Earlier this week, we took the train to Nara to visit the famous bowing deer at Nara Park. We visited the shrines and explored the forest along a quiet and peaceful hiking trail. This was probably the most ‘touristy’ thing we have done since arriving in Japan. You can buy deer cookies to feed the deer, and we were there in time to see the autumn colours in Nara as well.
Dillon and I were going through the photos he has been taking on his phone during our time in Osaka – we hope you like them!
Yesterday morning, Dillon and I took the train north from Umeda out into the rural, mountainous suburbs of Osaka. We hiked from Minoo Station along a trail past woodwork shops to a temple and then up to a viewing platform at the top of the forest. It was a crisp autumn day, the leaves were beginning to change colour, and the sound of running water and the fall of leaves could be heard everywhere. My favourite place in Japan so far!
We will go back to Minoo Park in late November to see the autumn colours at their peak, and to visit the insect museum and waterfall, which were closed due to it being a Tuesday, and damage caused by Typhoons Lam and Saola respectively.
I’ve let updating my blog slip, which I always hate. I’m one of those people who prefers to do something properly or not at all. I can’t stand the idea of having unfinished projects or loose ends still to be worked on, which means I often start something with a burst of energy and then get rid of it completely when I can’t keep up that level of commitment. I have high expectations of myself and I’m a perfectionist on top of that (“The perfectionist’s perfectionist” is how I described it to someone who asked recently). It’s a double-edged sword, because I am known to be efficient, effective and highly productive, but ultimately I can’t deny that it is driven by my faulty mental wiring that simply will not allow me to be anything other than that.
Sometimes that itch of feeling myself to be not being good enough makes me think that I would rather delete this blog entirely than allow myself a few weeks off before writing a new post. I have definitely deleted multiple blogs and archived posts when I used to be on social media, and even before then I used to rip up diaries a page at a time when I was in school, because I couldn’t bear the idea that I would have to keep something around me where I had made a mistake on one page. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a wasteful condition, not just environmentally but the amount of wasteful energy it forces one to waste on stress and anxiety about literally anything it can. So I’m not going to apologise for this lull, because I think instead I need to give myself a break (“give myself grace”, as one of my favourite YouTubers, Allyson Faber, likes to say), and just do the best that I can in the circumstances.
Here’s what has been going on with me lately:
We have now booked our flights to Germany. We will be leaving Osaka in mid-December, and I have decided to hand in my notice earlier than I had previously intended, so that we will have time in November to visit Kyoto and Nara, and so I can generally have a bit of a rest before I start my new job in Berlin in January. We have done a lot of the administrative work for our move now, and Dillon has received his visa, so all we need to do now is to organise our accommodation in Berlin, which we are planning to do over the coming week.
Dillon and I have been making real progress with our transition to zero waste. We have cut down on the amount of plastic we consume by cutting out plastic bottles as much as is possible, and buying fruit fresh rather than pre-cut. We have set up four recycling stations in our storage closet: plastic bottles, glass and metals; other plastics; paper and cardboard; and textile recycling. The only waste going into our kitchen bin now is food waste, as we are not currently in the position to set up a composting station. We are excited to begin vermicomposting in Berlin.
I am considering setting up a YouTube channel alongisde this blog, where I would focus on topics including minimalism, veganism, zero waste and sustainable living. I have an idea to adapt Courtney Carver’s Project 333 into something like a Project 12-21 as one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018, which I would like to revolve around long-term ethical choices and sustainable changes in my life. I have been learning a great deal about the fast fashion industry, and thinking about changes I want to make in order for my life to reflect my values towards these issues.
Something I did not expect when I read ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo, and then began listening to the weekly Minimalists podcast, was how open and flexible I would become to making significant and sustained change in my life. Minimalism led me to veganism, which got me interested in zero waste, which began forcing me to ask questions about sustainable consumption, and now I am learning more about environmental ethics and thinking about plans for the future that include some kind of project to help learning disabled children learn or traumatised children recover through learning centred around caring for animals.
I am glad to be moving to Germany soon so that we can be closer to our family. If you are inclined to do so, please keep my mum in your thoughts, as she is currently resting and recovering, and I hope I am able to talk to her on Skype soon xx
Hello again from Osaka!
It’s been another busy week, but I’ve been getting to grips with my timetable and workload now, and it’s meant I have had to spend less time this weekend getting prepared for my next week at work. I went to Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park yesterday to take part in my school’s first annual family picnic (where I did a lot more running than I expected to do!) and today Dillon and I visited the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan on the coast. The aquarium is the biggest in Asia, and one of the biggest in the world, and we had a brilliant day out. It was wonderful to be by the seaside, in the beautiful sunny weather, feeling the sea breeze and smelling the salty air. I feel so lucky to live right by the sea, so that a day trip to the seaside is only a short subway journey away.
Enjoy some photos of our neighbourhood in Nipponbashi, and from our morning out at the aquarium!
Just before we received news that our visa clearance for Japan had been successful, Dillon’s parents came from North Yorkshire to visit us in Mullingar. It was so good to see them both, and we all had a great opportunity to explore more of Ireland. With Storm Doris travelling over from the UK that week, most days were fairly wild, wet and windy, but that didn’t stop us from packing lots in.
After a visit to the walled garden at Belvedere House, we went to Trim Castle and the distillery at Kilbeggan. I really enjoyed seeing how the water wheel at the distillery was covered with healthy and green pond life! (Thank you to my mother-in-law Tracy for these lovely photos of Trim Castle, the Jealous Wall at Belevedere House, and Kilbeggan distillery.)
We then took a hike up to Loughcrew Cairns, where you can see all across the Irish counties. I couldn’t make it all the way to the top as it was an incredibly windy day, and I had just been allowed to stop wearing my sling (and knowing my luck if I had tried to go further I would have fallen, hurt myself again and been stuck at the top of the hill!) It’s incredible to think that in prehistoric times people found a way to shift immense weights of rock all the way up to the top of the hill – here are some more photos:
Possibly my favourite trip we took was to the Irish Military War Museum in Starinagh. Run by a small group of military history enthusiasts, who have curated their own private collection over decades, the museum explores both World Wars in detail, as well as featuring relics and memorabilia from a range of other conflicts too. The audio commentary was particularly interesting, as the knowledge and passion these men had for their craft came across so strongly. I especially liked the cabinets dedicated to artifacts they had literally picked up off the Somme battlefield and transported back to Ireland, as well as those filled with buttons and badges for the individual regiments in the Wars. If you are passing through Co. Meath I highly recommend visiting – you can even handle the decommissioned firearms.
On Dillon’s parents’ final day in Ireland, we visited Dublin Zoo. I love zoos because they make me feel incredibly child-like, and this one did not disappoint. We were especially lucky that this was the one day it didn’t rain at all until we all had to leave! My favourite animals were probably the orangutans, and the baby elephant and baby rhino, but it was amazing seeing a tiger and snow leopard too (thank you again to Tracy for the final five photos below). I got frightened by the huge hippopotamus!
It was great to see Dillon’s parents again, and we both feel really lucky and grateful to have been able to see them and my parents before we leave for Japan in a couple of weeks.