Sweet Trip

Sorry, it’s been a while! December was a bit of a whirlwind at work with a conference at a nearby school, demonstration lessons, and (of course) Christmas-themed lessons; I ended up leaving Kyushu on Christmas Day to visit my family back in Texas. It was a nice, if not short, trip, and it was good to see my family again. But now, I’m back and more determined than ever to make the best of this experience. Last weekend, I made a trip to Hikari-no-mori, a nearby town, to do some shopping and finally watch the movie Baymax (Big Hero 6); not exactly a particularly Japanese-y outing, but the movie was dubbed over with Japanese voice actors. And because my birthday was the following Monday, I bought myself some bath bombs from LUSH (yes, they have LUSH here- I was so excited about this!), a cool backpack, and a cute pencil case (pouch?). Check out my swag below!

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Anywho, for this weekend’s excursion, I decided I try to visit a shrine and the popular department store Desaki in nearby Kikuyo. Those who know me, know that I absolutely hate driving, so I find it a little ironic that I ended up in a rural placement where I have to commute (by car) for an hour through winding mountain roads on the opposite side of the road than I was previously accustomed. Nonetheless, today I opted to drive instead of taking the train since it was such a short distance.

The ‘shrine’ wasn’t really what I expected. To be fair, I didn’t really know what to expect since my knowledge of shrines is very limited; to prepare, I read before a short article on temple/shrine etiquette before heading out to try to find my first shrine. Long story short, I didn’t actually find it…I found this building instead.

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I’m still not really sure what this is, but I think next time I decide to go looking for a shrine here in Japan, I’m going to try to go with someone who actually knows what to look for. Oh well, you live and learn, right?

Anyways, Desaki did not disappoint. I’ve been to this store once before, with a lovely English woman who I met at a conference I went to in Aso-Nishi, but coming here alone was slightly different experience. Not better or worse, just different. What I did enjoy was getting to linger in the clothing section; for some reason, I love fabric with rich textures- wool, cotton, velvet, corduroy, flannel- you name it, I adore it. Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved running my hand through clothing racks in department stores, and the clothing section of Desaki was like my personal trip back to childhood. Plus, the clothes were all so pretty and of amazing quality.

Next, I headed to the craft department, and, let me tell you, Desaki is a scrapbooker’s paradise. Endless arrays of decorative masking tapes, rubber stamps, and beautiful paper crafts lined the aisles; I wanted everything! Although if I’m being honest, I wanted everything from every section- clothing, crafts, kitchenware! It was all so gorgeous and, again, very high quality, but I decided to show some restraint, and came of there with only a cute, small tea cup and this super sweet umbrella.

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All in all, this weekend was truly a success. But maybe next weekend, I’ll do something that won’t make me want to empty my wallet. Lucky for me, Aso has some great hiking trails, so I will be sure to check those out, so long as the ash isn’t too troublesome. Oh yeah, did I mention that my town is located near the base of an active volcano that has been spewing smoke and ash for the better part of two months now? I hadn’t? Well, it is. It’s pretty cool actually, as long as you don’t get too close.

Well, jaa ne! (That roughly means, “see you later!”)

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