Wednesday, February 28, 2007

San-gatsu.... wow

Big surprise this morning to find out it was already March. I remember when I first started counting down to the end of my AEON contract... I think I started at the 9 months mark... lol Now all of a sudden, I find myself one week beyond that day and with just about six weeks remaining "in-country"... wow. It certainly does seem to go pretty fast.

The next few weeks will be pretty busy, here's a preview:
March 3rd - Skiing with Keizo
March 5th to the 7th - Skiing at Shiga Kogen in Nagano
March 8th - day trip to Mito to see the plum blossoms at Kairakuen
March 11th - Last ski trip of the year with Yoshiko, Nozomi and maybe others
March 12th to 26th - Travelling with my family to Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji, Hiroshima, Nikko, Utsunomiya and Tokyo...

Phew! Looking forward to it though! Skiing, traveling and seeing my family, what more could one ask for? After my folks head home, we'll be making preparations in earnest for our departure on April 18th.

My first full week off has been good. On Monday, Yoshiko and I picked up Matt for a quick run out to Nikko for lunch and a bit of walking. We had lunch at Yama no Restaurant, which is where our wedding lunch was held back in October. As usual, the place did not disapoint and the meal was quite good. With all the trees being bare, you get a very nice view of Kirifuri Falls right from the restaurant's dining room. This shot is from the party room on the second floor. Not as colorful as summer\autumn, but a nice view nonetheless.

This winter has been exceptionally warm, which is obvious when looking at old Nantai-san and the surrounding mountains which are already losing their blanket of snow. In fact, this year is set to be the first year ever with no snowfall in Tokyo, or here in Utsunomiya for that matter. Luckily, the ski slopes in Fukushima have gotten enough to keep the season going to a little while yet.

After lunch, we headed into Nikko proper to seek out the hotel we will be staying in with my family in a couple of weeks. We dropped in to have a peak and it looks very nice, right at the end of a road bordering the river and a little park. It is also right by Ganman Ga Fuchi Abyss which we took a walk down while we were there. The path walks by a relatively unspoiled river, which is fantastic if you've seen what they've done to a majority of the streams here, and is lined with dozens of Bake-jizo (ghost? statues) with their little red bibs. It is said that these mysterious little guys are uncountable. If you walk down the trail counting each statue you encounter, you will come up with a different count every time. Interesting, and something I'll have to try the next time we head out there.

As we walked down the path, we were often presented with views of Nantai-san. I will never get tired of admiring the mountains around Nikko. I think this really is my favourite place in Japan. This is partly due to our proximity to it which has made it a common destination for us when we feel like escaping the concrete jungle that is Utsunomiya, but there is a certain intangible reason to this feeling as well. It's just a very special place I think.

The rest of the week has gone by quietly. We met up with Matt and Anthony on Tuesday for coffee, and I made a really good lasagna for dinner last night. As I sit here typing this, the intoxicating aroma of Yoshiko's banana and chocolate-chip loaf is emanating from the kitchen, making my stomach grumble... mmmm! We're going to head out now for lunch and maybe a visit to the Chagall exhibit at the Utsunomiya Museum of Art. Depending on the weather, I hope to take my camera skiing with me on Saturday and will post the first snow pics taken with the Canon S3. Wish me luck!


Blogger tornados28 said...

I know this is unrelated to your post but it is related to topics you have discussed in the past.

It appears that Japan is going backwards, not forwards, in regards to their past history as evidenced by the recent comments of PM Abe (see MSNBC article here). That's too bad.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

That's just the tip of the iceberg my friend. Unfortunately, Japan is being very regressive on many fronts.

In the last few weeks, Japan's minister of health said that women were "baby making machines", the Education minister said that "Japan is a perfectly homogenous nation", and Abe has not had the balls to do anything about it.

This "comfort women" issue is a huge deal here in Asia. While refusing to atone for it's own actions in the past, they keep bringing up the abduction issue at every turn, saying North-Korea MUST rectify the situation. Rather hypocritical of them wouldnt you say?

8:57 PM  

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