This weekend was the annual Tanabata (七夕) Festival here in Japan. The Tanabata Masturi is also called the ‘Star Festival’, and comes from Qixi Festival in China. I was told by one of my teaching assistants that it’s an old festival about two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who are only able to be together on the seventh day of the seventh month. Everyone prays for clear skies so that they might be able to see each other again across the Milky Way.
Here, people write wishes and prayers on pieces of paper and string them up on trees. If Orihime and Hikoboshi are able to meet, their wishes come true. Most of my students’ wishes were about wanting to grow up and be soccer players or badminton players or comedians, or else wanting a particular toy or other, but there was something really lovely to sitting there helping them write out these things in English on bright orange, pink and blue scraps of paper.
On Sunday, we went out to the festival along Kappabashi-dori, between Ueno Station and Asakusa Station. I have never seen a festival as colourful as this one. It was so, so beautiful.
I turned 22 last week. The day absolutely poured with rain, but it was beautiful and perfect. I spent it with my best friend (who made me choc-chip pancakes for breakfast). I ate sushi for dinner. I bought a yellow skirt with little blue and white houses on it. I spent the day in my favourite city in world.
I find it difficult sometimes to believe that I really live here, that I’m studying my Master’s in Literature and Writing, that I’m getting paid for writing work, that I’m an English teacher to tiny cuties, that I’m healthy, and optimistic and full of so much happiness. I am so lucky, and feel such overwhelming gratitude to the people in my life who have supported me and to myself for working my butt off to be here.
Here is the week of my twenty-second birthday.
This video took an entire week on its own to edit. I worked on it every day, in between teaching shifts, and I’m exhausted but I’m so proud of it. I hope you like it too ~
It’s already halfway through February and I am only just now creating my 2018 reading list … that’s pretty indicative of how quickly this past month and a half have gone.
Last year I really enjoyed documenting my reading on this blog so I have decided that I will do it again this year. Here is my 2018 reading list: all of the bookish things I have read in 2018 (also, I should mention that I’m including my favourite short stories and essays. Not all of them. Just the ones I love and want to remember).
I will continually update this list as the year progresses ~
Books/essays/stories that have been read before will be marked with *
- A Picture of Dorian Gray—Oscar Wilde
- The Miracle of Mindfulness—Thich Nhat Hanh
- A Gathering of Shadows—V.E. Schwab
- A Conjuring of Light—V.E. Schwab
- A Room of One’s Own—Virginia Woolf*
- The Deep—Anthony Doerr
- Peter and Wendy—J.M. Barrie
- Children’s Fantasy Literature—Farah Mendlesohn
- The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature—Farah Mendlesohn
- The Bad Beginning—Lemony Snicket
- The Deep—Anthony Doerr*
- Quest of Her own: Essays on the Female Hero in Modern Fantasy—Lori M. Campbell
- ‘Where’s Mama?’ The Construction of the Feminine in The Hobbit—William H. Green
- Women of Ice and Fire: Gender, Game of Thrones and Multiple Media Engagements—Anne Gjelsvik and Rikke Schubart
- On Fairy-Stories—J.R.R Tolkien
- Tolkien and Modernism—Patchen Mortimer
- ‘The Web of Story’ Structuralism in Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories—Derek Shank
- The Laugh of the Medusa—Hélène Cixous
- ‘Because I’m a girl, I suppose!’: Gender Lines and Narrative Perspective in Harry Potter—Melanie J Cordova
- Harry Potter and the Heritage of Gender—Eliza T Dresang
- Women in Game of Thrones: Power, Conformity and Resistance—Valerie Estelle Frankel
- Undoing Gender—Judith Butler
- Fairies, Mermaids, Mothers, and Princesses: Sexual Difference and gender Roles in Peter Pan—Heather E Shipley
- Howl’s Moving Castle—Diana Wynne Jones
- The Invention of Angela Carter—Edmund Gordon
- The Bloody Chamber—Angela Carter
- Children of the Blood and Bone—Tomi Adeyemi
- The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart—Holly Ringland
- Killing Commedatore—Haruki Murakami
I’m from Adelaide. The very first time I saw snow, it was at the beginning of 2017. My boyfriend and I were sitting on a flight between Seoul and Sapporo, and, as we were coming into New Chitose Airport, we were flabbergasted by what we saw though those rounded windows. The ground was covered in a strange white-grey blanket, with the tops of tiny trees and gates and rivers scattered across it. We wondered: was it a lake reflecting the clouds? Did Hokkaido just go through some heinous flooding we hadn’t seen on the news? It took us stupidly long to realise to obvious: it was snow.
So, when the snow began to fall on Tokyo a few weeks ago, I was awed. To have snow falling in these tiny, billowing flakes outside my window—to be able to see that happening, right from the warmth of my writing desk—was absolutely remarkable.
I love snow, though I know that it’s simply a novelty for me. I know that it’s inconvenient and hazardous and soaks my shoes and hurts my toes as I walk to work, but there’s something so enchanting about the purity of it and the way that a person can go to sleep, having walked home on hard ground, and wake up the next day to soft, crunching whiteness covering everything.
The night it happened, we went walking through a park that’s not too far from our apartment. I dove into an untouched patch and made my first snow angel. It was surreal. I felt such innate excitement and wonder, and every worry I had that day dissolved; nothing terrible could happen in a world that snowed this beautifully. For this was magic, manifesting in the only way it can for mere mortals who read fantasy stories rather than live them.
I adored the snow. But spring comes for us at a terrifying rate and soon it will be warm again. The blossoms will come out and the coats folded away. The snow has melted now and I miss it. It came and went so fleetingly, it might have never happened at all.
The first morning of autumn galloped through the vale, rolled over the hills and tumbled onto the towns and villages that sat scattered in the valley. Dragging its chilly winds behind itself, the new season murdered any trace of summer that had been left upon the air. With a great gust, it flung the yellowing leaves over the vale, the crisp confetti finding even the almond orchard, hidden at the edge of the valley, and the witches dozing inside. Elsie woke first. Read More
I’ve made no secret that autumn is, by far, my most favourite season. It comes, I think, with being an autumn baby (… in the Southern Hemisphere. Here I’m a spring baby, which feels odd and wrong so I’m retaining association with Australian seasons).
There’s something beautiful and magical about nature at this time of year. Tyler and I decided to make the most of the lovely weather and went to to the lovely Shinjuku Gyoen Garden. This was the first time I had been and, safe to say, I loved it. I want to go back with a sketch book and a picnic blanket and never leave.
Here are some pictures from the day:
I’ve been taking a bit of a break from the internet over the last couple of weeks and I thought I would write a post about why.
At the end of October I was so determined to get back into a routine and post regular content to YouTube but, unfortunately, I fell ill. Working 6 days a week definitely took its toll on me–I ended up with a terrible cold and subsequent chest infection. Worst of all, I also lost my voice. Funnily enough, being a children’s English teacher (a job which involves a copious amount of singing) makes being sick even more difficult; I basically had to push through the sickness, even though I couldn’t speak loudly and couldn’t hold a tune. Read More