January 10th, 2022

Today was a day off for both me and Teddy so I made a big breakfast. My new vase also arrived right in the middle of it and I quickly changed it out. Now it appears to me I need more flowers to make it a bit fuller haha.

After breakfast we went to a bakery, where I got some french toast among other goodies, before we went to this cute little Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s park. We had a lovely stroll around, went into the mushroom house which was fun, but as in the name of the park; even more so if you’re a child.

We stood on top one of the houses and looked down to see a park attendant draw pictures on the pavement using water to the delight of the children.

There was also a little cafe there that looked adorable, but we were already full from our trip to the bakery so maybe next time.

Out of quarantine

Had to abruptly go to Norway for a family emergency in November. Booked a ticket on the 17th and sat on a plane two days later.

It’s been 3 years since I was able to go home, and while it wasn’t a happy circumstance bringing me back, it was good to see familiar places and people. Hugging my family and friends. Feeling a twinge of baby fever upon seeing my cousin’s new baby. Making spring rolls and dancing around my best friend’s kitchen. Having my aunt’s two huge great danes in my lap. Being hated by my mom’s new kitten unless she was too sleepy to notice it was me. Feeling homesick and looking at houses thinking about moving back to Norway.

The timing was terrible though. A couple of days into my two-week stay in Norway, omicron happened which made me a nervous wreck the second week, constantly checking the news and border control pages to see if they’d allow me back in Japan.

Spoiler alert; they allowed me to come back in, but I had to stay 3 days at a quarantine hotel eating cold bentos morning, lunch, and dinner. I like rice, but not for every single meal. And the remaining 11 days I could quarantine at home, given that I didn’t step outside, which they would routinely check through an app.

On Sunday (yesterday) I was finally free to venture outside, and I went to get a haircut, bought a novel, got donuts, posted my long overdue christmas cards, and went for a walk in the woods savouring the fresh air and the feeling of stretching my legs out fully for the first time in two weeks. Swearing to myself I won’t take this freedom for granted again. But like with colds and blocked noses, it will quickly be forgotten until next time.

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.

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