Tag Archives: Exchange Student Life

kelseydo July Grand Sumo Tournament in Nagoya

I have really enjoyed watching Sumo on TV in Japan so I knew I needed to go see it live! Thankfully on Saturday I got to do just that.  It was surreal!

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Unfortunately the video just doesn’t do it justice! You have to see it to believe it of course. We had to leave early to attend a farewell party for the Study in Kyoto Program so we missed some of the more famous Osumo-sans at the end. One of our friends stayed behind and got to see an undefeated Yokozuna (the top level champion) be beaten by a non-Yokozuna. This was apparently a big deal because the crowd went wild and everyone started throwing their purple seat cushions into the ring! Sounds epic!

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kelseydo Gion Matsuri

Last week I got a chance to visit Kyoto’s biggest and oldest festival, Gion Matsuri! It is a month long event but the most popular evenings are the nights of the 15th, 16th and the day of the 17th for the parade.

This is the only event where I felt like as a foreigner I was encouraged to wear the Yukata, the light-knit cotton/linen robe that is more casual than the Kimono. It was really fun to wear out on the town. I felt like I was wearing my bathrobe outside. My friend Chika told me that a long time ago the Yukata was only for use in the home for bathing so I was right to feel this way!

Beautiful Bow

Beautiful Bow

Getting dolled up

Getting dolled up

Yukata on!

Yukata on!

Luckily we had Yuko-san to help us get our Yukatas on properly and to tie the Obi into a perfect bow!

Alex wearing my 'drinking jacket'

Alex wearing my ‘drinking jacket’

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Alex, Haruna & I

Alex, Haruna & I

Daniel and Haruna

Daniel and Haruna

Waiting for the Randen

Waiting for the Randen

Escalator shot

Escalator shot

Faces on the subway

Faces on the subway

It was really busy once we got downtown! There were people everywhere. Apparently tens-of-thousands of people go each night. All the main streets were closed down and there were a lot of food stalls, souvenir shops and the parade floats were all lit up with music playing.

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Food stalls

Food stalls

Dessert!

Dessert!

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it's an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it’s an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

As usual, the food was one of the main events for us- we had to try everything!

Streetside bar

Streetside bar

A lot of people were enjoying their beer in the street, there were even little cocktail shops set up on the side of the street like this.

We were lucky enough to get up close and personal to a few of the parade floats.

Lanterns

Lanterns

More Lanterns

More Lanterns

Giant float including full size tree

Giant float including full size tree

photo 1

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren't allowed on this one

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren’t allowed on this one

photo 4We got to take a tour of this one while they were playing drums and singing inside of it but of course- no photos!

And then more food…we were on a mission for frozen bananas! It was a very hot and humid night.

Candy apple

Candy apple

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom's favorite!)

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom’s favorite!)

Lanterns everywhere!

Lanterns everywhere!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

Banana Kanpai!

Banana Kanpai!

Beth loves waffles...on a stick!

Beth loves waffles…on a stick!

This guy...

This guy…

The gang!

The gang!

All in all it was an amazing night! I wish I could have gone again but unfortunately it was right in the middle of all my final exams for school.

Gion Matsuri can’t be missed!

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kelseydo Nikujaga with Megumi-chan

This is the meat-and-potato stew of Japanese comfort food. We had quite a thunderstorm today so it was nice to have some mid-summer stew.

My friend Megumi came over to show me how to make Nikujaga, a very simple and delicious dish. Megumi is coming to visit me in Canada in about a month so I decided to show her pictures of wildlife in Canada: Moose, Grizzlies, Killer Whales, Cougars; just to scare the crap out of her before she comes! Of course I doubt we will get to see any of those animals. Hopefully Killer Whales! The rest I am happy to see in photos rather than real life. Anyways, Nikujaga.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Chef Megumi

Chef Megumi

All you need to make the dish is a little oil, dashi, soy sauce, sugar, salt, carrots, potatoes and pork. We also needed a little sake but I didn’t have any open bottles: if you can believe it. I’ve seen other recipes that call for green beans, shitake mushrooms and use beef instead of pork as well.

Fry up the meat with a little oil

Fry up the meat with a little oil

Add the veggies

Add the veggies

Add the seasoning: dashi, soy sauce, salt, sugar and sake

Add water, then seasoning: dashi, soy sauce, salt, sugar and sake

Cover the cooking meat and veggies with baking paper to seal in the steam and to ensure uniform cooking and flavour

Cover the cooking meat and veggies with baking paper to seal in the steam and to ensure uniform cooking and flavour

Ta-da! Nikujaga….

Itadakimasu!

Itadakimasu!

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kelseydo Arashiyama

I went to Arashiyama today. The views and fresh air were breathtaking! The Japanese maples are looking really vibrant around this time of year and for some reason everyone celebrates by hiking around, taking pictures, eating and drinking (Why don’t we do this in Canada? The maple leaf is on our damn flag!). I need to make a couple more trips here because 1) It’s beautiful when it’s lit up at night 2) There is a Monkey park I need to see 3) There are tonnes of shops with amazing omiyage (souvenirs only classier). Anyways, I’m tired so I’m going to let the pictures do the talking for this post:

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kelseydo A Day In The Life

11:30am I wake up to the sound of rain and motorbikes whizzing by. Last night I went out with friends to Karaoke until 3am and then made a few Skype calls, so I had a little sleep in. On Sunday I get pretty domestic: finish my laundry, vacuum and clean my room. My hair stinks like cigarette smoke from the Karaoke bar so it’s time to hit the showers. The showers in my dorm are communal but since I slept in so late no one’s in there, so I get the whole place to myself.

1:00pm Brunch time! I fry up two eggs and a couple leaves of sautéed Bok Choi. I put some rice on and mix in some seasonings to get started on my Onigiri for the coming week. Onigiri is a cheap and easy snack to help get me through classes!

Onigiri…I can only hope mine turn out this good!

The rain lets up for a minute so I hop on my bike (which I lovingly named ‘The Enterprise’ because of it’s willingness to boldly go where no man has gone before) and head to the 7-11 to get my weekly budget. It’s difficult for me to go into a 7-11 and not pick up a snack- there are so many cheap and delicious and unknown foods to try! I grab a grapefruit juice & a green tea mochi with red bean filling. Mochi is a small dessert made with rice flour on the outside and a sweet jam on the inside. Today was the first day I tried it and I love it! The texture and flavour are really unique and amazing.

Looks a little weird but tastes great!

I bike to Hanazono station where I grab a comfy seat on the train by the window and watch the grey day go by.

1:45pm Arrive at Kyoto Station. I love the ceiling in this place! Photos can’t do it justice.

Kyoto Station

I head to Yodobashi Camera to meet up with some friends who are shopping for Halloween costumes, among other things. Yodobashi Camera sells mainly electronics, but also has clothing, food, toys, home appliances, beauty products and basically anything you can think of. There is also a Uniqlo inside which reminds me a lot of Joe Fresh in Canada.

Yodobashi- Why are these headphones still popular?

Head Refresher? Weird stuff at Yodobashi

Sleeping Beauty Hip Pants? More weird stuff at Yodobashi

Book of photos with girls licking door handles? Weirdest stuff at Yodobashi

Some cute stuff at Yodobashi so you forget all that weird stuff

After finding some very interesting things at Yodobashi (one store in particular) we went to Teramachi Dori which is a really busy shopping street with lots of cool stores. Teramachi is a weird place. There are a lot of temples and a Pachinko parlour (slot machine/pinball casino) right in the shopping area.

A shrine on the way to Teramachi Dori

An Art Installation (made of water bottles) in the middle of Teramachi

A busy day at Teramachi

I managed to score a few items: a camera strap ($15) from Yodobashi and a pair of sparkly black flats ($24) from Pango Pango on Teramachi.

My finds for the day

7:00pm Walk back to the train and head home. In the rain.

Kyoto Tower at night

On the way I grab some groceries from Gyomu Supa because tonight I’ll attempt to make Nabe, a hot pot with soup broth, veggies, meat, tofu and noodles (no fish cakes for me thanks!). It’s the perfect meal after a day in the rain.

The final product: Nabe with ponzu sauce and kimchi

9:00pm I have some listening comprehension homework and a short writing assignment to complete! Then I’ll watch some of my new show: Hanazakari no Kimitachi e which is a hilarious Japanese TV series about a girl that pretends to be a boy so she can go to an all-boys school where her idol goes. It’s ridiculous but I can’t stop watching it!

11:30pm Bed time!

Time to hit the pillow!

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