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

3. okt. 2014

♔Busy in Fukuoka♔

My classes started up this week so I've been fairly busy. I haven't fully registered for classes yet, so I checked out a lot of different classes this week. I think I'll end up with integrated Japanese, grammar, kanji and converstaion. On top of that I'll propably be taking the three courses Hakata studies, Japanese cinema, and short fiction by Haruki Murakami. Most of the language classes are 99% on Japanese, so it's definitely a challenge, but I hope it will pay off in the end :)

Monday, I had to return to the hospital one more time to talk about the results of my blood sample. As I had expected, everything was fine. My feet were probably just swollen for a couple of days because of the long plane rides. 

Wednesday, me and a bunch of the other exchange students went to the post office to set up a bank account for each of us. It took quite a bit of waiting and the post office was small, so I felt like we filled up the entire post office! I ended up waiting for the others outside. Luckily, the post office was located in a cozy place with pretty houses so I didn't mind the waiting. I got my bank book, which I can use to withdraw money at the bank's ATM. My cash card is yet to be delivered!
The post office

Today has been a really neat day. The weather was amazing, which meant I could wear a summer dress with no sleeves... in October! I don't think I've ever tried being in a sun dress in October, but I'm loving it! Especially because I heard that it's pretty cold already in Denmark. 
I had three hours of integrated Japanese which pretty much went by with self introductions and a bit of grammar. Come lunch I went to the university's convenience store and bought a meal for under 20kr that I ate outside in the sun, before I had to leave for short fiction class. It only lasted 30 minutes, because it was just orientation about the class - so weekend started early this Friday

There's so much delicious food in Japan. Luckily there is a (very small - but free!) gym at the university. So today I went to AEON mall with Line to buy some shoes for running, since I couldn't fit my running shoes in my suitcase when I packed for Japan. Walking to AEON was so nice. It takes some time, but because the weather was so great I enjoyed every minute of the trip.

Me and Line had been really tired the last time Miu took us there, so today we took our time browsing in a lot of the stores. One of the stores played five different songs in different places of the store (it was so confusing 'cause the store wasn't even that big!) and was filled with everything from Studio Ghibli plushies to a selection of books, candy, earphones... you name it. And it wasn't a 100 yen store so I guess it just had a weird mix of products. It was fun browsing though! I found a really creepy pen that I will post a picture of. Together with a beautiful poster for shape up pantyhoses


After shopping we went into a cozy ramen shop and ordered a small bowl of Hakata (tonkotsu) ramen. I figured I had to taste it since that kind of ramen originated from Fukuoka. I didn't read what was in it before ordering, but it turns out the soup is made from pork bones. It was very delicious none the less. Afterwards I bought a little box of different bite-size pieces of donuts from Mister Donut, that I brought home. I love donuts but I don't think Denmark has a donut shop yet (at least I haven't found one) so I absolutely had to try it out for dessert. Of course it was delicious. But now you also see why I need to use the campus gym, haha! There's too much awesome food in Japan...

Ramen shop

Tomorrow I'm going on a field trip and I'll be coming back Sunday evening! I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures and I'll write about it when I get home. 
I hope all my friends and my family is doing great back in Denmark♥ Take care!