Sea

Winter in Toyama Prefecture

There’s something about the humidity in Japan that makes the cold feel much colder. I’ve spent a lot of nights huddled under my Kotatsu and days layered in heat-tech. Apparently Toyama used to get feet of snow in the winter, but in the last few years it’s stayed very tame. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWhile we’ve had a few legitimate snowstorms this year, the snow has generally stayed minimal to nonexistent. Luckily for me, as a Canadian with lots of experience with snow I don’t mind the weather too much. But, I do miss having central heating… One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about living in Japan (or anywhere cold really) is to learn how to thrive in the winter. I’ve kept this idea in the back of my head this winter.

We’re lucky to have some amazing ski hills South in the prefecture. I went with friends last Saturday and I think it’s the best conditions I’ve ever had. There was a ton of powder from the snowstorm the day before, and almost no one on the hill. I’m not sure how that happened, but it made for an awesome day. It was also Valentine’s day and the man operating the top of the lift very kindly gave us all chocolate. ❤

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When it isn’t snowing or raining I try to walk to and from school. Last week I took a longer route home so I could walk along the water. There’s a strange feeling about seeing a shore or beach in the winter, at least for me. But it was really beautiful and made me appreciate the winter weather more.

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Scuba diving in Bali

As a big swimmer and more importantly,  an eternal fan of The Little Mermaid, I’ve always loved being in the water. And yet the idea of taking the plunge, so to speak, to scuba dive has never crossed my mind for more than a few seconds. Once was when in High School my teacher talked about scuba diving in a pool, which sounds a bit boring doesn’t it? Also my familiarity with open bodies of water is limited to the Great Lakes which don’t seem very appealing for diving, although I’ve heard that Kingston (Ontario that is!) is a big pull for people who like to explore shipwrecks.

It started off very technical when we put all the equipment on (wet-suits and flippers) and hopped into a pool. We practiced breathing from the air tanks, how to pop our ears (some snot mayyy have made an appearance) and hand signals. The we scuba-dived (scuba-dove?)! In the pool! The hardest part was adjusting the new weight I had on my back and to the buoyancy. Our instructor showed me how to properly put on my mask so it wouldn’t fill with water. I didn’t think this would be my biggest struggle, but it was. Incidentally now I know why I always have so much problems with my mask when I go snowboarding (lol). I also didn’t think to bring a hair elastic so my hair was often plastered to my face above water. Our guide would push it back against my head in the way someone might push a small child’s hair out of the way when they’re eating ice cream. Not because you think they can’t do it but because you know they’re busy with more important things (ice cream).

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Then we made our way down to the beach and plunked ourselves in the water. And there we were!  We went under and started swimming around. Perhaps floating is a better word – it turns out that you actually shouldn’t move to much while underwater. You shouldn’t use your hands too paddle forward because it throws off your body position and all you need is slow, stead up and down movements with your feet to allow your flippers to move you forward. You also have to remember to breathhhheee. It’s like when you’re at the gym doing weights or something and you suddenly realize you’ve been holding your breath. You have to keep breathing, slowly in and quickly out.

So I was in the midst of doing all this, thinking about breathing, thinking about my arms, and I suddenly looked around me and realized I WAS UNDERWATER. It is an insanely surreal experience. To feel weightless in water, and be able to move any direction and look at anything. I realized it was how I felt when I’ve flown in my dreams. And what I imagine flying might be like if my one superpower was granted. Scuba diving was not exciting in a heart-pounding, adrenaline kind of way. But it was thrilling and otherworldly.IMG_1700Bali

We spent about twenty minutes underwater to have lunch. Walking up the beach for lunch was actually the biggest struggle I had all day because my legs were so weak from climbing Mt. Batur the day before plus now I had a giant air tank on my back! I felt like a toddler just discovering how to walk down stairs.

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We went back into the water for about 40 minutes. We went to see a big sunken ship. I saw a ray, and a HUGE turtle (it must have been like three feet long at least). I posed for a lot of pictures, and upon reviewing them I have truly realized the impact living in Japan has had on me (peace signs in every.single.one. haha). Our instructor and I took a selfie together. I had to mime this underwater but he understood immediately what I was asking.

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A Mashup Of Spring Happenings

The past week or so has been a hodgepodge of work and events. The weather has been alternating between cool and hot… so I’ve been enjoying my fortunate location near the sea. Here is a taste of what’s been going on…

Last weekend I went down to the pier and sat closer and closer to the water to play chicken with the waves. The wind and water were refreshing and I’ve ended up with a pretty impressive and awkward-looking tan on my forearms.

This is the view from the pier looking at the mountains. The odd-shaped buildings are Uozu’s buried-forest museum which I have yet to visit… another thing to add to the to-do list for the next month.

I’m spoiled to have an awesome conveyor-belt sushi place close by, it’s the best place for a quick meal that also happens to be insanely delicious thanks to our proximity to the sea.

I needed to get a wedding present, and having no idea what type of envelope/ how much to give I was generously helped by some kind ladies at the local convenience store. Turns out one of the ladies’ sons is one of my students! What a small world, or at least a small town!

Last weekend was a dance and music festival in Uozu! The night ended with these little lanterns spread out through the park.

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Kind of a lonely image of the room where I have my Japanese lessons. Kind of hints at a more empty version of Vermeer’s room paintings.

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Coca Cola has produced bottles of Coke with popular given names – it’s pretty cute even if it’s just a marketing technique. Hey, if you’re drinking Coke anyway, it’s kinda fun to have your name on it!

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It’s getting hot, which sucks for the people who still have to wear button-ups and suit jackets to work. Cool Biz wear starts soon though!