l'isle joyeuse

the word ふるさと furusato literally means “hometown,” but it can also mean home, or where one belongs.


being a person who calls japan a second home – my REAL home, where i am happiest and at my most natural, it is heartbreaking to see the damage caused by the great tohoku earthquake last friday. it is not something that could have been prevented, but i am glad that japan is such an efficient country, and i am touched time and time again by the warmth, kindness and honesty of the japanese people in difficult times like these. being far away from japan right now, there is nothing much i can do but keep a close watch on them, and pray for the best.


right now, the only thing i can do, is share the following song :

“ふるさと furusato.”

this song was performed by arashi and many other young japanese singers during the annual kohaku utagassen program this year, and it is perhaps the most suitable song for this particular moment in time. the lyrics really warm one’s heart, and i believe every single word in it, is true.

[click here to listen to the song]


[the peaceful greenery that calms and soothes the soul]
夕暮れせまる空に 雲の汽車見つけた
なつかしい匂いの町に 帰りたくなる
as dusk approaches, i come across a train of clouds
i feel like returning to the town with the nostalgic scents


[strangers always ready to share a smile and a victory sign]
ひたむきに時をかさね 想いをつむぐ人たち
ひとりひとりの笑顔が いま
僕の そばに
earnestly piling up the times
of the people who made my memories
each and everyone’s smiles are now
by my side


[my beloved host family in osaka, who loves me unconditionally at all times]
めぐりあいたい人がそこにいる やさしさ広げて待っている
山も風も海の色も いちばん素直になれる場所 
there are people there who I want to meet again
who are waiting for me with kindness      
the mountains, the winds and the color of the seas
it is the one place that i can be myself


[kind people who i met by chance in the arashi concert, are now my friends]
忘れられない物語がそこにある 手と手をつないで口ずさむ
山も風も海の色も
ここはふるさと
my unforgettable stories are there, and we hum as we hold hands
the mountains, the winds and the color of the seas,
this is my hometown


[my kids in saitama, who clung to me and cried when i left, telling me to never forget them]
めぐりあいたい人がそこにいる やさしさ広げて待っている
山も風も海の色も
(ここはふるさと)
there are people there who I want to meet again
who are waiting for me with kindness
the mountains, the winds and the color of the seas,
(this is my hometown)


[strangers who were more than glad to help, when i was lost and alone in the mountains of kyoto]
君のふるさと
your hometown


[the place where i am the happiest]
僕のふるさと
my hometown


ganbare nippon!!!

the sun will rise again tomorrow.

backlog: 2010.5.30

yokohama is one of my favourite places for day trips; the sea breeze, the peaceful tree-lined streets with coffee shops, the artsy little shops that sells wooden spoons with rabbits carved on top. i’m not surprised it’s such a popular dating spot for couples, especially after sunset where it sparkles with colourful lights that blink cheerfully (。◕‿‿◕。)


on this day, i started my journey by getting off at 桜木町 sakuragicho, which is the title of a yuzu song.


after that, i took the bus to the red brick warehouse >w< i've been wanting to visit for a very long time but never had the chance or time to. the 赤いくつ red shoe buses run around yokohama‘s famous spots and it costs 100円 each time you get on, no matter how far you travel.


arrival at the red brick warehouse. i had no idea what it REALLY was, so i was pleasantly surprised when i stepped inside.


lush! you can smell it from miles away ヾ(((´*゜∀゜*`)))ノシ i wish i bought more lush before coming home… it’s my dream to have my house smell like lush


more lush goodies!!!


there are a lot of small restaurants and cafes inside 🙂


cute little interior shops that make me want to have my own house~


there was a shop where everything in there has a rabbit motif. it’s creepy yet adorable at the same time.


i moved to chinatown after some shopping at the red brick warehouse! chinatown always smells like home – the steaming buns, the red lanterns, the chattering old ladies, the old messy shop selling chinese herbs and medicine.


santa claus in chinatown seems a bit out of place, though. it feels like a horror movie gone wrong.


back at shibuya. it’s funny how it feels like home, despite me being a foreigner.


high school boys on their way back from sports practice 🙂 i love japanese school uniforms, with their matching sports bags and parka jackets.


i bought an adorable two-tiered wooden accessory box at the red brick warehouse for 1050円 (`・ω・´)ノシ 

backlog : 2010.05.23


my final day in kyoto during my weekend trip to kansai alone was spent in a small town called 鞍馬 kurama, about 40 minutes away from the main city of kyoto! it was not a very wise move, seeing as it was a city nestled in a quiet, somber mountain area, not to mention it was raining the whole day with strong wind gusts D: but there was nothing i can do because i’ve already planned on going to 鞍馬寺 kuramadera. i had also planned to visit mount hiei as well but i gave up because it was simply impossible.


mount kurama : the home of king of the tengu, who taught swordsmanship to minamoto no yoshitsune. it’s on the border of two prefectures, kyoto and shiga, and being a mountain town, it’s pretty boring and there’s nothing actually “touristy” here, unless…


you like huge, giant tengu goblins 🙂 hiro does! incidentally, this particular statue was featured in a t no arashi corner hahah!


the demons and spritis of kurama are considered some of the most famous in the country


entrance to kurama temple, which is famous for its long winding paths of red and white bonbori lanterns


it was raining too hard and the ground was too dangerous to trek up on foot so i opted for the cable car!


the winding stone-paved path towards the main hall. you can see how eerie it was D: summer it’s this cold and misty?


main hall of the temple


🙂 where i was, with only a summer cotton tunic and a really thin cardigan. an unforgettable experience!


some of the cutest wishing plates i’ve ever seen!


coming down from the temple 🙂 in the beginning, i was tempted to trek through the jungle all the way towards 貴船神社 kifune jinja but i couldn’t even see 5 steps in front of me due to the mist and there was this moment where something hit my mind : “crap, if i get lost in here NOBODY WOULD EVER KNOW AND I WOULD MISS MY BUS BACK TO TOKYO HENCE MISSING CLASS AND I COULD DIE IN HERE AND MY BODY WOULD ONLY BE FOUND 10 WEEKS LATER OMG WHAT DO I DO!!!”

but as luck would have had it, halfway through a small area in the jungle heading towards kifune jinja my feet got caught by a huge confusing tangle of tree roots in a area that was apparently named 魔王階段 devil steps o____o;; it was at this time that i met a group of extremely nice japanese ladies (and one man) who gathered a few times each year to go on trips together! they were really worried about me because i was all alone in the heavy rain and wind in the jungle and they said that if i joined them it would bring the number of people in the group to 12, which was a nice even number hahah!


they even treated me to lunch! 😀 i had matsutake udon *O* SO DELICIOUS!


the nicest people i’ve ever met!!! they were so kind to me, some of them gave me their name cards and one of them gave me her phone number, telling me to call her if i ever go to okinawa! the nice guy (who speaks excellent english and travels around a lot) lives in odaiba apparently and he actually invited me for coffee when we were both back in tokyo but with becki‘s arrival and all there was no time. too bad, really, because i would have loved to meet him once more!


after that, i parted ways with them as they were going to kifune jinja and i opted to go try my luck at the cable car station to go to mount hiei, but we all know how that ended up 😦 the rain and wind was too strong that the cable cars were temporarily suspended and there was no knowing when they’d restart, and the people at the ticket counter told me to come again another time because the temple closes at 4:30pm anyway…


so i made my wet, tired way back to kyoto and treated myself to a nice, nice dinner since it was such a miserable day for me. i had kyoto cuisine at a really posh looking restaurant called がんこ ganko at the train station that was a lot cheaper than it looked from the outside! i ordered the やわらぎ子鍋 yawaragi konabe set (2079円) ♪


pork shabu shabu to warm myself up after a long, rainy day in the mountains with no raincoat on! it really was a surprise i didn’t fall sick 😀


the whole set was so beautifully presented, it was such a shame to eat it! it was really affordable for such great food at a nice japanese restaurant that i couldn’t resist!!! i can’t wait to go back to kyoto again so i can try the other stuff on the menu with teddy >w< he would swoon and never ever be able to look at japanese food the same again hahah!


i finally received the parcel becki sent for my birthday a few days ago, and it really was well worth the wait. it was such an awesome present that i am still smiling everytime i think about it right now. i love you becki!


there are instructions and words written on the flaps of the box 😀 these were the order in which i was supposed to open the presents inside the box. each present was wrapped up in different colours ♥


i feel the ♥


she warned me it was like a rainbow threw up inside the box, and she wasn’t kidding 😀 it smelled really good (even from the outside) too!


birthday card ♥♥♥


it’s so pretty!!!


first box ♥


lush!!! shower jelly and massage bar ♥


second box ♥


purple lipgloss befitting of jun


third box ♥


more lush goodies! hair and body gel, and some soap


fourth box! ♥


this was such an awesome awesome surprise!


my favourite perfume which i can never find here in malaysia O_O


i love the bottle, it’s so pretty!!!


fifth!!! frogs on a yellow background ♥


she was so sneaky >w< she got me new shop photos!!!


each present had small colour-coded tags attached to them!!!


they were all “messages” from the members hahahahah i couldn’t stop laughing 😀 so cute!


my favourite ♥♥♥


there were 2 more, a blue one with dolphins and one more with poker cards on it 😀 she got me the tekkon kinkreet copy of H and a wink up with oh-chan on the cover!!! ♥♥♥

thank you so much becki!!! ♥ ベッキ、大スキ!♥

i haven’t been updating my blog in a very long time due to a lot of reasons. one of it being university, with all the end-of-semester reports and assignments to be finished. another reason would be captain who is an awesome travel buddy >w< too many things to do, so little time!

i'll update my blog properly on each and every place i've went in the past few weeks when all this madness is over, but for now, here is a short update on what i've been up to, hiro-style.


kamakura


shiga


kyoto


kobe


tokyo


nagasaki


fukuoka


kumamoto

almost two more weeks before i leave the wonderful land of the rising sun and return to my tropical island! i shall miss this place dearly 😦 *starts planning future trips back here to japan*

backlog :2010.06.19

on saturday, i went to the narita express platform to pick captain up ♥ it was like a scene out from a really cheesy love drama hahah – we were running to greet each other and went all colkfneoicqhnovihn *insert spazz here*


she got me a present ♥


it comes in a pretty box!


and a nice little bag!


so pretty *O* it’s the cutest bracelet ever ;w; there’s a musical note for nino and a fish for ohchan!


after that, we went to harajuku because apparantly the softbank there is more efficient and foreigner-friendly. we got it done in less than 20 minutes omg :O


we saw the funniest vending machine EVER in one of the idol shops 😀 a vending machine that sells arashi photos!!!


we had epic purikura with our kaibutsu-kun caps and pikanchi shirts >w<


i’m sure we look crazy


after that, we went to shibuya‘s tower records to look at the kaibutsu-kun costume they have on display there >w< he's SO TINY!!!


so, so tiny hahah!


dinner time!!! all-you-can-eat sukiyaki at 1980円 per person ^^


fresh australian beef… how ironic!


pork from chiba prefecture


in to the pot it goes!


😀 yes we are happy


and dorky :p


i ♥ sukiyaki


and that’s the end of an awesome day – the first of many to come 🙂


♪ お誕生日おめでとう!♪
happy 27th birthday to
♥♥♥ 二宮和也 ninomiya kazunari ♥♥♥


i love how happy you truly look whenever you’re together with the rest of them, especially when you’re on the stage in concerts!


🙂 this year’s birthday cake!


i can’t believe it’s been one year since i last celebrated! time really flies!


i wanted to get something yellow but the only one they had in yellow was orange-flavoured, and i’m not too fond of orange >o<;; this one had lemon jelly on top though, so it's somehow yellow? :p


i’ve given up on trying to write about how much i love you D: it’s just impossible to put into words…


so i’ll just let the photos do the talking :p


i’m praying for your good health, success and happiness! ♥ i hope you get a lot of love and rest for your birthday!!! ♥

welcome!

slice-of-life entries of my life in japan as an exchange student :) feel free to comment... they're my daily pieces of happiness!

to read my travel posts, please click on "voyages"

thank you for dropping by, and have a nice day ♥

i ♥ nino

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i ♥ ohchan

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