Wednesday, 30 November 2016


I can't believe today is the last day of November. Time is flying by, which is nice because soon I'll be able to surf and play Futsal again! I can't wait!! 

Physio Update: 

I'm almost 4 months post-op and that means I can jog and jump and things like that. Actually, I've been jogging since I was given the okay at 12 weeks or 3 months. I'm getting my speed back and I can comfortably run about 6.5 km. I think I could run more, but I don't want to push too hard. I've also started lightly break dancing again and it feels great :) I missed dancing so much. As for my progress in physio, my extension is fine, but my knee flexion is not quite there yet. I think the problem is my patellar tendon. The area is numb and it also feels tight. I think the tightness is preventing me from bending farther. My leg muscle is coming back, but it's still skinnier than the other one. Hahaha. I think running has helped bring it back. Now that I can skip rope, I hope it will improve even more.

I returned these babies too. Good bye crutches! May I never need you again!

I also got new running shoes! So far so good!


I didn't really celebrate Halloween, but I am proud of my costume, which was a slice of pizza :)


I went to Asakusa to have dinner with my soccer coach. We went to a restaurant on the Sumida River. It was beautiful and you could see the poop building, which was all lit up.

We also went to Sensōji, where I got a fortune. Recently I've had a slew of bad fortunes, and this one was no exception...

Surprises in the mail:

Over the past month or so, I have received lots of surprises. I got a package from a friend, another from a former student, and one from my aunt! I even received a letter from my Granma! I love receiving mail, so this was soooo exciting for me :)

Package from my aunt :)


I have been baking and cooking a lot. Here are some of my recent projects:

Roasted pumpkin seeds in cinnamon and shichimi flavours.

Soy flour and pumpkin pie muffins... These were sooooo good!

Pumpkin spice and okara cookies. These were also tasty :)

Gateau au chocolat

My first ever roll cake - Matcha and cream roll cake.

I have been cooking with Japanese melon, called uri (瓜).

Tokyo's first November snow in 54 years!!

On November 24 it snowed! It was the first November snowfall in a long time and it was beautiful!

I couldn't believe my eyes! Good bye November, you were fun!

Friday, 11 November 2016

November 11 - Depends on where you are

November 11 is a somber day. It's a day that should be blustery, rainy, and cold. It certainly was that in Japan. However, the mood was distinctly different.

In Canada, we know the span of time after Halloween until November 11 is a time to get your poppy, reflect on wars, reflect on the people that have sacrificed themselves for the sake of not only our country, but the free world. In that sense, no one is thinking about Christmas (I hope) until at least after November 11. 

I think it's the same in countries like the U.K., France, New Zealand, and Australia. However, in other countries, November 11 has no meaning, or if you're in Asia, it has quite a different meaning...

In Asia, or at least China, Korea, and Japan, November 11 means "singles' day" or "pocky day." The reason is because of how the date looks when written out- 11/11. People think the ones represent pocky, a popular stick bread snack from Japan. On this day, pocky is offered on special or emphasized and people buy them for their friends. In Korea, on pocky day, it has become tradition to buy your significant other pocky. If you don't, you might end up single. 

The other meaning of November 11 is singles' day. Of course this is because of the date as well; 11/11 is full of ones, which represent people who are single. On this day a lot of singles go shopping to pamper themselves. I guess it's kind of a day to celebrate it or to find other singles and get a partner. I think this way of observing November 11 is more popular in China and Korea.

As you can probably guess, the mood of people is nothing special on this day. Coming from a country where this day is a holiday and a somber one at that, it is quite an empty feeling. I still pay my respects in my own way to our soldiers, but it is hard to feel so somber when no one else does. This year, like every other year, I made a poppy, had a minute of silence, and I reflected on the sacrifice of Canadians. It seems cheap to make such an important historical day about something as silly as pocky, shopping or finding a girlfriend or boyfriend. I can't change it though. 

In Japan, people don't pay respects to their fallen soldiers. I suppose the reason is that they are ashamed or in denial about their eager aggressive military past. However, I think it's important to honour those that did fight for their country, even though they were on the losing side. The individual soldier is not to blame for the horrendous acts done by the Japanese imperial army.

Today is November 12, so now I can start thinking about the holidays. It's still a little early, but they can't be ignored since Japan has been ready since closing hours on October 31. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

Onjuku Trip and Last Surf

I'm writing this long after these things happened. Now, they seem like a lifetime ago... Yesterday, 6 new events were approved for the 2020 Summer Olympics  in Tokyo: surfing (!), softball, baseball, karate, sport climbing, and skateboarding. Surfing will be held in Chiba, near to where I surf. The surfing event location is in Ichinomiya, a little town that is well known for its waves. This past May there was a pro surf competition held there that attracted surfers from around the world. Anyway, that's exciting, I think!

At the beginning of July, I went to Onjuku and stayed at The Flying Sumo for a night. That way I was able to get 2 days of surfing in. The first day I arrived around 10:30 and went out for a good surf. It was a sunny and very windy day, so the conditions were difficult. Paddling against the wind and stopping my board from flying away kept me busy. It was still fun if sloppy and hard. After surfing, the wind wasn't going to die down so I packed the board in for the day and went walking around Onjuku. 

Curiously, there are lots of abandoned buildings, some like this one, left in major disrepair and acting as a major hazard. 

I found a cat in the ruins! It just stared at me and pretended it couldn't be seen.

Then there is this complex... What it was, I don't know. Perhaps it was a care home, a hotel, or an apartment complex. Inside the plants are taking over and it's wild, as well as another significant safety hazard...

This is Onjuku, the calm before the storm of summer. In the summer, the beach opens and restaurants and vendors open up on the beachfront. They also create swimming areas where we're not allowed to surf. I suppose that's for the best.

  The sun was beginning to set. Sooo beautiful. 

As usual, I sustained a hand sunburn (this one even peeled!). I even wore sunscreen.

This is the first time I've ever found a sand dollar on the beach. It was so cute and small!

The next day, I got up super early to go surfing with the surf shop staff. I'm glad I did, because the sun wasn't too strong and there weren't too many people. I stayed out for 3.5 hours surfing. It was a good session. I was pretty tired when I finished, but it was all worth it. That's the perfect way to spend a weekend.

The next and last time I went surfing was on a national holiday in Japan, aptly named Sea Day (海の日). That was July 18. On this day, the waves were small but it was fun. There was no wind so it was easy to paddle out against the waves. After that session, (about 3 hours?) I took my board back to the shop and took off the fins. I brought my board back home :( 

It was so sad to leave and know I won't be back for awhile and that I'm going to miss my favourite season... Fall. At least I had a few good rides in the end. Hopefully I'll be back out quickly.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


Recently... What have I been doing? Mostly stressing out. I have been doing other things too.

I saw some pretty persimmon flowers.

I played Futsal (a lot!). While going to the court I stopped to admire the sunset through a grove of bamboo trees.

I had my knee MRI'd again. I also got conflicting results from different doctors about whether my ACL is torn. You be the judge... 

I went surfing (quite a few times). This a view of the Skytree from Kinshicho station, which is on the way to Onjuku.

I had a birthday and received lots of presents! Thanks mom, dad, and granma!

I volunteered at a 2 day, 1 night sports camp for elementary children twice. We played basket ball, badminton, sepak tekraw, and soccer. Each time was sooo fun, if tiring :)

I went mountain climbing with the Kasujo girls :) We climbed Kawanoriyama.

I have been baking a few things. I made this Okara pound cake:
And these cornflake cookies and chocolate pineapple cake:

There was a farewell/welcome party for Kasujo. 
I also celebrated the end of classes with some drinks and yakitori.

Then there was my trip to Onjuku (1 night), when I got to go surfing two days in a row... It was so nice. I'll write about that later. 

That's life recently, just normal life dotted with lots of physio and doctor appointments in preparation for my surgery. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Busan Trip Continued

I left off on Thursday in Busan. The next day, we had planned to go surfing, so we got to Songjeong beach, but it was really crowded and the waves weren't very good. I would have gone if it were just me, but I had the feeling that my friend didn't really want to do it, so I decided not to surf. It was a pity because the next day had no waves. :(

This is the beach - Songjeong. It was really beautiful and I would hhave loved to surf there :(

This is a rocky point. It was really cool, I guess volcanic rock. 

After the beach, we decided to walk a fair distance to the nearest metro station. It was pretty far, but it was a really nice walk. 

This is from a viewpoint, you can't see anything, but there are supposed to be two lighthouses, one white (right) and one red (left). It was pretty misty.

The walk to the station was over/around a mountain, so we were quite high above the water.

After getting to the train station we headed to Spa Land. It's another Onsen. It was very popular. It had various relaxing rooms, like body echo rooms and salt rooms. Inside the baths, they had sodium bicarbonate (good for soft skin) and sodium chloride baths (good for chronic pain and neuralgia). My favourite thing to do is rotate between very hot (44 C baths or 80 C saunas) and cool water baths (18 C). There are some baths of 30 C or 36 C but those feel tepid to me... It's not nice, but rather gross. This Onsen also had outdoor baths which is nice. I don't see any improvement from the salt baths for my pain though :( I guess you need to keep going.

In the same complex as the spa (a giant - the world's largest - store called Shinsegae) there was a model of the Trevi Fountain. How random.

After the spa, we wandered to the Busan International Film Festival theatre complex. It was really cool. They have several indoor theatres as well as an outdoor theatre. 

Very futuristic movie theatre...

We were going to see a movie, but it would have ended pretty late, so we decided to just return to the guesthouse. The next day my friend was leaving, so I was on my own for one day.

I enjoyed being by myself. I guess I'm a loner. I decided to go to Gamcheon Culture Village. This village started off as a place to house the many refugees of the Korean War. At the time of the war, Busan had a population of 400,000 people, and during the war, 700,000 refugees came... You can imagine they couldn't cope very well. So many refugees settled in tiny little houses that were squished very close to each other.

The village.

People still live there, but it has become an important artistic and cultural area. There are many community art projects in the are and the houses are all painted bright and happy colours. In Korean they call it the "happy village." While it certainly looks happy, I found myself thinking that the residents couldn't have been that happy. The houses are very small and literally on top of each other. What's more, the village is built into the side of a mountain, meaning that the hills are steep and there are sooooo many stair cases. Most of the residents seem to be elderly, so I imagine it must be difficult to get around. On top of all that, they have to deal with literally bus loads of tourists who don't always respect their privacy and homes. 

People birds.

More people birds. It was a public art installation.

The colourful houses of Gamcheon. Literally on top of each other.

Lots of stairs... A lot of houses are accessible only by narrow staircases and paths like this.

From an angle she almost jumps out at you. 

This is Korea, so of course there were love locks. 

Colourful mural.

At a well supposedly built during a drought by a starving but determined young man. 

More houses!

The house of peace. Apparently it has signatures of Koreans hoping for peace and reunification of the Koreas.

The stairs of stars. This staircase has 148
steps and is very steep. It's called the stairs of stars because people used to see stars climbing it with heavy loads on their backs. Tough life...

One of the narrow passages connecting houses to staircases and roads.

Public fish art.


After walking around the village, I walked back down the mountain. All throughout the area, the houses are made of random materials. Sometimes, brick, cement, stone, tile, or painted plaster. 

A house covered with stones.

After getting back down the mountain, I went to Busan's namesake station - Busan Station. There was a traditional market in the area as well as an "international shopping street" which was full of bars and clubs established by foreigners I guess. There were Phillipines bars, Russian clubs, Czech coffee houses, and many more. I felt it was a very shady area and wouldn't want to be there after dark when everything was open... 

All in all it was a cheap and good trip. I got some cheap beauty products and enjoyed some Korean food. I regret not surfing though :(