6/4/12 – 11:14
If you turn of your music and listen closely, you can hear a faint whimpering coming from this blog entry and possibly the blog itself. That, my dear friends, is the sound of neglect. It is also the sound of me being too wrapped up in a whirlwind of ending that I forgot to record it all as it was happening. For that, readers, I apologize. But now that you know I am safely home, I can tell you the events leading up to me sitting at the computer in my room writing this entry in Tarantino-esque fashion.
This entry will cover the period of time from the week before graduation up until a little after graduation itself. After the hurricane of finals and sleepless nights that kept everyone really cranky and on edge was a very nice [and often overlooked] calm after the metaphorical storm. At that time was when everybody was really realizing the overwhelming 実感 that after a few more weeks of this wonderful adventure-filled life that we’ve been living as exchange students, we’d all be packing up and being shipped off back to whatever corner of the world that we came from. And as such, a lot of people freaked out and had to decide how to spend their remaining days in Japan-land, myself included.
For me, the 一人旅 lover that I am, there were a whole bunch of ventures to visit my favorite spots one more time. Incidentally, a lot of these were in Kyoto. Fushimi Inari Shrine. Book-Off Sanjo. Kiyomizu Temple. Loft. Book-off Shijo. etc. I also found the time to do last-minute souvenir shopping and basically a lot of enjoying myself and splurging a little because what the hell it’s my last week in Japan.
Not that every place I went was an old haunt. I figured I had to visit Arashiyama during the daytime because I hadn’t yet and it proved to be extremely calming and solidified my love for Kyoto and its environs. There was also ほうじ茶 ice cream [ice cream made with tea plant stems, I believe] and it blew green tea ice cream out of the water making it currently my favorite tea-related ice cream. It was a very tea-ful day, actually. Milk tea. Tea leaves. Tea Ice cream.
After heading back from Arashiyama back to Kawaramachi in the center of Kyoto, I was contacted by Ayame to see if I wanted to hang out which was nice because I didn’t have anything to do and as insinuated previously, it is my favorite city in the world. I waited around Book Off Sanjo again because I’m a nerd like that until she came, and she brought along Zawa-chan, Issei, and Haruka too! Now it’s a party, haha. We went to a great Korean 丼 place near Shijo which I am severely disappointed to say that I only found out about when I had a week left to enjoy it, and followed it up with ridiculous shenanigans at a parfait place [oh my God, do the Japanese love their fancy parfaits]. Not only did they have the regular chocolate, vanilla, maccha, almond, hazelnut, peanut, fudge, etc. They also had some wacky ones like 納豆 [natto] and 醤油 [soy sauce] parfaits which I was just a little bit too scared to try. But anyway, it was at that fancy parfait place that we learned for maybe the millionth time that 1) Presentation is key in Japanese cuisine and 2) my 50 mm lens makes everything and everyone look prettier than they do in real life. Ayame is an exception though. She really is that cute and bubbly in real life.
After being sufficiently stuffed with all sorts of the best food that Kyoto can offer [on a budget], Hiroki suggested we stroll down the Kamogawa [the river that splits central Kyoto in two.] The atmosphere there is always convivial [I am unsure if I am using the word correctly and I am too lazy to check] and lively [I hope this is what “convivial” means]. It was all in all a really relaxing time and one of the memories that I’ll hold on to. Watching the river reflect the lights of Kyoto on either side as people mill about behind you just chilling and watching the street performers is definitely something to put on a bucket list, let me tell you.
The following days were filled with much of the same hanging out with friends type deals. Mostly in izakayas, sometimes at houses, always fun and memory-filled.
Also, a solar eclipse happened. I guess it wasn’t the apocalyptic earth-shattering event that I had imagined in my mind, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. Everyone at seminar house almost burnt their eyes out trying to look at it but fortunately [unfortunately?] there was cloud cover at some point so that we were able to see it once we attached three pairs of sunglasses together.
And then there was graduation. It actually wasn’t graduation though, because not all of us were graduating and our “degrees” actually said 修了証書 which basically means “completion certificate.” Yay for completing Gaidai’s Asian Studies Program! Even so, for some people it was their actual graduation from undergraduate studies so
congraduation congratulations to them. And by them I mean Julia. And because this was Julia’s for realsies graduation, I gladly obliged Julia’s request to do a graduation photo shoot for her.
More or less a success considering what little equipment, experience, and planning I had.
And then the partying resumed. Now that graduation was over and done with, everyone started to disappear. People were going home left and right and before that happened there just HAD to be a さよなら party. Or two. Or three. Or five.
☑ Karaoke until the sun comes up
☑ Conveyor-belt sushi with some of the best people in the world
☑ Picking 大吉 [the best fortune] at Yasaka Jinja telling me that East is a good direction for me and that all my dreams will come true.
☑ Having Indian food at New Delhi one last time before I went back to America and having fun just being stoopid with all my CIE friends.
☑ Thanks-drinking Day part two with Aiko, Fukuchan, and later Shotaro and Colt and everyone having 飲み放題 at three different establishments one after the other until the first bus at 6:30 in the morning.
Thanks everyone who made my last week and a half the immense success that it was. Truly one of the weeks that’ll stay in my memories forevar.