Well, it looks like the sakura has finally come to an end. With only a few exceptions, the vast majority of the blossoms have been replaced by green leaves. It’s so interesting to be living in a city with changing seasons – one of my favorite things about Southern California is that the weather is pretty much nice all year round, but there’s really something cool about living in a place that has so many different looks over the course of a year. Kyoto’s appearance changes so much with the changing seasons that it’s now almost unrecognizable from when I first arrived. I feel like I have a whole new city to explore all over again!
To try and show how quick and drastic the change is when sakura ends, I stopped by Hirano shrine today and shot some post hanami-festival pictures. First, this is what the shrine looked like exactly one week ago (special guest appearance by Harrison)
And this is that exact same spot yesterday, only one week later. Pretty crazy, huh?
But even though the sakura has officially finished, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a HUGE collection of pictures to populate my posts for awhile 🙂 Here is a shot in the snowstorm of falling petals that I mentioned in my last post. For the few days when the blossoms were dying the fastest, the street surfaces were literally covered with fallen petals.
Also, now that hanami is over I finally got around to reviewing all of that kanji I learned before Ron and Jason came. Well, more accurately I reviewed about 1,400 of the 2,000…but before I started, I had to do just a TINY bit of exploring on the way to Starbuck’s (including the above-mentioned stop at Hirano).
(As a short side note, I normally would never choose Starbuck’s in a city with such a huge selection of independent coffee shops. However, unlike in California it’s NOT illegal to smoke indoors here, something that I absolutely can’t stand. So I’m left with very few options that are both 100% non-smoking and have ample indoor study space…)
Anyway, this picture shows what I ride my bike past every morning on the way to school. It’s interesting what you start taking for granted after you’ve been somewhere for long enough – for most of my life I’ve lived within a five-minute drive from the beach, yet I only went once or twice a year (until I took up surfing). Likewise, I’ve ridden my bike past this magnificent temple countless times on the way to class, but never even bothered to stop and look inside. Well, I decided to change all that today!
Other than today’s little outing, I’ve pretty much just been spending the last week doing homework and whatnot. I did meet up with Naomi once (who I hadn’t seen in over a month) to see some fireworks over Biwako (the largest lake in Japan, very near here). Surprisingly, I was able to maintain a fair amount of the conversation entirely in Japanese! Although my progress is without a doubt slow, and I still have to take long pauses to think, this was probably the first time I’ve noticed such a sudden jump in my abilities. Hopefully I can find the time to continue with my study plans, although I still have a fair amount of other random stuff to take care of during the coming week (such as jumping through all the hoops necessary to apply for an extension to stay at Rits until January!)
Until next time—