I’ve been in Japan for almost a month now! Amazing! I feel like I’m finally getting settled in, and eager to explore more of the places around me. It was a busy week for trying new things:
I’ve been taking more time to do self-care and treat myself to things, to counteract the emotional rollercoaster of living in a new country separate from loved ones. Takasaki Station itself is attached to the Montres mall, and a 5 minute walk will also bring you to OPA mall. After work, I have been starting to explore these malls, and there are a lot of awesome shops (particularly clothing shops)! In the highest irony, as American malls are dying, I am quickly becoming a mall rat in Japan.
Moff Animal Cafe
The Moff Cat Cafe in the OPA mall was super cute. I was feeling bummed about something or other, so I decided to spend the money and go pet some cats. Moff cat cafe boasts many cats and apparently one ferret (which I did not see). Most of the cats were chilling or sleeping. Obviously, these cats are very accustomed to humans. They didn’t even raise their heads as I approached them. As I pspspsps‘d to one of the cats, it hit me with a stare a la Manet’s Olympia. A knowing and indifferent stare, I am just one customer of many customers before and many to come after.
Some of the other cats were more energetic. There was a Bengal-type cat that was jumping around everywhere. There was a little kid playing with the cat and it was super cute.
In addition to cat cafes, there are also just a bunch of feral cats that roam the city and countryside.
This has been an eventful week, so I will be posting more blogs this week centered around different topics.
Here’s a bonus picture regarding cats, in case you don’t want them around your house (the feral cats here are super vocal) or jumping on your counters, I have a product for you: Don’t cat!
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So, there’s a giant goddess statue (Byakue Dai-Kannon) on one of the mountains in Takasaki. There is a festival every year called the candlelight festival. I’m not really sure of the cultural significance of the festival, to be honest. Here are some pictures and videos of the festivities:
In addition to the beautiful candles, there were some awesome performances as well:
I’m really sad, because I didn’t film the one dance with swords, but there were too many people sitting in front of me. The performers were absolutely amazing!
It’s always hard to close one chapter of your life and be prepared for the next one. I feel like I had just gotten settled into my new apartment in North Hollywood when it was time to go. Leaving for Japan was bittersweet and different the last time I went to go live abroad for an extended period of time. When I was 22, I was unattached and also clueless about a lot of life skills necessary to be a fully functioning adult. Eight years later, and my situation is completely different: leaving behind my little urban life and my loved ones.
Orientation was jam packed with seminars and useful information. I didn’t really sleep the first three days because my room-mate snored horribly, so I was basically wandering around the hotel at odd hours of the night and slowly descending into delirium. I met a lot of interesting people during meal times but I never actually made it out to explore Tokyo as I got sick from some combination of lack of sleep, jet lag, and mingling with people from all over the world.
Wednesday was also jam packed: After a bus ride to Gunma, I got to meet with the Japanese English teachers that I would be working with; they are the sweetest people! They drove me to city hall to do some paperwork, then to get my bank account, next to grab my luggage from the high school and introduce me to the principal and vice principal, then finally to my apartment in Takasaki. My landlady took pity on me, as I had been blowing my nose all day and probably looked like the walking dead, and drove me to the store to get some groceries and some medicine. Finally, I got to sleep. Glorious sleep! The next day, my predecessor helped me get on the train to my high school. I came home, went to sleep at 8pm. On Friday, I introduced myself in the limited Japanese that I have to all of the teachers at my high school. I have to give a speech in Japanese during my appointment ceremony and also during the larger school ceremony later.
Finally, on Saturday, I was feeling well enough to go out and explore. Saturday also happened to be the time that the Takasaki Matsuri festival was happening. I decided to try to meet up with some other JETs and watch the fireworks. I got lost along the way, but ended up getting some awesome pictures of some taiko drummers:
After the heavy rains kept us off the trails for months, we finally headed down to Anza Borrego to see the desert super bloom. It was awesome to see the pop of color across the normally monochrome desert.