Hiroshima overnight, Part 1: Powerful and moving

Hello and welcome to a Throwback Thursday post! I don’t do these very often, but while perusing my past blog posts and my pictures, I realized that there are a few adventures I haven’t talked about here. Some may remain in obscurity for a while longer; others, like this one, grow more pertinent as travel season is upon us.

Yes, Golden Week is around the corner, and before we know it, it’s going to be summer. With all that entails. Cicadas, tour groups, and every flavor of ice cream you can possibly imagine. Among other things.

Today, I’d like to share with you part one of the tale of our overnight Hiroshima trip.

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Flower Hunting, Start! Looking ahead to Cherry Blossoms

You might be asking yourself a few questions today. Things like, “Did I leave the gas on?” “How is it already February?” And, most pertinently, “Why is Stefanie talking about cherry blossom viewing when we’re still so far away from it?”

Originally, I was going to make a post about ume (plum) blossoms, as we’re in the right season for them. Ume blossoms, often overlooked in favor of cherry blossoms, have a lovely smell and help guide you through the last of winter into spring.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is all of my pictures of ume are terrible, and thus far in Kyoto there is one (1) tree that is blooming in Gosho. And that tree is surrounded by people with camera lenses three times the size of my head.

So, let’s talk about cherry blossoms today!

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Get your daytrip on! Yangmingshan National Park

If you’re a lover of warm weather, Taiwan is definitely the place for you. In the week I spent wandering around, Taipei stayed at an average of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) during the daytime, if not hotter.

If you’re more of a cold weather fan like me, signing up for such a warm climate can ensure you’ll spend most of your trip sweaty, tired, and in desperate need of ice-cold drinks on hand 24/7. With this in mind, I opted to get out of the city as much as possible during my stay.

Enter: Yangmingshan National Park.

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5 Top Culture Shock Moments for me in Taiwan

Having lived in Japan for several years, I was reassured to spot familiar convenience store and restaurant signs the minute I arrived in Taipei. Family Mart. Sushi Express. Royal Host. I’ll get around no problem, I told myself confidently. At this rate, I’ll be bustling about like a local!

Ahaha, oh past me, you’re funny.

In today’s post, I’d like to share with you the top moments where I was hit with a reminder of how differently Taiwan operates.

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An Afternoon with My Neighbor Totoro

A week or two ago, I was hosting a friend in Japan. It was her second time in Kyoto, so we decided to branch out on adventure.

“Where do you want to go? What do you want to see?” I asked her.

“Well, going to the Ghibli Museum would be nice,” she said.

We checked the website, but as we were looking a mere month in advance, all of the possible days we could go were fully booked.

“Where else do you want to go? What else do you want to see?” I asked her.

“Well, since that’s a wash, maybe going somewhere related to a Ghibli film would be nice. Like the moss woods from Princess Mononoke.”

We checked, but we couldn’t justify taking a flight all the way out to a small island in Kyushu just to see one forest.

“Anywhere else you want to go? Anything else you want to see?” I asked her.

“Well, is there anything Ghibli related we could do on short notice?”

We checked, and struck gold in the form of Mei and Satsuki’s House–famous from the movie My Neighbor Totoro–in Aichi, Japan.

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Why Obama? …Why Not?

As I mentioned before, I went to multiple places during my Golden Week. Afterwards, I brought photos of my adventures back to work to share with coworkers and students alike. They tended to ooh over pictures of Kibune, aah over shots of Mt. Koya, then… tilt their heads in puzzled confusion.

“Who is that?” they would ask, pointing at a statue of a man giving a speech.

“Well, he was President of the US for eight years…” I’d reply.

They would, inevitably, go, “You went to Obama?! In Fukui? But why?”

Why not?

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