Published: July 19th 2006July 1st 2006
a bamboo forest
at Okayama Korakuen
June is over! Where has the time gone?! This blog is a couple of weeks late, because I am just realizing now that it's July. I mean, I have known that it is July everyday for the past two weeks, however it hasn't really hit me until now. I have less than two weeks until my job is finished and I move from my apartment. I've been too busy to notice the time fly. Here's a few things that I've done in the last month....
On June 6th,, I went to see Ben Harper
in Hiroshima. The concert was held at Club Quattro....a venue for a couple hundred people. It was a nice, intimate setting for a chilled out concert. The band was talented and great, the music impressive. It was my first time to hear most of his music. Ben Harper is a skilled musician. A couple of Japanese rastafarians entertained our section of the crowd with their dancing and cheers. The band got a couple "Welcome Hiroshima" shout-outs from them! Most people in the audience probably didn't understand the lyrics, or what the band was saying to the crowd. But that's what great about music....you don't have to
understand every word that is being said to enjoy it.
One weekend I went to Okayama
with my friends Stacey and Alexis. I think I've mentioned before that everything in Japan is rated in the "Top 3" category system. For example, "Top 3 night views", "Top 3 shrines", "Top 3 temples", "Top 3 sea side sights", "Top 3 most photographed places", etc. After my many visits to "Top 3" destinations, I can't tell exactly what makes them worthy of special status. Anyway, in Okayama there is one of the "Top 3 gardens" in Japan, the Korakuen
. Since it was so close (1 hr by train) I thought it mightbe worth a visit on a nice Saturday morning. The garden is nice, but not spectacular. I was a little disappointed. I think a major draw is the big, open space with a lot of green grass that you find there. Wide spaces and grassy grounds don not exist here, at least in the Japan that I know. Clearly these assets got the garden "Top 3" status! We also saw the Okayama Castle
, also called the "Crow Castle"....because it's black?! The highlight of the day however, was the opportunity to dress
in a kimono at the castle. The three of us gave it a try, and it was a hilarious dress-up session. A lady dressed us in the many layers and ties that a kimono consists of. Those things are heavy!!! The kicker was the wig. I could not have that thing on my head and keep a straight face! It was to give us an "authentic look" with a proper hair-do. It was just too ridiculous! I was the third to get dressed, and by that time we had attracted a small audience...who seemed to think it was funny as well! We finished the day with a quick visit to Kurashiki
, a nearby city, to check out the historical district.
June was filled with many birthday
celebrations. For my birthday, Dana surprised me with a cake, and a Japanese style birthday hat! Actually it's a sumo hat for a game at school, but worked perfectly for the occasion. To celebrate Jess and Natasha's birthdays (friends in Fukuyama) there was an 80s party.....theme parties are always great! Dana's birthday happened to fall on the same weekend as the Hiroshima Leaver's Party
. Every year there is a party in Hiroshima city
to say farewell to all the teachers leaving. First a roof top beer garden and then a dance club, it was a fun goodbye to the city and friends. Our Board of Education also had 6 birthdays to celebrate so we had an office party
. We went to our local bar Sai Sai for dinner and drinks. Next to Sai Sai is the trailer park karaoke. We reserved the VIP room and sang the rest of the night away. Always a great time!
Even though I've been keeping myself ridiculously busy, I found myself with a free Saturday. I decided to go to Okayama to try my hand at Bizen-yaki style pottery
. Okayama prefecture is famous for this pottery, and some kilns offer classes for people to try it themselves. I made two bowls with the help of a very nice teacher. I was really pleased with how they turned out, and looking foward to them arriving in Canada in about 4 months!
So goodbye June and hello July. Things to look forward to: Coldplay concert and Linda in Osaka, climbing another mountain, visiting Vietnam, and my sister Amy coming to Japan!
There are more photos below