Where has this year gone…it continues to astound me that I have been living in Japan for more than a year. I have kept myself alive (and have been thriving, if I do say so myself!) in another country for a year!
November was the month for Autumn foliage (紅葉). The colours never fail to amaze me, just the mix of reds, greens, yellows and oranges are truly astounding.
November 12th: Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa
In early November, I visited Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa as it is known for its changing foliage according to the season. It just so happened to be the same park that Hana, Justine and I hung out for the first time to see the summer fireworks within the first few weeks of us moving to Japan. It brought back some lovely memories.
Luckily it was a fantastic sunny Autumn day, perfect weather for strolling around and enjoying the nature.
November 15th: School Dance Presentation
I have always been astounded by my school’s dance club – the level of athleticism and creativity is just out of this world. The kids’ dedication to their craft is also very humbling; they take dance super seriously and are so disciplined. I attempted to participate in some of their practice sessions but had no hope of keeping up with their level so I would just take part in their (intense!) warm up and sway in the back awkwardly. The dance teacher, seeing my interest in dance, subsequently asked me to help out with a performance the dance club, plus other select athletic students, were taking part in as part of our associated university’s presentation day. I was a little unaware of my role – there was no way I could help out with the actual dance, but I was really happy to be asked to come along and be a part of the action.
The performance itself was amazing – the dance club of course was on point, but the dance teacher somehow roped in students from the baseball, rugby, American football and Judo clubs (who all have no dance experience) to take part as well and got them all dancing, in sync in a matter of a month or so! It felt so nice to be part of something (I was even given a hoodie to match the kids to commemorate the night!)
The participating teachers and I also went out for dinner and drinks the following week which also was a great experience as none of the teachers could speak English and I was able to communicate entirely in Japanese (albeit not well, but I guess what I wanted to say was understood well enough).
November 16th: Dinner with Jimmy, Yoshiko and Hana
Back in the summer, when Hana and I were on our blitz of Meetups, we met a lovely couple – Jimmy and Yoshiko. Jimmy had recently moved back to Japan for a year and after trying to find a day we were all free, we finally were able to meet for dinner mid November and we decided to go for vegan food at our favourite vegan restaurant in Shibuya, Nagi Shokudo. It was lovely to catch up with lovely people over a delicious meal.
November 19th: Koenji with Hana
Koenji is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo; it is laid back and cool filled with vintage shops and cute cafes (it also has some glorious vegan restaurants, which is always handy!) Hana and I caught up for a late lunch and a spot of shopping and a lovely dose of girl talk. It was another fabulous day spent with a fabulous lady and then we went to join another couple of lovely ladies, Steph and Justine for dinner in Nakameguro.
November 26th: Nagatoro (長瀞)
Within the first two weeks of me arriving in Tokyo last year, I decided to embark on something way outside my comfort zone: taking part in a Meetup. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made, as I am still friends with the people I met at that meetup til this day! We were finally all able to coordinate a date to catch up and go for a hike to enjoy the Autumn colours, so we made the trek out to Saitama prefecture to a little town called Nagatoro (just a measly 3 hours away from my place!). It was certainly worth the trek, for the company and the nature. The thing to do there is take a boat ride down the river so you are able to enjoy the foliage, and though we arrived early in the morning around 10am, the next available boat ride was at 3pm in the afternoon! The weather was also on show, it was bright, sunny and warm. It was the perfect Autumn day.
November 27th: Chiba (千葉県)
The neighbouring prefecture to Tokyo, Chiba, is known for some amazing spots for 紅葉 but they are quite hard to access without a car. Luckily, my friend was able to rent a car and we headed out to the middle of Chiba prefecture, first to Yoro Valley (養老渓谷) and the 粟又の滝 (Awamata waterfall). We walked along the river and were making our way back to the car when we came across a tiny sign saying 幻の滝沢 (which roughly translates to ‘The mysterious waterfall’). We went to check it out and met a little old lady who happened to have access to the most beautiful hidden waterfall from her property. So for 200 yen, you could make your way down a rickety, make-shift path to the waterfall – and we had it completely to ourselves. It was simply spectacular (picture: top right). There is something magical about the change in the leaves and the cooler weather and it was another amazing day spent in nature.