Getting to experience the cherry blossoms (Sakura in Japanese) in full bloom was such a beautiful thing to witness. It’s no surprise that spring is the favorite season in Japan because of the cherry blossoms alone. They make every temple/shrine, house, and street look so much nicer and add such a beautiful spring atmosphere to the area. Because of the warm weather and the sakura, my mood has definitely improved majorly in the past few weeks. One on of my days off, I went to Osaka castle park to witness the cherry blossoms in full bloom and they did not disappoint one bit!
At night, they illuminate the castle as well as the sakura! Everyone hangs out in the park on picnic blankets as they eat, drink, and just enjoy the flowers. There are even food stalls selling traditional Japanese foods and alcohol there as well, so everyone is having a great time together. They sure do know how to take something as simple as flowers and turn it into such a great community activity!
I also got to reunite with a lot of my old friends recently. One of my friends from middle school, Veronica, came here on vacation with her boyfriend, Will. Veronica and I had been talking about taking a trip to Japan since we were in middle school together, so we just had to meet up while she was here. They were staying in Tokyo, so I offered up my apartment as a place to stay if she wanted to take the bullet train here and check my surrounding area: Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka!
Veronica and I in Gion, Kyoto together by the Kamo river!
These are prayer tablets and thousands of paper origami cranes women together!
I took them to my favorite shrine I’ve been to in in all of Japan, Fushimini-inari. It’s a shinto shrine in Kyoto with thousands of red gates that you walk through up a mountain. It takes a few hours to climb all the way up to the top because there are so many gates! It is one of the most famous shrines in all of Japan and was even featured in Memoirs of a Geisha. In shinto, foxes are thought of as messengers so there are hundred of fox statues all around the shrine as well. After that, I got to go to the Gudetama cafe with one of my coworkers, Clara. Gudetama is a character in Japan that is described as a “lazy egg.” His name actually stems from combining the Japanese words for lazy and egg. He comes from the same company that produced Hello Kitty and is so popular that he even has his own cafe in Osaka with themed dishes to match him.
Recently I also got to meet up with three of my old friends from my Japanese University (Kansai Gaidai University) that I attended when I was here last time: Haruka (Japanese), Ben (Australian), and Rei (English). It’s been so nice to catch up with people that I haven’t seen in about two years! It’s so crazy how I’ve only been here for 2 months, but I’ve already been able to see so many people. There’s nothing better than catching up with an old friend and exploring new places together! I got to take a few of them around Kobe, Harborland in particular! The harborland/port area is extremely beautiful and you can even see the mountains in the background as well. The harbor itself actually reminds me of the harbor in Baltimore because there are lots of cute shops and restaurants that line the edge of the water. There is also a colorful ferris wheel in the harbor too, however, I’ve heard rumors that it’s CURSED! Rumor has it that if a couple rides the Kobe ferris wheel together, then they are bound to break up and not end up together! This has even been confirmed by one of my Japanese friends!
COUPLES BEWARE OF THE KOBE FERRIS WHEEL. YOU HEARD IT HEAR FIRST!!!! (Unless you like to live life on the edge, then be my guest)