Archive for the 'Ordinary (?) days !' Category

First hint of Spring

Celebrating the season is part of the tradition in Japan, and yearly festivals scattered through the months remind us of the passing of time.

I love how the blossoming of seasonal trees and plants is cause for celebration. Camellia, plum trees, cherry trees, peonies, irises, hydrangea and lotuses are all favorites, but I’m particularly fond of plum blossoms. They look somehow quite similar to cherry blossoms but when you get to know them, are actually so different. Plum blossoms are pretty, cute and fun, while the beauty of cherry blossom is more subdued, more subtle, and has lot to do with how quick they are blown away by the spring wind. I find plum blossoms are more friendly…if it makes sense !

This year, I really wanted to go plum-watching, but was not really in the mood for the hassle of a crowded shrine or temple. After a bit of research, G. and I discovered that the park of the Imperial Palace has a plum garden. We had high hopes for a quiet atmosphere since the park is so big and major plum sites are scattered elsewhere around the city. It turned out even better!

Some people were walking around, enjoying the view, but not enough to be referred to as a crowd, the weather was cold but perfect, many kinds of plum trees were blossoming gently, each displaying its own shape and colors, and its own smell. As we were walking towards the plum garden, the air around us became sweeter, kind of Spring-like, with a hint of fresh leaves thrown in the mix. It is so difficult to describe a smell, but we had an amazing time enjoying the sweet perfume of the plum trees !

Spring was definitely in the air !


February wrap-up

I’m partial to February, maybe because it’s my birthday month. It always feels like a special time, also maybe because of the subtle transitioning between winter and spring.

In this short but sweet month, I

  • turned 33. I don’t know why, this one felt like a big one.
  • had my annual teaching session : 3 very intense weeks of teaching about Japanese culture and society to international classes. As challenging, interesting, motivating as ever. I feel so grateful for this job. I always come back feeling I’ve learned so much.
  • enjoyed a copious amount of coffee. From cans (yep),  in white mugs, in white ceramic cups, in paper cups, in plastic cups. Some not so good, some nice, some very good. All of it quite needed !
  • met a lot of friends, talked, laughed a lot, got some good advice. How nice it is to have friends nearby. I now live in Kyoto, but a lot of my friends are scattered here and there, notably where I go once a year to teach. It is such a treat to get to see them while I’m there. Good times.

  • went and met with some people, regarding the possibility of another teaching position. It turns out such chances are painfully slim, but it was good to get to talk to wise people anyway. Sigh.
  • got to experience the whole range of climate variation : winter cold, snow, frosty mornings, rain, fog, clouds, spring warmth, bright and blue skies, windy afternoons. Not necessarily in that order. And all this made me feel strangely content.
  • went back to Kyoto, to once again settle back into my life here. Not so easy, but no so hard either…!

For March, I’m wishing and striving for a little more balance, in my plate, in my schedule, and…everywhere, really !

January was here

January was all about icy cold air and white winter sun. It has also been about easing back into my Japanese life.

It took a bit of transitioning, but I can say that I’m ok now ! I don’t feel in foreign land in my apartment and neighborhood anymore, I’ve settled back into work smoothly and have even readjusted to life as a couple !

So, in January, I

  • started the year in France, enjoying family & friends and helping my mum prepare her move to another apartment
  • went back to Japan and settled back slowly but nicely into my life over here
  • painted my nails red or bright pink on a few occasions, and it kinda lifted my spirits a little bit. Funny how it works.
  • re-contacted people for a research project I’ve had at the back of my mind for more than a year
  • saw 4 movies (Inception and The American in the plane back to Japan, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Before Sunset, a 2002 movie with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy)
  • enjoyed a nice cup of coffee upon arrival at work everyday, and it has made starting to tackle the tasks at hand that much more enjoyable (I do love that first coffee)
  • baked a bit (green tea cake and a yogurt cake, recipes to come)
  • cooked 2 new dishes, both really simple and very tasty : beef+broccoli sautéed with oyster sauce and soy sauce, pork+green asparagus sautéed with lemon juice
  • did crossword puzzles like they were going out of style (yeah, I’m a nerd like that. I find crossword puzzles oddly soothing)

Last year went by at such incredible speed, I felt a bit unsettled not to have noticed just where time kept disappearing. So I thought this year, I’ll try and document a bit more the ordinary, and do a short monthly wrap-up, like above. Just to keep track of these little bits of life that otherwise go unnoticed or forgotten…!


Home, away from home

I’m trying to get back in the groove of things as I have just been back home in Japan for a few days. The cold that was awaiting me does nothing to cure my poor jet-lagged brain, but I suspect that the beautiful sun shining today is going to help a bit !

I have been living in Japan for more than 10 years now, and I always get a bittersweet feeling when leaving my home country to return to my life over here. I’m trying to manage this strange mood as gracefully and peacefully as possible, but the jumble of emotions is a bit tricky to manage. It’s like I’m back, but a little part of me is still over there and doesn’t really want to go back…I guess a lot of people living abroad (or just far away from their family and friends) can relate…
So for now, I’m unpacking and moving things around as I settle again in my Japanese space. And breathing in the local air. To re-acclimate.

I hope you’re all having a fantastic beginning of 2011…!

2010 in photos

New-Zealand has already welcome 2011 a few hours ago, Japan has just jumped right into it. In France, where I am right now, we still have a few hours to go.

As I was going through the picture files on my computer, I felt like trying this. 2010 in photos. A trip back through some of this year’s moments. Some of the places I’ve been, memories of what was accomplished and discovered, some of the things I made, some of the recipes I tried.

Thank you so much 2010 for all the good stuff, for all the surprises, for the laughter. It was nice. Really.



2010 is getting near to a close and as I am trying to sum it up in my mind, I realize it was a pretty good year. I got the chance to discover new things, new environments and new people, to learn new skills and new ways. There were a few struggles along the way, but most of them were worth it, and I like to think I grew from them, even if just a bit. I found a part-time job to go with the one I already had, I saw new places in Japan, I kept in touch with family and friends (still progress to be done here though), I got crafty and creative at times. Overall, it was a nice year. I got a sense of what really matters , what I want to try and make better.

I already like 2011. Maybe because I think it’s a pleasant number (don’t ask me why, I have no idea !). Or maybe because I feel a little bit more positive about making it a good year for me. Who knows ?! Anyway, I feel pretty psyched about 2011 !

Before 2011

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