Monday, March 16, 2015

Chinese Celebration Parade

Maybe this is horrible or maybe this is typical; either way, I get in a rut a lot of the time with wherever I am. I can't figure out anything to do, so I'll sit around and waste time on my computer or hanging out in the apartment.

Super exciting.

This is true even with being in Japan. I don't have that "lets go explore and be adventurous" spirit. I have the "I'm tired of spending money on train rides to see yet another temple or shrine that looks exactly like all the others I've seen".

I'm super fun to be around.

Granted if you came to visit, I would absolutely take you to all these places, but on my own, its not all that fun to me. But I was determined to do something, anything one weekend, and began scouring the internet.

That's when I learned it was the Chinese New Year celebration and it was nearing the end of its (I think) 10 days of celebrating. They had their big parade and since I had never been to a Chinese parade before, in Chinatown no less, I was determined and excited to go.

I arrived in Chinatown a good 20 minutes before it began, but I had no idea where it was going to be, or what roads they'd go down, so I did what anyone would do...followed the crowd. And within 50 yards, I was jam-packed stuck between hundreds of Japanese. There was no moving and thanks to being a head taller than most, I saw why. We were at the very start of the parade.

Being 50 people back was not where I wanted to be to see the parade. I had grand plans to get amazing shots, and all I saw was a sea of black hair. I did the only thing I could do, and that was become a fish going upstream. I pushed and pushed my way out until I could finally breathe and as I was hearing the parade behind me, I hoped and hoped I would find a place to at least catch a glimpse of it.

I made it to the next street over and noticed that people were forming along the side of the road. I figured if Japanese were doing must be a good sign, so I plopped myself on the edge and waited...and waited...and waited for over 30 minutes until finally I saw the flags being waved down the road.

Funny thing about parades here, even with it just 20 feet behind them, people were still walking down the middle of the street like it was any other day. In America, those streets would have been cleared at least an hour before.
Case in point. See the three balloons down the street? That's the start of the parade.

The celebration was fun and different and loud...Chinese and fireworks at all. They lit a bunch of them inside a metal container, for reasons I'm figuring are A) containment B) reduction of potential fires and C) because it'll echo and be 100x louder inside than out.

And loud they were. Eardrums could have burst.

oh and D) so everyone could cough from all the smoke it produced..which they were successful there too.

I'm glad I went and though I was a little sad at first for choosing the sun side of the street, and had to fight with it to get photos; I was happy when I realized the other side was the 'get all the firework smoke' side. The sun wasn't so bad after that.

I should probably break this up into two posts for the amount of photos, but why? ..enjoy!

 This guy locked eyes with me, and I'll admit, I was a bit intimidated by it.

The woman on the left kept her beautiful smile throughout the entire performance. I couldn't help but watch her the whole time, she seemed so genuinely happy.

*all images original to Emily's oldie but goodie

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ume season

The trees are slowly starting to blossom and it gets me so excited for Spring. A little over a week ago, I made the hike up to a park that has row upon row of Sakura trees (aka Cherry Blossom trees), however they're all bare. Their season doesn't start until April, but at least in the meantime, I get to enjoy the Ume (pronounced ume-meh) trees...(aka Plum trees).

While I was taking photos of the Ume blossoms, a man with his dog walked by and the dog, for reasons unknown, stopped right at my feet.

Though I've kept it fairly under wraps...I'll admit now, I'm not a dog person. at all. not in the least. But here this dog stands, unmoving, at my feet. I laugh, as you do in awkward situations and the owner just stands there ten feet away waiting for the dog.

I can't quite put my finger on how or why, but the dogs here aren't "normal" dogs. They don't bark, they don't jump, they aren't out of control, they stay when told, and a lot of them aren't even on leashes because they're so incredibly well trained.

I just about NEVER hear a dog barking in the neighborhood. One dog barks maybe once a week, and its for 30 seconds before he stops, never to bark again. Its weird but amazing all at the same time.

So, this dog is at my feet, standing quietly, off-leash, waiting. Me and the owner, with hand gestures, talk about the trees to pass time. He very kindly tells me what trees I'm taking photos of, and when to come back for the Sakura trees. He calls the dog, but it won't move. Again. But the dog is happy, so I finally FINALLY consent, and pet the dog.

If you knew me, really knew me, this is huge. I don't touch dogs. (I'm also allergic...lest you think me a beast). But I give this dog a really good rub down, and he's just soaking it up. I actually don't mind doing it, this dog was really mellow.

Not too long after petting him, the owner calls again, and the dog trots away. Well played dog, well played.

I walked around a little longer and eventually called it a night, returning back to the apartment. More and more Ume trees are blooming and even though we've been having terrible gusty winds the past few days, I can feel the warmth of the sun getting stronger. Spring will be here before I know it.

*all images original to Emily's oldie but goodie

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

So many things

There is so much I have yet to cover, all my stories and trips are being mentally backlogged with each and every trip I take. With each one, I think "this one I want to share first. No THIS one." and so the cycle goes where I can't decide.

I have snow monkeys, and sumo, and umi (plum) blooms; a boat tour, Asakusa, and a Chinese New Year Celebration parade to share. Oh and the Sapporo Snow Festival...and Odawara Castle, and Nagano. Not to mention my in-between moments too. If I were a "bucket list" making kind of person, the majority of these would be on it and happily crossed off.

So many amazing trips that are truly once in a lifetime.

I'll probably start backwards since the Chinese New Year celebration is coming to a close, and I really enjoyed watching their parade this weekend. Its so fresh in my mind, I want to capture it before it flits away. Thankfully it was on Saturday since it rained the entire day Sunday. I happily stayed indoors cleaning, and eating snack foods, watching Netflix as the rain came down. 

Today marks the last day of my first set of Spring semester classes, and the first day of Spring break! Who knows what I'll do but I look forward to the break no matter what. 

G-man and I went out to eat a few weeks ago, and got to enjoy some delicacies of Japan. We had quite the fun night that night, ending with him buying a new Macbook and us enjoying a cocoa at Starbucks while we watched the crazy Shibuya is the busiest intersection in the world for very good reason.

One thing that's fun with Japan is they can't, or don't say their L's. L's are R's in every word. He"rr"o for Hello and bRanket for get the point, so its always fun when I'm out and about to see how "Engrish" strikes again. 

This time however, they actually NEEDED the R, and that just makes this all the more funny.

Technically you can "clash" with someone coming around the corner, but you most likely will "crash" if you aren't paying attention. 

I hope you all had a great weekend. 

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