Plum Blossoms

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My friend Noriko walking under the plum blossoms.

Finally Spring has arrived! Winter is by far my least favourite season in Japan. I know the whole thing of me being Canadian and how can I possibly be cold in a place that rarely goes below 0 Degrees Celsius in winter, but as I always tell my friends back at home “You got to experience it at least once to know what I am talking about.”

Japanese houses are designed to be nice and cool in summer and to let as much air into them as possible. However that air doesn’t stop coming into our homes in winter and it turns out that in winter the air is actually quite cold. To make it even worse and to my great horror, Japanese homes do not have central heating! Unless you live in Hokkaido you have to make do with what you’ve got; that includes a lot of teeny tiny electric heaters and kerosene heaters. I had never seen one before I lived here and I simply do not like them. I have been told time and again that they are not dangerous, but somehow seeing the open flame and just knowing that kerosene is in there scares me. Plus the smell is quite unpleasant and you need to open the windows every hour or so to let the fumes out, thus letting the cold wind back into your home. To me the whole thing doesn’t make any sense.

I always remember my first winter and how I thought that spring would never come, but then ever so slowly it does and the first sign that spring is on its way is the plum blossoms. The first time I ever saw a plum blossom was here in Japan and when I first saw it, I thought it was a cherry blossom and got very excited but I still had to wait another month to see what everyone kept telling me was the most beautiful sight in Japan.

I really like plum blossoms because they come in some amazing colours! My personal favourites are the bright pink ones and there are also light pink and white plum blossoms. The white ones are very similar to the cherry blossoms.

One thing I learned in Japan is to take the time to literally “smell the flowers.” Japanese people have seen plum blossoms every year of their lives, however they never stop appreciating the beauty around them. They love their blossoms and they love seeing them and showing them to you. They go for walks and they take pictures of something they see year after year. They never take what they’ve got for granted and that’s one of the biggest lessons I will take back with me.

These are some of the plum blossoms I saw earlier this month. Enjoy!

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Plum Blossoms, March 2013, Ehime, Japan.

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Plum Blossoms.

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Different colours of plum blossoms.

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My friend Noriko and I enjoying the plum blossoms.

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Would have been a great picture…

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Full bloom!

Japan at its Cutest: Yuru-Kyara

Last month Thomas and I went over to Imabari to take part of a very strange but very cute Japanese phenomenon: Yuru-kyara.

Yuru-kyara are mascots created by local governments, companies and campaigns. The country has over 1, 000 Yuru-kyara and they have maintained huge popularity in the country.

In the event we went to in Imabari there were many of these mascots but we only got to see a handful of them. Most of the ones present at the event represented different cities throughout Japan. Every year the country hosts the Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix in which hundreds of mascots compete for the chance to be #1 in the country. Last year over 800 mascots entered the competition and the winner was the mascot from our neighbouring city of Imabari! His name is Bary-san and he is a very cute looking chicken. He is a chicken because the city of Imabari is well-known for Yakitori which is a popular type of Japanese cuisine. His crown is shaped like the Shimanami-Kaido bridge which joins the island of Shikoku to Honshu island. He is also wearing a towel and is holding a ship because those are the main industries of the city. Imazo is the largest shipbuilding company in the country and 4th in the world and its headquarters are in Imabari.

We got to see quite a few of the mascots and got to take pictures with as many as possible. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

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Thomas with a samurai.

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A doggy.

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I believe this is the mascot for Tokushima, but I’m unsure.

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Chicchai Ossan represents Amagasaki City near Osaka. Thomas’ favourite.

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The most adorable children in the world!

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Ro-Ra (Lola) repressents Fukuyama.

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Yachinyan of Yonbancho Square shopping street.

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This guy was SO big, no one could touch him or he would have fallen over.

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This guy’s name I believe is Mikan-Maru, but I don’t know where he is from.

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This is the creepiest! He represents Nara and is a mixture between a buddha and a deer.

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Some type of chicken man.

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We had too much fun!

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Tochimaru-kun represents Tochigi Prefecture.

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She looked like a pixie, but I have no clue where she is from.

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The man of the hour Bary-san!

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He’s so popular I couldn’t get a picture with just him, so we had to improvise.

I will finish with the story of the Guinness World Record. At the beginning of this year 141 of the yuru-kyara set the world record for synchronized mascot dancing. Of the 141 participants, 134 continuously danced in unison for 5 minutes. Here is the link: Mascots set World Guinness Record