5. nov. 2014

♔What stays and what fades away♔

I haven't posted here in almost a month because I have been really busy, also, I have been posting photos on Facebook instead, telling briefly about what I have been up to. But today I will elaborate a little bit! :D


At schools in Japan there are usually a ton of different activity clubs (circles), ranging from different sports, dancing, reading manga, calligraphy and so much more. I had already looked into Fukuoka Women's University's circles before coming to Japan, and already decided that I wanted to join the Kyudo circle. Actually, I wanted to join the scuba diving circle, but it would be really expensive, so I decided against it. Anyway, kyudo is the Japanese martial art of archery. I think it's really beautiful to watch and I believe it would actually be quite relaxing for me. There's a specific technique to handling the bow and arrows, it seems almost meditative.

Competition between some of the kyudo circle members.

I ended up going to kyudo lessons only two times. If I had joined the circle, practice would be two three times a week, three hours each. I'm extremely busy with school and homework and I also want time to experience Japan and have fun. After all, I'm only staying for haly a year. Besides that, I might never have tried actually shooting with one of the bows. I was told that I had to practice with a small rubber bow for four months before I could move onto handling the actual bows. At that time, I didn't think there were any kyudo clubs in Denmark, so I wouldn't join, knowing there was a high possibility of me never truly experiencing what kyudo is. But it seems like it is possible to practice kyudo in Denmark, so I might take it up again when I get home. 

Gomuyumi, rubber practice bow.


I experienced what a blood moon looks like. It was a total lunar eclipse of a full moon and luckily the evening sky was clear that night. A lot of students gathered on the roof of the dorm, eating snacks and watching the moon. Line's room is at the top floor, so I watched it from her balcony while eating dinner. It was really beautiful I couldn't get a decent photo of it, but Hansi Marasinghe did get a great shot - so I can show it to you all! 

The day after the blood moon, me, Line and our JD-mates went to Tenjin together. I figured I would get them an introduction on my blog, since they are such a great help My JD-mate is Miu and she is actually going to be studying in Denmark! Hopefully then, I can repay her, helping her like she is helping me here in Japan. Line's JD-mate Yuri already studied in Denmark and can say a lot of Danish sentences, it's really cool. Miu and Yuri took us into the city, Tenjin, where we ate a lot of delicious food (and crêpes! oh how I've missed Japanese crêpes) while shopping a bit. Before going home, we took some purikura :)

Yuri, Line, me, Miu


Some high school students came by the university as a part of an "English Camp". We basically just had to talk with them in English. They interviewed the international students and then picked some countries to do a presentation about. They all seemed very sweet (and quite shy, haha). In the evening, we made okonomiyaki together with them. The school had also bought pizza and people almost seemed more hyped about those. Sometimes I almost forget I'm in Japan... but then something reminds me that I'm on the other side of the world. Like a high school student pouring dried seaweed strips all over a pizza...

The same day, Kashii Lantern Festival was held. I went and checked it out together with some of the other exchange students, it was very pretty. I actually went during the day, but had to return to the university before they lit the lanterns, since we were cooking okonomiyaki with the highschool students.
After eating I said good night to the other students and headed to my apartment. But as I stood in front of my door, I couldn't make myself go in before I had seen the lanterns lit up at night. So I headed back alone, taking a bunch of pictures and enjoying the atmosphere. A band was playing music at the festival and it was truly a nice and warm evening. 


On another note, I finally met my host family, the Hirayamas! As part of my stay here, I'm going to spend time with a host family at least once a month. They picked up me and Line at our dorm and drove us to Kirin Beer Farm. My Japanese is not as good as I wish it was, but it's fun to tell them about Denmark and hear about their lives :)

Host family!

They took us to Kirin Beer Farm to have a look at the 10 million cosmos flowers there. I have never been at a flower park like that so it was a great experience. The weather was really warm, the flowers were beautiful and I just had a really great time. We ate food from different stalls and relaxed in the sun. Our host mother also bought us a beer bread! It was a kind of dark bread - and since I really miss the dark rye bread I usually eat in Denmark, it was sooo delicious. I have only been able to find white, sweet bread up until now, so I appreciated it a lot After Kirin Beer Farm, they took us out to eat udon. 

Our host family drove us back to our dorm at three o'clock, since we had to get ready for a Halloween party that started at five. It was called "Pumpkin Fever" and urged a lot of international students to join. I love dressing up, so I took my time getting ready. I had all my costume-stuff in Denmark, so I had to make due with what I had been able to find up until that day. Luckily, I had passed by a lot of wig shops and was able to find a colored contact lens that fit me :D I had a rose-textured dress, so I bought a fake rose and glued it to my face~ I think it turned out quite good, considering I had been really busy up until that day.

Me and Line went into town, but since we didn't have internet on our phones and wasn't able to make calls it took some time finding the right place. Maybe because it was on the 6th floor of some building and Japanese people apparently aren't fans on writing streetnames anywhere.
The party only lasted from five until nine, which is different from the parties I usually go to. In Denmark, I go out around ten/ eleven and return home around four or seven in the morning. But I had a really great time! I met a lot of fun, sweet people and drank tasty drinks while listening to music. When the party ended, we had a few drinks at a small bar and ate some food at Mos Burger before heading back to the dorm.



Me and Line stumbled by an owl café down in Hakata town. It sounded too weird not to pass up, so we went inside to check it out. We bought some juice while we were told how to treat the owls, how not to behave and other important facts. After that, we could stay for 45 minutes, taking photos of the owls - and even having them sit on our arms (and head!). There were so many different kinds of owls, all super cute and weird. I love owls, especially their eyes So beautiful.

 Rikki and Topper!

Afterwards I felt kind of bad though... Owls are birds of prey, they are not supposed to be kept as pets, I think. It seemed like the staff really loved and cared for the owls, but I couldn't help feeling like they should be out in nature and free. I hope they get to be outside too.

Aftwerwards me and Line went to Canal City, a big shopping mall in Hakata. It's really beautiful, with vines, trees and water fountains. There's also quite a lot of neat shops, though some of them are pretty expensive. We even saw a fountain show with music and a magician there, haha :D


The reason we went to Canal City that day, was because I was hungry and had seen a Moomin Café! I wish I could have taken Damien with me And Lasse too! I think I know a lot of people who really love Moomin.
The café was really cute, Moomin decor all over. They even had a small gift shop with Moomin stuff! We were seated together with Sniff and Stinky and I ordered a Moomin omurice. All the people in the café ate together with Moomin characters, it was so funny. My omurice wasn't very good, but it was a fun experience none the less.

My new boyfriend

Moomin omurice


Last Sunday, me and Lines host mother took us to Saga International Balloon Fiesta. The competition started early and we had to drive for a bit, so she picked us up at five(!!) in the morning. Because the weather wasn't very good (it might had started raining and the wind was a bit strong), sadly, the balloons couldn't fly that day. But they did inflate them so everyone could take photos :)
They were verey cool and big. I especially liked the one with the astraunaut sticking out of it, it looked like it was waving to people.

There were a lot of stalls at the balloon championship, so afterwards we browsed the different shops. We ended up buying roasted chestnuts from a man who had come all the way from Kyoto to sell them. They were really good! I had expected them to taste kind of salty, but they were actually quite sweet. We also bought korokke, dumpling soup and some kind of fish cakes. I was so full when we eventually headed home, haha. 

We had to head home because the balloon fiesta was on the same day as the Fukuoka Women's University school festival, Kasumi-sai. I will tell about the festival in my next post :)

Take care everyone

12. okt. 2014

♔Field trip! Kirishima and Kumamoto♔

A week ago, I went on the first field trip of this semester, together with the international students and the JD-mates. It was sooo much fun This post is going to be quite long and have a lot of pictures - now you're warned!
We met up Saturday at 8'clock (so early!) and all got on the bus that would drive us around for the weekend. We drove for approximately three hours, stopping every now and then at some rest stops, to buy stuff, get some air and stretch our legs. The view from the bus was much more interesting than it would have been in Denmark. Mainly because of the mountains! It was very pretty - so even though I was tired I just kept staring out the windows.

At 12 o'clock we reached the restaurant we should eat lunch at. It had a nice view, delicious food - and a lot of Studio Ghibli stuff! At the entrance to the restaurant there was a big wooden Totoro and inside they had a shop full of Ghibli stuff. Luckily, it was kind of expensive, so I didn't accidentally buy everything.


The view from the restaurant. So peaceful!

Afterwards we went back to the bus and headed for Kirishima Open-Air Museum! We had two hours to walk around and look at the art, it was amazing The first installation I saw was a big woman figure. As I moved closer I soon became aware that if you looked at it from a different angle, it was a male figure! I liked it a lot.

Kirishima Open-Air Museum

Male/Female by Jonathan Borofsky

As we moved on, the next thing I saw was another big installation (that kind of looked like Pacman. It was yellow on the other side, you see xD). We stayed near it for some time, fooling around on it and taking pictures. You were allowed to touch a lot of the art pieces at Kirishima Art Museum, I loved that

Sun Roots by Phillip King

A Walk With the Dog by Hiroshi Fuji. These little guys were all over the museum area.

After that, we walked along a trail in through the trees. We eventually came to a place titled "Forest Observatory". White walls formed a circle and we moved to stand in the middle of them. It seemed like I was able to sense the nature around me more carefully there - I paid better attention to the sounds and how the tree tops looked from where I was standing. Such a peaceful place.

Forest Observatory by Casagrande & Rintala

At some point we made it to a trail of wooden stairs leading down to an installation titled "Insiders" by Antony Gormley. The atmosphere was kind of eerie but also beautiful. At first I almost didn't notice the installations, because it was these slender figures made of brown iron that blended in well with the trees. They were scattered around the area, looking lonely and a bit creepy. 

Satsuma Brilliance by Tang Da Wu

The forest area of the museum was quite fascinating, dark and beautiful with moss covered bridges and a constant noise of cicadas. Before we made it to the end of the forest trail, we passed an installation of marble called "Izanami Izanagi Amaterasu". They are all names from Japanese mythology. I think that Izanami and Izanagi are actually the creators of Japan according to Shinto and Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun.

Izanami Izanagi Amaterasu by Luciano Fabro

The next installation we saw was called "Ancient Motherhood". I of course immediately felt like crawling inside of it, but it was only possible to enter it from a small hole at the bottom. I did manage to jam my body in there, but it was harder to get out of it! I still have a very faint bruise from it above my knee, haha.

Ancient Mortherhood by Yoshinobu Toribatta

When we exited the forest area, the first things that met us were a long passage over the hill side, titled "In the Beginning". If you're afraid of heights, this installation would probably not be for you. Inside there were long ridges on all sides of the passage and under it there was a long way down. When I first stepped into it, it seemed like it just ended out in nothing. But of course, the end was covered with glass so you couldn't fall down. The view was amazing, and with the atmosphere in the passage way it actually felt like it opened up to the beginning of time. 

In the Beginning by Dani Karavan

 View from "In the Beginning"

Then we reached an area with a lot of big, golden mirrors titled "Your Are the Art". We had a lot of fun playing around with them, taking a whole bunch of pictures jumping through them, sitting in the mirrors, letting the mirrors frame us while standing in the back :D

You Are the Art by Choi Jeonghwa

Before returning to the museum building, I came across two installations. The first was tall with wings on the top, called "It Is Breezing" by Kozo Nishino. The cool thing was that it was catching the breeze, causing the wings to move in a very beautiful way. I would like to see it on a really windy day! The last installation outside was very large sheep's head in a really bright golden color. 
Right Sheep, Tsubaki Boboru

Since time was running short, I went inside to have a look at an art exhibition that had just opened up the day before. The exhibition was called "Journey to the Center of the Art" and was made by Yokoo Tadanori. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside, sadly. The entrance to the exhibition was a passage with mirrors all around, small black and white photos of waterfalls lining the sides, lit up by a orange kind of light. It was very beautiful (and a bit eerie too - but I soon came to realize that most of the art pieces left that impression. I really liked the exhibition, though it was hard understanding the meaning behind some of the art pieces. It was an interesting mix of old and new, sometimes with famous people drawn into the paintings. I'm sad that I didn't have a lot of time to look at the paintings, and that a lot of the titles were in Japanese that I couldn't understand. But all in all, Kirishima Open-Air Museum was a wonderful experience.

We went back on the bus and drove for 45 minutes, finally reaching the ryokan (Japanese inn) we should spend the night at. It was very pretty, with a great view over the mountain side. We were showed to our rooms, sharing one room between 5-6 people. The room was quite traditional, the floor made of tatami mats with a low table in the middle, with chairs for sitting on the floor. Unfortunately, I only just remembered to take pictures of the room the morning after, so you won't actually see how pretty the room was.

The thing I had really looked forward to was trying an onsen (hot springs) for the first time. I had one hour to spend before dinner was ready, so I immediately grabbed a towel and headed for the onsen! I couldn't find the others (turned out they already went to the onsen), so when I found the entrance leading to the women's onsen and went inside, I was a bit confused about the approbiate way to do things haha. I think I did alright though! 
First there was an inside onsen, the room steamy and the water hot and comfortable Since I didn't have a lot of time and I already knew that I would go to the onsen again after dinner, I checked out the whole onsen area. I went out to the big onsen outside, which was really pretty and made of different smooth stones and small waterfalls. Up a flight of stairs there was a small onsen made of tree, the water there warmer than the other two. I could only sit there for a couple of minutes, before it became too much.

Photo by Sheena Vyncke

I went back to my room and changed into a yukata for dinner. Since I am taller than the average Japanse woman, I ended up with a quite large yukata because I wanted it to have the right lenght. It was very comfortable. The dining room was big - and damn there was a lot of food It was so delicious! There were so many small, different dishes, all really tasty. I love Japanese food so much, it was like heaven to me, haha!

After dinner there was karaoke on the stage of the dining room. I was kind of shy at first, just watching and listening to everyone sing and dance. Also, the music that I like is probably not good party music... If I knew people liked the same music as me, I would have sung some more. But eventually I did sing a bit together with the other students. At the end, all the students had to sing Spitz's "Cherry" since it kind of  is the Fukuoka Women's University's WJC program's "theme song". So nice!

After karaoke, a lot of the students went to the onsen together. We ended up sitting in the large outdoor onsen, playing games and relaxing until the onsen closed at 11. Because a typhoon was rolling in over Japan, it was quite windy, but it went really well with the warm water. I am definitely going to go to onsens in Fukuoka too

The next morning I got up at 5:40 because I wanted time to relax in the morning onsen before breakfast at 7 o'clock. The morning onsen was smaller, with one inside onsen and one outdoors onsen. It was windier than the evening before and it was raining a bit, but the view was absolutely amazing. The onsen was on the hill/ cliff side, so it was very beautiful.I wish I could start every morning like that.

Photo by Sheena Vyncke

I got dressed and went down to breakfast at 7 o'clock. Of course, the food there was absolutely delicious too. The only thing I didn't eat was the natto (fermented soybeans). Most foreigners don't like it, though I do know a couple of friends who love it. Maybe I should try it with soysauce and see if it gets better... some day. 

We left the hotel at approximately 8:15, heading for Kumamoto Castle. We reached it at 11 o'clock, having one hour to see the whole area. It wasn't nearly enough time, as there were also exhibitions inside the castle and generally just a lot of things to see. Because of the typhoon, it was really windy and it rained the entire time. We spent most of the time inside, looking at the architecture and trying to get to the top of the castle (so many stairs...). The view from the top was really pretty, I'm sad we didn't have more time to take pictures and such. 

View from the top of Kumamoto Castle

We even found a samurai! He spoke "old Japanese", asking if we came from Chikuzen - which is an old name for Fukuoka.

After Kumamoto Castle, we had two more stops before returning to the university. First, we stoppet at a restaurant and had shabu-shabu for lunch. It was really, really good I want to go out and eat more shabu-shabu soon! After eating we had a look around a store where I bought some small sweet potato cheesecakes. You can get everything with sweet potato flavour in Japan, haha. I'm going to try a soy milk with sweet potato soon, I wonder if it will be any good.


At last, we went to Arao for picking Japanese pears (nashi). We arrived at a small fruit shop in front of a nashi farm, the staff having put out grape and nashi samples for us. I really like grape flavoured... anything! But I always thought to myself that I didn't think it tasted like grape at all. As it turns out, the grape candy/ soda/ whatever, actually does taste like grape! Just not Danish grapes :D The staff told us how to pick the nashi and then we went into the pear farm. I had to walk around bent over, because the trees were so short... We were allowed to pick one nashi and take home with us, so I spent some time trying to find a big one. Which was easy, since Japanese pears are HUGE compared to Danish pears. Chelsey, one of the exchange students picked a pear that was almost 2kg!

It was such a fun trip - I can't wait for the next field trip I would have written about it sooner but I've been really busy with school and getting to know the area where I live. I'm glad I got to write it though, it will be fun refreshing the memories of this trip in a year or so!
Take care everyone