I don’t know where to start


I have not been able to do any updates because I am currently traveling, but that will change today because I will be leaving Singapore. Yesterday was my last full day, and I spent my time from 2:00 in the afternoon until 10:00 in the evening sitting in the same chair. I was looking for a place to sketch, and I don’t think I could have chosen a better spot than the open restaurant in Chinatown, facing a random souvenir shop. Because of that table, I was able to make three American friends that I talked to for about four hours straight. They were kind enough to treat me to water while we were chatting(Yes, you have to pay for it). They left for dancing, but I wanted to go home and figure out my schedule for when I arrive in Thailand. Life would not have that though.

After sitting back down, I finished the colors on the painting. In the middle of it a group of Russians sat down on the same table. We had a lovely conversation over how the Japanese work too hard. I gave them a copy of one of my sketches for Christmas. I was so pleased to see that he really appreciated it. Vladimir is the one holding the drawing in the picture for me. First time to have someone else hand in one of these images.

After they left, I was sure that I would go back to the hostel and do my chores, but that never happened. The minute the Russians left, I got invited to join a table of young French gentleman. I ended up walking around Clark Quay with them, dancing at the random restaurants and having a great time. They said that they couldn’t dance, but they got up there eventually.

It is a very long story, and much better than the condensed one so I hope to be able to have the time today to write a good amount. So much has happened and I just don’t know where to start.


Nagano: A man named Coffee

I will be commenting on my final day in Nagano. There were a lot of mixed feelings combined, but no doubt it was a trip worth taking. I am currently very restless because I will be traveling again, this time out of the country. I again cannot guarantee internet connection, but I hope to come back alive with plenty of stories.

In the meantime, please check out the previous Nagano posts here:

First Day: Click me!    Second Day: Click me!     Third Day: Click me!    Fourth Day: Click me!

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I woke up early in the morning on the fifth day to catch the train going back home. Yoshida-san took me to the station. It wasn’t an emotional parting, but I had mixed feelings. I was sad, yet ready to back home. Ready to go back to my comfort-zone. I learned many things regarding farming, but also learned a lot about myself. I realized that I do have some kind of complex, and I should find a way to work on it. The previous night, we watched 東京物語(Tokyo Monogatari) and I related a lot to the leading lady. Just like her, I always try to smile. In the last scene though, she finally let her Japanese walls down a bit and cried because of the stressful circumstances. It was a great movie.

On the way home, I decided to make a stop in Nagoya. I know a few people there so I thought that it might have been possible to have lunch with a friend. Unfortunately, no one was available and I decided to walk around until I decided what to do. As I wandered, I remembered what everyone said about this city: There’s nothing to do here. It is very true. The buildings are dull and there is nothing distinct about Nagoya. Though it has its own feel, the area around Nagoya Station is on the bland side.

Whenever I visit, I have the tradition of making a pitstop at T.G.I.F. before heading back home. Because I was slightly full, I decided to digest a bit before I got a bite. In the area, there was an organic foods market going on. I didn’t think much about it as I went through, but everyone seemed to be in an extremely good mood. I walked on to see if I could find a good spot to draw, but I soon realized that my search would be in vain and quickly turned back to the organic market. I walked through, and got some free candy in honor of the holidays. Before I started to sketch, one of the stalls offered me some Hojicha to drink. I loved the taste and decided to bring some back home to my family.

I would have loved to have drawn the Hojicha stand because the man in charge was very kind, but it didn’t have a lot of detail. I looked around and I saw the ginger shop. With all of the different colors of the signs, and the different kinds of rice and ginger, it was the perfect subject. Five minutes into the drawing, people and tourists commented on the picture as they walked by. A woman also sat down and asked me more detailed questions about how I choose my subjects. I also showed her some of my personal sketches from the Train Stories. She was a lovely lady and I will be sending her a sketch via mail soon.

After I started to reach the end of the painting, an extremely friendly woman came up and introduced herself. She was in charge of a local newspaper and wanted to ask me a few questions. To make a long story short, my sketch and I will be in their next issue.

An hour later I packed my watercolors and pens and headed to Fridays. I usually end up meeting interesting people there and this time was no exception. I sat at the bar, and there was a young Japanese man working there when I came in. He started talking to me right away and he told me about his home stay trip to New Zealand. I also learned that his name was Coffee.

With a good meal and an exchange of drawings between Coffee and me, I got back on the train to Ikoma. It was still a good three hours away so I still had a ways to go. What I loved about that afternoon is that no matter how boring a place could seem, there is something always waiting to be discovered.

I finally made it home and it was the same as I had left it. It was a great trip and I find that in the situations I am the least comfortable in is when I grow. I hope to be able to do the same with the trip I will be taking tomorrow.

It will be an adventure for sure.

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Nagano: She’s from America

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I woke up in the morning on my fourth day and last full day in Nagano. I was both relieved and saddened that it had gone by so quickly. I wanted to make the best out of the last day that I had.

A big topic these days in Japan is the political elections. The topic came up the night before and during breakfast because it was being shown on TV. I can’t vote, so I wasn’t able to contribute a lot to the conversation. Yoshida-san is a very open man, but when I asked him about who he was voting for he told me that it was a secret.

After breakfast, we started working on something new: separating potatoes. It took about an hour or so to get them all done.

Because I mentioned music yesterday, I saw him bring his radio to the garden this time. We were listening to the Christmas music that was being played over and over while planting onions. I was listening to a Japanese version of Au Lang Syne while the snow blowed in my face.

The last event of the day was Onsen. I love Onsen, but unfortunately I don’t get out as much as I’d like to.

This one was huge, with multiple baths, with one of them being outside in the snow.

I am a very easy person to spot in these kinds of places. Dirty-blond, blue eyes, white. I just felt all these eyes on me and I didn’t like it. Being in the country, I am sure you don’t get many Western faces, but still.

After a while inside, I decided to check out the outside bath. It was cold for a second, but once I hopped in it was heaven. There were a few people in the bath, but a couple of them left just as soon as I got in and so remained one sweet-looking elderly lady.
I make conversation with strangers easily, so we started talking. She told me she was wondering I could speak Japanese or not, so when I said something she was surprised. She told me that she has lived in America before. I told her that I was born here and have never lived anywhere else. In the middle of the conversation, she called her granddaughter over and said, “Look! She’s from America. You’re studying English, right? Say ‘How are you’! Say your name! This is your chance to practice!”. Because of that she got really shy and wouldn’t look me in the eye. It was only when I started speaking Japanese to her was when she actually got curious. After the conversation, I wasn’t feeling good, and I left the bath. This kind of “speak to the foreigner” thing happens to me often, and most times I don’t mind. This time I minded.

As I was looking in the mirror, my face was bright red. I wanted to take my face off then and replace it with one that would fit in more. As I was blow-drying my hair, Yoshida-san’s words came to my head, You can not change anyone but yourself. I knew that I took it too seriously, but sometimes it is just difficult to look over your own problems.

Looking back, I feel better about it now, but this is what I jotted down while I was sitting there:

I really do have a complex. Oh, how I want to fit in so bad sometimes. Back home in Kansai I don’t feel the pressure as much because of the environment I am in, but yes I feel it here. I have been with them for four days and I just wish I could be someone else. Sometimes I just wish I could be someone else.

Now like I said above, it is the environment. I was not used to it, but I went through it. I now want to go back because all the good that I received overcame the negativity. There are just so many wonderful things that I would have never experienced had I been born Japanese. I am so grateful to be where I am and to be who I am. A girl with an American passport, who is from this funny country called Japan.

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That one fire burning


Images pass by your eyes

It all seems like a dream

Fleeting hopes ad wishes

Till you fall asleep

Searching for meaning

And the gleaming light of day

With that one fire burning

To make all the fear go away

I see the ray of hope

That is peeking from your eyes

The one who doesn’t front

Who won’t believe the lies

The relationships you hold

Must be held and kept

Save the love and live

Please learn not to fret.

The Hidden Gems


 I drew this sketch of an organic market that was going on in Nagoya. I was on my way home from farming and I wanted to add Nagoya to my list of places I’ve sketched in. The only problem is that there is absolutely nothing to draw there. The buildings are bland and grey. The streets don’t have any thing in particular that make them stand out. I could not find anything that I wanted to draw. When I decided to stop here, I had forgotten that this city is not known for being the most interesting place on earth. It was only when I happened to come across a little fair going on outside. I went through it and left without giving it too much thought, but after walking a ways I knew that I would not find anything better. I decided to sit down and draw the ginger shop. It took me about 40 minutes, and during that time I got approached by many lovely people. I exchanged addresses with one woman because she wanted a sketch. A few old men laughed and said my colors were beautiful. A woman also from the area asked if she could interview me for a local newspaper. I ended up having a great time in the few short hours I was there. I’ve decided that even though a city may seem dull, there are always hidden gems waiting.You just have to wait for them to appear.

After getting home, my friend who lives in Nagoya messaged me, You were in Nagoya? There’s nothing to do here.

My Little Eyes: No sleep for me

            photo 2-15 So basically my first night at the YMCA was not great. My head was full and played past events over and over. It’s okay though. I’m sure tonight will be better. Little by little my shell is cracking and I am  starting to want to not leave Singapore. I feel like it would be such a blast to go around and travel more. Through meeting all of these people in these short past two weeks, I feel like I have a whole lot to take back with me to Japan. A lot of stories. Thats what it’s all about through right? I hope that I can continue to learn to think in many other ways. I can take the insomnia as all my thoughts processing- shaving away the negative thoughts and emotions until you are left with nothing but a delightful memory to look back on. Your thought life makes you or breaks you. Think right.

I drew this picture and wrote this post (不眠) because I was not able to sleep while I was in Singapore. I had done something very immature and stupid and I could not get it out of my head all night. It left me with an interesting sketch, but I would like to try very hard from now on to not let history repeat itself.

The Train Stories: The Lone Scientist

photo 2-13I loved science. I wanted to go into a field I loved, but gave it up and decided to make the more conservative choice tp work in an office every day for the next 30 years. As I doze off, I dream of a time when becoming a scientist was a reality for me. It all seems like pieces of a film reel, showing me a past life of mine- one that I can not go back to . I simply obey the orders of each person around me while ignoring a cry deep within my soul. A cry thats screaming and gasping for air. The side of me that I buried myself.