Next on Beneath Cherry Blossoms….

I have begun a new job this week, and so have been pretty busy. However, I wanted to give you a sneak preview of my next post. It will be an exciting one that includes 6 bridges, bicycles and the biggest thing I’ve checked off in my bucket list thus far.

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Bridge #6.

The most exciting city: Osaka (大阪)

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People dining in Osaka.

In March we went to Osaka to once again see the Sumo Spring Tournament. As I have mentioned before Thomas is a pretty big sumo fun, which even the Japanese find funny because the popularity of the sport among the general Japanese population is definitely dying. Most people in the crowd at the tournaments are over the age of 60. However, sumo is filled with traditions that date back to centuries and has many ritual elements that can be linked to Shinto Buddhism, such as the use of salt for purification. So, for that reason alone I also have enjoyed learning and following up with the ups and downs of the sumo world.

We went for 4 days as I still had some extra holidays that I needed to take before leaving Japan. On our first day we went to Universal Studios Japan or better known in Japan as USJ. I have never been a big fan of theme parks, maybe because I had never been to one before. In my mind they are places where you can easily waste your money on extremely highly priced food and toys (which they totally are, but they are so fun!). Thomas really wanted to go though and many of our friends said that it really was a fun place. So we went and yes they were right, it was a ton of fun and yes I was right too, we spent way too much money on Hello Kitty merchandise and Spider-Man pencils, but hey when else will we be at USJ again, right?

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At the entrance of USJ.

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About to start our day at USJ.

Our first stop was the Spider-Man ride. It was pretty old school but it was funny to see Thomas mention the names of all the villains… haha! Then we went to the Back to the Future ride and I was feeling pretty sick when we got out of there. Too much up and down movement for my liking. The most fun was the Jurassic Park ride, which included some dinos spraying water at us and a big drop at the end. I have to say though, waiting in those lines really took it out of me. That’s one thing I do not enjoy about theme parks, but people say is part of the experience so I went with it. My favourite part was of course the Snoopy area. I have been a Snoopy fan since my childhood and love the comic strips and the holiday specials, so yes, I was super excited when I got to meet Charlie Brown and Lucy! This area was particularly cute and super fun for the kiddies. We even spotted a famous Japanese singer in the crowd. It was a very fun day and I am glad we went but at the end of the day I was so tired that I fell asleep in the subway like a 3 year-old after a big day at the theme park.

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A Sesame Street themed stall.

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Back to the Future the Ride.

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Got to meet Charlie Brown!

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The doctor is in…

For the sumo tournament we met up with 2 of our friends who came to Osaka from Niihama. Being their first time at the sumo they spent most of their time photographing the event. However, last time I saw the sumo tournament it was also my first time and I spent 2 hours taking pictures, so this time around I sat down, opened my beer, and actually watched the matches. After the tournament we walked around the Dotombori Area of Osaka which is the entertainment district and enjoy the nightlife of Osaka.

Osaka is a very fun city, filled with young people, a lot of shops and lot of restaurants! The locals love their local food which includes Okonomiyaki (a sort of pancake made out of cabbage with different toppings such as shrimp and pork and topped with a sweet sauce and nori, seaweed) and Osaka’s famous Takoyaki (they are balls of dough with pieces of octopus inside, also topped with the sweet sauce of okonomiyaki and eaten with toothpicks. In Japanese the word for octopus is tako, hence takoyaki). I will write more about these 2 delicious dishes in a later post. But I will leave with some pictures from our trip. Enjoy!

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A sumo inspired izakaya (Japanese pub)

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The back windows of restaurants.

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The world goes up in Japan.

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Walking through the streets of Osaka.

 

 

Home…

I have returned to Canada for good (or for the time being).

Last Sunday I came back to Canada after living in beautiful Japan for 4 years. I sometimes can’t believe that it was that long, especially because nothing really changed while I was gone back home. People look and act the same, the landscape looks the same and everything is exactly the same.

Returning to Canada has been an strange experience to say the least. I guess I turned more Japanese than I ever imagined. My expectations of politeness and social decorum are much higher now than they were before, and I find myself often thinking if Canada has always been this way and I never noticed it before, or if things have changed.

I am back at my mom’s house for the time being. 4 years is a long time especially for my mom since I am an only child, so is nice to reconnect and catch-up. Thomas is still in Japan finishing his contract and will be flying back home in about 10 weeks. Distance is not an easy or fun thing to deal with, but we both recognize that is only for a little while and is good to spend some alone time sometimes. He can be a guy’s guy and spend time with the boys in town, while I settle here and catch up with my own friends before he arrives in Canada and we have to get him re-adjusted to living here as well and we go through the process of finding an apartment, getting a car and all those fun things.

So that’s a bit of an update as to what has been happening lately, hence why I just didn’t update the blog lately.

So, what will happen to the blog now that I am home? I will keep it open and update all the things that I wanted to share with you all and never got around to it. I have over 10,000 pictures from hundreds of events and places that we visited. I have so many things I want to share with everyone about the food, the culture, the festivals and most importantly the Japanese people. So there are many things to come for sure. I may be back in Toronto now but that doesn’t mean that is all over, and somehow I have this feeling within me that says that this was not the last  time I will see Japan. Job opportunities have been offered to us and with so many of our friends living over there I wouldn’t be surprised if we go back for another couple of years in the future. That’s the beauty of this whole experience, once you have been there and lived there, and learned the social norms of a country, even when there may be a huge language barrier, you can always go back.