Jan 2, 2016

Autumn turns to Winter ...kinda...

If you ever get a chance, try to see Japan in Autumn. The leaves turn that perfect color of red and yellow, the air is the perfect temperature, and the whole country just seems so alive after nearly melting to death over the summer. 

My autumn was pretty relaxing, mostly just work, trying not to get stressed, and trying to further adapt to life here in Japan. But it was also very enjoyable! I didn't get to travel anywhere special, but I got to see some pretty amazing things without going far.

I'm really lucky to live in kansai, which is known for its beautiful autumn colors. There are many other famous places to see fall colors in Japan that I want to see, but this year I was not disappointed in what kansai had to offer.

I took a day trip to Kyoto, in part to see an exhibit at a museum, but also to see the fall colors there. They were beautiful enough in Kobe, but Kyoto was really something else. It was hard to capture the beauty on camera... and they weren't even at their peak (which is very closely monitored in Japan).

Kyomizu-dera in particular was amazing, though we couldn't stick around to see the trees lit up at night. We were able to catch the sunset there though, which was really something else. 

Through October and especially in November I was gearing up to take the JLPT, which took a lot of effort. I still don't know my results, but I think I passed. Studying made my life really busy and really stressful for a while, but I'm lucky to have some amazing friends and coworkers in my life here in Japan that were very encouraging.

Speaking of friends and people. I started dating someone here in Kobe. I still don't know where its going, if anywhere, and its different from any relationship I've been in before, so its sometimes hard to navigate though things. But I'm happy, and that's the main thing, isn't it? 

He's a really nice guy, but he works a lot making it sometimes hard to hang out and see each other. But, when we do, its always a great time and I really enjoy spending time with him and talking to him.

In early December, after my JLPT exam we went to see the luminarie together, which Kobe is famous for. It's an annual light display in central Kobe, dedicated to the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The display is a little different each year. Though this was my first time attending, I've seen lots of pictures online in the past. It's much more beautiful in real life though.

The lines were huge to walk through the tunnel, and at the end there is a park with more illuminations as well as dozens of food and snack stands, matsuri style. We went on a Sunday, probably the busiest day of the week long event, and I was tired from the exam earlier in the day, so it was hard to enjoy walking around and waiting in line for food, but it was still a great time. The lights and yummy food made it worth it.

Autumn was really long here - sometimes I wonder if its really winter even now in January. It's still 5-10C outside usually, and there is no snow at all, barely any frost in the mornings even. Still feels like 'autumn' to me most days. I didn't even buy a jacket until about the middle of December, and even then its a lot lighter than ones I'm used to buying in Canada. Others I talk to say that this year is a bit warmer than usual, not that it gets that cold here. Nothing like Kamloops or other parts of Canada that's for sure. It's nice though. I'm going to be such a baby when I go back to Canadian winters.

So, that about sums up my fall and early winter!
But there is one last thing before I go...

I've signed up to stay another year! It's not official till I have an "interview" in January, but its pretty much guaranteed that I will stay for sure until summer 2017. Anyone that knows me isn't surprised, besides, one year is really to short to really enjoy living here, especially when there isn't a job or grad school or anything pulling be back home. Now that I know I'm staying, I feel like I can really start to grow some roots here - my apartment is coming more and more together, and I've started looking into hobbies and things to keep me sane in my free time. I'm really feeling more and more like I'm living here, not just visiting.