Thursday, November 29, 2018

Soba Making

 It's been a busy past few weeks with school work. Luckily, some of that school work required some adventures.

We went to Nagahama a few weeks ago to experience the process of making soba noodles. I say process, but it was pretty close to art. They follow a very specific process. It's pretty incredible to watch, and really fun to participate in. Some of the chefs had been making soba noodles for upwards of twenty years. One of the chefs even grew his own soba on a nearby mountain. Not to brag or anything, but the chef helping my group said that I should teach him to cut noodles. Soba is a pretty common dish and it can be done several ways, by adding meat and other things, but we just dipped the noodles in soy sauce. It's quite good.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Remember to Give Thanks

I used to think we started celebrating Christmas early, but they don't have Thanksgiving to ease them into the holidays. There were already advertisements before Halloween was even over. Thanksgiving is an American holiday, so I nearly forgot about it and let it pass me by this year.

But I did remember Thanksgiving, and this was the first Thanksgiving away from home. Everyone says they're thankful for friends and family, but I especially was this year - precisely because I was spending it away from them. I felt their absence. I'm so grateful for the people at home, and I'm grateful for the people I've met here. I've come to appreciate a lot of things from both places. It's been a huge privilege to be able to cross the ocean and come to another country to live for several months. I really do appreciate the opportunity and everyone who helped make it possible. I'm grateful for the people I've met and the experiences I've had. And I'm also grateful for home. I realise all the things I took for granted and how important they were for me (not the least of which was my mother's cooking!). It makes me grateful that they're not gone, that I'm going back to those things soon. I'm recognising all the things I have right now to appreciate and all the things I've had and will have that I should be mindful of. Once you start to count your blessings, you realise how countless they are

Sunday, November 18, 2018

1 Month

Photo Credit: 123Calendars

It seems like having an entire semester to study abroad is a lot of time. You have a long list of things you want to do and places you want to go, and then the time passes pretty quickly. I thought coming for a semester was a long time - since lots of study abroad trips are only a couple of weeks - but so many people here are commenting on how short it is. Most students are here for at least a year.

Photo Credit: 123Calendars
Sometimes three months seems like quite a duration and sometimes it seems so short. It depends on what you're focusing on. It seems like a long time when you think of the separation from family and friends, etc., but it seems short when you think of how much there is to do, especially when most of the time is really spent on classes. Most people say that the time flies - some say it's too long, and they couldn't wait to get back - but I think it's both.
Photo Credit: 123Calendars

Photo Credit: 123Calendars
I've lived here for months, and it's already become quite familiar; my time here seems to be waning so quickly. At the same time, I anticipate going home and enjoying Christmas with family, etc.

People make everything all-or-nothing, but it's really a mix. It's good to look forward to what's coming and remember what's happened, but it's important to be notice the present and appreciate it too. I have to remind myself to enjoy where I am and what I have. If I don't appreciate now, the memories of the past become bitter and the anticipations for the future become grey, and they all lose their values. It's not a new idea, but that doesn't make it any less real or true

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Poppy

Photo Credit: Oatcakes

Veteran's Day. Remembrance Day. Armistice Day. There are various names and various traditions for the date, but the world is united by commemoration.

Photo Credit: csfotoimages on iStock

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the day World War I ended: 11 November 1918. It was called the "Great War" and supposed to be the "war to end all wars."
Photo Credit: lufer(REPUBLICA DE CALIFORNIA) on Pinterest
In England, they wear the poppy flower to commemorate the soldiers. The tradition developed from the poem "In Flanders Field," written by the Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae when he saw poppies burgeon from the battlefield wasteland

Photo Credit: Sam P. on Flickr

This is the power of art - when words and images coalesce to touch the world

Sunday, November 4, 2018

One Hundred Years Ago...

One hundred years ago, World War I ended.

It was a war that shook the entire world and demonstrated how devastating wars can be. It revealed advances in warfare that no one was prepared for. Dan Carlin has an excellent podcast series on World War I called Blueprint for Armaggedon, and he discusses, in detail, how shocking the war was - unlike anything that had come before; no one could have imagined it. (The series has 6 episodes, each 3-4 hours long, and the introduction is fairly lengthy, but they really are extremely impressive and worth the time - highly recommend). It was an absolute, unprecedented, inconceivable horror. 

We know it was a terrible war - we heard about it; we read about it - but the British experienced it. We were touched by it, but we didn't live through it like they did. We came in late, and we were at a safe distance. For the British, they were in almost immediately from the beginning, and they suffered massively in every way. It was felt sorely by the entire country, and the country still mourns the losses today. There are memorials all over the country - on roadsides, within churches, in city centres, schools, parks. They are integrated into daily life. You will pass by memorials several times a day wherever you go, in any city, and people still talk about them; they aren't just ignored or forgotten. It was only one hundred years ago, and it shook the nation to the core. The effects are still visible today. You can see how houses have been rebuilt and major buildings are still being restored, more commemorations are still being built. World War I was a world war, and it shook the entire world, but it wasn't the same for us, for the US

Birthday weekend

My birthday was on Thursday, so that night Ayame, Yuuka, Yuka, and Rei came over with food and I made pancakes. We hung out for a while, and it was an enjoyable end to my birthday. On Friday came the real fun. Yuuka went with me to Moriyama to get my latest tattoo. I was sort of hoping it would be done in the traditional Japanese tattooing method, but it was done with a gun. I'm happy with it none the less. That evening, a group of the international students went out to a restaurant, and later karaoke. It was a good time. The people here are wonderful.

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