First day of school!
Summer school is always unpleasant, even in a foreign country. While the sun is shining brightly outside and people are enjoying the warmer weather, we’re stuck on the inside diligently studying. However, our Japanese class wasn’t boring or cumbersome (as are most summer classes) but rather something interesting to look forward to every morning (that, and the fact that in the afternoon we knew we had activities planned out for us).
Our first class was interesting, complete immersion is always a bit of a shock at first but then, things gradually get easier as you get used to it. We started a new lesson right away and I got to use my Minna no Nihongo books I previously bought in Tokyo. I saved a lot of money on my books by buying them directly in Japan instead of buying them back home in Montreal. Both the grammar and the translation books cost me ４５００円 (~50$) compared to 100-115$ at my university bookstore.
After our morning class, we went for a quick lunch at the combini (it’s very conveniently located right next to our building) and, while waiting for our coordinators to take us to our scheduled activity, we figured we try to get a group picture done. So we put all of our cameras on the teacher’s desk and set them all on auto-timer and managed to get not 1 but 10 pictures as our first official group shot in Japan. It may sound silly but this picture is my favourite one from the thousands of pictures I have of Japan.
We soon left afterwards for our daily activity: a visit to Kenrokuen gardens. Due to it being early May, we did not get to see the cherry blossoms however, we got to visit during the azalea period
Even though it was overcast outside, we still got to enjoy the luscious greenery and eye-popping azaleas found everywhere in the garden. We started off by wondering around the garden, taking in the sights and snapping tons of pictures along the way. At some point, we came to a stone bridge and stopped for a traditional group picture (everyone who visits Kenrokuen gets their picture taken there). We gave all our cameras to our coordinators who patiently took each one up. When the last picture was taken, only then did we realize that we were missing a teammate! Simon had gotten lost and had started to follow a group of Chinese visitors around the garden … needless to say, we had to redo the pictures (with everyone included this time) much to the dismay of our coordinators.
After that event, we went for some well deserved tea over at the on-site tea house. There we experienced traditional chado (tea ceremony) with glorious matcha served in delightful earthenware. Two of my friends disliked tea (especially the bitter kind) and passed their cups onto me (I being a fervent tea drinker and lover of matcha in particular). We ate adorable little sweets called wagashi to help balance out the taste.
After relaxing with a good cup of tea and admiring the zen garden at the back of the tea house, we left Kenrokuen to return to school to pick up our things (after which we were free to do as we pleased).
Even though the gardens weren’t in full bloom, we still enjoyed our visit and had a lot of fun together. We decided we might try to go back later in the season to see the irises and the adjacent castle (Kanazawa Castle).
To see pictures of the plants and trees in the gardens, please look at this photography post I made: Kenrokuen Botanical Gardens