The Blog Post on Writing

I seem to always be in a race to catch up on all my blog posts.

I’m taking this to mean that I’m just very busy enjoying my “real” life at the moment…which is a good thing, right? But I want to get these posts sitting in draft finished before I forget everything. And if you know me, you know that all the pictures are in order and ready to go…it’s just the writing that’s waiting for me. There are so many words out there and yet for some reason, at times I have a difficult time putting them together to form sentences. But I am going to plow through this.

So in a twist of irony, I thought I’d start off by diving into this post about writing!

Miwawho always writes beautiful posts for Cranes and Clovers, kindly invited me to this blog hop about writing. (You can read hers here. She always takes the most amazing photos and I love the way she writes!) I was worried at first because I seriously do not write all that much here, it’s mostly photos. But because I was so excited Miwa chose me, I thought I would give this a try! 😉

What am I writing on or working on?

Well, at the moment I am finishing up my monthly letter to my grandma because she is one of those rare people who doesn’t own a computer, much less an email account. (It takes a while to finish because I end up having to look up every other kanji on my cell phone before I write it down!)

Regarding this blog though, as I mentioned above, I’m trying to find the words to fill in my blog posts that are currently sitting in draft. They are mostly posts on my weekend trip to Nasu and other events in the past month or two, including two weddings, a beer garden, and a birthday.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think that each blog is special in its own way.

Am I just saying this because I don’t really know how mine differs from other blogs? Um…yes. I have to be honest here and say that I’m not even sure what genre this blog is. I’d say it’s a journal of my life in photos. Although if I had to think of something, I’d say that a blog written in English by a regular (whatever that means) Japanese female is not as common in the blogging world. Or maybe I just don’t know where to look? What do you think?

Why do I write what I do?

Like many bloggers, it’s a way to remember what I did and how I felt at that moment. It’s a way for me to hold on to the tiny things that fade over time. I think that’s how my writing (especially my diaries when I was younger) has always been.

Without writing things down, I don’t think I would have remembered how anything and everything revolved around getting my ears pierced in grade school (I wrote about it constantly for half a year). Or how confused I was when I came back to Japan as a teenager and first stepped into a Japanese-style bathroom stall (I thought I had accidentally gone into the janitor’s closet).  Or how my world shifted when I started living alone for the first time (I’d never gone a weekend without speaking before).

Or even small things like that moment when I overheard a coworker being asked what he thought 少子化 (sho-shika, meaning declining birthrate) is in English and he answered, “uh…small children?” (In his defense, it kind of makes sense when you look at the kanji.)

So many memories. I guess for me, writing is remembering.

How does my writing process work?

As I said, I am not a writer at all so my process is quite slow. I usually start out by figuring out how I want to end the post. Weirdly having an ending for the post keeps me in line when I write. I tend to go off topic otherwise. I have a mind that wanders, which is probably why it took forever to write my college essays and I’d end up having to cut out half of it. And that is usually what happens with my blog posts, too. I love the “research” bit, aka surfing the internet for information. I learn so much and I end up wanting to share it all.

So most of my writing process is hitting the back-space key. To each his own!

Well…that only took about a month to write! (Sorry so late, Miwa!)

Did any of that make sense? I’m not even sure I answered the questions but I will say that this blog post itself was an interesting process of trying to figure out how and why I write the way that I do. And I am currently patting myself on the back because this is the longest blog post I have ever written in my life. Whew.

As a reward to you for actually reading all that and making it down here…I am happy to let you know that I am tagging the wildly 
witty woman that is Rurousha, who should be writing a book in my opinion, but is currently happily roaming the backstreets of Tokyo under the summer sun and sharing her discoveries with us on her blog.

Happy writing! x

The Sakura Sakura Onsen in Kagoshima

Because Kagoshima is located in the heart of the Western Japan volcanic belt, it has an abundance of onsen. So much so that even the local sento (銭湯 public baths), which is usually regular water in Japan, uses onsen in Kagoshima. My friend’s husband, who grew up in Kagoshima, apparently thought that all the sentos in Japan used onsen until he came to Tokyo for college and learned different.

After stopping by the garden cafe, we went to Sakura Sakura Onsen (さくらさくら温泉). Their onsen is a mild-acid sulfur spring and is said to be effective for treatment of neuralgia, stiff shoulders, exhaustion, rheumatism, sprain, and external wounds. So…pretty much everything!

But what they are really famous for is their mud pack. First off, I should probably warn you that the smell is foul. So so foul. It’s a mixture of rotten eggs and mold…but you know what I mean if you’ve ever gotten a whiff of sulfur. Although smelling it from afar and having the sulfur drenched mud on your whole body is a different thing all together. But no worries! Once we started lathering the mud on our bodies, the smell was so bad that my nose just stopped smelling anything at all. Problem solved.

The next step is to let the mud on your face and body dry. (Side note: it takes a while to dry if you spread the mud on too thick so it’s better to keep it on the thin side.) There were a few other people besides my friend in the roten-buro (露天風呂 outdoor bath) area, standing around waiting for the mud to dry, and we were all laughing at each other over how silly we looked. And of course every other word out of our mouths were “Kusai! (smelly!),” because it really was.

Once the mud dries, all you have to do is wash it off with the onsen shower and voila! You may still stink of sulfur but your skin will be shiny and smooth like a newborn baby! Of course, you don’t have to do this mud pack at all. It’s not mandatory and you can just enjoy the onsen and roten-buro outside. But it’s fun and silly so I would definitely recommend the experience, if you don’t mind being a little stinky for a few days after.

On our way back, we saw a waterfall and stopped by to admire it. Maruo Falls (丸尾の滝) may look like any old waterfall. But in fact it’s quite rare because it is a hot waterfall. That’s right. The water flows from the onsen source of Sakura Sakura Onsen! Also, we were there during the daytime but the waterfall is apparently lit up at night, so you can enjoy the steamy view in the dark!
Here are some photos of the onsen and waterfall:
2324-7 Kirishima-takuchi
Kirishima-shi, Kagoshima JAPAN
TEL: 0995-57-1227
HOURS: 10:00am-8:00pm
ONSEN: Adults 700 yen, Kids 350 yen
Makizono-cho Takachiho
Kirishima-shi, Kagoshima JAPAN

The Garden Cafe in Kagoshima

I fell completely in love with this cafe.
Wind No Mori is located on the property of a lovely couple, Mr. and Mrs. Nagase, who opens their home as an outdoor cafe on the weekends. And what a cafe it is.
Everything from the entrance sign, park benches, and garden deck were all handmade. Mr. Nagase even showed us the DIY pizza oven he made outside (which I forgot to take a photo of). Their property is vast and you can tell that they really enjoy their time there. I loved all the country home details.
The three of us chose a pretty blue picnic table to lounge while we had our cakes, coffee, and tea. Everything is self-serve here, so after giving our orders, we sat around the main house chatting with the owners while they got everything together. We were also introduced to their very shy but adorable dog!
Once everything was ready, we took it all back to our picnic table and enjoyed every last crumb and sip! Yum!
Here are some photos of the quaint garden cafe:
1576-4 Kirishima-taguchi
Kirishima-shi, Kagoshima JAPAN

TEL: 0995-57-3721
HOURS: 10:00am-4:00pm (open Saturdays & Sundays)
CAKE & DRINK SET: 500 yen

The Traveling Sushi Bag Cover

Taking a break from all my Yakushima and Kagoshima photos, I’d like to share this hilariously wonderful suitcase cover that I’ve just discovered.

 The Traveling Sushi Bag Cover is made of sturdy polyester, protecting and at the same time turning your suitcase into a sushi. There are four different types of covers; Tamago (egg), Maguro (tuna), Salmon, and Ebi (shrimp). With any of these covers, you will not only be able to spot your suitcase from a mile away but you’ll also have the power to instantly transform the baggage claim into a kaiten-zushi (conveyer belt sushi)!

I’d probably get with the tamago cover…what about you? 😀

Produced by Omise Parco
width 425mm, depth 300mm, height 640mm
3,024 yen
*cannot be eaten
*suitcase in the photos not included in the product
(these are the actual notes that are stated on the product page!)

The Day in Kagoshima

After our amazing trip to Yakushima, we came back to Kagoshima and I got to spend the whole weekend with S and her husband before heading back to reality (aka Tokyo). 
Kagoshima is a really beautiful prefecture surrounded by many volcanic mountains (most of which aren’t active anymore). This means that they also have many onsen (温泉), or hot springs, to enjoy. Kagoshima is famous for many things including Sakura-jima (桜島), the still active volcano, and Kuro-buta (黒豚), the Kagoshima black pig (which I’ve never eaten because I’m vegetarian…but I hear it’s really good!).
They also seem to be very proud of the rich history they have, such as the Satsuma-han (薩摩藩), and you will see statues of various scenes from history all around the city. You can even listen to a recorded explanation of each scene. If you’re into history, you’ll love it.
The city of Kagoshima also has a very convenient tram system. One of the things I noticed was that every tram station had grass growing on the tramway. Apparently this is one of the city’s countermeasures for the urban heat-island effect which they started in 2006. And according to data regarding these areas, not only has the temperature gone down but so has the noise level. Isn’t that great?
I have a few more Kagoshima posts coming up, but until then, here are some photos of our day hanging out in the city! x
The beautiful tram station in front of the JR Kagoshima-chuo Station.
The statues of a scene in Kagoshima history…my friend said they are life-size statues!
Heading to the organic chikyu-batake cafe for lunch!
I got the delicious korokke set, which also included a salad bar.
We had a choice of regular, brown, or black rice to go with our set menu.
The tempura set looked delicious, too. You can see we were pretty happy with our lunch!
Kagoshima is also known for their Shiro-kuma shaved ice. Yum!
S and her husband are always fun to hang out with…love them both!
The prestigious Hotel Shiroyama has a fantastic view of Sakura-jima.
It also has a great view of the city below…and it’s all free! 😀

CHIKYU-BATAKE CAFE (地球畑カフェ 草原をわたる船)
3-17-1 Shimo-arata
Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima JAPAN
TEL: 099-201-7000
HOURS: 11:00am-10:00pm (closed Tuesdays)

41-1 Shinshoin-cho
Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima JAPAN
TEL: 099-224-2211

The View From Taiko-iwa in Yakushima

I could have sat there for hours.
This boulder with the fantastic view is called Taiko-iwa (太鼓岩), which means ‘large drum boulder’ in Japanese, and was part of our hike through Shiratani Unsuikyo (白谷雲水峡). But because S and I ended up taking so many photos here, I decided it deserved a post of its own.
Yakushima is an island largely composed of granite. It rose from the sea millions of years ago when the granite magma penetrated the Eurasian tectonic plate. I learned (i.e. eavesdropped on a tour guide walking behind us) that Yakushima is still rising about 1 millimeter per year. Isn’t that amazing?
Because of this, Yakushima’s mountains have granite boulders everywhere, although it may be hard to really tell because the forest covers ninety percent of the island. During our hike, we saw boulders of all sizes and shapes throughout Shiratani Unsuikyo, most of which were covered in moss. But Taiko-iwa is one of the more famous boulders for its view of the mountain range in Yakushima’s central region, also known as Oku-dake range (奥岳).
Taiko-iwa itself is 1,050 meters (approx. 3,400 feet) above sea level. From there you can see Miyanoura-dake (宮之浦岳), which is not only the tallest peak on this island at 1,936 meters (over 6,000 feet), but also the tallest mountain in the entire Kyushu region. The following six tallest mountains on Yakushima are also all higher than the tallest mountain on Kyushu mainland.
Am I the only one surprised that Yakushima has so many tall mountains, seeing as it’s not an island of volcanic origin? So interesting!
Oh and I almost forgot to mention this again…Miwa reminded me that much of Yakushima’s landscape was used in various scenes from the Studio Ghibli movie Mononoke-hime (もののけ姫), also known as Princess Mononoke. You can see the location of the famous “Damare kozo! (黙れ小僧!)” scene with Moro (the big white wolf) and Ashitaka (the boy) is based on Taiko-iwa.
Well, this post certainly ended up being a lot longer than I originally planned.
I wouldn’t change a thing about our hike that day but one thing I have to remember for next time I’m in Yakushima is to get a wide angle lens for my camera. I currently only have a pancake lens and the photos below don’t even compare to how vast and breathtaking our view from Taiko-iwa was. You know how a pancake lens zooms in on the whole picture.
But then again, these photos may be just enough for you to want to go see for yourself! x
Take a look:
Our amazing view of Oku-dake from Taiko-iwa.
The slit you see through the forest is Anbo River (安房川).
S and I taking in the grand view on the side of Taiko-iwa.
It’s really not a hard hike at all so everyone should stop by Taiko-iwa for the view!
We didn’t bring anything but Taiko-iwa is also a great spot to rest and eat your obento.
The obligatory shoe photo…I don’t know why but someone suggested we do this 😀
The fall was quite steep from Taiko-iwa, if you were wondering. Yikes.
Your phone signal is within range at Taiko-iwa, just in case of an emergency.
S and I taking a little break before heading back down the path.
I was too scared but S obviously had no qualms standing on the edge.
So happy to have taken in the fabulous view at Taiko-iwa!

The Cafe Jurin in Yakushima

On our first day in Yakushima, we stopped by this quaint cafe for lunch.
Cafe Jurin is located close to Yakushima Airport and we both fell for the outdoor seating behind the old building. The interior was mostly made of sugi wood and 
826-31 Koseda Yakushima-cho Kumage-gun, Kagoshima JAPAN
TEL: 0997-43-5454
HOURS: 10;00am-5:00pm
CLOSED: Mondays

The July Link Love

Hello to the second half of year 2014!

Can you believe that the year is already half over? Seriously, hold your horses 2014! It’s almost impossible to keep up. Last month was full of crazy busy days, crazy weird weather, and crazy fun weekends. I have so many blog posts in draft, it’s…again, crazy. I really need to get a move on.

But I decided to celebrate and kick off July with a swim during my lunch hour! Yay! I was completely out of shape and couldn’t do as many laps as I wanted to…but it felt amazing! So refreshing to be in the water. I’m hoping to finally get the hang of the freestyle breathing technique. Sunshine, swimming goggles, and I are going to be the best of friends this summer!

Do you have any projects or goals for this summer? x

——————————————————-Link Love——————————————————-

– Curious about this library that serves drinks in Shibuya! (link in Japanese)

– Weird books, anyone?

– Have you tried the new Häagen-Dazs flavor already?

– Went to see this movie and loved it!

– These origami brooches.

– Have you ever written a letter to your younger self?

– Learning about a blogger friend’s writing life and now thinking about mine! x