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i saw maiko

excited. that was my first reaction when someone invited me to visit kyoto…if it would push through, it would be my first time to go to a place not within the kanagawa prefecture or to tokyo area… my excited got bigger when i found out that my trip is 200% confirmed… yes! i will go to kyoto on june 1, 2008…

saturday morning, i was on my way to shinagawa where i will ride the shinkansen (bullet train)… quite nervous inside since it will be my first time to ride in the said train, i tried to look cool..pretending to be normal…

my excitement lessened when i do not see any thing exciting along my way… all i can see was either a congested urban area or a vast field planted with rice or orange… worse, the rain has never stopped since i rode the train..

when i reached kyoto, my excited returned… i felt excited to explore the place to see the different tourist places.

my first itinerary: meet bernadia’s friend and have lunch….. trying to find a stranger in the middle of the busy environment of the kyoto station… then i heard someone called my name….having lunch with him was good… he took me in a cozy italian restaurant. time was fast with him as we talked a lot of different things over a platter of pasta….

second itinerary: kyoto university….. after lunch, i headed to kyoto university to meet the student of my friend as well as leave my things in the laboratory before i continue with my tour…
it took me quite a while before i could find the place and the person that i have to meet since it was a weekend, i seldom see people on the street whom i could ask for directions… after a few rounds in the university and studying the map, i finally found the aka renga building (red brick)… as i enter the laboratoy, i can see the confusion on their faces when i introduced myself to them… maybe they were expecting someone older rather than see a high-school-like girl as visitor…

third itinerary: ginkakuji temple (the temple with silver lining)…. since i only have a few hours to look around, i see to it that i will make the most of my time.. so i chose the places that are uniquely kyoto… one of them is ginkakuji temple… aside from its uniqueness, the temple is also near the university… going there would save me some time to visit other places…. phong, friend’s student, was kind enough to lend me his bike going to the temple…. excitement and fear went into me as it was my first time to ride a bike in japan.. as i bike my way to the temple, i thought half of my spirit was left on the street… i was not able to enjoy much in the temple because my mind was on my way home using the bike again… luckily, i returned to the university campus safe….

fourth itinerary: gion (maiko town)…. when i reached the campus, i immediately returned the bike to him and decided to take the bus instead… in that way, i would feel relaxed from the burden of taking care of the bike and being safe… walking in the street of gion is like going back to the old time of kyoto… the maiko town (geisha’s place) is very traditional… the houses were made of wood and the architecture is ancient… very traditional just like in the old japanese movies… as i toured the quiet town, i see tourists (local and foreign) standing at the sidewalks as if waiting for someone… suddenly, people gather in a group.. there i found out that all of them were waiting for a geisha to come out for them to take pictures…. i also tried my luck but it always end up having their back view in the picture… i thought i will leave the town empty-handed… as i exit in the main gate, i saw a group of geisha coming towards my direction…

with a smile on my face, i returned to the campus… and when my friend asked how my trip was, i smiled, show him the picture in my camera and said: “i saw maiko”

missing home

it has been two months now since i left manila and fly to yokohama…. my first few days in japan has been very challenging yet fun… first, the weather: april should be springtime but as i go to work everyday i need to overcome the cold strong wind and the heavy rain… second, being alone all by myself: i may look independent but being alone here in a strange place gave a new meaning to the word independent since it’s my first time to be really away from home. its like waking up everyday morning without someone to wish for a great day or going to bed without someone to chat how your day was. there is also the fun side of being independent… designing your own pad and deciding what to cook for lunch and dinner… fourth, the beautiful places: there are a lot to see in yokohama and elsewhere in japan.. i fear that i may not have enough time to visit the must sees in the land of the rising sun. fifth, realizing the beauty of home: as i go to different places and meet new friends, at the end of the day you’ll realize that there is no real place like home…

April 6, 2008: It was a mixed emotion… part of me feels excited and half of me feel like backing out. As early as 3:00 am, all of my family members are already preparing for my trip. Everyone is excited yet one can feel the sadness in everyone’s heart. It would my first time to be very far away from home for a long time. On our way to the airport, we tried to make the trip a typical one like we always have. We diverted our attention to RM’s stunning expression for it was the first time that this little boy has seen a lot along the road – the glittering lights along the highway and the noise coming from the vehicles passing through.

 

As we get near the departure area, everyone still try to act normal. Though I know in m heart that right everybody feels like crying. There goes my first challenge – saying goodbye to my love ones without shedding a single tear.

 

The second challenge was harder than I imagine. As I pass through the airport security and my bag being weighed, I was shocked when the Northwest Personnel told me that I overweighed my luggage twice than the allowed…meaning, I have a 20-kilo excess baggage with me. I don’t have a choice but to pay that or else I would end up giving my stuff to the airport security.

 

Getting in the plane was a little easy… I just slept most of the time probably because I didn’t have a decent sleep for the past few days. Getting out of Narita International Airport has been fun though I felt quite nervous at first because of my very heavy luggage. But everything turned out fine and quick. Luckily the airport limousine was just right outside the airport exit door.

 

On my way to Yokohama, I was stunned by the beauty of the cherry blossoms. I just hope that I could get near to one. When I reached the YCAT (Yokohama City Air Terminal) I was welcomed by CITYNET Assistant General Secretary Kazuo Hashimoto. I was very glad to see Hashimoto-san. He was very kind to carry my heavy bag until we reached the Yokohama International Student House in Tsurumi, which is three stations away from YCAT. He even accompanied me to my room J After that, he toured me around the commercial area of Tsurumi and he even treated me dinner….

 

Hmm…I think I will be accustomed to my place in no time…. while I was packing my things and putting them in places that I think are right for them, I begin noticing that there are still some things that I need to buy tonight, most especially fresh food… Going to the market was easy because it was just right beside my building J After doing my grocery; I went back to my room and finished tidying up the place. A few minutes after that, I received a phone call… to my surprise; it was Von – my classmate in college!!! Talking about luck, I was very grateful that we are staying at the same building. He even offered me to just to his room whenever I need an Internet connection and he will lend me his iron. Yehey!!!

 

They say that first day is always a disaster… I think not… my first day in Japan has been a thrill. It may have some downsides but at the end of the day it turned out just fine.

 

May 30, 2008: It was almost two months now since i arrived in Japan. Adjusting to my environment was not really a big deal except for the extreme weather and language barrier with the japanese… being alone all by myself is quite a challenge too. i may look independent but being alone here in a strange place gave a new meaning to the word independent since it’s my first time to be really away from home. its like waking up everyday morning without someone to wish for a great day or going to bed without someone to chat how your day was. there is also the fun side of being independent… designing your own pad and deciding what to cook for lunch and dinner…but the rewarding part of it are the beautiful places. there are a lot to see in yokohama and elsewhere in japan.. i fear that i may not have enough time to visit the must sees in the land of the rising sun. but still there are times when you miss  home… as i go to different places and meet new friends, at the end of the day you’ll realize that there is no real place like home…

i stopped counting

excited… that’s what i felt when i finally received the confirmation that i was chosen to go to japan and stay there for a year… as my target date of departure comes near i tried to start my countdown… listing all the preparations and activities that i do since i only have few days left to stay in the  philippines. but things went way ahead as planned… i was not able to leave on my target date due to some delay in the processing of my visa. so i decided to stop my countdown since their is no definite date yet when i will fly to the land of the rising sun… and besides, having my coutndown felt like im dying in a few days time because of the urge to do a lot of things before departing…

SaYoNaRa fOr NoW.. I’m counting my days being with ANNA – my best bud-slash-touristguide in Makati. I’ve been here for over five years now due to work commitment but never get certain of the place up to now. Yay! – must be the reason for always asking her help to track the place. Good thing she’s there (my one click away GPS); blocking even her busiest day available for me; my shield against stressful day; making me feel like I really belong here to stay. I love her for that – not to mention how generous she really is. She never fails to share even the tiniest blessings she received. Hardly would I find a friend who is such a bighearted like her. I know heading my days in Makati will be different now that she (Anna) will be leaving anytime soon. Yokohama,Japan– her would-be new home for one year. I feel grateful knowing that she was chosen to represent the City Government of Makati as secondmen staff for the CITYNET (Ugh!, I did ask ANNA about it, but I can’t still remember its full name – must be sign of aging..lol ) event. I got so excited of the news when I first heard it, really. But after contemplating that there would be no more ANNA next month, I suddenly asked myself “Am I ready for this?”. Days without her, will definitely uneasy to bear at first. There are so many things with her that I have gotten used to do: texting her during wee hours that I need someone to be with (expect the following day that her things are all packed ready for overnight stay at my place), barhops-slash-bandchasing, fun carnivals, tiangge-shopping galore, quiapo-baclaran tour (she toured me here just to see for myself that these two places are not situated in one place – which my belief at first, hahaha..i was supah “probinsyana” back then), our so called school days (casino days), attending rotaract activities, visiting my old folks while checking out restos that offers wide range of exotic foods, and of course spending Sunday in her place and have the taste of her dad’s very own sinigang na hipon. For obvious reasons, we are more than sisters. We’re like Spongebob and Patrick. She may be out of my picture sooner, but who cares? It’s just one year of being apart, anyway,right? Sigh. I’m actually trying not to be sad about it; to accept the grim reality that I have to go on with my life being left here and to settle for who’s around. This is how it’s always gonna be for one year. But looking on the other side of the coin, I want to look at ANA’s departure as her way to explore more of herself in foreign land, to find what’s in store there for her and for me also to find my way to get through here or abroad perhaps. I’d like to think that finding ourselves in different paths is meeting each other at the end of the road. So no SAYONARA (goodbye) for us but IRASSHAIMASE (welcome) to the opportunities that life has to offer. Way for us to go my friend!, thou I am going to miss you dearly.. ڽ

as the days of my stay here in the office becomes shorter, i i cant help myself to feel nervous because until now my certificate for my visa application coming from japan hasn’t arrived yet….. its quite scary on my part because until i find myself boarding in the airplane… only then i am convinced that im leaving my country……

21 more days

i know sooner or later, i need to prepare my things and pack my bag. fortunately, my sweet cousin was patient enough to accompany me to the different stores to scout and estimate the things i need to buy for my trip…. i really appreciate her doing that especially when she suggest the colors, design, brand, and even the price of the clothes that i should buy… it was really a bonding moment for the two of us….