Posts Tagged With: life in Fukui

Painful Goodbyes & New Beginnings

Lao Tzu really hit the nail on the head when he said “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” It’s hard to believe, in so many ways, that my time in Fukui is over. I’m sitting back in Canada as I write this blog post and I can’t help but feel that my last two weeks in Japan went by in a blur.

Saying goodbye to the life I made for myself in Japan was inevitable. It was something I had known for a long time, ever since I stepped off that plane 3 years ago at the Tokyo Orientation. It was never my intention to live in Japan forever. Originally I had only meant to stay for one year, yet it flew by in the blink of an eye! So I chose to renew for another year, confident it would be my last… and when that year finished I still had so many things left that I wanted to do…so I promised myself one more year and that would be it!

Well, even though I was mentally prepared to leave this year, and thought I knew what the drill would be, somehow my poor little heart missed the memo. My final month was simultaneously exciting and soul-crushing. I was excited to return home to Canada and see my friends and family. Yet, I was also heartbroken at the thought of saying goodbye to so many close friends, never knowing when (or if!) I would see them again.

There were so many goodbye parties for the leavers of Fukui my liver is still recovering! We were well and truly spoiled!

First was the Tannan Sayonara Party where a smaller community of Fukui rented out 2 log cabins in the wilderness for some quality barbecuing, drinking, board-game-playing, and general mayhem. I splurged a little and bought some champagne which I shared with my bestie Lizzy. The champagne later contributed to terrible blurry selfie demands. tannan sayonara partyScreen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.18.34 PM

The following weekend was the Fukui-wide Sayonara Party, which is always one of the biggest parties of the entire year. It was really nice getting dressed to the nines for a change! I went out for dinner beforehand with Cian, Lizzy, Stuart and Jill at my favourite restaurant in Fukui, Pizzaria Felice for some to-die-for gorgonzola pizza. After that it was time to drink like fish and dance the night away at Bull’s Bar. I was sure to take time to snap a photo or two with best friends whenever I could snag them away from the bar!IMG_4767

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.43.18 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.48.10 PMYes, that is me buried at the bottom of the dog pile. What originally began as a selfie with my friends Shaun and Laura turned into chaos when everyone suddenly wanted into the picture. One by one they piled on top of me and sang, “Caaaaaan you feeeeeel the loooove tonight?“, “Yes,” I wheezed in response, definitely struggling to breathe, “You’ve taken my breath away. LITERALLY!

One of the highlights of this Sayonara Party weekend was that two of my closest Fukui ALT friends who had left one year before returned to Fukui to surprise us all! I was delighted to see Becca and Dan again after so long, and I did my best to see them as much as possible that weekend, whether it was to go karaoke-ing until 5 am in the morning or simply grab a few drinks at Flat Kitchen like old times.Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.52.34 PM

My last week in Fukui involved quite a few hours of frantic packing. You never are as prepared as you think you are, are you? Check out my room before and after…my mother would have been appalled at how fast my clean sanctuary was destroyed. Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 5.07.11 PM

With my both my birthday and my departure date fast approaching I invited people to join me for one last day on the beach. I always prefer doing parties outside, as it’s far less confining than an apartment or restaurant. Mingling 100% guaranteed. DSC04495 photo 3-5 photo 2-5

One of the highlights of my day at the beach was my surprise “birthday cake” which was actually a hotdog with a stick of kindling on fire. Everyone sang happy birthday while I laughed so hard I almost cried. Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 6.22.08 PM

And as if I hadn’t already been spoiled enough for my birthday, my friend Tomomi invited me over for a “Not-sayonara-but-rather-see-you-later & Birthday Party” which was so much fun! The word ‘dinner’ doesn’t even come close to describing this meal, it was more of a feast!  IMG_4247 Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.16.49 AM

Lizzy found the most amazing birthday present on Etsy, a tiny wooden image of Canada with a tiny heart carved in-between the two cities I call home in Canada (Calgary & Vancouver). Home is where the heart is, and she hopes that I’ll never forget my roots wherever my adventures take me in the future. It was one of the most wonderful and thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.

My final night in Fukui was spent with Lizzy drinking wine in my apartment, talking about life, laughing so hard we cried, and reflecting on our three fabulous years together. It’s amazing how much we did! It was the best way to spend my last night in Fukui, with a best friend, mind full of memories, and a heart full of love and gratitude for how lucky I was in life.

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The next morning my closest friends Tomomi, Lizzy, Cian, Shaun, Ryan, Ken, Hailey & Dean came to the Fukui train station to say goodbye. I insisted that 8:30am was far too early and that it really wasn’t necessary, but they squashed my protests and promised they wanted to be there and would be there come hell or high water. I was so touched because I had never expected it, and the outpouring of love was almost more than my poor piece-of-jello heart could bear.

It was a very emotional goodbye, and hard as I tried not to cry, I ended up doing so. I caved after just one hug, so I was thankful Tomomi was thoughtful enough to have given me a packet of tissues in the car “just in case”. I hugged them all, tried to smile through my tears and waved goodbye when at long last I had no choice but to go through the gate to catch my train.  Knowing I would be feeling blue they took one big, smiley picture to cheer me up after I was gone and messaged it to me just as I sat down in my seat on the train.sayonara 10As I looked out the window of the train, watching sadly as the rice fields of Fukui flew by, I reflected on how truly lucky I was to have made such wonderful friends during my time in Japan.  As amazing as Japan was, it was the people I met and the memories I made with them that meant the most in the end. They were pivotal to my experience abroad, and it was because of their friendship that I enjoyed my life in Fukui as much as I did. As my train sped towards Tokyo I had nothing but a heart full of love for the fabulous people whom I feel truly blessed to have met and called my friends. In the ever-so-eloquent words of Phil Collins:

You’ll be in my heart, yes you’ll be in my heart. From this day on, now and forever more. You’ll be in my heart, no matter what they say. You’ll be here in my heart always.”

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Categories: Life in Japan, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday Putters Around Fukui – Matt’s Trip To Japan

On Sunday I kidnapped Matt for a day of relaxing puttering around Fukui. I had the whole day pretty much planned out, all he had to do was get in the car.  It’s ok though, I promise I was a nice kidnapper, I fed him and entertained him!

First up, since he was craving veggies (and I’m a thoughtful kidnapper) I took Matt to my favourite lunch spot Veg Yard. He was a pretty happy captive when the 9-dish assortment came out; he really enjoyed his healthy feast.

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After that we drove out to the Echizen Pottery Village where a big festival was going on. All the local potters of Fukui come out to set up a booth and sell their beautiful goods twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. I reeeeeally wanted to go, so I was lucky Matt wanted to go too.

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We ended up having a great time perusing! Matt hunted high and low for a beautiful set of cups for his girlfriend back home. They are both tea fanatics like me. This photo doesn’t do them justice, but it’s the only one I got.  I really liked them too! They were white with gold piping down the sides. photo-3

I resisted temptation when we came to this stall, which I’m still proud about. I loved this white pottery, it was so smooth and the colour reminded me of high quality vanilla ice cream with flecks of real vanilla bean inside. IMG_5051Eventually we felt a bit of pottery-overload and the tarmac was SO unbelievably hot we called it quits. Matt proudly carried out his purchase, I proudly carried out nothing! (Trust me on that being a first in the 3 years I’ve been here…)

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Matt couldn’t come to Fukui without seeing the Echizen Kaigan coast. It’s one of the most beautiful areas of Fukui with its craggy cliffs and beautiful view of the Japan Sea. We nipped into Cafe Mare for a coffee buzz and a little cheesecake pick-me-up (an all-time-favourite dessert on Matt’s part) before exploring some of the cliffs. IMG_5077 IMG_5059 IMG_5058I was the happiest little clam in Fukui that day getting to show my little brother around my favourite stomping grounds! That’s one very genuine, glee-filled smile right there folks, nothing but pure joy and happiness!

Stay tuned! Next post is our adventures in Kanazawa!

 

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For Fukui’s Sake! – Matt’s Trip To Japan

Most Japan travel guide books say there’s little to do in Fukui, the place in Japan that I call home. I disagree and was determined to prove the boys and that Lonely Plant book wrong! I lured my brother and his friend Tim here, to this rural little middle-of-no-where-town, a place definitely off the well-beaten tourist track so they could have a few unique experiences!

Tim could only stay for a day before heading back to Tokyo for his flight, so Matt and I were determined to do all the best and coolest things we could while he was here. To kick things off, after I finished work at noon and picked the boys up from the train station, we met my friend Tomomi. She had kindly arranged for a very fun hands-on activity for the boys: soba making with a national soba master!IMG_0159 IMG_0154

Soba noodles (そば) are a type of Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. It’s served in a variety of ways, my personal favourite being “The Fukui Way” with sauce poured all over and grated daikon radish piled on high.  Fukui’s very famous for its soba noodles and you can immediately distinguish Fukui’s soba noodles apart from other areas’ soba because of it’s purple hue. You’re going to have to trust me they taste a lot better than they look!IMG_0152

The man who taught us is a personal friend of Tomomi’s and it was such an honour to be invited into his own house’s workshop for a private lesson! Making soba is tricky but with patience and lots of hard work the boys were able to transform their soba flour into noodles.IMG_0118 IMG_0119 IMG_0127 IMG_0128 IMG_0125

The coolest part of making soba is getting to use giiiiinormous knives to cut the dough into noodles.  IMG_0140 IMG_0134 IMG_0142 IMG_0143 IMG_0147

Hands down the best part of making soba is the noodle feast afterwards! Matt, Tim and I joked about the adorable duck Mr. Ping from Kung Fu Panda; we all will be having the “noodle dream” for a while, he would be so proud. Tomomi laughed because Matt and Tim couldn’t stop plotting how to open a soba restaurant in Calgary, they were convinced it would be a hit.IMG_0153 IMG_0151 IMG_0149IMG_0156After our soba-making lesson, we nipped over to Tomomi’s house for tea and scones. The boys really enjoyed meeting my infamous friend. Matt’s being hearing me talk about this “Tomomi character” (as he called her) for 3 years and was dying to meet her. I honestly can’t even begin to describe how amazing of a person she is. The only way Matt could know why I love her so much was to meet her in person. Tomomi stuffed us like turkeys on Thanksgiving with her home-made scones and delicious jam.

After tea time with Tomomi it was time for a much needed nap for our 2 heroes (3 if you include me!); they needed to rest up for the main event: Karaoke Fukui-style.

I invited several close friends out for dinner at an izakaya-style restaurant (a place you share lots of little dishes with people). The real reason we went to that restaurant was it has a 680 yen nomihoudai drinking option. The boys were in absolute shock that there was a place in Japan they could drink as much beer/wine/sake/whatever as they wanted for a whole hour and only pay about $7. Matt kept checking and re-checking this fact with me. I don’t blame him, it sounds too good to be true after every bar in Osaka was charging 600 yen for a single beer! Fukui’s the place to live boys, the sushi’s fresh and life’s cheaper out here!Fukui izakayaphoto-2

After dinner we meandered over to my favourite karaoke place: Rent-A-Car Karaoke. A car rental and karaoke centre run together…it sounds strange I know but it’s cheap (we each spent only 700yen for 3 hours of singing!), easy to get reservations for, and right across the street from a kick-ass nomihoudai restaurant. Win-win-win!

We all sang the night away, until about 1:30 in the morning! In my opinion the best songs are always the Disney songs, everybody knows and loves them, so I put plenty in throughout the night. The boys thought it was cheesy at first, but when “Let It Go” from Frozen came on, I noticed that Matt and Tim couldn’t resist howling away like the rest of us ALTs.

Finally it was time for us to head home to my apartment so we stumbled drunkly into a taxi. Both I and the taxi driver chuckled as the boys continued to sing long after the party was over and the Rent-A-Car lights faded from the rear-view mirror into the distance.

The last thing I said before we all passed out was, “And that boys is why Fukui is awesome!”

Categories: Life in Japan, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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