Leave me like a dream

photo-160The Sakura season in Kansai, Japan is slowly coming to an end. The petals drop to the ground and all the tourists (a LOT of tourists) and locals await another year to sit under the trees and celebrate the coming of spring. Although the weather has been quite cold, it’s a great feeling to finally think that the winter and all of the crazy ups and downs in the temperature could finally be over.

I have two new jobs, making three in total. I would like to blame that for my absence on this site, but it is only partially true. More than being tired, it is my attitude of “I can’t be bothered” when it comes to writing a new post. Procrastination is not one of my greatest traits, but I don’t hate that part of myself. I try to not be upset these days because otherwise I will only be fighting an endless battle that ends in frustration.  A friend of mine told me that I must try to embrace it and accept who I am rather than forcefully try to make changes. Slowly with that awareness, those traits can leave like a dream.

In the meantime, I’m currently enjoying sitting down in my favorite organic cafe’, listening to something that is a mix of Japanese jazz-rap-fusion and find my mind traveling to different places. 

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Kind people in my corner of the world

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After a little sketch at my favorite organic restaurant, I feel a little more awake. With all of the terrible news that has been going around in the world, it is nice to know that great people are out there. I am more pleased that some of them happen to live in my area. On my way home from class, I went to go buy Imagawayaki from a shop that I have passed since I was thirteen years old. Though I have known of him for years, I have only started talking to the owner recently. A mistake in my schedule a couple of months back gave me the free time and a chance to break the ice with the nice man. Today, we talked about his feelings on learning a new language and the people that pass his stand. He had such an excited look in his eyes when he was speaking that I could not help but smile along with him. I started to get hungry so before I left I asked to buy one Imagawayaki. They would not take the money and insisted that I just have it because I helped them out with the English on their sign for customers. If any of you happen to be in Kansai, I would highly recommend the cute little street shop in Nara.

I got on the train to Ikoma and I was about to head to my favorite restaurant in the area when Sumi stopped me to say hello. The young train man who stands near the ticket wickets never fails to greet people who leave the station. He noticed that my voice was husker than usual and he ran to get me throat medicine. He didn’t think twice about it and came back with some strawberry-flavored Nodoame(のど飴) for me.

It is true that when a kindness is done to you it makes you want to return the favor somehow.

After finishing my food and a quick sketch, I think about how lucky I am to live in my conner of the world with my pencils, paper, and all of the lovely people in my neighborhood.

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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The Hidden Gems

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 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.

I just love this place.

A great many exciting things happened this week. We welcomed a new addition to the family: a heater. We were growing in desperate need of one because the temperature here in Japan had suddenly dropped.
With a lot more reasons to stay inside, I have been thinking and slowing down a bit more. I am still sick and I love these lazy days where I stay in and drink tea all evening.
Yesterday, I visited the organic cafe’ in my area for the fourth time this week. I feel as if I could go there every day and not get tired of it. You would feel the same way I am sure.
I will list some reasons why, and if any of you have a place similar to this, please let me know.

1. The music is different each time I go. The woman in charge plays the same artist throughout the day, but a different artist and genre everyday.

1. The atmosphere is cute and cozy. The seats are all different with the only thing in common being that they are all comfortable. The lighting is good and doesn’t strain your eyes.

1. It is close to the station and from my house it takes less than ten minutes to walk. I just walk down the hill and I am there

1. Don’t get me started on the food. She changes up the menu everyday. Mutsumi serves mostly organic and vegetarian meals with a plethora of tastes and spices to please the palate. When you come in the smell of the ingredients hits your nose right away.

1. Though Mutsumi is friendly and always has a smile on when I come in, she gives me my space when I do my reading or projects. Welcoming, yet distant in a good way.

I just love this place. If anyone happens to be in Nara, Japan I would highly recommend it.

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A sweet transition

With new goals at hand, I feel a little more awake. I have discovered a new love for sitting in the local organic cafe’. I have Demian on my left and just finished a sketch of the kitchen in front of me. All the details of the buttons on the oven to the spoons and ladles in the pots. It was a very exciting sketch.

While I was sitting here, time ceased to exist and when I came out of my drawing trance, I didn’t know how many hours had passed. I carried no watch or Itouch for the first time in years. It was a curious feeling, and I sat and wondered if this was what living in the now felt like.

I had a satisfying lunch here at Mother Beans. It was a beautiful-looking egg and veggie sandwich with soup on the side. Though it was pleasing to my tastebuds, my stomach didn’t seem to agree and was upset until I left the shop. I listened to the songs the shop played on repeat to the point where I think I could sing along with the entire track.

I would have to say, this Friday was a sweet transition to the weekend.photo-95 copy 2

Shake the box

On the way home from swimming at a lake, a tired girl had an Itouch rant:

I told my sister on our way home yesterday that I was feeling like I was void of emotion. At my core, I have always been more of a listener and not a talker. With guesswork, I can bet my two cents that the homeschooling background and the fact that we were born and raised in Japan made me more sensitive yet indifferent to issues that required serious thought.

I feel extremely blessed to have been brought up in the way that I was, but at the at the same time, something is off. Something is missing. I don’t know if it is just some pathetic plea for attention, but I am hoping that the void can be filled somehow.

I brushed off negative emotions because I thought they made me weak. It is difficult to listen to myself and easy to dismiss pessimistic feelings. There are times when I force myself to be happy because I believed that that is what would make me feel accepted. My default is happy, but there are times when I do want to be alone. 

Amongst all of the mixed feelings, there is a lot of gratefulness. I am grateful for friends I can be genuine with. I am grateful for hobbies that I feel like I don’t have to stress out doing. I grateful that I have God always watching over me even though I have been neglecting Him so much. I am grateful for the happiness I get just before I take a bite out of something delicious.

It is late, so that is probably why my emotions are on a high now, but it is organic and I am glad for that.

At the end of a blogpost, I usually wrap it up with a simple conclusion and we are all on our way; in real life, there is never a conclusion. We want things packaged up all nice and presented to us in a way that is easy to understand. But it is the question marks in life that are interesting. It is the unanswered questions make us want to shake that box.