think about climbing Mt. Tanigawa, one day…

Yamanashi adventure

3am; we get up to start the journey to Yamanashi prefecture. With a cup of coffee with cocoa powder and my new trusty neck pillow from muji in hand I was ready to be on our way.

First we went to Hinatayama. We started out at the lower parking as the upper parking is a bit inaccessible unless you have one of those offroad cars or what you call it.

It took almost 3 hours to get to the top, because I am horribly unfit and feel sick with any kind of ascent (I can walk on flat ground for days). I thought of going back uncountable times but we reached it and I was so glad I hadn’t given up. It was freezing, but beautiful.

After having a snack we went on our merry way down, which was a lot easier than going up. I enjoyed it a lot. The fresh air, the sunlight filtering through the autumn foliage, the path littered with yellow leaves making the scenery magical.

Until about the last 50-ish minutes (that felt like the longest of the whole hike) where I had several blisters and what not, making each step painful, and I was tired and over the whole thing, just wanting it to end.

We made it down to the bottom in one piece, lifting my mood a great deal.

Next we went to get the Yamanashi specialty as we were ravenous; houtou

They had a limited autumn set that I had to get, with pumpkin houtou and chestnut rice!The chestnut rice was so sweet, almost like dessert!

The houtou was like a stew, or hotpot, with a wide range of different vegetables in a soup. There were huge chunks of potato and carrot in there too, so soft and delicious.

After eating till we felt like bursting, we went to the onsen to nurse our aches. We went to Hottarakashi onsen at the top of a mountain, just in time for the sun to set. Sitting in the hot water outside with the cool wind, watching Mt. Fuji flushed in pink; indescribable.

It was a lovely day off, and I am happy that I could experience Yamanashi a bit.

Today, the day after this adventure, I am taking it easy at home, as my legs are out of order like the day after leg day at the gym. I will see you again one day Yamanashi.

Long time no see

Last time I wrote it was spring, with its cherry blossoms and fair weather.

I was so excited about this but for some reason can’t get into it as I did with the first one, is it that different?

Now it is autumn, beloved autumn (let’s skip summer).

A lot has happened since spring, and some has stayed the same. I got a new job, which accounts for most of the changes in my daily life and wellbeing. Working from home should mean that I have a lot more time as there is no commute, but for some reason it was easier to get in reading on a commute than at home. I am still working on the work/private life balance.

I got my dream table, a table I had in a note in my evernote app years ago titled «future house ideas». I am living in the same apartment but the arrival of the table has brightened it more than I had imagined.

My plant keeps growing and I had to repot her a little while ago:

We have been hiking lately so I have seen some beautiful views;

I did some doodling from May on my new phone, mostly of Darjeeling, and opened up a little Redbubble shop! I found doodling on my commute was very relaxing, but I often missed my stop.

It is almost time to break out the autumn fashion, and as usual I couldn’t help myself getting some new pieces this year either;

It’s still just a little too early, a little too hot, to start wearing it though.

I am still writing letters, and being as obsessed with stationery as always. Been buying autumn stationery and stamps like there is no tomorrow;

I would like to blog more, but not sure how to proceed, what to blog about, how often etc. Maybe the blog will be updated more this fall, or maybe not, I cannot say for certain. I have so many hobbies but so little time.

How is everyone doing so far this year, as we pass into autumnal bliss?

Spring is in the air, and on the trees

The plum blossoms are blossoming and the weather is going from winter chill to warm and breezy (and back again to the chill). It is spring.

This year I started a new job, though similar with the old one it is just different enough to not have me dread going to work. (Last year was rough)

I am keeping busy and the house and balcony is slowly filling up with flowers as well. I was walking down the main street on my day off last week and was drawn to the flower shop, and left with a little bouquet. I’m trying to propogate my pothos but it’s going slow and I might not be doing it right.

I am still writing a ton of letters, and I recently started, not collecting but, getting my own stamps so that even the postage is cute. I do feel the tendency to hoard them and not use them for what they are intended but I try to keep it in check.

Also thanks to my lovely penpals, my list of books-to-read, outside of my usual sphere of Japanese lit, is growing. I am halfway through Aoyama’s お探し物は図書室まで and loving it, and I started Circe by Madeline Miller and will be reading the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, both recommended by penpals.

We got a tree for Darjeeling and she likes it, but finds it difficult to get down from the fourth step so we’re considering getting a second more climbable tree on the side

I would like to get back into studying this year, the textbooks on my shelf haunt me, but we’ll see. If only one could learn enough through just reading novels to pass N1 I would be so happy but alas. As they said in If cats disappeared from the world by Genki Kawamura; 「何かを得るためには、何かを失わなけれならない」(I think that’s the quote, it’s been years since I read it) meaning something like “no pain no gain”.

I still go to my piano lessons, though it doesn’t feel like I am improving much. But they’re only for fun anyway so. I’m currently practicing backnumber’s Happy End.

As I settle more into the new routine of daily life, I predict more tea and more books. And more walks. And more baking. I recently made chocolate chip cookies for the first time and they were addictive.

Just a little update before I head off to work. I would like to blog more but I don’t really know what to blog about. Maybe I’ll have a clearer vision in the future.

Until next time~

A quiet Sunday in September

Woke up early and did a sweep of the house. Did some much needed dusting, mopped the floors, vacuumed the carpet, hung out laundry, cleaned the kitchen counter, aired out all the rooms, and did some reorganizing in the stock closet. Everything felt clean and fresh and in order.

Went to my piano lesson and started a new piece. When I had tried it by myself earlier I could not grasp it at all, but the teacher showed me and it all just seemed so simple. It really makes a difference having a teacher to help. I will enjoy this piece, it’s a classical piece, as compared to the previous piece I was working on which was a pop-song, and I found I can’t really get into pop-songs with the piano yet. I prefer more calm, soothing, slow classical pieces.

After my lesson I went to the second-hand store and found a beautiful momiji tea bowl and had to add it to my tea-cup collection. As soon as I got home I baked an apple cake (but without apples as I don’t like them getting warm and mushy) and made some milk tea with Mariage Frères’ French island vanilla black tea and used my new tea bowl. The momiji design made me happy, and this tea is my favorite. The cake came out well too, making it a great time.

I did a facemask and wanted to take a long bath while watching a movie, but was chuffed when the application kept translating the titles making it difficult and the movie I wanted was only available dubbed into Japanese, though I wanted to hear it in its original language as I like the main actress. I had a bit of a childish tantrum and tirade on twitter and felt that maybe I am not as much as an adult as I’d like to be, when things don’t go as I wish I revert right back to a whining baby. It is almost too embarrassing to admit, but there you have it.

As the movie part didn’t go through, I decided on reading instead and it made for a lovely bath. I continued Jane Eyre, and it was around where Mr. Mason is bit by Rochester’s crazy wife aka his own sister.

After my bath, I did some measuring around the house and found that I could increase storage space if I moved things around a bit, in the hope of making it a bit more functional. One of my great pleasures is to organize and declutter. That is not to say that the house is always spotless of course. I have found that there is a big difference between wanting to have clean dishes and wanting to clean dishes.

Excluding my little hissy fit, today has been delightful. If all Sundays could be as this one, I can’t have any complaints.

Tone deaf but practicing the piano

I never had an ear for music. My grandfather, and now Teddy, tell me I am tone deaf. They may be right, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying listening to music, singing (bad) karaoke with my (very) close friends, and since December; learning piano.

I never learned any instruments as a kid. We did the recorder at school, but luckily only for a short time. I tried my hands at guitar but after spending 30 minutes trying to tune it and then failing at getting my fingers into the seemingly impossible positions described in the ‘guitar for beginners’ book, I put the guitar back in the closet where I found it.

Last year I saw a sign advertising trial lessons for piano at a local bookstore. For weeks I went past, reading it again and again, wondering, thinking. I could maybe? But my courage would always fail me. Until one day in November; I had made up my mind. I marched to the bookstore while making up all the possible scenarios on how the conversation would go in my head. I entered the store and went straight to-

the magazines. I am so bad at talking to and reaching out to strangers that I had to recharge after using all my energy on just getting to and into the bookstore. I circled around a bit, looking but not really looking at the different covers before I squared my shoulders and went to the register where an older man was working.

After stammering out in nervous Japanese about the sign and wanting to try, he tells me to hold on and goes to find the piano teacher that was holding a piano lesson in the back room of the bookstore. Great, I have to redo all I just did to another person. The teacher was lovely though, and we set a date for the trial lesson.

The trial lesson went great, and I’ve been going every Sunday for about 6 months. While I do not have any aspirations to be a great pianist, and while I might still be tone deaf, it’s a great pastime which I very much enjoy.

My first practices at home were done on my tablet, but after a couple of months I invested in a good, and not too expensive keyboard.
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