Saturday, March 6, 2010


Kamakura is a very spiritual and touristy part of Japan. It's a former capital, and has many Shinto shrines as well as Zen Buddhist temples. We visited both. First, we had a "Zazen experience"-- at a traditional Buddhist temple, a monk instructed us on how to meditate the zen way, and then after an hour of me trying to concentrate on counting my breaths and not how I could see them because inside the temple was effing freezing, we had a traditional simple vegetarian lunch.

Then it was off to a Shinto shrine. This was surrounded by cheesy tourist shops and food vendors, and many smaller shrines and a beautiful park. And a blooming cherry blossom tree! The first one I've ever seen in my life! Cherry blossoms are super pretty.


Finally, we visited the largest Buddha statue in Japan. It was pretty big people! I bought some Buddha-shaped cakes that were made of delicious.

Mountain Retreat

Last weekend I went on a "cultural exchange camping trip", a school-organized trip to the mountains. It was half Japanese students and half international students. Very educational! Also, the inn that we stayed at (yes, and inn not a tent, it was like a company or team retreat hotel--there was a gym, picnic grounds and an event hall but it was in the middle of nowhere) was very traditional, futon beds and communal bath and stuff like that. Here are some pics and videos! because I figured out that shooting and uploading videos with my phone is super easy.

The view from out back of the field (farther back is a soccer and baseball field), on the right you see the gym. On the left are the stairs to the second/third floor of the main building.

Our bento on the first day. It's super-deluxe! Or the most deluxe I've had so far. That brown thing in the middle of the rice is a pickled plum, a traditional topping/filling for rice and rice-balls, and SUPER DISGUSTING.

We also painted candles in the main event hall. It was fun in a charming multicultural art project way. And in a I-haven't-painted-since-last-semester-way. Here's mine. I was going for sparkly landscape?

Here is the map for our scavenger hunt that was some sadist form of Bingo. We had to visit each of the dots on the map and get the katakana letter on the sign that they indicated. The area illustrated on this map is a huge effing forest surrounding the inn at the top there, with lots of steep inclines, trees and roots, and no paths! What the heck I am not Chuck Norris! Our team did not win, but not for lack of trying.

Here's slightly demented Doraemon/Darth Vader candle. Doraevadar?

Eating the Yakisoba (yaki-anythng means it's grilled and soba is a type of noodles) we made over a roaring fire at freezing temperatures. Actually not everyone helped make this like how we all made curry together the night before. We were supposed to all make lunch together but then it, uh, started snowing and got freezing cold outside so we elected to have only a few people go. I volunteered because I was all like "I'm gonna experience Japan!" and it was totally worth it because now I know how to make yakisoba. It was suuuper delicious but then my toes went numb and it stopped being worth frostbite so I ran inside.

makin the yakisoba, or rather watching our camp leader Nahomi do it for us. Nahomi can do eeeverything

I shot this while walking back in from take the panorama picture above. It was the first day so we were getting lost because the back entrance is on a different floor than the front entrance. ahh mountainsss

Completely Irrelevent Post

Alternative post title: I watch Akihabara@deep too much Part 2

Just a quick aside, but I totally found the park where The @deep crew shot a lot of their scenes, including this one in the first episode. I was always like, what a cute little playground, I wish I could find it someday...and then on the Akiba tour we just totally walked past it!!!

(watch at 0:13)

Also, the o-den they eat in the scene right after (1:25), I totally tried some of that too. It's a hot veggie/fake meat stew that you can buy out of the vending machine. It tasted like salt and fake food, but it was like a wonderful feast for my dorky brain.