Sakura in the Fog

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One of the best things about living in Japan is being able to experience Hanami 花見 or cherry blossom viewing. Newspapers print when and where the sakura will be in full bloom. It’s important to plan ahead especially if you want to travel, and many local venues with fill up quickly with viewing parties if the weather is good.

This year in Karatsu spring was quite chilly and the blooming was delayed. Full bloom or mankai 満開 lasts about a week. This year full bloom was pushed back to the first full week of April.

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This year I wanted to check out the park and observatory on top of Kagamiyama or Mt. Kagami. I had been there a few months before to finally check it out. Since this post is about Sakura and I will save it for another post. Anyways when I was there I realized that many of the trees surrounding the fields and parks were Sakura trees. Thus, I decided that this year’s Karatsu ALT Hanami would be at Kagamiyama.

This year we were plagued with cold weather and rain. Luckily the rain was light and most of the blossoms stayed on the trees for the weekend. On the Saturday of the party, the morning was free of rain and actually had a bit of sun. Excited that the weather had turned in our favor we packed up our cars and took the winding drive up the mountain. I regret not having pictures of the drive up. The sakura trees were big, beautiful and in full bloom creating a pink tunnel around the road.

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By the end of the party, we couldn’t see this bridge!

Once at the top, we parked and started to unload. Many people were still skeptical of the weather so there was plenty of space to park and find a perfect viewing spot. But we hadn’t realized that while the weather below the mountain was partially clear and sunny, on top of the mountain the fog was still hanging around.

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A stone table all to ourselves

 

I didn’t mind the fog. It made the park mysterious and oddly beautiful. We nabbed a viewing spot near a stone table with a past peak tree hanging overhead that dropped pink blossom onto our picnic. In an odd way, it was sort of perfect.

 

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Look at al those cherry blossoms falling!

 

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Remember to take your shoes off!
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Hanami commenced and the snack-age begins.

We got about 2 hours of good cherry blossom viewing, snacking, drinking (what’s hanami without alcohol?), and party games, before the fog thickened and started to rain. While it was a short hanami it was fun and special. It’s not often you get to see sakura bloom in the fog.

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Wait!? I am a DR!?

Wait!- I'm a DR!

Avery is a 2nd year ALT from The Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes A.K.A. Minnesota, USA.

When not puttering around Karatsu in her infamous car Romeo Blue she can be found playing Pokémon Shuffle, writing her blog, and practicing kendo and ikebana. She loves trying new things, dancing in her kitchen, and long conversations over tea and coffee at her favorite Karatsu haunts.

Above is my introduction as a new District Representative (DR) on the Saga JET Website. At the Saga Winter Conference I decided to run for one of two DR positions in the Tomatsu District of Saga Prefecture – and low and behold I got votes! I along with my new partner in crime Ashlyn are the new DRs for the year.

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My profile picture

This means that we are in charge of host and organizing events in and around Tomatsu/Karatsu, help out with the new ALT orientation in July, and assist all the Tomatsu ALTs with questions, comments, and concerns regarding daily life in Japan.

Here are a few things we are currently working on:

  1. Karatsu Pub Night aka Trivia Night
  2. Mongolian Restaurant Trip
  3. JET Leavers Party
  4. Revamping the Orientation Packets (mostly we are adding garbage disposal info)

And finally, along with becoming a DR I have volunteered to help out with the Saga Jet website. The site helped me get ready for JET/Japan and has continued to be helpful during my first year. I look forward to maintaining and improving it along with the other volunteer ALTs.

If you are a prospective JET and have questions or concerns regarding  the JET Program and daily life in Japan feel free to leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Day 3: A Sudden Reflection on Packing

I forgot how nervous I become when I start packing.

It’s a process. I started last weekend and over the course of the week my stomach pinched and filled with butterflies.

The thing is I’m not nervous about JET or moving to Japan. I’m actually excited about the venture. No, I am nervous about packing up and unpacking in my new home. Over my travels I have lived out of my suitcase/back pack and never fully unpacked or made a place my own – not even when I lived in New York City for eight months. My roots have been split between home base and my suitcase. This time I travel as a worker who has a new home and job. Instead of a suitcase and a back pack I get two large suitcases and a carry-on to pack up me. I thought there would be too much room until I started packing up my home life.

I am not moving furniture or household goods. Instead I pack my entire essence – from precious knickknacks to hobbies to pretty dress clothes – things I wouldn’t even consider packing on a typical adventure. I don’t know if I can fit it all. What started out larger now seems small -or at least not enough.

There is a vulnerability in putting roots in a new place, a new culture, and knowing no one. You get to put a piece of yourself in a brand new place.  I am scared of what will happen when I put the last item away and stow away the luggage. Once again I chose to jump into the unknown and put myself out in the open as if to say ‘Well? What do you think?’

I find comfort in that I have done this many times before with the only difference being this abstract idea of permanence and grounding yourself in a physical space. My college experience around the world gave me the tools and training to handle whatever comes my way. In the end I find comfort in the phrase “You’ll figure it out.” Because I know it is true.

My bags are 90% packed and I have two days left before I fly to Chicago to meet the Midwest group. In place of anxiety excitement grows and the sadness of leaving home turns into fondness and strength. I might always be a little half-packed in life but home is all around me.

Happy Travels

Avery