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I Left my Heart in Hakone

Since getting home, I’ve been putting off uploading the last few pictures from my Hakone trip. I’m sure everyone is well and truly sick of my going on and on about it, but it was a really influential time and it’s so special to me, so I wanted to share as much of it as possible. (Also, this is the last post, I promise) After the first day was over–and I was considerably tuckered out–I checked into the Hakone Lake Hotel. Generally, when I travel, my partner and I say in the cheapest accommodation possible but this was a work trip, so I got to stay somewhere a tad on the fancy side. It was such a treat for me. I felt so special, but, at the same time, I also felt a little out of place with my tawdry backpack and beaten up Converse. Dinner was something else entirely. Flower petals on the sashimi. Flower petals. All-you-can-eat tempura. The most mouth watering tofu/horse mackerel that’s ever existed. A tiny burner cooking pork-wrapped asparagus. I died like …

The Most Beautiful Tea House: Amazake Chaya

Hidden in the Hakone mountains, a 15 minute drive from Moto-Hakone, is the most magical and otherworldly kissaten that’s ever existed. Having just eaten lunch and explored Hakone Jinja Shrine, I was excited to head up into the trees and spend an hour sipping tea and eating mochi. What I wasn’t excited for was the journey there. My itinerary specifically told me to take a taxi. I had only taken one single taxi in my life, and that was back in Australia where I knew the driver could speak English. Because of that, I was really nervous. But, thankfully, it turned out well; my taxi driver was absolutely lovely. He didn’t speak a word of English and got way too excited when I tried to talk to him in Japanese. We talked about the rain. And kangaroos. Naturally. (later, I found out that you could easily take a bus, but anyway…) The tea house, itself, was astounding. A medium-sized cottage with open doors, dirt floors and tables with raw, wooden edges. There was a raised section where you could …

The Time I Took A Pirate Ship Across Lake Ashi

When I agreed travel to Hakone to write an article for GaijinPot, I wasn’t entirely sure what I would get up to. I thought that I would visit some museums and shrines, take a few pretty pictures, and that would be it. I assumed my transit options would be limited to buses and trains, and other such unremarkable modes of transport. I was wrong. Very wrong. On the afternoon of the first day, I found myself on board a pirate ship. But, I wasn’t just on board the pirate ship; I was sitting in the first class section, in a fancy plush armchair, watching the mountains slowly creep past. I had my notebook open in front of me. I scribbled fleeting thoughts and story ideas and notes while the tourist ship sailed through the mildly choppy water. The world was a wash of blue and green and grey like an inky water colour painting, and it was so remarkably beautiful. My phone and my camera both went flat. The cabin was mostly deserted. I was …

Snippets of Odawara

I never really cared for Australian hydrangeas. To be entirely honest, I’d never really given them a second thought. In my mind, they were always background flowers; flowers that belonged on the desks of bougie fashion editors or else in the hallways of well-dressed grandparents, but not something to really pay attention to. Surprisingly, now, they might well be my favourite flower. Every time I see hydrangeas–ajisai (アジサイ ) in Japanese–I get reminded of the day I went to Odawara. The day I went, the ground was still damp from rain. The sky was grey and mottled, and sat in the impasse between black and white that I so strongly associated with the suffocating humidity of the August before. The air was cool, though, unlike in the later summer months, and the sleepy cicadas chirped in their funny little orchestra the entire way between the Romance car platform and the castle where I had been commissioned to take pictures. I only got to spend a couple of hours here.  It was just a quick pit-stop on …

My 5 Favourite Gothic Literature Books

Without a doubt, one of my favourite literary genres of all time is Gothic. I stumbled onto this genre after choosing a class themed around it at university; the reading list looked interesting (Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson etc.), and so I popped it onto my enrollment list for that year. What I didn’t realise was that, in chosing this class, I would discover an amazing genre to which some of my favourite books of all time would belong. So, today, I though I might share some of my favourites with you. Here are my five favourite Gothic lit books!   Frankenstein by Mary Shelley The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

An Ode to Dead Cherry Blossoms

When I moved to Japan in July last year, my major goal was to be able to stay long enough to see the sakura. In March of this year, I was lucky enough to do that. As many of you know, we went through a lot of ups and downs throughout out time here (especially financially), and there were many times where we didn’t know if we would physically be able to afford to be in Tokyo for cherry blossom season. But, thanks to our hard work, that all paid off … Only, I was working so hard, a part of me feels as if I didn’t get to properly appreciate it. It was beautiful, no doubt and I’ll cherish those weeks–the weeks from my first ever cherry blossom season–for the rest of my life (honestly, it was like living in a fairy-tale. Everything was pink; everything was the colour of fairyfloss). But, I was exhausted and burnt out. I never got a moment to really, properly stop and soak it in when the blossoms were at …

Happy Tanabata

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 …