Wednesday, 10 April 2013


There's one problem with arriving at a new school halfway through the year: You end up missing a lot of the welcome parties and mixers, where new students meet the friends they'll treasure for the next year and possibly their whole lives, and returning students seek out the loosest and most impressionable new students they can find. Basically my strategy this semester is to go to as many as these as I possibly can. I'm not even going to join the clubs or anything (although maybe I'll go sometimes if the members or the content seem cool); I'm just going to try to meet vast amounts of people.

Mother Russia, whom I've been spending a lot of time with lately – see, I goddamn told you guys I don't hate all foreigners – has been getting super into the Astronomy Club of all things. Not one I would likely have looked into myself, but today they had a hanami party and she invited me along. Hanami (花見、“flower-viewing”), if you aren't aware, is pretty much THE thing to do in spring in Japan, when the sakura, for a very brief window of a couple of weeks, are in beautiful bloom, before their petals scatter to the winds and they are once again bare for the entire rest of the year. Japan is hardly the only country to have sakura – I believe they are present in Korea and parts of China, at least – but they are by far the proudest of them. You'll do hanami with your friends or coworkers. It's a stock event in fiction. It was the whole motif that drove Hitching Rides with Buddha. And, perhaps most importantly, it's a fantastic excuse to get drunk in public, so you can understand the popularity.

We didn't drunk, because...well because that would have been kind of inappropriate, but I did get to sit and chat with quite a few awesome people for three or four hours. Which was pretty much my goal, so that's progress. I'll be checking out other Astronomy Club events, that's for sure. And they'll see me on campus and we'll stop to chat, and geez it looks like I'm FINALLY starting to get back to the days where I literally couldn't go more than five minutes without seeing somebody I knew. Hehehe.

I left early to go check out BRIDGE, some kind of international circle or something, held at Doushisha but open to students from all Kyouto universities. I really can't decide what I think of Doushisha. On the one hand, the campus is rad, the quality of the education is presumably very high, it has cachet in spades, and it was founded by a retired goddamn samurai. On the other hand, rich kids. I found the location with no difficulties, but nobody was there by the time I arrived. Of course I was two hours late, so I didn't expect much. I consoled myself by wiling away another couple of hours downtown, because that's my area.

But seriously, tourists. I'm just gonna put this one the line, get the fuck out of Kiyamachi. There is nothing for you here. Nobody wants you here. Take a look at Kawaramachi and head towards the light. Stay away from the shadows. They will not treat you well. You're going to end up robbed, either in the street or in the shops, and probably also get murdered, just for good measure. No but seriously though, stop taking up three times as much space as necessary and being really loud and obnoxious, ok? Please please please. And I'm actually being serious, stay out of Kiyamachi. Locals only. Plus you're all really annoying.


  1. I can confirm that Korea does have cherry blossoms, and that they are also pretty obsessed with them. Does Japan also have blossom forecasts on the nightly news saying when best to head to different areas for Hanami?

    1. As a matter of fact, it does! Although mainly I believe they are concerned with where exactly the cherry blossom "front," if you will, has progressed to at the current time, since the blossoms start in the warm south and sort of roll northward like a wave. I didn't realise that Korea was so enamoured of them; it doesn't seem to come up much during my blog trolling.

    2. I'd say it's not as strong as in Japan, but the fervour is still big if you look in the right place, and its definitely all over the nightly weather forecast.

      Maybe it's because it's not as widepsread where the flowers are located? Back in my city the only blossom festivals and events were at a couple of really big parks that were a pain in the ass to get to. (The best cherry blossom experience was roughly 4 hours away by train, so not everyone makes that trip. It was one of the nicest weather weekends in the year though, so hanging out in a magical pink forest with a lot of rice wine seemed like a good weekend.)

    3. You know, I think you've hit upon a big one right there. Accessibility, yeah. In Japan they're all over the damn place, so it's really just a matter of finding a spot based on mutual proximity, general atmosphere, and whether or not you think it's going to be crowded (rule of thumb: it will be crowded. If you've thought of it, so have a bunch of people.)