Sunday, January 24, 2016

JSP'12: Miyagi & Tokyo - Final Days

The final spurt! Yay! This chapter is coming to a close (at last) after four years hahahaha I'll be combining the finals days in one post, as it wasn't that eventful for a day-by-day breakdown anyways. Giving myself a pat at the back for persevering through, not sure if I can replicate the same attention to details (hmm questionable) for other trips though hahaha we'll see we'll see! I must say though, this batch of photos looks so much better than the previous post hahahaha the final day in Miyagi was spent on cultural activities with international students!

We did stuff like ikebana (flower arrangement).

Kneeled on tatami mats for traditional tea ceremony.

Our legs were certified dead after the experience hahaha

Make kimono out of origami, I made two of these hahaha greedy.


Tried on traditional kimono too!

 and then the guide told me that its actually for weddings hahahaha fml 

Bento lunch. 

I love the variety of colors in the meals we've had. Everything seems so simple, and the portions are not that big but you definitely feel really full after, probably due to the variety of textures and tastes. The green powder on the bottom left, that's green tea salt to dip the tenpura vegetables in. I still remember how good it tasted until today! Damn, they should have it here in restaurants! After lunch, it was an afternoon of talks where we hear about international students' experiences on living and studying in Japan. Mannn, I want to live and study in Japan too. 

Then it's makan time again hehe we had buffet, look at my dessert haul. Ah youth.

Unglam night spent doing laundry hahahaha I had to go right back to university after this trip and I've got a week's worth of dirty clothes. Might as well do laundry right away since the facility is there. Bonus laundry room selfie!

There's also a communal bath which I dared not challenge at the time hahahaha 

Next day's #ootd color scheme, a bit on the aggresive side lol

The hotel staff made banners to see us off and stood in the cold to wave for the longest time!

Bento lunch in the bus. Lotsa meat and fried stuff mmm.

By the time we arrived Tokyo, it was already late afternoon almost evening as the bus kindly made several stops at the rest areas along the way. We checked-in to Shinagawa Prince Hotel and rested, before heading out for dinner. After dinner, free time exploring the city! We went to Shinjuku this time!

Hmm maybe we got out of the less-happening exit, but Shinjuku didn't really met my expectations hahahaha it wasn't as vibrant or effervescent as I thought it'd be. I believe it was this visit that shaped my lacklustre impression towards Shinjuku. It is only until a few years later that I regained a more favourable impression hahahaha more about that (muchhh) later lolol after a short exploration, we gave up searching for excitement. With the train service ending soon, we went back to the hotel. I stayed-in and watched Nino cook hahahahah no joke, Arashi every day on the tele! It's always so fascinating to watch him do things, and see which hand he uses since he's naturally left-handed yet trained since young to use his right hand too.

A good night's rest after that and an early morning on the following day. Important day! We were invited to visit Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the organizers of the Japan Study Program 2012. Without them, we wouldn't be there! I even brought along my baju kurung to fancy it up a little hahahaha there were some short talks on education in Japan before each of us were called out on-stage to receive an official certificate of participation. 

On our way to lunch, spotted this lonely tree blooming in the midst of skyscrapers! 


It was so unexpected! Everyone went crazy and started snapping photos like mad. The guides just smiled understandingly and allowed us as much time as possible. Here it was snowing just days before in Tokyo, and now flowers have started blooming to welcome spring. Thinking back, this was just two weeks before the sakura season, which may be why certain trees have warmed up in advance and started blooming so beautifully. Here's a selfie because I was one of the firsts to run over for my shot (kiasu tak) now have to wait for everyone else lol I haven't discovered concealer at this point of life, which explains the dark circles under my eyes hahahah

After lunch, went back to hotel to freshen up and again, free time to explore the city! This time, in daylight instead of night hahahaha bought candy from a little seasonal fair at the hotel lobby. These homemade rosehip candies were so damn good, I still remember it so clearly. Urgh want. 

Attacked Harajuku!

Got Converse shoes for like RM90 - still wear it until today!

Next morning, it was time to fly back to Malaysia boohoo

Not before a group shot of fellow Malaysians!

Ferris wheel on the way to airport.

Back in Narita Airport.

Saw a familiar figure from the corner of my eyes. Hi Nino ♥

Boarding soon oh noes

Boarding real real soon oh noooes

Bye Japan #uglysobs

So lucky to be flying JAL! Here's the lunch meal set hehe

Watched VS Arashi in the plane! The air was so dry I couldn't take it, mask on!

And that officially wraps up the Japan Study Program 2012. Man, it was such an amazing experience. Once in a lifetime. I'm so glad my first ever trip to this beautiful country happened like this so unexpectedly, I wouldn't have it any other way. I owe it all to the Japanese class teacher who nominated me for this program. Since then, many participants have gone to live and study in Japan, even until today. Hope one day I can be in that category too. 

Thank you, Japan.

JSP'12: Miyagi - Ninth Day

That's right, we're back on this topic! Moving forward from where we left off, the Japan Study Program continues with a bus ride from Sendai, Miyagi to Matsushima, Miyagi. But first, fill up the tummies!

Started the day with a typical Japanese breakfast.

 Nattou, scrambled eggs, grilled fish, rice, miso soup, fresh salad.

The journey to Matsushima took a little less than an hour. 

This is also one of main areas directly affected by the tsunami and earthquake disaster back in March 2011. Fortunately, its most popular attraction played a vital role in protecting the town from major damages. In comparison with the last  area from my previous post, buildings were still standing strong, business as usual.

On this day, we visited the famous Matsushima Bay.

Matsushima Bay is dotted with more than 200 little islands (apparently there's a term for it - "islets" lol fancy) with pine trees growing on them. When disaster stuck in 2011, these many islets (chewah) buffered the tsunami waves and protected the town. It is known to be one of the country's three most scenic views for centuries, alongside Amanohashidate (ARGH WANT) and Miyajima. For the best views, you'd have to take a sightseeing boat from Matsushima Pier and there are different courses that takes you around the area!

I really enjoyed the ride, fresh sea breeze, squawking seagulls and all. The islets were everywhere in front, back, left, right that I think if I have OCD, I'd have to run around the boat for the complete view of every single islet. I didn't though duh just stood in one spot and soaked it all up. Really nice. After the cruise, we took a short walk to Zuiganji Temple, said to be the region's most prominent Zen temples. Until today, it remains as one of the most beautiful temples that I've ever been to. Really. Less talk, photo spam below! 

Main entrance of Zuiganji.

Walkway lined with reaaaaally tall cedar trees. 

So quiet and beautiful.

Omikuji zoom-in

Daruma zoom-in

The most unusual daruma I've ever seen!

The Zen Kitchen, apparently.

More daruma.

The temple grounds are wide, lined with caves and litte points of interests.

There's also a small area lined with restaurants and souvenir shops.

Zunda KitKat, a regional specialty. Zunda is ground beans, usually eaten with mochi.

It seems so cold in this photo, but I honestly don't remember it being that cold. 

I'd gladly come back to Matsushima again just to take my time and stroll about here again!

After all that walking and exploring, lunch time, yay!

After lunch, we departed back to Sendai and well, I promptly fell asleep in the bus. 

Got jolted awake when it stopped at the next destination and I was a little confused when these sights greeted me. Field?? School field? Football field? Oh boy we're doing physical stuff aren't we. 

Damn right we were. FOOTBALL. 

See those white stuff at the corners? That's snow. Legit snow. 

We were going to play football in winter, in the snow. 

Time to take off the coats and put on team vests, as the professional footballers from Vegalta Sendai shared some basic moves for noobs like us to learn. After a short bit of practice, we're separated into smaller teams and well, let the games begin. I was assigned the goalkeeper role on the first time, which I didn't really suck at. On the second and third game I took the uhm other role of running around chasing the ball, which I did suck at. The winter cold didn't seem to matter anymore as we seriously worked out quite a sweat! We all had fun though!

 Group photograph with our kind coaches. Find me! Hahahaha