Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sakura Matsuri ー Washington D.C.

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry I disappeared for like…a few months there, school became a little hectic and I unfortunately put my blog on the back burner for a bit. I'm hoping to post at least once a week until school ends, then pick up to once a day like I'd originally planned to. I think I got a little burnt out, putting in too much effort blogging at once…even if I was doing only a small amount of blogging to begin with.

Long story short, I'm back. :)

In a more blog-related topic…

Last Saturday was the annual Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) in Washington DC!

Unfortunately, there weren't many trees out that still had blossoms, since the rain the week before the festival washed most of them away. 

In any case, the street festival was still fun! They had the usual food stands set up, where you're able to get yummy foods like udonsobatakoyakiokonomiyaki, sushi, taiyaki, and a bunch of other non-Japanese things, too. Though the lines were kind of horrendous…like always, but still. There's only one stand (as far as I'm aware, at least) that sells takoyaki and okonomiyaki so the line is always incredibly long, while there are a ton of stands selling stuff like lo mein and chicken teriyaki so those lines aren't as long…but their foods aren't much different than what you can get at your normal Chinese or Japanese restaurants. 

There are also a bunch of souvenir stands, where you can buy charms, t-shirts, fans, etc. I bought a few charms that were too cute to pass up, but most things were a bit overpriced for me. My stinginess overpowered the cuteness of most of the stuff I wanted to buy there, unfortunately.

It was fun, though, and a nice event to go to if you live close enough! Just hope for it to be warmer than this year, haha!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Japanese Poets - Ono no Komachi

If you're familiar at all with classical Japanese poetry, then you probably already know about Ono no Komachi...but if you're not, then read on. :P

Ono no Komachi was a poet during the Heian period, and she was described as an amazingly beautiful woman. She had many suitors, and there is a story of one particular suitor -- Shii no Shosho -- who she agreed to see if he would visit where she lived every night for 100 nights...but the suitor fell ill and died on the 99th night.

I love her poetry, and this one is probably one of my favorites and one of the ones she is most famous for:


Did you come to see me
because I dropped off to sleep
tormented by love?
If I had known I dreamed,
I would not have awakened.
(--McCullough's translation.)

Nagoya Aquarium

I love wandering around aquariums, so I couldn't not go to the Nagoya Aquarium while I was in Japan!

Of course, I'm really bad with fish names in English, so even reading the name plates of all the different fish in Japanese didn't really help much. But the aquarium was really pretty, and there were so many different exhibits!

They also had jellyfish! They had special tanks for them so that they got kind of circulated around in their tanks. They also had a lot of turtles, and I happened to go by during their feeding time.

One other thing I saw was the dolphin show! It was really neat! Not much different than something you'd see at SeaWorld...but a lot cheaper, ticket-price-wise. ;)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Green Tea Ice Cream

It might be a commonly-known thing, but one type of ice cream you can buy easily in Japan is green tea / matcha ice cream!

You can buy it in America, but it's definitely a lot harder to find. In Japan, Häagen-Dazs even sells their own version in grocery stores. I didn't buy their brand, though. Instead, I got it at a little ice cream / takoyaki / snack bar in a small town I was sight-seeing in. It was good, although a bit overwhelming flavor-wise after a few licks. I'm sure that depends on the maker, though -- I might've just been unfortunate to have my first time eating matcha ice cream be with extra matcha!

Tokyo Tower

When I was in Japan, I went to Tokyo for two days. Since I was only going to be there for two days, I wanted to make the most of it, so I made a list of the places I just had to visit, and one of those was Tokyo Tower.

I went at night, and the view was amazing! It would've been nice to see it during the day, though -- pretty much every angle was the same thing, lights and cars on dark streets.

The ground floor of the tower was really, neat, too! There were lots of displays with the history of and information about the tower.

Also, when I was there, they were getting ready for a Michael Jackson event that was happening soon, so they were playing nothing but Michael Jackson songs there. His face was also everywhere there.

Definitely worth a visit if you want to do a little sight-seeing of Tokyo! You can pay a little extra to go to a higher observation deck, too! You have to wait your turn, but even though it was crowded when I went, the time passed really quickly. :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nagoya Castle

Since I'm just so enthusiastic about blogging, I thought I'd post again. :) Certainly is easier to make shorter posts; I think making drawn-out, long posts is what killed my enthusiasm for blogging before. Wish I had blogged more while I was actually in Japan (I was there for a month in the summer), but it is nice to look back on all I did while I was there.


I lived in a city close to Nagoya, the capital of Aichi Prefecture and the third largest city in Japan. I only went to Nagoya to explore around once, but it was a lot of fun! I didn't even get to Sakae, though, I'll have to make sure to go there next time I'm there.

I waited for my friend at the train station (which is the largest in Japan, if I remember correctly...and it was indeed huge!), but since I got there early, I did some sight-seeing from the window of the 21st floor.

In the center? Nagoya Castle. Right in the middle of the city, pretty much. Even though I never did get a chance to go there, I just think it's really interesting that there's such a clash between the bustling city and the old castle.

Tea Treats!

I'm probably going to sound like all I do is eat by posting yet again about food, but it's just that I'm hungry at the moment. :P

Whether in America or in Japan, one thing I absolutely love to have as a snack is a warm cup of black tea with a little milk with some sort of baked good on the side. And while I was in Japan, thankfully I didn't have to settle for boring old cookies!

Pudding parfaits! Whenever I went to the store, I always checked for these (they tended to sell out of them a lot! Although I did tend to go to the store later in the day). This one was kind of a mix of a layer of pudding, a layer of cake, and strawberries in syrup, topped with whipped cream, a bit of cheesecake, and a little chocolate straw.

I haven't been able to find something exactly like this where I live, although I do live in the middle of nowhere. If I do see something similar at the store, they're much larger (maybe twice the size as this one).   Maybe I should try making my own...