Misty morning in front of Obubu

More about Wazuka!

Wazuka may be a sleepy little town, but there’s a lot to see. Early mornings are especially beautiful, before the mist burns off.

Clock

Vegetable fields, old architecture, and a somewhat out-of-place looking clock… Wazuka aesthetic!

 

Plum at Dawn

Plum blossoms at dawn.

 

Local Flora

More local flora, at Tenmangu shrine.

Apparently there are a lot of wild boar in the area, and in February I could often hear gunshots from the mountains. You can buy boar skins and meat on the main road.

There are countless tiny shrines and Buddhist cemeteries scattered around town.

Graveyard

This building, which I think is a warehouse, is right in front of our door. Not sure how old it is, but it looks very traditionally built, from the ceramic tile roof to the walls made of earth and what looks like straw.

Old architecture

There’s a stream that runs through town, which is lined with cherry blossom trees (not yet blooming). It’s a good place to see birds, of which there are many. I think the bird below is a crane, but I’m not sure… any bird watchers able to help me out?

IMG_3053

That’s all for now! Most of these pictures are from mid-February, and the scenery has already changed as we’re heading into spring. See you next time!

  Moss! 

The three interns at Yamajin tea cafe

Obubu House and Daily Life

Hey everyone, long time no post! My comparative silence here has been a good thing, promise; I’ve been busy experiencing life here in Wazuka. Today I’m going to share a bit more about life at Chez Obubu! 

The picture above is of us interns, hanging out at Yamajin, a local tea shop. We stopped by on a whim, and were welcomed in with friendly conversation. The owner, who chatted with us the whole time, is 74 and has lived in Wazuka his whole life. The tea was, of course, delicious! 

Living Room

The Obubu house is comfortable and usually quiet. The living room is one of my favorite places to work and hang out. There’s a piano in the dining room, so I spend a lot of my free time figuring out songs I know by ear, and messing around adding chords. (You can see my hand knit socks in the pic below – thanks Mom! <3)

Living Room 2
There are tatami (straw) mats in the living room, and in my bedroom. I’m definitely going to miss them when I come home! They make the floor just a bit softer and more springy. They’re convenient for doing exercises like sit-ups, more comfortable than hard-wood.

Bedroom

I’ve even got a balcony, which you can see through the sliding door in the picture above. There are mountains and fields of tea and vegetables all around us. There are so many good friends I wish were here to enjoy the beauty with me! I hope you can enjoy vicariously on the blog. 🙂

Tea!

 

Groceries

Food, Glorious Food! And Singing

Hi all! This post is about food – I’m gonna get all my food pics out of my system. XD The selection in the grocery stores here is certainly different. So many kinds of tofu, and seafood, even in tiny stores! Other staples I usually eat are hard to find; kale is completely absent right now, and cheese is very limited.Curry and Prawns

 

Japanese curry and prawns were my first meal in Japan, in the ridiculously expensive hotel restaurant. Japanese curry is delicious, but completely different from Thai or Indian curry. It’s more like a stew or a gravy, and not spicy at all (Edit: sometimes!). You’re supposed to eat curry rice (as it’s called here) with a spoon – the curry makes the rice too difficult to pick up with chopsticks! Pickles are served on the side of many Japanese dishes – I was surprised to get pickles with my curry, but the combination was delicious!

anchovy pizza orange juiceFor my second meal, I sought out a less expensive option, in a little Italian cafe nearby. I ordered an anchovy pizza and some blood orange juice, one of the more frugal options, and when it arrived I had another surprise; there was no cheese!

Object lesson #1: when traveling abroad, take nothing for granted. It was tasty all the same, and the waitress brought me some pepper-infused olive oil to dip it in, which was lovely. 

Fast foodIn the morning, before taking the train into Kyoto prefecture, I had breakfast at a fast-food place. For about $3, I got tea, water, fish, rice, miso, porridge, nori, and veggies in a vinegar dressing. Perfect for making little sushi bites. That’s my kind of fast food!

Matcha crepeMy first full day in Wazuka, I helped out at a booth at the local farmer’s market. We served matcha crepes and matcha lattes – I didn’t get a picture of our neatly made crepes, just one of the practice ones, but trust me that it tasted just as good.

 

After a while, I mustered my Japanese skills, and managed to chat with the local aunties. When I asked the lady selling mochi, dango, and other sweets next to us what her hobbies were, she said she likes to sing in a choir–especially Amazing Grace. She spoke almost no English beyond “hello,” but she started to hum the tune, and we sang the first verse together… she knew all the words! Then we sung bits of a couple Japanese folk songs I’ve heard. 

Daikon pickles, silken tofu, teriyaki sauceThe lady selling daikon and pickles across the way was pretty amused. Later on, I picked up a container of pickles from her to take home… daikon in some sort of soy sauce base, I believe. Delicious! I’ve been eating them on everything, but they’re especially tasty on a block of cold silken tofu, with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce (which was also from the market, and made locally).

Bok Choy AnchovyIn Wazuka I’ve mostly been cooking at home, experimenting with the ingredients available. This bok choy dish with anchovies, onion, and garlic was delicious – not everything’s turned out so well!

Take No Ko, the restaurant down the street, has a variety of delicious options from udon to sweet red bean soup to curry rice. One of my favorites is the cha soba, noodles made of cooking matcha in broth with fish cake, little puffy rice cakes, and fried tofu. Everything is served with houjicha, roasted green tea, which is sweet and toasty and warms you up on a cold day. 

Cha soba

Now that I’ve made everyone hungry, I’m off to cook dinner! 

Shrine in the Trees

Orientation and Exploration

Hello all!

It’s been a while since the first post, and so much has happened. Since I arrived in Japan, I’ve eaten a lot of good food, met a lot of kind people, and spoken a lot of bad (but improving) Japanese. My official blog posts will be on the Obubu website, since I’m lucky enough to be integrating my academic and internship work into shared assignments. This space will be used for casual updates and personal pictures, and I will do my best to link my official blog posts here as well, when they are uploaded.

The first night, I stayed at a hotel at the airport. The hotel room literature is slightly different than in the US:

Hotel Literature

(The book on the right is Kojiki, or the Records of Ancient Matters, Japan’s oldest historical record. It’s got a lot of Shinto origin myths.)

There was also a pair of warm pajamas, and many fun complimentary toiletry items. I especially enjoyed the packaging from this scrubby towel:

Body Wash Towel

The next morning, after successfully navigating two trains and a bus, this is where I arrived in Wazuka:

Higashi Wazuka Bus Stop

It’s a short walk to the Obubu house through a copse of trees, passing the entrance to a local shrine.

Road to Obubu

And finally, the view from my front door!

View From Obubu

Thanks for reading! In my next post, I’ll have some more photos of beautiful Wazuka!

Evergreen Woods: February Snow

Starting the Journey

Hello everyone!

I’m Allegra, and today I am flying to Japan, to intern at Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms. I’ll be there for three months, from February to May. Needless to say, I’m very excited! I’ll be writing a post every week, to share what I’m doing and learning. This blog is intended to be a place for me to explore what I’m learning in writing. I hope it will also be entertaining for casual readers, and reassuring for my family and friends.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll post again soon!