raccoongirl

appreciating and living one NOW at a time


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Little things #1

Last Friday, I went to the post office/bank near Okaido. There were three things that I needed to do. First, I had to mail some documents. Second, I needed a new bank book. And third, I needed to change my account confirmation from the “signature” to “stamp” from a hanko, which is the standard signature in Japan. The first two tasks were a breeze and it only took about less than 2 minutes for each task to be done. The third task took about more than 30 minutes and more than three apologies from the bank staff. Apparently, the change from “signature” to “hanko stamp” needed some communication with another office (main bank?) and my bank account name from katakana will be changed to romaji. I had to fill up a form for the changes, and the bank staff (as always) was very helpful, kind, and patient with my basic level of Japanese speaking and writing skills. As earlier said, the bank staff profusely apologised for making me wait for a long time. I answered her that it is perfectly okay for me to wait and I understand that the process needs time. After about a little more than 30 minutes, I had my new bank book with my name in romaji in it as well as my stamp. Upon receiving the new bank book, she gave me a small present as a small apology for the waiting time. Waiting for 30 minutes in the bank was actually nothing compared to the waiting time in my country. I spent the 30 minutes reading the news thru my mobile phone so I didn’t really feel bored. Just the same, in my 3 and a half years of stay in Japan, I was again amused and impressed with Japanese customer service and efficiency.

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Onsen (温泉)

In my two years of stay in Japan, I have developed a vice of going to onsen (hot spring baths/public bath houses). Yes, I love going to onsen and I go there almost every weekend. Yes, you might have an idea already of a public bath house so it means being naked and sharing the bath facilities and the tub water with lots of people!

Onsen waters are geothermally heated and usually contains dissolved minerals which are said to heal some injuries or illnesses, and many say it does wonder to your skin! Mainly though, the purpose of onsen is for physical and mental relaxation. Personally, I go to onsen because of all the said benefits as well as I believe the hot spring baths does wonders to blood circulation (I have irregular menstruation..errr should I be saying this at all?…and going to onsen helps my cycle to be regular), improve body metabolism (alternative for dieting! haha), and a skin therapy.

I have been lucky to live just a kilometre away from the oldest onsen in Japan, the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. It has an impressive history of 3,000 years! The main building (see below’s picture) is a national important cultural property. You can read about Dogo onsen in its official website www.dogo.or.jp/pc/honkan/index_eng.htm

 

Dogo Onsen

The cost of taking a bath in Dogo Onsen is 400yen (Kaminoyu, Lower floor fee). kaminoyu second floor fee of 800yen will have you wear Japanese summer kimono called yukata, and drink Japanese tea and eat rice crackers. There are other options for you to enjoy your experience in Dogo Onsen (see above website).

 

 

As Dogo Onsen is usually crowded (as expected) with tourists, I just go here once in two months. I mostly go to  another onsen house called Tsubaki no yu. Literally, it means Camellia water. Camellia is Matsuyama City’s official flower. Tsubaki no yu is right next to Dogo Onsen and offers the same source of hot spring water. The cost of taking a bath is 360yen and you have to pay 10yen for the use of a locker space. It has a larger area for lockers and changing as well as bathing space. Tsubaki no yu is more of a local community’s onsen so it’s usual to hear many obaasan (aunt) and obaachan (grandmothers) say hello and chitchat with each other.

 


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The Man and his Intellectual Dream

It all began with a desire to share information to other people who have no access to it. Back that up with a vision that education be fair, a mind full of ideas, a body that is disciplined, and a heart full of joy, the dream is becoming real…step by step.

I have always admired the man who started it all. He has a penchant in reading various kinds of books. ‘Tis the first trait which made me take an interest and really listen to him.  His wise introspection of things carries me within and stirs the creative side of me. His ideas are put into actions and are always in schedule. He talks about bringing fair education to every child of any nation. He is excited and passionate whenever he talks about these things (note: this makes him young!). And with the conviction, he will end his piece by saying “step by step, we will make it realize”. With a prayer, smile, and heart full of love for this man, I say “I’m in.”

Cheers to the man and  his intellectual dream!


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The art of sleeping during seminars

 

….nodding as if agreeing with the speaker

 

 

 

 

 

…one hand supporting the head as if listening intently but the hand sufficiently covers the   closed eyes

 

 

 

 

 

…another type of hand support. hand on the forehead as if reading intently. most common art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…analyzing the chair textile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…hiding behind the person in front of you

…wiping with hair/smelling/kissing the table. this requires no artistic ability. just sheer confidence especially when the professor is given full view because he is seated at the back.