A Golden Week Indeed: Adventure to Kanazawa!

Golden Week is actually kind of a misnomer. April 29th, May 3rd, May 4th, and May 5th make up Golden Week. And so, the holiday is actually an accumulation of many national vacation days that occur around the same time, but don’t necessarily mean the whole week is off. This year the holidays fell in a very nice order, though, so that meant I could travel and do something cool. I’ve been kind of excited about it since September. However, because I’m a procrastinator of the highest caliber (aka an English Major), I kind of threw together my Golden Week on the fly.

I started off by going up to Yuki and spending time with my friends Anthony and Chien-Wei. They took me to this really cool gym that has a workout room, swimming pool, onsen, and restaurant all in one. After I burned some calories in the pool, I relaxed in the onsen and tried to find zen. It worked for a moment, but then it was gone. Massage chairs have a time limit, you know. After that, we ate at this yakiniku place. In the spirit of no work and all play, I ate a ridiculous amount of meat and drank more beer than meat. It was great!

The next stop was Tokyo. I went to the Tokyo Pride Parade, only catching the end of it. Then, I got to see my friend Candice in Tokyo. We went to this place called Venus Fort, which is a big mall attached  to Zepp Tokyo and the Big Sky Wheel (which is a fancy name for huge Ferris wheel). We ran across a huge Gundam close to the mall and got our pictures taken in front of it. After that, we window shopped. Not so bravely, we went on the Big Sky Wheel and saw a really cool nightscape of Tokyo. That night, we went to Rippongi since I’d never been. Candice took me out to various places, and we danced until the sun came up (literally).

The next day I hurt all over from dancing too much (yeah, yeah, laugh it up). Still, I got up and went to the Imperial Gardens. They were gorgeous! However, I didn’t really see the Imperial Palace, but that’s okay. I’m thinking this year I’m staying for Christmas and New Years, so maybe I’ll do the Imperial Palace for New Years. It’s one of the few times the inner gardens are open, so that would be cool.

I made my way home to recover from all the excitement. That very day, I made the decision that I did in fact want to go to Kanazawa, and I was going to go. Last minute, I got a night bus ticket for ¥ 4,300 and headed off. The bus was awful, and I got little sleep, but that’s the price to pay for cheap travel. When I got to Kanazawa, I lucked out at Hotel Hinodeya (the name spoke to me) and got to stay for one night for ¥ 4,000.Rainy Day

They have poodles! They're adorable! :)

I went to Kanazawa Castle that day, but it was cold, wet, and  raining. I didn’t stay long and didn’t take many pictures. Nobody was there, either. It was creepy quiet, and all the Japanese horror films I’d seen came in flashbacks to terrify me.

I decided the next day would be better to see the sights. And boy, was it! The weather took a turn for the better. The sun came out. There was a light breeze. The air was sweet with flowers in bloom. Perfect spring traveling weather! I lucked out!

The next day, I went to Kenrokuen (兼六園). It’s a famous garden in Kanazawa. The name means “having six factors.” The garden has that name because it contains the six attributes that bring out the perfect landscape of the garden: spaciousness, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, water courses, and magnificent view from the garden. It was very pretty!

I met a very nice Japanese couple there. They took my picture for me and we talked the usual introductory things. Where I’m from, what I’m doing in Japan, and so on. The girl had been to California to study abroad. I returned the favor they did for me and took their picture in front of a pond for them. They looked very cute!

Good pic, ne?!

After I went there, I headed off to Kanazawa Castle. It was amazing! Completely different from the day before, the place had vendors and festival events within the castle’s walls. I stopped to take some pictures of the performers. They ranged from NKB wanna-bes to traditional dancers. They did not mind me taking their pictures at all!





























The next stop was Oyamajinja. The shrine had some neat architecture. I was puzzled over a statue that had with a possible tengu with a child. If anybody knows what this statue of a tengu and a child is all about, please share your knowledge!


















Introduction to Ibarakese

Introduction to Ibarakese.

In addition to this, I would like to introduce “da pe!”

-da pe (だぺ)  – used just like desu (です)

And a funny story to share.

Once upon a time, I went out with the PTA to make some hazy memories. At some point, all the men were yelling out something and at the end they were saying, “~da pe!”

I tried to listen over and over again for ~masu or ~desu, but they weren’t using either of the normal verb endings. I had absolutely no idea what anybody was saying.

Finally, my JTE came over and gave me a small Ibaraki-ben lesson on da pe. Turns out, you can usually use it like desu, but it’s usually only used by the older generations in my area. I started using it for fun. “Bieru da pe! Hoshi da pe! Sashimi da pe!”

At this point a man beside me said something about speaking proper Japanese and I shouldn’t be learning the wrong Japanese. I will claim that I never did this later, but I totally put my hand on his head and said, “Baka da pe! (This is an idiot!)” And the guy laughed so hard he nearly died.

I highly recommend to NEVER EVER DO THAT EVER, but for me it ended well. I apologized to him and we all sang karaoke. Also, I will never do it again.

Still, fun times in Itako. They happen 🙂


Hanami Party

A Hanami Party is when a group gathers together under the sakura blossoms to drink and be merry. I went to my first one in March. A group of friends made an event on Facebook and we headed down to Yoyogi Park next to Harajuku Station in Tokyo. Unfortunately, on this day the sakura blossoms were not in bloom. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the wonderful weather.

Aren't we cute?

Potluck style!

We ate so much food! I brought pizza, Mike brought s’mores cheesecake (that’s right you’re jealous), Mari brought a lot of different Japanese style foods like onigiri, and of course everyone brought drinks. Vera surprised me with some delicious wine. With every new person, more food came. We also tossed a football around, played Monopoly and had a grand old time.

Of course, immediately following this party the sakura blossoms decided to pop up and make everything gorgeous. I won’t lie though, I felt a little slighted at mother nature for not bringing them out earlier.


When I would walk to class for the two weeks the sakura were in bloom, I felt so peaceful. I walked into school with a smile on my face and a pep in my step. Spring is here! Spring is here!

The nest weekend, I went to another hanami party in Tokyo. I went to Shinjuku-gyoen to meet up with volunteers and the planning committee for the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade. On April 29th, people marched down the streets of Tokyo to support LGBTQ efforts in Japan. It was quite amazing, and unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera. Still, it was cool. Trust me.

God, I love Japan.

I can’t wait for the next spring!