As December lurks nearby the shops are filled with festive paraphernalia and the preparations for a Browns English Christmas begin. Tom has been feeding booze to dried fruit for Christmas pudding, I believe there are at least two company parties to prepare for and perhaps one for the punters too. Some friends I know started their shopping in October, I’ve not started mine yet eep. It seems that Christmas is a much bigger deal here than I thought. I haven’t seen the coca cola advert yet though…
I had promised some blurry pictures taken from the Sagano Railway in Arashiyama but there was a two hour wait and we were hungry so went for ramen and climbed half way up a mountain instead. I did take lots of photos of Arashiyama itself, how could one not? Wow. It’s almost everything I love about Japan in one area, unfamiliar foods and sights filled with beautiful history and lofty mystery. There was also a puppy at the shrine we climbed up to. Next time I go I want to go up to monkey mountain and maybe try the railway again. A pointer for potential tourists is – if you’re going to Arashiyama in November it’s peak time so go EARLY. Here’s one of the views from the shrine, oh look it’s meeeee.
One of my students, Junko, is very talented and makes material for Kimonos on a traditional loom. I had the opportunity to see it for myself on a night of nabe (a sort of delicious hot pot) and saying goodbye to Leon who is a colleague who just moved to Switzerland (gamba te Leon!). Please see the photo below, it’s absolutely huge and I’m utterly impressed by it.
Junko also very kindly invited me to her Salsa class which I attended last week. I tried to practise some of my Japanese on the class which was very hit and miss but ultimately the best thing for my studies. Dancing was great fun but the highlight for me was when the salsa teacher cracked out his shamisen! I was bowled over, what a treat. The class also gave me some Japanese cooking tips and I was very grateful to take home some nori (seaweed) to try.
Last weekend I worked at another festival/market event, this time on the west of town near the Golden Pavillion and Ryoanji. Mitsumi treated me to a traditional Japanese pancake thingy called a Dorayaki which was surprisingly delicious – I tend to be disappointed by Japanese desserts as they aren’t all chocolate brownies but this one hit the spot. I also saw a brass etching workshop, met a violinist who plays in a Swedish folk band, and a lady who kindly showed me her South American guitar like instrument that I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of! She also owns a shop filled with curious and tiny beautifully designed jewellery as well as dolls etc.
Lastly, thanks to some extra blankets (thanks Jeff!) and working out the settings on my air conditioner unit I’m quite a lot warmer this week. Let’s see how I feel in February…
Thanks for reading, adios!